First, I have been waiting to post this story since I graduated from undergrad in December 2009 with 0 job offers, and only a quasi-actionable idea of what I wanted to do. I'm sure many of you will not consider this a "success" per se, but it is the opportunity to break in I have been looking for for the better part of 2 years.
I know WSO was important in this process, but not for the traditional reasons. Surprisingly, the success stories kept my head up when I felt like I didn't have a prayer. When I felt bad for myself, the Darwinists on this board reminded me that I was, in fact, just being a pussy and might as well go Occupy Wall Street if I was going to allow myself to feel that way. To me, these were more important than any technical guide or modeling course (although I did also go through both.)
Now, my background. In a word, sub-par. I studied Economics at a school where studying economics is basically admitting to recruiters you couldn't get in to the business school (which is a target/ semi-target as I understand it). I didn't put my best foot forward in academics, and graduated with a 3.1. I had my head so far up my ass I didn't even do FT recruiting while I was in school.
Lacking options, I networked into a local, independent broker dealer. My first job was scanning documents. All day. Everyday for three months. A woman went on maternity leave three months after I started (unsure how I made it that long), and I filled in for her on the compliance side, reporting directly to the CCO (compliance + ops = 4 total people). Her pregnancy was complicated, and she left earlier than anticipated, having taught me nothing of value regarding her role. I covered her job for three months, and was able to impress the owner, the CEO and the the CCO with my diligence, my ability to teach myself and my (relatively) safe hands. When the new mom came back, they paid for my Series 7 and 63, and started me off with a retail broker. My first task was cold-calling pension plans inquiring whether they would be interested in being advised by a firm they had likely never heard of. I went 0 for 800+ . Boy did that suck. I set up a meeting with the CEO, and asked whether he would be willing to introduce me to a friend of his, the President of a miniscule investment banking operation that cleared through the firm. He introduced us, and let me work with the ib "team" (four people) on the side while also working in operations as an "assistant trader" (read: order executions for brokers to inept to use the system provided by our clearing firm).
The IB operation, small as it was, was a godsend. I got to look at deals (past deals that had been completed), and got to help create pitchbooks for management presentations. I got to use Yahoo Finance to compute average multiples for our prospective clients competitors (you read that right). When I began to feel limited by our virtually non-existant deal flow, I began applying to different jobs.
My first strikeout was with an asset manager in Chicago. They hired someone with 5 years of relevant experience (at least thats what they said) to my 2. I was crushed, but once again, you all reminded me (in your own way) to stop being a pussy and keep working. Next interview I bombed was with a consulting firm. They were kind of jenky anyways, so it may have been a blessing. After that I landed a job in data analytics with a Big Three automotive company, but turned it down. I wanted this that badly. Over the last month, I've been interviewing with a boutique equity research firm. Last week, I got an offer, which I accepted. Last Friday was my last day at my old firm, which was beautiful because there were times that I thought I would never make it out of scanning, let alone ops. From the bottom of my heart, thanks WSO. Couldn't have done it without you.