Forging Strong Recruiting Relationship with Bowdoin

Story posted March 23, 2012

Casey Grindon ’13 recently learned that he had been selected out of roughly 180 applicants to be an equity-trader intern this summer at Fidelity Investments, one of many businesses with whom Bowdoin Career Planning has established relationships. Grindon joins a growing list of Bowdoin students and alumni who’ve worked for the financial services company.

Last summer, Katie Herter ’12 completed the same internship. Colleen Sweeney ’11 was hired in 2011 to participate in the company’s two-year business associate training program. Ingrid Anid ’08 participated in the business associate program and then was hired as a primary trader, and will soon move to work in the company’s London office. And Mike O’Neill ’04, a sector trader, was hired by Fidelity after graduating from Bowdoin.

Behind this line of successful hires is E.J. Coveney ’91, who heads up the global technology, media and telecom trading sector for Fidelity.

Colleen Sweeney '11 on her position at Fidelity from Bowdoin Career Planning on Vimeo.

Coveney started working at the company three months after graduating from Bowdoin, and has seen it grow from roughly 4,000 employees to 36,000 employees countrywide.

Starting five years ago, Coveney became involved with a company effort to recruit more talented college graduates. To fill a training and hiring void in the industry, Fidelity created a new business associate program modeled after programs at investment banks that train young people who, at the end of the two years, either get hired full-time or move on, often to business school. “What we found out was if you were at Fidelity, MassMutual Financial, or any of the big mutual fund companies, there was no training ground on the buy side,” Coveney explained, whereas training on the sell side, at companies such as J.P. Morgan or Goldman Sachs, was strong. “If you end up as a trader or analyst at Fidelity, you followed your own career path to get there. So we decided five or six years ago to develop a minor league system, a feeding ground for Fidelity.”

Coveney advocated that in this process Fidelity take a serious look at Bowdoin students along with students from schools such as Boston College, Amherst College, Middlebury College, Harvard University, Dartmouth University, Duke University, Wellesley College, College of the Holy Cross and others.

Tim Diehl, Bowdoin’s director of career planning, said Bowdoin’s relationship with Fidelity, in particular its Management and Research Co., “is among the most robust and deep recruiting relationships” at the college, in large part due to Coveney. “He’s been great, wildly enthusiastic and a great cheerleader for Bowdoin students,” Diehl said. At the same time, the strong hiring decisions Fidelity has made at Bowdoin has created a track record of success, Diehl pointed out.

Since launching the business associate program in 2008, Fidelity has hired a total of 21 associates, according to Coveney. Bowdoin students have featured prominently in these hires, as well as in Fidelity’s four-year-old internship program for college juniors. Two of the company’s 11 interns have been from Bowdoin. “We see the [Bowdoin] students very well prepared to start,” Coveney said. “Even comparing them to other colleges, like Amherst and Williams, Middlebury, Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown, Bowdoin ranks right up there with the preparedness and initiative students take to start their career early and do well. They’re highly motivated students and they’re prepared and we notice that. In four or five years, we’ve hired two from Bowdoin, and that’s a high percentage.”

Bowdoin alumni working for Fidelity, including Coveney, visit Bowdoin regularly to recruit students, seeking applications and conducting on-campus interviews. This past February, they interviewed Grindon on campus and then brought him to Boston for second and third interviews before selecting him, and two other non-Bowdoin students, from a pool of about 180 applicants.

Grindon said he was attracted to the internship in part by the opportunity to “gain a hands-on experience of what it's like to be an equity trader. Trading is something that I'm strongly considering after I graduate from Bowdoin, and Fidelity offers a program where I can monitor trades alongside the full-time traders and get exposure to each market sector,” he wrote in an email. “This aspect is not offered at many other trading internships, where the focus tends to be on specific sectors.”

But even those students who don’t make the cut are not overlooked by Coveney. “We interview these students up there, and a lot are highly good and motivated, but they didn’t fit, so we give them the opportunity to reach out to us, send an email, make a phone call. We know a lot of people who do what we do in Boston and we’re business partners with a lot of brokers,” Coveney said. “It’s a tough job market and we have to help them.”

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