Finance & MBA Alumnus Excels on Wall Street



Jake Byrne

B.S. in Finance, 2007

MBA, 2009

Convertible Bonds Trader at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

School of Business alumnus Jake Byrne credits the outstanding education he received at EIU with his ability to succeed on Wall Street. He secured his position at Bank of America Merrill Lynch by completing an internship during the completion of his MBA degree.  He says, "In between my first and second year of the MBA program, I applied for an internship at Merrill Lynch in New York City. I went through several interviews over the course of a month, and eventually secured a spot as an intern in the class of 2008. I had three rotations during my 10-week internship: equity research sales, derivative sales trading, and credit sales. At the end of the 10-week period, I was offered a full-time position in derivatives sales for the next year, once I finished my MBA. After graduating that next year, I came to New York, and they put me on the convertible bonds desk when I had completed my training and my necessary series exams: 3, 7, 55, 63."

During his time as a finance major and an MBA student, Byrne noted the importance of the faculty-student relationships that are critical to student learning.  He says, "The School of Business has great professors who constantly pushed me to learn more and to think outside the box."  He says that his classes gave him the foundation in the subject of finance that he needed in order to be successful, particularly with regard to group work and in-class presentations: "On major projects, professors would assign groups for us to work in, which helped us to adapt and work well with others."  Additionally, working in groups "allowed students to take leadership roles and to delegate," two skills that Byrne uses now in his work on Wall Street.

The Securities Analysis Center at EIU's School of Business also impacted Byrne greatly.  He notes, "The Securities Analysis Center sparked my interest in the markets, eventually leading to my current role as a bond trader in New York."  Besides sparking his interest and giving him necessary knowledge, Byrne says that the skills he learned in the securities analysis course are skills that he uses now on a daily basis, "by evaluating companies and their stocks. I have to look much more now from a credit standpoint since I trade their bonds, but because my bonds convert into equity, both parts are extremely important."    

Byrne has valuable advice to share with current business students.  He says the School of Business curriculum is rigorous, and it has to be, in order to prepare students for the world of finance.  He encourages students to make the most of the opportunities afforded them by the School of Business, particularly by completing at least one, or even multiple internships during their academic careers.  He says, "One thing I learned while trying to get an internship in New York is that most other applicants had already completed two or three internships, putting them way ahead of me. Gaining experience is a must in the business industry, and it will allow you to be one step ahead of your competitors."  Finally, Byrne says, "You have to leave out some time for fun. College is a great experience, and you can’t get a better one than at Eastern."