Dream Job Spotlight: Jonathan Alden, BlackRock

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Jon AldenBy Jonathan Alden

What a week. After days of analyzing, analyzing, and overanalyzing the details of my concluding interview, I was finally offered a position at BlackRock in San Francisco, CA. Founded in 1988 by Laurence Fink, BlackRock is now the world’s largest asset manager with slightly over $4 trillion of assets under management. Somewhere in-between Wall Street and Silicon Valley, BlackRock stands at the forefront of financial innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

So I have a job. Phew. But how’d I get here and what advice do I have for you? Unless you’re walking down the halls, it’s really hard to understand the diversity within Eller; everyone has a different background, a driving passion, and a unique experience that makes them as capable and insightful as the rest. I realize that many of you are more prepared than I, but hopefully I can give some advice that you may find useful. While luck played its part, preparation is what ultimately paved the way. This was my process:

Most large companies send offer letters by December, so I knew that I had to have my resume and cover letter perfected as soon as I possibly could, and I did so by seeking feedback and tips from countless numbers of people. I can’t stress enough the importance of mentors, and the power of persistent questions.

Working for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management last summer, I became extremely familiar with BlackRock and their products. I knew that it was a great place to start a career, but was unsure of my chances. So, I did what every advisor, mentor, professional, and news article told me not to do, and I applied on BlackRock’s general portal. Applying to a job through a general portal is the hardest way to get your resume seen. Luckily for me, Wildcat JobLink had a submission available for the position, helping me lock down an interview. Weeks after writing them off, I received a call asking if I could meet an employee from BlackRock.

A week before my interview, I sought advice from employees, read industry and company articles, and tried to familiarize myself with the company’s mission. When it comes to interviews, it’s important to understand the company’s position. For public companies, annual 10-K reports is a great tool for understanding who they are and what they do. Further, websites like Glassdoor can also be used to familiarize yourself with potential interview questions.

Depending on the position, you may get technical questions, but most interviewers want to get a feel for who you are and what experiences you’ve had. When answering behavioral questions, it’s important to remember that interviewers more often remember stories than direct answers – so try to tell a good one. Mine was about why I wanted to work at BlackRock and how my experiences make me suitable for the position.

Another important part in the interview process is sending a personalized thank you letter to your interviewer, either written or emailed, thanking them for their time with you. If you truly want the position, you’ll do whatever you can to stand out.

The next day I was invited to fly to San Francisco for my final round of interviews. Whereas the first interview gives the company a sense of who you are, the final round is about standing out. As one of my interviewers told me, it’s not all about how you fit in, because if everyone seems to be a good “fit”, how do you choose? He further mentioned that what they look for is not only competency, curiosity, intellect and fit, but ultimately passion. Large companies interview dozens upon dozens people every year. Passionate people stand out because they show their interviewers that they’ve done the research and want to be working in that position. You’ve heard it a hundred times, but if you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll probably do it much better than anyone else.

After I left my interview, the waiting game began yet again. I checked my phone every few minutes, knowing that an email would probably let me know that I didn’t get the position, and a phone call would mean that I did. The next day I missed a phone call from HR. Could this be it? Close. They wanted to verify my references. The last, and very crucial stage of the interview process is when a company calls on your given references to get a third party verification of who you are and the work you said you did. A positive or negative review could make or break your interview. Three days went by before I received a phone call from HR, letting me know that the group liked me enough to offer me a spot on their team. Hard work does pay off in the end.

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