While a significant number of Rutgers alumni work on Wall Street, many of them want to ensure that future generations of Rutgers graduates can get a foot in the door of the major brokerages and banks. Through a new program, Road to Wall Street, some of these alumni are working with Rutgers to help students seeking careers in the financial sector. The program offers on-campus networking events, site visits to major Wall Street firms, résumé and interview workshops, and industry mentoring by well-placed alumni.
Matthew Mednick, who will graduate from Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick in 2014, is participating in the Road to Wall Street program. His mentor was Steven Saslow RC’72, a consultant for the Blackstone Group. Saslow and Mednick, who will work this summer in sales and trading at Credit Suisse, shared some of their thoughts about the Road to Wall Street program.
Why was the Road to Wall Street program needed?
Steven Saslow: My firm and others have been reaching out over the years to business school graduates from places like SUNY–Binghamton, the University of Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, and some other very good schools, so I thought Rutgers should also put its best students out there. Rutgers graduates are competing with Ivy League grads, who have a very good network of friends and colleagues in Wall Street firms. The Road to Wall Street program helps Rutgers students get familiar with how the process works. Going forward, Matthew and others in the program can help the next group of participants: they’ll learn from Matthew, how he went through the process, what types of questions he was asked.
Matthew Mednick: What really struck me is how many successful people on Wall Street are Rutgers graduates; it’s not just Ivy League grads getting the good and competitive jobs. It made me realize that I need to work hard, but that I can also build incredibly strong and valuable relationships through Rutgers.
What kinds of advice did you give/receive during the program?
SS: The students need to have a background in current events and issues. Where I think I helped my mentees is giving them the street jargon. This is not what you learn in the textbooks, but this is how the real world works, so it’s less of a surprise. A big part is how they work with others. When we hire for internships and full-time jobs, the ability to work with other people is so key. They really have to fit in, have a sense of camaraderie.
MM: Make the extra effort. If you’re at a large networking event with several alumni in the room, spend an extra five minutes and take time to meet one more person. You never know who the connection will be who is really going to help you. Steven also told us we need to work really hard, to be the best at what we are doing right now and to look at how this will lead to the next opportunity. He helped me realize that everything has a logical progression.
How does the program prepare prospective Wall Street hires?
SS: The key is not only being at a firm like Blackstone but knowing others at JP Morgan and elsewhere, where I can make a phone call. I can do that but the rest is up to them. Matthew is very talented and his work ethic is high. I have confidence he will do well.
MM: The second time I met with Steven, I went to his office and he had some people from Blackstone mock interview me. Then he sent me to one of his colleagues at a bank to mock interview me. It helped me understand exactly how a sales and trading interview would be structured. When you interview, you need to really know your own story—why you’re in the room, what makes you different from other candidates, and how you’re an asset. If all things are equal, know what makes you stand out.