Talking to total strangers on trains got me my first job in banking
Networking. Let’s be honest, not many people enjoy doing it. It's not easy, particularly at organized events. However, you should never underestimate the value of being open and receptive to other people - it helped me get my first job in sales and trading.
My break came a few years ago. I'd been applying for insight days at various investment banks with the aim of eventually applying for an internship in sales and trading. These insight days are very competitive and unfortunately I wasn't given a place. Over the next few years I kept on applying, and continued to be unlucky. Until everything changed.
I was on the London underground, reading through a few notes on the way to an interview with KPMG when I got talking to a person sitting next to me. I was reading through a few notes in preparation for the interview and we started chatting.
My fellow passenger was in dress-down clothes. We got talking about how he'd previously been in the army. I asked if he knew Canary Wharf well and he offered to show me the way to the KPMG office. I figured that this kindness is rather rare and so I was keen to stay in touch, mainly to return his favour at a later date.
When he gave me his email address, I realized he worked for Credit Suisse. I told him my aspirations to work in the securities industry and that - despite being rejected by Credit Suisse twice already - I still felt that I could pursue my dream there. In the next few months, we spoke on the phone a few times and - amazingly - he offered me two weeks' work experience in the summer before I went to university. Those two weeks totally changed my prospects.
During my two weeks at at the bank, I networked as much as I could and followed up with everyone afterwards. This transformed my CV and gave me the confidence to approach more people and seek out more opportunities. 18 months later, I have participated in four spring weeks, have three summer internship offers and have gained four contracting roles.
If you're reading this, you might think my experience was a one-off and the kind of thing that won't happen to you. But this wasn't the first time I got a job through networking on the train! I also gained my first ever piece of work experience after I met the current O2 CEO Mark Evans on London Underground. My approach is always to be pleasant and to make the world a more enjoyable place. I talk to people regardless of their backgrounds, professions or ages and it seems to work - I'd recommend giving it a go! You never know what might come of it!
Michael Truckle is a student at the UK’s Warwick University. He is happy to answer questions posted in the comments box at the bottom of this article from students seeking advice on getting into banking.
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