I finally made it… but I have no friends

I come from a non target and broke into banking my senior year of college. I was proud of myself and so grateful for the opportunity. I felt like I finally made it. And I did.

However, 9 months later into my role when I look around I realize that I actually have zero friends. Not actually zero but my friends from college all live in different places or have since lost the spark that kept us all bound together from school. Not to mention most of them do not have any idea what I do or work in unrelated fields nor understand the demands. I just want a group of friends to hang out with and be a part of but I struggle with it. I do not have a commanding presence and I feel like I'm always having to be a part of things rather than build it myself. If anyone has any advice on how to create friends in a new city outside of work I'd greatly appreciate it.

Comments (45)

Most Helpful
  • Prospect in ER
Feb 26, 2022 - 6:28am

I don't completely agree with this. It really depends on who you try to connect with.

Making friends is not that different when you are an adult compared to when we were younger, kids are generally not afraid of talking to people they don't know, that's what makes you meet people and then from there you can maybe make a friend. Human nature doesn't change.

Everyone nowadays (me included) just avoids situations where you are in an inferior/weird social position and just hop on their phones to distract themselves but seconds later you have to again face reality. Be shameless, don't be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Try talking to people, initially referring to anything you have in common (something like being stuck in a queue in a place you go to often). Yes, some people would be like "this mf weird" but others will find you interesting, you are doing what many doesn't even try to do. The only difference is that now that we are older we (mostly) have a social group so we don't really need to make new friends, but most people are still receptive to meeting people (I mean it makes it a bit more interesting, you are esentially breaking that boring routine you are used to).

I have put myself in so many social awkward situations, especially with girls (usually think you are trying to hit on them, when in most cases I am not) but on the other hand I have made 2 good friends that I keep in touch with, with one we both didn't know anyone (both new to the city) and the other day he invited me to a party with some friends he made and I met new people with who we had a good time together.

Once I tried talking to this girl who clearly didn't want to talk to me, 2 weeks go on and I see her again with someone I know, who isn't really a friend of mine but we always talk when we see eachother and all that. The friend was astonished I wasn't some creep that was trying to hit on her and then decided to start talking to me: "omg you are the guy of x". Having a social status (aka that you already have friends) it's usually a factor that others take into account when deciding to talk to you, but many of us just feel lonely inside (we are all in the same boat, trust me) so many will just completely ignore this factor if your first approach is funny.

Essentially, you have to be willing to accept that in more than half of these interactions will lead to nothing.

  • Managing Director in IB-M&A
Feb 27, 2022 - 2:49am

Spot on. Apologies if it comes across as condescending, but it's good to see such introspection in one so young.

As you grow older, and your friends start to get married, move outside the city, etc. almost everyone will feel this way to some extent. You can't really hang out with your peers at the firm like you did in your Analyst or Associate days either. While I am on genial terms with the other MDs at my BB, they are not close friends who I regularly hang out with. The only person from my youth I still see on a weekly basis is someone from my Analyst class (now a Partner at a Megafund). Everyone else in my social circle are friends I have made after college.

You will also face the same thing if you do a secondment in a foreign country you have zero connection to. In many countries in the continent, there is a separation of work and personal life. That means that your coworkers are not willing to hang out with you outside of a work setting. I can personally vouch that this is the case in the Nordics; they are happy to "hygge" by themselves with friends they have had since they were 6yo.

If you already approach women to set up a pipeline, then this will be little different. After you get the bang, and once things cool down after a few months, instead of blocking her number, just hang out more with her friends who you get along with. Since you've already slept with the girl, presumably you've already met her friends at some point. Identify the most tolerable person in her friend group, and attempt to reach out. People are less hesitant to form connections to those with the ostensible "social proof".

A lot of you may scoff at the idea of cold-approaching women, but the social skill and "bravery" required to do so will serve you well in higher echelons of Finance.

Caveat: During my Analyst stint, I only hung out with people from my Analyst class, had no other friends, and minimal social life. There was literally no time for anything else due to 80-100 hours/week. This was before Tinder was invented and online dating became normalized, so perhaps things are different now.

My advice is more geared towards senior bankers, consultants, those in CorpDev, and others who work less than 60-70 hours/week.

If you are an autist with zero social skills, I suggest Dale Carnegie for friendships, and Roosh & Roissy for women. These will get you to a decent baseline, from which you can slowly find your own personality.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Feb 25, 2022 - 9:19pm

I feel like this will be me soon. idc tho I'll wipe my tears with my money.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Feb 28, 2022 - 9:40am

LOL bunch of pussies throwing MS at me. 

