UVA Darden Grads a Growing Force on Wall Street
Roughly 350 miles separate the University of Virginia Darden School of Business from Wall Street, and yet the distance hasn’t stopped the School from developing into one of the top business schools in the country for the investment banks of Wall Street to source MBA talent.
“It’s simply the quality of our students,” said Jeff McNish, assistant dean of the School’s Career Development Center (CDC). “Darden students tend to be humble team players, but they are goal-oriented, as well. Our faculty, and the support the CDC gives them from Day One, has contributed to what’s become an impressive pipeline.”
One of the CDC’s initiatives over the past year has been to hire in additional senior staff with industry experience to help both companies and students get the results they want. CDC Senior Director Paul Reeder (MBA ’98) returned to Darden after a 20-year career at S&P Global to focus on students pursuing careers in finance.
While the School has long sent a sizable portion of its graduates into finance careers, Reeder said the recruiting infrastructure has grown since his time as a student.
“I arrived in the first week of January, straight into a maelstrom of investment banking intern interviews,” said Reeder “We had 16 banks on Grounds that week!”
For several years, Darden has consistently sent 50 to 60 students in each graduating class to top firms on Wall Street, including both bulge-bracket and boutique firms, making Darden one of the top feeder schools for investment banking careers, despite its much smaller student body.
For the Darden Class of 2017, 15 percent of Darden graduates went into investment banking — the third highest percentage of any school. Historically, between 15 percent and 19 percent of students accept jobs on Wall Street. McNish attributes some of this success to CDC Senior Career Adviser Ed Yu, who has specialized in working with finance students the last 13 years at Darden, coaching hundreds into their careers.
According to Yu, banks actively seek out those with the enterprise view Darden alumni bring to their organizations. “The banks tell us they love both the work ethic of Darden graduates and the well-rounded education, Yu said. “It helps our students cope with the demands at Wall Street and then to be successful at the VP level and above.” Currently, a third of Darden alumni on Wall Street work as directors or managing directors.
Darden is far from resting on its reputation, however. In 2017, Darden made a rare change to its academic core curriculum, moving its finance class from the second to the first semester. The change was done deliberately to help demystify financial analysis and to give students the confidence to tackle the most technically demanding jobs on Wall Street or beyond. One outcome has been a record number of women at Darden pursuing investment banking —40 percent of the intern class of 2018.
In early spring, Darden hosted a roundtable in New York, bringing together representatives from 16 of the banks that hire its students, along with faculty leadership, CDC staff and student leadership from the Darden Finance Club. The aim was to gain an understanding of each others’ perspectives around recruiting and to collaboratively build solutions that benefit both recruiters and students.
The involvement of student leadership at that meeting and throughout the year has been a key to presenting hiring companies with a united voice, showing all aspects of the School working in concert during the recruiting process.
Sam Kramer (MBA ’18), former president of the finance club said the CDC is laser-focused on helping students find the positions they want.
“There wasn’t a single conversation that didn’t start and end with what is best for the students and what is best for the School,” said Kramer.
A career in investment banking isn’t for everyone, but for those students who have the interest, talent and determination, Darden has built a clear path to that goal.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia