Been lurking on WSO ever since a friend turned me onto it back when I was in university. My job falls somewhere at the crossroads of strategy, internal consulting, and product ownership--not traditional finance, but all the interview advice, industry insights, and random discussions I encountered on WSO were instrumental in helping me "get it". Now, I'd love to give back. I suspect recruiting is where I can add the most value, particularly for this audience. If you're interested, feel free to reach out about a WSO Mentor session--I'd be happy to connect.
From the Midwest. Went to a big state university with a respectable-but-not-blowing-anyone-away business college, of which I was a member. Grades in the 3.5 range. Wasn't familiar with IBD or the like until spending some time on WSO--not that my school placed much into it--but the lifestyle wouldn't have been for me anyway (sacrilege, I know). However, as covered above, WSO did (and continues to) help me learn about the industry in general.
Over my early college summers, had a sales job that, because it was in a somewhat finance-tangential industry, was unique for my age, and I had strong, tangible results to discuss, I was able to speak well to and turn into an effective talking point for recruiting. Had a number of offers for my junior summer (some via school career center, some I found via various online applications) and wound up taking an Ops role across the country. (Have a story of how I almost couldn't take the interview that still boils my blood to this day, if anyone's interested.) Truthfully, I didn't really understand what I was being hired to do, but I took it because 1) it was a reputable company that I could see myself working for FT, 2) even if I didn't, it would look good on a resume, 3) it paid well, and 4) I enjoyed the unique interview process and felt good about beating out a ton of people from "better" schools that I'd interviewed against.
Received a return offer at the end of my summer, and to work in a more desirable role than I'd interned in. Really liked my firm, but had a specific request (not comp) that they couldn't commit to honoring. So, I recruited HARD the fall of my senior year, interviewing pretty much everywhere, both to open as many doors as possible and because, frankly, I got to actually challenge of the interview process. Discussed both my prior summer + the sales experience heavily (and used the tips below) to land offers at what I'd consider a very high rate, especially for someone without overwhelming credentials. While weighing several of my offers, I continually stayed in touch with the recruiter from my summer firm and tried to create leverage with him. Just as the clock was striking 12 and I was about to accept a role elsewhere, I got a call that he could give me the thing I'd originally asked for. F*ck yeah, send me the papers.
Been at my same company since graduation and, while I certainly have the same day-to-day frustrations that most do, I can take an honest step back and say I've got it good. Industry isn't going anywhere, hours/pay are very reasonable, and I've experienced solid career progression thus far. Work itself isn't the most interesting, but there's plenty to learn if you take the initiative, and the cliche truth is that I work with a lot of really bright people that I could learn from no matter what my day job was--something that's really important to me.
- When you go into an interview, interview your potential employer, too. And not with surface questions, but the things you really want to know. It shows a genuine interest, not to mention helping to project confidence that you belong. And, as much as you don't want to be scratching your eyes out five months in, they want it even LESS, so it's better to get as much info as you can and see how you connect.
- Interview a lot. It helps to learn about different industries and job families, and if nothing else, it gives you live practice with your interview stories and will help you relax--both of which are invaluable.
- Don't try to fool yourself into a job that you'll despise and aren't truly fit for; see "scratching your eyes out" comment two bullets up.
- Try different things in your career. Yes, I'm at the same company I joined out of UG, but have made a dedicated effort to lateral around to dissimilar areas to work in different roles on different "products" with different people. In most cases, as long as you aren't clearly trying to "status hop", it'll make you come off as more well-rounded and employable down the road--because you WILL be.
- Finally, seek out opportunities to "level up" in your career. I don't mean scraping tooth and nail for the next level directly (though effort is of course important), but rather seeking out--and, better yet, creating your own--opportunities to do new work that adds value for your coworkers and your firm. It might take awhile, but people will take notice if the work is quality. Just don't get taken advantage of.
I hope that the community finds this thread useful, and I'll be happy to elaborate where possible and answer questions (though I'll be keeping it pretty anonymous).
As mentioned above, I'm also available for WSO Mentor sessions for anyone that would like to connect for a longer-form discussion. Objectively, recruiting (especially for students) is where I suspect I'll be able to help the most, but am happy to chat about career goals, non-"high finance" business careers, or anything in my profile that catches your eye.
Check out my mentoring profile here.