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I'm not really sure how to start this post, but I'm really only posting as motivation and inspiration to all the non target kids out there who are worried about GPA, ECs, etc. This story will be a long one, but I want to give as much detail as possible, because I have been through so much and want people to know that it is still possible.

I went to a complete non target state university in the southeast and hadn't the slightest idea of what high finance was, let alone what I really wanted to do with my life. I changed majors 3 times, all to completely unrelated professions, letting my grades slip along the way. Once I made up my mind to change majors, I basically said "fuck it" and didn't put all of my effort into the classes that I thought wouldn't matter. It didn't help that I was in a fraternity and partied just as the reputation states.

Going into my junior year, I was carrying about a 2.5 GPA and, once again, changed my major; this time to the college of business, MIS to be exact. I started to enjoy the business courses and was doing surprisingly well. My final 3 semesters I received a 3.5, 3.5, 3.9 GPA respectively. My final GPA came in just around 2.8.

My final semester I was in a course what required us to audit a F500 company and work on improving corporate structure and strategy. In this course I learned about corporate M&A which I had no idea what it was prior to this and it really interested me. I started to look into this topic and began to learn more about valuation and finance in general. This was when I came across this website, which soon became my bible to learn more about the industry.

After graduation, I had no hope to follow my interest in finance, I took a position as an operations analyst at a Big 4 firm in the city in which I went to school. I immediately went into the position trying to put my knowledge of networking with alumni in hopes to learn more and gain whatever knowledge I could from their experiences. I tried networking with consultants and auditors at my firm, family friends, anyone that would give me a few minutes of their time. I utilized a simple cold email that I put together and sent emails to every 2nd and 3rd connection I could find on LinkedIn.

At this point, it was November of 2011 and I was given the same response from everyone: "With your background, it is gonna be very tough, but keep in touch." Awesome, I already knew I was trying to climb Mount Everest backwards in a swimsuit with this goal of mine, but thanks for your advice!

At this point, I knew I needed to get something appealing on my resume, so I started by purchasing the Breaking Into Wall Street financial modeling courses and learn that shit like my life depended on it. I started mentioning this in my cold emails, which got me a little better overall response, but still that haunting GPA from a non target killed my hopes; I needed something else.

After the new year, I decided to enroll in an online Graduate Diploma program at a semi target school. I knew this is my best chance at a new start without taking the GMAT and committing to an MSF (due to financial reasons). I was still stuck in my BO role, but now, with my financial modeling courses and now this program, I was slowly working my way to my goal and getting more and more positive responses. I still was sending my cold emails, making my cold calls, and trying to position myself for an internship anywhere.

It was now May 2012, I was 5 months into the diploma program and I had made 238 phone calls, sent 421 emails, and applied for 93 positions online/via website (yes, I kept track of everything). I got one reply which invited me to interview for an internship in NYC. I was ecstatic! The phone call went great, they loved my drive and determination, and they wanted to meet me! It was just my luck that I was going to NYC for a weekend with 3 of my friends the next weekend, so we scheduled around that.

The interview went great, asked me all behavioral questions and a few basic accounting/valuation questions. They asked me all the questions that I studied and I killed it. The next week, once I returned back to work, I got an email stating that they want to bring me on as an intern, albeit unpaid. I didn't care about money, I was on Cloud 9. Within that week, I quit my job, planned to move in with a friend in NYC, got rid of my apartment, and packed my car to drive up north.

On the insanely long drive, my Cloud 9 went to sheer disappointment. I received a call from the firm I dropped everything to go work for. They had 2 of their large deals go to shit and no longer needed the help of an intern. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I just dropped everything to go to NYC for the summer, now what am I going to do?

I got to NYC with my friend and everyday I woke up, made phone calls, sent emails, went back on the grind. I Google mapped "investment firm, NYC" and called every single place I saw a dot for. Luckily, 1 small boutique I called was looking for an intern and invited me in to interview. I had 2 interviews with them, told my story, the whole deal, and was offered the position. THANK GOD!!

This was late June 2012 and I was finally in the position I wanted, basically 10 months into my journey, I was able to take the first step as well as complete my diploma program with a 3.7 GPA (it's amazing what one can do when you put your mind to something and have a real interest). My internship went through October 2012 seeing as how I was already graduated and flexible with duration, but then deal flow died down and they just couldn't keep me busy. So I went to live with my parents in Pennsylvania while I was back on the grind ONCE AGAIN, looking for the next position. I kept getting rejections from all of the positions I applied for, no matter how many contacts I made, it was just a tough environment out there and I just wasn't that candidate they were looking for. Even recruiters turned me down. I was getting annoyed.

