I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Brett Sharoni, a 2010 Hopkins graduate who was one of the first to complete the financial economics minor. Brett is currently in his first year as an Investment Banking Analyst at Barclays Capital.
How did you get interested in finance?
I actually wasn’t one of those people who came into Hopkins knowing they wanted to do finance. I started out as a Cognitive Science major. Then I became involved with the Salant Investment Team, which really spurred my interest in finance. On the Salant Team, I had the opportunity to be making real investments, with real money. I’m the type of person who, when I do get interested in something, I want to know everything about it, so after joining the Salant Team, I ended up switching to Economics. I actually ended up taking every finance class that was offered, and I just tried to teach myself as much as possible.
Do you have any advice for freshmen or sophomores who might be thinking about getting involved in finance?
If you are genuinely interested in finance, you should do everything you can to try and demonstrate that. Take every opportunity you get to do something in finance. Whether you participate in clubs at school, unpaid internships, stock market competitions – anything you can to show that you’re interested. Saying you’re interested is one thing, but being able to show how you’ve demonstrated that interest really drives the point across to potential employers.
After spending the summer of his junior year at an internship with the financial consulting firm Invotex Group, Brett decided that he was interested in investment banking.
What is the most important advice you can give to upperclassmen looking to break into banking?
You’ve got to reach out to alums. You can use LinkedIn to find out who is at the different firms. Ask them for advice, and to help you out in any way. Most alumni are willing to help you out, and they want more Hopkins people at their firms. But in the end, its up to you to go out and make phone calls, and knock on doors to try to get in.
Brett got involved with the CFE at its inception in 2007, and when asked about his CFE experiences, he lots of good things to say. How did the CFE help you with your career goals?
The CFE was really a great thing for me. All of the Professors were great – Profs. Duffee, Wright, Faust, and Eraslan to name a few. The things you learn in their classes are the real thing. The concepts aren’t different in the real world. Its just that applying them in the real world is a little tougher given the messier situations. As long as you understand how things work, which you get in their classes, you will be prepared for the real world.
Is there a specific class that comes to mind?
Definitely. Eraslan’s restructuring class. I’m working on a restructuring project right now, and its amazing how much of what I know is coming straight from that class. All I’m doing is applying what I’ve learned to real situations. The only difference is that in the real world, problems don’t fit into a nice little box problem.
What was your favorite class at Hopkins?
I’ve had two favorites. My most favorite was Managerial Economics & Business Strategy with Barclay Knapp. Another great class is Economic Forecasting with Barbera. I honestly think that as a senior, you should be required to take at least one of these classes, just because it’s such a great experience.
Note: Barclay Knapp and Bob Barbera are two alums in the industry who return to Hopkins each year to teach in the program. The great practical knowledge they bring to the program is an integral part of the CFEs mission to “Bridge the Gaps”.
Brett promised to check in again in the future when we can hear more about getting a career in finance started.