My success story: military to Big 4O
I started out going to a non-target state university for finance, graduating with a 3.2 and a commission in the US Army (thanks to ROTC I had a four year scholarship and zero school debt).
The next four years I had a reasonably good time in the military, deployed once, and got out as a captain. My branch was Ordnance which led me into a lot of logistics work in the last year and a half of my service. I had made up my mind from early on that I didn't want retire from the Army and business had always been something that interested me.
A couple of short months after leaving active duty I moved to Chicago with a couple of goals in mind: Find a FT job and after doing it for a couple years get my MBA from Booth or Kellogg. I chose Chicago because of it's mix of financial industry and close proximity of those two excellent grad schools. I had never been here, didn't know anyone from here, and thus had to build my network from the ground up.
This is where my luck began. It turned out that I had a second cousin once or twice removed who works at WF and that was my doorway into the banking network. Through him I met a gentleman who works in PWM and became the biggest driving force in my job search. He had enlisted in the army many years ago and so he had a soft spot for a recently separated veteran like myself. Through him I was introduced to one or more people throughout Comm banking, Big 4, VC, PE, Law firms, boutique consultancies, etc.
I interviewed with a WF advisors but due to my lack of personal contacts I wasn't taken on. I interviewed with a boutique MC firm, but they were looking for someone more advanced in the technical side of the house. After awhile I even cast my job search net wider than finance and looked for logistics positions... a fraternity contact helped me get an interview, but they honestly told me it seemed like I was more interested in doing finance than logistics work.
Finally in November (13.5 months after moving to Chicago), I networked my way into a superday at a Big 4 for their risk advisory business line. Remembering the lessons I had learned from the MC interview, I did well enough to get an offer four days later.
I am very excited to begin my new career and can't wait to see what opportunities open up down the road. If I can help anyone out with more specific details I will gladly do so.