The 2020-21 Marion Harrison Greene award winner Jules Kennedy has just begun a very promising career in the world of finance.
In true student-athlete fashion, Jules chose to attend Hobart and William Smith College to continue her journey in athletics. Playing both Hockey and Lacrosse, Jules from the very beginning excelled on the field, in the rink, and in the classroom. One of the pros of going to a smaller liberal arts school is that freshmen are guaranteed a well-rounded education. To graduate students must meet 8 categorical goals that ensure they get a taste of the vast curriculum HWS has to offer. Not knowing what field of study to go in, Jules used her time in college to explore the different possibilities the world has to offer.
Jules’ overall experience was extremely valuable in retrospect. The connections she made there played a big role in this. “It was really easy to make friends outside of sports. If I had gone to a bigger school I think I would have had a harder time making friends outside of sports,” Jules said. The professors at HWS make a conscious effort to get to know their students, which adds a nice sense of community. Professors and students simply by going to the Colleges’ athletic events and knowing what was going on in other students’ lives is a nice feeling that many athletes attest to. The smaller class sizes are also a big help. “Small classes helped me make connections with my professors, which helped down the line. They know a ton of people, so they would give me advice on how to navigate the job application process when it came time. They were more than willing in my stage of networking to put me in contact with people.”
These connections would ultimately lead Jules into financial services even if she didn’t know it yet. At the start of her college career she thought of studying something science related, but as time rolled on she decided that science may not be for her. Eventually Jules narrowed her focus to Economics, a major reason could be credited to one of her professors. “The reason why I chose Economics was because in one of my first classes that I was signed up for randomly, my professor, Stanfield, wrote a note on my first test ever saying to be an econ major and that was what inspired me to do it. I think that if I didn't go to HWS and met that professor I don't know if I would be where I am today.”
Another major pro of going to a smaller liberal arts school is that professors are not limited in their teachings. Many professors offer unorthodox curriculums that give students perspective into their field of study. “I really liked that every teacher had their own philosophy and didn't just do a bunch of supply and demand curves. I read a lot of literature from economists that weren’t mainstream and just in the news all the time,” Jules said. “The perspective I gained at Hobart definitely gives me perspective in my job now and that really helps. One thing I think is really important is that everything that happens in the market is really social. People feed off of each other, and some colleges don’t really touch upon that aspect in their teachings.”
Besides academics, Jules had a full schedule balancing Hockey and Lacrosse as well as a social life. Sports never had a negative impact in her coursework however. Jules actually found having a rigid schedule kept her on task and focused. Having coaches and professors invested in Jules motivated her to be the best person she could be. Sports also altered Jules’ outlook on life for the better, giving her a competitive streak that would cause her to strive for greater expectations of herself. Being in such a competitive field of work gives Jules the same fulfillment of competing within sports.
Sports in general gives students a lot of useful tools that can be applied in the workplace. Knowing how to collaborate with people and knowing how to work within a hierarchy are two big ones. However, on the other hand some skills cannot be learned in an athletic environment. Sociology and writing are two more technical skills Jules pointed out that have a very positive impact on workplace performance. “Knowing how people work is always a good thing. Writing is also really important for communicating thoughts and ideas coherently.” Teamwork in general mixed with humility is a recipe for success.
Jules has now recently begun her promising career at Bain Capital as a Portfolio Operations Associate. The steps that came after school were filled with anxious moments due to the competitive nature of the business, however, Jules embraced the challenge head on. Even though Jules was an intern for Bain Capital the past two summers, if there is one thing to understand about the financial market it’s that nothing is set in stone.
Leading up to the interview process Jules spent a lot of time networking and preparing to put herself into the best position possible. “It was good I worked there in the past and had those connections, but it was still uncertain. I had to interview with other people within the company, which is standard across the board in finance. You always have to interview for your next role. I was nervous that they might not have liked me as an intern. But for those interviews I was really really prepared.”
One of the reasons why the financial industry is so difficult to break into is because of the competition from Target schools. 60-70% of Bain Capital employees come from target schools, many of which are recruited by head hunters. Not to say those who do not come from target schools do not have a chance at working at top financial firms, however, those who come from smaller colleges must make sure they have an air tight resume. One factor that differentiated Jules from the pack was that she played multiple college sports. About half of Bain’s employees had participated in college athletics. The reason why this is a distinguishing factor is because sports demonstrates a vast array of soft skills employers look for. “It was attractive to them because it showed I was able to manage a full course load, get good grades, and play a sport on top of that. They also want competitive people, and people who have the ability to manage a lot of things at once. Playing a sport shows you have the ability to juggle tasks.”
Besides a good resume students usually need a referral to even be looked at for a position. Luckily for Jules, she had an internal reference, which carries a lot of weight in the financial sector. There are no job postings on LinkedIn or even a page on the website where you can apply at Bain. The only way into the club is to have a voucher.
Breaking down the job application process, Jules stated: “connections are the most important factor for getting your foot in the door. Internships, maybe your resume, but after that it’s connections and the interview process. Interviews are also a place where you can make those connections. Looking back that was probably the most important, you want them to think ‘yeah that's someone we want working here.’”
Through the process Jules has learned many lessons and has continuously strove to better herself each and everyday. What got the Marion Harrison Greene 21’ winner through this process was a positive attitude along with some help from friends, family, and professors in her close circles. If there was any advice Jules would give it would be “to put yourself out there. You don't have to go to a top school to work at top companies.”
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