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Mod Note: bumping this thread from November 2006 up top to the forums for new members who haven't seen it. Great story from one of our top members.

So I'm new here and spent a good deal of time reading all of the posts from the past few weeks. I thought I would share my story.

So I am at a Business school in New England majoring in Computers. No banks recruit at my school with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 smaller ones. We have almost no alumni in I-Banking and I certainly don't know any of them or even bothered to find out who they were. I didn't have any previous experience in I-Banking but I had taken a couple Accounting, Finance, and Economics courses.

So I knew the first thing I needed to do was build both my technical knowledge and industry knowledge. I purchased numerous Vault guides on everything. Investment Banking, Venture Capital, Finance Interviews, anything I felt would relate to I-Banking. I bought a dictionary of Finance terms and familiarized myself with the lingo. I even bought books such as one titled: Mergers & Acquisitions from A-Z. My friends who were finance and accounting majors lent me their textbooks to read in my spare time. I had already spent a lot of time on Yahoo tracing the market and learning about interest rates and all of the economics I could take in. Whenever I had a free moment I'd be attempting to learn more finance/accounting. This gave me the technical basics I needed.

Second, I had to get work experience. As a Computer major I had a number of internship in "computer" roles, but nothing in finance. I found a boutique bank that was willing to take me onboard part time during the semester. Not many people are willing to work during a semester for free. I set up my work hours around my classes and agreed to come in on the weekends as well. All in all my internship eats about 40ish hours a week. I think this internship was really the thing that made it possible for me to secure interviews. By working the equivalent of a 9 - 5, while simultaneously taking a full course load, I was able to prove to banks that I could handle the hours. Not to mention I proved to myself that I was capable.

There I stood with my rapidly increasing technical knowledge and an internship under my belt. My resume was quite strong with a number of extra-curriculars, a high GPA (not 3.5 but not 4.0), and some things that screamed mathematics. I had some family in similar industries so I was able to have them pass my resume through to some banks. I was also able to secure a few interviews at MM banks on my own merit. I didn't care too much for the BB firms because I'm more interested in learning as much as I can and I feel as though MM is the best way to do that. This isn't to say BB doesn't teach you anything, but MM was just a better fit for me.

So I built my own personal database of companies that I wanted to send my resume and simply used the brute force method. I must have sent out near 50. Looking back at the process, I definitely should have done 75 to 100. I saved myself time and didn't bother sending it to Goldman, MS, and the likes.

Obviously things didn't end there. All of my preliminary interviews were done over the phone. Banks simply didn't go to my school. I spent about 30 - 50 hours going over my resume, perfecting answers to any possible question that could be thrown at me. I continued to read the WSJournal daily to ensure I was up to date (not to mention I think its interesting ... but thats besides the point). I practiced doing math quickly in my head while I was in the shower. Interview prep took over the little free time I had and was always the last thing on my mind going to bed and first thing in the morning.

Another thing. Every company that granted me an interview I researched intensely. If they were publically traded I read through their 10Ks and charted their historical stock performance. I had at least 10, sometimes 20 questions prepared per interview. Often times I was telling the interviewer things they didn't know about their own company.

I'm no super-hero and I'm definitely not at an Ivy League school. I fumbled up on numerous accounting questions during my interviews and my SAT scores weren't 1600. However, I was able to really demonstrate my interest and excitement to be an analyst and that was the key selling point. Most of all, I was sincere. This is truly the career path I want and the work is thousands of times more interesting than coding 9-5 in some dark room.

50 - 75 interviews later, I was finally given an offer. I'm not going to a bulge bracket or even to New York, but I can say that I'm going to be working for a top tier Middle Market bank.

I guess I don't have a purpose for this post other than to give encouragement to those who have seen nothing but rejection thus far. There is hope, but you have to really want it. I haven't had more than 2 straight hours of relaxation for the better half of the year but its nothing compared to what I'll be put through as an analyst. So, if after sitting down and determining this is really what you want, dive into it head-first and I promise it will pay off.

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Comments (103)

  • cubegc's picture

    Congratualtions. That's just the determination necessary to get into this industry when you aren't coming from a target school. It's tough, but it can be done.

  • vadremc's picture

    I certainly applaud your intensity and dedication to learning the craft and perfecting your personal brand. One question; you worked so hard, but why did you short yourself by ignoring the BB's? Are you working toward getting on the street and going to work for a BB?

