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Well I have never posted on here, I have only observed many of the conversations that go on. I have seen some decent success stories on here but none that I feel I can directly relate to. I just recently graduated from a NON-target school in the midwest and am struggling to even get response e-mails from applications. The issue I am having is that no one knows where the hell I went to school other than the very very small shops in the area. Those very small shops are all filled up and have very little turnover. I am friends with a lot of the local CFA charterholders and they say I have to leave to get experience but it just isn't that easy.

So my qualifications...
Bachelors in Finance and Economics
two internships: one at a big time wealth management shop ( think Merrill Lynch or UBS) and another as an analyst for a smaller bank that is preparing to launch an alternative ETF. I competed in the CFA Institute Research Challenge and won the local competition. Also I just sat for Level 1 of the CFA. I have had one interview with a small shop and was not offered. I am at a loss of what to do because big shops probably laugh at where I went to school and there is no chance anywhere local. I want to get into portfolio management but I don't know what to do.

Any thoughts? Thanks in Advance.

Comments (20)

  • analyst-therapist's picture

    Have you tried networking at all? Just from your post it seems like you havent or haven't nearly enough. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but I truly don't understand when people come on this website and post stuff like this. If you haven't networked day in and day out for at least 6-12 months, you haven't tried and you do not want it bad enough.

    Just my thoughts

  • In reply to analyst-therapist
    The Bernankenstein Monster's picture

    analyst-therapist wrote:
    Have you tried networking at all? Just from your post it seems like you havent or haven't nearly enough. I don't mean to sound like a dick, but I truly don't understand when people come on this website and post stuff like this. If you haven't networked day in and day out for at least 6-12 months, you haven't tried and you do not want it bad enough.

    Just my thoughts

    Yeah I guess I should elaborate more. I have done quite a bit in my local area and in the Chicago area through the CFA society. But still no one wants to give a non target a shot. I know it sounds like a broken record, but I have been busting my balls e-mailing and cold calling people in the chicago area and some outside of there. Going outside of the midwest is a joke for me. I have actually had some people laugh at me on the east when I tried to tell them about my school. What are your thoughts on networking outside the area when you have absolutely no one in the business from your school?

  • TraderDaily's picture

    You may have to do an MSF at a name brand school. Normally, I'd say focus on alumni networking and network with people on LinkedIn etc. Problem is in your case a lack of heavy representation.

    You might try the MSF. An MSF coupled with a CFA may help a lot more.

  • Kassad's picture

    First thing you need to get out of your head is that your school matters. It does not. Not in the least bit.

    That's what it really means to be a non-target. When people see your resume and see a school that isn't a "target," they immediately don't care what the school is. They just check to make sure you have a good GPA before deciding whether or not to read the rest of your resume.

    That works two ways, as per my experience: first, it makes you suck at online applications, as no HR system will ever pick your resume out of any list of applicants. Second, it lets people know that you're more hungry than anyone else about getting the job. After all, you went through the trouble of making sure a real set of eyes got to your resume and not a computer/HR guy (interchangeable).

    It's quite obvious that you haven't done enough networking, and the reason for this is that you're afraid of or unwilling to head out to the east coast (or west, if you've thought of that).

    Allow me to be the first to say that if you don't spend the time on-site and within close proximity to the people you want to connect with, you will not find a job. Take the plunge. Finance a 2-3 month stay in NYC. Find a hostel and set up camp there if you don't have friends in the city; the limited privacy will motivate you to work harder.

    I know people who have done exactly that before. It's not hard and has a high rate of success. The least you should be doing if you want to work on the Street is flying or taking a bus to and from the city every week or every other week to hit networking events and do informational interviews.

    AND, if you think that's ridiculous, just know that there is an Indian kid who is in danger of overstaying his visa to find a job while he works his ass off at a hotel overnight in Harlem to get the job he really wants. There's also a Chinese kid whose parents bred him to be an academic monster since he was in the cradle back in China, and now that he's here he's doing whatever it takes to succeed. There's also some kid from Cali who grew up like a spoiled brat because his father is a millionaire, and even though he's an idiot, his father paid for him to go to UCLA or Stanford. All he's gotta do is prove he fits in.

    So yeah man, go hard or go home is the moral.

    Equities are for chumps.

