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mod note: this was originally posted on 6/25/12; definitely one of the most inspiring stories of the year posted on the site

I finally landed a FO gig at a top MM investment bank.

I have been waiting a long time to finally have the opportunity to create this post. I am a non-target, barely 3.0 gpa, and am 3 years removed from school. This is going to be similar to many other posts you've read - if you have a decent job, are not depressed about finding a new one, and do not totally hate your life, then skip this. Because this is the type of post that I needed to read now and again to keep me going and help me break out of periods of severe depression as I grinded my way through this marathon of a job search. The purpose of this post is to give hope (and some tips) to those of you who have walked in my shoes and almost want to give up.

A little over 3 years ago I graduated with just under a 3.0 GPA from a non-target. I began working FT in a finance group of a large insurance company in NYC. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but having graduated just after the credit crisis, it was the best I could do. Honestly I was very lucky to even have this (my prior internships at this company paid off).

I began my job search two years ago, after I decided I hated my job. Applying to jobs on company websites, writing cover letters, updating my resume. This was getting me no-where. Now and again I'd be lucky to get an e-mail confirming that a position was filled or closed. That was the only response I heard, this got me nowhere. I won't even count the first 3-6 months as part of my job search - it was a waste of time.

I began talking to people. Meeting people in the banking industry through friends and family. Same story from everyone - "I'll keep an eye open for you, but no one is hiring right now". This is where I first learned that I had no idea what I wanted to do or how the different departments of an investment bank even worked. Looking back on some of my responses to the ‘what do you want to do’ question, I am completely embarrassed that I actually told VPs and a C-level officer that “I'm looking for some sort of a front office or maybe even a middle office position” = completely asinine.

I made a point to learn the industry. Know how the different divisions of a bank worked. Got more involved in current events and googled anything I didn’t understand. WALL STREET OASIS, was huge. I got a lot of ideas from here and ran with them. How to e-mail/cold call people. What to say. GETTING YOUR STORY DOWN IS SO IMPORTANT.

Once I was able to talk the talk, I went hard on my college’s alumni database. I went to a big state school and have a lot of alumni on the street. I tried to e-mail a few people each week and had a decent success rate (id say about 40% replied, while 25% were willing to meet up in person). Doing this it is important to put an excel spreadsheet together to keep yourself organized. These ‘blind dates’ are weird in the beginning, but after the first few times I grew to actually really like meeting people like this. People really do want to help you and I’ve met some pretty great individuals along the way that I plan to stay in touch with. (Also just a side fact, it seems like MDs were the most willing to help and meet up for some reason. And mainly men, very few women even applied to my e-mails, let alone meet up). I did this for about 6 months.

I did not see results from this networking immediately. It took a few months for some people to follow up with me and see how I was doing after we had met for coffee/beer/whatever. Others I would contact when I saw a job I was interested in on their company website. I was able to land a few interviews from this after a few months of having met these 2 dozen or so individuals and trying to stay in touch with them.

Got an offer for a BO gig at a bank that I declined. Screwed up a PE analyst interview at one of the large funds (didn’t screw up, but was just way out of my league experience-wise). Finally after several interviews over 6 weeks at this one mid-market bank, I received an accepted the offer. It is exactly what I was looking for, with a group of people that seem awesome, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I want people to understand how close I was to just quitting altogether several times. I mentioned ‘severe depression’ earlier in this posting. I was in a job that I saw no future in and had no interest in and not getting paid well. I felt like every day I spent there I was getting stupider, lazier, and wasting my life. I debated quitting, moving home, and figuring out another career. Maybe helping one of my buddies who have started their own businesses. I honestly became a miserable person.
My only advice is to not give up. Honestly things take time, and in this economy, they’re going to take a little longer for non-targets with sub-par GPAs. If you’re persistent and want it bad enough it will happen. Be patient (read: I have no patience whatsoever, which made this that much harder).

A few quotes that I had written on post it notes around my computer and next to my bed, that honestly did help me keep going and can hopefully do the same for you:

- “Success in business comes from the willingness to grind it out. It’s not because of the brilliant idea. It’s because you are willing to work hard. That’s the key to my success” – Guy Kawasaki
- Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up” – Thomas Edison
- “Don’t give up, the beginning is always the hardest” – Fortune cookie
- “It’s a brutal race I’ve chosen to run, back up and keep your eye on the prize” - ?

Also, thank you WallStreetOasis and everyone on here who contributes meaningful, intelligent thoughts/advice to the website. You guys make this site successful and are the reason WSO is going to be a household name one day. And fuck the site’s cancers like swagon that are good for nothing (throw all the monkey shit you want).

Sorry for the length. I’d be happy to get into any specifics or answer any questions.

Comments (72)

  • pktkid10's picture

    awesome motivation

    I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold. I'll be fine once I get it

  • In reply to pickle
    Buddyfox's picture

    pickle wrote:
    Congrats man. How much did your GPA affect your chances at all?

