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From College to FinTech — Landing Your Dream FinTech Job

Asa Lieberman | March 08, 2018


Interested in a career in FinTech? Looking to be on the front line of emerging technologies right in the heart of New York City? Think you know other folks who may fit this description as well? Check out our open positions on our EquityZen Careers page now!

Recruiting is tough. Did I say tough? I meant excruciating. At a certain point in the process, the networking dinners become repetitive, the interview questions grow seemingly stale, and you're not even quite sure if the person on your resume is really you.

In a previous post, we discussed the reasons why joining a FinTech firm out of college presents an exciting adventure ripe with insightful experience, real-world responsibility, and leadership opportunities that a standard finance position might not offer. That was step one: the ideation phase. Once your heart is set on this journey, the next step is a simple one: get the job!

 


Did I say simple? I meant attainable—with a purposeful plan and meaningful interactions. In the following, we will discuss a few things you should be doing if you're hoping to make the leap into FinTech full-time. Before we start, step 0.5 is to apply for a position at EquityZen if you think you're a good fit! Alright, on with the show...

Hunt Down Your Desired Field

FinTech is a fun catchall term. Trust me, I've already used it four times in this post. Yet, this concoction of finance and tech actually encompasses a vast array of topics in and of itself. A small sampling of these fields includes:

  • Peer-to-Peer Lending
  • Private Markets
  • Wealth Management
  • Personal Finance & Mobile Banking
  • Blockchain Tech



Plan accordingly. Research each of these fields and pick those that appeal most to you and your skill set. From there, look up the firms in the given field that are getting press. Some places to check are the Forbes FinTech 50, BuiltInNYC, and similar lists. Many of these rankings are of course subjective, so for those who seek validation in dollar amounts, I recommend checking Crunchbase and AngelList for info on certain companies, including recent funding rounds and/or press releases that may indicate upward movement. When I was making my initial search I happened to notice a few companies popping up in multiple articles, each with a growing buzz (one of these was EquityZen). As you dive into this world, it should become easier and easier to deduce the companies that are thriving and that fit your desired path.

Extend Feelers and Use Your Network

I'll address the second half of this first (to keep you on your toes). The ability to effectively utilize your network—be it relatives, former high school acquaintances, or college alumni you're somewhat connected to—will always be a skill paramount to the hunt. The difference between using your network for standard recruiting and for FinTech recruiting is simply that the FinTech world is by its very nature smaller. All circles grow smaller with time and experience. Think of the startup world as an accelerated example of this. Someone who has spent three years with a firm could likely be one of its longest-tenured members and therefore hold plenty of clout in the organization. All this is to say: if you have anyone remotely related to FinTech that you can reach out to, seize that opportunity. Even if what that person does isn't right for you, it's highly plausible they have friends in the scene to whom they can make the first introduction.

 


By now, you've likely mastered the art of the recruiting email (if not, there are many solid blogs on the internet dedicated to this task). It is true that you will undoubtedly send quite a few to the people you have identified in your network or to the firms at which you wish to work. However, it is important to consider the multitude of avenues available for correspondence. A simple LinkedIn message might do the trick. Getting face time is even better: go to a MeetUp function, attend FinTech conferences, meet with professors to explore their networks, etc. As I mentioned, it's a small world. Make yourself known, make it clear you know why you belong in this field, and an opportunity will open up.

Know Why You're A Fit

You've researched the firm. You've gotten ahold of someone at the firm (hopefully in a position without the word "ninja"). You're meeting them for coffee. You've done the legwork and now is the time to razzle dazzle 'em in the interview like you usually do, right? Well, kinda. It is true that many of the pointers from your standard interviews will carry over (we have a handy guide to pitching yourself right here). Competency with financial markets, interview etiquette, and knowing your resume front and back are all prerequisites for a FinTech interview. However, while a large bulge bracket bank has many slots and a regimented interview process, a FinTech firm is often pickier about their candidates because there are fewer spots available and less capital. Each new employee is a serious investment for a FinTech startup. While a new analyst at an investment bank may feel disposable, a startup is expecting a new hire to come in and hit the ground running, taking on responsibilities that may affect revenue, all the while matching the culture fueling that company's growth.
 
With that in mind, it is absolutely imperative that you understand how you fit into the puzzle. Know exactly how your concentration in corporate finance is a direct value-add to a startup from a business development perspective. Know precisely why your degree in comparative literature and previous internships at a consulting firm will give you a unique vantage point with which to sculpt an aggressive new marketing/branding campaign. Understand that you are being brought on not simply to be a cog in a wheel but as a vocal, valued contributor from the minute you walk through their doors. All of the case studies in the world will not prepare you for all that you will learn in your first month. Your goal is to prove in that interview that you're ready for whatever comes your way, and that you have a few ideas of how to move the needle forward, too.
 

Is That It?

Well in a nutshell... kinda. No two experiences through this process will be alike. You might think to yourself, "well, that's the same as anywhere." Having gone through the process at several big firms on Wall Street, I can attest to having a similar—if not identical—process (down to the exact questions!) as my peers. There's merit to that, of course, and those firms have the capacity to do so. FinTech firms are constantly seeking growth, and while bringing in new talent is vitally important, it is also taxing as it pulls people away from their day-to-day responsibilities with little to no cover. If you've successfully followed this outline, you should be in a great position to prove this interview is a worthwhile trade-off.
 
I bid you good fortune as you journey through the brave new world of FinTech. One more time for the folks in the back: if you've got EquityZen on your radar, submit an app here! Be sure to peruse our blog for deeper dives into FinTech concepts and topics. Happy hunting!


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