Feb 25, 2022 - 10:00pm
maestro_, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have to take initiative more in social relationships if you find friends aren't materializing. First off is your co-workers. Start by always asking someone to go to lunch when you go. Then ask them if they want to get drinks after work etc. Don't limit yourself, asking all of your friendly peers. Choose activities that are repeated and be consistent (gym, workout class, rec league, pottery class, whatever). The key is that the activities are repeated, so you'll see the same people over and over again. If you get along well with anyone, go out of your way to ask for their number or whatever and ask if they'd want to get a drink. Making new friends can be a lot like dating. It can be a little intimidating, but it is so worth it. Having good friends makes it all worth it.

Feb 25, 2022 - 10:52pm
marketMergerMaddie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

^ This. 

The important line here is that you have to be the one that takes initiative. You don't have friends sitting around you automatically, in the same place in life, doing mostly the same activities and engaging in effectively the same career (high school or college student). You now have to create these friendships yourself and actively be the one maintaining them. They slip away quickly if you're not on top of them either. So, get out there and try hard. 

Additionally, just sign up for activities that are interesting to you. Take up makeup, or volleyball, or bodybuilding, or listening to Jazz, or chess, or coding, or poker, or mahjong, or whatever you might want to do. Many or all of those activities will certainly lead you to making new friends. 

The best part and worst part about being an adult is everything is up to you. There's no guide-path like there was for college or high school. Good luck and make those friends!

Feb 26, 2022 - 1:13am
JBanksohn, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This was me for a few months when I started in IB. I tried to randomly go out to bars or other nightspots, but that was a bit of a mess.

What worked for me was Meetup (which is essential engineered to bring strangers together based on hobbies and interests). I would check it out along with Eventbrite (which is a bit more of a moving target in my experience).

I was a bit more ardent in going to events (which is quite the hassle in IB of course), but I eventually found a social setting that worked for me. One item to note: Meetup and Eventbrite are not as conducive if you are not in a Tier 1, or even Tier 2, city

Authored by: Certified Corporate Development Professional - Director
  • 3
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Feb 26, 2022 - 5:17am

I'm in college atm ... I have been completely tunnel visioned into IB. I have a non-existant social life atm; only thing holding me together is that I know when I talked to girls in the past a lot of them were super receptive to my flirting so I feel like in the future when I hopefully have room to breathe I can get back out there. But yeah, I definitely have to consume a metric ton amount of caffiene a day to function pretty much. 

Feb 26, 2022 - 6:36am
What is Upstart, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When I was recruiting I obviously knew the drill but I can assure you that what got me the job was connecting with the interviewers. Don't restrain yourself to 0 social life, always have some fun (personally would make it 2/5 social life, something but not great).

Grades? You can make it with a 3.1 GPA.

That party @ your friends house? You can only go there once

Feb 26, 2022 - 7:26am
mrazoff, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes, totally agree with this.

Take some nights off if you are in college to meet new people and catch up with old friends.

See it as social skills training if you can't bare the idea of doing something unproductive.

Just aim for something higher than a 3.1 tho

Feb 28, 2022 - 7:23pm
Cramerisdaddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know exactly how you feel, I myself am currently preparing for IB recruitment and as a non-target it will be an uphill battle, however, I am naturally a social butterfly and that is my way of coping with school stress, but I do keep at a minimum at around 1.5/5-2/5 depending on the difficulty of the sem. Like neweuropeanhere said having a social life will be very beneficial. Having a social life actually ended up paying off for me specially when it came to networking as it helps you in 2 things. The first it helps to teach you the art of communication (specially if you socialize with your profs). Secondly having a social life will help you to have relatable experience (Ie hikes, concerts, parties etc). So while I may not be in IB yet, and from my experience to try and break into IB, having a social life has helped me a lot.

Feb 26, 2022 - 7:26am
MidMarketMcLovin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Easiest way to make friends is having a mutual interest. For many this is a sport or other hobby / interest. Given the time constraints of IB this is difficult at analyst level so your best bet is making friends with your analyst class and hopefully then becoming part of their wider friends group. Ask to grab beers after work on Friday and get to know them. If there's things you both find interesting try to do it (hitting balls at driving range, sports games, concerts / DJs etc). 

