Alumni Phone Call

Hey all,

I just e-mailed an alumni I don't know who is an analyst at a bank I want to work at. He said he would be happy to answer my questions, either by phone or e-mail.

I'm going for the phone call but I've never done something like this so I was looking for some guidance. I'm going to ask mostly questions about his firm specifically, the recruiting process, culture, groups, etc. Anything else I should ask? Avoid asking?

Just don't want to sound like an idiot. ;)

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Comments (58)

Jan 7, 2009 - 5:15pm

Build rapport with him first, let him know a little bit about you, get to know a little bit about him and why he got into the industry. Don't skip this step, you don't want to sound like you're just using him for a possible interview. If you're in his area I'd even recommend skipping the phone/email route all together and see if you can get together for dinner or drinks. If you can't get together in person just do your best to get him on your side.

Jan 7, 2009 - 6:47pm

General advice for all kinds of networking like this, whether it's an analyst or MD:

Make a friend.

The most valuable thing you can do is have whomever you meet with walk away thinking, "That guy Joe, he's a good kid, nice guy." You don't need to impress them with your finance knowledge yet, save that for the interview. Talk about sports, talk about movies - find out what interests you have in common and just hang out with the guy. Relax and be yourself - don't worry about impressing him, and you will. I promise this advice will get you farther than any "prep" you may do.

  • Capt K
- Capt K - "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham
Jun 23, 2014 - 12:31pm

Help: what to expect and talk about on the first phone call to an alumnus? (Originally Posted: 12/23/2009)

I've reached out to an alumnus who has some good experiences in different PE firms and just started his own. He is nice enough to offer to do a short call with me, but make it clear that his firm is not in a position to add any personnel resources in at least next 6 months. He would like to give me an informational interview tho. So, my question is that, since this is my first time to network with alumni, what kind of questions or topics should I expect? Any tips? I appreciate your helps!

P.S. He asked for my resume already.

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Jun 23, 2014 - 12:33pm

I just spoke to an Alum literally an hour ago, and he told me he liked the way I approached the email and call. Most important thing is to ask him a lot of questions about his experience and what he thinks is the best route for you. Tell him about yourself briefly, talk about where you want to be (broadly, don't mention anything specific or else he might not refer you to opportunities that fall outside your narrow perimeters) and then ask for advice.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:34pm

Exactly, people love to talk about themselves. Ask what classes they took that helped them most, what resources they used on campus, etc. Ask for any advice they can give you towards breaking into the field, interview advice and also advice on how to be successful once on the job. What attributes does he see in his best junior level people? Then work to have those attributes.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:36pm

and if at the end it seems appropriate, ask if he knows someone you can talk to who would be able to help (i.e. get you a job)

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."
Jun 23, 2014 - 12:38pm

See my other thread.


1) Brief overview of yourself
2) Talk about him / let him talk about himself/herself
3) Ask about the bank / job / position
4) Ask if there's anyone they know that they can refer you to

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:40pm

Calling Alumni (Originally Posted: 02/26/2013)

I have a phone call with a alumni md set up. I'm asking some advice what to talk about or ask him? I know to research his firm and department. And how should I ask if he is able to help with a internship. Just ask "do you have any advice on options for internships?" I dont want to come off the wrong way.Thanks for the answers.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:41pm

*An alumnus.

You're right about knowing a lot about his firm, that will be very helpful for questions you may/should have for him. More importantly, get a really solid grip on your background, your career field of interest, and what you've done to get there. As an MD, he'll appreciate your story and will likely give you the "how-to" on his own. Make sure to ask him how he did it, because that was always the best advice/motivation/guidance I got. Good luck

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:43pm

Having a story down is important. Also don't wing it like I did a couple of times.

Does anyone know how to write in the initial email? I don't want to sound like I'm JUST looking for advice either 09wranger, but I also don't want to seem pushy and out-and-out asking for a job, or even desperate (cuz at this point I would be happy fetching coffee if it meant I at least got facetime)

Anyone got a go-to email script?

