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Mergers & Acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase | Interview with an Associate

By Yong-Hun Kim - Stanford

During NexGenVest's Global Business Leaders Summit, students had the opportunity to speak with professionals in a range of fields.  We spoke with Michael Barlow, an Associate in Mergers and Acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase.

Can you walk us through what your job actually entails? What do you do everyday?

I provide strategic advice to corporations that want to expand their reach by acquiring other businesses. I do a lot of financial analytics to interpret data so I can provide important information for the companies. There is a strong global reach with these type of mergers.

To give students a perspective of how much different careers earn, what was the starting salary of your first job? Did you think about living expenses where you lived?

Starting salary as an associate was around $125,000. Living expenses in NYC are crazy! It's the most expensive city in America. I recommend taking into account the living expenses of where you would like to work and live. 

What does your day look like from waking up to going home in the evening? 

Wake up 7AM, eat a breakfast of oatmeal or shake, head to the office, and usually jump on some conference calls - mostly internal - to talk about certain companies and their needs. We circle up internally, then usually on conference calls with banks to figure out a strategy that would be best for our clients. I get home around 10pm, go to the gym, and do some reading and usually get 6-7 hours of sleep. I don't work on Saturday, but I'll get some work done on Sunday after church.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the analytics of it, and I like the work itself: proving a thesis through data. I like thinking qualitatively and thinking strategically in addition to meeting with clients about media and communications.

What is the biggest challenge in your job?

The biggest challenge would probably be the lifestyle. We are client-service business, so we don’t get a lot of structured time off. I don't really get traditional holidays off because you don’t work on your own timetable; you work on the timetable of your clients and their needs.

What advice do you wish you had received as a student? 

You need to be good at engaging with other people; you need to be able to be personable and relatable and be able to find a commonality with people around you. On top of that, having a passion about what you do is very, very important. Also, as your passion shifts and changes, you need to follow it.

What business skills or financial habits do you wished you had developed in college?

I had a roommate in college and he had his parents’ credit card. He accumulated an incredible amount of debt on his dad’s credit card and his dad promptly made him pay it back. That clearly isn't ideal when you aren't really making any income in college. I came from a fiscally responsible family but I know a lot people who had issues. I really wish fiscal responsibility was taught in school, it would save a lot of frustration and wasted energy. 

How did you learn about and land internships in college. Advice for students?

It’s important to connect with your alumni network at your school and that should be a consideration when you apply to college. The network can help you find internships and later help you get jobs, etc. Trying to connect with career services and alumni network is super important!

Can you give students who are applying to college any general advice? 

My advice for students is to manage your social life while in school; a lot people party way too much and get a really bad GPA their first year in college. It’s hard to recover from a bad GPA, especially when you’re applying to internships after your second year. Get a job that your passionate abou and that you’re engaged in. Typing skills and technological literacy are SO important - make sure to take at least one class in each! 

_Want to help other students be smart about college, money, and careers? Text NextGenVest at 646-798-1745 saying "Hi my name is X and I would like to get involved.” _