Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Blog #2, Networking

Hi again!!

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about how I created an internship opportunity where there wasn’t one to begin with.

As a sophomore in college, one thing you become aware of, especially in finance ( bother investment banking and corporate finance) is that companies want interns for the summer who have completed their junior year and therefore only have one year left of school.  This is in part because they want knowledgeable interns who have had the relevant coursework, and so at the end of the internship they can make a proper evaluation and decided if they want to make a full-time offer to the student on the condition that they graduate.

So…as a sophomore, and I know I am not the only one, I stated that I was a junior, intending to graduate in May 2011, which was not exactly a lie because I am in fact a year ahead on credits, and if I had gotten a gold-mine internship with a full-time offer at the end, I would indeed have proceeded to graduate early.  However, I had not taken enough financial courses to be as strong as I needed to be in my technical skills, and that came out in interviews.

For those who know they want to go into investment banking early enough, there is plenty of material out there that can help you teach yourself and learn on your own, without having taken the coursework.  I discovered this too late, and I found that studying several weeks prior to the interview was not enough to make me fluent in the material.  I could not talk to valuation as I needed to be able to.

So..That is what I am honing in on this summer..

So, how did I get an investment banking internship then?

I went back to my routes here in Buffalo.  I attended a prestigious prep school in Buffalo called Nichols, which has many successful alumni.  By building a LinkedIn profile, and contacting the head of alumni relations at my alma mater, I was able to create several informational interviews for myself, just talking to people over the phone, people who had developed careers in both corporate finance and investment banking.  They gave me tips, referred me to other alumni from Nichols who I should get in touch with.

One alumni put me in touch with another alumni in Buffalo who is a partner at a private equity firm, who referred me to a local middle-market investment bank called Paramax, where the managing director’s daughter had attend Nichols several years before me.  I sent out a well-structured email, which led to a phone interview, which led to my internship.  One of the skills my employer listed as being a deciding factor in my getting the position, was how connected I was. But in fact, I hadn’t started out connected, it was my ability to get connected that led to my success.

so..through the trials and tribulations of getting turned down from a number of interviews at Babson, I learned a valuable lesson about getting to know people, learning what questions to ask, learning to ask for recommendations and referrals, and learning on how to capitalize on the people who in reality all want to help you.

Until next time.