Feb 16, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
Hessam Mostajabi, a fourth-year student majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance, has long been interested in financial markets. That interest soon evolved into a passion for investment banking when he joined the Student Foundation Investments Committee during his first year at Georgia Tech. Two years later, he snagged an internship as an investment banking analyst for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. During recruitment for his internship, though, Mostajabi noticed that firms were overlooking Tech students.
“I saw how tough it was to get a foot in the door,” said Mostajabi. He noted that while recruiters often visit other top-tier universities, Tech is usually off the radar. “At Tech, we are seeking recruiters out.” He attributed this to Tech’s reputation as a school for engineers, as well as a selection bias on the part of recruiters.
Unsatisfied with the status quo, Mostajabi conceived of a program for Tech students aimed at building networks with top investment banks and providing support to students looking for jobs in financial services. Accel – offered through the Student Foundation – is the realization of that idea.
Accel, founded by Mostajabi last year, enlists second- and third-year students to undergo a process of rigorous training and preparation for internships offered by top financial firms. In addition to the resources and coordinated guidance of older students, the program offers its members access to Tech alumni working at places such as Credit Suisse, Bank of America, and JP Morgan.
“The goal is to make Tech a target school for these employers,” said Mostajabi.
New members start the program with a resume workshop, followed by technical training, educational seminars, networking calls to alumni, and mock interviews to prepare for the recruiting process. The following year, students will serve as mentors to a new incoming class. Ultimately, students who participate in Accel will eventually become alumni contacts for future members.
Mostajabi hopes Accel will offer a support network to help students go through intense and often anxiety-inducing recruitment by top financial firms. “There has never been a system in place for all of our students to go through the process together,” said Mostajabi. “Students in Accel all help each other out. It is a very collaborative environment.”
The concept of Accel was met with enthusiasm by the Investments Committee. “I knew the demand was there,” said Mostajabi, who also noted that many Tech students were well qualified for top positions in financial services.
Mostajabi also found that Tech has many alumni already working in top financial services firms. They can be invaluable resources for students looking to get their foot in the door, but the workload of an investment banker can make regular communication difficult. Mostajabi wanted to structure Accel to serve as both a facilitator between current students and alumni, and as a mechanism for growing new networks from scratch.
Less than a year since its inception, Accel has already expanded beyond Mostajabi’s original concept. Accel is reaching out to non-business majors and has broadened its scope.
“Originally, the goal was to just help undergrads get jobs [in investment banking]. Now, we also want to provide education on financial services to the broader Tech community,” said Mostajabi, who is graduating at the end of this semester. He said that while it is hard to let go of the program he founded, he is excited for its future.
“My vision for Accel is that when I am 50 years old, I can return to Tech and see that the program is still going strong. I want to see recruiters actively seeking out Tech students.”
Accel is currently recruiting its second class. An information session will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in Room 200, Scheller College of Business. Admittance involves both an application and an interview, with consideration based on academic performance, work experience, leadership, and financial proficiency. Learn more about the program here.