Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

The Power of a Network

Internships are extremely competitive no matter what sector you are going into, so gaining a leg up on the competition is key to success. We work for hours on creating the perfect resume and cover letter (CL) that, frankly, can easily be lost among the hundreds of applications that recruiters must go through. In this blog I will take you through my multiyear hunt to lock down an internship in investment banking (IB) at G2 Capital Advisors, in Boston, MA. I hope this gives you a different way of thinking about how to get where you want to go.

Before getting into it a little about me, Ben Crawford, I am a rising senior at Babson College looking to get into venture capitalism (VC), I want to do very early stage investing such as angel investing. I am about a week out from starting my first IB internship in which I hope to learn the industry, build a stronger network, and gain invaluable experience that will help me get to my goal. My prior internships include: Financial analyst for GlenHill Capital Advisors a New York based hedge fund that manages $2b in outside funds, data analytics intern for Derrick Equipment Co. a Houston based oil and gas (O&G) separation technology company, and lastly a market research intern for C-Bond Systems, LLC a Houston based nanotechnology start-up.

It all begun my sophomore fall. I was using sites such as Handshake and LinkdIn to try and find an internship for that summer. I sent out upwards of thirty applications to which only an extremely small group of companies responded to me, even though on handshake I met all the requirements for the job I had a hard time making it past the application. I could not figure out why, I am a student at Babson, a top ranked business school in the nation, I have the brain power, solid GPA, and I worked tirelessly on creating a phenomenal resume and CL. Albert Einstein said it best when he defined insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I knew if I kept applying to internships the same way I had been doing nothing would change, so I changed my method of attack.

The missing piece in the puzzle was a connection within the companies I was trying to intern for. Once I started using my network I had an introductory email sent within the hour. The company was Derrick Equipment Co. as mentioned earlier. I went through two rounds of interviews in which I was honest and told them data analytics and O&G were not exactly what I was looking for, instead my goal was to work in IB, but that would not stop me from giving 110% every day. This is where I learned the CEO of the company was on the board of G2 Capital (where I am interning this summer). He made a deal with me – I prove to him that I can produce a top of the line work product and be a value add to the firm and he would recommend me for the G2 summer internship program next summer. I negotiated a five week internship in which I was given four main projects to work on: one – create a presentation explaining how to fill out a mud report template[1] in which they sent to their India branch for big data analytics, second – build a configure price quote (CPQ) to allow the sales team to quickly and efficiently price any type of product the customer ask for, third – build a predictive model projecting the companies screen sales both domestically and internationally, and fourth – build a model projecting O&G supply and demand for the next decade. I was then to present my findings to the CEO, COO, and two high ranking board members. This presentation is where I locked down a recommendation from the CEO of Derrick to the board of G2.

This recommendation gave me a competitive advantage over the other 200 – 250 applicants. While the recommendation helped differentiate me compared to a majority of the other applicants, I still had to prove myself in three rounds of interviews. Long story short I closed the deal and got the internship that was almost a year in the making.

To sum up the process I used, and now plan to continue using for my future job hunts:

  • Utilize network of personal connections to break through the initial step of applying and set myself apart.
  • Took a job at a company that did not line up with what I wanted to do, but knew the CEO was on the board of a company I wanted to work for.
  • Impress said CEO so they make the recommendation to the company I wanted to work for, differentiating me from the competition.

While in my case I was able to get face time with the CEO, I realize in a larger company that might not be possible. Just because they do not run the company does not mean they do not have connections in the field you are trying to work. Tune into my next blog to learn about my stringent follow up schedule, and how it plays a role in this process.

[1] Mud report – A daily record from O&G rigs of what is pulled up and put in to ground, other things such as depth, type of drill bit, and how much product is being held is also reported.