SMB College Tour

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As I write I’m heading back on Amtrak to NYC, completing our fall recruiting trips. I’ve been pretty sick the past week and I’m sure that those around me are hoping I get off at the next stop. Sorry, I am not. It’s another two hours with me. Just took another swig of NyQuil, so that should help. On my last trip down to DC via train the doors were held for a few minutes before we exited. Before that I noticed that many had their bags searched before they boarded. And I found it unusual that dogs kept walking down the aisles during our trip. And now we couldn’t exit? And then out the window I saw a very familiar, distinguished, and white-haired gentleman striding quickly, with an entourage of close to a dozen behind him. It was Joe Biden. Apparently he really does take Amtrak. Anyway, I thought I would share some observations of our college tour.

Brown students have the most pride in their school of any of the campuses that I visited. Community service is important in Providence and few students failed to forget this point. And Brown offers the coolest t shirts for purchase. Williams has the highest percentage of 800m SAT scores. I think 50 percent of our interviewees received a perfect score. UVA has the nicest setting. Interviews are held in boxes at the football stadium. Whoever came up with this idea should be governor. But there is no easy way to get there from NYC as I am learning too well as I write. Cal has the best healthy joints. And they have by far the most flyers per telephone poll of any campus. Finally, Penn students consistently understand why you want to be a trader over any other job in finance.

Students who have their own trading accounts stand out. I talked with one candidate from UVA today and by the end of our discussion I really just wanted to let him handle my trading account. I have to admit my first impression of this young man was not favorable. And then he just started talking about stocks and I it was just so clear. He was one of us. If you can talk about prices and stocks that you have bought you are immediately in the top five percent of all interviewees. If you have visited our Web site, read our blog, and watched us on Wall Street Warriors, then you jump to the top one percent. Interviewers are really just looking for people who are interested in what they do, not because we’re egomaniacs but because it shows that you’re truly interested in our work. I just want people to really do what they want to do, and if you’re already trading and have read our blogs that signals that you may just be one of us.

This is a great time to be graduating. Yes, I just wrote that. Previously, top students were given the opportunity to sell out and sign on to “safe” jobs at established companies. Those jobs have disappeared. And I think this is great. Since there are none of these high-paying, guaranteed, safe jobs you might as well just do what you want. And with globalization if you become good at something you will be paid much more than you may recognize. For example, SMB is known for its short-term training program. We now sell our training program throughout the world via our commercial Web site We are sought after from all parts of the world because we are very good at what we do. Recently, while at a Cubs game, Steve’s phone buzzed from those interested in India. I have unanswered emails in my inbox from the UK, China, Italy, Australia, Spain, Brazil, and Hawaii (true, not a country but still very far from NYC). When you get good at something this new world will find you.

College students are so much smarter than when I was in school. I learned something in every interview. I learned how to play freestyle Frisbee, and how one auditions for a comedy club. I enjoyed interesting conversations from Obama’s election to the cause of the housing crisis. If anyone is worried about the education that students are getting they should talk to the young people I meet. They’re thoughtful, polite, accomplished, and motivated. If they’re running the country when I get older we will be in good hands.

If you’re a college student deciding on your first job out of school please do what you want. If it’s sales, do that. If it’s working as an assistant at a hedge fund, then great. If it’s trading, then go find a job where they will let you actually trade. Doing what you want is the best job in the world.

Best of luck!

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