    "Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

  • cubegc's picture

    I'm curious, if you do work for a top MM firm, and would like to make a lateral move to a BB is it more or less difficult to make the move? I would assume easier since your more marketable as an analyst with experience.

  • In reply to vadremc
    CompBanker's picture

    From the research I did, Bulge Brackets just didn't seem that appealing. Everyone I talked to said that they don't learn as much as they would at a boutique or a middle market bank. Also, I was told experiences of people who ended up getting stuck learning how to do precisely one thing (he spent an entire year valuating cable TV channels). MM + Boutique allows for a lot more responsibility. The goal for me is to learn as much as possible and position myself for a possible transition into PE. The pay at my particular firm closely resembles street level (I basically have a matching base + hiring). To be honest, an extra 10 - 20k doesn't matter to me. I'd imagine that 10 years down the road the numbers will be big enough that my analysts salary is negligible. Lastly, I'm not a huge fan of New York. Hopefully I'll feel otherwise when opportunity comes knocking from the big city.

    CompBanker

  • CompBanker's picture

    Due to the many variations of "Computer" degrees, naming my particular degree could potentially reveal my school. Basically, my degree is in Coding, Systems Analysis, etc.

    CompBanker

  • Wasting Time's picture

    MIS = Computer/Management Info Systems is what I think he has a degree in. I'm also getting a degree in it but mine is a specialization in a Business Administration major.

    I also think you went kind of fanatical... practicing math in the shower? When do bankers even use math besides basic arithmetic? I do realize you went to the boutique/MM route which is more focused on your knowledge of finance and accounting... so I guess it did you good.

  • vadremc's picture

    I'll respect your decision to shroud your degree and school in anonymity but for the record, I think it's frivolous. You should be a champion of the institution with your intriguing tale of your ascendancy to the top of the MM analyst world!!!...unless...oh my gosh...you went to a home school college!!! ahhhhhhh!!!...jj

    And for the record, you can make the transition from a MM to a BB. It sets you apart as a prospective candidate, but you may get reamed in the interview before being brought aboard. Prepare yourself for the carefully camouflaged, paraphrased and untimely charge, "What's wrong? couldn't get a job on/(at) the street(BB) right out of school? What fatal flaws are you concealing?" Just to make you squirm.

    "Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

  • aspiringmonkey's picture

    how can you major in computers at a business school? Do you mean MIS?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Disclaimer: The post above has been made by someone who is not currently employed in IBD, and has not had an interview yet...

  • TL's picture

    Congrats! It's definitely great to see someone who wants it so much (and is willing to work hard to make up for any disadvantages) get the job.

    Though while I understand it the idea of possibly gaining more responsibility in MM and having more ownership of your work there, I hear it's pretty difficult to get into PE from even a top-tier MM bank vs. a good group in a BB. If someone who went through the whole IB --> PE process can shed some light on this, that'd be great.

  • In reply to vadremc
    opticalcharge's picture

    I won't call his bluff. His hard-work sounds exactly like what a determined kid should be experiencing/doing. Actually, it sound pretty realistic, something you don't find on here!

    vadremc:
    I'll respect your decision to shroud your degree and school in anonymity but for the record, I think it's frivolous. You should be a champion of the institution with your intriguing tale of your ascendancy to the top of the MM analyst world!!!...unless...oh my gosh...you went to a home school college!!! ahhhhhhh!!!...jj

    And for the record, you can make the transition from a MM to a BB. It sets you apart as a prospective candidate, but you may get reamed in the interview before being brought aboard. Prepare yourself for the carefully camouflaged, paraphrased and untimely charge, "What's wrong? couldn't get a job on/(at) the street(BB) right out of school? What fatal flaws are you concealing?" Just to make you squirm.

  • CompBanker's picture

    The bank I will be working for said they have an extremely high transfer rate from IB to PE. The percentage I was most often quoted was over 50% of 2 year analysts get placed in PE. Also, I'd imagine as long as I work hard and stay on the top of my analyst class it will be an easy transition. I don't need to be working for Blackstone to be happy so this is a great move for me.

    CompBanker

  • In reply to CompBanker
    TL's picture

    CompBanker:
    The bank I will be working for said they have an extremely high transfer rate from IB to PE. The percentage I was most often quoted was over 50% of 2 year analysts get placed in PE. Also, I'd imagine as long as I work hard and stay on the top of my analyst class it will be an easy transition. I don't need to be working for Blackstone to be happy so this is a great move for me.

