Interview with a Senior Institutional Research Associate - (Part 2/2)

The following is part two of an interview I did with a Senior Institutional Research Associate See Part 1 Here

General Advice

  1. What is the one tip you would give to current students (ugrad and/or grad students) to help them succeed?

    Get better at networking:
    -Fix your elevator pitch,
    -Learn to speak in concise accurate sentences,
    -Figure out how to distill your message into 3-5 key points.

    Join toastmasters or practice on each other if you have to. Also, know your shit when you go to an interview.

  2. What are some tips for moving up and becoming “the boss” (i.e. a department head / managing director / partner)?

    Learn to play the politics in an office. You need politics on top of being good at what you’re doing in order to move up.

  3. Any specific cold-emailing or cold-calling tips you can pass on?

    Cold calling worked well for me, call at times when people are likely to be at their desks, but not busy, everything else gets you an ‘I’ll call you back later’, and I won’t.

  4. Any specific networking tips you can pass on?

    Networking isn’t just about knowing people, it’s being useful to people. Two stories : When I started my MBA, I was at a networking event with the outgoing MBAs, who had a 50% placement rate (not heartening). They found out that one of my cohort was a Senior VP at a bank and swarmed him with job requests. Not “hi my name is” but straight up “please give me a job”. He got sick of it and said, “sure, we’re hiring Customer Service Reps, pay is $9/hour and 40 hours a week.” They missed the point.

    Second, one of my profs was at an event with the president of Tata, she is talking to him after his speech, kid runs up and interrupts: “I’m a huge fan of Tata, can you give me a job, I’m graduating with X in Y.” President turns around and says “All I know about you is that you are rude and incapable of polite conversation, why on earth would I hire you?”

    I try to know at least one fact about as many subjects as I can, that way when I come across someone that I want to meet, I join the conversation, say my fact, act like I belong and listen. People love to talk, and they will if you fit into the conversation, read: participate but don’t try to dominate. Eventually they might ask about you, if this happens, it’s your chance to shine, don’t ruin it by begging or acting like a chump, know your shit. Also, most people don’t like to be asked for a job, but don’t mind if you ask if they know anyone that might be hiring. Step two, now you’ve got an introduction: “so and so suggested that I should call you…and so on”.

  5. What is a memorable experience you have of how someone got your attention? (for networking / internship / job purposes)

    A buddy of mine got hired ahead of everyone else because he did his senior finance project on a company that the Research Analyst covered. To be fair, he got a little lucky, but, his classmates did companies like Boeing, Apple and MacDonalds, when they were trying to get jobs in oil and gas, they missed the value of that project.

  6. What are unique things college students and young-professionals can do to separate themselves from the crowd?

    Learn about industry, if you want to do ER or IB in mining or oil and gas, take some geology courses, looks great on the resume, sounds better in interview. Audit classes or buy used text books, hell, join the geology club. Same deal with tech, you want to be a tech banker, take courses on the stuff, or go to hackathons.

  7. What is your opinion on gaining relevant experience at a lesser known firm vs. working for a brand name firm (with less relevant experience)?

    Some advice I’ve received is that very few guys move up the quality curve. That is to say, guys that work in BBs move up at BBs and can take equivalent or better positions when they go to a lower quality shop, re: VP at GS moves to Director of some boutique. Guys at lower quality shops don’t often move up to BBs (present company excluded).

  8. What do you look for in a potential intern candidate?

    I need someone that makes my life easier. They need to know basic industry terminology and some relevant players. Smart and hardworking are table stakes, we’re all smart and hardworking, I want to hire people with more, prove to me that you’re willing to reprint documents at 2 am because you noticed a mistake in the final version and be able to convert a GJ to boe to mmbtu then mcf and back.

  9. What do you look for in a potential entry level hire?

    See above, just more.

  10. What are your favorite interview questions you like to ask potential new hires?

    -What was the price of Henry Hub yesterday?
    -What’s causing the spread between WTI and Brent?
    -What’s your forecast for oil in 2013? Why?
    -Why do we care about CFPS for junior companies and not EPS? (Important)
    -Why do we use EV/EBITDA multiples?
    -Give me two longs and short.

  11. What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve seen people make in interviews?

    A kid had three different fonts in one line of his resume and a typo in the line above ‘excellent attention to detail’. The analyst actually called him in just to point it out to him in an interview and sent him away in near tears after mocking him. Actually, that analyst was kind of a prick.

  12. If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen?

    Spelling or grammar mistakes are unforgivable. Mostly, they say shit that doesn’t matter like: “My father has been in oil and gas for 20 years”, unless we are doing a nepotism hire or your dad is applying, I don’t care..

  13. What are your thoughts on this statement: “Wall Street is a more meritocratic place than most. If you are a young person and you have good ideas, people will often listen to them, if you are in the right role” ?

    It’s accurate to a point, but, the son of a fund manager has a better chance of getting hired than almost anyone else, especially if the fund is big and actively trading.

  14. Any other interesting stories or wisdom you would like to share with the WSO readers?

    This job really isn’t that hard, but it can be a lot of fun.

    Go read ‘BANK- A Novel’ by Dave Bledin before you get hired.

    One of my favorite lines from a boss, it’s my third or fourth 17-18 hour day in a row:
    I say, “when’s this job going to be sexy, like on T.V”,
    He says “don’t worry, it’ll be different in the winter”,
    “Why’s it going to different in winter?”,
    “Cause there’ll be snow on the ground, get back to fucking work”.

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