Dear Class of 2013
Dear Class of 2013,
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why didn’t I just drop out of high school, create a simple blog service, then sell the darn thing to a company down on its luck for a you-know-what’s-cool one billion dollars?’
No, seriously. College is much more than a path to gainful unemployment. It’s about connecting with your peers. It’s about sitting in your dorm room, alone, late at night, eating Doritos, Facebooking, tweeting Kierkegaard and Louis CK quotes, and choosing between the Early Bird and Nashville filters when posting the latest Instagram shot of your unruly toenail hair.
College is also about friendship. It’s about friends, friends for life, friends you can call on no matter how bad things may get.
For example, say in fifteen years you need a couple extra hundred thousand dollars. You’ll be glad that you’re able to text your lab partner, the girl who set the curve on the Organic Chemistry final and who’s now a biomedical engineer working on a cure for cancer. Who else will be able to fill you in on the leading cancer drug’s latest test results before the results go public?
Is the Future of Professional Education Here?
It’s felt for a while like we’re on the verge of a major step forward in how education is designed and delivered to students—and it seems like the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) may well be the future we’ve been waiting for.
More specifically, Georgia Institute of Technology has partnered with Udacity, an online education platform, and AT&T to deliver a masters in computer science that will be available online for just $7,000—less than a fifth of the cost of taking the course on campus. And the best part, for students, is that the degree “would be entirely comparable to the existing master’s degree in computer science from Georgia Tech,” according to Inside Higher Ed. The school expects to be able to scale the program to as many as 10,000 students in just three years.* Current enrollment on the campus-only program is just 300.
Even more intriguing is AT&T’s involvement. The firm is underwriting the program financially, with the stated aim of helping to prepare students for careers in STEM-related fields. The company also appears to be testing out the technology as a means of providing low-cost advanced training for its employees — more
27 Interview Questions That Weed Out the Weak on Wall Street
If you’re preparing to interview for a position in investment banking, sales and trading, or investment management, it’s likely you’ve already practiced answering a host of interview questions, including: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work for this firm in particular? How do you value a company? Can you walk me through a DCF? Can you pitch me a stock I should buy? Can you tell me about a time when you worked on a team? Why are you interested in finance? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What is WACC? And what is EBITDA?
However, you might not have prepared for the below 27 questions, which are meant to separate the men and women from the boys and girls on Wall Street. In other words, the following are the questions that can make or break an interview. (Note: the questions have been arranged from easiest to most difficult. Also note that all questions come directly from responses to Vault’s latest Banking Survey, which is being administered now to professionals at the top investment banks in North America, Europe, and Asia. If you work in investment banking and want to take the survey, you can do so here.)
27. Which is greater: 17% of 34 or 34% of 17?
26. What’s going on in the economy?
25. If [x data] was announced, which five trades would you make?
24. Do you think Apple is a good buy?
23. If I handed you $1 million and asked you to generate some alpha over the next six to 12 months, what would you do/how would you trade?
22. What can a firm accomplish in Chapter 11 that it can’t accomplish out of court?
21. What could be the reasons for two companies operating in the same industry trading at different EBITDA multiples?
20. Why would a creditor elect to receive equity via a restructuring process as opposed to debt?
19. Walk me around the world and tell me about the markets as you go.
18. Four asset classes: gold, oil, U.S. 10-year interest rates, and the S&P. Pick one, tell me where it has been, where it is now, and where you see it going in the next six months and why.
17. Tell us about a deal that we’ve done that interests you and why it interests you.
16. Explain quantitative easing to me.
15. Talk to me about the shape of the yield curve.
14. How do you value a mining company? What multiples are most appropriate?
13. Where is the world headed?
12. Describe a few instances where you have failed.
11. Describe the major transactions that have happened this year in the X industry.
10. Assume you’re an investor and you come across a family-owned business for sale. What are the first things you’d do or want to know in order to determine what you’re willing to pay for the business? How would you think about valuing the business?
Do Women Even Want It All?
Can women have it all? Do women want it all? What do women have to sacrifice to have it all? If women could do it all over again, would they stay at home after having children? Stay at their jobs? Work less? More? Are working mothers happy with their employers? Ticked off at them? If so, why? And what can and should employers do differently to accommodate working mothers?
These are just a few of the questions Vault aimed to address last month when surveying more than 1,000 professionals in our first ever Working Parent Survey. In April, Vault asked professionals a variety of questions on working parent-related workplace topics, including paid and unpaid maternity leave, on-site child care, flex-time options, and health insurance.
