With more than 20 years of experience in investment banking and private equity in the United States and in Europe, Philippe Hercot, executive professor of finance and director of Aggies on Wall Street, knows what it takes to have a successful career in finance. “We are constantly adapting and changing the program to meet the demands of the job market,” said Hercot, who collaborates with Dr. Sorin Sorescu, longtime head of the Department of Finance. One recent shift was moving the program up a year to maximize the recruiting cycle. Previously, students joined Aggies on Wall Street during their junior year, but Hercot and Sorescu recognized that to make them more competitive, they had to start sooner.
The program begins with an application process at the start of students' sophomore years. While some students are still settling into college and considering a major, the 16 to 20 students chosen to participate in Aggies on Wall Street each year must start thinking like professionals. Only those with strong analytical minds, a willingness to invest significant time and effort in and out of the classroom, and students who seek a fast-paced, demanding and competitive career are considered for the program.
That career is anchored by an internship that occurs the summer between their junior and senior years. If they work hard and add value to the employer, that internship should conclude with a job offer. Recruiting for internships now begins as early as the spring of students' sophomore years.
The traditional finance major doesn’t tackle topics like corporate finance or investment banking until their junior year. Aggies on Wall Street students take these challenging classes as sophomores. They are also expected to keep abreast of current economic and financial news, as well as read additional books assigned by faculty. In their junior or senior year, they must master advanced financial modeling—curriculum not presented elsewhere in the business school.
The first year of the program concludes with a month-long investment banking seminar. Immediately following the class, students travel to New York, where they visit 35-plus investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial companies. They are hosted by Aggies or connections of theirs who work at top firms from Credit Suisse and JP Morgan to Blackstone, Goldman Sachs and KKR. They also share meals with Aggies and friends of the program who open their homes and their contacts to students. Each interaction, whether in a boardroom or a living room, is an opportunity for students to learn and build their professional connections.