How WSO has enhanced my IB/PE career

CompBanker's picture
Rank: Human | 12,015

Background

I randomly discovered WSO nearly seven years ago just weeks after I secured a FT MM IB position. The website was extremely nascent at the time with only a few thousand registered users. The majority of the users were college students with only a handful of people actually working in investment banking. Like many new users today, I became engrossed in learning as much as I could about banking and spent a tremendous time reading everything on the site.

Throughout my two banking years, I did my best to share my experiences with the community. As one of the most senior members on the site (as an analyst, no less), there were relatively few people who could answer my questions about PE or assist me in building my career. At the time, I felt as though I wasn't getting anything out of the site despite putting a lot of effort in.

Fast forward to my first PE job and I was finally in a position to really mentor people looking to break into banking and PE. I started getting a lot of inquiries from not only college kids, but bankers as well. Luckily PE isn't as taxing hours-wise and I had the time to email/talk/meet with folks and do my best to help them out. I still hadn't seen any tangible benefit from my now 1,000+ hours on WSO, but at least I was having fun.

After two years in PE, I moved on to another firm in a more senior position, complete with more responsibility and pre-MBA associates to do my bidding. It was at this point that all the benefits of my time spent on WSO flooded in.

Network

It hit me a bit suddenly, but I started getting emails from folks that I had worked with over the prior years. They were updating me on their new jobs in IB/PE. My network just started to explode. People were joining MM banks (Harris Williams, C.W. Downer, Jefferies, to name a few). Same holds true for the PE side. One of my earliest WSO connections ended up at a competitive PE fund and has already been promoted once. I just got an email this week from a guy joining to a multi-billion dollar PE fund, which partially inspired the post. I had inadvertently built a powerful network through WSO without even realizing it.

On The Job

At my most recent PE job, I sat on the board of a company that played in a very particular niche. As it turns out, my company's #1 competitor was taken private by another private equity firm. It just so happens that the associate on the deal was a connection that I had previously made through WSO. While I wasn't able to convince him to acquire my business, we shared some insights into the industry. Most importantly, I was able to demonstrate to the Partners at my PE firm that I had a broad network and could contribute to the value creation in ways typically reserved for industry veterans.

Building a Reputation

A few student groups reached out to me, primarily through WSO, and invited me to speak at their schools and share my experiences / insights into the industry. While not the most glamorous events, these have been a great way to start to build a reputation and gain experience at speaking engagements.

You put WSO on your b-school application?

I identified my involvement on WSO as an extracurricular activity that demonstrates my commitment to leadership / mentorship. It is hard to tell at the time but actively participating on sites such as WSO, despite being work-related, enhance one's knowledge base and skillset in many different ways. I'm convinced that it made a difference in my application either directly or indirectly.

Going Forward

I just got a text today from a friend in b-school that is as a summer associate at one of the elite NYC IB boutiques. One of the people I met at last year's WSO conference is an associate there and I set the two up. Hardly groundbreaking, but it never would have been possible without WSO. While I'm not currently looking for a job, I'm personally going out of pocket nearly $1,000 all-in to be at the WSO Conference. Hope to see you guys there.

Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 1/01/14. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

Comments (43)

Jun 14, 2013

great stuff!

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Jun 14, 2013

wait you're not Christian Bale? :)

great post. +1. The deepest connections you make are the ones you go into without making a point to "network". People can see you have an agenda from a mile away, and that really rubs people off in a wrong way. Now when you're genuinely helping people, you build a much stronger bond.

I have built a couple of really deep connections here at WSO and have utilized a lot of resources over the years (including a lot of what you wrote). I am finally starting to get PMs from students and people in the industry asking for help on breaking into CF and finance in general. I hope to follow in your footsteps and start speaking at more events.

Jun 14, 2013

Look forward to meeting you and your posts have been a huge help for me the past few years.

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Jun 14, 2013

Just wanted to say thanks for the quality responses and posts you put out there on a consistent basis. A good amount of my WSO bookmarks are things that you have written. Definitely appreciate what you've done for the site over the years.

Being relatively new to the industry, I look forward to adding what I can to the site in the near future. Hope others do the same.

