Business Schooling, Minus the B-School
How important are careers in business and finance to Colby students? Look at the most popular major and minor: economics and administrative science respectively. While Colby's liberal arts curriculum provides a broad foundation and strong conceptual and analytical skills, it doesn’t necessarily cover all the everyday vocational and technical skills used in business.
About two years ago an anonymous donor offered to fund a program that would get more students involved in the business sector. Colby decided that Wall Street Prep would be the best means of accomplishing the goal and made Douglas Professor of Economics and Finance Randy A. Nelson responsible for organizing the program. “Colby students are competing with students coming out of Wharton and the Stern School at NYU,” said Nelson. “So by allowing our students to get those [technical] skills, we even the playing field and make our students more competitive and also make the transition to those jobs easier.”
Wall Street Prep is a financial training program developed by professional investment bankers. Colby is just one of many universities, graduate schools, and investment banks that hire Wall Street Prep instructors for crash courses in finance. Wall Street Prep developed a particular curriculum for liberal arts schools, consisting of two intense two-day seminars that run nine to five on each day. Students learn how to perform accounting tasks, analyze financial statements, and create financial models in Excel. Instructors also offer advice on the interview and hiring process for a career in finance.
This February, Colby offered the beginning and advanced courses on two consecutive weekends. While the course can cost up to $1,500 a person elsewhere, Wall Street Prep is available to Colby students for $50 deposit, and that's refunded on successful completion of the program. Like the 26 other students in the advanced course this February, Thomas Abe ’13 recognized that Wall Street Prep was an opportunity worth taking. “It effectively gives you an overview of all the technical skills you would need going into an investment banking internship and therefore the interview too,” said Abe, who plans to intern at Barclays Capital this summer.
Since Colby is not a business school, students especially appreciate what the course offers. “It enhances the curriculum,” said Mike Linskey ’13, who also attended the advanced course and plans to intern at Deutsche Bank this summer. “It gives you more exposure to the industry and what you’re going to be doing. I learned a lot, and I would recommend the program to anyone that wants to go into finance.”
Nelson noted that alumni who interviewed students who have participated in the program commended its effectiveness in providing technical training. “It’s proven to be very beneficial in terms of job offers,” Nelson said. “Former students [who are now] in the financial sector think highly of Wall Street Prep.”
“I don’t think there is any other NESCAC school that makes this available on a continuing basis,” Nelson said. “We are fortunate to offer this.”