I have been an avid reader of WSO for the past couple of years and the stories that I have enjoyed reading the most are about non-target kids breaking into Wall Street. I always looked at them with admiration and dissected every article to gain the most valuable information possible to use in my path from non-target to the street, and I dreamt of one day sharing my own story. Now, it looks it is my turn and it has come earlier than expected. I sit here today as a sophomore from a non-target school with an offer to join afor the summer as an analyst. So, I want to share my story to the WSO community who has been an integral part of my success.
First, let me share a little bit of my background. I am an international student and I attend a non-target state university (35,000+ students). Still, Ia strong (3.9) and I am heavily involved.
Before starting college I knew I wanted to be somewhere in finance but I did not have a clue of what IB was. I knew about Wall Street and for me it looked interesting. So, I decided to research online, I stumbled into WSO, and since then I have become an avid reader. Then, during my first month in school while reading WSO I saw a post about the Campus Rep program. I decided to apply even though I was a freshman, did not know much about finance and had very few connections at my school. I had the opportunity to join the amazing team and looking back at it, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far, and it was the experience that defined my interest in IB.
Now, I knew I wanted to be in IB, but how could I break in? I had no connections, no experience and a very limited financial knowledge. However, I had an advantage, I had time. I was still a freshman but I had the drive and desire to achieve my goals and nothing was going to stop me. One night I was talking with my dad and he pointed out that he had a friend who was an MD inat a in New York, so I asked him to put me in touch as I was heading to visit a friend in NYC during winter break. I reached out to my dad's friend and he invited me over to his office. I was expecting not more than a 20 minutes chat and cup of coffee. However, he invited me to spend the entire day at the office working with his team. That day I met a person in his team who became a mentor to me and has been an integral part of my success.
Later that semester I got invited by ato attend a freshman discovery program over spring break. I had applied to this program earlier in the semester and I was very excited when I got the invitation. However, until this day, I still wonder why they invited me over other target school kids considering the application requirements where an essay and a resume, and I had no connections in the bank. This event opened doors I never imagined to open that early. During the program I met bankers from every level and industry, and after the event I knew I had the chance to break into Wall Street.
As the summer came along I tried to get an internship. However I was limited because I am an international student and the few options I had fell through. Instead, I had the opportunity to study abroad with my school. Now, when I came back to start school I knew I had the opportunity to get aposition as a sophomore. So, I decided to put all my effort into it.
Once sophomore year started out I put all my focus into recruiting season, I polished my resume, read both WSO guides and started calling the few people I knew in banking. As they saw my interest in banking the few people I knew started putting me in touch with their friends around the industry and my whole semester became a networking frenzy having at least two phone calls a week and sending countless emails. All this reached a climax when one of the bankers told me that if I really wanted to land in aI needed to go to NYC before Christmas and meet the people I had talked to personally. That was on a Thursday afternoon, I was on a plane to NYC that Sunday and spent three days visiting everyone I had talked to before. Some of these meeting were pretty casual while other became straight formal interviews (I got interviewed by four different bankers in one of my visits). After this I just had to wait. Throughout winter break I got first round interviews, and by early January I landed two Superdays. One of the Superdays was at the bank I was part of their freshman program while the other one was at a bank I knew few people. In the end I ended up getting an offer from the bank I knew less people and got waitlisted in the one I thought I had a better chance.
As I sit today waiting for the summer to start, I look back in what I have done and think of what advice I can give to students that are like I was a year ago and I can summarize them into a few things:
- Network: as everyone else says, it is the key to landing that offer if you come from a non-target, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call alumni or your parents' friend. Just try to get in touch with as many people in finance as possible, you never know who is going to open a door for you and if you can afford it, don't think twice about making a networking trip.
- Know your stuff: if you get a chance to talk to bankers know why you want to do IB, the basic technical stuff and what is going on in the world. You don't want to blow up your chances because you didn't know what are different techniques of how to value a company (get the WSO guides!).
- Don't get discouraged because you are from a non-target school: you would be impressed how many bankers don't care about your school once you demonstrate that you know your stuff and are equally or better qualified than a target school candidate. Also, the bankers that came from non-targets will open the doors for you (they know the struggle)
Again, I want to thank the WSO community for being a big part of this story and being a guide throughout this process.