New program opens doors to investment banking

Mara Force teaching in a classroom

Mara Force, professor of practice in finance, is faculty director of the new Investment Banking Development Program.

Undergraduate students looking to break into one of the most competitive industries in the world of business just got a leg up on the competition.

The Investment Banking Development Program, an application-only extracurricular offering that launched last spring, gives sophomores specialized training to prepare them for internships and jobs in the field. Designed to supplement the undergraduate finance curriculum, the multi-year program includes classroom instruction, online and in-person Excel modeling courses, technical interview coaching, and lectures from top investment banking executives.

“The investment banking recruitment timeline has been pushed forward so much, if you know you want to go into investment banking, you’ve got to be on top of it from pretty much the minute your feet hit ground on campus,” says Mara Force, professor of practice in finance and faculty director of the program. “This program really gives students a jumpstart by exposing them to content that they wouldn’t ordinarily get until their junior or senior year.”

The program is the brainchild of Steve Jarmel (BSM ’93), founder and partner at Chicago private equity firm Periscope Equity. After hiring a number of candidates who completed undergraduate investment banking programs at other schools, Jarmel provided funding to launch a program at Freeman.

“We hope it will change the lives of students by expanding their capabilities and knowledge, ultimately preparing them for successful, rewarding careers,” says Jarmel. “In addition, the Investment Banking Development Program is an opportunity to encourage prestigious financial services firms to recruit and hire Tulane students who are ready to hit the ground running.”

While the program is targeted to students focused on careers in investment banking, Force says she also hopes it will introduce the field to a wider variety of students.

“We want to demystify investment banking for groups of students who would not normally consider it,” she says. “We’d like to build up a pipeline
of, for example, women and minority students who might be interested in investment banking.”

One way to do that is by introducing students to Tulane alumni who work in the field. Among the executives who served as guest lecturers in the program last year were William Marko (E ’81, E ’83), managing director at Jeffries; Fritz Buerger (BSM ’04), managing director at William Blair; Julianne Canavaggio (L ’06), managing director at Lazard; Skylar McClane (BSM ’19), debt capital market analyst at SMBC Nikko; and Eric Reuther, managing director at CIBC Capital Markets.

Ultimately, Force says the goal is to help students get an investment banking internship following their junior year, a crucial step in landing a full-time job offer after graduation.

“If you don’t apply for that internship in your sophomore year to do after your junior year to get that offer during your senior year, there are fewer jobs left,” Force says. “We want to help students get their foot in the door as early as possible.”

With one year completed, Force says she hopes to expand the program in the coming year. Goals include establishing a robust partnership with the
Green Bull Group, a student group focused on preparing students for banking roles and developing mentorship programs.

“Getting two years of investment banking under your belt is just a phenomenal preparation for any type of career in business,” she says. “But for students who know they want to go into investment banking, it’s absolutely invaluable.”

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