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Mod note (Andy): this was originally posted on 8/15/12

Hello fellow monkeys,

I wanted to take some time to write this because I definitely owe it to this community. Last week, I was given a verbal offer to work in Equity Research full-time, at a well-known bank, covering a sector that I love, and signed the written offer today! You cannot imagine how excited am, especially since I thought it would never happen…but it did. In no way or form, however, did I do it alone. I had a ton of help from mentors I networked with and of course, Wall Street Oasis. The people on here who put in the time and effort to answer newbie questions are amazing and unfortunately no amount of SBs can repay you guys (please don’t calculate this), and I hope I can pass on the love.

And so, I want to describe how I did it. I hope this is valuable to people looking to break into Equity Research and please feel free to PM me with any questions!

----

I am originally from overseas and I came to NY to attend a semi-target. I’ll be the first to admit it: I screwed around for the greater part of 3 years in college. So when my senior year began, I had just one legitimate internship (unrelated to ER however) under my belt that I did in my freshman-sophomore year, and a very low GPA. This is when I sort of woke up. All of my friends had completed coveted SA positions and some had even gotten offers. For the first time in my life, I was truly envious of others. So I got my shit together. I moved out of my fancy $1,600 apartment and subletted a $700 room to sleep/study (people who live in NY will attest to how cheap and how shitty it is), began improving my English writing/grammar skills, took my classes seriously (including a public speaking elective which was extremely valuable), did two internships during the school year (loosely related to research), began reading WSJ, NYT, M&I, WSO religiously, and went through all the videos in BIWS’s Financial modeling/Excel fundamentals course.

The end result? A 3.3 GPA and no job after graduation (May). I was crushed.

Many of you will know the humiliation of not having a job after graduating. You become self-conscious of what others think of you, your parents nag you every day (because you’re living with them now), you begin to think lowly of yourself, and you begin to spray your resume around in panic because you just want to land something. All in all, it sucks.

Any of you in this situation right now, I have some advice for you. It’s not “Don’t give up.” Although you shouldn’t. My advice to you is: “you’re doing something wrong.”

People who excel, don’t excel just because they keep trying. Rather, it’s a combination of persistence AND changing your strategy to leverage your strengths and reduce your weaknesses if your current strategy hasn't produced results. Chances are, if you haven’t received an offer after trying over several months, it’s not going to happen with the way you are doing things.

What does this mean? It means, you need to have the courage to analyze what you are doing wrong and tailoring/altering everything. From your “tell me about yourself” answer to your stock pitch. If you don’t know, ASK someone. Don’t be embarrassed. 90% of the time, people understand the difficulty and will be more than happy to help out.

So this is what I did:

1. I first took a long look at my resume. I mean REALLY looked at it. I realized, I didn't really know if it had things ER recruiters were looking for. It seemed nicely written, had no grammatical errors, and listed 'great' achievements, but it obviously wasn't getting me the interviews. So I asked for help. I took my resume to friends in the industry, old professors, anyone I knew who would give me the honest truth and they ripped it apart. What you need to realize though, is that the value in doing this is NOT to come out with a great resume (although that is a byproduct). It is to truly UNDERSTAND what is LOOKED at and what is VALUED when finance professionals in your industry (ER, IB, S&T, whatever), look at your resume. It gives you an idea of what you should be studying/working on, what you are probably NOT expected to know, how to tailor your fit questions/answers, how to show focus and passion with your experience/classes , and most importantly, how to differentiate yourself.

2. However, your experience is your experience. There is a limit to how much you can study and polish your resume, and so I realized that I needed some solid experience to showcase a passion and focus for the industry. So I took an internship at a small buy-side shop doing largely administrative work. Why? Because at the firm, there were several research analysts that I knew I wanted to network with. And so, I worked my butt off for 3 months. I came in early 7AM and left later than everyone else in the office. This is where networking becomes valuable. Yes, cold-calling/emailing can help, but people are reluctant to help you when they know nothing about you. People are much more inclined to help if they actually witness that you are a hard worker and can ask intelligent questions. I excelled at the admin stuff for one week. Then during my 2nd week, one of the analysts came to ME and told me that I could ask him for advice anytime I wanted and he became a valuable mentor to me during the next 2 months. He wrecked my resume, gave my projects to work on that I could talk about during interviews (analyzing SEC filings, building models), and let me ‘help’ him come up with catalysts for positions the firm had. At first, I sucked. But I wasn’t afraid to fix what I was doing wrong. I took the BIWS online class again and read the guides everyday on the train. I pulled up every equity research report I could find and came up with 10+ stock pitches I was comfortable with. I was able to get immediate feedback to what I was doing because the analyst was willing to help me out and saw that I was extremely passionate. My admin boss would come in at 9, so I had nearly 2 hours to badger the analysts who came in at 7 and nearly 3 hours after my shift to ask if I could shadow them, help out on projects, use their Bloomberg, and ask questions about equity research. You really have to TRY writing research reports/build models/pitch stocks to ‘get’ it and get comfortable with it.

