Nov. 24, 2020Print | PDF
On Oct. 28, dozens of current and future Masters of Finance students at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University logged on to a virtual information session to hear from two featured program alumni. The graduates shared tips on how to grow and leverage professional networks for a positive career move.
According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn of nearly 16,000 users, 80 per cent of working professionals consider networking to be a critical factor in finding career success. Yet, nearly as many people surveyed reported finding it difficult to stay in touch with their networks or they ignore their networks when their careers are going well.
"We are in an era of do-it-yourself career development. Ideally, organizations would place more emphasis on employee development in the workplace, however, this is seldom the case.”
“The burden is on you to take control of your career development,” explains Carter Cast, author of the book, The Right (and wrong) stuff: How brilliant careers are made. Cast explains in the book that we are in an era of “do-it-yourself career development. Ideally, organizations would place more emphasis on employee development in the workplace, however, this is seldom the case.”
Skills development and earning additional credentials are two great ways to develop yourself for the next step in your career, but people often forget about a third and equally important strategy – professional networking.
For Kodie Lee (MFin/MBA ’20) and Puneet Bhatti (MFin ’17) choosing to develop and expand their professional networks proved to be an advantageous decision.
“Getting to know head hunters and recruiters from around the finance industry is a good way to get your professional network started. I was working in accounting and knew I wanted to make the jump to financial investing, so I was very calculated about each step and getting to the next phase,” explains Lee who cold-emailed every single boutique investment firm in Toronto to start conversations. This persistence paid off for Lee who is now vice-president at Yorkdale Partners in Toronto.
For Bhatti, she chose to focus her efforts on accessing the vast network of program and Lazaridis School alumni who worked in the same industry she was aiming to join. “By leveraging the alumni network, even while you’re still in the MFin program, you can learn about different areas within the financial sector and get informational interviews that allow you to introduce yourself to key people who will remember you when it comes time to fill an open position.”
A supportive alumni community is one of the core strengths of the Lazaridis MFin program. In addition to learning about portfolio management and derivatives, students are strongly encouraged to make connections with their peers as well as alumni who have already begun their finance careers. These are the first steps required to build your network of supportive professionals who can:
• assist with a job search,
• advise you about a particular sector within the industry or a particular job you want to land,
• share stories about their career path wherein you can gain the benefit of their experience,
• get the inside story about a particular company from someone who works there.
Countless blogs, books, articles, and websites comment on the importance of networking in general terms, but attendees of the Lazaridis MFin Alumni Speaker Series on Oct. 28 were treated to the tailor-made recommendations from Bhatti and Lee. Here is their advice:
1. Use the Lazaridis MFin and Lazaridis School alumni network to your advantage -- even while you’re in the program.
2. Meet with people in the industry. Show them your resume and let them tell you what gaps need to be filled in your experience and education.
3. Once you have a relationship with someone and feel comfortable asking if they have any openings, ask them if they would consider you. Many hiring managers rely on their staff to refer candidates. The more connections you make, the better your chances are of being referred for an open position.
1. Stand out and get noticed. Be aggressive and enthusiastic and impress people with your passion – they will remember you.
2. The education part of the program is great but you need to build on what you know by becoming comfortable talking to anyone about the subject matter. Having a conversational skill level about finance is very useful because that’s how relationships work in the industry.
3. You’re not going to land a job with every conversation, but always bring your enthusiasm to each new encounter. Weathering the circumstances is part of the process and your persistence will eventually pay off.
The Lazaridis Master of Finance (MFin) program offers programming in Waterloo and downtown Toronto in a variety of formats including full-time, part-time, co-op, and a double degree option with an MBA. Our Alumni Speaker Series runs several times every term and anyone is welcome to attend.