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Monday, September 25, 2023

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Nick Courtney ('20) Nick Courtney ('20)

#SDSUGrad: Nick Courtney

SDSU recent graduate Nick Courtney is heading to the Big Apple to begin a full-time position as a credit risk analyst at Morgan Stanley.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University’s community has shown its true resilience during this unprecedented and difficult time in human history. 

Graduates from the Class of 2020, in particular, have risen to the challenge.

In this series, we highlight graduates as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, including those who have secured jobs and internships or are moving into advanced studies. SDSU Career Services continues to offer resources for students, including the new online career platform Handshake and expanded virtual programming and advising.

Nick Courtney
Major (and minor): Finance and a minor in quantitative economics

Can you describe a little bit about yourself and how/when you decided to pursue Finance as an area of study?

I first got introduced to finance back in high school when a friend of mine started talking about the stock market. I was intrigued with the fluctuations of prices and what drove the market. When looking at colleges, I knew a finance degree at SDSU would teach me these functions along with giving me a holistic view of the macro environment and adequately prepare me for entering the job market. Reflecting on that decision, I’m confident that I made the right decision as I am more eager to continually learn about finance, especially in light of the pandemic. 

Describe the position you will begin?

As a credit risk analyst at Morgan Stanley, my main role is to protect the firm’s capital when lending to an entity. A lot of these lending transactions will be from investment banking activities such as mergers and acquisitions, trades happening in large quantities, or investments from private equity or hedge funds. It’s important to mitigate the risk and ensure there are appropriate measures in place so Morgan Stanley can achieve the highest risk adjusted returns while still satisfying their clients’ needs. 

When did you receive your official job offer and what was your reaction when you received the offer?

It was actually my first time being in New York and I interviewed in their Times Square office on my birthday. The next day I found out I got the job while sightseeing and walking through the streets of Midtown with my brother. I received a call from the recruiter and I quickly rushed back to our hotel to dial back. I was ecstatic on learning I will be starting my career in banking in New York City as this has been a dream of mine since I set this goal during my senior year of high school. 

Did you use any other campus resources to help you acquire this position? If so, describe the support. 

During my junior year, I utilized the Aztec Mentor Program which connected me with two alumni that  worked for two different investment banks. They guided me through the various ins and outs of the industry as a result of their personal experiences, prepared me with what to expect in interviews, and how to hopefully secure a position within investment banking. Their unwavering support helped tremendously in researching companies and eventually preparing for interviews. I highly recommend that all students utilize this invaluable program. 

Are there specific skills you learned at SDSU (in class or otherwise) that helped you with the role’s qualifications? 

One of the most important skills I’ve learned at SDSU is how to efficiently work in Excel through the lens of a finance major. Part of the interview process required a case study on an assigned company’s prior financial performance. From the various finance courses in which I was enrolled, I was able to identify trends and properly format the spreadsheets to demonstrate my skills. I owe this to my professors for assigning case studies where I received exposure to financial modeling in real-life business scenarios. 

What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career and land their first job post-graduation?

My best advice to fellow students is to start early. It’s never too early to start looking for internships or jobs, the more applications you send out, the better the chance you have of receiving an interview. Leveraging my internship experience and involvement on-campus, I was able to break into HSBC, one of the largest global banks, in their San Francisco office. I encourage all students to begin their search early on and to get involved on-campus because these experiences have been the best preparation for entering my first full-time job.

What is it that you are most looking forward to as you kick start this next chapter?

I’m most looking forward to moving to New York City. As I leave behind the West Coast, where I have lived my entire life, I am excited to experience a completely different climate and being at the center of the world’s major financial district. This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember so being immersed in a completely new environment where I know no one will be a challenging, but exciting new start. 

What is the best advice you have received during your time at SDSU?

The best advice I received during my time at SDSU is to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. My mother repeatedly told me this throughout my four years and I tried to incorporate that in many aspects of my life. Whether it be in the classroom or on campus, I tried to soak in what was around and get involved with as much as possible. My experiences at SDSU have impacted my life greatly and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned over the past four years to the real world in just a few short months.