Dear College Students...

I'm not sure WHY you would wait until a month before applications are due to send a cold networking email, when everyone and their mother does the same thing.

Am getting ~3-4 inbounds per day, when I'd get one per week at most until early Jan.  During which time period do you think you're more likely to get some time on the phone?!

Also, saying "Hi I'm Susie Lou, I'm [submitting an application tomorrow / attending the diversity and inclusion event next week], do you save some time to chat?" is possibly the most shallow ask of all time.  At least try to come off as genuinely interested, not playing an angle for a referral

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Comments (11)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 2, 2021 - 1:44pm

What firm do you work for? Just wondering so I can stay away

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 3, 2021 - 12:08pm

I have a bias opinion due to the fact that I am currently a sophomore going through the networking process but trying to understand from an analysts POV, I can understand how its annoying when people reach out for informational interviews when its closer to recruiting season and its obvious what their intention is. However, I personally have been reaching out to people since December and was told by some that it was too early and to reach out closer to the recruiting cycle so that you will be fresh on peoples minds. Also, I have been cold emailing different people every week and did not want to email everyone at the same firm at once, this means that although I am reaching out now it does not mean that I was lazy and wasn't networking before, it just means that I'm emailing you specifically now. 

To your point, interviews also don't start until April/May or June/July/August for most firms so I would still consider this early in terms of networking. I think no matter what, early or not early it is obvious that we (students) are looking to make genuine connections with people in the industry to hopefully receive an internship but also to learn more about what it is really like, for example, I came into the networking process knowing at a very high level what it is an analysts does, but now having spoke to over 70+ people I know exactly what an analyst does. It also allows us to understand where we fit in and don't fit in. 

Thus, I wanted to ask you, what do you think students should be doing instead? I don't see an alternative really but would love more insight. 

Mar 3, 2021 - 1:06pm

Totally valid to reach out closer to recruiting season to stay top of mind, but that should not be your first time reaching out.  You should reach out far in advance (at least 6 mo.) for two reasons:

1) your goal is to develop a genuine connection with at least one person at a given firm.  That cannot be done in one, or two, calls.  It can be done with a couple calls, some follow-ups, updates, and in pre-covid times, an in-person coffee chat (two, if you can make it work).  It goes without saying that this takes a few months to do.  Why go to such lengths?  You're trying to get your contact(s) at the firm to vouch for you, hopefully to such a degree that you would prevail over a competing candidate who attended a partner's alma mater and has that partner's support (and there are plenty of those candidates).  That's a difficult thing to do unless you have some real rapport with your connection.  

Now, sure, you may get lucky and get a referral from a one-time connection, get the superday and land an offer.  But we're talking about how to maximize your chances, not count the numerous pie-in-the-sky possibilities to get an offer.

Also, if you were "told by some that it was too early", it reveals you came off as solely interested in talking with them to get your application flagged.  Instead of reaching out "in regards to my application for xyz", try reaching out for general career advice.  It's never "too early" for that.

2)  email traffic.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Only so many inbound networking emails can be answered.  In December and January, I answered 100% of inbound networking emails, because it was feasible despite being busy on other stuff. Now that applications are closer, there's not enough time to get on the phone with everyone who reaches out (3-4 per day).  I'll let you draw your own inferences about the better time to reach out.

Certainly, any of this can be debated, but this strategy landed me a position at a top firm coming from a non-target, non-business background.  I won't tell you which firm, so unfortunately you won't be able to preemptively steer clear.  But, it sounds like that won't make a difference in your outcome, anyways.

  • Intern in Consulting
Mar 2, 2021 - 3:24pm

No idea why this post got MS unless it's some triggered kid who did the exact things stated. Students looking to gain internships should understand everyone is going to be reaching out the closer the application comes but in reality should be building the relationships at least a few months before said process starts. If you start early, they can see that you're a go-getter and have some common sense. Not saying it's the only way, but this isn't rocket science.

Second part isn't out of the realm either. Since when is reaching out to someone days before submitting the application a good idea? Most students (with common sense, I know it's a big ask) would have been networking their asses off for months. Feel like it's pretty typical for an email introduction / networking call to just state your name, school, major, vague statement of why you're interested in speaking with (insert person) who works at (insert bank), list some availability and attach a PDF of your resume. I feel like everyone should assume if I'm reaching out as a sophomore to an analyst at the firm, it's because I "want to learn about the culture" but obviously I'm there for you to put a good word in on my behalf (presuming I'm not a weirdo who can't hold a conversation). 

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Most Helpful
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 3, 2021 - 2:56pm

I'm an incoming FT at a BB/EB, and I would never get upset at applicants for waiting to network until an application opens. At some point it does become too late, but if you cold email me while the recruiting cycle is going, it will just be a bit less likely that I respond because of the increased volume of emails. These processes happen so early now that I just don't feel it is fair to expect sophomores to A) know that they want to do IB and B) understand the best possible way to approach recruiting...1.5 years before they actually show up at the desk for their summer internship. I didn't handle recruiting perfectly- no reason to be unfairly hypocritical once I'm on the other side. 

Mar 3, 2021 - 7:07pm

Cause they need to study and prepare for interviews. If all they did was sending cold emails all year long, they would have a low GPA and would bomb all the technicals. Ideally, the industry needs to abolish this weird networking game and just admit strong candidates based on CV and interviews, which is how it works in basically any other industry. This way you'll also hire more diverse candidates (cause kids from rich families with connections obviously are better at networking but not necessarily better at the job) and won't need additional diversity recruiting bullshit.

Mar 3, 2021 - 9:59pm

Kevin25

Cause they need to study and prepare for interviews. If all they did was sending cold emails all year long, they would have a low GPA and would bomb all the technicals. Ideally, the industry needs to abolish this weird networking game and just admit strong candidates based on CV and interviews, which is how it works in basically any other industry. This way you'll also hire more diverse candidates (cause kids from rich families with connections obviously are better at networking but not necessarily better at the job) and won't need additional diversity recruiting bullshit.

Why not all three? There are plenty of smart people who can do well on technicals. Some subset of them also aren't weirdos. Also networking is how randos can break in, even if legacy types have easier first touch points.

Mar 4, 2021 - 12:30am

not enough time for all three. I'm paying $50k per year just so I can sit in my dorm room and spend all day every day on sending hundreds of emails to strangers so I can get a couple of replies and try to impress them over the call with basic questions they've heard a million times? I would rather spend time on actually learning something useful and utilizing the resources for which I'm paying $50k per year (course materials, textbooks, etc.).

also, why do you care if somebody is a weirdo? a weirdo can move logos on ppt and take notes on calls not worse than the most well-spoken extroverts. where is this diversity we're all talking about? banks spend so much money and effort on specifically recruiting black trans women and such (i.e. lgbtq and black diversity push), but you're afraid that somebody not too social will get a job?

randos that break in through networking are breaking in for the wrong reason: because they licked someone's butt enough to get referrals. and instead you're losing people who are great at fin modeling and could do the work well but just don't want to be a dancing monkey for somebody to get a referral.

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