Cornell has emerged as a prime destination for finance and artificial intelligence talent, making students a coveted choice for employers in these competitive sectors.
Financial company Goldman Sachs accepts a slim 1.27 percent of their applicants, but according to eFinancialCareers, Cornell students have a better chance of working at the leading global financial institution than most. A recent article ranked Cornell as the second most represented American university at Goldman Sachs, while Business Insider cited Cornell as a prime hotspot for talent in the growing artificial intelligence space.
“The academic breadth and diversity of talent that exist at Cornell make Cornell students highly sought after by our employer partners, including investment banking and technology,” wrote Kimberlee Swartz, manager of Employer Relations and Professional Readiness Programs, in a statement to The Sun. “In recent recruiting cycles, the labor market has been extremely competitive and both financial services and technology employers often recruit many of the same Cornell students.”
In a recently published article discussing the “AI Talent Wars,” Business Insider cited Cornell alongside Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a leading hotspot for tech companies seeking employees with artificial intelligence experience.
The boom in generative AI technology, most notably ChatGPT, has created a rapidly expanding and profitable job sector, primarily benefiting a select group of AI specialists. This trend has resulted in fierce competition between top-tier companies to secure the services of the most skilled AI professionals, often offering substantial six-figure salaries.
“AI represents the next frontier in technological innovation,” wrote Kavita Bala, Dean of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, in a statement to The Sun. “Like many in the field, our students and alumni want to be part of this exciting movement and are often heavily recruited by companies directly or at a variety of sponsored events.”
Bala told Business Insider that the intensity of the competition has reached such heights that even undergraduate students are being sought after by these companies, leading to a reduction in the size of postgraduate and AI Ph.D. programs at many universities.
“This [AI] trend has been picking up over the past decade but has accelerated even more so in the past five years. Our students are correspondingly taking more AI courses like machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing,” Bala wrote.
The amount of students pursuing computer science and information science at Cornell has dramatically increased over the past few years. During course enrollment, many students face challenges obtaining spots in coveted tech-related courses.
“From enterprise and society to our everyday lives, artificial intelligence is transforming the world,” Bala wrote. “Cornell continues to be a top-ranked leader in this growing field, with strengths ranging from machine learning and core AI to cognitive science, computer vision and natural language processing, ethics and fairness, medicine and sustainability.”
According to Bala, Cornell is also developing two minors to provide a comprehensive understanding of both technical and societal aspects associated with AI.
“Through a combination of world-class scholarship and experiential learning, we give students the tools and foundation to be innovators in fields across computing and information science, including AI,” Bala wrote. “To further our leadership position in AI, we are also developing two minors that will introduce students to both technical and societal issues associated with AI.”
Goldman Sachs and other large companies have been known to heavily recruit potential employees from the Ivy Leagues, and Cornell is considered a target school for investment banking. Along with Cornell’s rigorous academics, the University has a strong connection with the financial community and a considerable alumni network that spans the business and finance fields.
“Cornell University, given its rigorous academics and strong alumni network, is a target school for investment banking and finance,” Swartz wrote. “Cornell also has a strong alumni presence in [New York City], as well as in these industries.”
Cornell is only four hours away from New York City, deemed the finance capital of the world and home to the headquarters of big banks including Goldman Sachs.
“Cornell has one of the strongest alumni networks within the financial services industry, allowing me to utilize this ecosystem during my recruitment cycle,” wrote Joshua Figueroa ’24 — an incoming investment banking summer analyst at Evercore — in a statement to The Sun. “Ultimately, from my experience, Cornell alums wanted to help and equip you with the appropriate information to do well in interviews and potentially land the job.”
Beyond Cornell’s location and alumni network, the University runs a number of coveted student organizations and pre-professional fraternities that help boost an applicants’ chances of success in competitive recruitment cycles.
Figueroa is the president of the Cornell Finance Club, a highly selective student group and one of the oldest finance organizations on campus. Figueroa also serves as co-president for Cornell’s chapter of BlackGen Capital, a student organization that works to elevate underrepresented minorities within finance and business.
“CFC and BlackGen Capital gave me the foundation and knowledge to understand the financial services industry. I learned the fundamentals of accounting and valuation in these organizations and understood different types of businesses,” Figueroa wrote. “Also, these clubs provided me with a unique alumni base with people who were once in my shoes.”
CFC has partnered with Goldman Sachs, alongside prestigious firms Morgan Stanley and Citibank, for its stock pitches and networking sessions. Members of both CFC and BlackGen Capital go on to obtain both internships and full-time positions at notable institutions including Blackstone and Bank of America.
Swartz noted that the financial services industry has a long history of recruiting Cornell students. According to the Cornell Outcomes Dashboard, finance is a top industry Cornell students enter post-graduation, regardless of the undergraduate college they belong to.
From the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, 56 percent of graduates from the Class of 2022 report entering financial services, with the majority entering the investment banking field. More ILR graduates enter the financial services industry than any other field, with 24 percent of students working in finance post-graduation over the past two years. Among the College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2022, 18 percent of graduates reported entering careers in financial services, with Goldman Sachs listed as the top employer overall. Over half of 2022 graduates from the Nolan School of Hotel Administration accepted jobs in finance upon graduation.
With an average of 300 applicants per Goldman Sachs job posting, the labor market has only become more competitive for recent college graduates, and recruitment timelines for investment banking firms have accelerated, according to Swartz. Companies such as Goldman Sachs recruit employers as early as one and a half years before an internship begins.
“Recruitment cycles can be very busy for students as companies compete for Cornell talent,” Swartz said.
Students hoping to enter these competitive industries can take advantage of Cornell’s networking events, workshops and guidance sessions.
“In addition to managing relationships with our employer partners, Cornell Career Services provides resources and support for students as they make critical decisions about their career paths,” Swartz wrote.