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Jared Stopford

Jared Stopford

Vanderbilt Master of Finance Class of 2013

Investment Banking Analyst, Stephens, Inc. Little Rock, AR


Breaking into the Field

MSF gives Stopford his entrée into finance


As with most undergraduates, you might say that Jared Stopford's career thinking evolved over time. When he entered college in Charleston, South Carolina, his goal was to become a scuba instructor at a resort like Club Med. Then, he recalls, "I wanted to be a professional golfer."

Jared still loves golf and the beach. But by the time he had earned a degree in business administration — "it seemed to be a major I could use in almost any career," he says — he had decided to become a lawyer. After graduation, he worked for 18 months as a case assistant for the prestigious New York law firm of Kirkland and Ellis.

The position, Jared explains, involved work similar in many ways to that he performs now as an investment banking analyst. It was also an excellent track toward law school; several of his fellow case assistants at the firm were admitted to Michigan, Columbia, Duke and Yale law schools.

But Jared's occasional exposure to finance-related work in legal cases led him to realize where his true interest lay and he noticed how much his roommate enjoyed his job as an investment banker. "I didn't have the work experience for an MBA," he reasoned, "and the MSF seemed like a good way to break in to IB."

He applied to two highly regarded programs. "It came down to where I wanted to spend a year of my life," Jared says. For him, the sociability of the students and the vibrancy of Nashville were decisive. "I realized at Kirkland that networking was the most important aspect in business and Vanderbilt has great networking opportunities. During the quick year here, I have made some great lifelong friends."