On Campus Recruitment and Networking: A guide

Recruitment Season

Since it is recruitment season, I thought I would write this post.

For all those currently undergoing On Campus Recruitment, being a great network-ER is key. First impressions last and you need to make a great impression on the bankers.

But after being to my fair share of networking events, I have noticed that many aspiring students come to the info sessions, but fail to network effectively. Some students manage to hold some of the most awkward conversations I have ever seen and ask the weirdest of questions.

But it's understandable: Putting yourself out there and meeting new people is not a walk in the park.

So, in order to help out anyone who is willing to listen, I am going to list out some networking "moves" that have worked for me:

1) Be Confident

Look, you know your stuff. Never underestimate yourself and lower yourself just because you think these guys are bankers.

When you approach the Analysts, Associates and bankers of all designations, walk in confidently, smile, and hold a firm handshake with the bankers.

Keep an open stance. Do not cross your arms or wrap your hands around your school's resume Binder or place it closely to your chest. Keep your hands in your pockets or by yourself and make sure the only thing covering your torso is your shirt, tie and jacket (if you prefer to wear one).

By keeping an open stance, you are signaling that you are comfortable in your own shoes and are confident.

2) The Queue

However, before you go in and talk, you have to physically position yourself so that you can effectively communicate with the banker.

If say, an Associate, is talking to a group of students, try to make your way into the front of the group. When the time is right, that is when he/she is done talking and you know that it now the time of the students to ask additional questions, introduce yourself and ask a question. Your introduction can be as simple as "Hi, my name is (insert name here). Pleasure to meet you".

Or on the other hand, if you are going to a banker who say is an Analyst and is not as surrounded by students as say the MD, the approach should be similar but adjusted with a few tweaks. Instead of just waiting to talk, go in confidently, deliver a firm hand-shake, introduce yourself (when the time is right, of course) and start to have a genuine conversation.

3) The Content

Going back to the first scenario, where a banker is addressing a small group of students, if you are going to ask a question, ask a good one.

Bankers always get questions about a firm's culture, their motivations to enter banking and so on.

However, you have to be smarter. Therefore, you should ask questions that others are not likely to ask.
For example, if you are talking to a banker from the M&A group of Morgan Stanley, talk about the high activity of M&A this year and so on. You get the point.

This will allow you to stand out and make you more memorable to the analyst. And, for heaven's sake, do it for the poor analyst. He/She must be exhausted getting the same "culture" questions all the time.

Which is not to say, however, that you should definitely not ask questions about culture and so on. In fact, they are key in determining if the company/group will be right for you. But you should progress from the basic, banal questions, to more sophisticated and complex ones.

You should use a similar strategy when going to a banker, who is not extremely occupied and you can have a good one-on-one conversation with.

While doing all of this, it is important to be casual. No need to be stuck-up, nervous, agitated or confused. Just be natural and appropriate.

These bankers are also humans, and odds a good proportion of them also graduated from your school a couple of years ago, so they know the causal lingo. No need to use the forty vocab words you remember from giving the SATs.

4) The Exterior

While having a conversation, intently listen to the answers of the banker, smile and be genuinely interested in the conversation.

Be sure to add to the conversation as well. Add about your past finance experiences that, you think make you a great candidate. Or if the conversation steers to sports, talk about that. Just go with the flow.

Do what you need to do to have a lively conversation. Use your judgement to determine the personality of the banker, and play upon it. If the banker is laid back and cursing, use a laid-back conversational tone. If the analyst is uptight and a roaming Wikipedia, be sure to employ your mannerisms and etiquette.

5) Close

When I say to have a lively conversation, I don't mean that you should have a half-an-hour conversation with him/her.

Have a long-enough conversation to make a good impression.

After you think the conversation has been going well, politely ask if you could, somehow, stay in touch with the analysts/associate/whatever, and get his/her business card. If he/she did not have a bad experience, odds are 9 times out of 10 you will get their business card.

Once you do so, thank the analyst for their advice and time. Deliver a firm hand-shake and move on.