    GPA did severely limit my chances of being getting looked at for an interview. Once you're in there, you're on more of a level playing field with the other candidates. But most people usually have a minimum GPA and if you dont meet the cutoff they're not even going to look at the rest of your resume.

    Advice: keep the GPA up. I had no idea how important it was when I was in school. I thought a degrees a degree, but its not in Finance.

  • In reply to Value_added
    Buddyfox's picture

    Value_added wrote:
    Great stuff, congrats man. You said you started your search 2 years ago, I'm assuming you kept working at the insurance company while job searching?

    Yes had to work full time to pay the bills and my student loans. I would've loved to quit and just focus on my job search - definitely made it more difficult to network over coffee and whatnot around work hours, but I think the contacts appreciated the hustle.

  • davel's picture

    Congrats on breaking in. I'm going through the same grind myself and it's always nice to read a positive story. Good luck with your new job!

    davel5

  • goodL1fe's picture

    I thought you just had sex... btw congrats!

    Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
    Brill: I blew up the building.
    Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
    Brill: Because you made a phone call.

  • KKS's picture

    Congratulations! Is there any more networking advice you can give? I too have found that I like meeting people that way. At first it is extremely awkward, but after a few times, it becomes second nature.

  • Human's picture

    I am very happy for you. Glad that your persistence paid off.

    "I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

  • kmess024's picture

    Great to hear more inspirational stories that show that not going to a target school isn't the end of the world, just a new beginning. thanks for exposing swagon as a troll, you made the end better by that comment.

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

  • Flake's picture

    Cancer? I heard swagon is a sagittarius.

    Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

  • hitmikey's picture

    Buddy -

    can you speak more about how you came to realize what exactly was "your story" and also how you figured out "what you wanted to do?"

    for reference, i come from non-target with decent GPA (3.5). i did 2yrs of law-related work out of school and then double-backed to get back in to finance. i spent 3yrs working back office to help desk to middle office until i finally landed on S&T floor and then 6mo in was moved onto a trading desk. now im waddling in the corporate structure as an almost 29y/o underpaid trader/sales backup/trading assistant/sales assistant.

  • In reply to KKS
    Buddyfox's picture

    KKS wrote:
    Congratulations! Is there any more networking advice you can give? I too have found that I like meeting people that way. At first it is extremely awkward, but after a few times, it becomes second nature.

    I'm not sure what you'd like to talk abotu as far as the networking goes. I'd usually do a little background check on the people through my alumni database. If I saw they graduated cum laude or something I'd just ask them to meet for coffee, if I saw they played lacross/football I'd throw in 'grab coffee before work or grab a beer afterwards'. Knowing your audience makes it a little easier to connect with them on a personal level.

  • In reply to 09grad
    Buddyfox's picture

    09grad wrote:
    Well done.

    Can you share with the forum a little bit more about how you framed your background and experiences during the informational interviews/real interviews you had. What was your spin?

    Honestly, mixed in with the crap work I was doing, I did some things that really interested me. Even if you're not doing it the majority of the time, you can talk about it.

    For example, if you had to do a DCF or credit analysis for some reason on another company a few times - while this may not be part of your day to day activities - you can spin it as "this is something I've done and I really enjoyed. I want to do more of this and that's why i decided i wanted to direct my career path into XYZ"

    Look at your experience as how it got you to where you're at today and made you realize you want to do whatever it is you're pursuing.

  • In reply to hitmikey
    Buddyfox's picture

    hitmikey wrote:
    can you speak more about how you came to realize what exactly was "your story" and also how you figured out "what you wanted to do?"

    Your story is the key to your success. Get it down pat. Look at what you did in college, what you've been doing since, and figrue out the best way to put a positive spin on it. Even if you don't like the work you're doing or the company you are at, figure out a way to explain how it has helped develop you as a professional.

    Try writing this out, write a page or two about 'your story'. As your read it over a few times you'll get rid of some things you realize aren't really important, add some things you forgot, and refine your story. This will also help you get it down and make it easier to speak about when selling yourself - it'll be second nature because you've gone through it in your head so many times.

    You're a sales guy. You are the product. Develop a pitch to sell yourself.

  • JimmyDormandy's picture

    Congrats, always love reading these posts on here. Kick ass and take names in your new gig

    "Jesus, he's like a gremlin; comes with instructions and shit"

  • Rumplesmoothspin's picture

    This kind of stuff genuinely puts a smile on face. As homo as that sounds ;)

    "When do you sleep?...Sunday."

  • Senvik's picture

    Thank you so much for sharing this. You subscribe to the philosophy that "life is a marathon, not a race." I really respect that. Also, thank you for not bitching about graduating at the worst possible time. You manned up about it and followed your dream. Rock -the fuck- on.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." - IlliniProgrammer

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