How to get your first graduate role in finance

Emily recently wrote to us at F3 asking our best tips and tricks in which to help land her first graduate role in financial services. What a great question and thanks Emily for asking.

Let me say firstly that it’s great that you are looking at financial services for your career. It is very rewarding… with a dash of hard work along the way.

  • Research.

    Spend a little time researching the industry, participants and roles that you might be invested in. No one wants to help someone find a role if even they don’t know what they want to do or which companies they want to work for. Ask yourself what do you like, what are you good at and where do your values fit in a corporate environment. Is it analysis, debt, equity, lending, marketing, property, accounting, etc There are so many options so try to narrow your interests down first. This is particularly important when looking at utilising your network. See below.

  • Patience

    So let me tell you my story to give you a little inspiration: After applying for every graduate role in finance in my last year of uni, I was finally offered a role with one of Australia’s big banks. Yay, right? But no, it was a role I didn’t really want. So when I told my parents and friends that I was turning it down, they thought I was crazy. But I knew two things, I wanted to be in finance and I wanted to be in a marketing role. The job I was offered was not in a marketing role. So I stuck to my guns and was patient. It took me another 6 months before a role came up that matched my two interests. I loved it and have never looked back. So whilst its difficult to do, please do be patient in finding the right role for you.

  • Utilise your Network

    Who do you know that is in finance? Who do you know that knows someone in finance? Write a list and get those people to introduce you. Who do your parents, aunts and uncles, next door neighbours, even lecturers know in finance - a financial adviser, accountant, someone who works in insurance, what about someone who works in a bank? Arrange to have a coffee. At the coffee meeting, explain that you are interested to find out more about what they do in their role as you are keen to find your first role in finance. Ask them how they got their first role in finance? Ask for their assistance. Can they introduce you to someone that might be interested in meeting you? Whilst difficult, it pays to be a little bold sometimes. If there is one thing Ive learnt in life is that ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ve met a few interesting people and learnt a little about what they do. The upside, you meet their contacts and then their contacts and so on, each time saying that you’re keen to find your first role in finance. 

  • Recruitment agents. There are a number of recruitment agents that specialise in recruiting for specific roles in financial services companies. Do some research into who these are and ask to meet with them to discuss your CV. Some may not specifically recruit for graduate roles but they will be able to give you some tips that will be useful in your search. Getting on their radar is important for the long term.

Getting your first role in finance can be challenging. Much of it is luck and being in the right place at the right time. Be patient and keep positive. You’ll get the role you desire.

Good luck,


PS See my articles on interview tips and cover letter tips.