It was early 2022 and Wasif Zubiar Hyder was struggling to land an internship.

“I was devastated that day. My bank balance was not the best, and I really needed a job to pay my bills.”

Fast forward to February 2024 and we find him successfully employed at Wealthsimple.

But he didn’t achieve this through traditional job applications.

He got it via strategic networking.

Who is Wasif? And how did networking help him land jobs?

Key Takeaways

  1. Wasif used the power of networking to land jobs that he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
  2. He was able to gain in-depth industry knowledge, learn about company cultures, and get referred to jobs.
  3. Wasif used PathPeer to supercharge his networking efforts. It allowed him to book chats with professionals that wanted to help & get referred without having to ask.

Wasif’s Inspirational Journey

Wasif, a Commerce & IT student at York University, began his university journey in 2021 with no prior work or volunteer experience. To overcome this hurdle, he embraced hyper-networking, attending company events and engaging by asking insightful questions.

In an event hosted by Neo Financial, he asked one of the co-founders, “What’s the best way to stand out in my application?”. He told Wasif to speak with the marketing team and 48 hours later, Wasif received the offer.

His networking prowess continued at the Elevate tech festival, where his interaction with the BLUMEx founder resulted in a Venture Analyst position at the startup.

These roles eventually paved the way for internships at Paterson Consulting Inc. and Vision2Reality Foundation.

But the pivotal question remains: 

How did these networking efforts lead to a position at Wealthsimple?

Networking to Wealthsimple

Wasif’s first interaction with a Wealthsimple employee was in early 2022 at a networking event. Wasif, recognizing the value of this connection, maintained contact with the Strategy and M&A professional.

In early 2023, Wasif was attending a fintech certification where he met a Senior Investment Agent.

Around the same time, he went to a Wealthsimple Rotman event. He talked with a Senior Chartered Accountant while wearing a Neo Financial uniform, showcasing his industry experience. They connected over LinkedIn and kept in touch.

Demonstrating his proactive approach, Wasif hosted a fintech panel for his school club, inviting a Client Experience Associate from Wealthsimple as a speaker. This individual's insights into the company were invaluable, and they, too, stayed in touch.

Leveraging these connections, Wasif applied for an internship at Wealthsimple in early 2023 and received three referrals from the professionals.

Despite his efforts and referrals, he didn’t land the job. 

But his persistence didn't wane.

In Fall 2023, Wasif discovered PathPeer, a platform that transformed his networking strategy.

It enabled him to effortlessly connect with fintech professionals, including those from Wealthsimple, bypassing the potential rejections on LinkedIn. 

He quickly scheduled meetings with these experts.

A pivotal interaction occurred with a former Wealthsimple product manager. This discussion provided Wasif with a deeper understanding of the company’s vision, the interplay of cross-functional roles, and team dynamics.

Following their conversation, the mentor shared a positive review of Wasif on PathPeer.

This review is like a mini-referral - it gets shared with their company recruiters. They’ll see who you are as a person, not just an application. PathPeer lets you stand out and as a result, you’ll be invited to many more interviews.

So how did Wasif land his dream job at Wealthsimple?

It all led to this moment.

Wasif had networked with 10 of their employees, learning about their company culture and gaining valuable industry knowledge.

He connected with a Client Experience professional - and the chat went for a whole hour.

The professional asked Wasif - Why do you want to work at Wealthsimple? What kind of experience are you bringing?

Wasif’s extensive fintech and Wealthsimple knowledge from networking, combined with his genuine curiosity, left a strong impression.

It was like a mini-interview. One that Wasif got by simply asking.

The professional said that based on Wasif’s initiative, experience, ambitions, and high EQ, he would be a great asset to the company.

As a result, the professional referred him to the Client Experience Associate job.

And it worked - Wasif landed the interview!

Wasif's extensive insider knowledge of Wealthsimple and the fintech industry made a profound impression during his interview. One interviewer even suggested he appeared overqualified for the role.

And networking helped him impress even more:

Wasif: I brought up my time interacting with the senior leadership team and one person happened to be the mentor of this interviewer. This was a spotlight moment for me.

It’s no surprise that Wasif landed the job.

His networking efforts had helped him showcase his passion & soft skills, which led to referrals.

He gained deep industry knowledge & learned about company culture, helping him impress interviewers.

And lastly, he learned what companies and jobs fit him best, making sure he joined a team that would help him thrive.

Wasif used networking to land jobs that he couldn’t get through simply applying.

