Thanks WSO! +non-target break in story
Hey guys, with recruiting season almost over I am happy/lucky to say that I have received an SA offer at a BB and have to give lots of thanks to the WSO community. (trolls and all) I was just a no-name, directionless monkey a few years ago and now I have a very solid start to a career that I am interested in...and the compensation's not bad either :) So here goes my story...hopefully some of you can get some sort of inspiration out of it...or at least believe in the power of networking.
Apart from partying, semi-studying and drinking, I happened to land a FoF internship for the summer of my freshmen year. It was through a friend that I had made on my dorm floor. His father owned a FoF/ Financial Advisory and was nice enough to "take me under his wing" and show me the value of relationships and expose me to different parts of the finance industry. Turns out you can network anywhere. My GPA was a 3.5.
1st quarter* After the FoF experience I knew I wanted to go into finance. Coming from a non-target I knew I had to break in somehow and I landed an internship at a bond rating company through my OCR. It was really boring work, but they were paying me well. I did not have good working relationships with my bosses (looking back I was way to immature to handle that role) but I did meet 2 of my very good friends through the intern program at the firm. We all decided that we wanted to go into investment banking and started a finance club at our university. We had a couple of guest speakers come in from BB's and I kept in constant contact with them. (occasional email, or update)
2nd quarter* Landed an investment management internship at a very conservative firm (OCR) and a boutique investment banking gig (through networking). Worked at both of those internships for about 4 months while taking night classes. My GPA took a hit. That was also the time I started to network out to bankers, asking for coffee..etc. My hit rate was very low at that time. Continued to work on my finance club, became a board member of the universitys investment club (connections are amazing, no application needed, I was basically handed the job haha) and participated in a nationwide commodities trading completion. (did terribly, but some people like to talk about that experience at my interviews)
3rd quarter/summer* Really wanted an Ibanking gig for my soph summer but no banks would look at me. I cold emailed 50+ banks, got no hits. I thought, fuck it might as well try for private equity. Cold called 40+ pe firms, almost all of them did not reply, 5 said no thanks, and one firm just happened to have alot of work. Met the vp for coffee and was extended a summer offer (unpaid). I was so happy, I knew these guys knew bankers and I though this would be my foot in the door into banking. Went through the summer, learned a bit about LBO's and did lots of market research. They helped me build my network to MM and BB bankers. Constantly kept in contact with the hopes that they could give me a 1st round interview. Plus they were pretty cool and nice guys. My GPA was a 3.4.
Reached out to all my contacts. Had coffee with multiple bankers, did office visits, kept them updated via email. This was recruiting season and I wanted to go hard. I studied the WSO prep book, the investment banking books, the breaking intoguide, ibankingfaq, mergers and inquisitions, and all that good stuff.
As I was prepping for ibanking interviews, I was still constantly networking. I eventually landed 1 first round interview out of the 5 MM banks that I was in contact with. Got 2 first rounds with the BB's, and made it to only 1 super day. All of this effort led to a dead end. No offers from the any of the banks I had networked at.... (btw, the competition this year is super insane)
This would be a shitty inspirational story if it ended there, it's not the end. I had been networking with some people in the S&T side of a top BB, and it turned out they needed some help in the IE division. I interviewed with them and really connected well with the team. ***One side note, one thing ive noticed about Ibanking interviews, and interviews in general, is that the atmosphere in which you interview is the most important thing. I've walked into interviews where I felt super comfortable and just had a conversation with the interviewer and even though I might have gotten a couple questions wrong, they were trying to find reasons to hire me, as apposed to finding a reason to ding me. I guess that part is pure luck, and is the "fit" portion of the interview. It really puts into perspective how much luck is involved in this industry. P.s. It also helps if youre charming or good looking. :) *** I the reevaluated my career goals and my personal strengths and throught the S&T route would be a great fit. With the economy being in the shape that it is, I'm glad to have an offer, even though it was not what I was striving for in the first place.
I guess the takeaway from this is that even if you want something bad enough, you might not get it. At first I was really bummed that I didn't get an IBD offer at a BB. I had worked my entire college career to try and overcome my "non-targetness" and for what? No IBD offers anywhere. But as I started to think about that, I realized that I was starting to feel "entitled". My hard work, luck and diligence only gives me a better chance, but does not guarantee a position. I am glad that I have an offer and can't wait to start. A BIG THANK YOU to WSO and all the valuable members that have made my journey even possible.
Good luck to all of you guys, as this industry really weeds out the people that really want it and the posers.
Feel free to ask me any questions if you have any.