JACKIE MURPHY '18 is a little nervous as she makes small talk with Zach Larson ’16 inside Connecticut College’s Career and Professional Development Office.
Larson, an investment banking analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, is discussing opportunities at the bank and conducting interviews for internships. He puts Murphy at ease by asking about her involvement in Conn’s Peggotty Investment Club, through which students manage a portion of the college’s endowment valued at over $77,000.
Larson knows all about the club—last year, he was the president. And two years ago, he was just like Murphy—a junior interested in banking who was being recruited by Conn alumni to one of the largest and top-performing investment banks in the world.
In the three years since Connecticut College became a recruiting target for MUFG, several students have completed internships and all have been offered permanent positions at the bank. Inside the bank’s U.S. headquarters on New York City’s 6th Avenue, the college’s ranks are growing quickly.
Alexandra Felfle ’10 was one of the first. Even as a student at Conn, she knew her future was in economics. After completing an internship at Citigroup, the economics and international relations double major decided she wanted to work for an international bank—particularly one with assets in Latin America.
After two years at Royal Bank of Scotland, Felfle got a call from a headhunter for The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, one of MUFG’s primary operating companies.
“It was a great opportunity: One of the largest banks in the world wanted to increase their footprint in Latin America,” Felfle said.
Felfle started as an analyst and was promoted to associate after less than two years. Since she joined the bank, it has grown to become the leading lender in Latin America and, in terms of assets, is now one of the top five largest banks in the world.
As the bank grew, so did the desire to create a formal internship program. While internships aren’t common in Japan, they are an important recruiting tool for banks in other parts of the world. Banks typically target specific schools, visiting those campuses regularly to conduct interviews.
When a new internship program was launched at MUFG, Felfle made it her mission to make Conn a target school. She recruited Conor Sheehy ’11, who was then an analyst in another division, and Van Dusenbury ’77 P’12, who was the head of the bank’s Americas securitization team before retiring recently.
Conn made the list.
“I was very excited to be able to give back to a place that gave me so much,” Felfle said. “The goal now is to grow the Conn alumni network within the bank.”
Competition is steep—the bank’s other target schools include Ivy League universities. Yet the very first year of the program, two student interns were selected from Conn: Ines Finol ’15 and James Spencer ’15, who both went on to earn full-time positions. Then came Larson.
“We have shown that if we get a Conn intern in here, they are going to be one of the best,” Felfle said.
What makes Conn grads a good fit for MUFG?
For starters, Conn students learn how to understand cultural nuances and look at problems from different perspectives—skills that transition well to global companies.
“In my case, we’re talking about a Japanese bank, in the United States, on a team that focuses on Latin America. That’s three regions of the world in one job description,” said Felfle. “It’s not unusual for me to get financial statements in Spanish. It’s also really important for me to understand the cultural norms in Japan.”
Steven Schaefer, a director in the bank’s stable value products group, said he has been very impressed with the students he has interviewed at Conn.
“We see value in a liberal arts education and the broader way of thinking,” he said. “In addition, the Conn students we have met offer more diverse backgrounds and experiences than do students from other target schools, which fits with our diverse organization.”
During MUFG’s latest visit to campus, economics major Carter Laible ’18 was excited to discuss opportunities with Larson, Finol and Felfle.
Laible grew up in Hong Kong, but hadn’t really considered working for an Asia-based bank until he heard about the success Conn students had found at MUFG.
“It’s awesome that they are willing to come here,” he said. “Making these alumni connections is incredibly important, for me and for future students interested in banking.”