Hey guys – this is my first post on WSO as a contributing author. I currently work in banking, and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without all the help I received on this site. I wanted to give back by not only sharing my story, but also by providing insight into what life is like in finance on the West coast in the heart of Silicon Valley at a crazy, crazy time.
What do I mean by crazy? I’ve run into Zuckerberg on University Avenue. I’ve ended up at a random house party in Nob Hill where myself and my Venture Capital friend were elevator pitched by half a dozen European entrepreneurs. I’ve pitched my own start-up idea and am currently working with my team to get a prototype to market and secure seed funding.
I’ve encountered and been consistently impressed by more people in the single year I’ve been out here than I have in my previous 22 years on the East coast. Silicon Valley is a truly unique place. Is it a bubble? Maybe. Are stupid ideas receiving ridiculous amounts of attention? Sure they are. Is it the single most exciting place to be in the country right now? Absolutely.
So how did a small town kid end up out here? I went to a small, private high school in Florida and hadn’t the slightest conception of what anwas when I was when I headed off to begin my freshman year at an Ivy League in the Northeast. In fact, I hadn’t the slightest idea what I wanted to do with my life after college. All I knew was that I loved technology.
I had played video games since I got my hands on our family’s first computer (a beige 486 with a whopping 1GB of storage that ran Windows 3.1 like a charm), I was always designing gadgets and their associated schematics, and I built a Java Space Invaders clone as a final project for my high school computer science class. I considered the engineering path at one point, but I knew I wanted more leeway to explore other classes.
The market crash happened my sophomore year, and I had no idea what all the fuss was about. Although I figured that I needed to learn pretty quickly as it seemed like I was the only person I knew who didn’t know what was going on. A few books, elective classes, and networking conversations later, I realized I was absolutely FUCKED. Not only did my history degree provide me with zero tangible skills to the professional world, but it was also my Junior year, and I needed to get my shit together fast if I wanted a chance to be employed in the banking world out of college.
My immediate thoughts were to go theroute, and I accordingly applied like a madman. I networked like crazy, and I pulled all the strings I knew to pull. Through it all though, something always drew me to California and the pirates of Silicon Valley that I had read about and admired growing up. Through my recruiting process, I discovered an opportunity to work at a boutique investment bank in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After several rounds of interviews, I received an offer – much the chagrin of my mom who was pushing for me be in the same time zone. I set off for California soon after I graduated, and the past year has been absolutely life-changing.
This is just an introductory post, so expect much more in the coming weeks. I look forward to contributing and being an active part of the WSO community!