A career in finance can be extremely rewarding. But in what is a very competitive industry, it’s important to do all you can to position yourself as the most viable candidate when applying for roles. Often, this starts with completing a university degree. Gaining an undergraduate degree will provide you with all the necessary tools to kickstart your career in finance and will be looked upon fondly by prospective employers.
But some courses will be more suitable than others, so it’s important to know the sort of things you should be looking for and thinking about when selecting your degree. Here are three things to bear in mind as you start to plan your next steps.
Finance is a broad subject that encompasses all different disciplines. A general finance degree will provide you with a route into lots of potential career paths, but if you’re particularly passionate about a specific area of finance, look for courses that are more tailored to your preferred skill set.
Make sure you take a careful look at the course content at each institution, as you’ll find different modules are covered, and you may get a choice on areas of specialisation as you progress through your course. While you don’t have to make your mind up on exactly what you want to do with your finance degree, it’s useful to read up on the different modules that are taught to see which ones pique your interest most.
It may go without saying, but unfortunately, there’s no way around the fact that maths is an important part of any finance course. Having said that, you’ll find that most courses don’t explicitly require undergrads to have previously studied maths at school or college, but choosing not to will certainly put you at a disadvantage. If you’re planning on pursuing further studies in finance, it’s important to focus on developing your maths skills since these will be incredibly useful throughout higher education and ultimately your career.
It’s important to note that some universities will expect you to have studied maths, especially higher ranked institutions. But even if a maths qualification isn’t an entry requirement, admissions officers will look upon your application more favourably if you have gained a good qualification in the subject, because a strong understanding of numbers is key to a successful career in finance.
Lots of degrees in any subject will offer students the opportunity to spend a year in the industry, gaining on-the-job experience. This can be an invaluable way to not only develop the skills you’ve been honing in your lecture halls, but it also gives you the chance to start establishing a network of professional contacts. A placement year could help you get your foot in the door and set you up for your first role after graduation.
But a placement year won’t necessarily be right for everyone. You may prefer to complete your three-year course in its entirety before focusing on employment. From a social aspect, this will mean you finish your course at the same time as your friends (providing they’re on a three-year course too) which is a big consideration for many people. Whether you see the value in a placement year or have no interest in doing one, bear this in mind when researching courses.