What can King’s students do to maximise virtual career planning and network within the finance sector? We spoke with Mark Owosu, a KCL alumnus and founder & editor of Finstreet, an online knowledge factory around the finance industry. Read on to discover Mark’s top tips around researching for your career planning, and on successful and purposeful virtual networking!
Keeping in touch with the industry during Covid-19
‘Finstreet is all about sharing career advice and providing knowledge about what it’s like to work in finance – including things that people interested in these careers might not have realised is part of the industry, for example on the challenges and rewards of the work.
It’s been an interesting and also difficult time these past 12 months. But with Finstreet, I have been able to build new skills, develop new relationships via networking and work on something that a lot of people have needed (but didn’t previously have available!).
Since founding the platform, and especially during Covid-19, Finstreet has been a way for me to stay in touch with people in the Finance industry, to learn from them, as well as to help other people who want to work in finance, by creating content around topics they might not have known about.
New content to look out for
A new development that’s come into Finstreet’s range is entry level and internships content. This content includes interview articles of people who have been, are on or going into internships in finance from across the globe. Mark is hopeful that this addition is going to give students tips and tricks, – “it’s one thing learning about succeeding, and it’s another thing to learn about how to get your foot in the door”.
Exploring a career in finance? Try this!
While the pandemic has affected us all in different ways, there’s still a lot that students can do to explore a career in Finance via virtual means. To be honest, not much has changed in professional networking apart from the fact that we cannot meet face to face. You still have lots of opportunities to research online, connect with people online and learn as much as you want – and there are lots of resources such as King’s Careers’ Sector Guides and Finstreet to keep learning about Finance, as well as attending relevant virtual events to network with employers.
- Start simple, search online the different areas or sectors or finance. Then, you’re able to start breaking down areas to your personality and interests: do you like helping people start businesses and seeing them grow (microfinance); do you find investing interesting (asset management or venture capital) or something else? These you can find out just by doing some independent research on Google.
- Once you’ve been able to define your areas of interest, look at different companies around those areas, and also look for the different people who work in these sectors to ask questions. LinkedIn is a great tool to reach out to people who work in these areas.
My virtual networking advice
When you’re sending messages on LinkedIn, don’t feel bad If your messages aren’t answered. Rejection is inevitable. Just send enough messages and ask about the persons’ role, the finance industry or anything that may benefit you.
After graduating from King’s, I worked as a recruitment consultant for about a year and a half – and there were a lot of phone calls, messages online, networking and creating relationships. A lot of the time I heard “Thank you for contacting me, however now is not the right time”. However, hopefully, there is going to be that one person who says “Sure thing, let’s book in a call and chat”. And when it comes to networking for your career, that moment may just put you on the path to achieve your goals.
Did you know that as a King’s student you can also practice networking via King’s Connect, the alumni mentoring platform? It’s King’s internal network of alumni who are now working in all kinds of jobs, sectors and industries. Why not start networking and connect with someone who went to King’s, just like you?
And what about managing your nerves?
When it comes to feeling nervous, just remember that the goal is bigger than the nerves, and you just do what you need to do.
The biggest hurdle for a lot of students, and certainly when thinking back to my student experience at King’s, is not reaching out for help. You might feel shy or apprehensive to network in case the professional contact says no. My advice for students is, ask yourself how hungry are you to get what you want? Ultimately, when you know what you want and how much you want it, it will feel natural to seek out information and take that first step. However scary it might be, just take that first step and contact someone, ask a question, and see what the reply is!