6) Following-Up

This is seriously important.

However, there are two ways you can play this depending upon your position.

If you're a freshman or sophomore, wait. Do not send a follow-up email ASAP, because every junior trying to do On Campus Recruiting will be inundating the Analyst/Associate with emails. What you should do is send emails off-season during the Spring semester. This way, the odds are higher that you will receive a follow-up.

If you're a junior or senior, hustle. Send emails to the banker and do a follow-up if they do not get back to you. This isn't to say you should follow-up with them every day, but wait a week and send a follow-up email politely asking something like if they had time to look at your email.

In a nutshell, just be sure to be in contact with the Analyst/Associate etc as it will only help you in the recruitment process.

7) The close

Honestly, networking is pretty darn simple. There isn't a formula to being an effective networker. Just be confident and things will automatically fall into place.

And, honestly, that's really it.

I hope you guys find my two cents helpful.

Good luck to all going through the recruitment process right now!

Comments (30)

Oct 30, 2015 - 6:06pm


I would also add that ask a very, very good question that shows you've done your research. Then have a brief conversation to leave a short, strong impression. Just keep it simple, with an impact.

But also don't overdo it. If you just blindside with an out of place question about how the historical highs in leverage will impact your IRR when modeling an LBO, it's blindingly obvious that you're less interested in the answer than you are in showing off how much you know.

It's not going to work. Keep in mind that the people who have been doing the job for several years will ALWAYS know more technically than you do. Ask legitimate questions but don't try to impress.

Also I can't harp on one comment made earlier: Do your networking FIRST. The classmates of mine who are having the most success are doing that.

If your introduction to an OCR rep starts with anything other than "Great to see you again!" you're not doing it as well as you could.

Best Response
Oct 29, 2015 - 2:30pm

when I was in banking, I was quite involved with recruiting and became the "lead" for undergrad OCR for a few schools (which to be honest is the most thankless task in the world, but that's another story). So over the course of a week, I would visit a couple schools, present (being the "lead", I had the honour of presenting the "day in the life of an analyst") and get to meet prospective candidates. I have quite a different opinion than the OP regarding 5 and 6.

Doing OCR is one of the most exhausting thing you'll do. I mean, you have hundreds of kids swarming you, all trying to ask you their "smart" question, impress you with their finance knowledge (or worse, their supposed work ethic) and trying to get your card / details. The reality is, we meet way too many kids in a short period of time to remember you and to be honest, I think at this point, there's very little to be gained while you can easily shoot yourself in the foot by being an idiot. In 2 years of doing this, I cannot think of a single candidate that got an interview he/she otherwise wouldn't have gotten by impressing someone during OCR.

Perhaps it depends across banks, but very few of my colleagues and none of my senior colleagues brought any business cards. Naively, I handed them out to anyone who asked during my first presentation and got over 100 emails that evening.... No one has time to even read that many emails (they're all the same anyway). I also dinged a few people who were too aggressive with following-up. The last thing you want is to annoy people. If your GPA is good and you have relevant experiences, you will get an interview and if not, you're out of luck and no amount of ass kissing is going to change that (at least not at a top BB / EB which receive thousands of applications per open position). Anyway, I am not trying to put down networking, but I really think that you need to do that BEFORE OCR.

Oct 30, 2015 - 4:18pm

That sounds brutal - why were you lead for multiple schools? All the target schools at my bank had their school's alumni staffing their respective OCR efforts. Only the non-/semi-target team covered multiple schools (though now that I think back about it, their job did kind of suck more than usual since they had no interest or connection in the kids they were interviewing). Anyway, it seemed fairly standard at my bank to have some info interviews in the week or so in between the on campus event and the resume drop deadline, but I agree you should try to get your networking in with some time to spare.

