Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 4/29/14 and ranks #11 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.
It's been an interesting and long 10 months since I began pursuing a. I wanted to share my story with the rest of the WSO community and especially for those monkeys out there who are trying to break in (target or non-target, it's tough) and having trouble fighting through the rejections and pitfalls of the process.
As some of you might know, I have been a tennis player for over 17 years now and up until 10 months ago, I thought I'd make a career out of the sport in some capacity. But with chronic injuries catching up to me, I realized quickly that it'd be an extremely uphill battle and one that would yield little result or enjoyment. Luckily for me, through my lone internship, I had access to a small PE shop and had the chance to talk to the people who work there. In hindsight, reaching out to those guys was the best move I made as they proved to be a great support system, mentors and a network during the next 10 months.
Unfortunately, I had a few things going against me. For one, I was a non-finance major at a non-target with no finance internships in any capacity. Furthermore, I knew close to nothing about the markets, finance or investment banking. And to top it all off, apart from the PE shop, I had 0 connections in the industry and by the time I reached the PE shop, it was late October and most firms were rounding up their recruiting or had already chosen a pool of candidates to recruit from.
After applying to 30-40 firms and getting rejected everywhere, I decided it was time to round up all my weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I joined WSO, read every thread about breaking in and the expectations of an IBD analyst, kept up with the markets on a daily basis and started teaching myself the basic technicals. While all of this stuff was incredibly useful, the most arduous, painstaking and fruitful part of my process came in the form of networking. The first thing I did was look for alumni from my school that worked in banking. Unfortunately, I found none or the few I found had moved on from the industry and didn't respond to my requests for a phone call.
Not knowing where to go from here, I decided to form a plan that would hopefully help me create my own luck while helping me learn more about the industry. So in December during my winter break, I went, eliminated the big name firms and focused my efforts on the smaller IBD firms. I compiled an excel sheet of 300-400 prospective contacts for cold emailing and cross-referenced that sheet with LinkedIn to check if any of my existing contacts had any links to these prospective contacts. At the time, I also began studying for the GMAT so that I could apply to top tier MSF programs and begin looking for summer IBD internships. The month of December 2013 essentially involved a daily routine of 3-4 hours of GMAT prep, 2-3 hours of networking and then 2-3 hours of training for tennis in the spring.
I then took the GMAT in January (scored a 700), applied to the various MSF programs and got into WUSTL's MSF program in February. In the meantime, I got interviews for SA internships at 1, 2 EB and 4-5 smaller firms. Nonetheless, I got rejected at all of those firms but managed to secure 2 unpaid offers at boutique firms (1 local and 1 in Florida). I won't lie here. I got immensely frustrated after the rejections at those bigger firms. Still, I decided to use those as opportunities and stayed in touch with the analysts and associates who interviewed me.
I continued networking, accepted the local SA offer and then got a surprise offer to come down for awith a well-respected MM firm for a FT analyst position starting this summer. After having gone through so much in the past 10 months, I was far more confident in my abilities and my knowledge of the industry. Finally, this past month, I heard back from them and accepted their offer.
To put everything in perspective, I was a non-target, non-finance major with no finance experience and no contacts in the industry. In the past 10 months, I have amassed more than 100 people in the industry whom I'm in regular contact with, secured an offer from a MSF program, secured an offer from 2 small boutiques and now, I'll be working at a well-respected MM firm.
I just want everyone to know (especially those struggling with finding a place in the industry right now) that with the right attitude, lots of perseverance, desire to learn and most importantly, the ability to cultivate relationships, you can break in. None of this would have been possible without the help of the people I met and got to know along the way and the WSO Community.
Huge S/O to @CompBanker, @frgna, @BlackHat, @Jared Dillian, @square_miles, @Group Therapy, @ichorturtle, @NiuShi, @WallStreetPlayboys, @AcctNerd, @SSits, @TNA, @BTbanker, @BTbanker, @BTbanker, @Esuric, @State of Trance, @IlliniProgrammer, @APAE, @NorthSider, @Simple As... and of course, @AndyLouis and Patrick for this amazing site, the great content and the advice I have received from all of you directly or indirectly.
For all of you monkeys still fighting to get a SA or FT position, keep pushing and have various plans to get to your desired position. It'll work out in the end. If anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to post them on here or PM me. Good luck!
For those of you interested, click here for a follow-up post to my story.