When it is time for college students to decide their majors, the vast majority choosing to major in finance (or economics) do so in the hope of securing high-paying and relatively stable employment after graduation. Many seek career opportunities with banking institutions, insurance companies and Big 4 accounting firms. Most finance (or economics) undergrads and MBAs have investment banks, hedge funds, management consulting and private equity at the top of their employment priority list - mostly because they typically pay more and carry a relatively high level of prestige.

Unfortunately, there are far more students than opportunities available in the most desirable financial fields. The majority of finance students, and many MBAs, have to weigh in on the prospect of working at one of the departments of a company, a commercial bank, insurance company, accounting firm or small consulting shop (i.e., marketing, supply chain, etc.). But just because you can't land a glamorous finance job - or don't want to - doesn't necessarily mean you don't belong in this major. Read on for some uncommon jobs in finance that you might want to consider.

When Finance Doesn't Suit You
Finance isn't for everybody and, over time, people and interests change. Don't think that you need to work in the area you obtained your degree in for the rest of your career. Undergrad finance students may have been exposed to, and affected by, other classes that they take at university. Perhaps it is an acting class, a political science class, a volunteer opportunity, study abroad or community activism that exposed you to prospective and authentic interests beyond the world of finance.

Use these experiences to guide your career choices. MBAs, who were once undergrads may have felt dishonest in working a few years in a job that they disliked or lacked passion on. Couple that with a competitive job market, and they too may seek a vocation more in tune with what they think could be their "true" calling.

"Non-Traditional" Jobs for the Left-Brained
If investment banking, hedge funds, management consulting or private equity are not viable options for you, consider matching your personal interests with your finance and business skill sets. Some examples include:

Sales/Business Development
Many finance majors gravitate toward technical positions within an organization such as finance, accounting, or even IT. Responsibilities that involve "soft skills" (or interpersonal communication and team work skills) are often beyond the comfort zone. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, recommends that every business professional should undertake at least one sales job in his or her career. A business development/marketing role allows you to understand your company's product and service offerings and be attuned to customers' preferences and sensibilities. Besides, if you want to rise up to executive ranks, you will sooner or later need to successfully acquire business development skills. Why put it off?

Look at partners at investment banks and consulting firms: most of their time is spent in client development. For those of you who are entrepreneurially deficient, this means bringing in revenue (money) to the office so that the office can afford to pay salaries (and put food on the table for everyone). Hedge fund managers and private equity partners are often on road shows raising capital and selling their investment theses to cynical high-net-worth investors, family offices and institutions. Private equity shops also spend a lot of time developing their relationships with groups that bring them deals (such as intermediaries and investment banks).

When you are a commoditized operation, you can bet there are many "soft interactions" involved. Business development skills are critical sooner or later in your career. The novice who shuns - or worse, looks down upon - a sales job eventually runs into his or her inability to be promoted beyond middle management.

Startup Company/Entrepreneurial Role
In your search for career opportunities, you might come across startups with interesting product or service offerings. As a caution, most startups fail within their first five years. However, a small company may offer a unique technology product or niche service offering that the marketplace is receptive to. Joining an entrepreneurial environment means you will have to rapidly execute a variety of different tasks such as administration, accounting, marketing and strategy. Based on your personality, you might enjoy this kind of environment as opposed to a much more structured, narrowly-defined job inside a larger corporation.

Analyst/Associate for Nonprofit Organizations
Some nonprofit company examples include the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. The nonprofit sector is also in need of some financially savvy individuals - and what better way to feel good about yourself than to join a group that is trying to make the world a better place?

Teaching or Volunteering
Some companies allow you to defer your employment start date so that you work for one or two years at a nonprofit organization. In addition, there are plenty of executives at Fortune 500 companies - such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil and Coca Cola - who were once Peace Corps volunteers.

Finance Officer in the Military
These officers execute financial management duties including contract management, budgets and forecasting. If you consider this option early enough, the military may help to pay for your educational costs and guarantee employment after graduation.

Financial Analyst for a Government Agency
Some government examples include Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, Department of the Treasury, etc.

The Bottom Line
Finance students and MBAs do not have to sulk or succumb to depression if they don't receive employment offers from an investment bank, hedge fund, management consulting firm or private equity shop. If you are one of many who has to choose (or perhaps forge) a new direction, it could be a blessing that you escaped the rat race of 90-hour work weeks. Alternatively, you get the chance to align your personal interests by exploring vocations that turn out to be surprisingly fun or more fulfilling than the traditional route - whatever that means for you. You can also be in a better position for leadership opportunities at that organization - effective leadership, after all, requires authenticity.

However you define personal greatness and sense of worth may lead you to discover your calling - not simply your job offer. As the great Winston Churchill said, "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, 'it is the quality which guarantees the others.'"

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Internships: Find The Best One For You

    It only takes a little legwork to land a prestigious career while you're still in college.
  2. Professionals

    7 Courses Finance Students Should Take

    These college classes will help you prepare for the working world. Learn how to stand out from your peers.
  3. Professionals

    How To Land A Finance Job With A Bachelor's Degree

    Following these five tips will keep your resume out of the recycling bin.
  4. Professionals

    4 Ways To Get A Head Start On Your Financial Career

    Breaking into the finance business is tough, but these tips can help.
  5. Budgeting

    Budgeting While You're In College

    Test your money management skills as you work your way through university.
  6. Professionals

    The Best Financial Modeling Courses for Investment Bankers

    Obtain information, both general and comparative, about the best available financial modeling courses for individuals pursuing a career in investment banking.
  7. Professionals

    Credit Risk Analyst: Job Description and Average Salary

    Learn what credit risk analysts do every day and how much money they make on average, and identify the skills and education needed for this career.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    4 Things to Know About Your Company To Make a Successful Pitch to Investors

    Learn how to make a successful pitch to investors. Regardless of your industry, size or market, there are some questions all investors need to have answered.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    Top 4 Billionaires Living in Los Angeles

    Learn how these multibillionaires built their fortunes to stand out from the crowd of the countless ultra-rich who call Los Angeles home.
  10. Investing Basics

    3 Business Tips from Restaurant Reality Shows

    The reality TV shows "Restaurant Impossible" and "Kitchen Disasters" offer lessons not just for restaurateurs, but for all business owners.
  1. What's the average salary of someone with a finance major?

    As of 2014, the average starting salary for someone with a finance degree is $57,300. This figure makes a finance degree ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors have to find their own clients?

    Nearly all financial advisors, particularly when new to the field, have to find their own clients. An employer may provide ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do financial advisors get drug tested?

    Financial advisors are not drug tested by any federal or state regulatory body. This means you may receive your Series 6, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is a financial advisor required to have a degree?

    Financial advisors are not required to have university degrees. However, they are required to pass certain exams administered ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do financial advisors have to be licensed?

    Financial advisors must possess various securities licenses in order to sell investment products. The specific products an ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center