Alumni just don't care

Hi all. Just wrapped up a rough recruiting season this week with a MM offer. It's been a long half year prepping and networking, so I'm obviously psyched that everything worked out.

I come from a very non-traditional background and a non-target (though we do have a great number of alum in all over top banks all over the street), so without a doubt I had a ton of help from the alum from my school in getting my resume in front of HR to begin with.

But that's something I want to ask the good ol audience of WSO. Let me explain: 

I can't name one alum outside my MM that has been even close to that helpful. Looking back on my process, I can't tell you how many times the 3 alum or less at any given bank couldn't be reached week after week. I'm talking about four, five, six follow up emails. I literally cold called 5 random first years at one BB I was really interested in before I managed to get ahold of the one recent alum from my school-and that was because the other guy I called knew the alum from my school personally.

And don't even get me started about helping with the process. One random analyst I cold emailed ended up pushing things along for me and found out more about the timeline within the span of a day. The MD from my school promised to connect me with others and then ignored my three emails following up.

I don't share a lot in common with some of these guys. I'm not diversity, not an athlete, didn't go to a prep school. I might come off as a sore loser on this post, but I remember it being so frustrating to know that your options are more or less limited by the coin toss of getting those 3 alumni from your school to pick up the phone. 

Do some people just not care about paying it forward? 

EDIT: After many comments, I ADMIT: I was wrong. Maybe I was a little frustrated and entitled at the time, point taken. Why pay for therapy when you have the good old community of WSO to get me right. On the road to reform!

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Comments (49)

Nov 4, 2020 - 11:25pm

Yes, I didn't get a single first round through networking. All my interviews so far came from cold applying online. 


  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 4, 2020 - 11:38pm

Unfortunately yes

There are douchebags that do not care about helping others or say they are too busy to respond. I work at a well known sweatshop on this site and still make time to schedule calls with non target and target students. 

MDs are hit or miss though - they are usually dealing with their own issues so it is best to assume they will not respond.  

Most Helpful
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 4, 2020 - 11:44pm

Respect to you. I hope you sleep a little better at night you're helping some random kid reach his dream job lol

Nov 11, 2020 - 10:22am

I work at a well known sweatshop on this site and still make time to schedule calls with non target and target students. 

Unfortunately, I find this to be unrealistic for hard working bankers. As I mentioned above, I am very loyal and helpful (to the extent I can be) for my alumni. But, there are limits.

For example, let's say I graduated from Vandy. I get kids from every SEC school harassing me and almost expecting that I'll have time to meet with them. I have no problem responding, but I can't have a 30 min call or coffee with each kid that reaches out, particularly given the clustering around certain times of the year. And, more importantly, those kids shouldn't expect that from people that they truly have no affiliation with them or their institution. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Nov 11, 2020 - 12:12pm

I only spoke about dbags - analysts that refuse to speak with students because they generalize their ability based on bs metrics and come up with the I'm too busy excuse when they are bottom bucket trash that no one in the office likes and have more time than anyone else. 

I hate those guys and girls so I lend my hand to students so my group does not get labelled as "hardo" or elitist. I have my own limits , 10-15 minute calls and filter out candidates based on factual information not some childish games. 

I agree kids should not expect anyone to respond even if it is their alumni and I also recognize that they are going to cold email everyone under the sun to get an internship but if you have a god complex because you are a banker then you are a douchebag. 

Nov 4, 2020 - 11:43pm

While I won't excuse their dickish behavior, you have to keep in mind that you're one of a dozen kids simping for the same few alumni. This is especially amplified for a non-target and I hate to say it but you might've just not been who they wanted to push this recruitment season for one reason or another. 

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 4, 2020 - 11:46pm

That's completely understandable, and I get that maybe my resume wasn't as competitive or I wasn't as tasty of a candidate. But damn at least pick up the phone to meet me for 15 mins? Mind you these emails go as far back as June

Nov 5, 2020 - 12:20am

I wouldn't dwell on it too much, they could be getting slammed or are just dicks who don't wanna help. In any case, you made it so just remember the feeling when you become an analyst and give back going forward. 

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

  • 2
Nov 5, 2020 - 12:42am

What types of emails are you sending? Are they well written, thoughtful, have you done your research on each person you're talking to? 

You say you follow up 5-6 times, that is definitely excessive. After max 3, take the hint. 

Also, do you have a profile picture on your LinkedIn and email? That should help. And is it tasteful? Try and stay conservative. Blue/gray suit, white shirt, and wear a non-flashy tie in a traditional knot. 

