by Brian DeChesare Comments (484)

Investment Banking Informational Interviews: How to Use Them to Break into the Industry

Investment Banking Informational Interviews
Investment banking informational interviews are also known as “investment banking coffee chats” or “investment banking networking events,” but the purpose is always the same: to get to know bankers before recruiting, and to use your relationships to win interviews.

In this article, I’ll answer the most common questions on informational interviews. (For a more comprehensive guide to networking your way into investment banking, you may want to consider investing in our full Investment Banking Networking Toolkit.)

Why Do Investment Banking Informational Interviews Matter?

Imagine that a banker is looking through a stack of 200 resumes.

It’s 3 AM and he’s also working on a last-minute pitch book for his crazy MD who only sleeps 2 hours a night.

At 3:23 AM his eyes begin to close and everyone’s resume starts looking the same…

PWM internship, 3.7 GPA from target school… F500 internship, 3.5 GPA from non-target school…

As he’s dozing off, he comes across your resume.

He sees your name written at the top and remembers meeting you at an information session a few months ago, then meeting up with you 2 weeks ago and how you got into a discussion about the World Cup.

Rather than reading the rest of your resume and analyzing your experience, he says, “You’re cool” and puts you in the “Interview” pile.

That’s why you do informational interviews: they’re one of the best ways to set yourself apart in a sea of boring and identical-looking candidates.

Predictably Irrational?

In case you think the story above is an anomaly, think again: the interview selection process is not rational at all.

But the good news is that it’s predictably irrational.

And, unlike other events, with informational interviews you can easily tip the scales in your favor with a small amount of effort.

If you know people at the office you’re applying to, you stand a 10x better chance of getting interviews there.

Do Investment Banking Informational Interviews Really Work?

I’ve seen a couple common objections to “networking,” so let’s address them head-on:

  • Objection #1: Even if I meet someone, how do I know that he’ll actually see my resume and select me for an interview?
  • Objection #2: Won’t the bankers I approach think I’m using them?
  • Objection #3: Does this work at all levels? What if I’m applying for Associate positions?
  • Objection #4: I’m outside the U.S. – I heard networking doesn’t work as well in other countries.

For objection #1, I’ll admit it: there are no guarantees that the same exact bankers you meet will review your resume and make an interview / no interview decision.

To get an idea of specific numbers and what it will take to get noticed, check out this interview with an engineer who broke into investment banking via informational interviews.

Also note that even if your contact doesn’t pick you for an interview directly, he can tell other bankers about you, get you referrals, and help in other ways.

On objection #2, yes, bankers will know that you’re contacting them to win interviews at their firm…

…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Bankers don’t do this for love – they won’t care that you’re “using” them if hiring you means less work for them.

Bankers are willing to speak with you because it might make them look good in the future if you turn out to be a good candidate.

On objection #3, informational interviews work at both the Analyst and Associate levels – you almost have to do them at the Associate level because your competition certainly will be.

Outside the U.S.

This objection has more truth to it than the others – networking into finance and going around the formal processes is not as common in regions like the U.K. and Australia.

Banks there are more focused on traditional recruiting – interviews, online tests, assessment centers and case studies, and so on.

But it’s not that networking “doesn’t work” – it just doesn’t work as well.

You may not want to spend as much time on networking in other countries, but you still need to do more than earn high grades and hope that’s enough to get you in.

The ROI of Investment Banking Coffee Chats

The bottom-line is that there are no guarantees that any strategy will “work,” but it’s hard to beat the ROI of informational interviews:

  • Informational Interviews: 10-20 hours of work might result in multiple interviews.
  • CFA: 500 hours of study will result in… an additional bullet point on your resume.
  • Cold Calling: 10-20 hours of calling boutiques… may result in nothing or maybe a few potential leads.

So think like a banker and invest in the area with the highest ROI.

What is an Investment Banking Informational Interview?

Wow, we made it all the way here without even defining what an investment banking informational interview is.

First, you find the contact information of a banker from your alumni database, from a referral, from student or professional groups, and so on.

Next, you email the person, introduce yourself, say where you found them, and ask if they can chat for 10-15 minutes on the phone or in-person.

If they don’t get back to you, try a few more times.

Then, go in and ask the questions you have about them, make a good impression, stay in touch afterward, and then ask for explicit help with recruiting when the time comes.

Investment Banking Informational Interviews: When to Set Them Up

You should begin 3-6 months in advance of recruiting – that gives you time to get to know them without feeling pressured to follow-up 24/7.

So if you’re a summer intern preparing for full-time recruiting, start just before your internship or as your internship is beginning.

You can start earlier, but setting up interviews too far in advance – say, 2 years before you recruit – is not a good idea because:

  1. It’s harder to stay in touch over that length of time and people may forget who you are.
  2. Finance has extremely high turnover and hardly anyone sticks around for 2 years in the same group at the same bank.

At the MBA-level, you should start before you even arrive at school – just conduct your interviews over the phone in your spare time if necessary.

Your competition is also thinking about networking, so starting even further in advance may be helpful – alumni at top schools get contacted by lots of students.

How to Set Up Investment Banking Informational Interviews

So you’ve found contact information for 5 alumni and you have 4 months until recruiting begins. What now?

Send a 5-sentence email to your contacts that proposes specific dates and times to speak:

  • Sentence 1: Who you are
  • Sentence 2: How you found them
  • Sentence 3: What you want to ask them about
  • Sentence 4: Propose 3-4 dates and times (and places if you want to meet in-person) to speak with them
  • Sentence 5: Thank them for their help in advance

Do not attach your resume / CV, as that annoys bankers by creating extra work.

Resist the urge to write your life story – normal people don’t even have time for that, and bankers certainly don’t.

Think, “Can he/she read this on a phone without scrolling?”

If you want more guidance on the types of emails to write, check out our Investment Banking Networking Toolkit, which has dozens of templates:

course-1

IB Networking Toolkit

Break into investment banking – like a pro. Dominate your cold calls, informational interviews, and weekend trips.

learn more

Phone vs. In-Person

Should you go for informational interviews on the phone? Or in-person?

In-person is the way to go if you’re local or you can make a weekend trip to consolidate your visits; the phone is better if you’re new and want to “warm up.”

Overall, in-person is more effective for all the reasons that meeting your friends in-person is more fun than calling them: the subtleties and non-verbal communication that you don’t get on the phone.

Plus, in-person meetings sometimes lead to in-person tours of the office and meeting even more bankers there.

Questions to Ask and Questions Not to Ask in Investment Banking Coffee Chats

So, now you’re set to speak with a banker at JP Morgan next Tuesday at 2 PM – what questions do you ask?

First, do a few minutes of research on him beforehand (Google and LinkedIn are fine, Capital IQ / Bloomberg are better if you have access) and figure out where he went to school and where he worked (geography / company / group) before.

Once you’ve done that, you can plan out the questions you want to ask.

Personal questions work the best, but if you’re wondering about the sales & trading vs investment banking distinction, markets-related questions may work better with traders.

Good Questions:

  • Can you tell me about how you got started at [Bank Name]?
  • I noticed that you studied abroad in [Place Name] according to our alumni database – what was that like?
  • I saw that you worked in [Industry 1] before switching to [Industry 2] – can you tell me how you did that?
  • I noticed that your group was involved with [Announced Deal Name] – did you work on that?

People, and especially bankers, love to talk about themselves, so the questions above are much better than the “What does an investment banker do?” / “How do you break in?” variety.

Bad questions consist of anything that you can find out in 5 seconds elsewhere or “questions” that are really attempts to brag about yourself.

Bad Questions:

  • What’s it like being an investment banker?
  • How many hours per week do you work?
  • Where can I read more about the industry?
  • By the way, I have a 4.0 GPA in my Finance classes – do you think I should mention that on my resume?

Your new banker friend could also test you by asking technical or fit questions in the beginning, just like in a normal interview – so be prepared with your story and accounting/finance knowledge.

As your 10 – 15 minutes are drawing to a close and you’ve asked your questions, make a mini-request.

People are just like dogs: we need to be trained.

If you don’t ask for something small – a suggestion to meet on a weekend trip in the future, a referral, or even if it’s OK to send follow-up questions – the banker will assume you just want to be “friends.”

As with dating, you need to avoid the “friend zone” from the very beginning.

Banker Having a Bad Hair Day?

Don’t expect that everyone will respond favorably – they won’t.

The banker might be having a bad hair day, might have just lost a client, might have broken up with his significant other, or might be suffering from dozens of other calamities.

You can’t take it personally because this has nothing to do with you 99% of the time.

Put the ones who don’t want to speak with you lower on your priority list and focus on the ones who seem more helpful.

What to Do After Investment Banking Informational Interviews

The biggest mistake you can make: following up repeatedly for no reason.

Sure, it’s good to stay on bankers’ radar every 2-3 months if you’re networking far in advance, but don’t go crazy sending 2 articles every every day because that will annoy them.

You should follow-up with specific questions, requests for referrals, or to ask for help getting an interview.

Some networking “experts” advise you to constantly ping everyone you know, but that is a mistake because:

  1. Bankers are 10x busier than the average person.
  2. You’re on a short time frame – months rather than years.

And yes, when it’s recruiting season you really can just say:

“With recruiting approaching, I wanted to see how I could best position myself for an interview at your firm.”

Next Steps

First, go to your alumni database, or ask your friends, family, or organizations you’re in for bankers’ contact information.

Email 5 of them to set up informational interviews, use the guidelines above, get referrals from those 5 to expand your list, and keep doing that until you’ve met a few dozen bankers.

Then when recruiting begins, ask for their help directly and persist if you don’t hear back.

When you’re done, post a comment below telling us how many interviews and offers you’ve won via networking.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Comments

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  1. Hey Brian,

    Amazing website. Thanks for everything. I had my first informational interview. Nothing spectacular but wasn’t terrible. I tried asking for people he could point me to to talk to at the end so I could help learn what type of product or industry group I could develop an interest for and see how I “fit” into that. I got more of a generic answer like going on Linkedin and reaching out to people whose product and industry groups I’m interested in and reaching out to them (I’m interning at the same firm as him). To you, at face value, does this signify the person’s disinterest (he said he’d be happy for follow up questions and updates during the summer). To me, at least, I would assume if someone thought the conversation went well or likes you they’d be happy to refer you to people.

    Thanks and sorry for the length.

    1. He sounds slightly uninterested based on that. Still worth following up with, but maybe not a top priority. I think the problem is that your request was too open-ended, and usually when that happens, people don’t feel like making the effort to narrow down your request and give you a more specific answer. It would be better to ask something like, “I wanted to know if you know of anyone else who had Issue X but still got into IB, or people in Group Y, who would be willing to speak with me.”

  2. Hello,
    Im working in IT as an eFX business analyst, I took the job because of the financial crisis and always thinking of moving to S&T at some point. It is true to say that I really love to work in S&T but I see this is becoming almost imposible.
    I do my best at my job and I have a very good relation with ppl in S&T at all levels Traders, Sales, Support ..(MD, D,VP,etc). Furthermore, I have an extensive educational background in finance, always worked in CIB and I recently certified in the FRM (I took it because my bank offered me and also payed for it). The think here is that I have seen the only way to get into the trading floor is networking as you say. And although I achieve informal chats and interviews, it never turns into a real offer and I keep trying forever…
    Can you please advise? I think Im doing something wrong during interviews… otherwise I do not think what is the REAL problem.

    Thanks for your time,
    LD

    1. Hard to say without knowing more specifics – maybe see this article for tips: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/sales-trading-to-investment-banking/ or https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/compliance-to-fixed-income-fund-management-mexico/

      Most likely, you are not being aggressive enough with your “asks” – you need to ask for opportunities to work on the desk rather than just casually finding out more about it.

  3. Avatar
    Nimish Garg

    Hi Brian, thanks for this article. I haven’t networked much, but I am at a semi-target/target school. Since banks are beginning to close their applications, how much would it hurt for me to first apply, and contact my alumni afterwards? Or would you really recommend that we reach out to alumni first?

    1. Applying early almost always beats networking and then applying late, so apply before the applications close. It’s better to start networking long before you apply, of course, but if the application is about to close, you need to submit something while you still have a chance.

  4. Hi Brian,

    Should I follow up with a thank you email after informational interviews just like actual interviews?

    1. Yes, but it doesn’t need to be right away… you can wait a bit and ask for advice about something else, a referral, or mention an upcoming weekend trip.

  5. Hey Brian,
    Thanks for all the info! I was wondering what to do if I want an internship for the summer. I have had a few informational calls in and have several more scheduled with small firms. Since I am a freshman, I cannot apply for most positions but am hoping to get an interview with a small firm through info calls. Should I just be straight up and ask for one at the end of the calls if they go well?

    Thanks

    1. You can, but maybe just mention it casually and say it would be great to know of any internship opportunities in the future and then follow up later to ask again.

  6. Should I also do this when I’m looking for an internship?

    1. ??? Of course, networking is helpful to essential when you’re looking for internships.

  7. Does it make sense to contact bankers that I have no mutual connection with? Considering contact information is easily accessible on bank websites.

    1. You should ideally have something in common with the bankers you contact, but it doesn’t need to be a mutual connection. It could just be a similar university, activities, interests, hometown, classes, etc., as you will get the best results when you can point to something like that.

  8. How high up should you go during your initial reach? MD? Associate?

    Thanks!

    1. Start with Analysts or Associates at first and then get referrals up the ladder, ideally reaching MDs eventually. If you have a compressed time frame, you will have to do this more quickly or maybe go for VPs or MDs right away.

      1. How do you get referrals up the ladder? I have met with several analysts and associates but can’t seem to get any referrals especially the ones higher on the corporate ladder. Any help would be appreciated.

        1. Ask for it directly. “Is there anyone else in your group who might be willing to speak with me?” “Would you mind putting me in touch with anyone else in your group?”

          If the person is unresponsive or doesn’t want to help, move on and ask someone else.

  9. Hey Brian, what do you mean by a mini ask for a referral? Like a referral for the interview? I thought that was what the big ask was for.

    Thanks for any insight you can provide.

    1. Just a casual comment like, “By the way, if I’m in your area in the next few months, would you have a few minutes to meet up?” or “Thanks for speaking with me. If I have any questions in the future, would you mind if I email you?”

  10. Hi Brian,

    First of all, thank you so much for great articles on M&I, and great courses on BIWS. I really appreciate them and am learning a lot.

    I have one question about this informational interview or coffee chat because it seems like what I am facing right now is little different from typical situations I read in your article, and was wondering if I could apply the same approach.

    To let you understand the context a bit, I am talking about the structured recruiting for MBA Summer Associate at the GS London office. They made it clear at their presentation that they do not want the informal (cold-calling/emailing I assume) coffee chats, and that they will actually provide us with a chance to apply for the official coffee chat with their employees. But, they said they would limit this coffee chat to just once to everyone (for probably 20 mins or max 30mins).

    In this situation, would you still say that asking them about personal questions is the best approach? rather than trying to impress them? (I am not really sure about how, but still.) If you could follow-up and meet more before I apply, it would be great, but officially this is the only chance to sit down with the employee 1:1; and I feel like I am under pressure to leave an impact on him/her in that one sitting and have a fear that talking only about personal stuff might not be enough. What would you advise on this?

    In addition, even if they strictly said no unofficial coffee chats, if I could manage to find some referrals and have a coffee chat through those referrals rather than cold call/emails, it wouldn’t hurt, right? (I know I should have searched and connected even before I came to the school… but at least now I am starting and since the application process is 2-3 months behind US school, I will just do my best from now on)

    Lastly, let me briefly introduce myself, just to give you some information on my background. I am originally from South Korea, but I am actually Canadian who graduated middle/high schools in Vancouver. I did my undergrad at Cornell University with Engineering major, and worked in Korea at the boutique consulting firm, founded by former McKinsey/ATK members, for 6.5 years before I came to LBS for full-time MBA programme. I want to move into finance (IB/PE) post MBA in London, and following your advice on the website, I have done a pre-MBA internship with one of the PE firms in Korea to build a stepping stone to the finance industry. Now I am going through the structured recruiting for IB with the school.

    Along with answers to my questions, I would be grateful if you could give me any other advice/tips for recruiting given my background. Thank you so much in advance and sorry for such a long reply.

    Best regards,

    1. Yes, the process in London is a bit different because MBA-level recruiting there is not as highly developed. I would say:

      1) You can ask a mix of personal and career/bank-specific questions. You should never really “try to impress people” – you should ask good questions about their backgrounds and how they got to where they are today. You want to show that you’re curious and have done your homework.