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:44pm

Know your story, know what you want to do and why, know the easier technicals, have probing questions for him that will give you more detail into his job (you don't want to say "so what do you actually do"), ask him how he got in the position he has today, ask him what he was doing when he was your age now, etc. These phone calls are extremely easy and can foster great relationships/contacts. Make the phone call about him, get him talking about himself and his success.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:46pm

[Edit: this is for the above posters message -- sorry for not quoting]

Here is a relatively standard email for a cold email. Obviously tweak it to match your story, but this is ok:

I hope this message finds you well. I came across your name and firm, and I am writing to inquire as to whether you would be willing to offer any guidance for an aspiring investment banker.

I am currently a [e.g. Junior] at [University] and have recently finished my previous summer at [Internship]. My post graduate goal is to enter investment banking, so I am reaching out in order to gain your perspective [insert something] and [learn] your personal path to investment banking.

Additionally, I have [insert background]. [resume attached].

To be more specific, my post-graduate goal is to work in [insert group] for an investment bank, and I am currently looking for opportunities for the summer of 2013 and thereafter.

Would you be available to speak? If your schedule allows it would be great to meet for coffee or drinks, but a phone call would still be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

"They are all former investment bankers that were laid off in the economic collapse that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have no marketable skills, but by God they work hard."
Jun 23, 2014 - 12:48pm

Generally speaking, just tell your story via your introduction, he'll give you his background, and then go from there. Don't sound too scripted -- try to keep it natural. The phone call is step 1. Step 2 is getting a face to face meeting, for which there is no substitute.

"They are all former investment bankers that were laid off in the economic collapse that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have no marketable skills, but by God they work hard."
Jan 7, 2009 - 8:54pm

talk dirty. the guys gotta be starved for sex. even if its gay sex over the phone.

We're about to enter a Great Depression.
Don't you want a president who's already dressed for it?

------------ I'm making it up as I go along.
Jun 23, 2014 - 12:52pm

Alumni Networking Telephone Interview (Originally Posted: 10/12/2010)

Hey all,

I just mailed some Alumnis asking for some advice per email (no telephone interview). Actually I had a high response rate and a VP used wrote me that I should send him my telephone number cause he wants to talk on the phone.

What are questions next to the typical ones to ask?

I actually want to go into S&T (he is in M&A) so probably not work related. Basically, I want him to pass my application along...

Any recommendations?


Jun 23, 2014 - 12:53pm

Tell him you are impressed by how successful he's been and ask for advice on how to build a career like his. Then ask him if he can help you out. Don't sound fake about it, be honest.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:54pm

build a relationship first before asking him for help

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Jan 7, 2009 - 9:46pm

I have a somewhat different opinion on the matter, but looking in from the other side. I've spoken with a lot of kids who got my name off the career services website, and to be honest, I'm not really interested in making any new friends (yet).

If I think he/she can handle the job and fit in, I basically say, "all right let's skip the rest of the BS like 'my typical day' and 'what excites me about banking'. Tell you what, send me your resume, and i'll make sure it gets to the right person, and good luck!"

The recruiters and higher-up interviewers will be able to judge him better as a potential employee, and I feel like impressing me should be the least of his/her worries.

-- Support and visit these links! Financial Modeling Training Guide to Finance Interviews

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:55pm

Scheduled phone conversation with Alumi (Originally Posted: 04/13/2011)

I have a phone conversation scheduled with an Alumni, he heads the Interest rate stragegy for a BB. I've been trying to do my homework, but can any of you guys clarify what Interest rate strategy entails ?

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:56pm

I have nothing to contribute re Interest Rate Strategy.

But I just wanted to point out: the word you're looking for is alumnus, not alumni. Masculine singular = alumnus, masculine plural = alumni. (And, should you ever need it, feminine singular = alumna, feminine plural = alumnae. Mixed groups take the masculine versions.)

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:57pm

Thanks for the Latin declension breakdown buddy.