3. I spent the better part of my nights also improving my writing/speaking skills. My writing skills improved vastly from writing ER reports (these can serve as writing samples because banks are sure to ask for them for ER positions - very important!). I also recorded myself practicing every fit question in the WSO/M&I guides. I reduced my "ums"/stuttering, and exercised enunciation. After practicing so much, I had memorized answers to many of the typical fit questions. It gave me confidence during interviews and I was able to project myself as an articulate person.

4. I worked on my accounting (BIWS Course, old accounting textbook, WSO/M&I guides). I got about 10 accounting questions during my interview and was able to answer them completely.

5. I was not afraid to admit something I did not know and I never lied. The thing about banks, or ER at least, is that they know that you are still a student or are a recent graduate. They understand that we have never truly worked in the industry and that we probably don't know a whole lot. However, they do know there are a ton of resources out there that if you were passionate, you would utilize. And so, the idea is to show your passion through knowing the basics (anyone can learn these), but going into the interview and proving an extreme willingness to learn/work hard/work long hours, the ability to learn quickly so you can help out the team ASAP, and honesty. For example, one interviewer (MD) asked me if I currently invest in anything on my own. I said no, but that I had been trying to study certain names and could explain why I would buy/sell them. She loved my honesty and told me that many people who interview for ER positions feel the need to lie about having invested on their own. As an interviewer, she said that when someone says they invest on their own, they are inclined to grill the shit out of those people. If you show that you are in the process of learning, they will go much easier on you.

So all in all, I probably slept about 2 hours a day for nearly 3 months practicing, practicing, failing more interviews, recording myself talk, writing reports, analyzing stocks on my own, memorizing certain ‘fit’ answers, breaking models, fixing those models, reading everything related to equity research I could get my hands on, polishing my resume more, realizing mistakes I made and strengthening my answers, and more practicing.

The end result this time? A brand new resume, a GREAT understanding of what equity researchers look for in new junior associates, modeling experience I could talk about, several long/short stocks I could pitch, a strong base of knowledge in accounting/valuations to answer technical questions, sample models I could use if asked for, writing samples I could use if asked for (very important), and more confidence (extremely important).

Needless to say, it paid off. I was given the offer a week later on a Friday after they had checked all my references. I couldn’t believe it. I signed the offer and the 'congratulations' emails have begun to pour in from other departments and it's the most amazing feeling in the world. I even had to turn down several second/final round interviews from other banks (top BBs, but not in sectors that I'm interested in).

Sorry that this is so long, but I felt it was necessary to give as much detail as possible. To everyone who is still looking for a job: it is possible, put the work in and the results will come. Perhaps not immediately, but it will happen for you eventually.

Anyways, I just want to say thanks to WSO. You guys have been fantastic and I hope I can become more of a contributor now, than a receiver.

Good luck all! I'm going to take a couple of days to celebrate, then back to studying!

---
edit: hi guys! I'm getting an overwhelming number of PMs/responses. I will be home from my internship in a couple of hours and so I will get to everyone then! Just reply or PM me and I will try to respond by the end of the day.

Thanks for all the congratulations~!

-erwannabe

16

Comments (113)

  • WallStreetOasis.com's picture

    wow, awesome thorough recap! Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

  • ananab87's picture

    Excellent post and advice, you were truly determined and it paid off in the end, it is good inspiration for me.

    I am in exactly the same situation you were, and it absolutely fucking sucks. Everything was going great during my degree (bsc, 1st, hons), until i stupidly accepted a scholarship offer to do an MSc in finance, I dicked around during the first 2/3 of the year, then spend the remaining 1/3 living in a basement doing modelling on excel all day and night for my dissertation, ending up with a merit, but of course with no job offer as i didn't send out a single application.

    I got so close recently with a final round interview at BNP Paribas sales trading, but didn't get it, now I am just mentally wrecked and back to phase fucking 1, so sick of this bullshit job market and the ridiculous things people have to do to get even the shittest jobs. For my BNP Paribas interview I even did the CISI Unit 3 Derivatives module in two weeks, but still that wasn't enough, fuck.

    /rant

  • spark's picture

    Congratulations. I'll need to learn a lot from your experience.

    I love my bananas!

  • Febreeze's picture
  • Anacott_CEO's picture

    Great stuff, congrats.

  • In reply to WallStreetOasis.com
    erwannabe's picture

    WallStreetOasis.com:
    wow, awesome thorough recap! Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

    Thank you very much!