Here’s his advice so you can do the same:

Seems like you landed most of your jobs through networking

Wasif: Yes, that's right. I’ve had to network to my jobs because at York University, there is no co-op program for my degree. A lot of companies I aspired to work at prefer to hire from schools where they have a co-op partnership. Networking was the only avenue for me to get these roles.

How were you able to make such a good impression in coffee chats?

Wasif: There is a certain way of speaking. If you go up to a person and say, ‘Hi, my name is Wasif and I am looking for a job,’ your impression backfires. Do preliminary research on who you’ll speak with so you can ask impressive questions. Ask questions like ‘what do you think about Mastercard's partnership with Mercedes-Benz to pay for subscriptions?’ The professional will think, ‘Wow, this guy knows about the industry & what I do.’ It shows that you’re not there just for a job, you’re there to learn about the industry and their line of work.

How do you ask for a referral?

Wasif: Never say, I want a job. Never say, I want an internship. Find the team/company that you’re passionate about and tell them you want to make an impact with them. 10/10 times, you’re going to land a follow up conversation or a referral.

What did you get from talking to 100+ professionals?

Industry insights & knowledge you don’t learn at school

Wasif: Networking gives you in-depth industry knowledge that you don't learn at school, from online content, or anywhere else. And it happens to be more valuable than academic knowledge. These industry insights is what got me my internships.

Wasif: Over the years, it helped me polish myself into someone who aligns with the tech industry in Canada. I was able to learn what I needed to work on, in terms of improving my knowledge, skills & mindset.

An honest look at a company’s culture

Wasif: These coffee chats with professionals helped me understand the real culture of companies, more than what was mentioned on their website. It showed me the culture that was lived by their employees. We talked about support, hard work, inclusivity, and other values. I wanted to work at a company with colleagues that would help me out if something went wrong, and I was able to find this through networking.

Access to hidden job opportunities

Wasif: It gave me interviews for some roles that were not even on their website. I’ve had hiring managers reach out to me on LinkedIn saying, ‘Hey, we spoke at this career fair. I have two roles. I want to know if you are interested.’

How did your impression of Wealthsimple change from networking with their employees?

Wasif: From attending fintech conferences & networking, I saw Wealthsimple wasn’t just selling products, but was an advocate for innovation. I saw that Hannah Zaidi and a few other leaders are vocal advocates for open banking and that resonated with me. When I see the senior leadership team up close, it's an incredible place to work in. It's my dream.

Wasif: What I liked about Wealthsimple is how they care about their employees. They’re a remote first company, and their employees mentioned they can work from literally anywhere across the country. I thought, ‘wow, that's cool.’

Wasif: I once asked a WS employee, how do you work with stubborn customers or customers who are very aggressive? Do you escalate the situation? And then they said, ‘No, we don't. We value empathy and accountability and it comes across in the tone or choice of words that we use when it comes to difficult conversations.’ It gave me an impression that this company is built on solid foundations of how they're going to scale or do their operations. There's no distance between senior leadership and other employees. Everybody works with a similar ideology.

Wasif: I think that was my biggest takeaway from networking.

Why explore a company’s culture via networking instead of just reading their website?

Wasif: A company’s website gives you a very bookish perspective. If you're speaking with an engineer or someone in the leadership team, they talk about the work they're doing, how they work and what kind of environment they're working in. That gives you a reflection on how the culture actually is. An employee can say, ‘this is how we collaborate, this is how we think, this is how we solve a problem’. And that is more realistic than what a company’s website says.

What makes you stay at a company for the long term?

Wasif: A big factor is the founder’s vision - are they dedicated to the problem? Are they ambitious and inspiring?

Wasif: The other big factor is the kind of people that work there. I want to work at a company with people who are ready to hustle, ready to grow, and get out of their comfort zone. People who actually value a growth mindset and an eagerness to learn, instead of caring about which school you're from. I don't like the boxy mindset, I like the growth mindset. You see that very much in the startup ecosystem with companies like Wealthsimple and Neo Financial.

Any advice for students looking to network?

Wasif: Focus on building relationships, not to increase your LinkedIn connections count. Sustain the relationship with news articles and industry reports that come about the company they work in. It’s wise to focus on 1 industry once you know what you want to specialise in. This way, you are able to get a deep insight on how everything works.

Want to land your dream job like Wasif did?

Try PathPeer - it’s how students network to their dream job, for free. Get instantly connected to mentors that want to help & get referred without having to ask.

Connect with professionals from Wealthsimple or other companies below!