Carnegie Mellon University


November 25, 2019

Alpha Asset Management Takes a Peek Inside the World of Investing

The annual Alpha Club trek to Boston, Massachusetts included visits to three buy-side asset management companies.

On a Friday in October, students in the Alpha Asset Management Club at the Tepper School of Business visited three buy-side companies in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of an annual career trek meant to prepare Tepper MBA students for pursuing a career in investment management. 

With a strong network of recruiters, the Tepper School offers MBA students ample opportunity to connect with potential employers right from the start of their MBA journeys. Starting in the fall semester, student clubs host “treks” to major cities across the U.S. to connect with companies and alumni in various industries and functions.

“Career treks are a significant resource for MBA students to gain valuable insights and make important contacts within industries of interest,” said Stephen Rakas, Executive Director of the Masters Career Center. “The treks provide invaluable networking opportunities and we’re pleased to support our student organizations each year in building strong, lasting connections to our Tepper alumni network and the broader business community.”

On a career trek, students visit companies that partner with the Tepper School to recruit MBA interns and graduates, as well as other leading companies of interest to the students. They may also attend social gatherings to connect with alumni and industry leaders in the area to learn more about the city and build their professional networks. 

Challenging Career Path

Asset management is a specialized field of financial services in which investment managers oversee client portfolios of tangible and intangible assets. It is a career path that can be difficult to move into, as first-year MBA student Michael Withrock found after leaving his career in the military. “I spent about a year looking for a job without any success,” he said. “I concurrently applied to the MBA program, which I believe is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s worked out really well.”

In Alpha Club, Withrock has had opportunities to learn more about asset management and hone his skills in equity research and portfolio management. Club members participate in stock pitch competitions throughout the year at U.S. business schools, including a recent competition at SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University and an upcoming one at Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Early in their time at the Tepper School, first-year members of Alpha Club get ample support from second-year students in preparing to present stock pitches to industry judges.  The Tepper teams have fared well at these competitions, bringing home first, second and third place prizes in the past. 

“Without the second-years, I probably would have been a little lost as far as what I was going to do,” Withrock said. “Being able to talk about the industry with a peer of mine instead of a professor or professional allowed me to ask a lot more questions I may not have been able to do otherwise. So it’s really an augmentation to our education.”

Cultural Fit

In Boston, Alpha Club members visited local headquarters of Fidelity Investments Inc., MFS Investment Management, and Loomis, Sayles & Company, the latter of which is a sponsor of Alpha Club at Tepper. The club’s president, second-year MBA student Mike Marrkand, worked with the Masters Career Center to identify firms that could host about a dozen students where the Tepper School has connections with alumni or recruiting partners.

One highlight Withrock noted was seeing the MFS building. “Being able to take a quick peek into their trading floor was pretty special. That was very impressive,” he said. He also appreciated the chance to connect more fully with his classmates over lunch and at an evening social event.

At Loomis Sayles, the students spoke with two Tepper alumni who work in structured income products. “That was highly interesting, because they were Tepper students just like us. We were able to ask them how they got from Tepper into Loomis,” Withrock said. “Being able to have candid dialogue with the fund managers and see what it actually takes to get into asset management was humbling and very educational. 

The trek gave students the opportunity to appreciate what a career in asset management looks like and ask questions they cannot easily answer through their own research. “Being able to actually experience the culture, not just read about it, is really important,” Withrock said. “It gave everyone a really good sense of what the culture is and also if they’re a fit for it.” 

For Withrock, the trek reinforced his interest in asset management. “Being able to look into a world that I haven’t gotten to be in yet was extremely motivating,” he said. “I’m invigorated.”