Is Banking all about the numbers?
Numbers are important, but the story they tell is more important.
I’m Bryan, a former Marine and incoming Associate in Banking at Barclays. About a week ago I had the opportunity to sit down with David Wang, a Marine Corps veteran and a current Vice President on Barclays’ High Yield Bond trading desk. As someone who just went through the military to business school transition and recruiting process, I thought it would be good to share our conversation with the greater Barclays and veteran communities.
Bryan – Hi David. For starters can you introduce yourself by taking me through your background from undergraduate through today?
David – Sure. I graduated from the University of Texas in 2004 and served in the Marine Corps after that. I was an artillery officer by trade and conducted a couple deployments to Iraq. After the Marines I went to business school at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and from there met a lot of veterans while networking. I felt like I got along with the people at Barclays and enjoyed the environment on the trading floor the most, so I applied for an internship and ended up with a full-time offer. What about you Bryan?
Bryan – I am originally from New York and I graduated from SUNY Binghamton. Following graduation, I was commissioned into the Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant in 2008. I became an infantry officer and was stationed in the lovely 29 Palms, California for three years. While there, I deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan twice. When I was promoted to Captain, I went to The Basic School for the next three years. I enrolled in New York University’s MBA program and during the recruiting process I felt a real connection to the Barclays recruiting team and Stern alumni. Also, the Veterans Network at Barclays was very impressive. During my internship, I felt like everyone, from my Operating Committee Mentor to my Junior Mentor, was invested in my success, so I signed the full-time offer and I will be returning to the firm in July.
What about Barclays made you feel like it was such a good fit and enticed you to apply?
David – I explored all of the firms when I was searching for an internship and the established Military Network was very helpful. Everyone that I met took an interest in me and really tried to set me up for success. I found at other places, I got an “oh, that’s nice” type of response and then never heard from them again. Having the Military Network as a resource here made me feel like it was clearly something Barclays valued and that was important to me.
Bryan - During my summer I was able to attend two events hosted by the Barclays Military Network. How have you used this network throughout your career?
David – We have a very active Military Network. I’ve primarily used them through the recruitment pipeline to help other transitioning veterans who are interested in working in the financial services industry.
Bryan – That’s great! One of the highlights of our event was senior banker Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech about his time at the firm. His experience was a true testament to Barclays’ dedication to those that have served.
Bryan - Can you describe your transition from the military? What were the strengths that you brought to the firm and what were some of the weaknesses that you had to tighten up?
David – Not to be too stereotypical, but I think the strength the military brings to this job is attitude: no entitlement, ready to grind it out from the bottom, and really being a team player that didn’t resort to making others look bad to advance my own agenda. In terms of weaknesses, I think the biggest one would be not necessarily having the technical knowledge for the job that others may have had through their previous work experience.
Bryan – I agree and have very similar strengths and weaknesses as you. I think it is inevitable, but not insurmountable. Do you think it is absolutely necessary to return to business school in order to land a job in finance after service?
David – I don’t think it’s absolutely crucial, but it really does make the transition a lot easier. I know people who were able to network themselves into great jobs in the sector after leaving active service, but I think that’s becoming more of a rarity especially if you joined active duty straight out of high school or college with no other full-time work experience. But, if you have an educational background in finance or related work experience, it’s certainly possible.
Bryan – I definitely agree. Well David, I really appreciate this conversation and will ask one final question. What advice would you give to our young service members who are thinking of a transition to a career in financial services at a place like Barclays?
David – Network with as many people as possible. It’s easy to just take the first job that comes along, but you’re doing yourself a disservice with that. Learn the industry and get a feel for all of the different roles, products, and ultimately firms before making a decision.
Bryan – That’s great advice. I think networking with individuals who have made the transition will help you decide whether to go back to school or seek a job directly. There are veteran programs for each path, and making an informed decision will help you find the right one for you. Thank you for the conversation and I hope this post helps our fellow veterans out there that are looking to transition into the world of finance like us.