Reflections from a Graduating Jacobs Scholar: Q&A with Zachary Long

Zachary Long smiles before a gray background
Zachary Long, a Jacobs Scholar for the 2023-2024 school year and graduating MBA at Wharton
Dr. Bruce I. Jacobs, G’79, GRW’86, co-founder of Jacobs Levy Equity Management
Dr. Bruce I. Jacobs, G’79, GRW’86, co-founder of Jacobs Levy Equity Management

The Dr. Bruce I. Jacobs Scholars in Quantitative Finance is an academic award dedicated to exceptional students entering their second year of the Wharton MBA program and majoring in Quantitative Finance. Zachary Long was chosen as a Jacobs Scholar for the 2023-2024 school year and is preparing to graduate this month and begin his new role on the Corporate Development team at D.E. Shaw.

“I am confident that Zachary’s experience as a Jacobs Scholar has prepared him well for the exciting opportunities ahead as he embarks on his career,” said Dr. Bruce I. Jacobs, G’79, GRW’86, co-founder, Jacobs Levy Equity Management.

In the following interview, Zachary discusses his experience as a Wharton MBA candidate and Jacobs Scholar.

Do you have any reflections on your experience as a Wharton MBA candidate and being selected as a Jacobs Scholar?

More than anything, I’m extremely honored to have been named a Jacobs Scholar going into my second year at Wharton and am so appreciative of the chance to have met with Dr. Jacobs in the fall along with the other Scholars. I’m so thankful for both the academic and professional opportunities that come with the Scholars program, which have allowed me to pursue my interests in both the classroom and on the full-time recruiting trail as a second year.

The two years at Wharton go by quickly. My experience has been a delicate balance of going wide in exploring new topics and going deep in doubling down areas of existing interest.

What made you decide to declare the Quantitative Finance MBA major?

Before Wharton, I worked in the investment management industry at both J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management and at Russell Investments. I was initially considering pursuing Wharton’s regular finance major, but given my existing knowledge base, I thought that the Quantitative Finance track would allow me to take a variety of classes in new fields and explore new topics in depth. During my first year at Wharton, I was able to take two Quantitative Finance classes – Behavioral Finance and Data Science for Finance – and really enjoyed their analytical approaches to emerging issues in the field of finance. Moreover, the fact that there’s a specific award for this major was a really strong signal from the university that this is an area of strategic focus.

What are your professional plans after graduation?

After graduation, I will be joining the Corporate Development team at D.E. Shaw, based in New York. The team develops new investment strategies and investment products for the firm. This position will allow me to work with the systematic and discretionary sides of the firm across both public and private markets. I’ll also be able to learn about both existing and new businesses within the firm.

I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity because it will allow me to combine the investment strategy skillset I developed at J.P. Morgan as well as draw on the corporate strategy & development experience I gained at Russell Investments. I will also apply the many lessons I’ve learned from my Quantitative Finance classes at Wharton.

How do you anticipate your experience as a Jacobs Scholar will impact your career?

I think being a Jacobs Scholar will aid my career in two ways. The first is upfront: I have and will continue to have access to recruiting opportunities that I would not have necessarily had without being a Jacobs Scholar. Moreover, I was one of the only Jacobs Scholars in my year who wanted to explore the business and operations side of investment managers, and not just join a solely investment-minded role. I strongly believe being a Jacobs Scholar opened up opportunities like the one at D.E. Shaw for me, allowing me to pursue my true passions in the industry.

The second way is longer-term. I hope the imprimatur of being selected as a Jacobs Scholar will continue to give me both credibility in the workplace, especially working within Quantitative Finance, and allow me opportunities to stay in contact with my fellow Jacobs Scholars, particularly my current classmates. And since this is a program for a new major in a growing field, I can’t wait to see what amazing things the other Scholars will accomplish throughout their careers.

What advice do you have for the next generation of Jacobs Scholars?

Be open-minded about the types of roles you want after Wharton – the Quantitative Finance major and the Jacobs Scholars award prepares students for so much more than just the well-trodden path of becoming an equity research analyst. Take the time to reflect on what you really want to do with your career, and then find roles and firms that fit that vision. And while you’re at Wharton, take the classes that interest you: business school is probably the last time most – if not all – of us will have the opportunity to take intellectual risks and learn completely new topics. Whatever path you choose to follow, you’ll be better off for exploring your interests, whether that’s furthering your existing areas of knowledge or learning about something completely new to you. The two years at Wharton fly by, so make sure you can make the most of your time on campus.

Visit the Jacobs Levy Center’s homepage.
Learn more about the Jacobs Scholars and the Quantitative Finance Major.