For the OP, try this on for size.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:58pm

phone conversation with alumni (Originally Posted: 09/25/2010)

ive emailed a few alumni asking to set up a time to talk about their career and industry, and the responses i got were to call them and talk on the phone. how do you proceed from the phone conversation - do you try to set up a meeting in person? should the initiative be coming from the alum? is it fine to simply talk on the phone and then keep in touch through email, never meeting face to face?

i would like to meet in person to make the contact more personal, but i dont want to be weird or pushy about it. how do you guys go about this? thank you.

Jun 23, 2014 - 12:59pm

I got the same question and am interested in what people are thinking!

I do think you should aim for a more personal interaction such as meeting, but have to make sure the person implies it or maybe it would naturally make sense to meet. Otherwise, if you meet and ask same questions you asked on the phone, you will only waste the person's time, which will put you in a negative light.

Do what you want not what you can!
Jun 23, 2014 - 1:01pm

Alumni Call (Originally Posted: 07/13/2010)

Hello monkeys,

I just got an email response from an alumni that I had reached out to that instructed me to call him in a week. I asked for advice in the email for entering the industry as well as explaining more about myself and my interest in ibanking. However, I also know that he emailed the career service head last year saying that he would call human resources on some students behalf to help them enter the industry. I am very nervous for this call but thankful for his ability to be so available. What should I expect from this call? Additionally, everyone go to my Amazon link. You get free shipping for a year if you are a student in the US!

Jun 23, 2014 - 1:02pm

You shouldn't be nervous that will ruin the call... the best advice i got for networking calls was get them to talk about themselves they feel comfortable and you don';t have to do all the talking
think of a couple of qs to ask shuch as- what were some obstacles u faced in ur career and how did u overcome them...
also u shud have ur finance "story" prepped

good luck

Jan 8, 2009 - 1:13am

Going straight to the point is a good thing, but I would say have intelligent and specific questions, the topics you mentioned sound good. Be to the point and know exactly what you want out of that conversation.

Jun 23, 2014 - 1:06pm

Approach to a Informal Call w/ Alumni that firm isn't hiring (Originally Posted: 09/16/2011)


I have a call today with an alumni to talk about his career and what not. He asked me for my resume but also mentioned that his firm isn't hiring but he's more than happy to help me out.

My question here is how should I end the call? I obviously want to stay in touch with him if there are any available opportunities at his firm but I don't want to present it that way.

I apologize if this topic has been discussed before, I'm just in a rush and need to find some answers quickly.

Jun 23, 2014 - 1:08pm

Depending on where the conversation goes, ask what he thinks about your skill set and if he has any thoughts on other opportunities for you. If you manage to impress him, he will keep you in mind for a future opportunity, or potentially forward you along to another colleague.

The goal during networking should be to have another email address/phone number you can call after this one. Also, keep a record of who you called, and when, and what you talked about, and current/potential next steps. Trust me on this, it will keep you organized and motivated.

This has gotten me so many interviews down the line (4+) INCLUDING my current job.

Jun 23, 2014 - 1:10pm

Help Needed- Phone Call with Alum (Originally Posted: 06/16/2010)

Hello All,

I cold emailed an alum from my school who heads the secondaries investment team @ a $30 AUM PE firm. He was very polite and asked for a copy of my resume, he also wants to set up a phone call with me next week.

I worked in the transaction services group @ a big 4 and currently @ a valuation shop. My goal is to eventually get into PE. There is an opening for an analyst in his group. How do I go about telling him I am interested in his firm, I dont want to be direct to turn him off. Any advice will be appreciated. I also went to a non-target.


Jan 8, 2009 - 1:40am

I think perhaps jackofalltrades and I are talking about different situations. If you are cold calling an alumni or something, I agree - cut the BS.

However, if you have a connection and have a chance to setup a meal with someone that can actually do something about giving you a job (not just the analyst than can put it in the right pile), then I stand by my advice. If the senior guy leaves the table thinking you're a good kid, you're golden.

  • Capt K
- Capt K - "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham
Jun 23, 2014 - 1:11pm

He asked for your resume and to set up a phone call for next week. He already knows you are interested and that phone call is your interview.

"Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."
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