In flush times, major brokerage and investment management houses are consistently on the lookout for new graduates. The idea is to fill the ranks with bright young minds and to mold them into financial professionals. But in slower times, jobs and good money aren't as easy to come by on Wall Street. With that in mind, what choices does a recent graduate (with Wall Street desires) have if after they receive their diploma the stock market is on the wane? There are a few options.

Head Back to School
Graduating with a four-year degree is terrific. However, to a certain extent, a bachelor's degree has become a common commodity on Wall Street - almost everyone these days seems to have one Therefore, recent undergrads might consider going back to school once again, perhaps for their MBA or another advanced degree. That may make them more marketable and cause them to stand out among other applicants. Also, hopefully, the hiring prospects will pick up come graduation time. (These certifications require time and money, but combined programs are making obtaining both more realistic; check out CFA, MBA ... Or Both?)

What type of degree or coursework would be the most advantageous to pursue?
That depends upon your career objectives. For example, a person looking to pursue a career as a chief financial officer (CFO) at a brokerage firm might want to obtain an MBA with a concentration in accounting and/or corporate finance. Meanwhile, a person who wants to go on and become a biotechnology stock research analyst might, under some circumstances, be better off taking science-related classes in conjunction with additional finance classes.

Again, think about what it is that you ultimately want to do, and consider talking to a career advisor to help you determine the best way to get there. (If your goals include a big paycheck and working for a Wall Street firm, then you need to learn how to meet employers' expectations. Read Top 4 Most Competitive Financial Careers.)

Consider Compliance
The need for individuals in compliance departments will always be present. After all, the well-publicized Wall Street shenanigans we've seen throughout history keep firms on the defensive. To that end, they'll be on the lookout for individuals who will make sure employees and the firm as a whole adhere to SEC rules.

Generally speaking, there is no set path one must follow to ultimately break in to compliance. However, having a firm understanding of the financial markets and experience within a firm is often a plus. Thus, getting one's foot in the door, perhaps in sales, trading, clearing or in some other department can be a stepping stone. (If you're a stickler for rules, this could be a promising career path for you, check out Get A Job In Compliance.)

Becoming a Financial Writer
The investing world has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 20 years. For example, in the early 1990s, many firms didn't use the internet, and many analysts and journalists studied hard copies (rather than electronic files) of financial reports. In addition, there were fewer sources of information.

These days however, there are seemingly countless print and web publications that are often able to respond to, and write about, corporate news in relatively short order, sometimes within minutes. These changes have opened up doors that weren't there before. It opened up a career path for financial writers and individuals with a passion about the markets and an ability to write and communicate. What's more, these types of people are needed in good and bad times. (Instead of working on Wall Street, write about it. See Becoming A Financial Writer.)

The High Payout Route
If sales or being a registered rep is your interest, you may want to consider linking up with a firm that offers a high payout on commission dollars. Often, but not always, the smaller more regional firms tend to be more generous. In short, this may help provide the rep with a bigger income during slower times.

However, there are downsides to smaller firms. Sometimes they may not be as financially stable as their larger counterparts, and it is sometimes easier to open up accounts when one is employed and backed by a large, well-respected, well-known firm. Finally, sometimes the larger firms may have better training programs than some of the smaller firms. (Before you agree to work for another investment firm, be sure you know what you're getting into. See Career Shift: Get In The Driver's Seat for more insight.)

Consider reviewing the websites of firms you might want to work at, and consider speaking with reps already employed at the target companies. They should be able to give you a better lay of the land and help you identify both the positives and the negatives.

Get Your Foot in the Door
Maybe you know you want to get involved in the securities industry but you don't know exactly what you want to do (although you do know you don't want to go back to school).

In such a case it may make sense to consider taking almost any job - within reason - just to get your foot in the door. At that point, you may be better able to determine where you want to go or what you can want to do from there. You'll also be in a better position to network and interact with people within the firm that may help them to identify a career path. (Moving to one of these financial hot-spot destinations could set your career in motion. See Top 10 Cities For A Career In Finance to find out where the action is.)

Bottom Line
A weak stock market can have an adverse impact on overall hiring on Wall Street, and on incomes, which by extension may discourage recent grads. However, recent undergraduates often do have options and can, as mentioned above, consider doing things that may help them adapt to the environment. (For more read Finding Your Place In The Financial Industry or for more articles, check out our Financial Careers Articles Archive.)

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Career Advice: Accountant Vs. Financial Planner

    Identify the key differences between a career in accounting and financial planning, and learn how your personality dictates which is the better choice for you.
  2. Retirement

    Why Are Annuities Important for Retirement?

    Understand how annuities work, and identify the benefits they provide for retirement, the most salient being a guaranteed income stream for life.
  3. Savings

    Become Your Own Financial Advisor

    If you have some financial know-how, you don’t have to hire someone to advise you on investments. This tutorial will help you set goals – and get started.
  4. Professionals

    How to Create a Retirement Co-Op in Your Community

    As the retirement boom continues, retirement co-ops are growing in popularity. Here's how to set one up in your community.
  5. Insurance

    The 4 Best Alternatives to Long-Term Care Insurance

    Understand what long-term care insurance is and the types of people who need this coverage. Learn about four alternatives to long-term care insurance.
  6. Investing Basics

    What Does Plain Vanilla Mean?

    Plain vanilla is a term used in investing to describe the most basic types of financial instruments.
  7. Professionals

    10 Must Watch Documentaries For Finance Professionals

    Find out about some of the best documentaries that finance professionals can watch to gain a better understanding of their industry.
  8. Stock Analysis

    How Does Oscar Work and Make Money?

    Learn how startup Oscar is taking on the health insurance giants by offering customers free doctor's visits, generic drugs and 24-hour phone access to doctors.
  9. Retirement

    The Better Way to Save: Life Insurance or IRA?

    Sure, you can tap your permanent life insurance policy to help fund your retirement. But in most cases, an IRA is the better choice. Here's why.
  10. Professionals

    Career Advice: Investment Banking Vs. Corporate Finance

    Read an in-depth review and comparison of a career in investment banking and a career in corporate finance, with advice about which one to choose.
  1. Can I borrow from my annuity to put a down payment on a house?

    You can borrow from your annuity to put a down payment on a house, but be prepared to pay an assortment of fees and penalties. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Are Cafeteria plans exempt from Social Security?

    Typically, qualified benefits offered through cafeteria plans are exempt from Social Security taxes. However, certain types ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are the biggest disadvantages of annuities?

    Annuities can sound enticing when pitched by a salesperson who, not coincidentally, makes huge commissions selling them. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the risks of annuities in a recession?

    Annuities come in several forms, the two most common being fixed annuities and variable annuities. During a recession, variable ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I determine if a longevity annuity is right for me?

    A longevity annuity may be right for an individual if, based on his current health and a family history of longevity, he ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can your life insurance company sue you?

    A life insurance company generally cannot sue you, but it can sue your estate. The company may do this in order to recover ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  2. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  3. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  4. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  5. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  6. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!