Adam Lee 08EvMBA
Adam Lee 08EvMBA, vice president of mergers and acquisitions, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

“If you are not taking advantage of your school’s career management center, then you are not getting your full money’s worth,” says Adam Lee 08EvMBA, vice president of mergers and acquisitions with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

During two sessions in October, Lee shared insights with Goizueta students on what it takes to get “the call”—an invitation to work at one of Wall Street’s top banks. From proper attire to attitude, Lee offered his prescription for getting into investment banking with a formula he calls G-R-I-T: goals, relationships, interesting story, and thank you. Lee formulated these guiding principles during his own ascent in the competitive banking industry.

“I wish someone had told me these things when I was job hunting,” says Lee, who worked as an IT engineer for several years before pursuing his MBA.

While his time at Goizueta prepared him academically for the rigors of investment banking, it was the cultural aspects of Wall Street—those unspoken cues and qualities potential employers look for in differentiating potential hires from the pack—that were missing. For example, demonstrating a wide-ranging intellectual capacity during interviews is important, Lee says.

“You need to show an understanding of the world around you,” he explains, “and to know more than the academic material you’ve learned.”

It is also critical to continue to build one’s business insights while working on an internship or a job. Lee advised students to develop relationships with senior bankers even if it means making use of a Starbucks card in order to engage them in conversation.

“To be an effective team player, you should understand what drives your managers, what keeps them up at night,” adds Lee.AdamLee2

He also advised students to “play the keyboard,” encouraging them to become so proficient at Microsoft Office, especially Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, that they can pluck off the F1 key and forego using a mouse. “Apple products are nice—everyone wants an iPad—but when it comes to business tools and financial modeling, Microsoft won this battle.”

During his most recent trip to campus, Lee spoke with both MBA and BBA students, tweaking his presentation for each audience and providing ample time for questions. One student asked about balancing a personal life with a job that demands 80 hours a week. “You make personal sacrifices, but more importantly, you need an understanding, solid support system if you’re going to make it in this industry,” Lee responded.

Lee and the alumni at Bank of America Merrill Lynch have a strong, ongoing relationship with both of Goizueta’s career management centers. Each year they host students who are interested in investment banking at their offices in New York. In addition, they also provide feedback on students to Wendy Tsung, associate dean and executive director of the MBA CMC.

Tsung notes it is this kind of feedback by alumni that highlights the value of the Goizueta network. From reviewing resumes to taking part in Goizueta Career Connections, an annual career exploration and networking event, alumni are a valuable resource for the MBA CMC.

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– Nicole Golston