    Yeah, I was actually about to ask... if they tell you what kind of PE shops the bank's analysts transfer to. To be fair, very few people ever get hired by Blackstone, KKR or Carlyle, but I was wondering what the chances of going to second-tier PE shops are.

  • khalestine's picture

    CompBanker,

    I salute you on your hard work and well-earned position, I also had a few questions but those before me asked them and were answered. It seems that you created a primer for those that go through a more non-traditional way of making it into banking.

    P.S. - I am stealing some of your responses because they are pretty good and have a bit more substance to them.
    ___________________________________________________
    Hawtness is a state of being, not how you look like...
    I'm pretty, so pretty...

  • cubegc's picture

    I think the two biggest things you need to show are a hunger to break in and even more important than that, Personality.

    No offense to any superstars out there but from my experience a lot of banks find hungry charasmatic people refreshing and all together enjoyable to work with. There is definitely demand for that kind of candidate.

  • oldschool's picture

    Very insipiring.

    I guess it just goes to show that rather than wasting your life talking about how bad you want to get into IB, bemoaning the inequities of the process, and spending 15 hours a day trolling an online forum, you actually went out there and did what it took to get the job done. I respect that immensely.

    Others should take note.

  • In reply to oldschool
    aspiringmonkey's picture

    oldschool:
    Very insipiring.

    I guess it just goes to show that rather than wasting your life talking about how bad you want to get into IB, bemoaning the inequities of the process, and spending 15 hours a day trolling an online forum, you actually went out there and did what it took to get the job done. I respect that immensely.

    Others should take note.


    k

    oh and I like how you compare me to him, he had 3 years to prepare his profile for IB, and I had 3 months. Idiot

  • oldschool's picture

    What are you talking about, aspiringmonkey?

    Do you fit this description? Judging by your reaction, I must surmise the answer must be "yes".

    Perhaps you simply have a case of a guilty conscience? As the saying goes though, if the shoe fits...

  • aspiringmonkey's picture

    oldschool its quiet obvious he was referring to me
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Disclaimer: The post above has been made by someone who is not currently employed in IBD, and has not had an interview yet...

  • CompBanker's picture

    Just a note: I started preparing around mid-July. The majority of my applications were sent late September and the interviewing really began late Oct. and ended last week.

    P.S: Is it really necessary to point fingers?

    CompBanker

  • In reply to khalestine
    vadremc's picture

    Did you mean haughtiness?

    khalestine:
    Hawtness is a state of being, not how you look like...
    I'm pretty, so pretty...

    I think you did. A for effort.

    "Cut the burger into thirds, place it on the fries, roll one up homey..." - Epic Meal Time

  • CompBanker's picture

    Wow, surprised this was revived. Glad I could help!

    CompBanker

  • Fupa Trooper's picture

    You seriously need to get some perspective on life if you spent the last year prepping to get into IB. Trust me, the job isn't that great. Instead of toiling away training yourself to get a position as a low-level corporate monkey, you should have invested that time/energy into starting your own business. Anyways, good luck and I hope you enjoy the analyst life as much as you think you will.

  • In reply to Fupa Trooper
    cain's picture

    Fupa Trooper:
    You seriously need to get some perspective on life if you spent the last year prepping to get into IB. Trust me, the job isn't that great. Instead of toiling away training yourself to get a position as a low-level corporate monkey, you should have invested that time/energy into starting your own business. Anyways, good luck and I hope you enjoy the analyst life as much as you think you will.

    as someone who is trying to get out of the middle market right now, i can tell you for a fact that middle market in fact sucks... you pitch indiscriminately without a lot of diligence and end up working on deals that are hard to get done.

    resources are tight, so in addition to all the shit you are suppose to do, you are playing secretaries to recently promoted VPs who think they won't have to do the nitty gritty shit anymore.

    there will be little/no training before hand, so unless you can peddle fast, you are screwed. i think at middle market banks, it tends to be top heavy, so after 6pm, good luck finding someone to explain shit to you.

  • greenbullets's picture

    Good post Compbanker. Your position seems like it's well deserved!

  • IBmonkey's picture

    Your drive and determination are impressive.
    I wanted to ask you how did you found boutique bank to work for during the semester?

  • polo888's picture

    inspiring ! thanks for giving something to look up to

  • del_monte's picture

    do you guys realize that the OP is probably making this whole thing up?

    "Business school in New England majoring in Computers"

    majoring in computers? that makes as much sense as majoring in cell phones... if the kid had said he was doing computing or computer science, then I'd bite.