      2) Yes, if you can find alumni or other connections, you can go for unofficial coffee chats. But some of the large banks won’t go for this in London, so it might be more helpful to focus on the elite boutiques if you use this strategy. If you get push-back from a few GS bankers about this, assuming you try to set up some unofficial networking, then you should stop to avoid issues with the bank.

      3) It sounds like you are pretty well-prepared if you’ve done a pre-MBA internship and are in a top MBA program currently, so I’m not sure what else you can do at this point. My main advice would be to shift your networking to the elite boutiques and other, smaller firms if it seems that bulge-bracket bankers don’t want to go along with informal networking outside the normal channels.

      I think you can probably win IB roles there without necessarily doing that much networking because the process in London is more application-driven and based on your credentials on paper.

  11. Avatar
    Undergraduate Rising Senior

    Brian,

    Any advice on making phone calls while at work? We have conference rooms, but I feel it might be a conflict of interest to take a networking call or interview while in the office. However, I ‘m in the office all day, so there is no other option. Lunches are taken in office as well.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. It’s not a conflict of interest, just go to the conference room to make or take calls. If someone asks why, say that you had a personal issue come up and did not want to disturb your co-workers with the conversation. Another option is to step outside to get coffee for 10-15 minutes and take the call then. The shorter, the better with networking calls in most cases.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I attended an informational/networking event for sophomores for IBD at a BB. We had a networking reception with MDs, Analysts and Associates. However, there were so many students cramming each Banker it was hard to get anything substantial out of it or making that personal connection. I got the business cards of the bankers with whom I spoke with briefly. As applications will open soon and that event basically was the “informational interview/event”, should I just email the people I met with a follow up of reminding them that I met them and it was great or should I ask questions/ ask referrals? Please advise.

    Thank you

    1. You should email the people you met and ask for 5 minutes to speak on the phone so they remember who you are when reading applications. You don’t need to ask complicated questions, just the usual stuff about their careers and any tips for how to present yourself given [Describe your background and the challenges it might present].

  13. Avatar
    Brian Kessler

    Hello Brian,
    I am currently a freshman finance major enrolled at Northeastern University. I aspire to work in investment banking in the future. Would this technique of informational interviews apply for summer internship roles? Northeastern also has a Co-op program where I will work full time for 2, 6 month semesters throughout my undergraduate studies. Would you reccomend a similar strategy when applying for Co-ops?

    Thank you

  14. Hi Brian/Nicole,

    Thank you for posting this valuable article. I have a question on following up with “small requests”. In your article, you mentioned that I can ask specific questions to stay connected with the bankers.

    What are some examples of specific questions that I can ask to build the relationship other than “how do I position myself to have an interview at your firm” / asking for referrals (I’ve read the comments that I should do that after I have built a relationship with them)?

    I mean, it wouldn’t be appropriate if I ask random questions right? After all, they wouldn’t have time to entertain random questions.

    Thank you.

    1. Ask for their input on classes you should take, internships or activities to join, or just ask about the best way to present yourself for the jobs you’re applying to.

      1. On the topics that you’ve mentioned, isn’t it common knowledge and “can be researched online”? For example, take private equity/IB internships, take accounting/finance courses etc.

        Not to find fault with your solutions, but just curious since it is often mentioned that you don’t ask questions whereby you could find the answers through google.

        Thank you.

        1. At a high level, sure, but you have to make it more personalized/specific to you (e.g., “Accounting Class X covers Topics A and B, but Accounting Class Y covers Topics C and D. Which one do you think is more useful?”).

          You will always get better responses by asking for advice and showing some uncertainty/vulnerability, even if some of your questions can be answered online.

          1. Ok. How do I know if the banker “likes” me?

            Is it appropriate if I ask them the question “how do I best position myself for an interview at your firm” during recruiting season when I’ve only met them once for an informational interview? Will they think that I’m using them just to get an interview?

          2. How do you know if anyone likes you? Listen to their tone, watch facial expressions and body language if you’re in-person, see how responsive they are to emails, etc. Yes, you can still ask about interviews if you’ve only met them once.

  15. Hi M&I,

    I go to a non-target, small liberal arts school. I’m having a quick phone call today with someone at a bulge bracket bank that I was referred to by an alum I spoke with a couple weeks ago. I’m majoring in finance and business admin and have already applied to the firm that this person works at. I don’t know anything about him (he doesn’t have LinkedIn) other than that he’s a broker. I know I’ll only have a short time to make an impression.

    How can I best present myself over the phone to this person in a short conversation?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. You can’t really do anything if you have no information on him and can’t find any. Maybe look up news about his firm and be prepared to ask questions on that. Otherwise just stick to asking about his background and his advice for you.

  16. Hi M&I,

    My alumni database tends to offer office phone numbers only. How would I structure the initial reach-out in terms of proposing 3-4 dates/times and thanking the person in advance?

    By the way, I love this website and all the insight it has to offer. I think i’m on your page at least 2-3 hrs a day.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks so much for this article and your templates! I’m set up for a coffee chat tomorrow thanks to your work. Hoping for more responses from bankers soon.

        Regards,

        Aaron

        1. Thanks. Good luck!

  17. M&I,

    I’ve had success with first round coffee chats, but run into difficulty in the ‘keep me posted’ stage. I am struggling with topics of conversation for follow up calls and discussions. I need to stay in front of these bankers over a period of time Other than asking about specific deals, do you have any advice on how to structure follow-up calls?

    Thanks.

    1. Instead of doing follow-up calls, either send short follow-up emails with specific questions or say that you’re going to be in City X and try to meet up with them on weekend trips or during other in-person networking. And keep everything short so you don’t run out of discussion topics (under 10 minutes is best for calls).

  18. Hi Brian,

    I have been networking and some people have asked me to send over my resume to forward to HR. After sending my resume to them I get no response. Do I assume that they have sent it to HR or will they usually CC me in the email to HR or let me know that they have forwarded it? Confused if I should follow up or not.

    Sean

    1. Follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up [copy and paste 500 more times] – the most important part of networking.

  19. Avatar
    Sean Lo

    Can someone in the HK/London office refer me to NY or SF ? Thanks!

  20. Hey Brian,

    Love the site and love the courses too!

    If you know that the banker played a part on a deal, do you want to just point that out and go in to talk about that deal specifically? Do you just ask for what he thought about it? Or maybe what I think about the deal from a sort of basic stand point and ask if that was why the deal happened?

    If the informational interview is over the phone but I would also like a chance to maybe meet in person to have an opportunity to tour the bank, how quickly should I ask for it? Or should I just push for maybe interview push to hr since apps are opening soon?

    Thanks! Keep up the good work too, the courses are nicely done.

    1. Say that you noticed he worked on Deal X, and you wanted to learn more about it. For a phone interview, if it’s close to recruiting just ask directly; if you have more time, mention that you’ll be in-town on Dates X – Y and would appreciate the chance to meet in-person if possible.

  21. Hi Brian:
    Thanks for your article! I recently have chat with several bankers over phone, and those calls went very well. I was wondering about your tip that “Then when recruiting begins, ask for their help directly and persist if you don’t hear back.” How can I directly ask for help? Shall I directly email them and ask “I apply for position XX. Is it possible to pass my resume to HR?” or indirectly like “As recruiting season is coming, may I schedule another call with you to learn more about this position?”
    Thanks for your help!

    Best,
    Hugh

    1. Did you read the article?

      “And yes, when it’s recruiting season you really can just say:

      “With recruiting approaching, I wanted to see how I could best position myself for an interview at your firm.””

  22. Avatar
    Anthony

    Hey Brian thanks for the prompt responses. I had a 20 minute informational interview yesterday and the contact said to email if I had additional questions. I was wondering if I could just email back in 3 months when recruiting starts saying how I could best position for an interview at your firm with just one 20-minute phone call. If not, what kind of excuses could I bring up to have a second informational? Thanks.

    1. Yes, that is fine. You don’t have to follow up multiple times if recruiting starts in a few months.

      1. Get it. Sorry about that.

  23. Avatar
    Anthony

    Hey, I am having an informational interview with someone who works in asset management/ wealth management and was wondering if they would be able to pass my resume on to IBanking HR.
    Thanks

    1. You could ask, but such a request is often perceived negatively. You want to demonstrate interest in the division the person is in, not some other group. And lots of people in AM/WM don’t have a great opinion of bankers.

  24. Avatar
    Alexander Ringelberg

    Hello,
    I am looking to get an interview from an investment banker in the industry for an assignment. I was wondering if you could put me in contact with someone that would be willing to be interviewed. It is something that I would like to look deeper into and I feel that this could help shape my career path.

    Best,

    1. We can’t help with homework assignments here, but we recommend reaching out to alumni or finding bankers via LinkedIn.

  25. Hi Brian / Nicole,

    I’m in a MO role, and been networking with I-bankers for the past ~ two months. I have gotten pretty good results with the group that I am targeting (thank you for all the advice here in M&I). A specific MD that I had a conversation with, said he would like to help me out (he even invited me to grab some drinks), so he put me in touch with his “right hand” VP. I also talked to the VP and I think I made a pretty good impression. However, these guys are super busy and I couldn’t get any more references from either of them. So I started networking with other MDs, VPs, and Associates in the same group (with very positive results, I think). Then, the end-of-the-year and the holidays got in the way and everyone got even busier or went on vacations.

    I don’t want to give up on that specific MD for a number of reasons, so I was wondering if you had any advice on how to re-connect with this guy after ~1.5 months, without sounding like an idiot? Any thoughts are very much welcome.

    Thank you,

    1. Just say you hope he had a good holiday/New Year and wanted to follow up on your conversation with him from last year and see if he can refer you to anyone who [meets specific criteria.]

  26. Avatar
    John CArroll

    Brian,

    Thank you for posting this article! One quick question: as a sophomore at a non-target liberal arts school, is it better for me to wait a few months when banks are looking for last-minute help for the summer and reach out then? Or should I just reach out for informational interviews now even though recruiting for the most part has ended? Thank you in advance!

    1. Just start reaching out now, explain that you understand that recruiting has ended, and ask if they can refer you to anyone at smaller banks that might still be hiring.

  27. Hi Brian,

    Thanks again for your help. You probably don’t realize it but your website has become the plateau for apps so congratulations
    Quick one, I have managed to secure an informational interview with a VP at a US BB in London, being at the associate level and having read your previous posts around the subject, I was wondering if there was anything else that I could do to convert into a serious interview and to make myself a prospect please?

    1. Thanks, glad to hear it. The biggest point is to research the VP’s background and the group very well so that you can speak to / ask about specific deals they’ve worked on. At the Associate level, you have to treat IB deals as if you were a sports fan talking about the details of football / basketball / etc. games. So deal knowledge and lots of information on the VP’s background so you can ask more detailed questions really helps.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks again for that.
        After pushing like crazy, I have been invited by a VP of a BB for a networking meeting in their offices for about 2 hours.
        I think it is a proper view but I wanted to have your opinion on this?
        Have you ever saw that type of invitations? What should i expect please?
        Thanks again

        1. Any interaction with anyone at a bank is an interview. If you come into the office, yes, it is most definitely a real interview. So expect the usual questions, be prepared with your story, and so on.

  28. Avatar
    Zoher Thanvi

    Hey M&I.

    I just learned about this term ‘informational interviewing’. I still don’t quite get the concept. Why would a 70 hour a week working, six figure a year making professional want to take a half hour out of their time to talk to some 19/20 year old kid with no experience (although i am studying finance right now ((completely non-target school)) in working in finance.

    By the way, because I go to a down the ranks school, I don’t think I have the alumni database or the resources to get in contact with these people. I’m in the UK. What should I do?

    1. No one actually does 70 hours per week of “real work” – there’s a ton of down time and waiting around in banking, which is why bankers can afford to talk to you. Plus, if they make a good referral and you get hired, they’ll look good to their superiors.

      If you don’t have an alumni database, meet people through events or just take a trip to London and meet people like that:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-networking-london/

  29. Avatar
    Christina

    A banker on my first email said he is interesting in viewing my resume, what should I do after speaking with him over the phone?

    1. Send your resume to him. Then, follow up to make sure he’s reviewed it and passed it along… and then follow up again. Follow up is essential.

  30. Hey guys,

    Super interesting article.
    I have a small question for you;

    I got an informational talk with a very senior person in instituional business at an asset manager.
    Talk went well, got discussing my passion for car racing. Person said he would put my cv forward personally to HR with his notes.

    Followed up 1-2 weeks later and was told he would follow up with recruitment. (United Kingdom) . Now been a week and not sure what to think or what to do to be honest.

    Any tips or thoughts would be immesensely appreciated.

    1. Follow up again. Keep following up. If he doesn’t respond after 4-5 attempts, move on.

  31. I would like to stress this part of the article:

    “Sentence 5: Thank them for their help in advance”

    I am currently a college senior headed to a BB. I have gotten asked to 1-3 informational interviews each month since last summer. About 1/4 to 1/3 of the students that I have met with have failed to say the words “thank you,” in any form, either before or after our chat. This really annoys me. I have begun ignoring all emails that do not thank me for my time. It is common courtesy.

    1. Yes, completely agreed. Students also have a tendency to not show up, “forget” to call, fail to ever follow-up or do anything useful…

  32. Avatar
    Chunwei Wang

    Hi Brian,

    I have a question about asking for referrals. One of my alumni refers me to his colleague and I have a phone call with him tonight. Is it OK to ask referrals from him? I was just wondering if it was appropriate to ask referrals from people who my alumnus refer me to. What if his colleague refers me to another colleague in his group? Can I ask for referrals from that colleague?

    I know it’s a stupid question but any help would be much appreciated.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think it is appropriate to ask for referrals if you establish strong rapport with them, even if it is in the initial interaction. Yes I’d ask for as many referrals as you can. The worst that can happen is that they say no.

  33. Hello Brian and M&I Staff:

    It would be great if you could publish a more in-depth article about how to craft the perfect (or at least useful) ask for a networking connection. I find that I end up making connections with people who should be in positions to help me land interviews, but after edging to help nothing comes through. Obviously the networking effort continues and I continue to try bankers to meet who may help, but what do you do – or is there anything more you can expect from a situation where – when your contact doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? It’s so frustrating because some of these people should really be helpful to me so I’ve still been putting in the time to maintain the relationship.

    My “mini-ask” is normally to ask to be put in touch with someone from HR as well as asking for any team members or people in the bank my contact thinks I should speak with. I follow up asking for information on recruiting and clearly express my interest in the role. Am I asking the wrong questions? Not being forceful enough? Just not talking to the right people?

    Thanks
    Jon

    1. Thanks for your suggestion. I think you might be over-thinking this point – getting people to respond and actually help you comes down to how much the person likes you more than how you frame the request.

      I think you might just not be taking an aggressive enough approach – you have to literally tell them you want to work there and ask how you can position yourself for an interview. Asking for referrals can work, but after a point you have to do more than that. You may want to see:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-email-template/

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-email-networking-mistakes/

  34. Hi M&I, I need advice please

    I have an alumni I’m interviewing and she’s in a different division than IB within the target bank. I’m interviewing her because she’s wise (can learn from her) and because she has many contacts. How can I ask her in the interview if she can tell me who to speak to (who she knows) If I’m interested in IB (which I am) without sounding like I’m using her as a stepping stone? For the record, no one in my school is in the IB division.

    Advice is needed please

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you develop rapport with her, I’d just ask if she can refer you to anyone whom you can speak with. I don’t think this sounds like you’re using her, as long as you take the time to get to know her, her background, and develop rapport with her.

  35. Hi I have a few of these coming up for FT recruiting. Would you recommend wearing a suit to these “coffee interviews”?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say business casual works, since you are meeting them for coffee only.

  36. Avatar
    MM Analyst

    Hi,

    So I just started working FT at a MM bank in NYC and even though I really enjoy the culture in group, I ultimately want to move over eventually to a BB. My question is, given free time I have during a given day, what you recommend in terms of networking strategy ? I’ve started setting up informational interviews already, but given that I went to a non-target school and there are only a couple alum that are working in IB(and some of them don’t even want to help people from my school) should I try taking to other people within my bank about getting refferals ?

    Any tips/advice you can provide is thoroughly appreciated !

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d talk to other people within your bank about getting referrals.