As for the findings of our survey, 40 percent of the respondents told us that their firms offer at least 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, while more than 20 percent say they’re offered no paid leave. Which, if you’re a working mother or plan to be, should be very disconcerting. In addition, many respondents told us that being a stay-at-home mother isn’t even an option due to finances. Even so, many admit that a stay-at-home mother isn’t something they want to be (see below for some of the reasons why not).
Below you’ll find additional findings from the survey. (Note that those questions beginning with an asterisk are followed solely by the answers of mothers who took our survey; all other questions include answer data for all women—mothers and non-mothers).
Full time: 83%
Part time: 14%
In which industry do you work?
Human Resources: 5%
*How many children do you have?
How much PAID maternity leave does your firm offer?
1 to 3 weeks: 5%
4 to 6 weeks: 19%
7 to 9 weeks: 8%
10 to 12 weeks: 24%
> 12 weeks: 22%
How much UNPAID maternity leave does your firm offer?
1 to 3 weeks: 4%
4 to 6 weeks: 10%
7 to 9 weeks: 3%
10 to 12 weeks: 32%
> 12 weeks: 41%
Rate the following benefits offered by your employer on a scale of 1 to 10:
Flex-time options: 7.69
Health insurance: 6.97
Maternity leave: 6.80
Paternity leave: 5.51
Maternity leave …
… at my firm is amazing. They offer six weeks full pay, plus you can use your 22 days of vacation on top of state disability benefits.
… is 18 weeks paid, and I know people have taken more time, but at that point it’s more like a leave of absence.
… is short-term disability (medical). There’s no paid time off for taking care of a child.
… is considered under our short-term disability policy, and that’s why it’s paid time off. Paternity and adoption are not considered a disability or medical leave and thus don’t qualify for paid time off.
… is eight weeks on top of what the state provides for disability (which for me was six weeks). So I got 14 weeks paid. I was able to take up to six months off and maintain health benefits. And I could have taken more time off without benefits. Paternity leave is three weeks.
Does your employer offer on-site child care?
Don’t know: 4%
*Have you ever left your career to become a stay-at-home mom?
Would you consider leaving your career to become a stay-at-home mom?
Not sure: 18%
*Being a stay-at-home mom …
… provides short-term benefits in terms of saving on child care and being with your child, but has tremendous long-term negative consequences, essentially permanently derailing your career.
… is more difficult than my current job.
… would be great, but in these economic times is a luxury. You either have to have a super-successful spouse, or be committed to reducing any and all luxuries from your budget.
… is not an option since I’m the main breadwinner in my family.
… would have been nice when my son was younger, but that wasn’t a financial option for me, and it still isn’t. However, now that my son is older and starting middle school next year, there isn’t much of a point in being a stay-at-home mom.
… was a great experience. I was at home with my daughter for the first 16 months of her life.
… was wonderful. But I was ready to go back to work after a year.
Does your employer offer flex-time options?
Don’t know: 4%
Do you take advantage of your firm’s flex-time options?
Mothers who answered yes: 80%
Non-mothers who answered yes: 52%
My employer …
… provides more parenting benefits than I could ever have imagined.
… is probably one of the more generous ones in terms of maternity leave and job flexibility, but advertising is very stressful, and I found that I missed out on a lot of my first child’s development after I went back to work after 12 weeks.
… is very liberal with parental leave, but single, childless employees usually get the worst working hours and last choice of vacation.
… doesn’t show any appreciation for employees with children. I hardly spend my time with my son because I don’t want to lose my job.
… plays the politically correct game, saying all the right things, but at the end of the day your reward depends on making a tremendous sacrifice, or gaming the system. If you’re not willing to do that, your career will suffer.
… offers decent policies compared to other American companies, but compared to where they should be, they’re horrid.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how accommodating is your employer of working mothers?
(Women based in) Washington, D.C.: 7.44
Los Angeles: 7.06
San Francisco: 6.50
New York: 5.96
On a scale of 1 to 10, how accommodating is your employer of working mothers?
(Women who work in) Accounting: 7.66
Finance & Banking: 6.96
*Mothers and Big Law
… As far as Big Law firms go, my firm does as good as any to accoommodate working mothers. Unfortunately, Big Law and being a parent are a tough combination due to client demands.
… After I came back from maternity leave, I left my firm. Working as an associate while having a young child wasn’t possible. I could either be a good employee or a good parent, not both. There were simply not enough hours in the day. Working as an in-house lawyer has proven to be much better.
… My husband’s a stay-at-home dad. I don’t have the temperment to be a stay-at-home mom, but our current arrangement works well for us, especially given my hectic schedule as a deal lawyer.