Reading back on your post, it seems like you made it. 1 MM offer is all it takes to break in. Tbh, your experience is not that dissimilar from other non-targets trying to break in. It's definitely not daisies and roses for others either. 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Nov 5, 2020 - 2:22am

It happens. Also, alumni could be shunning you intentionally because they feel they can't help you with getting a foot in the door i.e. embarrassment and shame. If u come from a weak name school, could be the case. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2020 - 3:20am

I get that perspective, but that's not the case with my school. Private, New England area, multiple pipelines have existed in the past. And if alum are sick and tired of talking these unpolished nontarget kids, aren't you doing a greater disservice to them by letting them run amuck as they are? Maybe I'm being naive in trusting in the good of others lol but damn

Nov 5, 2020 - 7:52am

Interesting thread. Another issue to contemplate is expectations. I'm in the sales world and looking for a job is selling (sometimes at it's highest level). You are selling an intangible , the experience / relationships / acumen / effectiveness you will have on all stakeholders. So there's getting you right, but there is also your expectations. 

Just because we're excited to meet with people when we're looking for a job, doesn't mean they're excited to meet you. It also doesn't mean they're a jerk if they ignore you (although I would much rather receive a short email stating their inability / lack of interest in helping so as to not keep on pestering them). When you're cold calling, it's unrealistic to expect a high percentage of response. Anything north of 10% is actually quite good. Of course the numbers go up the closer you get to the person (i.e. a referral). Think about it. They're going about their business/ schedule and all of a sudden they get an unsolicited request to meet / speak with you. Probably the last thing they want to do and now they have a perceived obligation to handle you one way or another. Even telling you know is a pain because it requires their attention and they didn't ask for that job, you thrust it on them.

Now some will be more than willing to help you, pay it forward, whatever. Just don't assume that's the norm because it isn't. Some schools are known for having a fierce alumni. That's a real benefit as they know the value of the aid they provide and likely benefited from it. They also contribute to their alma mater financially and have an emotional tie to feeding the system. Again, not the norm.

A real issue, apologies for sounding like an old crankster, is today's youth sensing their self importance above other's needs. Just assuming someone wants to help you is setting the wrong expectations. Assume you have to give them good reasons to help you. Not saying you didn't or haven't, just painting a realistic picture. I don't know about you but I get cold emailed, texted, VMed all day every day. I probably delete / ignore more than 95% of them because I didn't ask to be bothered. 

Now if someone impresses me, or is referred to me, or leverages a relationship with me, or X, I am all over it and genuinely want to help. In fact I go out of my way to help. Yet 90-95% of the cold touches never see that. It's just reality.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Nov 5, 2020 - 2:42pm

Do you work at a BB? Also, do you recommend speaking with someone again once you've already had a networking call with them, assuming it went well?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2020 - 3:10pm

Imo, cold calling just is not that effective. I do not really want to be randomly called by a prospect.

Email/LinkedIn me, and sure we can set up a call. Cold call me during a workday? That ain't it.

Nov 5, 2020 - 3:10pm

this comes off as arrogant. you are expecting people to do something for you, no matter how menial it may seem to you, you're expecting a favor. 15 minutes may not seem like a lot to you but a full-time banker may see that differently. Even if they have all the time in the world, they have no obligation to assist you in any way. If you expect life to go your way and spoon feed you, you're never going to last on Wall Street/any high stakes environment. Be humble and don't expect shit from anyone.

All that being said, it seems like you are driven and you are doing a good job of putting yourself out there with the effort you make for networking. As a non-target from a non-prep school/non-diversity/non-athlete who just went through recruiting season too, I feel for you. It does suck that other kids are getting help and you feel like you're out on your own. But that is life, we may have it tougher than others but that's what sets us apart. Use it to your advantage. Congrats on the offer, go get em.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2020 - 5:38pm

All fair points and I guess I did come across as spoiled or entiltied in my post. I did say that mayhaps my post isn't justified in the first place, and I'll wait and see when I start of the desk (if I'm lucky enough to get a FT). 

I would actually argue that I'm not expecting anything at all from people, and the fact that I went through LinkedIn and verified 10 pages of emails off of profiles to send out just to get 1 response per 15 emails would prove that point. 

It's just disappointing to look back and realize that 5/6 of my mentors were from random schools that had absolutely 0 affiliation with me. After all the hype that my school does to glorify its alumni network, maybe I should really rethink the "paying it forward" obligation that some of you guys have been referring to.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 5, 2020 - 5:09pm

This post reeks badly of entitlement. Your alumni don't owe you anything, period. Get that through your head and you'd probably be much more successful here.