After 2 months of searching again, it is now after Thanksgiving 2012 and I needed to do something. I arranged to move back to the town where I went to school and worked after graduation. I re-packed my car and drove the crazy mileage back down south. I hit the phones and emails again searching every avenue possible. I found a position as an analyst at a real estate investment firm focusing on distressed assets and applied to it. The next week, I called and followed up, two days after that I received a phone call and was given a first round screening. During the same call, they invited me to come in that same day! I went in and met with 4 people, including 2 principals and was told they would get in touch. No real difficult questions that I couldn't answer, but they were interested in the fact I came from NYC and did what I did in order to get that internship in the first place. They also liked the fact that one of my 4 majors in undergrad was architecture (true story). They were more interested in my drive and motivation than whether or not I had any solid real estate experience. They asked me for my references and I went on my way.

The next week, they brought me in to meet with them again. It was more of a formality, THEY OFFERED ME THE POSITION. A FULL TIME ANALYST!! I was happier than I have ever been before and could barely even accept. They asked me when I could start, I said "tomorrow" and have been working there for about a week now and already have a good deal of responsibility. I love it. It's a smaller firm and the people are awesome. I am so glad I made the move and firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

Overall Takeaways:

-Follow your interests and true passions.

-Don't be afraid of rejection, call/email everyone, if they don't answer, do it again until they answer. I didn't care about annoying someone, I wanted something and I wasn't going to stop until I got it.

-Do everything you can to better yourself and learn more.

-Never burn bridges. If my references wouldn't have given me the strong reviews that they did, I would not be in this position.

-Don't hate the people who have it easier than you do. Ask them for advice and how you can benefit from certain things.

-Don't give up, but don't turn things down. I took some shitty part time positions during the past 16 months to hold me over, but it was worth it.

-GET YOUR STORY DOWN ASAP!

-Once you accept your offer, refrain from calling everybody that turned you down just to tell them to suck it. Go party with friends instead.

GOOD LUCK MONKEYS!!

9

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Comments (40)

  • WallStreetStandard's picture

    respect!
    gj....
    I just graduated and have to start networking like a mofo....

  • GrandJury's picture

    Congratulations man! Seems like you finally got the break you deserved. I know a lot of people in your situation coming out of college would have probably said, "screw it, I'll just get a full time job as a bank teller and live on a measly income and wait for a better opportunity." It's great to hear that you knew what you wanted and actually made the effort to achieve it.

    "It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want." - FDR

    I'm glad to hear you studied the financial modeling courses intensely. The secret of success in life is to be ready for your opportunities when they come. If you never became efficient in valuation/accounting you would have never gotten that internship offer in NYC and you would not be where you are right now.

    Again, congratulations.

  • Febreeze's picture

    wow dude. that's pretty amazing, congrats.

  • TGICapitalism's picture

    Dang, son! That's phenomenal. Way to hustle. congrats.

  • Tommy Too-toned's picture

    wow man, i'm actually feeling this story. And Tommy's not easily impressed

  • CaR's picture
  • TeddyTheBear's picture

    Congrats well done, with the amount of determination you have, I expect another thread from you eventually titled "FT Analyst -> VP".

  • JimboUSC's picture

    congrats? What kind of RE properties you focusing on?

  • thedude12r43w's picture

    Congrats!! Great story, many people would have given up after the internship offer was rescinded.

    Are you in Charlotte or Atlanta?

    +1

  • In reply to JimboUSC
    Anacott_CEO's picture

    JimboUSC:
    congrats? What kind of RE properties you focusing on?

    Thanks a lot! The firm focuses on multifamily complexes.

  • In reply to thedude12r43w
    Anacott_CEO's picture

    n1cktm:
    Congrats!! Great story, many people would have given up after the internship offer was rescinded.

    Are you in Charlotte or Atlanta?

    +1

    I appreciate that! I'm not in either of those metros though, I'm in the sunshine state.

The WSO Advantage - Land Your Dream Job

Financial Modeling Training

IB Templates, M&A, LBO, Valuation. Learn More.

Wall St. Interview Secrets Revealed

30,000+ sold & REAL questions. Learn More.

Resume Help from Finance Pros

Land More Interviews. Learn More.

Find Your Mentor

Realistic Mock Interviews. Learn More.

  • Anacott_CEO's picture

    I really appreciate the congrats. I wouldn't have known where to start, or what actions to take without the help of this site and the users, so I really have to say thank you to everyone here.