… Finding a position as an attorney that will allow part-time work is very difficult. Most firms don’t seem to offer this type of arrangement. So I feel very fortunate to have found a firm that’s flexible.
… Paid maternity leave is 18 weeks, then you can tack on vacation time until it runs out, and then you can use unpaid time—for a total of six months. Law firm maternity leaves are the most generous I’ve ever heard of.
*Consulting and mothering
… Traditionally, consulting is not a good career choice for young families. It may require extensive travel, and some still believe you must “live” with your clients in order to bill for your time. However, there are some consulting firms out there that are successfully breaking this norm. Their consultants only travel as needed and are able to work from home.
… I love my work, and I love that I’m able to do it with two young kids. Most consulting companies are not like this one.
… I would not recommend my previous employer in banking; women there who had kids were either fired or seriously sidelined. But my current role in consulting gives me incredible flexibility outside of the travel required. This is a special arrangement, though, and is an exception.
… Success in consulting with children at home can be achieved, but it’s not without its downside. The reality is that client demands will impede on personal time, and there are no real “set” hours.
… Overall, my company is very good about letting everyone balance their work and personal lives. However, consulting is very demanding on time, so it’s a challenge to stay responsible and productive within the time constraints of work and family schedules.
Would you recommend your employer to working mothers?
Stop Multitasking, Start Working
A few years back, one of the resume buzz phrases du jour involved describing yourself with some variation of the following: “good/great/strong/effective multitasker.” It had all the hallmarks of a great catchphrase—it sounded fresh and exciting, it conveyed a sense of its user as someone with their finger on the pulse, it had very few negative connotations, and it seemed to cover a lot of ground without actually saying anything at all. (Really: it can just as easily mean “capable of drinking coffee while reading the newspaper” as “juggles multiple projects effectively.”)
As the years have progressed, however, there is evidence to suggest that claiming proficiency in multitasking may no longer be of benefit to jobseekers, or even viewed as a benign catchall for someone fresh out of legitimate achievements to list under their most recent job title. In fact, rather than painting a picture of the candidate as a hard-working go-getter who’s always in control, usage of the term may well be coming to have the opposite effect.
A single day last week saw two pieces appear in fairly mainstream U.S. publications — The New York Times and Slate — that deal with the negative side of multitasking. First, the Times reported on a study of what happens to people’s productivity and ability to complete tasks correctly when faced with distractions. In a straight comparison of tasks completed by a non-interrupted control group and two groups who were interrupted twice while completing the task, the “interrupted groups answered correctly 20 percent less often than members of the control group”—a finding that indicates a significant loss of brain power due to “multitasking.”
That was supported by observations made by researchers whose work was covered in the Slate piece. For that study, researchers observed middle school, high school and college students as they studied for 15 minutes. What the researchers found: thanks to distractions such as instant messaging, TV, music and the like, “[b]y the time the 15 minutes were up, [students] had spent only about 65 percent of the observation period actually doing their schoolwork.”
Why Women Struggle With Networking
Lessons from NAPW
Many connections were being made at NAPW Spark: Ignite Your Network Conference, but, as Bonnie Marcus notes in her workshop on using networking to become “The Transforming Leader,” many of those connections are made intuitively—not strategically.
Women tend to make friends with people they like, she says, and getting other women to like them through sharing and relating. Bonds are forged over intimacies (exchanging embarrassing work stories over coffee or sharing dirt on coworkers at the bathroom sink), while bragging about one’s achievements is decidedly a faux pas.
That’s great for making friends, but business opportunities? Not so much. If your new contact remembers you as the girl who told the story of how she walked into a meeting with the toilet paper on her shoe, she may like you, but she won’t think of you for that job opening.
Here are common mistakes women make while networking—and why we should change our ways:
1. Women network with people who are already part of their network
Pat yourself on the back for making friends with your friend Lisa’s friend? Who already knows your other friend Janice?
It may feel like you’re making networking progress, but you’re really not: your network is…
2. Women are too scared to ask favors
Marcus tries a little experiment during her seminar—she calls on a woman and asks her a favor: “Can you introduce me to your friend sitting there?” The woman laughs and introduces the two. “Thank you,” she says. “Now how hard was that?”
The simplicity of the request is…
3. Women don’t put enough stock in politics
Think your hard work and natural friendliness are shining through? Don’t be so naïve, says Marcus. You have realize how little people will know of you until you spell it out for them. And on that note—consider enlisting someone to spread the word for you.