Jun 14, 2013

Always enjoy reading your posts, CompBanker. I think it's awesome you and other members were/are willing to help out so much without that tangible benefit that you've only recently seen.

Jun 14, 2013

looking forward to meeting up with you again and hearing your insights on the panel

Best Response
Jun 14, 2013

wow, dude - you're going to make me teary eyed. ;-) For real, thank you so much for everything you've done for WSO over the years. It's users like you that really make it an incredibly valuable resource for aspiring finance pros.

...and I can't believe it's been 7 years! that is scary / crazy...just think what it will be like when we hit the 20yr anniversary. sometimes i forget, but reading posts like this makes me realize we've come a pretty long way from the iBankingOasis.com days.

Also, I think a natural progression for WSO will be to have more and more "alums" in higher positions in IB, PE, HF, Corp Fin, Consulting, etc over the coming years as the user growth has really only started to accelerate this year...so let's hope you get even more returns in the coming years for everything you've given.

You know you always have a friend and can tap my network anytime you want :-)
-Patrick

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Jun 14, 2013

Great post. You just made me realize that 'I'm doing it wrong'.

Jun 14, 2013

you sir, just changed my ideal career path.

Jun 15, 2013
SirTradesaLot:

Great post. You just made me realize that 'I'm doing it wrong'.

Me too. I CompBanker is my WSO role model. Must give him a silver banana.

Jun 15, 2013

Thanks for sharing. Great read.

Jun 15, 2013

You have mentioned "Throughout your 2 banking years, there were relatively few people who could answer your questions about PE or assist you in building your career."

How did you overcome this? Informational interviews with Partners from PE firms ? Cold Calling ex-analysts or ex-associates who have left the scene after their 3 years PE stint?

Would love to know what traditional methods you used in getting your answers when you were at crossroads.

Jun 15, 2013
aspharagus:

You have mentioned "Throughout your 2 banking years, there were relatively few people who could answer your questions about PE or assist you in building your career."

How did you overcome this? Informational interviews with Partners from PE firms ? Cold Calling ex-analysts or ex-associates who have left the scene after their 3 years PE stint?

Would love to know what traditional methods you used in getting your answers when you were at crossroads.

Honest, I went in blind in terms of having my PE related questions answered. Fortunately by the time I was conducting my search I had already completed one sell side M&A transaction to a quasi strategic and was nearing the completion of a second sell side M&A transaction with a PE buyer. I had a little bit of help from prior analysts at my bank, but mostly on the technical side. Compared to the knowledge available today, I was pretty much winging it. Fortunately, I'm guessing so was a lot of my competition.

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Jun 15, 2013

Amazing post and even more amazing member who's helped out a lot of fellow monkeys (including myself).

It's a life lesson in itself, no? Be kind to others and help them out if you can.

Jun 15, 2013

Naise!!!! thanks for sharing :)

Jun 16, 2013

Great post. Really shows the value that a site like WSO can provide. I hope to get as much out of it as you have!

Jun 17, 2013

Your posts have been very informative for lurkers like me. Appreciate not just you but everybody else posting to help little monkeys out!

Jun 17, 2013

Long time lurker, new poster. I've written and deleted a few excessively verbose replies, I'm settling on: Thank you, your charity will undoubtedly continue to pay dividends.

One day more.

Jun 17, 2013

Really appreciate all the senior posters. New to the site and looking to make a career change. Great info that keeps me motivated as I study and learn more about The Street.

Jun 17, 2013

This is a solid post.

Forums in general are "fraternities" of sorts. If you do your best to add value anywhere, over the long-term you will likely be rewarded. Most will simply quit and never see the benefit of a long-term positive reputation. Instead people continue to search for a "quick fix".

This is literally no different from a career on the Street, the longer you develop a positive long-term reputation you create a positive feedback loop where people are dying to help you because you have in turn helped them in a major way over the years or in the recent past.

Glad to hear you're doing well in PE and hope you make even more connections over the next several years.

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Jun 17, 2013
CompBanker:

You put WSO on your b-school application?

I identified my involvement on WSO as an extracurricular activity that demonstrates my commitment to leadership / mentorship. It is hard to tell at the time but actively participating on sites such as WSO, despite being work-related, enhance one's knowledge base and skillset in many different ways. I'm convinced that it made a difference in my application either directly or indirectly.

