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#011 Fireside Fridays - Upgrade your CV to target university level without spending $100k+ on an MBA

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How to Overcome the First Hurdle of the Application Process:

99% of people will never break into Wall Street.

I did without a traget school degree and limited industry experience.

Here's my strategy I used and you can too:

Most global top banks are using a CV screener.

What the hell is a CV Screener?

That's exactly what I asked myself when I tried to break into Wall Street.

The first hurdle of your application journey is not an HR person who spends 10 seconds on your CV before ditching it...

...the first obstacle you have to overcome is the CV screener.

The best firms are looking for the best talent, and usually it's found at the best universities aka target schools.

For example, Harvard, Oxford, St. Gallen... you name it.

Before a human being even sees your CV it's screened for specific keywords.

If you have no degree from one of the target schools you probably won't make it.

When I learned this truth it shattered me...

How on earth should I get a foot in the door?

I was convinced that once I made it to a human being, I could tell my story and at least have a shot.

However, there is a secret the 1% don't want you to know:

If you don't have $100k+ to spare for a target school MBA program...

...they offer more affordable and less time intensive solutions:

Online programs and professional designations.

For example, I had only a Bachelor's degree from a distance learning university.

To upgrade my CV, I signed up for the Leading with Finance Program from Harvard Business School Online.

This online program is still an investment of USD 1,750 but allows you to kill two birds with one stone... get best in class education from a leading global university, plus you have it on your CV.

Leading with Finance, Harvard Business School Online

Executive Summary: Leading with Finance helps students understand key financial levers that drive financial performance, examine how the capital markets work, develop a toolkit for making smart financial decisions, and gain the confidence to clearly communicate those decisions to both internal and external stakeholders.

Tuition Fee: $ 1,750 USD Length: 6 Modules in 6 Weeks Time commitment: 6-7h per Week Format: 100% Online, self-paced program with a weekly deadline (usually Wednesday) Enrollement Window: ~ every 2 months


  1. Financial Analysis

  2. Finance & Accounting

  3. Capital Markets

  4. Creating Value

  5. Valuation

  6. Capital Allocation

How was the experience? As expected Harvard did not disappoint with their online program. It was one of the best courses I’ve ever done in my life and some of the exercises are directly out of the traditional MBA.

It’s a self-paced course where you get access to an online learning platform, which has two functions:

  1. Delivering the learning content via video, interactive & written content

  2. Act as private social media platform

You can think of Harvards own version of LinkedIn. Every student has it’s own profile including profile picture, professional background etc. You also can and have to interact with each other, more on that in a second.

Every week you work through your module on your own pace. It doesn’t matter if you study every day or spend the whole Saturday to work through it at once. The course material comes in different shapes and sizes. You have video content, interactive drag and drop exercises, reading articles, answering questions etc. Harvard states a weekly time commitment of 6-7h and that was true for me.

What about grading? There is no final exam at the end of the course. However, you have to complete a quiz at the end of each module to test your knowledge and you have to earn average score of 50% or higher for successful completion of the certificate.

PLUS: During your studies you have to answer questions and comment on video material etc. These answers are public to see for all the other students in the program and it’s mandatory to engage with each other and start a thoughtful conversation in the comments.

This is mandatory and makes up a large junk of your grade. That means, if answering questions only with “yes” or “no” will negatively effect your grading. You have to demonstrate your understanding of the topic in the answer as well as give others the option to take up on your answer and start a conversation. Furthermore, you actively have to engage with other student’s answers by adding value to the conversation to pass the course.

Don’t underestimate this part of the course otherwise you will probably fail. It takes a good amount of time and thoughtful interaction.

Pro Tip: If you take this course you will be part of an international cohort from people all over the world in different industries and seniority levels.

Don’t miss out on the networking part!

Make the habit to get in touch with the people and send a few LinkedIn connection requests every day.

You will never connect more easily with these people than during these 6 weeks.

For a deeper look into the course materials you’ll find a detailed overview incl. sneak peek videos into the program here: Leading with Finance, HBS Online


PS: I'm launching my NEW online program soon giving it all away for FREE (First 10 candidates only:

The Ultimate Banking Interview Blueprint For Career Changers With A Non-Traditional Background: The Secret Sauce for Breaking into Wall Street with Limited Industry Experience and Without a Target University Degree.

JOIN the waitlist NOW and be the FIRST to get access as soon as it's available: JOIN THE WAITLIST

Kevin Schwarzinger

Founder, ChimneyCapital

Author, World Explorer & Solopreneur

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