Hard Work Does Pay Off

I joined WSO a little less than two days ago. I want to post my in depth detailed story of how I made it to the BB I am at now. Hopefully this will help inspire a few people or at least show them that you can in fact make it to a great firm coming from basically nothing.

I grew up in a decent household, my father was a high school maths teacher, and my mother was a nurse. Neither one made great money living in southern California, especially with having three other brothers. Needless to say, I lived in a rather small one story house in a decent neighborhood. I worked incredibly hard in high school with all of the extra curricular activities and completing essays to get a full ride scholarship. I was not interested in graduating undergrad with tons of debt, as I knew I wanted to go to grad school, which was going to rack up a mountain of debt for me.

I ended up going to San Jose State University for both mathematics and statistics degrees. I worked my ass off through undergrad, also adding in extra curricular activities, joining a fraternity, as well as a couple of different clubs. I knew that I wanted to attend the great UC Berkeley for graduate school, and I also knew that I needed an awesome resume, grades, and network connections. I ended up getting accepted to UC - Berkeley for their Mathematics Graduate Program.

During my time in undergrad and part of my time at grad school, I did not truly know what I wanted to do upon graduation. During the summers, I interned at various different tech companies mostly doing computer programming and software design type work. My first internship during junior year of undergrad was the worst, two and a half months of nothing but data mining. Fun stuff right? I realized after my senior year of undergrad starting my second internship that upon graduating from UCB, I was definitely NOT going to go into any type of software programming.

It wasn't until near year two of grad school, when I found my passion for finance. My interest in maths had always been in game theory as well as optimization problems, which I had taken many courses given my applied maths background. I then took a course on financial econometrics, which I loved. The professor was a really cool person, and was able to talk with him a good bit. He use to work on the street doing risk analysis, before coming back to his alma mater to teach. I took several more classes with him over the next year and a half including financial mathematics and risk analysis courses.

Upon graduating I got my first job at mid to smaller size firm (~500 -1000 people) at one of their offices in San Francisco. This was not their main HQ offices, so it was a pretty small shop, only around 20-25 people. The position was as a generalist IB analyst. I was part of a two year program there. I knew that I wanted to move to a BB within a year or two so I set goals/objectives and ways to go about achieving them. I stayed in contact with different friends I had made over the years who had gone into banking. Since I worked for a smaller firm, we generally put on as co-managers on the bottom end, but I did not care about that. This in a sense actually helped me. I was able to reach out, and ended up becoming great friends with people from larger and BB firms on the street. Almost two years into my firm, a friend of mine who I met on my first transaction was promoted internally as a VP for the Lev Fin team he worked on. Within a couple of weeks he reached out and said that they needed to fill an analyst position for their group, and he would love to try and bring me on board.

I polished up my old CV and sent it over to him, which he turned into his manager. I had two calls with various people of the team, and then flew out to NYC to meet with everyone. This process took around a month and a half simply since I had a lot going on as well as everyone in their group. It was the perfect fit as I knew I wanted to go into the DCM side for Lev Fin. I love working on complex problems coming from a quant background, and this was the perfect fit for my skills. Everyone on the team was really supportive and friendly, and I fit within the group dynamic perfectly, so everything worked out in the end.

I met a lot of great people from all different firms, both large an small, working on co-managed deals and stayed in touch with a good bit of them for references/contacts. A couple of them, I became really good friends with who I would Bloomberg IB through out the day. Always be respectful and friendly to the people you work with both inside and outside of your firm, as this can help you in the long run if trying to make a lateral or forward move.

Anyways that is my story. A kid who grew up in a small town in a lower middle class family, who fought my way up until I reached the point that I want to be at.

P.S. I promise to get back to everyone who messaged me within the next few days. I am new to WSO and must wait the couple of days in order to reply back.

Comments (6)

May 19, 2017 - 8:18am
Name Of Profit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ha, I like your story. Have you ever thought about taking the econ route since you like game theory and time-series analysis? unfortunately most of the cases you need a econ Ph.D from T20 school but the opportunities are limitless, the work is interesting and you can make bank from the very beginning of your career. If you like game theory take a look into Industrial Organization which is game theory applied to firms.

May 20, 2017 - 10:04pm
IB Analist, what's your opinion? Comment below:
My interest in maths had always been in game theory as well as optimization problems, which I had taken many courses given my applied maths background.

I too like maths

Jun 9, 2017 - 11:12am
MonacoMonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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