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Investment Banking:
Trip to New York

Let's face it. Most resumes end up on recruiters' shelves in neat resume books, a handsome file cabinet or, worse yet, in the dreaded round file. Unless you have investment banks lining up at your front door, begging you for your services, it's time to try something different.

What Should I Do?: The time-honored approach is to visit New York on your own or with a small group of people and camp out for a week or two while going on informational/job interviews. This is appropriate for entrants into investment banking at all levels - recent college grads, MBAs and the occasional physicist, lawyer or Ph.D. who decides to give it a try. Most job seekers do not do this, but should. You have to market yourself. Get face time. Get mindshare. And you significantly raise your chance of getting a job.

Does it Work? This is one of the few ways to be reasonably sure about landing a decent Wall Street job if you aren't from an exclusive university (or have a relative who is already managing director of a large bank). Even then it can help a lot. We spoke with a college student at a small school far from the East Coast. He spent two weeks in NY (staying with his uncle) from December 28-Jan 10 and went on tons of interviews. He received several job offers and is now happily employed.

What Steps Should I Take?: All it takes is the following three easy steps: (1) make plane and hotel reservations well ahead of time, (2) send out tons of letters and make lots of phone calls ahead of time to set up interviews, and (3) go on the interviews (and continuously try to set up new ones on the trip). A trip to the Big Apple with the finance club is probably not a good substitute.

How Much Will This Cost?: Between $1000 and $2000 ($400-1500 for hotel, $150-700 for plane ticket, $100-300 for food, $100-200 for cabs and subway fare). If you can't afford this much, go for less time or stay with a relative.

Where Should I Stay?: The most important thing is that you stay at a place that has voice mail so people can return your messages (or use your cell phone). The cheaper hotels don't. New York hotels are quite expensive. Try Hotels.com and the many bargain hunting sites for hotels.

What Should I Bring? Bring resumes, a couple of suits, a ton of shirts and a sense of humor. Hit the Outlet mall if you like. Buy a subway map. Having business cards made up wouldn't hurt. Others also recommend Aspirin/Tylenol/Ibuprofen and other cures for body problems.

What Should I Eat? You can get all sorts of things in NYC like great ethnic food, corned beef sandwiches and bagels. Go for it!

Should I Have Fun? Sometimes people in New York are rude. But, yes, have as much fun as you can!

How Should I Get Contacts for Interviews? (1) Relatives and friends. (2) Alumni of your school. (3) Names who show up in news stories and promotion rosters in the Wall Street Journal Investing Section. (4) Call up 1-212-555-1212 and give bank name to get number then call bank and ask for recruiting.

How Should I Contact People? First, send a letter expressing your interest with a resume. Call two weeks later. Leave specific and kind voice mail messages. Your messages may not be returned. Keep calling. If your messages still aren't returned, call after 5pm when secretaries go home and people pick up their phones. Generally, be very persistent and don't be afraid of being a pain in the neck. You will get through eventually. Politely explain what you want. If you don't know the person and they are not a recruiting person, ask for a half hour informational interview (to learn what they do). Offer to take the person to lunch. If someone says they aren't interested or aren't hiring, ask if they could refer you to someone who might help. Have a strategy about the type of job you want whether it be quantitative, MIS-oriented, emerging markets etc. Be prepared to show your knowledge of an area and explain why you would like to get into it.

Some resources to use for contacts are our boutique investment bank guide, our guide to internal investment banking recruiters, our guide to investment banking headhunters and our guides to healthcare, technology, and restructuring / bankruptcy investment bankers.


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