How I Fought My Way Back (Vol. Bruce Wayne in TDKR)

EtherBinge's picture
EtherBinge - Certified Professional
Rank: Orangutan | banana points 364

Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 3/9/13.

Hi there, fellow monkeys. Hope all is well.

I've been lurking here for a few years and didn't really get to posting until just recently. After some PMs regarding my story/background via my resume review thread, I figured I'd share my story and try to give back to WSO as much as it has given to/helped me. I fear it won't happen, but this can be considered a start. Let's get to it.

The backdrop is early 90s NYC. I grew up in an extremely conservative immigrant family from a strict military background. As much as I want to forget it, the circumstances were dismal for us; living in a one-bedroom apartment with 12 other family members and going to sleep, starving, on the cold, dingy floors of this apartment were memories that accurately reflect my childhood. This was life. This was a painful, albeit necessary step towards the American Dream.

I have no qualms in admitting that my family was comprised of no-BS hustlers. In their eyes, success was, more or less, measured by the number of zeroes in your bank account. Coming to America from a war-ravaged third world country with no money in their pockets, in a way, justifies and further strengthens this mentality. However, they never failed to emphasize the importance of education to me, to the point where, if I didn't appreciate this fact or count the blessings in my life, I received some pretty severe beatings (many of which I admittedly deserved). I pushed all the way through school, did well, and I guess you could say I went to a rather "preftigious" high school.

High school and the first few years of college tested me. I like to think that I've always been a cynical realist masquerading as an optimist. Coupled with my incessant tendency to see the crap in the world, my light dabbling in drugs steadily increased. The imminent downward spiral was written on the wall, but I really didn't care. Unfortunately, I possessed this mentality that I wasn't deserving of happiness and as a result, I started getting seriously depressed, so much that I was depending (read: addiction) on drugs to pass the time, to get through the days, to essentially have a reason for living. I feigned laughter as a defense so I wouldn't break down and go through with suicide. Beyond the psychiatrist sessions, this is the only time I've expressed my thoughts on paper or in the case of WSO, on a public platform.

Children saved my life. How? On a whim, I visited my old elementary school and had a heart-to-heart with my mentor of over 16 years. She welcomed me with open arms and told me it was absolutely fine that I was the way I was. I began volunteering to help out and in the process, I had the pleasure of meeting and tutoring some of the most down-to-earth, funny kids. I exchanged stories with one particular fourth grader, who went into details about his broken family life. The straight confidence and gall of this kid when divulging the most personal moments of his life took me by complete surprise. He owned his story and accepted it as a part of him, almost as if it was something to be proud of. Only then did I understand it all: I never really accepted the past and considered it shameful and embarrassing; rather than considering it a weakness, I began reversing the negative and spinning it as a positive, rising above my situation with humility. This was my story, my journey. It will always be me. Furthermore, since then, volunteering has been one of my major side hobbies and it's something that I pursue actively.

I came out of that experience a new person with a refreshed mentality. Time was urgent. It was now or never, do or die. I nutted up and went after what I wanted. Amidst all of the finance classes I was taking, I pushed myself to pursue another side passion: clothing/fashion. I began interning at a clothing company, doing both design and finance work for them. At heart, I've always possessed a creative leaning and that entire experience was fascinating. The ridiculous amount of diligence, attention to detail, and the whole buyer-seller process was extremely interesting to me. I knew I wanted to combine this Consumer/Retail passion with finance and find a medium between the two. To this day, I still do. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was simultaneously interning at a few places, notably wealth management (kind of a rite of passage) and hedge funds, culminating in an S&T SA this past summer.

As you can tell, 2012 was a rather hectic year for me (5 internships in a 1.5 year span), but by far, the most enjoyable one in quite a while. I chuckle whenever I reflect on it; as many of some great WSO industry people know, hard work and a proactive mindset beget success. Everything was just continuously building on top of each other and working, my family life was improving, my career was finally growing, and WSO was a massive help throughout all of this. When you build momentum and reap the fruits of your labor, it feels personally fulfilling. Keep this momentum going. For now, I'm back in the hedge fund/private equity world and I'm loving it. I have no offers in hand, but I'm still pushing. My ideal position would be something along the lines of Corporate Strategy/Development for a Consumer/Retail company (maybe F500?). The goal for now is breaking into IB (preferably MM).

Looking back at everything, I admit I've had some missteps and made a ton of mistakes along the way. However, I'm incredibly proud to say I've been humbled by the people I've met, the experiences I've been through, and the struggle I've endured. I'm beyond grateful for the little successes I've had in this difficult journey called life.

I'm nowhere near successful at all, but if there's anything I've learned the hard way from meeting industry people and life in general, it'd be these:

1.) Be nice to people. Ask for help and help them if you can. In this industry, I think it's important to show people that you're not just a "pump and dump" kind of individual. I remember seeing a topic on here in which someone asked "How can I use this person/connection?" I don't think I was pissed as much as I felt bad for the guy. Eliminate "networking" from your vocabulary; instead, maybe call it, oh I don't know, "meeting/befriending new people."

2.) Stay humble and grounded. Say thank you. Be tactful/smart and have some etiquette, especially in social situations in a corporate setting. Appreciate your circumstances and make the best out of the cards you've been dealt. Dress conservatively until you get to be a BSD (at which point, I can definitely be your stylist consultant, given my experience, haha).

3.) Put your head down and work hard. As a junior analyst, I know how it feels to be just a cog in the wheel, in the grand scheme of things. You will be surprised at how far you can go when you push yourself to the limit and keep striving for what you want. And most of all, don't be afraid to ask questions (within reason, of course), carry a notebook/notepad and pen with you at all times, and don't half-ass anything. At the most junior levels, your work represents you. Let it speak for you. When things really get rolling, responsibilities increase, and trust is built, your hard-earned reputation will be one of your strongest assets.

4.) Find mentors in the industry and outside of the industry. I am truly thankful to have a few mentors who have went to bat for me in the industry and who gave me a chance when nobody else did. One particular mentor jokingly calls me his "young grasshopper," taking into consideration the parallels and similarities in our backgrounds. These relationships have been incredibly conducive to keeping me sane and on track with both my career and my personal life. My "secret to (minimal) success" has been a combination of right place, right time, and right person to pull me through.

5.) Fuck preftige. Get money. Take care of the people who care about you. Don't compare yourself to others (I'm at major fault with this one). Enjoy your life while you build the career/path you want. Travel overseas and experience different cultures. Nobody lies on their death bed and thinks, "Damn, I wish I aligned that flowchart better in that CIM/[insert common banker language here]."

I'd like to conclude this by thanking AndyLouis, Patrick, BlackHat (the first person I talked to here on WSO, not so surprising if you think about it), rufiolove, duffmt6, SirTradesALot, ANT, karypto, as well as other WSO members who've helped with advice/tips. Insight/opinions/criticism are much appreciated. Thanks for reading this wall of text, fellow monkeys. It feels truly cathartic to finally get it all out.

Comments (38)

Mar 9, 2013

SB'd, 1 and 2 are refreshing to read.

    • 1
Mar 9, 2013

Good read, would read again. Keep up the momentum!

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

I've seen people ruin themselves half-assing it in their 20s.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013
karypto:

I've seen people ruin themselves half-assing it in their 20s.

I was one of those people who blew his 20s, and I didn't have nearly the same struggles as the OP

I'm glad to see him back on his feet and plugging away. It DOES get better, especially now since he knows exactly what to do with a lucky break.

your relationship building skills or sublime and I don't doubt that you've been skill building like mad. Something great will develop...