Mar 7, 2022 - 10:28am
DatDebtTho, what's your opinion? Comment below:

100% what MidMarketMcLovin said. (H/T to the middle market love. Who needs MF?) If you don't have many folks that you work with that you gibe with, try a random hobby. I recently joined a rock-climbing gym in Brooklyn and made some friends after I took an intro class. (Though of course, IB hours don't make that easy. Make the effort, and it'll likely pay dividends, metaphorical ones of course...)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Feb 26, 2022 - 10:28am

This is me rn bro, I started this month off-cycle and I know no one in NYC. That's just how it is lol.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Feb 26, 2022 - 5:59pm

dude what sucks is that there's no place to meet people, like yeah I could hit up a bar alone but that looks sus as fuck lmfao no matter how confident you seem to most people

Feb 27, 2022 - 8:05pm
TheFlyingKiwi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

ayo - send me a PM and i'll plug ya in

Go all the way

  • 1
Feb 28, 2022 - 9:28am
mazdjsuu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

could you Pm me too? :) Can't seem to PM you! Heading to NYC too with nobody I know there - super exciting but also scary ahah/

  • 1
Feb 26, 2022 - 10:58am
Laser44, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Join a team (Volo sports or nyu social or whatever they are called these days). If you can get into IB you can make a friend lol. Good luck bra. 

  • Intern in RE - Comm
Feb 27, 2022 - 3:57am

I can relate, not so much in terms of friends (thankfully I still have plenty) but in terms of relationships. Really want one but it's very hard if not impossible. I suppose this is a trade-off that comes with professional success

Feb 27, 2022 - 1:01pm
ConfusedGuru, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wish I could give you some helpful advice...I got lucky because I've got a great group of high school friends that I still keep in touch with, and meet up with weekly. I actually have the opposite problem from you; I'm still trying to "make" it, so the grass is always greener as they say. 

Feb 27, 2022 - 1:04pm
Purple9988, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Depending on how large your analyst class is, you can ask some of them if they want to go for a quick round of drinks, go to the office gym, or something like that. I think that a lot of analysts are in a similar position - especially due to covid. 

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Cov
Feb 27, 2022 - 3:05pm

Was in a similar situation to you, ended up making friends through Facebook groups who I then met irl - helps if you're more socially awkward/uncomfortable just making friends off the bat

Feb 27, 2022 - 7:29pm
learn_more, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's definitely tough to meet new people, especially when moving to a new area and after college. Others have made good suggestions so far. One thing I'd recommend is Aphinity, it's an app that connects you to like-minded people nearby for 1:1 conversations. Its got a casual vibe and you select your interests/preferences and get matched with others. It's not a dating app, and I've liked it so far. I don't want to spam, so just search up Aphinity on the app store. I've personally had good conversations there and met up with people for drinks (I'm in NYC).

Other people have mentioned apps like Meetup. I've personally tried it but didn't like it because of lack of events, and the age demographic was more 30's and 40's. My friends had the same problem. "Friend mode" in dating apps just doesn't work either, I think it's because they're dating apps first, so it feels weird. Aside from that, I would agree with signing up for clubs, sports, anything that gets you interacting with others. Also try to get others you know to introduce you to their friends, e.g. catch up with people from the past.

Feb 28, 2022 - 3:30am
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

why do you need friends? get a girlfriend and hang out with her. if you work long hours, have some hobbies (gym, gaming, music, sports, movies, etc.), live by yourself and need to do chores (cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc.), and have a girlfriend, you won't have time for friends even if you had them.

Mar 1, 2022 - 10:15am
Devils Advocate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When I was an analyst, I became really good friends with people in my analyst class (both my group and others).

This ultimately led to me having a larger friend group because naturally you make friends with their friends from college and the city (and vice versa) 

The one big thing is you have to be proactive about making friendships as an adult. Don't wait and think they will magically develop without work. Life is so much different after college (pros and cons)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 1, 2022 - 5:38pm

what are some of the bigger difference in life during and after college?

Mar 1, 2022 - 8:12pm
Devils Advocate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

College is designed to promote friendships and interactions.

There are dorms / residence halls / Greek life / social clubs that you readily join.

Theres a set routine in terms of courses that promotes interaction in and out of the room.

People are still finding themselves and actively looking for a social network so there more proactive and open to friendships.

College also on some level serves as a filtering mechanism for your friend group. Presumably, if you attend a good school, while people may differ in terms of life experiences and socioeconomic background, on average they're highly motivated to succeed

Post-college is different because people are at different stages of their lives. People are more set in their ways. People have additional responsibilities and time is a lot more precious in terms of how you allocate it. You have to make an added effort to filter through social groups to figure out where you want to fit in because the volume of interactions can increase tremendously in a city like New York.

The beauty of post-college is having money and the ability to afford a variety of different experiences that can expose you to different kinds of people…once you have time to do it haha 

As shitty as the analyst experience can be, there is something to be said about the ease to which you can bond with other highly motivated individuals going through the same thing. Im an MD now and some of my closest friends are from my analyst class; I then had the opportunity to make friends with their friends and likewise 

Mar 4, 2022 - 2:59pm
TimesNewMoney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Apr 16, 2022 - 8:28am
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