Chris Rigoli, '12

Chris Rigoli, '12

January 27, 2012
Senior looks ahead to career as investment banker

Chris Rigoli, ’12, began his senior year with a job already lined up, but explains how lacrosse and an investment club helped get him there.

With his final semester upon him, Chris Rigoli, ’12, has one less worry than the average college senior. The business administration major already has a job lined up as an investment banker with the Cowen Group in New York City.

While it may be a weight off his shoulders now, one year ago, Rigoli returned from a semester abroad and was faced with finding a summer internship in just a few short months. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do or how to go about the search, so he looked to the Career Development Center [CDC] for guidance.

“It was like drinking from a fire hose,” he says. “I had to take everything at once. I applied for different positions with Wall Street firms through the CDC and contacted people at each bank to get a feel for what they did.”

Those conversations with others in the field helped him settle on an investment banking position, which offers a variety of options, such as sales and trading or research. “[I was told,] ‘you’re young. There’s plenty of time to decide,’” Rigoli says. “It’s a 10-week internship. The idea is to get your foot in the door any way you can.”

The position with the Cowen Group’s health care investment team turned out to be a good fit. “It was a great experience, unlike anything I’ve ever had,” he says. “The hours are really long and strenuous, but the people were very helpful and I learned so many skills. I got a good feel for the real world and finance.”

Rigoli says that while his work schedule was an adjustment, balancing school with playing attack for the lacrosse team taught him time management skills. He chose to attend the University of Richmond instead of playing for a Division 1 lacrosse team, because of the academic reputation. He played recreationally for the intramural team, but when the school elevated them to varsity club status, Rigoli had to adjust to the more rigorous practice and competition schedule.

“I can’t just skip practice to do school work or hang out with friends,” he says. “I have a commitment to the coaches, to the team, and to myself to be there. Organizing my schedule in a way that I can get everything done has become important. It’s put more structure into my life.”

The look at his future life as an investment banker also was a chance to pull from his experience as a member of the Robins School of Business Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF). Rigoli was selected from more than 60 applicants to serve as one of 17 investment managers—eight growth managers, eight value managers, and one general manager—who are responsible for investing approximately $300,000 of the University’s endowment for one academic year.

The fund is overseen by John Earl, Jr., and Jerry Stevens, both finance professors in the Robins School. SMIF managers receive one unit of academic credit and are enrolled in portfolio management with Earl in the fall. They meet weekly to pitch stocks to one another and vote on whether to buy or sell.

“I’m on the growth fund side, so we look to invest in stocks and companies that we think have high sustainable growth rates going forward based on a top-down analysis where we look at economic factors and industry-specific factors,” Rigoli says. “It’s pretty cool that [the school] trusts us and we have pretty much full autonomy.”