Business is really all about relationships, and to advance to a leadership position, you need to…
4. Women don’t analyze their audiences
Bonnie suggests that, once you identify your networking target, you make a list of everything you know about them. Values. What they do in their spare time. Whether they’re family oriented. Favorite sports teams. Whether they’re outgoing or introverted. Whether they’re…
5. Women don’t know what to say about themselves
Once you know what your audience is looking for (what they value, what could benefit them), you need to strategically present yourself as the solution. Women often the mistake, Marcus says, of believing that making an impression as “nice” or a “hard worker” is enough to seal an opportunity, and don’t want to…more
Why Good People Can’t Find Jobs
What You’re Up Against
There’s a serious disconnect between companies and potential employees in the United States—one that may be holding our entire economy back. And, contrary to the conventional wisdom, it’s a problem that has been caused—and can only be cured by—companies. So says Peter Cappelli in his 2012 book Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.
In Cappelli’s view of the state of the modern employment landscape, there are several issues preventing companies from finding…
A Broken Hiring System
What’s wrong with the hiring system? According to Cappelli, a lot: the book paints a picture of understaffed HR departments struggling to identify the qualified candidates amidst a tsunami of applications—with the killer wave itself the product of the broken system.
As Cappelli explains, the rise of automated hiring software (you know: those pre-set forms and questionnaires you have to fill out before you attach your resume and…
What Companies Can Do
If Cappelli’s name sounds familiar, the chances are that you’ve probably already read the following quote from the concluding section of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs—it’s been making the rounds for a while, and is how I first came to hear about his book…more
How to Save a Bad First Day
Get off to a bumpy start? First, watch this video: it will help put your minor disaster into perspective.
Then, reflect a little with these questions:
1. Was it really that bad?
Sometimes we forget we’re not actually walking around with a spotlight on us. What you feel was a majorly conspicuous flub maybe have slipped by everybody else. And if not…
2. What impression did I make—and how would I like to appear instead?
Sometimes, more than avoiding mistakes, it’s the recovery that employers look for.
Let’s say you made a slip up like AJ and cursed: what’s the poor impression here? Lack of professionalism…
3. Can I laugh about this?
Sometimes the best strategy for moving on from an embarrassing incident is to address it, but minimize it too. The easiest way to do that is with humor. Take a little jab at yourself…
4. Do I owe someone an apology?
Sleep on this one. If you report for your second day and still sense some weirdness, don’t be afraid to reach out with an apology. A straightforward, sincere acknowledgement of a misstep and…
Got a first day coming up and hoping not to embarrass yourself?
Here’s a few safeguards:
1. Sleep and eat enough
You’ll need to be alert and well fed (bring snacks in case you can’t get away from your desk) to keep up.
2. Take notes
Be as self-sufficient as possible—you’re new, but no one’s going to want to hand hold you. Carry a small notebook around as you get situated and jot notes about what you’re learning. It may save you from annoying your new colleagues.
Why You Need a Sponsor at Work
You’ve heard a lot about mentoring, and your company may even have a formal mentoring program that matches junior employees with more senior management. In a typical mentoring relationship, mentees are free to ask their mentors questions about work policies, best practices, performance, reviews and more. Mentors, in turn, help guide their mentees through tricky situations at work and provide advice as needed.
Often, though, the mentor/mentee relationship is a passive one. In contrast, a sponsor is an active advocate who seeks out new opportunities for you, uses his or her influence to make sure the right people know about your accomplishments and recommends that you be promoted or given a raise, as appropriate.
A recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation, an organization that focuses on advancing women and minorities, shows that sponsorship “makes a measurable difference in career progress”—for both men and women. This makes sense—in order to get ahead at work, get a promotion or raise, or be considered for the best assignments or client relationships, you need someone advocating on your behalf. Often—especially at a large company—keeping your head down and doing good work isn’t enough to get noticed and considered for these opportunities.
So how do you go about finding a sponsor? Here are some tips to get you started:
Start by doing your absolute best at work. You’ll need to put in the time and effort to be a top performer at work before someone more senior will be willing to put …
Identify and get to know influencers. It’s easy to get lost in a big company or firm, so introduce yourself to higher-ups. Before you go barging into the CEO’s office, though, make sure you have a logical reason for being there—
Attend work events. Again, it’s important to get your name out there to potential sponsors, so if your company hosts a happy hour or other social gathering, do your best to attend. And once you’re there…
Ask for a meeting. It’s okay—and recommended—to ask a potential sponsor for a short meeting to discuss your goals. Make sure you’re prepared to discuss your performance and…
If it’s not working, move on. Companies with formal mentoring programs do their best to match you up with someone more senior, but these relationships are an…more