Mar 11, 2013

Good luck.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

Great post. My parents emigrated from the soviet union, so I can relate at least a little (not nearly as rough as what you've described though). Keep it up.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

Best of luck to you EB and stay in touch. You seem like the type of guys who is going to get where they want to go.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

Awesome post and brings up an often overlooked point: this is the greatest country to be in on earth if you're humble and have a strong work ethic. My own father came to this country with $10 in his pocket. Things might be good for my family now, but when he came to the US, not so much. He worked his tail off and always prayed for better days.

Either way, congrats Ether. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors!

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

My boy!!!!! Glad you wrote this up man, +++++1.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

thanks for the shout out, great story, homepaging up top again tonight

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

Great post! Keep it up.

    • 1
Mar 11, 2013

I literally live by your points. Similar story to me besides the immigration and to a lesser extent. I just finished 4 internships in a 1 year span, shit gets crazy but I finally have an easy semester. Good luck getting into IB! You strike me as someone who has the gumption, drive, and work ethic to be successful. And if IB doesn't work out for you, keep it real with 5 playa.

    • 1
Mar 12, 2013

cry it out, bro. cry it out.

    • 1
Mar 12, 2013

Happy to have talked with you. Great post!

Mar 12, 2013

You really do have an interesting story and a very intense background. You definitely have the ambition to become someone great. Have a silver banana on me!

    • 1
Mar 12, 2013

Inspiring story and great points. I love your take on "networking" since I've always hated how insincere that term is.

    • 1
Mar 12, 2013

Great story, keep fighting the good fight.

    • 1
Mar 12, 2013

Wow, one true great comeback. Far less intense background but find myself not owning my life as well as the kid you talked to. Keep up the good fight.

    • 1
Mar 13, 2013

Damn. Your story is inspirational.

    • 1
Mar 13, 2013

Great read, thanks for the post!

    • 1
Mar 14, 2013

Thanks for sharing, very inspiring.

The hills are alive with the sound of horsepower! - Jeremy Clarkson

    • 1
Mar 21, 2013

good story

    • 1
Mar 21, 2013

SB'd

Great post Ether. Keep plugging away and persevering and you will get to where you want to be.

    • 1
Mar 26, 2013

Hats off bro.
Good for you.

Death is certain; Life aint.

    • 1
Apr 8, 2013

Never seen anything like this, great read and great story(no, not the same thing) hope you get where you want!

    • 1
Apr 8, 2013

Hilarious and relevant Wordpress on "preftige"
preftige.wordpress[dot]com

    • 1
Apr 9, 2013

press on dude!

    • 1
Apr 17, 2013

Thanks for reading this wall of text, guys. Much appreciated.

It's been a tough road and despite all my e-mails, calls, and coffee meetings (to the point where I was fairly convinced my piss smelled like Starbuck's Medium House Blend), I have no offers in hand, but a very solid contact list.

It's a bit demoralizing, but I'm still pushing and not giving up just yet. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

*Just SB'd the posts above with the 5 credits I just got from my 300th post.

    • 1
May 21, 2013

Can 100% relate if not to your background, but to this: "Unfortunately, I possessed this mentality that I wasn't deserving of happiness and as a result, I started getting seriously depressed"
I wish I had that mentor who could literally save my sanity when I was getting mad with all my troubles.. Trying to reshape the personality/attitude for better and working hard are major factors right now in my life, too.
I'm sure you;ll be fine. At least, compare my story (posted on job search topics) to yours and you;ll definitely feel how lucky you actually are.
All the best to you!

    • 1
Jun 20, 2013

Agreed on the mentor part; really difficult to find one, especially someone who is actively invested in your career and personal development.

Good luck.

    • 1
Jun 24, 2013

EtherBinge,

Your story is very inspiring. Keep it up. This forum needs more people like you.

FA

    • 1
May 28, 2015

Great story and great advice.

May 28, 2015

Amazing story. Thank you for sharing and best of luck, although it would only be complementary for a person like you!

May 28, 2015

great hustle, best of luck.

Observe. Learn. Share.

May 29, 2015

amazing story!

May 29, 2015

Congrats man, good read!

May 29, 2015
May 30, 2015

LIVE THE IMPOSSIBLES