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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)

  • leveragedoasis's picture

    CompBanker,

    Wayyyy back in 2006, how much networking did you do especially coming from a non-target?

  • robert137's picture

    This seems like a fairly legitimate story to me. There was an interview with Bob Jenkins the other day saying that he ended up as a hedge fund CEO without even studying for an MBA: http://www.businessbecause.com/mba-job-market/hedg...
    It's clearly always possible if you've got the right skills and you actually care about the field you're applying to work in.

  • zoov's picture

    I am inspired a good amount after reading this.

  • In reply to leveragedoasis
    CompBanker's picture

    leveragedoasis:
    CompBanker,

    Wayyyy back in 2006, how much networking did you do especially coming from a non-target?

    None outside of close relatives. I didn't have WSO to tell me I had to network. I was very, very, very lucky.

    CompBanker

  • D M's picture

    Geez, it's crazy to see how far you've come. Going from not knowing what PE was 5 years ago to a 2nd-year Associate today is pretty darn impressive.

    Respect.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • ieatbananaforlunch's picture

    ComBanker,

    First of all, congrats on everything that you have accomplished in the past few years. I am a senior at a non-target school(3.6 GPA). I tried to call regional boutiques and try to get informational interviews. After contacting 50ish firms, I didn't even get an interview. I have a few questions? Should I try to get a job at an accounting firm or consulting firm and get my CPA, CFA, then try my best to get into my MBA from a target school? I am already in my mid 20s. I switched my major several times. By the time I finish my MBA, I probably will be in my early 30s. Is that too late? Thanks in advance.

  • D M's picture

    Using the forum search, search for "networking". To sum it up for you, cold-emailing is probably your best bet. Also, contact alumni, and as someone else (can't remember who exactly) said, and Im paraphrasing here, "when you're coming from a non-target school, everyone that came from a non-target is your contact."

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • International Pymp's picture

    yikes--- this is the first time I've seen this post... inspirational indeed. I wish I could say that I was that intense about everything in college / that I broke in through some sort of struggle... not exactly.

  • CompBanker's picture

    It is really funny and strange for me to go back and read my own story more than four years later. Hard to imagine how confused, inexperienced, and new I was to the whole finance world when I secured my first job. Just goes to show how much one really can learn on the job.

    CompBanker

  • D M's picture

    Just an idea, have you thought about maybe a follow-up post to this commenting on what you see differently about the industry?

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • In reply to D M
    vdsas16's picture

    Denver Monkeyannabe:
    Just an idea, have you thought about maybe a follow-up post to this commenting on what you see differently about the industry?

    I think this would definitely be interesting.

  • In reply to CompBanker
    WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    CompBanker:
    It is really funny and strange for me to go back and read my own story more than four years later. Hard to imagine how confused, inexperienced, and new I was to the whole finance world when I secured my first job. Just goes to show how much one really can learn on the job.

    hey man, just stumbled across this - very cool to see your progression and read back on this thread. Still very inspirational.

  • In reply to ke18sb
    David Mark's picture

    ke18sb:
    what the hell is a computer major

    Computer Major Must be A Degree in Computers Like M.SC in Computer Science, Associate Degree, bachelor Degree, Masters Degree..etc
  • successful808's picture

    I applaud you. Good job sir.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    To live happily, live discreetly.

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  • BatMasterson's picture

    ComBanker story is believable, remember, however that each case is different.

    To get into BB (or MM) bank, in most of the cases, you have to be a HBS grad or Wharton...There's a peck of order in this unholy shit.

    "I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
    "Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
    Storm: Orig Mix

  • timothy0's picture

    Really fantastic. It actually sounds like my story, which I shall share with the world one day

  • aempirei's picture

    Damn Comp, I was just thinking to myself today that I wanted to send you a PM asking about your background, and voila, I stumble upon this post. I'm probably 4-5 years younger then you and in a similar boat, good private (non-target) university, so-so grades, no IBD internships so to speak and looking to make the transition after 14 months FT experience.

    I had a phone interview, in person interview and just found out today I got called back for the final round interview for a Boston-based boutique technology M&A firm. Headcount is probably only 20-25 employees with only a few analysts and associates, but at this point, it's probably the best way for me to get my foot in the door and learn the ropes.

