Career Profiles: Diego Balbuena Morales, JP Morgan Private Banking

Career Profiles is a series of posts that will feature Haas students who have accepted an internship or full time job offer across various industries. Unlike the other entries in the series, this one will not include direct quotations, rather paraphrased answers. This profile is on Private Banking. 

Diego Balbuena Morales is a Haas junior (BS 2015) and an international student from Mexico. He is also a transfer student from Berkeley City College, where he founded an International Students Club, which at one point became the largest student organization at his community college — flaunting over fifty members. During his role as president of the club, he was also able to receive sponsorships from various local restaurants and open scholarships to struggling international students. At UC Berkeley, he has served as VP of Finance for Out for Business, and is affiliated to the Latino Business Student Association.

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What made you decide to pursue private banking?

Diego is pursuing private banking for a longer-term altruistic intention. He aims to found a nonprofit organization that provides finance and consulting services for minorities in the United States and in Latin America. Diego understands that he will need experience first before getting there. He believes private banking provides the necessary boost in network and connection, and New York is the perfect city to meet people, get exposed to the appropriate competitive atmosphere for him to establish the foundation to fulfill his end goal.

What is the difference between investment banking and private banking? Why did you choose the latter?

Investment bankers have multimillion dollar companies as clients, while private bankers work with individual people. In private banking, Diego says “I work with people, manage their money, and provide them with investment guidance and solutions; like which markets to follow, which bonds to buy, and access to IPO and hedge funds” He chose private banking as this is more relevant to his dream of giving back to minorities through nonprofit financing and consulting services in the future.

How did you get your internship with JP Morgan?

Diego shared that he was discouraged about the recruiting process at the beginning, since many companies do not take international students. And most places that did take internationals would most likely have him work in their Latin America branches. JP Morgan often takes applicants from Ivy Leagues such as Wharton, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, so Diego had to tell a convincing story for why he was interested in New York. Moreover, Diego applied to many places to maximize his chances of getting an internship, and flied to New York to network before even ever receiving an interview. He took advantage of the career center, mock interviews, interview practices with friends, “because they will tell me [him] if my [his] interview sucked.”

During a study group the night before his flight to New York, Diego says his friend who was mock interviewing him asked him: “The client is 65 years old, what investment guidance will you recommend?” Pretty astonishingly, Diego’s interview asked him the exact same question, to which Diego already had practiced answers to: which was basically that the 65 year old would be most likely risk averse, thus Diego would suggest investing in a diverse portfolio or treasury bonds.

Diego also reached out to Lina María Cardozo, a Haas MBA Candidate, to get feedback. Lina has worked as a Private Bank Summer Associate at JP Morgan. Diego was originally scared about approaching Lina, but later realized that everyone is human, and there is nothing to fear from talking and connecting to people; “I just kept telling my story… asking: ‘Does it make sense? Would you hire me?'”

How did you contact the MBA?

There are many networking events at Haas, and Diego tries to attend most of them. Once at a banking networking event, Diego noticed Lina and immediately recognized her as a fellow Hispanic. He started sending her e-mails, requesting guidance the recruiting process. She never replied, so in the days nearing Diego’s interview in New York, he started studying at the Bank of America Forum, hoping to bump into Lina. When he was on the verge of giving up, he saw Lina sitting at one of the tables in BofA, where he was able to approach her and receive valuable advice. “You have to fight for what you want”, asserted Diego.

Do you have any other advice that you would like to share with students who are still recruiting?

Diego says the biggest misconception in recruiting is the lack of confidence from non-Haas majors to recruit for jobs more prevalently populated by business students. Whether you are a Haas or an economics major, Diego insists it is your personality and passion for what you are doing that matters most. He suggests going to Haas classes or attending Decals to learn more about particular industries one may be interested in. Diego also recommends the UGBA Decal on “How to Get a Job” taught by Haas undergraduates, Caleb Kenney, David Noland, Eric Sassano, and Harvey Williams, who are all graduating. The decal’s main goals is to enable students to develop the skills required to successfully navigate the recruiting process for either an internship or full-time job. Diego shares that he was offered to continue the “legacy” of the decal, and he is currently considering teaching it next semester.

Basically, Diego says to “be yourself and keep applying, don’t stop.” Diego says even while he was recruiting, he constantly kept other alternatives in mind. For instance, he considered volunteering for Kiva to learn about micro-financing services if ever his internship search did not go well. Moreover, Berkeley also has myriad resources for entrepreneurs. “Just do something,” Diego exclaimed, “a job doesn’t define who you are. Keep aspiring high, because not getting a job should not put you down.” He also reiterated the importance of practicing interviews with friends. He and his friends often ask random questions to each other, and once he asked about the effects of growing emerging markets to the United States. Coincidentally, his friend’s interviewer asked him the exact same question. Had his friend not practiced with Diego, as an American, his friend would never have been exposed to Diego’s international perspective.

Do you have any specific tips for international students struggling with the recruiting process?

Diego agrees that international students undergo many struggles recruiting for jobs in the United States. However, he encourages other internationals to keep checking on Callisto, because “there is a job that is looking for you!” There are positions that specifically require Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese proficiency, which is where international students would be proficient in. He cited a particular position that listed familiarity of Hawaiian geography as a necessary skill for applicants, which was unusual, but something Hawaiians can leverage their knowledge in.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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