Get the Most Out of Networking

You should try to maximize your interactions with the people that can help you. You should be creative about whom to contact, not forgetting that local alumni are very knowledgeable and many have started their careers in New York, so they can give valuable insight and may be more available. Once you establish relationships with these alumni or anyone that can help you, prepare yourself by knowing who you are and knowing your audience. Knowing yourself includes having written out (if necessary) the many reasons why you want to pursue the chosen career path. The process of writing this out should help to solidify your desire and can help you focus. Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to work on Wall Street?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 to 10 years?
  • What sets me apart from my peers (broadly including students at other schools)?
  • Do I consider myself a quantitative person?
  • Am I a people person?
  • Do I want to be in New York? Why?
  • What are 3 groups I am curious about working in? Why?
  • What are my concerns?
  • What do I need to improve on to become a better candidate?

If you engage alumni with specific questions rather than a vague “please help me,” they will be able to give you better advice. If the request is too vague and doesn’t seem to be based on real goals, then the contact may feel overwhelmed at the size of the request. Some people will offer more time and help, but this will vary. You have to give them a reason to help and should know your audience well. For example, if you are talking to an alumnus, then you might get more direct and critical advice. In short, ask specific questions to show knowledge/preparation, and remember that people want to help.