  37. Avatar
    Bob Jenson

    Here’s a question that will cause some controversy.

    Conventional wisdom says that if you go to a non-target, applying online is a waste of time. My question is simply….are there exceptions to this rule?

    1: I am a non-target with a summer internship with a top VC firm (Sequoia/Andreessen Horowitz/ First Round Capital).

    2: My friend is a non-target with an SA position at a middle market bank on his resume.

    We are both about to be juniors. For junior SA positions, are we wasting our time if we just apply online to large banks?

    Obviously, we will still network with as many people at as many firms as possible….but for those firms we don’t have university alumni at….should we bother to apply online?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes applying online can work. While its not the most effective way, I’d still apply online and focus on networking if you can.

  38. Brian,

    A quick question on networking etiquette – If I arrive earlier than my contact at a coffee shop, is it preferable for me to purchase first so that I could secure a table and wait, or should I wait until he arrives? Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d wait till he arrives.

  39. I have always carried a notepad with me when doing informational interviews, insight weeks etc and take notes on the answers I get from questions asked. This serves a two folded purpose: not only do I have the information stored for future reference but I also think it conveys my interest, diligence etc.

    My fear is that note-taking may make me appear unsociable and lacking in personality outside of career aspirations. Also, the extent to which a notepad detracts from eye contact may be prohibiting connection with the person thereby diminishing the tendency for my CV to be put into the interview pile.

    Are my fears warranted or ridiculous?

    1. I think it could come across as a little odd if you are taking notes the entire time. They wouldn’t decide against interviewing you based on something like that, but you might not appear as sociable for the reasons you mentioned.

      So it’s probably better to take notes afterward, as long as you can remember what just transpired and quickly write it down. And if something really important comes up during the conversation, maybe you can ask them quickly if you could take a second to write it down since it’s important.

      You do generally want to maintain eye contact during the conversation.

  40. Avatar
    Tanushree Gupta

    Hi,
    So I go to a non target school. Im a rising senior and I’m spending this summer interning at a small PE firm. I traditionally want to go into PE straight out of undergrad but being aware of how tough that is, I’m keeping my options for IBanking open. I plan to spend this summer cold emailing alumni and LinkedIn contacts both in the PE and IBanking industry. I plan to set up phone calls with them (since I’m not in NYC). I have done this before. However, how doi close the call? Do I ask them for a referral straight away? What if I dont know anyone they can refer me to? What can i possibly say during my phone call or in my follow up email? Like what is that one key thing I will say that will dramatically increase my chances of getting another contact or of convincing my current contact to help me with the interview process. Last question, when you say ask them for help in the recruiting process – does this mean I explicitly ask them to forward my resume to the recruiter at their firm?
    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d ask them for a referral if the conversation goes well. There isn’t one *key* thing because this depends on the contact. I’d be thankful for his/her time, and be assertive – if his/her firm isn’t hiring I’d ask for referrals and be as specific as you can. Yes, you can ask them to forward your resume to recruiter at their firm.

  41. Hi Brian,

    I am currently a student transferring to a target school that is currently working a PWM internship right now. I am eager to start informational interviews, however my one hour lunch has to start between 11:30-1:30. Will I be wasting my time emailing because bankers have their breaks to? Or should I ask my boss to allocate time for me to have these interviews (although that my be awkward.) Thanks so much for the help.

    Best,

    Samuel Wang

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No I don’t think you’ll be wasting your time by emailing bankers. Using your lunch break to network is fine. Otherwise coffee break may also work. If you are *very* close to your boss, I may ask your boss to allocate time but I don’t think this is the best idea.

  42. How can i use the same guidlines on linkedin contacts that i have never met but conneted through linkedin?

    will it come accross ok? Any suggestions on setting up informal interview sessions via linkedin?

    thanks
    singa

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. I would make sure you keep your messages short and sweet. Give them a one-line intro of yourself, one-line description of what you’re looking to do, and make the ask (i.e. Are you available for a 5-minute chat? Is your firm hiring?).

  43. Avatar
    Undergraduate

    This may seem like an absurd question but….

    What is a referral, how do they work, and is it ok to actually use the word ‘referral’ when asking for one?

    “Would you be willing to give me a ‘referral’ to person XXX” ?

    When talking to person XXX, should you say “Your buddy person YYY gave me a ‘referral’ to you” ?
    ————————————-

    Thank you as always for your advice.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I wouldn’t use it this way. I’d just say if they’re willing to connect you with XX. And I’d just say XX recommended that I contact you.

  44. Hi Brian,

    I’ve been following your site and articles for some time now. I recently got an Informational Interview with a small sized but bulge bracket investment bank in its field. Four people individually took time from their work (2 analysts and 2 associates) to meet up with me one on one. I’ve never had such an interview before, and it was really helpful. They were really nice people – busy – but took time to meet with me. I loved the environment and people and everything about them! They don’t have an HR department, and only 2 of the guys I interviewed did their “intern” program in the summer. After the interview, I emailed each of them a relatively “short” email thanking them individually. I also requested to add them on LinkedIn.
    But now, how do I get an “in” into the intern position? I didnt want to ask in the “thank you” email I sent them. I didn’t want to come off demanding. Do I wait for them to answer? I feel that they are too busy to answer me back (you can tell by the way they one sentence answer my email). I don’t know if they think of me favorably or particular in any way – but yes, I do want to be remembered. They are such nice people! I love their environment and it makes me happy talking to them.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d ask them over the thank you email. Just thank them for taking the time to speak with you, and tell them why you love their environment/place. Then just say that you’re very interested in working/interning at the firm, and ask them if they’d have some time in the next few weeks to discuss the potential opportunity of working there.

  45. Hello M&I,

    Recently I am in a pretty unique situation, and I want to ask for your opinion. I have read M&I website through, and I do not find my situation mentioned, so I want to email directly to ask.

    I am from a non-target school, and I already graduated two months ago. I found out about M&I website too late, and by the time I had the opportunity to read through the website and gain basic knowledge of the investment banking industry and how to break in, I realized that I am in a very difficult position to break into IB. I understand my situation and have been focusing on boutique and middle market banks only, trying to cold call and cold email my way to interviews. But recently, an opportunity came up, and I want to ask for you guys’ opinion.

    My father has a connection to a very big boss (higher than MD) at a BB bank, and the BB boss told my father that he offers to help me. I emailed the boss my resume, and he forwarded to his colleagues. Today, an associate from the BB bank contacted me, and set me up me for have a phone call of informational interview with him. In my case do you have any advice for me? Since I got to him through his boss (and a very big one), should I be more direct to him? And what should I expect from the informational interview with the associate? How do you think I should approach the phone call interview? How much do you think the BB boss can help me?

    Any advice or direction would be much appreciated. Thank you very much for your time.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think you need to be more direct because of the connection. The BB boss can help you quite a bit, only if you perform well in interviews too (unless you’re the firm’s major client, that’s a different story) Link below should answer the rest of your questions: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/rock-your-informational-interviews/

      1. Thank you very much for your response Nicole.

        I have another small question. Before the interview, should I email the BB boss to ask him what product group/industry group are there in their Chicago office (I’m in Chicago)? So that I can do more research of those groups and have more to talk about.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Sure if you have established a strong relationship with him, you can do that.

  46. M&I

    I want to get into ER and have just switched my undergrad major to Finance. I have only completed general studies so have little finance knowledge and I am feeling unprepared for test questions. How should I prepare? Also, I currently live in FL, should I focus my efforts on smaller firms in the area?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Did you mean interview questions? https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-interview-questions/ should help you

      If you want to stay in FL yes this may be a good idea

  47. Hi Brian/Nicole,

    I am going for my MBA this coming August, and will be looking summer interns. When shall I start contacting the bankers?

    My school is not located in NYC, so would you suggest me to stay in NYC for a couple of weeks before school started?

    In addition, in the article, you mentioned that alumni are contacted by A LOT OF students, so how could I get more attention and help from them?

    Thanks,
    Clara

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Are you looking for an internship before your MBA? If so it maybe a bit tight but you should do so now.

      Yes I would stay in NYC and network – set up info sessions via LinkedIn

      This one is a tough one – by being persistent and keeping your message short and sweet

      1. Thanks Nicole. However, I think the email template from the networking guide provided by M&I is kidda lengthy. Do you have a short version to share?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          We don’t have a shorter version to share here. Please feel free to send through your email to our BIWS support desk and we will give you brief feedback on how to shorten it.

  48. Hi Nicole,

    I have arranged two back-to-back informational interviews tomorrow. It so happened that they were both available on the same day, an hour apart. Both are Associates from the same bank / division.

    I have made a list of questions i’d like to ask them, regarding there academic background, past experiences, deals they have/currently working on etc? but I’m afraid that I will not remember everything that I’ve prepared. Would it be at all awkward to take notes with me, just to remind myself? or is it best to keep it as informal and conversational as possible?

    Thanks in advance,

    Alaur

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think you can take notes with you to read before your interview, but I would leave the notes in your bag when you’re in the interview – make sure it is a conversation and that it is informal.

  49. Hi Nicole, I am noticing that my response rate to informational requests via e-mail has significantly decreased. Should I request a phone call first, and then follow up in a month or so for an in person meeting? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure. You can do that. Brief phone call.

  50. Hi all,

    I am a qualified accountant in London coming from an audit background. I have a second language from the EMEA region and am trying to break into IB. I’d been messaging a few CF people from the Big 4 on LinkedIn and came across an MD profile in a BB who is a group head and sent him a message. He offered to meet me for a coffee straight away and now I am panicking on how to prepare, what it might cover, etc. Can anyone help me?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, do a lot of research on the MD and ask him questions on this background and the industry. Treat it like a conversation – https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/rock-your-informational-interviews/

  51. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for this informative article!

    I am just wondering is it Ok to ask for referral the first time of informational interview?
    What tactics do you recommend to efficiently follow up after the informational interview?
    About when and how many times of contact can I ask for a referral or interview?

    Thank you very much

    Reagan Guo

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can though it may not be advisable unless you’ve established trust

      Thank them for their time and write a little note reminding the person of something interesting in the conversation

      I’d say once first and judge his/her response

  52. Hi M&I,

    Using the advice and tips on this site (immensely helpful resource I might add), I have managed to set up two separate informational interviews, one with the MD at a mid-market bank and one with the VP at a Venture Capital. While I know I should not go in with the expectation or anything immediate, it happens that both the MD and the VP oversee the recruitment process at their respective firms. I am not certain, then, how I should approach these two interviews. In my email, I stated that I was also wondering how to “best position myself for any potential internship opportunities at [So and So]” and both were open to discussing internship opportunities. How different should my approach, end of interview request, and followup be for these interviews given that they will be overseeing the recruitment?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is great that you’re dealing with the two decision makers. This means you need to perfect your pitch and clearly explain why you want to join the industry and the firm. You also need to establish rapport and demonstrate that you fit the culture. These aren’t too different if you were to interview with “non-decision makers”, though you may excel in the points I mentioned above

      1. Thank you for your response and your advice! I will definitely apply what you have said when preparing for the interviews. I was also wondering if it would be appropriate to ask them for referrals as well at the conclusion of the informational interview. Since I have voiced my interested in seeking an internship opportunity and there are existing internship positions for this coming year, would it still be appropriate to ask them for referrals and for help in obtaining a formal interview?

        1. Yes, definitely ask for referrals, even if you already expressed interest in working there.

  53. Hey, great article! My informational interview went just well thanks to your tips.

    What should you expect of a successful networking process? Get an interview or get help through the recruiting process?

    At the end of three conversations (2 in-person, 1 on the phone), they said I could email/call them for questions and when I apply for a summer internship (not in IB because still year 2) so they can mention my name to HR or recruiters. But as they can say the same to every one or be too busy and forget about it, is it still a good sign or should I focus on getting an interview/meeting directly?

    Still I truly enjoyed and appreciate their help as they gave me 0.5 to 1 hour of their time to discuss. So thanks very much for your tips!

    1. By “mention my name to HR/recruiters”, I mean send a brief note saying that I applied online, btw.

      This wonder raised after the MD I had on the phone didn’t answer my feedback (1 email and 1 call/voice message in 2weeks) for a coffee, even though he invited me to call him back for more questions or coffee. I don’t want to be too pushy, knowing he too provided good information (and an I’ll-put-your-resume-on-the-top-of-the-pile), sacrificing time, that I assume to be precious. What do you think about it?

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Perhaps you can try him again after in a week or two. You’ve just emailed and called him once respectively; he may have been too busy to respond. Try again. If he doesn’t respond, I’d try another lead.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can do both.

      Yes I think you should focus on getting an interview and meeting directly.

  54. Hey guys. I have an informal interview which I got through networking with an MD at Iceland’s biggest Investment Bank. I sent her my story where im going to school etc and she wanted to meet me while I go home for the holidays. First of all this is not the norm for a person of her stature to set up meetings like this so I was just wandering what I could expect and how I should prepare. Any insight would be very helpul, thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congrats! I’d focus on learning about her background, honing your story (why you want to get into finance), and thinking of good questions to ask her – this article has some good examples

  55. Hi, thanks for the tips and I find it very useful.
    I am a undergrad currently in year2 of 4 year program, majoring in Economics and Finance. I really want to have an internship this summer to gain some practical experience in the industry, but as we know that the current openings are mostly hiring penultimate or final year students. Do you suggest that I should go networking with the bankers as above and get an internship in summer? Thank you for the advice in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think you can do that though it can be more challenging because you are still in year 2. Perhaps you may want to try boutique or smaller firms including funds which maybe look for some help.

  56. Hi,

    So the resume submission deadline for a summer analyst program at a bank I’m applying to is in a week time. However, I’m scheduled to meet up with some bankers who are my school’s alumni working in this particular bank and these meet-ups are scheduled after the submission deadline. Can I still ask for their help to get an interview when I meet them in person, since some bankers might have reviewed the resume submissions before I meet these connections of mine?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can still seek input and help.

  57. I’m between third/fourth year finance. I work in the retail side of a bank and want to transfer to IB when finished. I’m applying for IB Analyst summer internship. Since I already work in the company I have an internal list of people who work in the firm. I e-mailed the HR recruiter and we ended up speaking on the phone for about 20 mins about the opportunities, she asked for my resume so she could send it to some of the bankers. I e-mailed a girl who had the summer position and was hired full time. She did her finance undergrad with a friend of mine from High School. I booked a coffee meeting with her and am meeting her at the firm tomorrow. Hoping these solid leads will help me get an interview next month.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, good luck and thanks for sharing!

  58. Hey, I met a bb banker for an informational interview, sent him my resume after he asked for it. He introduced me to his colleague in the British office over an email. His colleague asked me for dates that would suit to meet him. I gave him two dates, one of these dates has passed. He said he would revert regarding his a time but I have heard nothing in over a week and have already sent a follow up email. How do I take this forward? Any advice is welcome.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I would just give him a ring. Perhaps he’s busy and forgot.

  59. Can we ask for referrals during our first informational interview…or do we have to wait for the ask in subsequent interviews? I’ve been told it’s ok to go ahead and ask for referrals during the first phone conversation if it went well. What are your thoughts?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d wait till you’ve developed a decent relationship first before doing so because that person may be reluctant to do so without knowing your background and you well

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’ve been doing this approach so far for a few contacts and it’s been working. Maybe I’ll tone it down from now on. What do you now recommend I say then at the end of my first conversation moving forward?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’d say thank them for their time and ask them if you can follow up with questions in the next few weeks. I’d then email them after the call to thank them, and update them periodically every 2 weeks

          1. Roughly how many follow-ups (via e-mail or phone) until do you think it’s comfortable to start asking for referrals? Taking it up a level.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Perhaps 3-4 – well it is very hard to say, it is best if you have established a decent relationship with that person, regardless of the number of interactions

  60. Hi, Thanks for all the information if the website. I have a questions regarding how often I should follow up.
    I met this banker in his office and he told me he would help me a lot with referrals and contacts of the division I wanted to work for. I sent my resume to him in the next day and didn’t get any response. I waited 3 days and sent another email stating that I knew he was really busy but also asking if he had a chance to look at my resume and to provide me the contacts of his friends. He answered right away saying that he was really busy that week and that I should send another email 2 days later (a Friday) to remind him. I did that. However, it has been 5 days since I sent this last email. What should I do now?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Call and email him next Monday/Tuesday.

  61. Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to take your time.

