Top 10 Tips on Getting an Internship & Job
Firstly some updates from me: I know I have been writing about job hunting/networking a lot these days, but coming up next~~~ a post on writing new year objectives for young professionals, and then another post on some exciting advancement in my own career and how I managed to get there!
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Now back to job-hunting~~~
It’s about the time of the year that college students start to get super worried about their “future”, and I feel obliged to write another article on job hunting. A few ladies recently reached out to me for more advice on getting an internship or full-time job (thanks again for complimenting on my blog btw, I am glad if my posts did help you in any way). And before you reach out directly to me again, READ THIS POST!
Please go directly to No.3 on the list if you are in a hurry.
And the questions I got are interesting (I twisted and exaggerated the tones a little bit apologize for that, but you know I’m trying to make a point here, right?) :
- I only have a 3.5 GPA, I am afraid that I cannot get into anything!
- I thought I am not into finance at all, and I suddenly realized I am actually very much into finance, but now all the recruiting is over!
- I am an international student, I don’t have a strong family background, I don’t have any relatives, I don’t know anyone, I don’t know what to do!
- The career service at my school offers absolutely no recruiting opportunity outside of banking or consulting, I simply don’t know what are the other options!
These questions seems almost RIDICULOUS to me now, however when I started looking back at the old days when I was a junior or senior, I realized I was wearing exactly the same shoes and I probably only worried about more ridiculous stuff.
So been there, done that, let me share with you what I have to say about job hunting when looking back at my own career and experiences from many others who have been through the similar process. Give or take.
1) GPA does not matter (in most cases). I know so many people with a 3.5 or even much lower got into banking. If you want to do consulting or apply for law school, GPA will become more important for sure, but for most finance jobs it is only a factor among many. But if you DO have a relatively low GPA, be prepared to talk about it, explain the reasons behind it, and DON’T freak out if they ask about it!
2) It all comes down to personality. So what really matters in a hiring process? I honestly think that it all comes down to personality. Because ultimately we are choosing the people we will spend late night hours with, and we might share the same row on a flight from NYC to Tokyo! And how do you demonstrate that? Through your extracurricular activities, experiences, and your interviews.
3) So what personalities are most firms looking for? (the most important part of this article!)
- Passionate: and the passion should show up in your eyes when you speak! Why do they need passion? If you are not passionate about the job, you will not be able to handle the stress and the long hours (honestly). I have a story quite to the opposite, I was invited back to a 2nd round interview for a trading position back in my senior year, and I was asked “if I am big on making money”. My immediate response was “no”. And even today I still think that’s why they didn’t give me the position (anyways).
- Aggressive (to some extent): you do not want anyone to walk away from your resume or your interview thinking “oh he/she is really nice”. You DON’T want other people to think you are “nice” because that means they have NOTHING ELSE to say about you. Well there’s a balance in everything, but you need to put yourself out there, and really think about how you can position yourself well, and brainstorm how your experiences and aspirations really match what the firm/position is looking for.
- Be interesting: tell stories, be humorous, be glamorous, be really excited about things, have a high conviction in what you believe and what you see in yourself. If you yourself want to fall asleep listening to yourself, how do you even imagine anyone else having the patience to sit in front of you for hours? You need to explain things really well of course, but at the end of the day people DON’T remember the content of what you told them, but your tone and your expressions!
4) Take initiatives and be visible. There are people out there who are very willing to help out, but they DON’T EVEN KNOW you need their help if you don’t speak up for yourself or take initiatives. If you happen to be in the same city, ask for a coffee chat or come in to their office (make face time!); if different cities, ask for setting up a 15-min call. It is YOUR responsibility to let other people know that YOU ARE THERE and YOU ARE READY, before you do anything else.
5) Use your networks wisely. It doesn’t mean you abuse your networks. It doesn’t mean you write the same letter to all of your LinkedIn (good article on how to best use it) friends or Alumni connections. It doesn’t mean you ONLY turn to them when you need a hand finding a job. It does mean that you share you stories and resources, regardless of position and title. And remember that everyone is busy so at the very least always RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE’s time, and have a good reason why they should spend the time with you at all.
6) Check out what’s already there available for you. The career service center at your school is one of many resources that you can leverage. What about efinancecareers, doostang, onewire? Have you heard about these before? If not, you are probably already one or many steps behind other people. What about the Boston Bilingual Career Fair? What about your Alumni Network Database?
7) Have others read your resume. One of the things you can do, even when you are reaching out to someone potentially you want to work for, is to see if he/she will be willing to take a look at your resume, and GIVE YOU SOME SUGGESTIONS! I have done that myself and many people turn to me now to do that for them. Many info sessions offer coffee chats and why don’t you bring your resume and ask whoever is chatting with you to take a look at your resume and give you some editing ideas! And imagine how that person would feel when he/she sees this resume AGAIN when you actually apply!
8) No substitute for practice before an interview. Talk to yourself, talk to your friends, talk to your professors, talk to alumni, career service people, anyone you can imagine. See if your stories make sense, see if you can connect the dots among your experiences, see if you can explain a tough question well, see if you are smooth, articulate, and to some extend composed (you don’t want to get super nervous at an interview, and the only way to feel good about yourself is to practice and practice before you go into that room!)
9) Try Mid/back-office positions and smaller firms. This is probably your first or second job, this is NOT the end of the world. You don’t have to be in that position for the REST of your life. So try to apply to some mid-office or back-office positions in a big firm, or some positions (especially those requiring interdisciplinary skills) at some smaller firms. You can always TRANSFER to something else AFTER you get your foot into the door.
10) Finally, be positive and work very hard. Being anxious, freaking out, or worrying about trivial things WILL NOT solve this problem or any problem. If you really want to do something you HAVE to do the homework; it WILL take time, and you have no other options than keeping a positive attitude and just keep trying (great article here on how to bounce back!). You may imagine sitting beside some prestigious MD in a top finance firm on an airplane (first of all you might want to go with business class even just to get close to someone like that) who will be able to introduce you to your dream job, but in real life it rarely rarely happens. Be positive and work very hard, because these are the things that NOBODY ELSE can take away from you, and with these two you will go a long way no matter what you choose to do with your life.
What do you think? Any other suggestions you want to share with everyone else? Cheers and good luck!