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posted Jul 13, 2011, 6:50 PM by Alex Wong   [ updated Jul 19, 2012, 11:55 PM ]

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Be passionate about your job hunting

posted Jul 4, 2011, 1:28 AM by Alex Wong   [ updated Jul 19, 2012, 11:55 PM ]

In a busy month for final year students with projects, exams, applications and interviews, life could be hectic and hopeless for some people but exciting and fulfilling for some others. Let me share with you two real life examples.


Ken is an average students who doesn't plan well, nor passionate about job hunting. He applied right before deadline without putting effort in application essays (and missed a couple of deadlines), prepared for interview only after he got a phone call from firms, and did not study for exam in advance such that he had no time for interview preparation lately. He feels headache whenever he hears words like "interviews" or "offers".


Janice, in contrast, plans well ahead. She started to apply to jobs before the term began and finished almost 50 of them before November. For application she submitted she had a strong sense of accomplishment since she put in a lot hours in them. She started to get rejection letter before others but also got interview invitation at the same time. She got rejected occasionally but she wasn't worried at all, since she got even more interviews in progress. For each interview done, she felt great since it had lead to more final rounds and potentially more offers. While Ken is checking out Janice's Facebook nervously, she's working on her own job hunting excitingly and passionately. 2 weeks ago Janice got an offer from a top-tier investment bank and she felt even more motivated to get more interviews, offers and options.


Life is full of choices and you can choose to be Ken or Janice. There is no secret when it comes to application - hard work pays off. Assuming the probability of getting rejected by any firm is 90%, the chance of getting no offers out of 10 application is 35% (0.9 to the power 10). If you apply for 20 firms, the odds of no offer go dramatically down 12%; 30 firms, 4%. It's a simple math that you learned a couple of years ago. It's time to put it in practice. 

Did you under-invest in your investment banking interviews?

posted Jul 4, 2011, 1:25 AM by Alex Wong   [ updated Jul 19, 2012, 11:54 PM ]

Have you ever counted the hours you invested in a 3-credit core course that comes with exams, projects and presentations throughout a semester? It could easily go over 50 hours. But did you invest 50 hours in all the job/scholarship/exchange interviews combined in the past semester?


If your answer is yes, congratulation. You are among the small group of people who at least got the mindset right. There are a lot more to take in order to get a good job offer but at least you stand a high chance. Practice always makes perfect.


If your answer is no, take this article as a wake up call. You are competing with students who answered yes to this question and very rarely, you are able to beat students who are very well-prepared.


During my years of experience as an interview coach, particularly for investment banking applicants, I see huge difference between prepared applicants and unprepared applicants. The former ones answer every question perfectly as if they expected these questions. The latter ones make me feel that they are just like other hundreds of candidates who will get a rejection letter few weeks later.


Interview preparation can be more extensive than you can imagine. One of my students started to plan his career path in year 1 and he already got the big names like UBS, Mckinsey on it. Another one spent 2 hours everyday for a year to get updated with global economics and market news and he could talk like a trader.


The most successful student I have seen had a list of 100 past interview questions specifically for the division he is applying to. He prepared answers to all these questions, conducted mock interview with friends, sought advice from alumni in the industry for all these answers, and repeated the process again and again. It was a 6 months project for him. In return, he got 4 offers, all from top-tier investment banks.


At the end of the day, this is your career we are talking about. It’s going to affect how you live the rest of your life, who you will be associating with and most importantly, who you will become. It’s worthwhile to invest more than 50 hours per semester.


Terrified and worried? Don’t be! There are always support from friends, family, school and alumni and many other channels. Let’s get things started before it is too late! 

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