  • phpmvk's picture

    Congrats! You have the best kind of attitude towards your work and that is what is going to carry you forward in the industry. Good luck!

  • In reply to ananab87
    erwannabe's picture

    ananab87:
    Excellent post and advice, you were truly determined and it paid off in the end, it is good inspiration for me.

    I am in exactly the same situation you were, and it absolutely fucking sucks. Everything was going great during my degree (bsc, 1st, hons), until i stupidly accepted a scholarship offer to do an MSc in finance, I dicked around during the first 2/3 of the year, then spend the remaining 1/3 living in a basement doing modelling on excel all day and night for my dissertation, ending up with a merit, but of course with no job offer as i didn't send out a single application.

    I got so close recently with a final round interview at BNP Paribas sales trading, but didn't get it, now I am just mentally wrecked and back to phase fucking 1, so sick of this bullshit job market and the ridiculous things people have to do to get even the shittest jobs. For my BNP Paribas interview I even did the CISI Unit 3 Derivatives module in two weeks, but still that wasn't enough, fuck.

    /rant

    Yeah it sucks, especially when you get so close, don't get it, and have to start all over again. But BNP is a great bank and the fact that you got so close should encourage you. I don't know much about S&T, but you should be able to leverage what you learned/did the first time, and excel the next interview you go through. I went through 2 final rounds before my offer and went through +10 1st/2nd rounds. Also, the people you interviewed with at BNP might even be willing to help you out. I was able to land a BB interview through another failed interview and also got an interview for a different department within the bank.

    Spend some time blowing off some steam and then get back to work~

    Goodluck!

  • In reply to spark
    erwannabe's picture

    spark:
    Congratulations. I'll need to learn a lot from your experience.

    Thanks, don't hesitate to PM me~

  • In reply to Febreeze
    erwannabe's picture

    Febreeze:
    that was awesome, bro.

    Glad you liked~

  • In reply to Anacott_CEO
    erwannabe's picture

    Anacott_CEO:
    Great stuff, congrats.

    Thank you!

  • In reply to phpmvk
    erwannabe's picture

    phpmvk:
    Congrats! You have the best kind of attitude towards your work and that is what is going to carry you forward in the industry. Good luck!

    Thanks! I hope so~

  • eignenvector's picture

    Congrats man, way to suck it up and do what needs to be done.

    "When you expect things to happen - strangely enough - they do happen."
    - JP Morgan

  • MangoBanker's picture

    Great to hear! I think it is Jefferies also.....but you must be Korean! Hope your parents are proud of you now.

  • TO_banker's picture

    Great story, loved all the detail!

  • R0bin's picture

    You da man homie

    Baby you're the perfect shape, baby you're the perfect weight. Treat me like my birthday, I want it this way and I want it that way. It makes a man feel good baby.

  • In reply to FutureBanker09
    erwannabe's picture

    FutureBanker09:
    Jefferies?

    No, it's not Jefferies. It's one of those banks that everyone knows (because it's so huge in terms of total assets), but it's IB market share is well below the other huge banks comparable in size. Honestly, idk if it's even close to BB or where it is in MM. I would tell you the name, but everyone seems to be secretive about where they work (not sure why), but to be on the safe side...I'm not going to say anything definitive.

  • In reply to MangoBanker
    erwannabe's picture

    MangoBanker:
    Great to hear! I think it is Jefferies also.....but you must be Korean! Hope your parents are proud of you now.

    Mother is proud, dad is nonchalant. Don't know if this kind of relationship is universal, but it's definitely apparent in many Korean families~

  • In reply to TO_banker
    erwannabe's picture

    poodles:
    Great story, loved all the detail!

    Thanks! Let me know if I can provide more detail on any of the steps~

  • Calnus's picture

    Congrats man! Just curious did you some out of a target/semi/non target school?

  • ladubs111's picture

    Wells Fargo most likely. Anyways, if your korean i can imagine the type of crazy girls you were dating. crazy bitches man.

  • UFOinsider's picture

    WOW dude, way to go!

    Get busy living

  • Flake's picture

    I'm going to give you a compliment sandwich.

    1. Congratulations, sounds like you worked hard for this.
    2. I don't like the little sperms at the end of some of your comments i.e. thank you, glad you liked it~
    3. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

  • Febreeze's picture

    Btw, what do you mean by breaking and fixing models?

  • In reply to Calnus
    erwannabe's picture

    Jyong:
    Congrats man! Just curious did you some out of a target/semi/non target school?

    semi-target i think, not full target, but not non-target.

    however, I applied outside of OCR through the normal online process, so I don't know how much the "semi-target" name even helped.

