Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 9/7/12. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.
Kids ask how many bankers they need to contact or how many "" they need to set up to score that magical offer. And then once they score that offer they seem to think that's it, that they can call it a day. I understand it's only natural to want to do the least amount of work to get the biggest benefit. But this mentality shows through; people can see when you're going through the motions just for the sake of doing something.
1. You should start calling bankers (or traders, etc.) beginning the day you firmly decide that's what you want to do, whether it be "recruiting season" or not. It doesn't matter.
There is no magic number of contacts that will guarantee you a job. It might be the first guy you reach out to, it might be the 100th. You might even realize through the course of this adventure that banking sucks, and that you'd rather do something else. But the great thing is that in the process of figuring out you don't actually want to be a banker you probably did figure out what you would rather do instead.
2.Be a sniper, not a howitzer. Find one guy and send him an email. Find the next guy and send him one. Don't build it up and blow it all at once because chances are good that no matter how confident you are in the wording of your first cold email, a week later you'll have already made 20 revisions. Also you need to be constantly contacting people on a rolling basis.
3. Analyst to MD, it doesn't matter. Sure you can be an armchair banker, reading about the job on here and elsewhere, but you really haven't the foggiest idea of what it's really like until you actually talk to somebody. And why limit yourself? For those like me who didn't go to a "target" school and are not in New York, the alumni list gets quite short from the beginning. Go after everybody because you'll never know who will randomly be able to help you, which leads to #4.
4. It's all about luck. Some banks are recruiting, others are not. We argue day and night whether 80% the summergot full-time offers, or whether it was actually 78%. Really it doesn't matter at all. Forget about what everybody else's situation is, the fact of the matter is that you do not yet have a job. You might speak with an analyst that's a complete dick and an MD that absolutely loves you. You never know.
5. You need to go to your target city and meet these people in person. Take 2 days off of school and set up a trip, whatever it takes. No deal has ever been done over the phone. It shows some deep commitment to spend a few hundred dollars to get on a plane to go drink some flavored water with a guy you don't know. That and it allows the other person to check to see that you are as smart and likable in person as you were on the phone.
Crucial to all of this is that you have a genuine interest in whatever field you are going for, and that you have a solid story to back it up. If you don't, you're going to be eaten alive.