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 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.