So, I went to London and knocked on some doors..

HvaCapMar's picture
Rank: Monkey | 64

I am starting to write my master thesis (M.Sc. Maritime Management) in a couple of months' time. My goal is to collaborate with a commodities trading organization on a research topic of mutual interest and practical benefit to the firm.

So, I booked some $60 Ryanair tickets, mapped out a dozen or so firms (top-tier players, independents and IOC trading arms), topped off the Oyster card and went on a career quest armed with a score of CVs.

Lessons learned?

The old school approach is far from ideal in today's London corporate landscape.

Mostly, I received a lot of dumbfounded looks from clueless receptionists (oftentimes followed by an adroit comment akin to "have you checked the info on their website?"). These gatekeepers are what is between you and the real decision-makers that you actually want to talk to. They are especially aloof for the larger up-scale firms with fancy Mayfair addresses. They will ask you who you are seeing, if you have a scheduled appointment, as well as name and title of whom you want to see. The larger the corporation, seemingly the more stringent enforcement of said screening.

For larger organizations, avoid approaching HR altogether. It is a black hole and you are lucky if your CV finds the relevant party. For smaller players HR is often constituted of one labile person, and you are left at this person's whim, ability and willingness to circulate your info.

Refining my technique on the go, I started cold calling the main desks equipped with an arsenal of names and job titles of relevant persons at the firm in question. Calling HR is a complete waste of time, 80% of the time they are not in office and voicemail messages seem to receive zero attention.

Nearing conclusion of my stay, I started calling traders directly and approaching employees in elevators and preaching my case. This turned out to be highly more efficient and fruitful, and yielded a few business cards and promises to forward my info to parties deemed relevant.

Following up on all leads on e-mail, the typical feedback that I have gotten seem to sort under one of the following: 1) that is not something we do here (period, bar none); 2) unfortunately we do not currently have capacity; or 3) cannot find a department that would meet your request.

Concluding, I think maybe this physical hand-son approach would work better in the U.S. with a sociology that - in my own experience - to a larger extent acknowledges personal initiative and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Needless to say, the peregrination was more futile than I originally had feared. I do find it bizarre that these firms are not more welcoming towards master students, who come knocking on their door essentially willing to dedicate six months of their life in order to research a topic (issue, challenge, opportunity) pertinent and with practical benefit to the firm.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this?

And if you happen to have an open-minded contact in any of the larger trading firms (or, alternatively, shipbrokerages) that would welcome my proposition, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Comments (20)

Oct 24, 2015

This is why we have security pass-activated turnstiles at our office.

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Oct 24, 2015

are you doing this for free? also, my reading of your post rubbed me the wrong way but idk if it's just me

Oct 24, 2015

Emailing people and setting up a series of coffee chats and or tours would have yielded better results. Any secretary worth their salt would never let you past the front desk.

Best Response
Oct 24, 2015

I don't even like when half the retards who actually work for me just drop by my office, let alone if some random got through building security (and reception and my assistant) and just wanted to talk. Campus recruiting, networking, cold calling/emailing or basically anything else is better than just dropping by an office.

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Oct 26, 2015
Dingdong08:

I don't even like when half the retards who actually work for me just drop by my office, let alone if some random got through building security (and reception and my assistant) and just wanted to talk. Campus recruiting, networking, cold calling/emailing or basically anything else is better than just dropping by an office.

Exactly. It's like me: I have an open door policy, just make sure to schedule some time on my calendar with Sharon if you need to speak to me.

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Oct 25, 2015

The "old-school" approach was before the invention of the internet and prior to the Wall Street (1987) movie. On another note, if you're sending me a "cold-email" I think that says it all - we have no formal connection.

Oct 25, 2015
ArcherVice:

The "old-school" approach was before the invention of the internet and prior to the Wall Street (1987) movie. On another note, if you're sending me a "cold-email" I think that says it all - we have no formal connection.

Yeah I never got why people like to send cold emails...I think it's better to keep them warm

Oct 26, 2015

@Going Concern the reason people send cold emails is because they have no one in their immediate network that they can reach out to for advice or whatever it is that they are seeking. Not all of us have the opportunity to go to a top tier university, live in NYC, etc and for some of us LinkedIn, email, etc is the only way to get to what we are looking for.

I've found most people to be help, preferably MDs and some VPs for IB than an Analyst or Associate. Almost all of these connections were through cold emailing and LinkedIn.

Oct 25, 2015

What I got from this post:

1) HR Sucks
2) America Rocks.

Good Shit +SB.

Also shoot an email to Dr. Craig Pirrong at the University of Houston, read and reference one of his papers on commodities trading, he may be able to help you. This guy is a fucking big deal and strong industry tries, especially for an academician.

Best

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Oct 25, 2015

I think confronting someone right to their face in their office reeks of desperation and gives off a pretty creepy vibe. You have to build rapport or establish incentive on their end before they are receptive to an in person meeting...sales 101

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Oct 26, 2015

So this guy is crying about not being able to get past security with out an appointment?

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

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Oct 26, 2015

I'm shocked you weren't escorted out of a few places! Stick with the actual traditional approach: buying someone coffee and listening to THEM.

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Oct 26, 2015

"Concluding, I think maybe this physical hand-son approach would work better in the U.S. with a sociology that - in my own experience - to a larger extent acknowledges personal initiative and entrepreneurial endeavors."

I think that's probably true. The lack of appreciation for some bold big-thinking initiatives and risk-taking is one of the main reasons of Europe's decline (that, and this wicked thing called socialism ofcourse).

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Oct 26, 2015

The idea of writing a thesis that fits some finance department sector is good. If I were you, I'd go to your finance department and talk with some teachers and TAs. They usually have the connections within firms and can vouch for you.

Oct 26, 2015

i would like to confirm, networking in Europe is a myth, i mainly used cold emails.

100 % reply from US people
0% from socialist EU
20% from Africans

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Oct 29, 2015

Only 20% of widows of the prince of X with "47 biillons" of money that was willed to you responded? Those bastards!

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Oct 27, 2015

I would not just drop by like that in the US either, email or Linkedin.

Oct 27, 2015

I wasnt aware something this stupid worked in any geography....

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Oct 28, 2015

From my experience, here in South Africa, which is a similar culture to Europe is that people are very skeptical and untrusting of anyone who wants something from them, no matter how much personal initiative or ambition you have. Cold emails and cornering people would only result in getting the cold shoulder. Networking is everything, and being able to use the connections you have.

Anyone can watch Bruce Lee movies but doesn't mean they know karate

Oct 1, 2019
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