    I just noticed that a lot of alumni from my school are actually doing things related to S&T but what I want to do is banking. So should I contact them? What strategies should I adopt and how could I tell them that I am actually interested in banking and make them to refer me to someone works in IBD? What about people from other department such as asset management, HR etc.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can contact them and tell them your interest in IB. Ask if they can refer you to someone you can talk to. I’d choose one department first.

      Focus on building a relationship with your contacts for the longer-term.

      1. So,basically, build relationship first, then make the ask to be referred to someone in IBD, right? Thanks Nicole!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes.

  62. Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to bother you again.

    I know it is kind of the last minute because recruitment already for 2014 already begins but my situation is a bit different.

    The thing is I’m actually from China and I just come to London for my Master course. And I personally don’t set my mind to finding job in London. And I think I can afford to apply back to HK or China after my course finishes. So right now my priority is to gain as much experience as possible since it’s London and I’m in a target school. Therefore, my plan is to start networking now with all the alumni and attend as many information session as possible and to talk to them. So here is the question.

    1. Do you think it is useful to network with alumni in London for breaking into IB in Hong Kong? Or shall I just contact people in Hong Kong or China? (Part of the reason I want to contact alumni is to practice my English coz it’s still not good enough to work in IB)

    2. I can find a lot of alumni through LinkedIn and is it a good way to figure out their working email and contact them?Since I’m not in that emergency, what should I write in the email. I’m afraid people in London don’t go out and have a coffee face to facr a lot so should I be less direct than asking them out?

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. If you want to get a job in HK/China, I’d focus on networking with people in the region unless those contacts in UK have links to HK/China
      2. Yes. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/networking-investment-banking-jobs/ should answer your question

  63. Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to bother you again.

    I just got the reply for my email to ask an associate out for a coffee says that they don’t meet campus recruits in person in order to level the playing field. Should I take that as an absolute no because I’m in London and clearly the networking culture here could be different from America.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps that applies only to one firm. I’d still apply to that firm, though I’d focus on networking with other firms.

  64. Hello again, thanks for your past help.

    Is it annoying to send an email thank you and mail a letter as well, or would it be good?

    All informational interviews were conducted over phone, and all went very well. My goal is to get an internship next summer.

    Thanks

    Grant

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say sending a thank you email is sufficient. Timing is key – send it within 24 hours of the call.

  65. Hi Nicole, I hope you are well. I have been meeting up with contacts now for several months but i feel like I am doing some wrong in the Interview.

    I prepare for each interview with a cursory read through the annual report and investor presentations as well research on the contact. I tend to ask questions like;

    “I noticed there is still a big emphasis on cost reducing and moving away from heavy RWA capital intensive low margin business like FICC, what are the implication for recuitment there at my level, what is closing down, where are there opportunities.”

    Okay so get the impression that this line of questioning is not the right approach..please tell me your thoughts…

  66. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the great articles, they are really helpful! I go to a target school in Canada and BBs do hire from us for their NYC offices. However, spots/# of offers are be super limited and I might not be able to get it. So I am planning on reaching out to alum and other people in NYC and schedule some quick coffee chats. Now my questions are:

    1. So how would informational interviews help in this case given that I do get interviews but there’s very limited spots?
    2. What if I don’t get an interview for bank A by applying through the school’s career centre, would I be able to get interviews through my contacts at the bank? If yes, would it be in other locations?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. It helps because 1) you may be able to make a good first impression and increase your chances of breaking in 2) you will have more network which may increase your chances of networking with other banks (BBs or boutiques) 3) you can understand the industry better and this will help your interview process 4) you can start practicing your pitch with people real-time
      2. Probably not because you’re going through the standard recruiting program for analyst roles. If you’re talking about off-cycle analyst roles (i.e. analyst roles after standard analyst program starts given moves in industry, or increased hiring needs/headcount), yes I think you can get interview through your contacts at the bank. Yes it can be in other locations – you never know where networking leads you.

      1. Thanks Nicole!

        I have a coffee chat with a MD in a few days, I know that I should mainly focus on him and let him does the talking. However, I am wondering how long should my introduction/pitch be, should it be the 3~4 sentences short pitch or the interview “tell me about yourself” pitch?

        Thanks again,

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I think it should be a short pitch because it is a coffee chat. While you may still want to impress him, I’d suggest you to make it a “conversation” between you and the MD. The longer pitch can be reserved for an interview.

  67. Hi,

    How long after the informational interview should we follow up to ask for referrals? And how would we ask for referrals in a manner that doesn’t seem as if we’re just using them?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably send them a thank you note, and ask them if they’re hiring (if you haven’t already done so at the interview). If they say no, I’d then ask for referrals

      1. I’ve been reaching out to alumni and sending thank you notes but since it’s still several months before recruiting season, would it make sense to ask if they’re hiring now or should I wait until a later date?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I think you should wait till later date, though you can always network now and start setting up informational calls/meetings. Chances are they may be away for the summer so it may take some time before you can meet up/speak with them

          1. I got a financial intern starting this week. As to me it looks more like an accounting intern. My team leader is asking me at which area I d like to spend more time with. My options are

            Bank reconciliations
            Posting Bank entries&AP invoices
            Time Analysis of staff to revenue
            Project profitability analysis
            Income Reconciliations
            Accruals Issues
            Balance Sheet recs
            Profit&Loss compiling for regions

            Could you please advise me which of these area(s) can be more helpful for me to enter IB in the future.  

            If none of those are. What other area(s) should I mention then. Thanks a lot.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Most of them are more useful to accounting roles to be honest.

            If you have had any experience valuing companies I’d list that instead.

  68. Hi, Thank you for the articles and the advice will be very useful for me in the near future.

    Right now though I have a recently sparked interest in IB due to a finance class I took last semester at college. I am now beginning my Sophmore year for my undergrad and I want to know where to go from here. Is it possible to land an internship at the end of this next school year? If so, I attend a small liberal arts college and need resources to increase my knowledge and prepare for work in this area. What do I need to study in this next year to be prepared for an internship next summer? Should I begin networking now? i don’t know any bankers or have access to alumni databases, so how do I begin?

  69. Hi, great article. I have just one question;

    I am a 24 year old corporate lawyer with 2 years PQE with a leading Irish law firm. I want to move into finance – preferably PE, or alternatively IB as a first step. I graduated with a first class honors degree in law and accounting from an Irish university.

    I have planned a trip to NYC for a week in September. I would like to organise some informational interviews with some bankers, PE guys etc. In your opinion, is this a realistic ambition and if so have you any additional tips, given that I am coming from Ireland and hope to work in NYC. FYI, I am contracted with my law firm until April 2014 so any potential move to PE, IB would come after this date. Also, given my age, I would be open to taking an analyst position.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts.

    Many thanks

    Oscar

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It can be challenging if you don’t have a visa to work in the States. You may find this article https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-and-entering-into-finance-part-ii-the-lawyer/ useful. With the above being said, I think its awesome you planned this trip (a) it shows your determination (b) it gives you the opportunity to network with peeps in NY and see if there’s a fit there. I think its great! What you can do is to network with people with an Irish background, either through your personal network, or you’ll have to do extensive online research to find out such contacts’ details. This may enhance your connection and perhaps increase your chances

      1. Hi Nicole

        Thank you for your advice, it was really helpful. I’ve lined up an info interview with a senior Managing Director in the merchant banking division at a BB bank which I am quite excited about!

        When I contacted the MD I included some brief bankground info about myself and asked for a meeting to get some advice on how I could obtain an entry level finance position. He said that he was looking forward to meeting me and a date was arranged.

        This will be my first interview of this kind and I was just wondering, in your experience, how likely is it that a job offering (or even an internship) might arise from a meeting like this. Or, is it common for bankers to respond to requests like this just out of courtesy, rather than actually having any intention of offering a position? Bit of a general question, I know, but any insight would be much appreciated. I really want to nail this interview especially since I am travelling over from Europe for it.

        Given that he works in the Merchant Banking division, do you have any specfic advice on how that might impact the interview or any prep work that I do?

        Once again, thank you so much for your help so far Nicole!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’m glad to be of help. Yes it is common for bankers to respond to request like this because some genuinely want to help, though I’m sure you have made a decent impression for him to agree to meet with you. I’d say 50/50 chance that an internship may come about because it depends on your performance during the meeting, your chemistry with him, and his hiring needs. Merchant banks focus more on smaller companies and “creative” types of financing – so you can think of them as combined boutique / middle-market banks and PE firms. In terms of interview tips, I’d say it’s probably somewhat similar to PE interviews. Below are links you may find useful:
          https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/boutique-middle-market-bulge-bracket/ (scroll down to view merchant banks)
          http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/05/investmentbank_vs_merchantbank.asp#axzz1VJrsE8Nt
          https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ (tips on PE recruiting)

  70. Greetings

    I recently got in contact with an old Alumni contact who previously arranged an Iinterview with me.

    the guy is very helpful and at the time invited his friend who was in the department of my interest to attend the meeting with him.

    Well, I spoke with him recently to catch up and he clearly tells me that he can bear some influence in my application if it relates to his department in pensions; but not in IBD M&A.

    but he also let me know that he is good friends with the head od M&A in the UK. We agreed that I would send him my CV for a review, but i wonder how best to play this.

    Should i just apply to his department, get my foot in the door and seek to move somewhere later. Or should i try to catch another bird by asking for a referral to the M&A Guy?

  71. Not to monopolise the resource, but i had just two brief questions.

    I will be applying to 20 Banks as well as 20 other firms in Fall. Is it worth while networking with 60 people between now and then (3 for every bank) it is quite time consuming to organise and travel.

    Is it wise to ask senior banker for, or how would you go about finding the right CV reviewing analyst/associate to refer to.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, it is worthwhile, and it is time consuming to network – this requires hard work and effort

      Its hard to know who’ll be reviewing CVs for the interviewing process. You’ll still need to go through HR for most BB and once you past the first screening, c. 1-3 analysts/associates may start reviewing resumes. I’d suggest you to networking with as many people as you can and I generally like networking with people at more senior level positions because they may be more likely to help.

  72. Greetings Nicole, I hope you are well. Fantastic website and forum, very informative.

    On the topic of informational interviews, If you meetup up with Alumni with the hope to gather learn more about the flavour of banking at particular firms or obtain some kind of referral, is it better to network with Analsyt/Associates who might be reveiwing CVs, or more senior bankers.

    And if you do make contact with senior bankers, what is the best way to maintain contact with them, where you might have very little to talk with them about.

    cheers

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Generally analysts/associates review your CVs. However, if senior bankers like you, they may forward your CV to HR and HR may call you in for an interview. So I think its best to network with both levels.

      If you can develop good relationship with one senior banker, you may be able to have coffee with him on a regular basis and he may become your mentor – this is the ideal situation. Otherwise, it’d be pretty hard to maintain contact with them.

  73. Hi All,

    I had a quick question. So I had a half hour informational phone interview with an IB last week and they told me theyd follow up with me next week on where the process goes from here (which is this week). Now they still havent contacted me (8 days later), so I was thinking of calling the senior associate to see whats going on.

    Note: being persistent with them is what got me the phone interview in the first place.

    Should I call and follow up? Maybe the start of next week see whats going on? I appreciate any advice and comments.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I believe it is a good idea for you to call and follow up start of next week.

  74. Avatar
    smoothopia

    Hi, I went to a non-target spanish university and here alumni networks don’t exist or aren’t available. They’re just not an option. Plus, there’s nobody around here who works as an IB.

    How should I go about finding bankers in London? Keep in mind I don’t live there.

    Thanks in advance.

  75. Hi Brian&Nicole:
    I am currently a sophomore studying Economics and Statistics at UW-Madison. I am really interested in breaking into Wall Street, and the information M&I gave me has helped me a lot. I am an international student from a non-target school,and I understand perfectly that the only chance of me breaking into Wall Street is by preparation and networking. I am currently planning to travel to New York during Spring break, can I meet up any of the editors or advisers of the website to set up an information interview?

    1. You’re better off meeting with people who are currently working in the finance industry full-time – all of us are running this business and/or other businesses, so we’re not the best source for introductions to others in the industry.

      1. Is it too late to plan a networking trip for Spring Break now?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Most banks’ recruiting period is over, be it for summer interns or full time. However, if you haven’t already started networking, I’d start as soon as possible. If you want to secure something in the next few months, I’d focus on smaller/third tier banks that may have a less structured training program and less targeted by candidates. If you are looking to build a network for next year, then I would focus on establishing as many connections as you can and learn as much as you can about the industry.

  76. Would you recommend I try to reconnect with a contact I made in the summer to try to ask for an interview? Also, if I had no idea what I was doing during the “informational interview” would it still be a good idea to recontact them? I feel like I screwed up my first impression with a lot of them.

    Also, would it be worth contacting those at BB’s as BB recruiting is most likely over now.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I would recommend you to do so. You have nothing to lose, even if you think you have screwed up. Chances are you probably haven’t though you’ll need to put in more efforts to make a good impression with them.

      Yes, it would be worthwhile.

  77. Hi Brian & Nicole,

    I am currently conducting a networking effort to (hopefully) get some interviews for an SA position. I have researched a number of boutique banks in my area, many of which employ alumni of my university. My plan is to contact these alumni (their e-mail is provided on the firm’s site) and ask for some informational interviews.

    The problem is many of the alumni working at these firms are not listed in my alumni directory. So, I cannot say, “I found your name in the alumni directory and saw you entered investment banking”. What would be the best way to approach this without sounding creepy? I have come up with this:
    “My name is Alex, and I am currently a Junior at the University of (M&I). While researching (FIRM), I recognized you as a fellow alumnus of (SCHOOL) that has obviously been successful in establishing a career following the collegiate experience.
    Over the past few years, I’ve become interested in investment banking ……”
    Any input is sincerely appreciated!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, the above sounds decent. I’d change the following wording a bit – While researching (FIRM), I recognized you as a fellow alumnus of (SCHOOL) and have been successful in establishing a career in finance.

  78. Hello,

    Thank you for the articles they are extremely helpful.

    I live in London and have a “knack” for running into MDs, VPs, (1) CEO and other bankers/hedge fund operators. It happens mostly at the Gym, by chance at the grossery store, or other random places. I tend to make a good connection with them on several subjects.
    Over the past 6 months I’ve stacked up a relatively good list of cards and contacts.

    The catch is I’m only in my senior year of High-school, and thus find it difficult to envisage following up for the next 3-5 years!
    I don’t want to let these contacts go to waste, yet it seems naïve to want to follow up for up to five years.

    What would you recommend?

    Thank you.
    Pedro

    1. I would just ping them once a year or once every 6 months and give them an update, tell them what you’re looking for in terms of internships, etc.

  79. Thanks for the article. Had a question. I applied for a 1st year analyst position about a month ago, and the posting is still open. I haven’t heard anything yet from the Hiring manager, who I recently left a VM for. I was able to connect with an associate of his, an alumni of my university and schedule an informational interview. We have set up a time to speak, but after I get the additional information about his experiences and the group, would it be inappropriate to ask about the hiring of that position?

    1. Nope, always ask about it… you have nothing to lose.

  80. Thanks for the article – really useful. I’ve been working in Accounting for the past year now and have been actively trying to break into banking. I’ve had a number of informational interviews in the past few weeks and they have been going well. I have a few questions though 1) A number of analysts have offered to refer me to others in their group – is there any way proper way to ask to be introduced to an associate or someone with potentially more hiring power? 2) In terms of the process post-informational interview, should I simply be waiting for job postings to come up on websites or should I be waiting for the people who I held info interviews with contact me directly when postings come up? Is there a more effective method?

    Thanks again for all your help!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes, by attending events and going out for “drinks” with the analyst and his whole team if possible
      2. The most effective way is to find out which jobs are open before they are being posted on sites because you will have less competition if you can prove yourself to be the ideal candidate as soon as there’s a hiring need.

  81. I m going to do the MBA course in Oct this year. I have started my networking. There is one problem What should I do to keep in touch with a banker for 1 and half year.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You mean during your school year? Just email him/her periodically and try to establish a connection

      1. Thanks a lot for your response. I am networking at present. I have done my 5-Sentence Email Template. Is it a good idea to say ‘ may I have a 10-min chat with you next week in your convenient time’ or should I specific the date/dates.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, when it is convenient for them because you are asking them for a favor.

          1. Very glad to hear you again. I have been doing what you told me to do since 2011. I met a banker yesterday. I have been told to email her my resume. Could you please advice me which Resume Template should I use. I come from a non-finance back ground. never had an Intern. I have been a sales-manager in medicine shop for 7 years. The only spark is I m going to a target business school to do MBA later this year.