However, I disagree with this:

"If your GPA is good and you have relevant experiences, you will get an interview and if not, you're out of luck and no amount of ass kissing is going to change that (at least not at a top BB / EB which receive thousands of applications per open position)"

There are lots of applicants with good GPAs and relevant internships. A typical resume stack would have about 150-200 resumes from the school I went to. A lot of those are immediate dings and some of those are obvious shoo-ins but you still end up with a stack of 30-50 resumes that could arguably merit a spot for an interview, and then you start arguing with the other guys on your recruiting team because everyone has different things that appeal to them, and frankly the only thing that anyone can agree on is that the nice kid you had coffee with (even if post info sesh) and decent stats should get an interview. Anyway, that's just my experience so to all the applicants out there, YMMV.

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:35am

Yes I was the lead for multiple schools. Having "objective" leads helped brings consistency and efficiency to the process and it removed a lot of overly partisan infighting when it came down to superday allocation. We would still go to each school with a team of alumni and they generally would meet some students, either by scheduling coffee chats with students that had already reached out prior to OCR or by visiting they frat, eating club, etc.

I think I was a bit harsh in my original post so I agree that for candidates on the margins, having had some form of interaction with the team is hugely beneficial. But given the tight timing in between OCR and resume selection, from my experience, the chance of actually having a chance to network is fairly slim.

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:36am

networking problem and on campus interview (Originally Posted: 07/12/2017)

I'm an international student in a non-target and I am rising sophomore. Last few months I've been networking with some analysts in BB by attending networking events but I fucked up most of the informational interviews. I have not started networking with my alumni yet and I am wondering if it is too late to do so if I want a internship in summer 2018?

Some MM and boutique will have on campus interview in fall. Should I start networking right now or just throw my resume and wait for a chance to on campus interview?Appreciate any advice.

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:39am

I cannot hold the conversation well and I have no idea with small talks... No banker replied my follow up email after informational interview. Thank you for the advice. So maybe starting networking with my alumni now is a good option?

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:41am

I mean guessing from your name you're Asian and you probably just are uncomfortable conversing in English so spend 1-2 hours a night practicing English. Also you're a rising sophomore so you probably got a huge amount of hard competition to even get into like internship at a BB at that point so.....

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:42am

Yes language is the problem. I am trying to find something to do next summer...Do you think intern with an accounting firm will be helpful if I want to get into IB after junior year? Thank you for the advice!

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:44am

Networking strategies for on-campus events (Originally Posted: 08/23/2009)

School is back in session and there are a bunch of consulting-related events coming up (a consulting forum with 10 consulting firms attending, career fairs, info sessions, workshops). I am looking to obtain a fulltime position by the end of the semester and need to make contacts and develop relationships at these events.

What types of "elevator" pitches work best?

What are the best questions to ask consultants and recruiters at these events? (Are they different than the ones you should ask during an interview?)

How can I make the best possible impression?

Thanks everyone - I will keep you updated on my progress

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:46am

Same thing at my campus. Also is it a good idea to try to call up the banks/recruiters beforehand and introduce myself and say I'm interested in the company and looking forward to seeing them on campus? And perhaps to ask to get in touch with any alumni that may be coming to the info sessions (to try and build rapport before meeting them in person)?

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:47am

its a good idea and I have actually done it about 3 weeks ago..

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:49am

If he/she was from your school, just sent him an email asking to talk about the company and his/her career

if he's not , then just sent an email talking about the company. He will appreciate you reaching out since most kids are pretty timid to do so.

Then, meet him at the on campus info session. Let him recognize you with your name and face.

Chances are, if you have at least a decent resume and you don't say any stupid stuff over the phone ( talking about money, offended him some ways,) you should be granted a 1st round at least.

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:50am

If he/she was from your school, just sent him an email asking to talk about the company and his/her career

Are you talking about a recruiter/HR or about the analysts that come to the info sessions to talk to students? If Analyst, then how do you find out which one(s) will be coming to the session? I feel that the recruiters/HR may be reluctant to give away that info.

Nov 2, 2015 - 11:54am

when you go to these speaker events or career fairs, give each person you speak to a banana. it's the universal sign for showing respect. anyone who has seen remember the titans (last scene with the two coaches) will attest to this

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