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I'm currently doing a summer internship at a bank and I've managed to get in touch with the head of technology to set up a 30 minute networking session. How do I make the most of those 30 minutes? What are some good topics to ask about?

My main aims from the internship are:

  • Learn as much as possible about the corporate world
  • Learn as much as possible about technology in the bank- particularly data security and machine learning (my background is in Computer Science)
  • Learn valuable lessons about people interaction and management.
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    Hmm, this isn't really the place to ask for lists of possible questions, but I think the broad topic can be answered. One specific angle that I highly recommend you ask after are the challenges they are facing on a technological level and how they're dealing with those as well as what technologies/challenges the CIO sees for the future. (I'm aware that I'm answering in the comments but this is too short for a full answer, feel free to steal this for your own answer.) – Lilienthal Jul 14 '16 at 15:59
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    He's not going to do a full tech review for an intern. This not your opportunity to learn tech. This is your opportunity to learn what you need to know to succeed in your career. Here's a really good question: "What are the top 5 things you wish you'd known/done when you graduated?" Take notes. – Wesley Long Jul 14 '16 at 16:02
  • @WesleyLong At the risk of a pot-kettle moment, that does sound like it could be a full answer. :) – Lilienthal Jul 14 '16 at 16:03
  • @WesleyLong possibly rephrased - 'What are the top 5 things I should know/do/learn'? What worked 20+ years ago may not be as relevant today. – Dan Pichelman Jul 14 '16 at 16:06
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    "What skills and knowledge do you look for in someone in a security role?" Ask about what he would want for a role you are looking at. It might give you some ideas on how to structure the rest of your education – JasonJ Jul 14 '16 at 17:54
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I would start with googling for articles on the topic, e.g.:

  1. The Muse: 4 Strategies for Your One-on-One Networking Meeting
  2. Forbes: 15 Tips To Making Your One-On-Ones Worth Your While

Other suggestions:

The questions you are raising make sense, but they seem too general for the specific situation which you are trying to make the most of. You have a meeting with a specific highly knowledgeable person at a specific company. I understand that the questions you cite are important to you, but think about what topics would be worthwhile to discuss for the other person. What would make him feel like his time with you was well spent?

My guess would be these topics would revolve around talking about his department's specific main areas of work, as well as related needs/challenges -- this can naturally lead into gaps in capacity/resources to address such challenges, hence what types of skills they are looking for in their staff and new hires.

You want to give the impression that you are seriously considering a career with this specific bank, and are wondering about the skills and abilities that this specific department, under this specific guy's leadership, needs in the near term.

Some related questions might be:

  • What skills in new hires do you find most valuable in terms of ROI for meeting your organization's needs/priorities?

This can lead into discussion of specific technologies/areas of expertise.

  • What additional skills or qualities or experience, besides purely technical aspect, do you consider valuable in new hires that helps them integrate well with the culture and effectively collaborate with the colleagues in this company?

This can lead into an overview of cultural identify of the company and the abilities that are valued as contributing to company's or department's effective functioning (e.g. innovativeness and risk-taking vs. deep expertise in established technologies).

You probably get the idea. The comments above also offer great suggestions. Good luck!

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    Yes, please. Always, ALWAYS take the opportunity to discuss an organization's challenges, following up with "What kind of skills can we/I/young prospects hone now to address them?" At every networking event and job interview, I ask these questions because the everyone will have an answer for the first half, and the kind of person you want to end up working for will have a clear idea on the second half. – jaichele Jul 28 '16 at 19:58

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