Fucked up during college, now what?

Yeah it's me, that loser friend everyone has who did nothing in college beside bang and blow at my cushy non target. I regret so much from college but won't get into it all (I can't remember half of it anyway). I recent graduated with a 3.7 class of 2023 so I didn't totally waste my life, but I have 1 internship experience at a corporate VC which isn't helping me secure any full time offers in IB or PE. I basically have no prior experience to leverage to get a full time offer and don't know what to do. I've been applying for 3-4 months now but still nothing (shocker). 

Came to post out of frustration at myself and because I need some advice. What should I do moving forward to take a step in the right direction? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Consider applying for any job, any industry, any location. That should get you at least a few interviews. It could be  consulting, or other roles in banking. Or any other job really.

If nothing comes out of networking, emailing, applying...:

- another degree if you can afford it to not waste any more time (but be aware that competitive programs may not take you on if they ask for job experience or similar)
- volunteering to build out your resume and network
- work in a family business (if available)
- work in non-professional jobs (so, any job really) to bridge the gap, pay the bills, ..
- another internship, if you can get anything atm

At least your GPA looks good and you have your CVC bit.

If you are entrepreneurial, you could also start your own business. Check out UpFlip on Youtube, they have a few ideas around this.
I sold stuff on eBay before I had part-time jobs.

There are 10,000 opportunities ahead of you. Isn’t 3.7 above the usual US IB threshold of 3.6 or something? Anyways - if you are an undergrad with a VC internship with you, first thing you should ask yourself is what you want to do: is it VC / PE / IB / CorpDev / FP&A?

Once you have this sorted - try to network as much as you can, meanwhile you can prepare with some online certificates for the day you have a test. You must have an alumni network, even if non target, just use it 100%. That’s what you paid for.

I don’t know how internships work where you are - but off cycles can be good ahead of a full time.

The easiest way to IB is always Spring to summer to grad. But there are many options - and you having never been in IB before - you can test other things.

Big 4 corporate finance is a very good entry that can lead to other things. Sure pay is not as good but you can build a network and knowledge there, there either move or do an MBA 3 years down the road and go to IB.

End answer: get going, keep your head up.

You're probably not going to get any IB or PE offers at this point so have to focus on jobs that will give you an opportunity to lateral to IB after a year or two of experience. A couple of options off the top of my head that could work:

- middle / back office jobs at a bank you want to work in IB for. There are some banks where if you crush it for a year in a mid office role (PM, ABL, etc.) they're pretty open to lateralling into the IBD (as a first year). 

- consulting jobs can usualy lateral into MM or lower banks after getting some experience. Big 4 (or whatever tf they use in consulting) is probably out of the picture but lower shops may be available

- Corporate finance / strategy is a bit tougher but if you get the right company may have the opportunity to join IB later.

That said, the easiest option would be to work for a few years, get an MBA and then come into IB as an MBA Ass. You'll be a few years behind but still able to break in. 

Good GPA and one Finance internship doesn't equate to fucking up. Are you going to work get an offer at GS or Blackstone? No, but there are plenty of opportunities.

It is an awful hiring environment, so don't kick yourself. What needs to change is your attitude. Put your head down and embrace the grind.

Best of luck

Most Helpful

It's good that you recognize you have goals and that how you've previously acted wasn't adequate to get you there. Don't overlook the value of this lesson.

I'm not preaching, I am encouraging.

This is in many ways a gift. It is a powerful lesson, and you have the most runway ahead of you to apply it. You are early in life. I am farther down the road than you and still discover there are big lessons to uncover, and for me, they happen with a much greater cost (whether reputational, financial, psychological, or time) than something like exploring a first job out of college.

So, wrap your arms around the challenge of rewriting yourself to be the person who lives in light of the things they know they want.

It's intimidating.

For example, if you decide you want the freedom of working only for yourself as an entrepreneur as well as the financial reward of being successful at it, then holy shit, you have so much work cut out for you.

You may have to do two or four years of hard work to get credentialed in a way that you feel makes sense (maybe by doing banking and private equity stints so you can raise a search fund or teach yourself basic concepts in finance, accounting, and business generally). You may have to work the better part of a decade to save enough so you feel you have the financial resources to pursue it appropriately.

Or, perhaps you decide you want a MBA from Harvard or Stanford to upgrade the academic branding in your life. You need to spend two hours every weekend straight for months on test prep so you get a lofty score, all while balancing the demanding lifestyle of a competitive role that will look good on an application.

I could go one with more examples about fitness, travel, friendships, lifestyle elements, or anything else.