  • In reply to Kassad
    TraderDaily's picture

    FSC wrote:
    First thing you need to get out of your head is that your school matters. It does not. Not in the least bit.

    That's what it really means to be a non-target. When people see your resume and see a school that isn't a "target," they immediately don't care what the school is. They just check to make sure you have a good GPA before deciding whether or not to read the rest of your resume.

    That works two ways, as per my experience: first, it makes you suck at online applications, as no HR system will ever pick your resume out of any list of applicants. Second, it lets people know that you're more hungry than anyone else about getting the job. After all, you went through the trouble of making sure a real set of eyes got to your resume and not a computer/HR guy (interchangeable).

    It's quite obvious that you haven't done enough networking, and the reason for this is that you're afraid of or unwilling to head out to the east coast (or west, if you've thought of that).

    Allow me to be the first to say that if you don't spend the time on-site and within close proximity to the people you want to connect with, you will not find a job. Take the plunge. Finance a 2-3 month stay in NYC. Find a hostel and set up camp there if you don't have friends in the city; the limited privacy will motivate you to work harder.

    I know people who have done exactly that before. It's not hard and has a high rate of success. The least you should be doing if you want to work on the Street is flying or taking a bus to and from the city every week or every other week to hit networking events and do informational interviews.

    AND, if you think that's ridiculous, just know that there is an Indian kid who is in danger of overstaying his visa to find a job while he works his ass off at a hotel overnight in Harlem to get the job he really wants. There's also a Chinese kid whose parents bred him to be an academic monster since he was in the cradle back in China, and now that he's here he's doing whatever it takes to succeed. There's also some kid from Cali who grew up like a spoiled brat because his father is a millionaire, and even though he's an idiot, his father paid for him to go to UCLA or Stanford. All he's gotta do is prove he fits in.

    So yeah man, go hard or go home is the moral.

    Good inspiration here. Same thing I'm having to do on a minor scale in my city. If you're not networking practically 40 hours a week, you're not really networking. Network harder!!! Find a high-level person in Finance who is willing to at least give you a spreadsheet loaded with his/her contacts (phone/emails) and start cold emailing and calling. Use that person's name in the emails/calls. I am getting positive responses from this!!! Try it!

  • WTFinance's picture

    Yea I agree with FSC. Don't let your school define you. You can definitely at least leverage the wealth management name and the CFA to yourself instead. Focus on what you've done, your abilities and what you're willing to do for an employer than where you're from.

  • The Bernankenstein Monster's picture

    Well I am getting the Go hard or go home message and I appreciate everyone's insight. I have come a long way and I feel like I have a lot going for me but it's not enough so I will hit it hard. The one question I have is what do I do in the meantime? I just graduated and just finished level 1 of the the CFA. What do I do? Internship or just tell anyone I am talking to that I am looking for a job?

  • blackjack21's picture

    If you've read this site long enough, you'll know that non-targets CAN AND DO make it on Wall Street. The process may be harder, but it happens. So maybe the traditional networking path isn't working for you. Do something out of the ordinary. Getting into finance today sometimes takes a bit of creativity.

    If you want it, go big. Someone above recommended maybe taking a trip to NYC. Convince those you contact as best as you can to sit down with you to chat about your skills, etc. At that point you can explain your school situation and make them forget about the name.

    I guarantee you that the more people you network with, the more likely you'll have someone who bites and takes a chance.

  • The Bernankenstein Monster's picture

    I can get to Chicago in less than 3 hours time. I am not really sure which events to go to other than those put on by the CFA Institute and local society. I have done some cold calling and have no problem with it I just need to talk to the right people and I guess I am a newbie when it comes to that.
    I can finance the rest of this summer easily, but at the end of august I will want to start making some money and I am concerned about the gap on my resume.

  • scoobysnak's picture

    Hunter - I have to agree with everyone else who says you aren't trying enough. Even though it might seem like you can't possibly try harder (we've all probably felt that way), you should step back, re-evaluate your approach, see what's working/not, and switch gears a bit.

    Kill a few hours on LinkedIn and find people whose career path you admire, etc. Shoot a message which expresses your genuine interest and career goals and ask for an informational interview. This has proven to be the most successful method for me by far. Once you're on the phone, LISTEN to them. Hear them out, learn their story, and talk about yourself only when they ask or when you can contribute something to the convo. For every person you speak to, that opens hundreds of potential doors for people they can introduce you to.