  82. I have an informational interview with the person who is in charge of hiring at my university. She is based in NY, which is where I wish to work. What kind of questions should I ask her? It is hard for me to focus on her job because she is in HR, but it will be awkward to ask direct questions about the hiring process without making a negative impact on her.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily. Get to know her better and try to gain insights on recruiting from her. Build a relationship with her

  83. Hey everyone,
    thank you very much for these articles, I have realized how important it is to develop a professional network.
    Just a quick question, I met up with a VP from BB, asked for a telephone interview, but she referred me to an HR manager, who provided me with a contact details of one analyst, who is going to call me on Tuesday next week. What do you guys think? Is it a good sign or not? Im going to prepare anyways, simply interested in your opinion)
    Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is a good sign but I’d imagine it to be a 1st round or perhaps informational interview

      Read up on the firm and know why you want that bank/role. Best if you could get along with the analyst (on the phone) to pass “screening process”. Good luck!

      1. Thanks for your quick response,
        Just had a telephone conversation with this guy, went quite well, he will be interviewing candidates for summer internship)
        I will keep in touch and ask the “Magical question” next week, hopefully it will be fine, now have to prepare for another phone call)
        I am currently in Hong Kong, so far seems like networking strategies work here quite as well as in the US and the UK)

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes it does! Works anywhere. There might be some cultural differences but the gist is the same.

  84. Quick question, I met a few bankers at an information session and thought I really clicked with 1 or 2 of them. I sent everyone I spoke to a email thanking them and asking a brief question, and one of them responded very warmly and told me to feel free to reach out with any other questions. Should I go ahead and ask for a brief phone conversation? Or should I leave it as is? The resume drop is in about 2 months.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. Ask for a brief phone conversation, this will really help you.

  85. Hello,

    I have been networking throughout the summer and have had a couple analysts and associates forward my resume for full time positions to 5-6 banks. It’s been about a month and I haven’t heard back from any yet. (this is for Equity Research recruiting by the way so I think the time frame is less structured) I was wondering what I should do to follow up. Should I ask if they could check the status of my application for me? Or any other way that may help give my application a push?

    Thank you very much.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Follow up now. Ask if they have heard back. Better yet, ask them to provide you their HR or hiring managers’ contacts

      Yes, by contacting the hiring manager directly if possible

  86. Hi Nicole,
    i have a quick question. since it is FT recruiting now, what is the best way to approach talking to alumi? Should I still conduct usual informational interviews? Moreover, should I only say I am interested in the division they are working in, or should I also mention interests in other areas and hope they would let me know if there is any opportunities in those divisions? Or would this be a turn off and should just focus on their own divisions?

    Thanks alot and I really need help with this.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d be direct and ask them if their teams etc are hiring. If they say yes, good for you. Otherwise, ask them if you can meet them for informational interviews even though they might not be hiring and ask them if they know of anyone who is

  87. Hey Brian,

    Thanks for the article. I have a question. If I make solid connections with alumni who work at the bank and do all the steps you mentioned, how would I make sure that when it comes time to apply for an internship (my school only allows online application through the bank’s website), these connections pay off?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can’t. And this might not be the mindset you want to adopt when you network with others. If you network with the expectation that the connection will “pay off”, the other party can sense it and this may actually “backfire”. I recommend making genuine connections, whether it “pays off” or not. And when you are detached from the outcome, you may be pleasantly surprised.

      1. Thanks for your response. I think I could’ve stated my question better. So many case studies and articles here talk about getting interviews through alumni connections. For example, this is from an interview for a student at a nontarget school:

        “So how else did you get interviews at bulge bracket banks?
        A: Primarily through alumni – all my first-round interviews at banks were via alumni”

        My question is more like how do alumni connections help at all. At the end I’m still going through the same application process as other students. I really don’t care if I have 100 connections and only a couple work. It’s just that I want to know I’m not wasting my time. I’m from an Ivy League school and competition here is very fierce. If alumni connections don’t help that much I would definitely rather spend more time studying to bring up my GPA (but since it’s soon junior year already it might not help much either).

        So this is the dilemma I’m facing. Thanks in advance.

  88. Avatar
    Branislav

    Hi Brian great article !! I was just wondering, if you had a chance to meet some of the bankers before and you see them again would it be fine to say that you met them before (even if they were not too keen on talking to you) or would it be awkward and make things tougher? How do you go about it?

    Thank you for the help. Best regards

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It doesn’t really matter cause chances are they probably don’t remember you if they weren’t too keen on talking (presumably you guys barely had much of a conversation). Would it make things tougher? Its not like you guys have a great relationship so you have nothing to lose. I’d talk to them when the opportunity presents itself

  89. Hi,

    I’m in a sticky situation (I think). I’ve been networking aggressively over the past 2-3 weeks and have been meeting people for coffee almost everyday. I’ve been networking with most of the big firms, but one in particular, because of the amount of alumni there from my school.

    I had a meeting booked today with a person, but she cancelled saying her day was busier than anticipated. No problem – I told her we could reschedule if she wanted and we could set something up next week. Then, she replied with the following:

    Hi William,

    I understand from some of my colleagues that you have already met up with a couple of people from the ________ team. I would be happy to reschedule our meeting if I can add value. Do you have any specific questions for me?

    Additionally, I would recommend connecting with _______ to find out more about recruiting.

    Regards,

    ________

    Is this bad? I don’t want the people that I’ve been speaking to and building a rapport with to think that I’m going around town talking to every banker…
    1. How should I respond to this email? Of course, I want to meet, but I don’t want to seem annoying. 2. Is there such a thing as too much networking?
    3. Should I stop emailing this firm?

    Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to include as much detail as possible to get the best response.

    Any help is appreciated – I don’t want my hard work to go down the drain!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No this isn’t bad, but this email gives me an impression that she probably thinks you’ve met enough people and asked enough questions that you probably don’t need her help.

      You can thank her for her email. If you have specific questions for her, tell her you do and say you’ll follow-up with a call. Try to think of questions specifically for her (questions you haven’t raised to others) if you really want to speak to her. But if you just ask generic questions/nothing specific for her, I’d thank her for her time.

      No, there isn’t a thing as too much networking, but in your case, perhaps you could have approached the situation in a different way (judging from her response) though I can’t comment too much because I don’t know how you approached the other bankers.

      No, you might want to connect with the contact she recommended you to contact.

  90. Hi,

    I am currently entering my 3rd year at a semi-target in Toronto and am planning on working in Toronto upon graduation. I have been conducting informational interviews this summer, but have found my university’s alumni network to be pretty dry in the field (my university focuses on Big 4 recruiting).

    I was wondering whether it would be advisable to try and set up an informational interview with an alumni that attended a competing university. I feel a bit off sending them a request, but is it really out of place? Has anyone else here experienced this predicament?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, if you can find some sort of connection, you can try emailing him/her. There’s no harm in trying, so why not?

  91. Avatar
    Obaidur Rehman

    I was wondering if it is a good idea to set up informational interview with random IB professionals added over Linkedin.

  92. Avatar
    Soophie

    Hey guys,

    This may be a silly question but how many people should I aim to network with to be successful but not overdo it? I’ve been speaking with bankers in the firms but I’m not sure how many to target in how many groups.

    Thanks for your help!

  93. I networked a good amount senior year and landed a job in the IBD division of an int’l bank. I ended up in the DCM group and, after ~1yr here, would now like to get back in touch with my contacts at other banks to try to lateral onto an M&A/industry coverage team. Any advice? Should I jump right in and explain the situation in an email? Or ask if they have 10 mins to chat to catch up over the phone?

    Appreciate any advice on the matter. Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d call them up and catch up over the phone discretely. Words can get around so I’d be slightly vigilant. I’d also rehearse my pitch before approaching the people (Why do you want to switch? What are you looking to do? etc)

  94. I have an informational interview coming up with a BB banker I found through my alumni network who is working in LA. I am ideally looking for a position in NY. How would you suggest I go about trying to get NY contacts through this contact? Is it out of line to ask for referrals and try to steer them towards NY?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No, not out of line. Try to ask him/her after you have build a rapport with him/her though. Be genuine and nice and truly thank them for their time.

  95. So, I’m in a bit of a bind; as a graduating undergrad Senior, I’m open to many possibilities in finance. I’ve done lots of research (a lot of it right here) and my ideal group would be Restructuring/Distressed M&A. However, many of the alumni I meet are not in these groups. Moreover, I’m definitely open to other possibilities: wealth management, is one idea. For example, I have informational interviews with two BB traders tomorrow. Trading isn’t my first choice, but it’s something I think I could be good at and would like to learn about. How do I present the fact that I’m open to possibilities while still seeming focused?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Direct the questions to them. Tell them you are interested in trading because [fill in the blanks]. You can appear to stay focused by asking them lots of questions in trading. Try to figure out whether you’d be a good fit with trading or not too. And don’t tell them trading isn’t your first choice..

  96. Avatar
    DazedAndConfused

    I am in bit of a limbo here. I saw a job posting for an analyst position at a bank at my school career centre. I requested the person who is hiring for an informational interview (as my gpa is pretty bad). He said he is busy and asked me to get back to him in a month and I said ok. But the job posting expires in a week. What should I do? Do I still send in my app? The app goes directly to him and not to HR. Will he think I was trying to “use him” to get an interview?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just contact him again and ask him for his suggestions. No, I don’t think he will think the above. I presume he knows why you were in contact with him in the first place.

      1. Avatar
        DazedAndConfused

        I asked him for an info interview to learn more about banking in his sector. I planned to ask him about the job interview in the way mentioned in the article. Hmm I guess I will just send in my app.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Just send it in and contact him now!

  97. Hey y’all, great site. I enjoy reading the articles and have been thru many of them. I’m in a unique position though and haven’t found any article that directly addresses my type of situation, tho I have been able to extrapolate.

    It’s currently Mar ’12, and I graduated in May ’11. In my last semester of college I switched my focus to i-banking from something else, and after I graduated I began learning what I could about the industry. In Jan of this year I found a role in merchant banking, but I still want to enter investment banking, so I’ve been teaching myself accounting/financial statement analysis and also valuation/modeling. I am also from a target school, I majored in a humanities field, and I have absolutely no, other than my current job, finance experience/activities. So, I have a few Qs with regards to my situation.

    1.) Whether I do a self-study course or a formal i-banking course on modeling/valuation, I will put it on my resume. Will the formal course show more of an interest in i-banking than the self-study course will? I know you have your own self-study course, and recently wrote an article on investment banking courses, but I still wonder…

    2.) I will be leveraging my alumni network (an excellent one for those interested in i-banking) and have been considering using the strategies outlined on this website, but I’m still not sure whether I am executing it correctly. I email alumni in i-banking, have an intro chat, and then ask whether they can meet up in NYC in a month or two, as I’m planning a weekend trip there. Does that seem like an effective way to do things, or does it make more sense to ask directly for an in-person info interview in-person?

    3.) In general, I’m uncertain how to leverage my alumni network to gain interviews. Any other thoughts?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. You can say so but either one doesn’t make a big difference, it will only demonstrate your interest in IB
      2. Yes, that’s fine. Line up the informational interviews via email first esp if you aren’t from NY
      3. Just find out which alum are active in recruiting and work in the groups/banks you are interested in working for. Email them

      1. Hi,

        How would you go about finding out which alumni are active in recruiting?

        Thanks in advance

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Probably through your career center, info sessions from banks at your school, and your alum database

  98. Thank you so much for the advice! I can only find valuable information in this website and it is so nice of you to answer all the comments! I did not know about the need to network before, and I need to find an internship for June. Do you recommend me to do informational interviews despite the little amount of time I have left? Thank you so much!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d recommend you to start shooting your resume and cover letter out and speak to as many people as you can! Focus on landing an internship. Getting info interviews now is fine though just make the ask for an internship now!

      1. Thank you for replying me so quickly! I really appreciate your advice and I also think that is what I need to do. But I do not feel comfortable to ask someone to give me an internship opportunity during the first interaction. Wouldn’t that person feel used and instead decrease my opportunities of getting something?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Not if the person is the hiring manager and is looking for an intern to help him/her!

          1. That makes sense! Thank you so much! I will try to find some hiring managers and ask for an internship. Thanks.

  99. Hi M&I,
    It’s an excellent article, I recently began reading a lot about this topic. Last week I’ve been to an “office visit” to an investment bank (one of the top), organized by my university. It was really great, with a lot of people present. Now, after that, I thought of contacting several of those people, I added them on linkedin, thanking for the presentation and giving, in a way, a feedback.
    Now, I found also the person who is responsible for recruiting, but I am not sure whether to add her or not. It relates to the Objection #2, will she think I am just adding her to get an advantage…I wouldn’t like to produce the opposite effect. Any opinion on this? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d find her WORK email address and email her. I think that’s more appropriate.

      1. Great, I was thinking of following up with an e-mail. Thank you!

  100. “NOTE: Please do not do this if you email me – I’m already inundated with emails and requests, and sorry, but I do not make introductions.”

    Hahahaha… you really had to see that coming :)

  101. MANY THANKS..EXTREMELY USEFUL WEBSITE

    My situation is quite different… Apartly ill-adviced.. I am from a non-fianacial background .. Pharmaceutical industry and I will be completing an MBA from a target school in London – wanting to break-into the IB/PE/Hedge fund industry.
    1.) Is it too late to break – in at mid 30’s?
    2.) I will want earn CAF after my MBA – is it necessary? given my poor financial background?
    3.) I am writing to several banks for internship – what is the best approach given my circumstance – I have 3 Master degrees – will they see me as overqualified mid-life crisis individual?
    4.) I have just created LinkedIn, what other network websites can I join?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Maybe; depends on how badly you want it and why
      2. Not necessary https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/cfa-investment-banking/
      3. Maybe. There’s no best approach – just apply and see how it goes
      4. Readers may be able to offer you better insights. Linkedin is good but sometimes its best to network with bankers by attending events with them or hanging out in places where they hang out

  102. Hello Brian,

    I had an interview with an Investment Bank. I feel I was good in the interview. They said it will be a long process.

    It’s been a week and I have not heard from them. I’m not worried, I’m just trying to increase my chances.

    Do you think I should add them to my linkedin network? Here, I have 3 thoughts: 1. I don’t want to be insistent. 2. It’s been a week, isn’t it too late to add them? (Maybe I should have done it before and now it’s too late), and 3. Linkedin is only for people you really now, not for those with whom you just have talked for an hour.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think adding them to your linkedin network will increase your chances. Just be patient and wait

      1. Dear Nicole,

        It’s been a month and I haven’t heard from them.

        Would it be a good or bad move write them an e-mail asking the situation?

        Thank you,

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, ask them. Good move. If they don’t respond, call them.

  103. Avatar
    Shweta Gupta

    Hi,

    I’m a grad student at a “Target school” & am graduating in 3 months, so I’m looking for a FT position.

    One of the BBs has a Full-Time position posted on my univ’s career site, and through linkedin, I found one of my undergrad alumni working in the IB dept at the same office as the job posting.

    The application deadline is today, and I have never spoken to this alumni (he is 12 yrs senior to me).

    What should my strategy be ?

    Thanks !!

    1. Avatar
      Shweta Gupta

      Approach 1

      Should I email him & ask for an informational interview, and after the interview, tell him that I’m interested in applying for this position ?

      –> With this approach, he may feel that I am only interested in applying for the job, so am trying to use him to help me.

      Approach 2

      I just email him that I am interested in applying for this position, and ask how I can “best position myself for an interview with his firm” ?

      PS: I am also trying to contact other people in this bank through my n/w.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Apply first and then speak to him.

      Better than approach 1 or 2

  104. Hi Brian,

    Would informational interviews be any different for someone who is a recent college graduate and looking to switch jobs (from Middle Office to Front Office)?

    1. Yes, they could still be helpful especially if a lot of alumni work in the industry.

  105. What is the standard dress code for informational interviews?

    1. To be safe, business formal (suits for men).

  106. Hi,

    I’m looking to get a summer internship but it’s already recruiting season. Should I still be trying to get information sessions or should I just directly ask in emails how I can get an internship at xxx firm?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just ask for an internship

  107. Hi,

    I had a couple of questions regarding informational interviews :-

    1. Should we attach a resume with an initial email ? Why/why not?

    2. In one of the articles, you suggested that during informational interviews, we should focus more on the other person’s background & such stuff, and avoid talking more about finance/banking etc.

    Maybe I am wrong in thinking this way – but if the other person is a complete stranger (school alumni or somebody’s referral), wouldn’t it be odd to ask him these “fluffy” questions ?

    I have a few informational interviews in the coming days. In case I DO ask these background-related & other “fluffy” (please pardon the term) questions, how should I handle a situation when someone is blunt enough to say to me “Dont waste my time. I know you want a job, so why don’t you cut the s**t and come straight to the point”.

    Please advice.

    Thanks !!
    Rahul

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes – it gives people a background snapshot of who you are
      2. In a way yes but you still need to talk about topics other than finance/banking to build rapport – something that should come naturally.

      In regards to your last question, yes. While you should still try to develop a genuine relationship w that person talking about non finance related work, get straight to the point and make the ask!

      1. Quick question. In many places on the site, it says not to include your resume in the first email (in one of the comment replies above this you said, “You wouldn’t want to attach your resume to the email”). But here you say you should to provide background.

        When is it acceptable to attach your resume and when should you leave it off?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Thanks for pointing that out – I can see that. I judge it based on my intuition so its hard for me to explain it on the comments section because there is no fixed way. Perhaps you can give me more details here and I’ll let you know how I deal w it.

          1. Sure, thanks for your help. If I am emailing alumni from my school for the first time to set up informational interviews?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            What do you mean if? I don’t quite understand your question.

      2. Quick question. In many places on the site, it says not to include your resume in the first email (in one of the comment replies above this you said, “You wouldn’t want to attach your resume to the email”). But here you say you should to provide background.

        When is it acceptable to attach your resume and when should you leave it off?

  108. Avatar
    Jake Lager

    Hi

    I have a lot of information interviews set up, but I am struggling with how to make it clear that i don’t want to be “friends”, and I actually want them to help me get a first round interview. Is there any wording that you recommend I could use to get the message across, but at the same time not sound too pushy? Do you think it would be better to mention that I would like their help to get an interview at the end of the call, or perhaps in my follow-up email? Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just ask them if they could help you get a first round interview – no need to beat around the bushes

  109. Avatar
    Shweta Gupta

    Hi,

    I’ve been using your website for a few weeks now & found it to be extremely helpful. THANK YOU!

    I had a few Qs & could not find these answered in the FAQs or anywhere else :-

    1. If I share a mutual friend with a banker on linkedin, can I just message the banker saying that we have this mutual friend, or should I ask the mutual friend to make a referral ?

    Very often, one of my friends on linkedin is connected to a lot of bankers, so it is hard to ask him for so many referrals.

    2. You mentioned that resumes are shortlisted by analysts & associates (specially alumni from the same school). Yet you suggest that if possible, we should contact senior bankers (MDs etc). Isn’t that contradictory advice ??

    3. I have some friends on linkedin who have worked at Goldman, but left about 3-4 yrs back. Would it make any sense to ask them for help ?

    4. Also, I know some ppl who work at big banks, but in more of backoffice roles. How helpful can they be with getting me an interview / referring me to ppl who can get me an interview ?

    Thanks!
    Shweta

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. The later is better. If its hard to do so, try the first option
      2. No. Because once senior bankers like you, you will get an interview regardless of whether analysts/associates like you or not
      3. Yes because they might have other contacts
      4. Not too useful

  110. Hey,

    Really useful information, but I am struggling with the part where you say that we should not attach our resume when emailing to set up the information session. If I am trying to set up a meeting with someone that has never spoken to me before, wouldn’t they want to make sure I am at least worth their time, and not some screwball with a 2.5 GPA and majoring in psychology?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You wouldn’t want to attach your resume to the email particularly in your situation.

  111. Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I’m wondering when is the best time of day to talk with a Banker? Thinking of an extended weekend trip to network, so I want to know when to ask them for time.

    Will they have moments to break away during the day?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes they do! I think morning times work. Bankers work long and odd hours so it is very hard to say – depends on whether they are staffed on a deal etc. However, if you want to talk to a trader/institutional salesperson, try to talk to them after market hours.

  112. Hi, I have scheduled a couple of meetings with bankers that could be considered informational interviews, I guess. Basically the meetings will consist of having a coffee to talk about their careers and get some advice. One of them is a VP and the other is an Analyst. I previously talked to them on the phone and they were really nice. I am already in the recruiting process in their two firms, and one of them even asked me to send my resume to him. I am from Italy, if that helps by any means.

    My question is: how should I dress for these meetings? When talking on the phone to them they were really nice, and I don’t want to look distant by wearing a suit (I think it would be kind of overdressing), but, on the other hand, I don’t want to “underdress” either. What would you recommend?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    1. If you want to be safe, wear business formal (suit). If it’s just an analyst you might be able to get away with wearing business attire, but not necessarily a suit. But it’s usually more of a problem to be under-dressed than it is to be over-dressed.

      1. So even if our meeting is more like to talk about their careers and get some advice on mine, and not an interview, should I wear a suit? For the analyst would dressing pants + nice shoes + shirt work? thanks again

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Not necessarily a suit, just something business casual. If you want to go all out, you can wear a suit but I don’t think its necessary. I think dressing pants, nice shoes & shirt work

  113. Hi, 2 short questions:
    1. what do you mean exactly with getting referrals?
    2. I was searching for alumni at linkedin and did find some. But they aren’t in my network. Would it be too rough to just send them a networking request and write there why I did add them? The problem is that it isn’t possible to write them a normal message/email (I guess you know). How should I proceed here?

    Best,
    Malibu

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Getting referrals: meaning getting you other contacts in the industry
      2. Introduce yourself briefly (very briefly). Say you came across their profile on linked in, are interested in what they are doing and wanted to connect. Try to build an online dialogue then move it to emailing -> phone conversation

  114. Is it possible that you reach out to alumni after you apply and didn’t get through CV screening but later the alum helped out and give your CV to HR? Or this only works before you apply?
    Thanks alot!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think if the alum helped the timing doesn’t really matter

      1. Hi,
        So i just go ahead and apply now to not miss the deadline? and then just keep networking?
        How explicit should i be in asking the alumni? for eg:” Could you help passing my cv along to the HR? “. Moreover, I should only network with the people in the division i want to be at, right? for eg: i want to go into IM, so i shouldn’t contact people from IBD, S& T?
        Thanks Nicole

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes. Or just ask the alum if he or she is hiring, or if he or she knows anyone who is hiring. Yes. Network w people in the division you want to work for.

          1. Thanks Nicole,
            Should I wait for firms to come to my school for info sessions and then apply? Or I just go ahead and apply because it is a rolling basis?
            Moreover, If i get a referral from an alum, then I could skip all the application and questions online?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Just apply now – no pt in waiting if application is on rolling basis

            I believe the alum will still ask you to submit the application formally

          3. Hi Nicole,
            Thanks! So If I get rejected, then if the alum interferes, I could apply again? Moreover, if I didn’t get through resume screening, could I apply again when the firm comes to my school or it is just one shot and then over?
            Thanks alot. I am sorry for bombarding with so many questions but I am really confused how to go about this recruitment process.

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            That I’m not sure – if you are sure that your alum will vouch for you then I speak to him/her before you apply. But if your alum doesn’t have much say in the hiring process, I would not wait for him/her to apply. If you don’t get through resume screening, I don’t think you can apply again.

  115. Hi,
    I had a scheduled lunch with one of the VPs at a bank I was interested in. However, he then told me he would be really busy this week so we should do it on the phone instead for the next day. He scheduled me in for a very specific time and I called but he didn’t answer. I left a VM and emailed him but I haven’t gotten a response.
    I know I was scheduled in because his secretary sent me an apt reminder.
    Should I follow up again or should I take a hint?

    1. Try calling him 1-2 more times but if he doesn’t respond after that, move on.

  116. Hi,

    Thank you for the tips! I’ve actually got into the habit of doing this early on in my college years, but it’s always great to get validation! (haha) I’m a personable person so I talk to anyone that is approachable and it is a SMALL world…I’m at the beginning of recruitment, but I have several internships at major record labels and studios all from networking and I had zero connections when I started college. THESE TIPS ARE NOT JUST FOR INVESTMENT BANKING, IT APPLIES TO EVERYTHING. Great advice!!! Thanks again. Good luck to everyone!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks Angela. Yep job hunting = networking = applies everywhere

  117. Hi Brian,

    I am a recent graduate from school and recently moved to a new city. Am I too late for networking with people? Is there anything I could do to get myself prepared for the fall recruiting?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Its never too late to network. Just network now! Yes, know your story, know why you want to get into IB, present yourself well, dress appropriately, be nice and easy going

  118. Avatar
    John Seymour

    Hi, I have very good relations with a recruiter. How much power does a recruiter have in terms of getting you an interview and perhaps getting you an offer? I understand that MDs make the decisions but dont know how much power a recruiter has.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      They have some power in getting you an interview but in terms of getting you an offer that’s a different story – the MDs have the hiring power, not the recruiters

      1. With respect to MDs having the power and not the recruiters, I experienced the opposite a few months back. Gaining boldness from many articles on this blog, I applied for a position with a middle market firm. I am a non-traditional candidate (law degree w/a liberal arts undergraduate degree). I did have an interesting internship that was related (if only tangentially) and I was able to present a compelling (and true!) story about why I was interested in banking. I became a sleuth, got the e-mail address of the MD to whom the person recruited for this position would report, and sent him my cover letter and resume.

        He must have seen something he thought was noteworthy, because he passed it on to HR…but without getting back to me himself. Still, I at least got a first round interview (phone, as I was out of state) The HR recruiter seemed a bit miffed, though, like I had gone around her. She asked me how I knew that MD and said that she would be handling the recruitment process. It was clear that she would never have picked my resume out of the pile and was only talking to me because the MD forwarded my resume to her.

        That experience did show me that networking works (and what I did was not even networking, more like a cold call). There are a lot of reasons that a recruiter would throw out a resume that the actual MD would consider. Recruiters are not paid to exercise discretion or listen to interesting stories about a candidate’s evolving interest in this field. Their job is basically to gather a group of candidates who are the “best” according to the most easily identifiable metrics: school, major, gpa, prior experience, etc. That’s their safety net.

        So, while a recruiter doesn’t make the ultimate hiring decisions, sometimes company policy will make that recruiter a gatekeeper. And in order to move forward in the process, you have to be what they think is right for the position. I would think, then, that it probably would be helpful to network with an HR contact if the opportunity arises to make the connection.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          It is helpful to network w an HR contact given the opportunity, though I would spend most of my time networking with people who are in the industry, know the industry and have the power to hire. I do agree that in quite a lot of cases, recruiters are gatekeepers, though I’ve been through interviews bypassing recruiters. In my experience, its usually easy to impress recruiters because the questions they ask are generally similar. Networking with recruiters, in my limited experience, was useful to a certain extent. What really helped was my relationship with people who had the power to hire.

  119. Hi,

    I have a phone call tomorrow with a banker I met at a networking event. I asked if he could have a look at my CV and cover letter before I apply. Is there anything I should specifically prepare for? I’m planning to look up recent deals they’ve done and questions I want to ask. Anything else?

    Hopefully if it goes well, when I apply, I’ll drop him a line asking if he could mention/refer my name to HR and thus getting a first round interview. Is this the way to go about things? I’ve not done this before. (I’m in the UK)

    Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Focus on yourself – be able to articulate why you want to get into banking, how you can add value (your leadership experience, ability to be attentive to details, diligence, etc.)

      You can do that. If he has the power to hire you, I’d also try to impress him so much that he wants to hire you. But if you sense that he is a bit “hesitant” to help, I would not push it.

  120. Hi Brian,

    I took your advice during my information meeting with a banker at GS. Normally I am accustomed to having a conversation but I ended up mostly listening and absorbing his answers to my questions.

    He did offer to meet up again in person if I had any follow-up questions or needed advice. Of course I assured him we would see each other soon.

    I was thrown off by his initiative to maintain contact but I believe I was able to break away from the friend-zone.

    Thank you for the advice, we shall see where this leads.

    My only question is, should I shoot him a thank you email? I still want him to know that I would like to meet with him in a month or so.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. Always always send a thank you note immediately after meeting someone who wants to help. Why not take on his offer and see where this leads? He might genuinely want to help.

  121. Hi Brian,

    I e-mailed a banker asking for some of his time to talk about his experiences and his firm, and he responded extremely quickly saying to call him sometime in the week. Should I follow up with an e-mail suggesting times, or just call him whenever I’m free in a few days?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Follow up with an email and ask him when he is free cause bankers are typically very busy. Thank him for his time in advance btw. If he doesn’t respond in a few days, then call him to follow up.

  122. I did some work shadowing with a VP at a BB and he gave me his business card. I had an informational interview with him on the phone. In the end of the conversation he offered to help me get an interview at the bank, asked for my CV and said he’ll refer me to HR and will get back to me about their response. A day later, I received an email from him but he didn’t mention anything about the referral. Have I blown my chances?

    Thanks in advance,
    Vini

    1. Um, no, just ask about it again in a week or so to remind him.

  123. Hi,

    I go to a target/semi-target school. most of the bbs don’t host information sessions until late in the Fall but a lot of boutiques are coming to our career fair/hosting info sessions in sept/oct. for the boutiques should i start requesting informational interviews now (before the sessions at my school) or should i meet them at the sessions and then ask to follow up?

    1. Could do either one but I would probably contact at least a few now just to get a head start on everyone else.

      1. Just contacted an associate I found at a hedge fund I’m interested in working in. I sent him a few lines telling him I found him on linkedin, had found a job posting for a position at the firm on OCR, and was interested in a short informational interview if he had the time for it. Is that good?

        I can’t help but feeling like a total stalker. I see why a lot of people are reluctant to cold emailing/calling.

        1. Yes that’s fine, you have to get used to feeling like a stalker if you want to break in.

  124. Hi,

    First of all, thank you for sharing all this with us. I just have a question on networking. I come from a non-target school. I am not really sure how to make contacts in bb’s.

    Should I just cold email / call analysts and associates?

    1. Don’t bother at large banks. Focus on smaller ones and cold call extensively. Do a search on this site for “cold call”.

      1. I see. What if I’m working as a summer analyst at a local boutique already and have some connections in BB? (I’m a rising-Junior, and plan to hopefully work at a bb or the prestigious bounties for my Junior year summer).

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Just do it. Don’t over analyze it. Just cold call them and see how it goes.

          1. Thanks!

  125. Hi,

    I am a rising junior and just began sending out emails to basically everyone I could find in investment banking or private equity, whether they are an alumni of my school or not. I recieved a response from a CEO of one of these top firms and was shocked. I sent out an email to this person as almost a joke, never thinking I would get a response. I now have a meeting with him in a few weeks and am flying to NY for it. I am extremely nervous and unsure on how to prepare in order to impress someone of this stature. I mean can I really follow up with all the same questions regarding internships when it is the CEO?

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated,

    Zach

    1. Sure, just treat him like a normal person… do some research beforehand but don’t lose sleep over it.

  126. Hi, a lot has been said about how you need to network so bankers know who you are, so at 3:00 AM when they are going through resumes and selecting who gets an interview, they will remember meeting you and you will get chosen. My question is, how do you apply for an investment banking/other finance job to being with, how do you become one of their hundreds of resumes in that pile? Not that that is my end goal, I plan on doing plenty of networking, but if I don’t get to the “how can I position myself for an interview” stage with everyone I meet, how do I at least apply and get them my resume in the stack with everyone else so that I am at least considered, possibly by someone who has met me?

    1. You can apply directly on the bank’s website, or more likely through the official on-campus recruiting system if you’re at a top school. If you’re not at a top school you need to get bankers to pass your resume along to HR so they have it

  127. I work as an intern in a different field than IBD for a BB. For the part where it says I tell them where I found them, can I say I used the company’s directory to find them? I work in the same company so I have access to directories. Will it seem too intrusive?

    1. Yes just say you came across them while looking for something else

      1. I am in the same situation as Peter. Since I have the contact info of the entire IB department, how many bankers would be too many to cold email for an informational interview/weekend trip?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Presume you hv the info for the whole department across industry teams? If so, email bankers from each industry team to get a sense of how the department works, which team fits better etc. As long as you don’t “harass” people or leave them a bad impression, I think you can contact a few. Try to scoop out which team is hiring etc.

  128. An MD recently asked for my resume, but I am in the middle of an internship and havent done too much. How should I write it onto my resume? Just write like what I have done so far?

    1. Yes, see the resume templates here and use one of them

  129. Avatar
    Networking dilema

    This alumni in my school said he’s happy to speak with me but would prefer to respond through email. Should I press him to speak on the phone since, like you’ve mentioned multiple times, email is too impersonal? And for this other alumni, he asked me to send my resume to him before we speak, why do you think he’s asking for my resume? And if my finance gpa (3.7) trumps my low cumulative gpa, would that put him off? Thanks for your time.

    1. Avatar
      Networking dilema

      Sorry, but also, what would you say my chances are going into FT interviews with that GPA and having had an marketing + accounting internship at a F500 company?

      1. Depends how low your GPA is. Chances are not great but you still might have a shot with aggressive networking.

    2. Yes still press to speak on the phone and say it may be faster. For your resume just make sure your finance GPA is listed separately, he just wants to get an idea of your background first

  130. Hi Brian,

    This might be common sense, but I personally am unsure…if I were to ask someone to coffee for informational interview, am I buying the coffee for that person?

    Would it be the same if it were to be a lunch informational interview?

    Thanks

    1. If they are working they should offer to pay for it. You can offer first but they will probably not let you.

  131. Hi Brian,

    I did an informational interview and sent a thank you email in which I had expressed my desire to meet him at a future date. Normally I get a “likewise” reply back. But I never got a reply back from him. Is this a bad sign? I added that person on a professional social networking site and he did add me back. So I am not sure.

    1. You have to follow-up more specifically and propose a date/time to meet… would you ask a girl (or guy if you’re a girl) on a date and not give a date/time? No, you have to be definitive.

  132. Hi, when does recruiting season usually start for full-time offers? I am getting contradictory information. If I start now would it be too late? I am in the middle of my summer internship at a wealth management bank.

    1. August/September

      1. Would it be too late to start networking/doing info interviews?

        1. It is quite late but you could still start now if you wanted and have some success at boutiques

  133. I have been interning in NYC for the summer and have been working hard to make connections with alumni while living here. Recently I was contacted by my main contact at ABC bank a year or two older than me saying I should not spam people with emails and to wait at least a week in between emails. I emailed people once a week trying to set up times to grab coffee or speak about banking if I didn’t hear back, and I think the people he referred me to must have said complained to him. Do I just apologize and wait a little longer to get in contact or just move on?

    1. Yeah I would just apologize and move on and focus more on other contacts.

  134. This is a bit of an odd question. I have been actively networking in every way possible and this weekend I sent a number of e-mails to alumni from my university that I found on our alumni database. I received an e-mail back from a woman telling me:

    “I’m not sure how this happened, but I am not an alumni of XXX, and I am not a Mr! Good Luck to you. Best, ________.

    I noticed in her e-mail signature that she is in fact a SVP of the large boutique I thought I had found an alumni at. I responded to her e-mail:

    I am completely embarrassed about the mishap. I went back into the alumni database and it lists a ________ at ______. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. I hope you have a nice Sunday.

    I then received an e-mail from her saying:

    Glad there is someone at _____ you can reach out too. Good luck!

    While she is not an alumni of my school and I did get call her a Mr., she still seemed quite supportive. Would it be crazy of me to wait a few weeks and possibly reach out to her and try to get an informational interview? Any thoughts would be extremely beneficial. Thanks

    1. You could try but I wouldn’t put too much effort into it, not likely to respond if she’s not a real alum.

  135. Hey Brian,
    I’m just wondering, for someone who plans on doing SA next summer, what would be the right time to start setting up informational interviews?

    1. End of summer / early fall

  136. Hey great post as always!

    I am currently interning a BB for an IBD internship but do not like my group/my firm. I think I have a fairly good chance of getting a returning offer, so I think I should start networking with other banks right now so that I can get interview/other offers before my return offer explodes. How can I get accelerated interviews with other banks?

    Also, I interviewed with other BB during internship recruiting. Do you think it is a good idea to contact my previous interviewers, ask for feedback and even network with them? I am concerned that they did not give me an offer for a reason, and if I contact them and say that I am still interested in their bank, they would just deny my chance on full-time recruiting based on the impression they had on me when they interviewed me. Would really appreciate your thought! Thanks in advance.

    AJ

    1. Contact them and ask directly and say you need to know soon or you’ll have to accept an offer elsewhere. Sure go ahead and contact previous interviewers

  137. How do bankers affect the recruiting process in terms of position location and banker location? Could a banker in NY get me an interview for a job in Chi?

    Should I concentrate my networking efforts on the city that I want to work in?

    I would like to work in Chicago FT, but my internship is in New York. aka I can’t have any face to face informational interviews with Chi bankers, only calls. I can, (and have) had face to face informational interviews with bankers in NY.

    What should I do?

    Also, I see that my school has some alumni that are HR VPs at various banks… worth trying to network with them or no?

    Thanks for the help

    1. Potentially yes but they have more influence locally. HR VPs generally useless. Try to make a weekend trip to Chicago after speaking on the phone with bankers, maybe right after the internship ends.

  138. I’m in Houston doing an Oil & Gas internship and looking at investment banking very seriously.

    You mentioned getting started 2-3 prior. Any advice on how to quickly catch up when starting late? Is the recruiting season at the end of August or do they decide by September?

    Regards,
    Josh

    1. Some banks do start recruiting in August so you’d have to act quickly. Just set up phone calls now and maybe do a weekend trip and just be more direct about what you ask for.

  139. Hi,

    Who shall I reach out to do infomational inverviews? Shall I talk to MDs and Directors or VP and associates? Thanks!

    1. Any of those are fine but try to focus on senior bankers if possible

  140. I noticed that many of the good questions are personal and banker specific. Aside from asking about a particular deal, what are some things we should try to find out about the business of a particular bank?

    I have an informational interview next week. How would you prepare for an informational interview/make the most out it?

    Many thanks for the great article and your advice in advance.

    1. I don’t really have much to add over what’s already mentioned above – read the bank’s website, look for recent deals, etc., do research on the person via searches online, Bloomberg, and so on

  141. Avatar
    Commuter

    I had interned at a BB last summer but wasnt given an offer. I had interview with all of capital markets ECM,DCM, and High yield/Leverage. I worked in ECM (they had us set up an 123 choice). Is it strange to network with another group you interviewed with but didnt work in? My choice was made because my initial referral to the bank told me to.

    1. No I think it’s fairly common

  142. If I try to set something up with a few bankers and only get one response, how long should I wait to follow up with the others? I don’t think they’re purposely ignoring me because I had something measurable in common with all of them (alum, same background, etc.), and if I remind them enough I feel like they will get back to me for at least a phone call, but how long should I wait to try to follow up? I sent out the originals 3 days ago. Thanks!

    1. Wait a week.

  143. Avatar
    newtonMA

    Hi Brian,

    Say I have an informational with someone from FIG(he was the only contact I could make at the bank). But I am actually interested in TMT, so at the end of the informational would it be ok if I ask him to introduce me to someone from TMT? Or should I just pretend I am interested in FIG?

    1. Just say you’re interested in meeting anyone else he knows in FIG or TMT who’d be willing to speak with you – say those are the 2 areas you’re most interested in so it doesn’t seem like you’re uninterested in him

      1. Avatar
        newtonMA

        I met that person from FIG. I did a lot of research on FIGs and talked to him about it. Infact we hit it off so well he mentioned that “if you need any help during recruiting just let me know”. So I guess I am gonna stick to FIG now.

        BTW you are so right about talking to bankers about non banking topics as well. Talking to him about European soccer clubs really helped!

        Great site!

        1. Cool glad to hear it

  144. Hey there

    At an information session recently, I met a guy who recently completed a BB internship (he spoke at the presentation about his internship). He is completing one more year of uni (same uni as me) before starting work next year.

    Where do I go from here?

    Cheers

      1. Setting up an informational interview with a current student?

        1. It’s fine but not the most effective strategy.

  145. Why don’t investment bankers every say “No”. It is really aggravating when you have a string of great conversation, and then suddenly they just disappear and expect you to take a hint. Should I keep bugging them? When do I take the hint and give up (in terms of finding out if I got rejected/finding out if I got an interview)

    1. Why don’t girls/guys ever say no? It’s human nature to hesitate. If you call 3-4 times and get no response, move on.

  146. Thanks for the response. I was wondering how long in advance I could schedule the informational interview. Could it be 3-4 weeks in advance? Also, if my knowledge of finance is limited because no finance courses are offered at my school and I only recently developed interest in banking, how should I go about preparing for the technical aspects of the interview? Should I give up on the contact if I fail to answer his technical questions?

    1. You could do that but I would keep it to 1-2 weeks at the most. To prepare for finance, check out some of the books or other resources recommended here. I wouldn’t give up necessarily but focus on others if the interview doesn’t go well.

      1. I just did my first informational interview today, and I was wondering if I should follow up as soon as possible saying it was nice to speak with him, or if I should wait 2-3 months with specific questions.
        Thanks for all the help so far.

        1. I would wait a few weeks.

  147. I’ve been trying to do some informational interviews with alumni, but I have ran into some problems using the methods described.

    One alumnus I contacted criticized me for not being direct with him. I had spent much of the informational interview asking him personal questions on his background and his life at the bulge bracket where he worked, and he stated he was wondering why I was doing this.

    In this case, I have decided to be more direct with him and submit my resume instead after his bit of critique. But, how do I know when it’s okay to be direct or indirect when I am networking? Apparently some people like to be more direct.

    1. Yeah sometimes people will want you to be more direct, other times they want you to be more indirect… depends on the person. You have to read them and tell whether or not they’re getting impatient – if they seem confused when you ask those types of questions, switch and make your questions more professionally-focused.

  148. I’m currently a sophomore in college and attended a few info sessions for summer analyst programs. I was able to get a few business cards from analysts while there. However, most of these summer programs are targeted at juniors. Should I still set up informational interviews this year (as a sophomore) so that they remember me for next recruiting season? If so, when should I contact them and is it too late to contact them if it’s been 2/3 weeks after I met them at the info sessions?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Yes still contact them, do it now so they don’t forget anymore. Then send a reminder or two between now and recruiting next year.

  149. Brian,
    There is a strong possibility that I might go into public finance after college. While I’m excited to do this for a few years, my dream would be to run for public office. What are your thoughts on this? Could one effectively solicit campaign contributions from former (and wealthy) colleagues? Is Wall Street as good a training ground as any for Washington or a local city hall or state capitol?

    1. I suppose so, but these days most people hate bankers and want them all to die painful deaths, so you’d probably want to de-emphasize your background in finance when actually running for office.

  150. Hi there,

    I am French and soon to get my green card (couple months). Reading through your website, it seems it’s dead to try and land a full-time position at a BB because deadlines are all over. Is that right? Same for boutiques or can I try via an alternative approach (i.e. be bold and contact people directly and not just apply online)? I should be in the US around March/April. Is it just too late to get an IB/M&A job?

    Thanks,
    D.

    1. As of now (late January) most deadlines have passed. If you’re arriving in March/April all you can do is go for boutiques or hope that someone reneges on his/her BB offer at the last moment.

  151. Hello Brian,

    I been reading the site for a while and have been pursuing the strategy of finding alumni on Linkedin and emailing for informational interviews, but so far my efforts have yielded no results. I also have a special dilemma in that I am in the process of creating a M&A Case Competition for Undergraduates in my business school. I was wondering a few things:
    1. Should I continue to mention the M&A Case Competition in the emails I send?
    2. I was wondering about the proper etiquette for following up to the non response to the the emails I have sent?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    1. Yes it’s fine to mention, email twice and then call to follow-up. Keep your emails extremely short (< 5 sentences) or no one will read them.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I will make sure to tell about the progress of the case competition and networking efforts.Also one other thing, If I made a mistake in the email I sent, how badly would this count against me even If I apologize for the error in a follow up email?

        1. Don’t draw attention to it by apologizing, doesn’t matter and looks worse if you bring it up

  152. Hi Brian,
    I am a student at one of the leading engineering schools(top 5) in India. The traditional procedure is followed at my school for recruitment ( assessment centre, case studies …) .I am from an engineering background but want to start my career in Investment Banking and some 5-6 of the top 10 IBs come here for recruitment. Is CFA really helpful here in India to get me the job. If not, can u suggest any other certifications/courses. I hold some key positions at the university level and have a gpa of 7.5 on a scale of 10.
    P.S: I am a penultimate year student.
    Thank you.

  153. Brian,

    I’ve set up a call with an alumni from my non-target school and he works in DCM. I have applied online 3 weeks ago and have yet to receive a response from the bank’s HR. This is the first time I am reaching out to this guy – do you think it is a reasonable ‘ask/mini request’ for me to say “By the way, I applied to your bank and have yet to hear back, do you think you can speed up my process. I really want to interview at your bank.” Is this okay or too forward?

    Thanks.

    1. You should have followed up within a week – definitely not too forward. Do it now.

  154. Hi Brian, can you tell me if this is good emails structure?

    Good Morning Ms./Mr. XXX,

    My name is Marc, I am a junior majoring in finance at Non-Target University.

    Upon researching alumni in the New York City area, I came across your name on our alumni website. 

    I was wondering if it would be okay If I can either call, or meet with you somewhere in the city and talk to you about career advice regarding financial sector. 

    My schedule is very open, and I can fit any date and time to meet or speak with you.

    I would greatly appreciate any help.

    Thank you very much.

    -Marc

    1. Sentence 4: Propose 3-4 dates and times (and places if you want to meet in-person) to speak with them”

  155. Hi Brian,

    i’m a junior looking for summer interns. i know you suggested starting networking 4 months before recruiting process, but i didn’t get a chance to read this AWESOME website until just now :( is it good for me to start contacting them now (early Dec)? or it’s better to wait for next recruiting season (full-time)?

    Thanks!

    1. You can still do them now but you have to be more direct and/or focus on smaller banks as well to boost your odds.

  156. Hey,

    Do you know what is the dress code for an info interview with buy-side? Do I have to wear a suit or will dress shirt and dress pant be ok?

    Thanks,

    Curious

    1. Usually business casual is fine but if you’re meeting someone higher level like a Partner you might want to be more conservative and go with a suit and tie.

  157. I asked them “I need your help to land an interview”. Most of them told me that they will check with HR to see how to get people in from off the circle. since I am recently graduated.

    But nobody replied me what the result is and they did not pick up the phone when i followed up.

    What should I do?

    1. If you’ve already graduated you would be better off targeting small firms and cold-calling boutiques in your area – at large firms the process is so standardized that it’s tough to break in when you’re already out of school.

  158. I talked to those bankers and got good suggestions. But nobody realized the things that they would do for me. Even I contacted, they did not reply.

    What should I do now? What are good strategies to follow up?

    1. Not sure I understand your question – you have to be very direct e.g. “How can I get an interview at your firm?” otherwise they will think you’re just asking for general advice. I would just follow-up again and ask that.

  159. Hi Brian,

    First of all thank you for the fantastic posts! I used the technique you mentioned and contacted an MD of Global Market and Research Tech from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He agreed to meet up with me this coming Friday! But I really have no idea of what I am going to discuss with him! I desperately need answers of the following questions:

    1) Because I have no background in IT (math and econ is my major) any questions I ask about his background would seem irrelevant to me…. if I ask him questions about how he started his career wouldn’t he be thinking : “why is she interested since she is not a IT major??” So what can I ask ??

    2) We just have a huge gap between us! He is over 40, and any types of questions I asked him would be so way back for him…..what exactly should I be talking to him?

    2) I want to work at IBD division, and he is not the head of that division. If I ask him for internship opportunities would it be strange?

    3) Should I ask for passing on resume directly after the first meeting? We met and talked during the info session and I am actually really surprised that he agreed to meet up with me. In the email I mentioned my difficulty of finding an internship at this late of stage because I have no experience whatsoever. If he agreed to see me, I guess I could ask him for help for landing me an intern?? but at the same time I found it too soon and blunt….

    I seriously have no idea what we will be discussing….since I want to work in IBD and he is IT head. But I also feel it’s such a waste since he is an MD….

    Desperately need help! Thanks! A timely reply would be greatly appreicated….

    1. You still want to ask about his background… pretend like you’re interested in IT, and then casually weave in your requests for help in other areas in the future after you’ve gotten to know him. I wouldn’t ask for anything upfront like a resume or internship help because he’s in IT. Other than that, again just keep it casual and ignore the age gap… talk about topics like travel, activities, sports, etc. that anyone would be interested in.

  160. Hi,

    I am a Management Graduate and curently working for Public Sector Bank in India in Retail Banking 2 yrs. I feel my USP is Relationship Building and have a great passion towards Invetsment Banking. I am willing to work towards the sales in Investmemt Banking.
    But I am unaware whether retail banking exp will be consider for the same and how much will be the initial remuneration?

    Kindly guide me.

    1. Retail banking is completely different – I don’t have exact #s for you but compensation is far lower than at investment banks because profit margins are lower. You can still get into IB via retail banking, but it takes networking and possibly an MBA.

  161. Hi Brian, if I have requested an info interview from a banker and have not heard back, how long is it appropriate to wait before sending a follow up email request? Thanks in advance!

  162. Hi,

    I’ve been asked to stop by for coffee to chat with an analyst as an informational interview. Is turning up in a suit going overboard (she knows I’m on my way to uni)? Would smart casual/jeans and nice shirt suffice or would it make me seem less serious about the company?

    Cheers

    1. I would not show up in a suit, just do business casual.

  163. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the article – I can testify that networking pays off!

    I interned at a top bank’s capital markets group (under IBD) in New York this summer, but found out over the course that the industry groups seem more interesting. Now that full-time recruiting is underway, I am starting another round of networking.

    A few questions:

    1. I attended almost all the information sessions last fall and spring when looking for internships, and got many contacts that way. For the banks where I didn’t get interviews, or where I didn’t receive offers, can I apply again to their coverage groups now that I have had a prestigious internship? Would it be okay to get back in touch with past contacts, update them on my summer, or even ask the “how to position myself for interviews” question directly?

    2. If I expect past contacts to come back to campus again for info sessions soon, should I still ask for one-on-one meetings? And how should I approach them at the presentations?

    3. For the couple places whose offers I turned down, is it a terrible idea to contact them now that I am interested again? One alum was extremely senior and helped me a lot, but never replied to me after I decided to go elsewhere…

    That’s a very long comment… Thanks so much for your help!!

    1. Yes you can apply / reach out again, you can still approach them for 1-on-1 meetings, just approach it as a casual update. Contacting places where you turned down offers is fine

      1. Thanks!

  164. How Long should I wait after I sent a first email asking the “question”? And how should I word the second email politely?

    1. You should base it on the recruiting calendar, not length of time between communications… send it before the resume drop. You can write a brief 2-sentence email – no need to write an essay as no bankers have time for that

      1. What if a contact already forwarded my resume to HR, and I still have yet to hear from HR. Should I contact him again.

  165. Hi, Brian, thx for this awesome post. How to impress the banker by saying something funny besides the knowing-banking-staff questions? Usually what’re the topics they feel interest in, especially for bankers in HongKong?

    1. Travel, sports (maybe not as much in HK), technology, possibly art or food depending on the banker…

  166. Oh I forgot, does the “how can I increase my chance of…” sound too blunt? :)

  167. Hi there,
    I guess this happens all the time but lots of people I met told me to send my resume this time so they could forward it. Now that I emailed them to ask about that, they don’t reply at all. There are some who appeared extremely nice and helpful during informational interviews, and I have emailed them twice to ask about resume referral but no reply. I’ve no idea what’s going on (though one thing I realized is people change places in this industry pretty frequently like analysts leaving, higher-up moving across regions so maybe it isn’t that they don’t wanna help). How many times should I bug them and will a phone call work?
    Another thing is if I can find the name of the recruiter of a firm through google/linkedin, should I email them directly instead of applying online? Not sure how much this helps b/c there is no connection and they probably receive lots of emails?

    1. You can contact the recruiter directly if you have the info. RE: follow-up, go for 3-4 times and if they don’t respond after that, move onto more responsive contacts.

  168. Hey there-

    Just wanted to drop a line thanking you for this post. Coming from a non-target school, I have only a few alums that I can contact and was weary of how I should follow up without alienating them. After I read this post, I figured the more direct route you suggest was worth a shot and have received nothing but positive feedback thus far. I really appreciate it.

    1. Awesome, glad to hear it.

  169. Hi there,

    I have an informational interview with a VP which I set up pretty much right at the end of our first conversation. I am just curious what you think about dropping the “how can I best position myself for an interview with your firm” line? Do you think it would be too soon considering I’m only meeting this guy for the first time, or is it suitable considering that recruiting season is almost underway? Thanks for your assistance.

    1. I would just drop the line anyway since recruiting season is underway.

  170. Hey Brian, I’m a starting sophmore year in sept. and hope to land a internship on bay st. next summer. I know your experise might not be north of the border but do you have any idea when recruiting season starts in Toronto. thanks

    1. It is usually the same as recruiting anywhere else, Dec – Jan into Feb for summer internships.

  171. Is it necessary to have a summary sentence stating what you did and the results below your position titles? Or can you dive right into the 3 point results…

    – Also, is it a MUST that you have to write… Reported to “who and who”?

    Thanks,
    LL

    1. No and no, you’re fine leaving both out

  172. If ABC Corp has a subsidiary named XYZ… and I am currently working for XYZ. On my resume, can I just put ABC Corp since it’s more recognized?

    Or should I do ABC Corp – XYZ … or ABC Corp (XYZ)… or just XYZ?

    Thanks a lot, great article, great website. keep up the good work!

    1. Doesn’t matter, you can list ABC Corp first and then give the division name

  173. Brian.

    For position titles, I saw the template indicated [position title], then [group name] for professional working experience.
    If I worked as a Financial Analyst under the Financial Planning & Analysis unit, should I put Financial Analyst, Financial Planning & Analysis or should I loose the Financial under my title and just put it as Analyst, FPA?

    Reason I am asking is because I have 2 other analyst titles, both with Something prior, and that might make it redundant or annoying… what do you think? ie. One is for Marketing, and one is for Accounting… so i’m not sure whether I just put down Analyst for all 3, and as you mentioned, but like FPA, Accounting, Marketing for the Group Name

    1. You can do it either way, doesn’t matter much

  174. Hello Brian,
    I’ve been in touch with an MD from a BB. He is really helpful and nice. However, besides this BB, i wanna apply for another BB which I have zero contact. Would it be so bad to ask this MD for a referral? If no, how should I phrase it to make it sound better? Thanks.

    1. You can ask him for a referral but I would not say, “By the way, can you refer me to anyone you know at your competitors?” or give a specific bank name as that might sound odd… just leave it open-ended and see where he knows people, otherwise you risk stepping on toes.

  175. Hey I had an undiagnosed learning disability up until 4th year of undergrad, and as a result my grades suffered. After diagnosis and treatment my marks improved significantly, but overall my GPA is bad.

    Is the learning disability an acceptable explanation for low grades? I don’t want to sound like I’m not taking responsibility for my actions. Is it possible to network my way in given my current situation? Should I forget about finance in the meantime and focus on developing a track record of success in another industry?

    1. Personally I would not say that because it’s open to interpretation… you can still network in, you just have to explain how you’ve improved significantly in recent years.

  176. Hi Brian,

    I’m wondering what’s the best preparation an offer to one’s first investment banking internship? Specifically, what types of work/internships have the most impact (in Los Angeles, if possible)? Thanks.

    1. Anything finance/business-related… private wealth management, corporate finance at a normal company, business development, and so on.

  177. I think the answer is obvious, but does this apply for junior year internships also?

  178. So how do people manage to do so many IB internships at different bb’s? I mean you only have one summer than for one internship so far? Do they consider wintern internships? Or after graduation internships?

    Greets

    1. School-year internships, some people start freshman or sophomore year, some people do master’s programs…

  179. Oh (you need an edit button :))

    When can you generally start as summer intern analyst when you do a three year bachelor degree? in
    1/2 Semester (1st year)
    3/4 Semester (2nd year)
    5/6 Semester (3rd year)
    ?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Usually after your 2nd year, right before graduating in year 3

  180. Brian what do you think about Spring Insights/Weeks at BBs? e.g. (I think they are not common, even not available in America)
    http://www.morganstanley.com/about/careers/careers/programs/articles/25234328.html

    http://careers.jpmorgan.com/student/jpmorgan/careers/springweek

    I am about to start my studying in september and I guess that there are no summer analyst internship for people in their first year of three, right? So would you consider a spring week?

    Thank you!

    1. They can be very good networking opportunities so you should definitely do them if possible.

  181. When you say IBD, what groups are you referring to exactly (M&A, Debt Capital Markets, Equity Capital Markets, Public Finance, Leveraged Finance, etc.)? Thanks!

    1. Everything except public finance

      1. Avatar
        Patrick Fratman

        Really? I work in Public Finance and my day-to-day looks about 90% the same as your description of a day in the life of M&A. What exit opportunities do you think exist for Public Finance (debt capital markets, restructuring, derivative sales, etc.)?

        1. I don’t know much about it but it’s different because governments operate differently from companies… PE firms do not invest in governments, for example, so PE would be more difficult to get into. You’d pretty much be doing more public finance or could go into another division at the bank.

  182. Do you think that a recommendation from the head of a regional division for PWM in a BB can help to get into the investment bank of the same firm? Other than the introductions that can be provided, do you know of any circumstances where strings can be pulled across different business lines to get someone into the bank?
    Thanks

    1. It might help, but would be more meaningful if it came from someone within IBD. Sometimes people have relationships across different divisions so you’d have to look for situations like that – otherwise they don’t have much say.

  183. Hi

    I live in the Netherlands and came across a list of alumni from my school. There, I found three persons with email-addresses that hinted that they worked for Bulge Brackets Banks – all of them. Without hesitation I emailed them, asking if I might call them to ask some questions – one of them responded within five minutes. Another five minutes later we were on the phone and after another 10 minutes when we hang up, he promised he would look closely for my application and – unless my Resume looked like shit – make sure I receive an interview. In all, it took 20 minutes and made a deeper impact than anything I previously done, including studying for exams.

    Just wanted to share that with you.

    1. Awesome, thanks for sharing. See folks… networking works, even in Europe where it’s supposedly “less effective”…

    2. Hi, Patrick. It’s a great surprise to see someone from Holland here. I’m an international student studying at a Dutch business school, now on exchange in the US, and I’m looking for a summer internship in i-banking in London. I just thought it would be great if we could get in touch and share our ideas regarding our common goal. If you’re interested, please, respond to this post and I’ll give you my contacts. Thank you very much.
      Regards,
      Ilya

  184. What would an appropriate subject for these emails be? I don’t want to be too wordy, and at the same time, I do not want to come across as childish with a mere “Hi”

    Thanks, this was a great article!

    1. “Inquiry – [School Name] Student” or “Introduction – Referral from [Person Name]” and so on.

  185. This post is really helpful, thanks!
    In my business comm. class, they told us to be very formal in our emails when contacting business people. For example, to always start every email with “Dear Mr. Smith: ”
    Should you be that formal in your emails or can you be more relaxed with bankers?
    What about the info interview itself? Does being formal help or can you relax more?

    1. You don’t need to do that with analysts or associates… maybe for more senior bankers (VPs and up) you can. I always laughed when people addressed me as “Mr.” as a junior banker. You don’t need to go overboard on formality, but you do want to look decent if you’re meeting in person (business formal if you can, otherwise at least dress pants + shirt).

      1. Address people as you yourself would want to be addressed from someone you don’t know. If someone addresses me as “Mr…” then the conversation feels distant and too formal. Be polite and respectful but remember that bankers are (mostly?) normal folks that approach relationships the same way everyone else does.

  186. Hi Brian, thanks for the post. I was curious of what you think about using past interviewers as contacts for info interviews? I am applying in the fall recruiting cycle and have plenty of email addresses from my rounds in the spring. Especially since I know these people are in recruiting – is it a good idea to email them first?

    1. That is fine and can actually be much better than the alumni database since you already know them.

  187. Thanks again for your help. Networking helped me land a summer IBD position at a strong mid market bank and now I’m trying to leverage that in to a BB full-time offer. One thing I’m never sure about in networking is what to talk about with HR people before you ask them how to set yourself up for an interview? Would it come off as insincere to ask them about how they got to where they are since they know you’re not interested in doing what they do? I haven’t been reaching out to HR since I don’t know what to talk to them about and don’t want to mess up my first impression with the gatekeeper to the firm

    1. Yeah don’t ask HR people about their backgrounds since you’re not trying to get there, just stay focused on interviews and how to set yourself apart.

  188. Good post Brian,

    but I did not understand the following sentence:

    “get referrals from those 5 to expand your list”

    As I am not an english native, referral means that the contact tells other bankers that I am a fit/smart, correct?

    So how do I expand my “list” thereby?

    Thx in advance!

    1. I think in context, to ‘get referrals’ is to ask one banker for names and contact information of other bankers you could email/call up to talk to, do informational interviews, keep in touch etc.

    2. You ask the 5 bankers you contacted to give you information for other bankers who might be willing to speak with you.

  189. Hi Brian,

    You mentioned not to start TOO early to network since it’s tough to keep in contact for a long period of time and the high turnover in finance. What timeline would you suggest for people like me whom just started working for about a year? And strategy-wise, would you recommend asking directly, or try to develop a longer term contact?

    1. Still contact people 3-6 months in advance of when you actually want to interview / move elsewhere (maybe closer to a year actually since it can take that long). If you’re already working you can be more direct especially if you’re in finance already.

  190. Somebody asked about the deadline above and you mentioned one or two weeks. Does that apply to non-target? There is no info about the deadline on most banks’ website yet, and for a few that has, they only say “we begin FT recruiting at the beginning of Sep”. I should ask contacts right from the end of August/beginning Sep right?

    1. Yes, try shortly before recruiting begins elsewhere

  191. What if most of the alumni working in banking is in NY, while my location is quite far from NY and I would not be able to jet over to the city for a brief meeting?

    Would a phone interview work better?

    Thanks.

  192. I have a very close contact who is a MD (fixed rates, not IB) at a BB who put me in touch with the head of campus recruitment the beginning of this year. I corresponded very briefly with the HR contact, who also gave me her telephone number and offered to speak with me via telephone if I had any questions. I am wondering how I would go about using these two contacts to better my chances for a IB SA position next summer.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Chat with the HR contact and then ask directly at the end the question I listed above about positioning yourself for an interview. For the MD, do the same thing and set up a time to speak and then at the end directly ask him about interviews there.

  193. Hi Brian. So how about Asia? Does networking work well?
    I just arranged an informational interview with a junior analyst from a global boutique investment bank. He’s from my school and just graduated last year. What can I talk about? Should I ask more about his life in school?

    thanks

    1. Yes it does as long as it’s not someone who grew up in an Asian country, spent their whole life there, never went to the US or other countries, etc. because they tend to be very traditional. For someone who graduated last year you will be fine, just ask about what he has been up to since graduating, times at school and so on.

  194. When do you think is an appropriate time to ask for an interview? mid-september, or when classes begin? Also how effective would networking with alum in Hong kong would be?

    1. Probably a week or 2 before the official deadline / start of recruiting. HK networking would work well, as long as it’s someone fairly Westernized (aka pretty much everyone in banking in HK) then you won’t have any problems.

      1. So you consider the application deadline the start of recruiting? Or is the start of recruiting around the time the opening is posted?

        1. Usually the deadline is the start of recruiting because that’s when they begin selecting people for interviews

  195. When do you think is the time to ask contacts to pass along resume for this coming full time recruiting?I wouldn’t want to do it so early as summer internship only ends this week at most firms.Also when I know multiple contacts at one firm, whom should I ask to do that (they don’t know each other but all told me to send it along when summer ends)? Just don’t wanna cause any unnecessary chaos and shoot myself in the foot :)

    1. Probably a week or two before the official deadline… target your more senior contacts, maybe ask more than 1 but don’t ask 10 or that will backfire.

    2. A
      Can i ask how to got in contact with your contacts?

      Thanks for your time.

  196. Will it also work for shifting from a regional Boutique to a Bulge bracket?
    When you are already into Investment Banking, asking questions about work and other related stuff becomes difficult. You might just have very little to talk about from an informational interview point of view!

    1. That’s a good point – info. interviews don’t work as well for lateral hires because, as you pointed out, you’re already in the industry.

      Obviously you still want to network, but you should be more direct and skip to the, “Is your group hiring?” part rather than asking to chat about their background. That applies for more senior levels as well, at that point you have to be more direct.

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