  • In reply to ladubs111
    erwannabe's picture

    ladubs111:
    Wells Fargo most likely. Anyways, if your korean i can imagine the type of crazy girls you were dating. crazy bitches man.

    they were crazy for sure. would be so lovely to you one moment, but psycho the next.. i heard chinese girls are amazing though. (stable+take care of you).

    I wonder what white girls are like.

  • In reply to UFOinsider
    erwannabe's picture

    UFOinsider:
    WOW dude, way to go!

    hey UFO! I was just about to PM you!

    thanks!

  • In reply to Flake
    erwannabe's picture

    Flake:
    I'm going to give you a compliment sandwich.

    1. Congratulations, sounds like you worked hard for this.
    2. I don't like the little sperms at the end of some of your comments i.e. thank you, glad you liked it~
    3. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks~
    2. I guess it's a Korean thing. 안녕하세요 ~ !
    3. Glad you liked it~

  • Neighbor's picture

    congrats my man, well done

    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

  • In reply to Febreeze
    erwannabe's picture

    Febreeze:
    Btw, what do you mean by breaking and fixing models?

    Well besides from building models from scratch, I was also able to get my hands on several built models. In order to understand how the model flowed/functioned, I would go through each cell and see where it was pulling the data from.

    Sometimes I would jiggle with the formulas and add my own formulas in, but often the formulas would "break" and the model wouldn't flow correctly. So I would have to look online for definitions, better understand the concept behind the formulas, and figure out new excel functions.

    I highly recommend this exercise, because 2 interviews I went through included a modeling test (getting huge spreadsheets with tons of data and updating/fixing/projecting them).

  • blueslord2910's picture

    Inspiration. Just PM you back. So you are from Korea, there are so many Korean at my school for some reason and more than Chinese @@

  • In reply to erwannabe
    ladubs111's picture

    erwannabe:
    ladubs111:
    Wells Fargo most likely. Anyways, if your korean i can imagine the type of crazy girls you were dating. crazy bitches man.

    they were crazy for sure. would be so lovely to you one moment, but psycho the next.. i heard chinese girls are amazing though. (stable+take care of you).

    I wonder what white girls are like.

    No, Chinese girls are as bad as Koreans girls. You have them confused with Japanese. Japanese girls are more stable and always aim to please.

  • valiant7002's picture

    Reading this post was like watching a Rocky training montage. Very inspiring.

    You're gonna have to get yourself a new username!

  • Y2A's picture

    Baruch?

    And me being a car nut and a Chinese who've dated all kinds of Asians, I would say Korean girls are like Ferraris, look good on the outside (makeup does wonders) but super high maintenance. Chinese girls on the other hand can go either way---ones from HK tend to be like Koreans but the ones from the mainland are more traditional and will take care of you---a Lexus if you will, not the best looking out there but still decent and most importantly, reliable.

  • George87's picture

    Congrats! Enjoy it, you deserve and keep up the good work!

  • Pienaar21's picture

    Awesome man, congratulations. Nothing like a nice pay off after some hard work.

  • In reply to ladubs111
    erwannabe's picture

    ladubs111:
    erwannabe:
    ladubs111:
    Wells Fargo most likely. Anyways, if your korean i can imagine the type of crazy girls you were dating. crazy bitches man.

    they were crazy for sure. would be so lovely to you one moment, but psycho the next.. i heard chinese girls are amazing though. (stable+take care of you).

    I wonder what white girls are like.

    No, Chinese girls are as bad as Koreans girls. You have them confused with Japanese. Japanese girls are more stable and always aim to please.

    white girls??

  • In reply to valiant7002
    erwannabe's picture

    valiant7002:
    Reading this post was like watching a Rocky training montage. Very inspiring.

    You're gonna have to get yourself a new username!

    haha! Thanks~

    oooh i will consider myself a wannabe until I become MD :)

  • In reply to Y2A
    erwannabe's picture

    Y2A:
    Baruch?

    And me being a car nut and a Chinese who've dated all kinds of Asians, I would say Korean girls are like Ferraris, look good on the outside (makeup does wonders) but super high maintenance. Chinese girls on the other hand can go either way---ones from HK tend to be like Koreans but the ones from the mainland are more traditional and will take care of you---a Lexus if you will, not the best looking out there but still decent and most importantly, reliable.

    I would probably agree with the analogies if I knew anything about cars. What kind of car is an American girl like?

  • couchy's picture

    how did you land interviews? just curious. For someone who worked as hard as you and really knew their stuff, i feel the hardest part is actually grabbing someones attention..

  • In reply to George87
    erwannabe's picture

    George87:
    Congrats! Enjoy it, you deserve and keep up the good work!

    Thanks~ Any great places to go for a week or so?

  • In reply to Pienaar21
    erwannabe's picture

    Pienaar21:
    Awesome man, congratulations. Nothing like a nice pay off after some hard work.

    Thank you! Definitely.

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