Your alumni are probably getting 20 – 30 other emails from prospects asking for "just 15 minutes of their time". Do you have any sense of what a junior banker's schedule is like? To put it in perspective, some weeks I don't even have time to take a shit, let alone have a dry networking conversation with an over-eager college student. I'd suggest holding off on your judgment until you start full-time and your MDs are slamming you every week, then see how you feel about it.

Also, just a heads up that emailing anyone 6 times in a row without a response is super weird. I don't know what made you think that was a normal thing to do, but I'd suggest you leave that practice that at the door when you start at your MM

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2020 - 5:57pm

I see where you are coming from, and I think you're definitely right about me following up repeatedly (although actually with one BB alum my persistence really paid off). I acknowledge that I'm nearsighted right now, and don't get me wrong I've thanked extensively the people who give any type of time to me. 

But lemme throw this back at you: weren't you that overeager college student once? Didn't you once walk around with your head chopped off (unless you have family or background influences in high Finance, then in which case our conversation would be done right now)? You and everybody else who recruits for this role knows life is beyond rough. Do let me know if I'm thinking about this the wrong way, but when and if I'm a full time, I would gladly list on my resume a bullet that says: "help students figure out their career interests". Lord knows no one makes it alone.

I just can't imagine myself lookin at some kid's LinkedIn profile from my school as small as it is and thinking to myself "he doesn't look like he fits the mold, and plus he doesn't play x sport or does y club. I don't owe him anything and if he makes it he makes it if he doesn't tough nuts"

Nov 5, 2020 - 6:21pm

I just can't imagine myself lookin at some kid's LinkedIn profile from my school as small as it is and thinking to myself "he doesn't look like he fits the mold, and plus he doesn't play x sport or does y club. I don't owe him anything and if he makes it he makes it if he doesn't tough nuts"

To put this in perspective yeah they should have probably at least picked up the phone. But when it comes to helping past that as a Junior Banker my options are very limited.  I can maybe push one resume a year and that is it. Not to mention this is getting harder with diversity initiatives because I will look like a prick for recommending a polished white guy as "my" candidate.  

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 5, 2020 - 6:35pm

You're right that I was an over-eager college student, and I definitely made my fair share of cringe-worthy mistakes in the networking process. Can't really hold that against anyone.

What I take issue with is the mentality that these alumni are being selfish because they're not taking time out of their own days to help you. I've seen this with prospects from my own school -- one particularly arrogant one was even upset that I didn't reply to him for 2 weeks while I was busy. I'm not saying you're as bad as that kid, but you've got the same mentality: that your alumni owe you something, and that you have a right to be disappointed if they don't deliver. These guys aren't your career center -- they didn't sign up to help anyone -- they're just people that went to the same school as you that you want a job from. Nothing more, nothing less. When I was recruiting I never expected alumni to help me, and so I was never disappointed when most of them didn't. It's all about the mentality, and I think your mentality is totally warped and, quite frankly, self-centered.

For the record, when I don't respond (and I do try and give back when I can), I'm not looking at people's LinkedIn (or resume) and deciding to not take the time based off that. I'm literally getting smoked and do not have the time. You say everyone recruiting for this role understands the hours are tough, but until you actually live the experience I don't think you fully appreciate what it's like. I'm sure you will in good time -- like I said, just withhold your judgement until then.       

Nov 5, 2020 - 5:35pm

This post absolutely reeks of the sort of thing that likely put off a majority of your alumni. You come across as expecting some kind of help  / handout from your alumni. Perhaps the school spirit just isn't that strong for your school? 

Back when i was an analyst, I took a bunch of calls but there are some days to weeks you get fucked so hard you just simply can't bother to respond to a networking email. Most networking was forced on us when it came time to pick up laterals after exp analyst / associates left.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Nov 5, 2020 - 6:03pm

My school is known for blowing up its close knit and very strong alumni network lol. That may be where my sense of entitlement comes from. I agree with you, but at the same time please do not think I expect people from my school to hand my resume to HR or connect me with MDs. Like I said in my above comment, it's just a little sad when I look up and realize that 5/6 mentors were complete strangers who respected my story. Makes me reconsider my college decisions lol

Nov 5, 2020 - 6:22pm

Reconsider what college decisions? I assume and hope you didn't choose your college based on what you perceived networking school spirit to be. That's a hit or miss type of thing and not something to bank on.

I'm glad you're learning this early on. You're gonna realize you can't go around calling people "mentors" and sht. It's not like that, especially in business. A real one is rare to come by and now you'll have a better idea of when someone is or isn't really about that mentorship life. 

