The Corporate Financial Management Option (Checksheet)
The Corporate Financial Management option prepares students for finance careers within companies. It also prepares students for similar jobs within government agencies and nonprofits. Students who desire to entrepreneurs can also benefit from the coursework in this option.
Corporate Finance is a term used to describe the array of finance functions that exist within a company. Finance professionals are found throughout a company, and their goal is to figure out ways to increase the corporation’s profits, as well as ways in which the corporation can reduce its financial risks and improve the return on its capital. Many finance professionals in a corporation report up through the corporation’s Treasurer to the Chief Financial Officer. However, finance professionals are also located throughout a company’s various operating divisions, where they are embedded within the businesses in a variety of functions, as well as within a number of its other corporate headquarters functions.
A career in corporate finance is an excellent way to learn how businesses function and, more important, how they make money and generate returns for their shareholders. Corporate finance can also be a pathway to the upper management of companies. Many companies put their new finance employees through formal training programs, which provide new graduates with an excellent transition from the university setting to full-time employment. Other companies also have rotational programs, in which new employees spend their first few years rotating through a variety of business units and roles; these programs are ideal for new graduates, because they get exposed to and have the opportunity to learn about many of the business and functional areas of the company and how they are interrelated.
Key skills required in corporate finance include analytical skills, communication skills (written and verbal), accounting skills, and teamwork skills. We recommend that students who are interested in pursuing a career in corporate finance select the Corporate Financial Management Option. This option provides students with coursework in a broad range of topics related to corporate finance, including international finance, valuation. corporate governance, capital raising, risk hedging and mergers and acquisitions. However, students should keep in mind that there are some specific areas of the corporate finance career path for which other tracks and course options can also be helpful. An example is Budgeting and Forecasting, for which the Financial Accounting Track also provides excellent preparation.
The following links provide additional information about the various functions performed by corporate finance professionals. In each description, we also discuss the coursework that best prepares students for these roles.
The Corporate Financial Management Option also provides students with excellent preparation for a variety of finance jobs in the government sector. Finance professionals are employed by a large number of federal, state and local government agencies. Within these agencies, they have a wide variety of roles, requiring a variety of skills and strengths. Some jobs are project-oriented, with a constant stream of new things to learn and experience, while others are more predictable day-to-day. Due to the large variety of government jobs, career paths and employers, we can only attempt to provide a broad overview of the opportunities available to finance majors with various federal, state and local governments and agencies. The following paragraphs outline some of the more common career paths and job opportunities available to finance majors in the government sector.
Many finance majors ultimately end up starting up and owning their own businesses. Some do this right out of college, while others do this later in life. A career as an entrepreneur is ideal for individuals who want to be their own boss and aren’t afraid of taking risks. Another positive aspect of an entrepreneurial career is that it enables you to use a broad variety of business skills in addition to finance. As an entrepreneur, you will need to manage people, sell to customers, produce and/or source products, market your business, and set up information and accounting systems.
While this is the riskiest of all the possible finance career paths, it is also the one that can provide the largest financial upside, especially if the business is wildly successful. However, students desiring a career as an entrepreneur need to be aware that a high percentage of new businesses ultimately fail. Starting a business is also very time-consuming. Expect to work long hours at a low salary in the initial stages of starting and building the business.
An alternative to starting a business yourself is to be the finance person on a team that is starting or growing a business. Many entrepreneurs, particularly those with technical backgrounds, need help with finance and accounting, so they often add a team member with expertise in those areas. Also, many companies have opportunities to participate in the startup of a business within the larger company. These types of experience enable you to enjoy the experience of starting up a business without directly taking large financial risks yourself.
Virginia Tech finance majors have started businesses in a wide variety of industries and parts of the country. We believe that Virginia Tech’s finance majors are well-positioned to become entrepreneurs, because the Virginia Tech curriculum provides a broad education in business fundamentals (accounting, marketing, management, business information technology, and business law), combined with finance courses such as Corporate Finance, Asset Valuation and Venture Capital, which prepare you to deal with the financial issues involved in starting and running a business. In addition to a Finance major, students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs should also pursue the Entrepreneurship minor, which adds additional coursework that is relevant to entrepreneurs.
Virginia Tech also has a number of student groups for students interested in entrepreneurship. The Innovate living/learning community is designed to immerse students in entrepreneurship by having them live in a dorm with other students who are interested in entrepreneurship and having them take a series of courses that expose them to the basics of entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneur Club (“E-Club”) is a club for students who are interested in entrepreneurship, and includes students who are trying to start and grow businesses as well as students who are just want to learn more about entrepreneurship. Additional information for students interested in Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech is available through Pamplin’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and at the following web pages:
Real Estate is an industry sector that employs large numbers of finance professionals in a variety of roles. Many of these roles involve very similar skills as one would find in a corporate setting, such as project analysis, contract management, and forecasting and budgeting. The tabs below provide additional information about aspects of the real estate finance career path for which the Corporate Financial Management Option can prepare students: