How to get ‘facetime’ with senior bankers when you’re just a student
I’ll let you in on a secret. I recently became the campus ambassador for the bank I am interning in this summer. It was possibly one of the most valuable things I have ever done.
As an ambassador, I’ve gone from being one incoming-intern among many at my top UK university, to being someone special. Suddenly I get ultra-valuable, ‘high yielding’ (see what I did there?) facetime with human resources (HR), sales and trading and investment banking division (IBD) reps.
As campus ambassador, I’ve been offered drinks, ‘coffee chats’, business cards and advice from various senior managers, all of which help hugely if you’re trying to navigate your way towards success in a bulge bracket investment bank.
Getting an internship with an investment bank certainly isn't easy. However, just because you've got one, don't assume you'll have a job at the end of it: at least 33% of interns don't get job offers. For this reason, it helps to have a differentiator before the internship begins. Senior managers are going to be swarming with 300-plus interns, each craving facetime in the hope they'll be remembered when it comes to doling out the jobs. Being a campus ambassador doesn't guarantee you a job, but it does give you another reason to speak to senior staff and create a good impression that will serve you well when the time comes.
Being campus ambassador also gives you access to HR people who will be instrumental in handing out offers. You can show that you're the kind of person they'd like to work with. You can demonstrate your organisational and communication skills. And you can get to know what they're really like. At the bank I'm joining they're a professional but humorous team. I crack the odd gentle joke here and there - something I wouldn't have been able to do without my special access as campus ambassador. I've bonded with those who make the hiring and firing decisions. Again, this skews the odds in my favour.
So, what does a campus ambassador actually do? Is it all about standing on campus like a lemon handing out flyers? Certainly not!
Well, not in my case anyway. My job was to promote ‘my bank's’ internship programme across campus and to funnel students towards the bank's application system. You can do this in several ways.
Some campus ambassadors choose to bombard the whole of Facebook to promote the bank's events and internships. In my opinion, this is ineffective. I targeted my university's finance-focused Facebook groups, the finance society meetings and the finance society presidents. It's all about efficiency. Target those who actually are interested and who would jump at the chance to meet potential employers face-to-face. Forget anti-austerity campaigners and Occupy Wall Street types who are only going to denigrate your posts anyway.
By targeting those who care, you'll get the programme more attention and more applications. As a result, you'll earn plaudits as an ambassador.
How do you get to become a campus ambassador like me? I was approached by HR, but I'm pretty sure the process varies from bank to bank - some banks expect you to apply, others select you once you've already been offered an internship. It's worth checking on banks' websites - or asking HR representatives about the process.
Jessica Bradley is a pseudonym
Photo credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock