Jennifer Zhou JD '17 MBA '17

Jennifer Zhou JD '17 MBA '17

Exploring a wealth of options in business and law

What motivated you to pursue the JD/MBA Program?

Before Columbia, I was an analyst in Citi’s corporate and investment banking department for two years, covering global technology companies. I knew transactions were what I wanted to pursue as a career—debt issuances, convertibles, common equity, M&A, etc. At the same time, I realized how intertwined the business and law worlds are in the context of transactions. I wanted to holistically understand the projects that I was working on, to be able to comprehensively consider all relevant factors when evaluating the structuring and timing of a strategy—from both the financial and legal perspectives. Therefore, I chose a graduate program that would allow me to hone and develop both of these skill sets.

Why did you choose to work at Bryan Cave during your 1L summer?

Since I had enrolled in the three-year program, I knew that I didn’t have many summers to explore whether I wanted to ultimately pursue law or business as a career. With the consideration that students generally return to their 2L summer employers and accounting for the fact that I had never worked at a law firm, I decided that my 1L summer internship would be my only opportunity to try this path. I probably sent out around 150 emails asking whether firms had a 1L spot for an aspiring associate. I found Bryan Cave through the NYC Bar Diversity Fellowship program that is offered through the Law School over the 1L winter break.

I worked on many different things at Bryan Cave—an amendment to a credit agreement consenting to delayed prepayment of a loan, a 50-state survey of money transmitter licensing laws for virtual currencies, an article about the legal duration of non-disclosure agreements, and pro bono assignments regarding the International Criminal Court.

Why did you choose to work at Goldman Sachs during your 2L summer?

After some time at both Columbia Law and Columbia Business, I realized that I do love numbers and decided to choose a job that was technically numerical. At Goldman Sachs, I worked on a sell-side M&A transaction involving Cox Target Media and Platinum Equity Partners, comparable companies analysis of an internet company, and a buy-side assignment for a company in the hotel space.

What brought you back to Goldman Sachs after graduation?

Again, I love working on numerical analysis. Additionally, in banking, I was able to work with clients and perform in a client-facing role sooner. Even as a summer intern, I went on business trips and became well acquainted with the management of the company that we were trying to help sell. Lastly, I love the fast-paced and exciting banking environment. I love that no day is like the previous one. Some days, you have time to leisurely work through assignments and go to the gym. Other times, usually right before a deal announcement, you are extremely busy for weeks working towards a resolution. I recently worked on a restructuring project, which ended with convertible debt and equity follow-on issuances. It was extremely exciting to see how quickly changes can happen. Over just a couple of weeks, our advice drastically changed the capital structure of a company and saved it from default.

What advice would you give to current and aspiring JD/MBA students?

Explore all of your options before deciding on a path. Post-graduation, the opportunity to switch careers becomes significantly more limited. During your summer internships, do not only think about your performance, but also evaluate whether the career and the firm are right for you. Focus on speaking to senior employees, and attend all of the networking events. Through those conversations, consider whether you see yourself interested in the work years down the road, and whether you are willing to make the sacrifices to get to partner, vice president, managing director, etc.