The overarching point is that if you know something matters to you, you can either mentally shove it away into the dark corner of your mind with an "I'll think about that later", or you can grab the tools and start grinding. The more you make yourself the person who buckles down, the more success you'll have against all your goals.

The character trait of discipline affects your performance globally in life. I wish you the best.

For your situation here, I'd actually recommend doing a one-year Master's program.

Assuming you're the typical 22-year old age right now, you don't even have to stress about matriculation this fall. If you enrolled next fall for a 2025 graduation, you'd be 24 pursuing entry-level roles. This is at worst a little uncommon and in no way bad. 

One, the extra time before the spring 2024 application deadlines grants you a long window to polish your application. This means a couple things.

You should be able to put 100 hours into the GMAT and get a 760+. (You should aim for 770 because your non-target alma mater and good-but-not-sky-high GPA are going to weigh you down if you ever decide to pursue an MBA, and the score you get now is good for five years.)

You should be able to secure another internship. There are dozens of credible financial services firms, sell-side and buy-side, in literally every regional city. There are hundreds in each of the major cities. It is a simple brute force process to network with as many as you can to find one that is willing to let you work with them. Doesn't matter if it's paid or not. You can find both a summer analyst position for 2024 summer before your matriculation as well as irregular (whether fall, winter, spring, or just 'extended'). Ideally you get both: one that starts in September ish and a formal summer analyst one. 

You should be able to cultivate good references, whether that means a college professor who you did well with or ideally a professional contact from your undergrad internship or hypothetical additional one(s).

Two, you will extend the advantage of being able to email anyone you want in the world as a student. This is more powerful than you know. People respond to students. (Look at what I'm doing now.) There's an automatic dynamic of "I can be helpful here" that simply doesn't exist the same way between working professionals. 

The entire time between now and your 2025 graduation is your overtime window. The clock didn't run out, so use the time well. If you wrote 10 emails or LinkedIn messages a day (this is low) for 24 months straight, that's 1,460 people you tried to reach. If you had a 10% hit rate, that's about 150 people you got to talk to, learn from, and turn into a potential resource on your journey. 

Three, you give yourself more time to bake. The power of compounding is insane. This applies to personal traits as well. It's hard to change yourself to be better. The best time to do it is the earliest in life you can. The second best time to do it is when you have the fewest demands on your time or mental energy. These two correlate. 

If you are intentional and don't squander it, staying in school this way would give you two more years before having a demanding job that consumes so much from you that you lose the ability to spend one hour every day on reading, meditating, writing, exercising, and interacting with the people you love. 

The great analogy is choosing when to enter the draft. Some guys are ready after three years and wind up going in the first round. Some guys redshirt and end up spending five years getting their body, skills, and knowledge right in order to maximize their draft stock and future performance in the pros. 

Four, you may be able to sidestep a crummy hiring environment. There's an ongoing trope about hiding in school during a recession. You can't predict where everything's going to be in the future, but it's clear as day that getting a job right now is an uphill slog. You're competing against hundreds of people laid off in their first or second year of an investment banking analyst program who are looking for anything relevant. You're working in an environment where nearly every company has a hiring freeze in place. It's uphill sledding.

If you choose this route, you have numerous options.

I'm admittedly more removed from this now, but the good ones I was aware of were Duke, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, and I've heard Cornell added one. There are also international options like LSE, and if you're looking, you may as well include the Oxbridge schools.

Foreign schools are dramatically less holistic in their admissions than U.S. institutions. There isn't a focus on diversity, you get in on the merits of your academic performance. I don't know what a 3.7 translates to, but if you can accurately represent that it's the equivalent of a first (1:1), you're in great shape and should really consider those. An upper second (2:1) does less for you.

The foreign route could be very compelling. Those institutions cannot know everything about every institution in other countries. This means your non-target doesn't weigh you down in their eyes. They're looking at your grades and scores. (You'll laugh, but there are people from tiny no-name universities in Poland, the Czech, Finland, and so on who are getting master's at Oxford and Cambridge right now.) And on the flip side, when you come back home, people will be wowed that you had enough initiative and aptitude to pursue and get into a school that strong and spend time abroad.

This will position you to be able to get productive internship experience before enrolling, and thanks to the career center at your new school, even before graduating, apply for analyst roles with the benefit of a much longer period of networking plus a shinier degree. You can cast a wide net: banking, consulting, corporate finance, big tech. 

All in all, I hope you begin to look inward and build a different self so that you can avoid a life of unfulfillment. I think there's an achievable path you can pursue, and I know it can work out for you if you apply yourself.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Give your experience with ‘bang and blow’ consider selling physical for money 

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