Here’s a talk with Ben Loveland who recently graduated from NYU Stern and is now working as an Associate at Credit Suisse in the Global Industrials Group for the Investment Banking Division. Thank you Ben for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!
This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate?
Ben: I’m from East Setauket, NY (Long Island) and went to Villanova (PA) on a full Army ROTC scholarship. I graduated in 2005 with a political science degree and wished to pursue the JAG corps and attend law school. However, at the time I graduated and was commissioned into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant, I was diagnosed with a kidney disease that forced me to accept an honorable medical discharge.
With my very short military career over, I had to find another career. I took a position with Accenture, which is an IT consulting firm, and learned a lot about working on client sites, working in teams, and meeting tight deadlines. I wasn’t absolutely enthused by the product of IT, so I decided to make a switch into finance and see what a lot of my classmates were doing in NYC.
I was lucky enough to get hired before the financial meltdown and started at Goldman Sachs in February of 2008 in their Credit Derivatives Middle Office. Of course, a month later Bear Stearns collapsed and Lehman went down not much later. The work was extremely fast paced, I worked with top-notch people, layoffs were almost constant, but I thrived. I joined Goldman as an Analyst, then was promoted to Technical Specialist and then Associate.
After two years, however, I realized that a long-term career in Operations was not what I sought. I wanted a position that was revenue-generating, client-facing, and more macro than Sales and Trading. Investment Banking seemed to fit into my long-term career goals, and fit my personal skill set, so I set up meetings with some GS employees in IBD and quickly learned that to get into banking, especially in the midst of a financial crisis, you must be recruited out of a top business school (Analyst or Associate new hire). I decided that I needed to take the GMAT and get the ball rolling on finding a top business school.
Accepted: Why did you decide to attend NYU Stern?
Ben: The first thing about Stern is that it’s in the city, so there are a ton of alums around the city, especially in financial services. So I met some alums and had a very favorable impression from them on their experience at Stern and the types of recruiting that happens there. I also visited Stern and immediately thought it was the best fit for me, personality-wise. It’s a top business school, with extremely smart and talented students, however, it was also a place that was collaborative internally, competitive externally.
My impression before visiting was that there was no secluded campus and therefore a diluted community of commuters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I found a community that was supportive and engaged, almost tighter in the space that occupies Stern because of all the madness of the city surrounding it. I found the faculty to be top-notch, student-body to be down to earth, the career opportunities stellar, and a surprising amount of international engagement (students, faculty, travel, global learning, etc.). After visiting other schools in the area, and considering a jump to the west coast, it turned out to be a no-brainer for me.
Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about living in New York City? What were some of the advantages of studying in the Big Apple?
Ben: I’m very biased, but I think NYC is the best city in the world. The amount of cultural, social, and academic activities here are incredible. I thought Stern did a great job of utilizing all of the resources the city has to offer. The center of the financial world is here, so for me personally, that was a huge advantage. NYC also has some great advantages for students wanting to study strategy, entrepreneurship, brand strategy, media, etc. There are so many companies and industries here it really is amazing. Also, getting keynote speakers to address the student body is fairly simple, since a lot of executives are either based here or visit here frequently. I also think the quality of the faculty is in large part due to the awesome location, many adjunct professors can run their business and teach at Stern in their free time. Pretty impressive.
Accepted: I see you’re now working as an Associate at Credit Suisse. What role did NYU play in securing that position?
Ben: NYU set it up completely. I was on a pretty standard track of Investment Banking, so all of my initial meetings with banks were on campus. All of the bulge bracket banks and many mid-tier investment banks come to Stern to recruit, so the opportunities for IB are tremendous. The standard tracks (Consulting, IB, S&T, Marketing) are mostly setup by NYU through their “on-campus” recruiting. Stern set up the corporate overview sessions, the meet and greets, and interviews, which are critical to getting a job at these places.
Accepted: How has your experience in the U.S. Army contributed to your business skills?
Ben: Due to my abbreviated stint in the Army, I can’t really speak about my huge amount of leadership experience, but I can speak of the Army training and how relevant it can be in business. I think firms like to recruit ex-military because there seems to be a lot of critical business qualities in military candidates: loyalty, respect, discipline, leadership, integrity. I think humility and eagerness play a large role as well. In organizations where chain of command, organization and leadership are important, such as Investment Banking, military candidates will do extremely well. Also, firms recognize their ability to handle pressure well, make quick decisions and be quantitatively strong, so S&T also seems to be a good fit. For me personally, I think the military helped instill a sense of discipline and maturity that seems to be rare for students coming out of college. I think having some training grounds to practice leadership and taking command of a unit can certainly help in a workplace when a project needs a push to make a deadline or meetings that tend to end in chaos, it can certainly help to have someone who can seize control and guide a group toward a decision.
Accepted: Do you have any advice for some of our applicants who will be applying to NYU Stern?
Ben: I think more than any other top program, Stern looks for candidates that have strong EQ. For future business leaders, just being smart and analytical is not enough. They have to be able to lead people, to deal with clients, shareholders, employees and on and on. Stern has a process for measuring EQ which tends to work extremely well in the classroom. Certainly by coming off as respectful, hard-working, down to earth and sociable, in addition to being smart and ambitious, it will help your case. Be prepared for the interview, although it is a friendly interview, they are looking for a candidate that has done her homework on the school and her future career plans. If a potential candidate does not appear to be ready for a job interview, it is unlikely that candidate will be prepared for on-campus interviews in the fall, so that will not reflect well.
For specific advice on how to create the best application for NYU Stern, please see Linda’s NYU Stern 2013 MBA Essay Tips.