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Patrick Bresnahan, BLPer, is Targeting New York Investment Banks!
Student brings networking savvy to New York investment banks
A WSU finance student and entrepreneur spent the holiday break networking in the Big Apple to position himself for a future career with one of the nation’s top investment banks.
Patrick Bresnahan, a third-year undergraduate pursuing a major in finance and minor in Chinese, spent a week in New York City in the halls of Goldman Sachs, where he shadowed experts in sales and trading and capital markets,and at The Blackstone Group, where he attended informational meetings to learn about summer analyst programs and future career options. The experience allowed him to better understand the industry, Bresnahan said, and to make professional connections that might help him land a coveted internship. It also gave him valuable insight into the professional dynamic that drives sales and trading.
“I was really inspired to see the camaraderie and the emphasis on teams and teamwork,” Bresnahan said. “They were very committed, very passionate, and they put their best foot forward on the projects they were working on.”
Bresnahan won access to these high-level mentors the old fashioned way: by asking. Since July, Bresnahan has requested and received audiences with executives at the Chicago office of the Bank of Montreal and UBS and several boutique firms in Detroit, and believes success comes from “putting yourself in front of people and showing that you’re passionate and capable.” Simply put, he’s a young networking maven who knows that big opportunities come from introductions, emails, phone calls and simply knocking on doors.
“If you express interest and passion in this industry, people are willing to give you a little bit of their time to talk about what it is they do and answer questions you might have,” Bresnahan said, adding that these conversations can yield invaluable advice about what it is like to work in the industry and to see the qualities and traits of people working at the firm.
To wit, Bresnahan’s invitation to visit Goldman Sachs stemmed from a conversation he struck up with a company team member at a wedding and their subsequent email correspondence. His private meetings at Blackstone grew out of his involvement in Wayne State University’s business incubator Blackstone LaunchPad, which is funded by The Blackstone Group’s Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Bresnahan, who with his partner launched the mobile technology firm PickOne Productions with assistance from WSU Blackstone LaunchPad, sought out a Blackstone executive at an event in metro Detroit.
“I caught him as he was leaving and made my two-minute pitch,” Bresnahan said. “I told him I would be in New York at Christmas and asked if I could have 15 minutes of his time when I was there. From there we emailed back and forth, and he was able to get me a few minutes in front of members of the firm’s investment groups.”
Using Wayne’s resources
Bresnahan credits his ease with networking to past sales jobs, “where income comes from being proactive and contacting people you may not know,” and from family members in sales work who modeled assertiveness. He’s also an avid reader of investment banking literature and participant in Wayne State’s Business School activities.
“This is a great training ground to approach strangers with whom you share common ground and have a quick conversation,” he said. “A lot of Business School events are focused on networking, encourage you to make connections in a friendly environment, and give you the experience needed to network effectively.”
Connections are great, but connections that lead to business are better. And that’s where Blackstone LaunchPad comes in, notes Bresnahan. The incubator this summer alerted PickOne Productions to a high-profile mobile application competition in the city and helped Bresnahan and his partner develop and pitch their bid. The two made it to the final round of selection, and gained invaluable experience creating a budget and timeline for a corporate bid.
“Blackstone LaunchPad is a phenomenal companion to the university,” Bresnahan said. “The support they give aspiring entrepreneurs is tremendous, particularly when it comes to helping you locate the resources to move forward with your idea.”