    Why is finance filled with charlatans?

    I think we have another Aleksey Vayner on our hands...

    its funny, but I expected kids going into finance to have the ability to call bs. guess not.

  • Restructure This's picture

    I know enough living breathing people with a similar story. Nothing in the fact pattern suggests bs to me.

    As for "computers" I wouldn't rest my whole case on that. Probably a bad habit. Kind of like "I-banking."

  • CompBanker's picture

    del_monte ... attention to detail is key. If you read 6 posts down you'd see my response to that very same question. But if you really want further clarification, the degree was in CIS.

    CompBanker

  • del_monte's picture

    I am not going to be arrogant and say that there is 0% chance that the OP is telling the truth.

    But from experience, these kinds of stories have little factual basis or are often outright lies.

    I think its a good skill to have - being able to make a bet on whether or not something is bs... more often than not my bet pays off.

  • CompBanker's picture

    I suggest you stay out of the Casinos.

    CompBanker

  • eyedea's picture

    do banks actually ask for sat scores? my scores were pathetic partly due to a 12 hour road trip the night before.

  • marcellus_wallace's picture

    good story dude. One question for you, what books did you read and they really help get technical knowledge?

    I have been thinking of buying that "Mergers and Acquitsons" one you spoke of, is it any good?

  • In reply to CompBanker
    del_monte's picture

    pal, I have no problem with you. You want to fool people, go for it. You aint fooling me thats for sure.

    Cheers

  • jman's picture

    del_monte,
    what's your problem? if you don't believe it, then let it be and don't read the fucking thread.

    as for the legitimacy of the story--I personally believe it since I also know of people with similar stories. there's nothing incredulous or unbelievable about working hard to get what you want. if you have a hard time understanding that some people work their asses off to obtain a goal, then you are a retard.

    and for the record, who cares about what major he is. why does he have to disclose the truth about what school or what he's majoring in. the point is to show the path that he took, that he came from a non-target and did what was necessary to secure interviews.

  • onpar1's picture

    I'm not going to call this guy a liar, but I definitely see some exaggeration.

    So he sent out his application to 50 places.
    But he gets 50-75 interviews. Say a person with his GPA, determination, persistence, experience, etc etc. has a 60% interview rate. Even with a second round of interviews (assuming 60-80% rate here as well), the numbers will not add up.

    And interestingly, after 50-75 interviews...he only gets 1 offer??

  • ideating's picture

    I don't understand why you guys are so skeptical. The OP doesn't make any ridiculous claims. He doesn't claim he goes to Harvard, doesn't claim he is in TMT at Goldman, doesn't claim that he is now going to Blackstone etc. He's also not originally defending himself from anyone, he did it by himself.

    I have known people who were much more fanatical about their job search, though this guy clearly put in a shitload of time as well. Take the good things from this, and apply it to your own situation; if you don't believe him that's fine, but it's not doing any harm, he is simply advocating doing things the right way rather than giving shitty advice out.

  • bill86's picture

    regardless of whether this is a true story or not, what should be taken away from this is the op's determination, and the steps he took to get where he is now.

    its not as if he's claiming credit for anything. this was simply written as a motivational piece to inspire others in his situation.

  • CompBanker's picture

    Oh man, I only wish I had a 60% success rate in securing interviews. I still got bounced at 80% of the places I applied to. However, when I did get an interview, I only got bounced at the first interview once. And for the record, I count each interview in each superday as a single interview, because let's face it, each one is an additional chance for you to screw up and get rejected. So, in the end, I underwent more interviews than # of banks I applied to.

    PS: Thanks to those who are sticking up for me. It is funny how instead of just accepting that I am telling the truth people are desperately searching for ways to prove it is false. Why?

    CompBanker

  • Mzz's picture
  • pezzonovante's picture

    Ignore those people bro, your story is inspiring and adds way more value to the board than 99% of the other BS posts like "uh what is the best group at goldman".

  • CompBanker's picture

    Hi All,

    So, nearly 2 years and 916 banana points later, I thought I'd give a brief update on my story and share some thoughts. Take it for what it is, not looking to inspire a debate:

    I started in June of 2007 at my MM bank and quickly realized that the hours were worse than I anticipated. Despite having an incredibly busy schedule in college, it just doesn't quite compare to working as an analyst. Even if you are very involved in school, you're likely constantly moving from class to class or activity to activity and working on a variety of assignments, as well as moving around a lot. In banking, you're pretty much there at your computer, all day, everyday, with the occasional travel for 4-5 days a month. This was a bit of a knock at first, but it is amazing how rapidly you grow accustomed to the lifestyle. Very quickly 10pm nights seem early and you get excited for days that you get a full 6-7 hour sleep. I really have yet to find someone who wasn't able to adjust to this lifestyle, so it really comes down to a question of motivation and not so much capability.

