Humans of Haas: Jueyan Zhang
Jueyan Zhang is a Haas alumni from the class of 2011, graduating with a degree in both Business Administration and Statistics. Born in China and immigrating to the US before elementary school, Jueyan grew up in the Bay Area. Since graduating, he became a portfolio manager at BlackRock, and has moved to London to focus on the European and Asian markets. Outside of work, he enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, listening to EDM, and scrolling through UCBMFET. Jueyan is also involved in the effective altruism movement, which finds the most cost-effective ways to do good for the community.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at Haas? How did Haas prepare you for your jobs at BlackRock and Citi?
Haas does not have a hand-holding culture. If you want something, you have to take it. When I got turned down for an on-campus recruiting interview that I really wanted, I would show up in a suit, look at the business cards on the interview schedule, and write a nice email. “I was an applicant to your position, but unfortunately was not selected for an interview. I notice you have a 15 minute break from 9:45 to 10:00 am. Would you be willing to consider an abbreviated interview for me? I am right outside.” Everyone said yes, and every interview I did this way got me a second, on-site round; people love the gumption and the initiative.
This “what more can I do” and “how can I win” attitude will help you succeed in your internships and jobs. Even when you’re done with what you’ve been asked to do, always ask yourself “how can I make my boss’s life better?” or “how do I make my boss look good?”
What is some advice you would give yourself as a freshman or starting in Haas as a junior?
Get an internship, and get an internship early. This will both help you land an awesome job and to pick a career path you truly enjoy. I had the fortune of landing an internship in mortgages at Bear Stearns in fall 2007, as a freshman. By March 2008, Bear Stearns no longer existed, and I got a free “upgrade” to JPMorgan. After my summer at JPMorgan, no one blinked an eye when I told them when I was a sophomore. Sure, the job postings all said “juniors only”, but if JPMorgan gave me a job as a freshman, why shouldn’t their company give me a chance as a sophomore?
I had the incredible fortune of having four internships during college… mortgage structuring at JPMorgan, investment banking at Citi, convertibles trading at Citi, and quant at Citi. My three summers in New York allowed me to find out what I really enjoyed doing and find a job I’m happy to be at 7 years later.
To borrow from startup culture, failing fast is important. My sophomore year, I landed a coveted investment banking internship in New York at Citi. I worked five weeks, got a great midsummer review, and went to HR and promptly told them I couldn’t handle the hours. This opportunity gave me a chance to try out sales and trading, a part of the finance world which didn’t recruit from Cal. Trying lots of jobs gives you a better chance of choosing something that you love. You don’t want to have just one super prestigious internship your junior year, and to sign on full time without ever having experienced anything else.
You need to work hard for your luck! There was one year I submitted 120 applications.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about yourself?
I’m aligned with a school of philanthropy called effective altruism, which tries to use data to find the most cost-effective ways to improve the world. I find it a meaningful moral compass, and a good way to find purpose in your work. One way I think I can improve the world is by sharing this evidence-based school of thought with more people. If you’re interested, this is a good introduction.