There's prolly 3-4 kids who "consider" me mentors. i don't think of them as mentees. I take their calls when i have time and don't go above and beyond. there's one kid i met in college who grew up in the inner cities and it really rang a cord with me. I've gone out of my way to go to bat for him.

Nov 5, 2020 - 6:03pm

I am an incoming SA at a BB who went to a non-target. I got my internship strictly by luck and hard work...With that being said I still had well over 100+ phone calls prior to getting my offer. Some were with non-target alumni who were in a similar situation and also landed their positions strictly by luck. Thus, they were oftentimes very little help in the recruiting process in terms of push a resume down the chain. I hope that someday I can be in their shoes and make an impact on another promising non-target because even the thought of pushing a resume goes so far for an undergrad.

Nov 5, 2020 - 6:04pm

No one in my school have helped during my recruiting in college, all interviews came from applying cold online. Sometimes you just need to come to the fact that not everyone out there is willing to break a leg for you and move on.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Nov 6, 2020 - 5:19am

The issue here is to realize that no one owes you anything. It may sound harsh, but it's the reality. There could be a variety of reasons, both in your control or out of your control, as to why these alumni weren't responsive. You cannot always expect alumni to hold up to your expectations. But I'm glad everything worked out for you in the end

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Nov 6, 2020 - 2:36pm

Following up more than once is an awful look - no offense but I would read that as wreaking of desperation. You want to come across as someone that could land an offer with a little help, not someone who is exhausting every possible resource trying to get a foot in the door and has an obsessive and borderline maniacal desire to become a banker. I recognize that it is good that you're trying as hard as possible and encourage you to continue doing so - but there is a natural contrast between your perspective and the person on the other side's, and they are  driving here. 

Another thing to keep in mind is you arent the only one reaching out to these people for help - its likely a ton of your classmates are also reaching out to them, and at the end of the day they just cant help everyone. This is why establishing some sort of mutual connection/interest is critical in getting them to help you out - it distinguishes you from the other kids reaching out.  

Definitely keep doing what you're doing in terms of effort/motivation, but take it down a notch in assuming people are supposed to help you out. I hate to say it but youre probably not as special as you think you are and nobody wants to help an entitled kid out.  

Nov 6, 2020 - 6:57pm

This is so cringe.

Hope you're trolling. No one owes you shit no matter how desperate you are. If you send fucking six follow-ups it's a miracle your emails weren't sent across the street.

Feel bad for your MM given your level of self awareness

Nov 6, 2020 - 7:03pm

Let me give you some perspective. I personally try to help people out whenever I can, but the thing is, when I'm working 100 hours a week, I can't. If I've had a rough week, I just want to go home and sleep, not spend 15 minutes on the phone with some kid, who is going to probably just ask me silly questions he/she could have Googled (not saying that's you, but that's how most cold email calls go).

I would lower the follow-ups, though. One follow-up is enough. Any more than that, and you'll just scare me off. Good luck, OP. Recruiting isn't easy.

Nov 6, 2020 - 11:12pm

It's a numbers game, nothing personal.  "Pick up the phone and start dialing." Make the most those monthly invoices you receive from AT&T.

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
Nov 10, 2020 - 12:38pm

I will speak for myself, but assume several people feel these at varying times:

1. You don't have pull in recruiting, so do not want to waste time / have the awkward "I can't really help you" chat

2. You have wrapped up recruiting and/or no spots for non-targets (especially this year)

3. You look them up on LinkedIn and they have a horrible profile

4. You are more worried about your own job that you don't feel "up" to feeding someone the rah-rah spiel on your own firm and/or disappearing on them to another firm 

5. You mean to respond, but forget

PS - Usually when I tell people recruiting is done but I would be happy to chat, they either do not respond, or spend a week waiting to respond with (paraphrasing): I wanted to specifically talk about internships, so no need to talk, thanks

Nov 10, 2020 - 2:52pm

Alumni responsiveness in the industry appears to vary by school. Obviously there are outliers, but I've found alumni from smaller schools less known in the industry are, on average, more willing to help kids at their alma mater compared to those of the larger, better-known schools. The NYU alumn that gets hundreds of emails a year from NYU kids is often less likely to help compared to the Chattanooga State Community College alumn that gets contacted by a standout student. Maybe an overexagerated example but you get the just.

Nov 11, 2020 - 7:46am

I try to help when I can, but sometimes I miss stuff either intentionally or unintentionally. If you get my on the phone and I like you, I will try to help and push your resume to recruiting.

  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 11, 2020 - 8:58am

This was my experience with Baruch. If your school has no school spirit, especially if it's a non-target, good luck getting a response.

Nov 11, 2020 - 10:12am

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