How to use Coffee Chats to get your First Investment Banking Job

What is a coffee chat?

Coffee chats for first investment banking job

For an economics grad, is getting your first investment banking job the right choice?

Coffee chats to get your first investment banking job

Boutique Investment Banks for your first investment banking job

Boutique investment banks are a great choice for fresh graduates looking for a job in the IB industry. That’s because there has been a spurt in the number of boutique firms. These banks strive to make a difference in the market by –

  1. Establishing strong and lasting relationships that allow them to compete with the big players in the industry;
  2. Hiring the sharpest minds to come up with creative, fast, and cost-effective solutions and strategies;
  3. Offering a unique selling proposition (USP) that helps them stand out in a competitive market.

Coffee chats for your first investment banking job: The importance of networking

Networking skills can make or break your chances to get your dream first investment banking job. Whether you’re having a casual conversation or an informal interview with someone working in the banking sector, remember the following goals of your coffee chat:

  1. Make an impression by being on your best behavior.
  2. Show interest and learn about the industry and its opportunities.
  3. Get a recommendation or an interview or be introduced to essential contacts.

What to do during a coffee chat to get your first investment banking job

Here are a few tips to prepare yourself, organize important coffee chats, and impress your potential employer during the conversation:

1. Make a list of your dream investment banking jobs

The first thing to do is make a list of banks and the contacts at these banks. Start with your alumni association and get in touch with friends and family. Don’t forget to look at online portals like LinkedIn to find the right contacts.

2. Take the first step

It’s time to leave your shyness behind and contact important people for coffee chats. Push for an in-person chat or at least a virtual one instead of a phone call. Remember to make a polite request and keep the convenience of the other person in mind.

3. Do your homework

Whether it’s a casual conversation or an interview, do your research. You must be recognized as someone who is well-informed about investment banking and the organization whose representative you are meeting. That’s because even a casual conversation will revolve around the IB industry. Plus, what’s worse than running out of things to talk about?

How to get your first investment banking job

4. Have a valuable conversation

Focus on a valuable conversation through a balanced exchange. Ideally, you should ask questions to get crucial information out of your IB contact and let them talk about themselves. You should respond to questions to display your interests, experience, understanding, and expertise in a humble way.

5. Be enthusiastic!

Every conversation, every interview is a step forward into the world of investment banking. So be grateful and excited about the coffee chat, even if it doesn’t go according to your plans. Demonstrate your enthusiasm for any opportunity that may come your way.

6. Ask thoughtful questions

The questions you ask must reflect who you are, what you have to offer, and what kind of a team player you are. You can start by asking personal questions and let them talk about their career progression, their participation in deals, and their experience at the bank. Then, steer the conversation towards you. See more below for how to ask thoughtful questions!

7. Be prepared with your answers

Coffee chats are not actual interviews, and there might not be a specific opening. They are more of a stepping stone for you to get a formal interview. The questions you’ll face will reveal your skillset and help identify what position for which you might be suited. So, prepare for mundane questions as well as intrusive ones.

What not to do

Now that you know the “Dos” for a coffee chat, it’s time to look at the “Don’ts”!

1. Don’t be forceful

Remember that the person you’re trying to meet for a coffee chat might have a busy schedule, considering their career in the banking sector. Don’t be too pushy about setting up a meeting to which the banker can’t commit. Be polite when you make the request.

2. Don’t be cocky

You might be dealing with someone in the banking sector who has probably been on several coffee chats on both sides of the table. For them, the difference between a good interview and a bad one is glaring. They immediately recognize unpolished, disrespectful behavior. Don’t be cocky or impolite.

3. Don’t ask for a favor directly.

As a student or a fresh graduate, your intention for meeting a senior banking professional is quite evident. Don’t ask for a recommendation or an interview immediately. The person on the other side is either there to guide you or gauge if you are a good fit for their company. Either way, you should avoid being too upfront at the beginning of the conversation.

How to ask thoughtful questions to get your first investment banking job

You’ve probably understood by now that conversation is the most critical part of the coffee chat. To do this, make a list of thoughtful questions. They should allow you to portray your strengths and motivations while letting the other person enjoy guiding you by speaking about their experience. Like most people, bankers love to talk about themselves.

How to get your first investment banking job
  • Why they chose the company for which they work
  • What led them to choose a career in investment banking
  • Their experience in the industry, favorite deals, etc.
  • Unexpected sides of their career progress in the industry
  • What makes their company unique in investment banking
  • What the company seeks in new hires
  • How you can use your skillset to fit into the IB industry and that particular company
  • Advice about further networking and creating an investment banking career

Etiquette during coffee chats

Here are a few quick tips on protocol during a coffee chat –

Final Thoughts:

A coffee chat is not just a great chance for networking. It can very well be your way of securing an interview with your dream company in the investment banking industry. The coffee chat itself is not the final step of an interview. You have to win over the person you’re meeting with.

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