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Alumni Profile – Ben Gruber

The Xchange profile feature series explores in this blog the success story of a recent alumna who gained a unique and competitive opportunity at William Blair, a global investment banking and asset management firm in Chicago. Ben shares his experience at Loyola University and advice for students pursuing a similar career path.

Name: Ben Gruber

Current Job: Investment Associate at William Blair

Major in School: Information Systems and Finance


When did you graduate from Loyola and what was your major?

I graduated from Loyola in the spring of 2017. I majored in Information Systems and Finance.

How did you land an internship at WB

I applied online and conducted two interviews, the first over the phone and the second in person.

Were there other interns from other local universities like Booth, Kellogg…?

In my own division (Investment Management), there were four other interns, all coming from the MBA level. They were from Yale, Columbia, UNC and Booth. However, on the Investment Banking side most of the interns I encountered were undergraduates and came from a wide array of schools, mostly non-Chicago area, such as UPenn, Indiana, Wisconsin, Stanford, Iowa State, Illinois etc. Although DePaul, Booth and Kellogg were all represented as well.

What do you think most helped to get a permanent position

More than any sort of financial knowledge, which is not to say that is not important, it was just being present and not messing up. Interns generally are not the ones to make big breakthroughs for the team. I was there to take work off my boss’s plate. For my position, this entailed being obsessive over data quality/integrity.

That’s not to say I buried my head in Excel or MATLAB all day. For example, when I was studying for level I of the CFA exam, I would always mark areas of interest and make sure to ask a member of the team questions about that concept. Generally, a Bloomberg screen would get pulled up and an idea that seemed so simplistic and theoretical would turn into a concrete grounding in bond math and the capital markets.

Are there other Loyola alumni/graduates at WB?

There are not many. I have only met two, both work in Investment Management. One is on an equity investing team and the other works in a project management capacity.

What suggestions/advice you have for other students from Loyola seeking such opportunities and competing with more ivy league local schools?

Networking is the biggest one. Join the local CFA Chicago society, e-mail alumni and talk to professors. In terms of e-mailing alumni, make sure you know what it is they do and make it at least somewhat personalized.

Something I think is critical for a candidate to show is autodidacticism. The world is changing constantly and what you have learned today may not be what you will need tomorrow. At the very least, you will need to build off that foundation of knowledge. At least for me this can be anything, repairing a car engine, learning how to paint, picking up a new language etc.

In what ways your Loyola education differentiate you from others?

 A liberal arts education should never be discounted. While businesses classes are great for many fields, no one wants to talk about GAAP with anyone for 8 hours or more a day. Having a solid grounding in philosophy, theology and ethics makes for a far more interesting person. Like I said, financial knowledge is not why I got a permanent position. It was attention to detail and the ability to ask insightful questions. That sort of thinking I got from my liberal arts courses.

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