A Clueless Freshman's First Networking Event

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Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 9/18/14 and ranks #13 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

Ugh. Why did she say no suit. Everybody has a goddamn suit.

I'm fidgeting with my hands outside of the auditorium as I feel the countless glares fixed on the only freshman who was toolish enough to show up. To make matters worse, I'm sticking out like a sore thumb in business casual. My RA (who's looking as if he's about to dine with the president) asks me about my exact intentions. I'm here for the free keychains!

The auditorium doors open up and a massive line forms. I decide to avoid the rush and sit by the fountain for a while when I finally see a familiar face. He's a kid from one of my orientation groups. In an effort to save us both from the discomfort, I wave him over.

So are you also here for the keychains?

Nope. I'm here to talk to Goldman Sachs!

I decide to let the poor kid save face and reply with a simple nod. More keychains for me.

The line finally dies down and we file behind two MFin students. We exchange some small talk while I do my best to avoid the "What year are you?" question. I notice their fancy name badges and briefcases. The intimidation begins to flood back until I ask which firm they're hoping to get face time with. After a shrug and an awkward pause, they reply with "Whichever one hires us."

Cool. So I'm not the only one who doesn't have a clue as to what the fuck I'm doing.

I walk in and greet the nice ladies at the name tag table. I can hear sighs from the upperclassmen standing behind me as I struggle to find my school ID. I hand the card to one of the ladies and take my printed sticker. There's a jar of breath mints sitting at the table. Thinking that nobody's looking, I take a handful and stash them in my pocket (a single pack of gum at the campus store costs $2.50--fuck that).

Wide-eyed and a folder full of resumes in hand (that I have zero intention of handing out), I walk into the sea of suits. I look around at the banners that cover the walls of the room. I can identify a couple BBs and three or four MMs. The rest of the floor is scattered with real estate and auditing firms that I've never heard of.

It's easy to see who are the clear favorites. Without uttering a word, my buddy bolts to the shitshow that is Goldman's table. I silently mutter a prayer for him. In an effort to not interfere with the kids who actually need jobs, I decide to walk a lap around the room before visiting some of the empty stands.

I exchange some words with a couple of cool young guys from a real estate firm. We have an interesting conversation about hotel renovations before one of them busts out some pictures from his iPhone. See that? After drawing that up, my boss wanted to marry me.

After a good ten minutes, they ask about my class year. Freshman.

Aw man. Sorry to hear that. Well, hey, here's a keychain.

I take my prize and we exchange goodbyes. First one of the day baby.

After being shut down by a few more tables, I'm at the point of giving up and walking back to my dorm. I begin to head for the door when one last empty table catches my eye. It's a BB PWM/PB group. Why the fuck aren't they swarmed? Sure enough, my question's answered after I glance over at Goldman.

I walk up to the table and notice a small detail about one of their rep's name tags. Class of '95

I got this.

Knowing that this is a senior guy, I challenge myself to actually get somewhere with him. Following Dale Carnegie's advice, I don't hesitate to ask the golden question. So how'd you like your days here as a student?

The expression on his face resembled that of a 5-year-old coming home to the smell of chocolate chip cookies.

Oh boy, where do I even start?

He goes on for about half an hour. I just stand there and smile, taking in everything he says about our school as if it's gospel. He tells about his time on the soccer team, the countless blurry nights, and the handful of lifelong relationships he made along the way. After he finishes reminiscing, he finally asks the inevitable question.

I let him know that I'm a freshman and only came to the event out of curiosity. I explain how nervous I felt and how I was already on my way out before deciding to stop by and chat with him. Saving myself from further embarrassment, I awkwardly shake his hand and say that I'm late for my evening class. He smiles and reaches into his jacket pocket.

Here's my card. Let's grab lunch sometime.

Comments (23)

Sep 18, 2014

Awesome post, keep up the good work. Always good to start as early as possible and talking to alum

Best Response
Sep 18, 2014

Damn, too bad he didn't give you a keychain.

Sep 18, 2014

You can definitely write. Gave you an SB. Keep these coming!

Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
Brill: I blew up the building.
Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
Brill: Because you made a phone call.

Sep 18, 2014

Well written! Good moral too. A+ all around

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

Sep 18, 2014

You sure can write an interesting piece. Hope he gives you a keychain next lunch!

Oh, SB-ed!

Sep 18, 2014

what have I always said about PWM guys not shutting up! good on you for doing this. a freshman year internship is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

and kudos on getting out of your comfort zone, this will pay dividends over time.

Sep 18, 2014

Good stuff. Hardly anyone knows what they are doing so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Sep 18, 2014

God damn that was easy to read.. You should write a book.. On literally anything... I'd read it

    • 2
Sep 18, 2014

nice article man

Sep 19, 2014

starting networking as a freshman is the best thing you can do, keep it up, no reason why you should feel awkward/nervous at these events .. just behave the way you write: honest and being yourself; and you should be fine ... and buy BIWS or WSP (buy all of the stuff, one piece at a time if you find it expensive) right now if you haven't done that already... you keep up your hard/smart work you'll be making your own luck ... check the success stories over here, check the M&I website, keep exploring till you know what you want with your career... also try the Big 5 Trait Test and the MBTI test, these tests help a little with career direction

    • 1
Sep 20, 2014

Love it, great writing. SB for you.

Sep 20, 2014

This was quality writing, fun read.

Sep 21, 2014

Nice read. Any tips one how one can get good at writing as yourself?

Sep 22, 2014
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Sep 22, 2014

Good read. SB.

Sep 22, 2014

great read, thanks for sharing!

Sep 25, 2014

Great advise! It is never too early to start networking because it can be a good session for self-reflection.

Oct 17, 2014
Wall St:

He smiles and reaches into his jacket pocket.

Here's my card. Let's grab lunch sometime.

He smiles and reaches into his jacket pocket.

Here's my card. Come up to my hotel room after 11.

"Game on," I thought. "Game on."

    • 1
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Oct 18, 2014
prospie:
Wall St:

He smiles and reaches into his jacket pocket.

Here's my card. Let's grab lunch sometime.

He smiles and reaches into his jacket pocket.

Here's my card. Come up to my hotel room after 11.

"Game on," I thought. "Game on."

f*cking brilliant.

    • 3
Oct 17, 2014

Great read, props to you man.

Oct 18, 2014

Keychain > Card. Hard luck. Good piece though

Strength & Honour
Lads pass exams

Oct 20, 2014
Dec 24, 2014