    The biggest thing I've learned is that your school DOES NOT matter. I went to a top school, and my tuition could have bought me a house, but my education is never brought up in interviews. People want to know about your skills, goals, and what you can do for them with that. From what you wrote, you have a great foundation. You're telling yourself that your edu is the end-all, be-all, and that's mentally digging you into a hole you don't have to be in.

    Best of luck!

  • In reply to The Bernankenstein Monster
    capite's picture

    HunterEL wrote:
    I can get to Chicago in less than 3 hours time.

    Beg, borrow or steal a list of firms that are in the investment area you want in Chicago. Then use LinkedIn and your alumni network and your professors from school to get the contact info of someone high up in one of these firms. Call them directly, or call the main number and ask to talk to them directly; say the name of the referral. Get them on the phone and tell them you are coming to town and are trying to get into their business, and could you just get some advice?

    Then call all the other places on the list and tell the hiring manager (if that's all you can get) or the CIO or CEO or COO that you will be in town to see X company (the one above), and could you drop by their company too? You are a recent graduate trying to get into the business and are looking for advice.

    Then when you get in to see them, get their advice! Give them an elevator pitch about yourself, tell them it is your elevator pitch, and ask what you suggest they do to get into the field. That should lead to a good talk. Be sensitive to their time, but don't leave without asking them if there is anyone they suggest you talk to, at their company or any other.

    Then follow up on every single lead, and don't forget to use the name of the person who referred you every time you speak to someone. If it is a portfolio manager, even at a different firm, you will get noticed.

    Then do it all over again with the new people. You are now getting networked. Keep it up until you have a job.

    If you had any chemistry with any of these people and they started acting really distracted when you were talking, they might have been trying to think of how you might fit in with their company. Don't push it, but call everyone back in a couple weeks and invite them to lunch/coffee/drink to thank them for helping you out.

  • The Bernankenstein Monster's picture

    Thanks for all of the advice! I am already hitting linkedin hard. As for the cold calling and hitting up people in chicago what sort of companies should I screen for. Just a base AUM. I am looking to get into fixed income management but that may be a bit picky at this point. I guess I want to focus my contact and resources early on the ones that are larger and will give me a better return on my time and effort. I am compiling a spreadsheet of all the places I want to talk to tonight. couldn't think of a better Saturday night actually. Thanks everyone for lighting a fire under my ass and making me step back and take a look at what I am doing right and wrong. Keep the advice coming because everyones comment has added something to my notes to work on.

  • Bobby Digital's picture

    This post really rubbed me the wrong way. So much so that I went through the effort of resetting my password in order to log in to type the following message. And as a disclaimer, I mean the forthcoming advice in the nicest way possible...

    Sack up. No wonder you don't have a job. Learn to sell yourself. Sell your experiences. Sell your skills. Sell your shitty little school that no one knows about. Tell employers why they should give a chance, why you're better than Joe Blow. Stop looking for reasons why you can't get a job. Maybe you'll need to leave your small town but if so, so be it. In an over saturated labor market, employers in a shrinking industry aren't exactly going to come kicking down your door to hire you.

    I didn't come from a target school. I had an awful GPA. But I decided I wanted to work in banking and nothing was stopping me. I took a shitty paying, temporary contract, working in the BO for JPM. The work sucked but I did well and made a name for myself. When they needed to fill a permanent vacancy, they approached me. I'm still doing less than ideal work in the BO but was quickly promoted to AVP and I'm getting great exposure. After my next review, I plan to transition into equity research with my boss' endoresment. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just saying...make it happen dude. There are a million ways to make it work. Find one.

  • In reply to The Bernankenstein Monster
    Bobby Digital's picture

    HunterEL wrote:
    Well I am getting the Go hard or go home message and I appreciate everyone's insight. I have come a long way and I feel like I have a lot going for me but it's not enough so I will hit it hard. The one question I have is what do I do in the meantime? I just graduated and just finished level 1 of the the CFA. What do I do? Internship or just tell anyone I am talking to that I am looking for a job?

    C'mon guy. I don't want to sound like a jerk but are you kidding me?! You can tell people whatever you want. Who cares.

    And I certainly hope that if you're talking to people, you are mentioning the fact that you'd like a job. You phrased the question as if you might not be. Have no shame. Tell them what you want.

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."