    People say the job is just a ton of repetitive, non-challenging activities. The more I work this job, the less I find this to really be true. Yes, pushing changes and the like can be very tiresome and really doesn't build much of a skill-set, but this is far from the only thing you do. I can probably think of 50 examples of times where I've thought to myself: "This is what makes this job great." I've had the opportunity to travel internationally, go to country clubs and dinners with management teams, and coach people far older and far more successful than myself. The analyst experience can differ widely among individuals, but compared to many of the alternative jobs available, we have it pretty good.

    Looking across my analyst class, it is amazing to see the growth that has occurred. I can't think of one person who isn't leaps and bounds ahead of where they were when graduating college in terms of knowledge, professionalism, judgment, and a variety of other intangibles. The polish that this job puts on people is amazing. I would estimate that I have learned more in my 16 months on the job than I did in my entire four years in College. I can't pinpoint the time when the learning occurred, but looking back, the difference is absolutely tremendous. When I look at the new analyst class that came in a few months ago, I can see the same transition happening. In just three months they are progressing like crazy and I'm confident they will develop the same skills that my class has to-date. It is pretty hard not to.

    So here we are entering what may be the worst investment banking environment that many current professionals have seen (let's not debate this, okay?) I, like my peers, have gone through the outplacement cycle trying to obtain jobs in Private Equity, or for some, business development, government, or whatever interests them. It has been an incredibly difficult environment as Private Equity groups find themselves with the pick of the litter and are typically dropping headcount slightly. Similar to undergrad, it is a big fight and I've certainly been rejected from a whole slew of places that I probably would have a shot at two years back. All that said, hiring is still happening and the opportunities exist. Myself and a number of others have been successful in obtaining jobs, and I don't doubt that the training banking provides will lead the rest of my peers to similar successes.

    Anyways, that's the update to my story. Hopefully I can give some motivation to those of you still plugging away trying to obtain that position, be it as a Summer Analyst, Analyst, Associate, or whatever job you're hoping for. It is bad out there, without a doubt, but opportunities still exist if you keep looking for them.

    CompBanker

  • Alphaholic's picture

    I just read this thread now that you've updated it. Great story. Good to know you've remained as a resource for others on WSO (and hillarious how many trolls there were, even two years ago...haha). Doubt it's very vindicating, but I don't think you were exaggerating in that original post. I know how tough it's been too. But for those that push, serendipity and putting yourself out there really shows others something. Specifically, what are you looking to do next? Will you stay a third year? What are you looking for in particular? What interviews have you had? What expectations did you have that were and were not met?

  • CompBanker's picture

    Alphaholic,

    I actually thought long and hard about staying a third year, and almost did had another opportunity come my way. I believe stalling for one year may be a good way to buy some time and either let the market improve or let the competition thin a bit. I'm seeing a fair number of people consider this option as a good alternative if they are unsuccessful in landing a job in their industry of choice. Personally, I was fortunate enough to secure a PE job next summer doing buyouts and portfolio work. It certainly wasn't easy though; I was only granted interviews at about 25% of the places that I contacted or senior guys contacted for me. Of these, I was only able to convert one into an offer (though I was glad I got the offer where I did).

    While I partially blame the market, I think the most blame falls on myself. My best advice that I can give to analysts looking to transition into Private Equity is to START EARLY! Many of the top private equity firms started hiring in late April / May of this year with many of the middle market doing theirs in the June / July time frame. When I started looking for jobs, almost all of my pre-interview rejections were because I started looking too late and associate classes were already full. There is absolutely no harm in making a target list early and starting to get the resume out in April and May. Had I done this, I'm sure I would have received substantially more interviews.

    CompBanker

  • In reply to CompBanker
    yung_gekko's picture

    CompBanker,

    I'm in a similar position to you. I started in IB 16 months ago, and am looking to transition to PE. Did most seriously start looking last April (ie. 10 months into their first year)? I haven't started yet, but I'm in Canada so maybe its different up here (plus the job markets not nearly as bad). I also can stay with my for a 3rd year.

    I totally gotta get on this. How did you go about getting PE interviews? Did you go through a head hunter?

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