    If I get this job, I will probably do it for 2 years and look to transition to a higher-caliber firm firm or contact my buddy in HK as he said he could start securing me interviews there once I have the exp. From there, I don't know. I thought an MBA was required to break into PE but it seems not entirely so according to your case here.

    Will definitely reach out to you via PM at some point.

    My name is Nicky, but you can call me Dre.

  • In reply to aempirei
    CompBanker's picture

    aempirei:
    Damn Comp, I was just thinking to myself today that I wanted to send you a PM asking about your background, and voila, I stumble upon this post. I'm probably 4-5 years younger then you and in a similar boat, good private (non-target) university, so-so grades, no IBD internships so to speak and looking to make the transition after 14 months FT experience.

    I had a phone interview, in person interview and just found out today I got called back for the final round interview for a Boston-based boutique technology M&A firm. Headcount is probably only 20-25 employees with only a few analysts and associates, but at this point, it's probably the best way for me to get my foot in the door and learn the ropes.

    If I get this job, I will probably do it for 2 years and look to transition to a higher-caliber firm firm or contact my buddy in HK as he said he could start securing me interviews there once I have the exp. From there, I don't know. I thought an MBA was required to break into PE but it seems not entirely so according to your case here.

    Will definitely reach out to you via PM at some point.


    More similar to me than you realize. Shoot me a PM.

    CompBanker

  • Aragorn's picture

    CompBanker, I'm amazed how skeptical people were of you back then. Not only did you beat the odds by breaking into IBD from a non-target, but you've done a hell of a job since then i.e. surviving the economic crisis, breaking into PE, and lastly, giving this board a much needed dose of reality.

    I think GenghisKhan said it best: "I'd bet that CompBanker will outlast the vast majority of the others on this board in this business." This is coming from a highly successful MD with decades of experience. I'm willing to bet he's right.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more of your posts, and hope that your story/this thread continues to inspire others, as it certainly has for me.

    "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT

  • Value_added's picture

    Wow just found this thread. Usually see CompBanker giving advice, really interesting to see his story in getting started in the industry. Very inspiring, and shows how sheer determination and focus can really pay off.

  • D M's picture

    A great example for the douchebags who post stupid shit on other people's success stories. You get to make fun of them now and it makes you feel better, then a few years down the road you can look back and see what a fucking moron you were.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • marcellus_wallace's picture

    I remember this post way back in the day, also remember emailing CompBanker and the guy got back with this long post about the books he recommended and his methods. Real nice dude.

    I really enjoyed that guy making fun of MM and MM PE, wonder where that dude is now...

  • D M's picture

    lol, secretary at Ernst & Young? No offense E&Y guys, we know you're legit

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    i still enjoy reading this post years later.

    Point is, a lot of students say they want it, and there are others that prepare to such a level that there is no doubt. In this economy, you need to be in the latter camp.

  • In reply to WallStreetOasis.com
    Value_added's picture

    WallStreetOasis.com:
    i still enjoy reading this post years later.

    Point is, a lot of students say they want it, and there are others that prepare to such a level that there is no doubt. In this economy, you need to be in the latter camp.

    Very well said - something to keep in mind for those of us still looking to transition to our industry of choice.

  • IHAVEABIGHEART's picture

    Just read this - major props to compbanker

  • CSTrader's picture

    I have been on wso for a few months now but I never created an account. This is my first post and I will always remember it :). Thanks for a great story, it is truly inspiring!

  • KKS's picture

    This story is over five years old and still one of the most valuable threads on this website.

  • kmess024's picture

    Nice story, shows how times have changed

    The Four E's of investment
    "The greatest Enemies of the Equity investor are Expenses and Emotions."- Warren Buffet

  • Immortal1's picture

    Incredible story.

    "I want the last check I write to bounce."

  • See_ya's picture

    Really inspirational and lets me know how hard I'm going to have to work in order to land a job in Ibanking. Thanks Compbanker

  • BlackHat's picture

    Aw Comp was so cute back in '06
    <3 Call me Maybe

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • CompBanker's picture

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    CompBanker

  • In reply to CompBanker
    D M's picture

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • madridista's picture
  • In reply to CompBanker
    kraziazi's picture

    This could be it, sweetheart.

  • WhiteKnightDD's picture
  • BellroyStandard's picture
  • John Daggett's picture
  • In reply to karypto
    CompBanker's picture

    CompBanker

  • In reply to John Daggett
    CompBanker's picture

    CompBanker

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