October 31

Finance Society Offers Underclassmen Academy

Admittance to the Marriott School of Management’s elite finance program requires experience and passion.

Each year, the program’s selection benchmarks increase; in 2016 just 56 percent of applicants were accepted. Students accepted to the program have impressive credentials, including an average GPA of 3.76 this year. What’s more, 60 percent of this year’s new finance students have already completed a summer internship, compared to 20 percent in previous years.

The competition escalates after students enter the program, as they dive into the junior core classes. Submerged in information sessions and networking events, these high-achieving students often feel like they are sinking rather than sailing.

“I wish I had known that internship recruitment season starts the first week of school,” says Jamas Wible, who entered the junior core this semester. “With class, interview preparation and info sessions, it’s extremely stressful.”

To help students find success, the BYU Finance Society, led by copresidents Caleb Ward and Dallas Teshima, developed a plan.

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BYU finance majors Caleb Ward, left, and Dallas Teshima are the copresidents of the BYU Finance Society.

After recognizing the struggles of freshmen and sophomores to feel confident on their way to the finance program, Ward and Teshima established “Underclassmen Academy,” a weekly crash course held during the fall semester that is designed to prepare future finance majors for the rigors of the Marriott School curriculum and expectations.

“The big banks are going to start recruiting out of kindergarten, and we will make sure we are ready,” Teshima quips.

The Underclassmen Academy initiative serves as a springboard for the other finance clubs.

“We hope underclassmen come here first to learn about the different areas of finance, then specialize to one of the clubs as second-semester sophomores,” Ward says.

Teshima and Ward bring in student representatives from each of the six finance clubs: Corporate Finance Club, Finance Consulting Group, Investment Banking Club, Markets Club, Real Estate Club, and Private Banking Group. Upperclassmen from the clubs provide information on their previous summer internships and answer questions about specific aspects of each area of finance. The representatives who come in don’t sugarcoat their personal experience.

Ward and Teshima also bring in financial gurus from major companies such as Dell and JP Morgan. Aspiring finance students ask guest speakers questions on topics ranging from summer internships to personal career decisions.

Each Underclassmen Academy meeting also includes professional skills training such as practicing elevator pitches and reviewing résumés. Seniors and underclassmen work together to sharpen interview skills and financial vocabulary. The upperclassmen provide helpful insights and a trove of advice, and sometimes help underclassmen land a summer internship or even a job.

“The company where I did my internship in New York recently called me and asked for the top 20 students I would recommend,” Ward says. “I immediately told them about the students who had proactively reached out to me. It’s important to get in front of seniors.”

Underclassmen Academy links finance program hopefuls with successful seniors and graduates—and often a free slice of pizza.

“Thanks to Underclassmen Academy, I feel confident as I prepare to apply to the program,” says premanagement major TJ Pugmire.

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BYU students mingle and enjoy pizza at an Underclassmen Academy meeting hosted by the BYU Finance Society.