Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative, the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund, Hilltop Consultants, the Georgetown Accounting Society — the list goes on. These organizations help prepare students on campus for careers in the finance industry and have witnessed strong student interest in the private sector.
Finance and consulting professions were consistently voted the top employment outcomes for graduating classes from 2013 to 2017, according to the Cawley Career Education Center’s website. It seems the joke among McDonough School of Business and School of Foreign Service students of who can grab a coveted Goldman Sachs internship is alive and well.
The inherent pre-professional culture all these clubs foster has permeated Georgetown student’s social scene. The way these club show its members the interdisciplinary nature of finance is a step towards understanding the immense popularity behind such campus communities.
The MSB has fostered a strong presence of finance and consulting clubs to reflect student’s career goals, according to Talia Schatz, who mentors students and guides them when setting professional goals as director of professional and leadership development in the MSB. Schatz has noticed an increase in the number of students pursuing financial careers, most recently exhibited by the 53 percent of the class of 2018 graduates moving on to the financial services industry. Extracurricular activities related to finance often help students prepare, train and succeed in these industries, according to Schatz.
“Participating in clubs that give students more experience within that industry is one way to build skills and make connections,” Schatz wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Since the MSB is among the four undergraduate colleges, it provides a prime market for applications to pre-professional institutions, such as GUASFCU, the oldest financial group on campus.
GUASFCU has been around since 1983 and prides itself as a “Georgetown institution and tradition.”
Meanwhile, groups like Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association and Hilltop Consultants were only established in the past few years. Each club fulfills relatively distinct objectives and teaches students a variety of skills. For example, Carlos Asorey (SFS ’21) feels that joining GUSIF has taught him key components of financial analysis.
“I came into the club without being in the MSB and with no prior finance skills whatsoever,” Asorey said in a message to The Hoya. “Yet only after a couple of semesters I’ve learned a lot about reading and analysing financial statements, valuing companies, and sourcing investment ideas — concepts I wouldn’t have normally been exposed to.”
Beyond the activities the clubs directly oversee, social elements also draw students to these financial organizations, according to Grace Vogelzang (NHS ’19), president of Hilltop Consultants.
“[The social element is] both informal and formal,” Vogelzang wrote in an email to The Hoya. “For example, this past week we had a group of members go see the cherry blossoms together and one of our members organized a trip to the Nationals game for next weekend.”
This more relaxed network also provides students with opportunities to connect with others who have similar interests and is a common ground for conversation.
The lower level of Greek life may also explain why joining finance and consulting clubs is the norm rather than the rarity. Only around 10 percent of Georgetown students are affiliated with fraternities and sororities on campus, which means the majority of Hoyas spend parts of their free time with other groups. When asked about the social environment that preprofessional groups provide, Alima Travaly (SFS ’21) explained that the minimal presence of Greek life catalyzes the communal atmosphere.
“I don’t know if [the social aspect of financial clubs] replaces [Greek life], but I do think their social prospect is emphasized by the fact that Georgetown isn’t greek life-focused,” Travaly said in a message to The Hoya.
The versatility developed in finance clubs is perhaps one of the most important explanations behind their popularity. Students can utilize their skills to other fields of employment and explore a variety of interests while engaging with a diverse community, according to Schatz.
“In addition to finance-related clubs, McDonough offers clubs related to retail and luxury, marketing, consulting, start-ups, real estate, and more, as well as clubs that focus on building connections within diverse communities like McDonough Women and Georgetown Aspiring Minority Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs,” Schatz wrote.
Groups like these provide platforms for female and minority students on campus to help plant their feet in an industry that they have not historically been represented in. This is especially at the C-suite positions, including CEO and chief operating officer, in which people of color only make up 11 percent of positions occupied, according to a McKinsey study.
No single answer exists for the prevalence of finance and consulting clubs here on campus. However, the leadership skills, collaborative projects and pre-professional experience students gain from these groups foster relationships and build trust in a community, according to Hilltop Consultants Willa Doss (COL ’22).
“There’s also a sense of camaraderie that comes from working alongside a small group of people for so long on an intensive project – teams generally consist of six members and we are all working towards a collective goal,” Doss said in a message to The Hoya.