  • rufiolove's picture

    Congratulations! That's an awesome story. I love hearing stories of persistence (it reminds me of how I felt when I was networking to break in). That initial surge of euphoria you get when you finally achieve what you thought at times was impossible, is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Keep that hunger, and if/when the day ever comes that you are fed up with what you are doing and are frustrated, just remember what you went through to get here, and realize that "this too shall pass." I remind myself of that often, when I am at the office at 4 in the morning and all my friends have been out partying and I missed a friend's birthday, or my birthday (sucks when people plan a party for you and you never end up being able to attend). Things will get tough, but just know that nothing is ever permanent, and you will be able to get thru anything if you keep that drive!

    Enjoy the job and continue to keep us updated!

  • In reply to Anacott_CEO
    JimboUSC's picture

    Anacott_CEO:
    JimboUSC:
    congrats? What kind of RE properties you focusing on?

    Thanks a lot! The firm focuses on multifamily complexes.

    Nice congrats bro! I am interesting in learning more what you do on a daily basis there...I am kinda on the same boat as you were...

  • osanjak's picture

    Great story, and congrats!

    As I am somewhat in the same boat, I was interested (maybe a stupid question) how did you get the emails of 2nd and 3rd connections on Linkedin, or are you referring to messaging them on Linkedin?

    OE

  • In reply to osanjak
    Anacott_CEO's picture

    osanjak:
    Great story, and congrats!

    As I am somewhat in the same boat, I was interested (maybe a stupid question) how did you get the emails of 2nd and 3rd connections on Linkedin, or are you referring to messaging them on Linkedin?

    I searched here on WSO for email formats a lot. If the firm was not on here, or I couldn't find the format, I guessed using the known formats (john.doe, jdoe, johnd, etc). You name it, I tried it. Good luck!

  • In reply to JimboUSC
    Anacott_CEO's picture

    JimboUSC:
    Anacott_CEO:
    JimboUSC:
    congrats? What kind of RE properties you focusing on?

    Thanks a lot! The firm focuses on multifamily complexes.

    Nice congrats bro! I am interesting in learning more what you do on a daily basis there...I am kinda on the same boat as you were...

    For the past week, I have been working on revamping pro formas and investor documents. This week has all been return analyses for a complex we are closing on at the end of the month. PM me if you need more info.

  • The Kid's picture

    Anacott_CEO:

    -Don't hate the people who have it easier than you do. Ask them for advice and how you can benefit from certain things.

    +1 - Great point, this doesn't get said enough... not to mention this bitter, envious, woe-is-me attitude is an epidemic in America.

    Great story, good for you my man!

  • mongoose's picture

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • madmoney15's picture

    What graduate diploma did you pursue?

  • zeroblued's picture

    Thanks so much for the story and tips, gives me hope!

  • In reply to The Kid
    Winner92888's picture

    The Kid:
    Anacott_CEO:

    -Don't hate the people who have it easier than you do. Ask them for advice and how you can benefit from certain things.

    +1 - Great point, this doesn't get said enough... not to mention this bitter, envious, woe-is-me attitude is an epidemic in America.

    Great story, good for you my man!

    +1 - Really good point. It is unproductive to be envious of other people because you think they have it easier than you. It may not even be true; and while your focusing on someone else, you're not building your skills or enhancing your opportunities. Play the cards you're dealt to the max. A 2 on the river can beat pocket aces with a little luck and the right strategy.

  • shark-monkey's picture

    Good Stuff. Congratulations

    Fear is the greatest motivator. Motivation is what it takes to find profit.

  • johnwayne7's picture

    I'm curious, since you said you were very interested in M&A in some of your classes, do you plan on trying to lateral to IBD?

  • Hooked on LEAPS's picture

    Anacott_CEO:

    I got to NYC with my friend and everyday I woke up, made phone calls, sent emails, went back on the grind. I Google mapped "investment firm, NYC" and called every single place I saw a dot for.

    Lol. Hands down my favorite part of the story. Congrats.

    Competition is a sin.

    -John D. Rockefeller

  • Sandhurst's picture

    Congratulations. Remember this, so that you might always remember that success is possible. And then get back to work.

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

  • In reply to johnwayne7
    Anacott_CEO's picture

    johnwayne7:
    I'm curious, since you said you were very interested in M&A in some of your classes, do you plan on trying to lateral to IBD?

    Honestly, I doubt it now. I'm the only analyst on the acquisitions team and have a great deal of responsibility already and assist management with a lot of tasks. We are growing very quickly, so I see a lot of growth potential here.

  • Anacott_CEO's picture

    Thanks everyone, really appreciate the congratulations!

  • analyst1609's picture

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  • ricky212's picture

    Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.