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How to Break Into the Finance Industry When You Have No Money

So you want to break into the finance industry, but have no cash and no experience. No problem!

By Rowan MarleyPublished 6 years ago 5 min read

Did you know that a quarter of the wealthiest people in America got their money from working in the finance industry? It's a very high-paying field that offers people the lifestyle most can only dream of having. So, why just dream of being a finance professional when you can actually become one?

A common misconception about finance is that you have to have money in order to get into this industry. Believe it or not, it's possible to break into the finance industry and become a star player without having the initial cash trust-fund kiddies might have.

Here's how to do it.

If you want to break into the finance industry, you're going to have to bring in your "A game." Finance companies are exceptionally selective about who they hire, and their HR departments will look at every candidate pretty carefully.

This means you'll need to brush up your résumé, wardrobe, and your interviewing skills. Here are some important things to remember with your job hunt:

  • Work your skills and experience on your résumé. A college degree in accounting is extremely useful here, but not always necessary. Some positions will allow you entry as long as you have experience handling cash, managing others, or selling to others.
  • Get a set of good interview outfits. In finance, looks matter. This is a conservative industry, and that means your job interview wardrobe staples better include a suit. If you don't know what to wear to your job interview, research it.
  • Practice your interviewing skills and sell yourself. At the end of the day, finance is an industry that is full of "people persons." If you don't fit that bill, you're going to need to learn how to fake it until you make it. At the very least, look up job interview tips that can help you figure out what people are really thinking.

Figure out which finance field you can safely go into.

Part of being able to apply for finance jobs and break into the finance industry is understanding what niche would work well for you. Simply put, some options will more accessible than others.

If you have a college degree from an Ivy League school, you might be able to work for a major firm like Charles Schwab or Goldman Sachs right off the bat. Top performers can look at hedge fund management or financial analyst positions immediately.

On the other hand, if you have a typical degree with a mediocre GPA, you're probably going to have to stick to a local firm, or work in an accounting department for a while.

Those without a college degree will have a harder time finding an opening, but it's not impossible. Many tax prep centers and insurance companies will offer you a position as long as you're willing to learn.

If you want to add even more "oomph" to your résumé, start a blog or social media campaign to talk about finance.

Finance professionals are often in a position where they have to sell financial products to clients. When professionals in this industry aren't selling, they are using their knowledge to help companies make major decisions that have a huge impact on people.

The best way to showcase your intelligence, and also gain trust from both clients and potential employers, is to create an online brand that shows your skills. Things such as blog posts offering personal finance advice, videos that have you talking about stock market changes, and similar moves can do this very effectively.

This simple trick has helped hundreds, if not thousands, break into the finance industry with little to no money or experience.

When you're ready, it's time to start applying for jobs.

Once you have a nice presentation for finance groups, it's time to start applying for jobs. This is actually one of the easier aspects of getting into the industry.

You can use sites like Indeed or Craigslist to find good entry-level finance jobs, or if you have connections, ask friends which companies are hiring on Wall Street.

Don't be upset if you don't get the jobs you want, or if the job you want isn't that "cool." You don't have to get a glamorous first job here; this is more about getting your foot in the door.

If you're a new grad and want to break into the finance industry fast, you may want to take a financial analyst course or two. Most financial analyst programs will get you into a position within two years—and may even come with free training and networking.

That being said, some firms who train financial analysts will also offer free job placement. That's not a bad thing to consider.

Acclimate to the culture.

If there's one thing that finance professionals will tell you, it's that there's definitely a certain culture aspiring finance pros will need to learn. You will need to learn how to balance being a human with knowing when to talk using financial jargon.

Aside from networking, a strong emphasis on math is going to be necessary in your everyday life. You would be wise to brush up on your math before your dinners.

Women in finance professions should be aware that they may have a little extra difficulty in their field. Painful as it may be to say, finance is a bit of a Boys' Club at times.

Remember when I said that finance is a "people" industry? You really can't do too well as a finance person without having a lot of connections to other groups around you.

Once you get your first finance job, it's crucial to keep networking with other firms around you. Your goal here is to communicate with others and establish more connections. In finance, you never know who will be the next person you meet—and where they can take you.

By networking, you will help guarantee that you'll eventually graduate from your entry-level position and find something far more impressive later on. You also will be able to learn more skills through others this way, too!

Understand that you probably will end up working ridiculous hours.

People who want to break into the finance industry and actually stay there will need to understand something about this field.

What they need to understand is that it's brutal work—and not just on an emotional level, either. The amount of work you will be expected to do puts most other industries to shame. Expect to work late nights in the office if you want to stay in the field.

Not all new finance pros are fresh out of college. Some have had long-term success in other fields and are now looking for a different type of challenge. If this sounds like you, then congrats, you're not alone!

The best way to break into the finance industry if you have decided to switch careers is to network with people who can help you out. You'd be surprised at how many will be happy to help you.

Work your way to the top, and don't stop learning.

If there's one thing that you can really enjoy about finance, it's the fact that you can work your way to the top. Once you break into the finance industry, you can earn what you're worth based on merit—and that can mean big bucks for you.

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About the Creator

Rowan Marley

Rowan Marley is a 20-year-old sports enthusiast who hails from Brooklyn. When he's not hitting up a local Zumba class, he's drinking organic smoothies. That's just how he rolls.

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    Rowan MarleyWritten by Rowan Marley

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