Finance student brings networking savvy to New York investment banks

Patrick Bresnahan, a third-year undergraduate pursuing a finance major and Chinese minor, spent a week in New York City last semester in the halls of Goldman Sachs and The Blackstone Group. At Goldman Sachs, he shadowed experts in capital markets, sales and trading. At The Blackstone Group, he attended informational meetings to learn about summer analyst programs and future career options. Bresnahan said the experience allowed him to better understand the industry and to make professional connections that might help him land an internship.

“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. He believes success comes from “putting yourself in front of people and showing that you’re passionate and capable.”

“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.

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 and his partner launched the mobile technology firm PickOne Productions with assistance from WSU Blackstone LaunchPad and 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.”

Bresnahan credits his ease with networking to past sales jobs, “where income comes from being proactive and contacting people you may not know,” and participating in business school activities.

Connections are great, but connections that lead to business are better. And that’s where Blackstone LaunchPad comes in, notes Bresnahan. The incubator alerted PickOne Productions to a high-profile mobile application competition and helped Bresnahan and his partner develop and pitch their bid. The two made it to the final round of selection.

“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.”

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