I imagine this is not a smart decision for the numerous users who say politically incorrect things on here.

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

Jun 18, 2013

beautiful post! I'm sure many people will agree. This changed my perception of networking.

Jun 18, 2013

Great post and thank you for sharing. WSO is a great site and it is people like you that make all the difference. Keep it up and good luck with your future career.

You're walking around blind without a cane, pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.

Gordon Gekko

Jun 14, 2013
Hooked on LEAPS:
CompBanker:

You put WSO on your b-school application?

I identified my involvement on WSO as an extracurricular activity that demonstrates my commitment to leadership / mentorship. It is hard to tell at the time but actively participating on sites such as WSO, despite being work-related, enhance one's knowledge base and skillset in many different ways. I'm convinced that it made a difference in my application either directly or indirectly.

I imagine this is not a smart decision for the numerous users who say politically incorrect things on here.

You could just say your username is CompBanker, I suppose.

(it would be disastrous if I put WSO on my resume with my username)

Jun 15, 2013
Hooked on LEAPS:
CompBanker:

You put WSO on your b-school application?

I identified my involvement on WSO as an extracurricular activity that demonstrates my commitment to leadership / mentorship. It is hard to tell at the time but actively participating on sites such as WSO, despite being work-related, enhance one's knowledge base and skillset in many different ways. I'm convinced that it made a difference in my application either directly or indirectly.

I imagine this is not a smart decision for the numerous users who say politically incorrect things on here.

Definitely not. I've made an effort not to be combative on the forums or engage in any discussions that would be looked unfavorably upon by an employer. Partially because I don't want my involvement on WSO to ever be detrimental to my career, but also because it's not my approach to online discussions. As my career gets more and more unique it becomes increasingly easy for people who know me to identify who I am on the forums. My co-workers at my most recent PE firm certainly did. As for putting my actual username on my resume, I think that is probably going a little too far.

Jun 18, 2013

Great write-up, thanks CB! Look forward to many more good years...

Jun 21, 2013
WallStreetOasis.com:

You know you always have a friend and can tap my network anytime you want :-)

-Patrick

Let's keep it PG Patrick! :)

Jun 21, 2013

this is awesome (and a bit daunting given I have only recently started to follow this website more closely and you have been active here for 7 years! :). hope I will be able to help someone else too. maybe I don't have a lot of experience but I did do a few jobs, CF, IB, PE. Looking forward to learning from you all. Thanks CompBanker

Jun 21, 2013

No doubt one of the interview series helped me get my new role

Jun 23, 2013

Great post. I should probably be much less abrasive here. I'm on my 6th or 7th year as well, though I've gone through a few handles...

Jun 25, 2013

Great post, great story.

Can't wait for the conference in a couple of days!!

Jul 19, 2013

Superb post. May I ask where you went to B-school and did they bring up your engagement in WSO during the interview (assuming you had one)?

Jun 15, 2013
vernge01:

Superb post. May I ask where you went to B-school and did they bring up your engagement in WSO during the interview (assuming you had one)?

Did WSO come up in my B-School interviews? Not directly. My interviewer at the school I ultimately matriculated at had been very active in mentoring high school students regarding managing their finances. I did a lot of volunteer work for a couple of public schools outside Boston doing the exact same thing. We ended up discussing it extensively and I have no doubt that he viewed WSO as an extension of my volunteering.

Aug 9, 2013

Excellence post. As a college student and hopeful professional, this is inspiring. I'll be sure to stick around.

Aug 9, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

Jan 1, 2014

because of your generosity to the forums, and your willingness to "go to bat" for your fellow monkeys, I must assume that you began your career at Harris Williams.

But in all seriousness, your post makes me regret not taking my contributions to this site a bit more seriously.

Jan 1, 2014

Great post!

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.

Jan 2, 2014

Awesome! Always a fan of your work CompBanker

Jan 18, 2014

Thanks for sharing your insight and experiences. Very admirable & encouraging. It's people like you that add tremendous value to WSO.

Feb 5, 2014

This is a story of you giving back to something that contributed to your career in a number of ways. One day, I hope to give back to everyone and everything that will have helped me get to where I will be.

Apr 26, 2014
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May 9, 2016
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Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

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