AMA: From non-target to BB S&T internship to jobless after graduation to HF to unemployed...but happy.

Darth-Trader's picture
Rank: Baboon | 113

I am using a throw-away account for this post. I have been meaning to do a post to tell my story for a couple of years now, and finally am following through with it. It is my hope that fellow students and analysts will gain some insight and perspective from my experience.

Background:

I had always wanted to work in finance, since I was 14 I was looking at stocks and reading about investing. During my time in high school, while most of my friends were socializing during our open periods, I would be in the computer lab listening in to company conference calls. (just to give a background, I was THAT finance nerd)

Non-target / Manifest destiny

Due to the recession my college selection was limited to in-state tuition universities, so I went to the flagship state school, which although was well regarded for the metro-area I was in, it was VERY non-target for finance positions in NYC. That didn't really matter though, much like the settlers who came to America, I felt I had a certain level of manifest destiny. Where my peers were content with the opportunities provided at my school (girls, partying, decent enough grades), I was always looking for ways to improve myself and this helped when it came to recruiting for my junior summer internship.

Finding my competition

I had never been to New York until my first super day. It was a profound experience, meeting fellow students from more reputable schools, whom were all most likely smarter than me academically speaking. I thought to myself, this is my competition, and I was so excited to be there.

BB S&T offer

When the dust had settled, I had applied to between 80 and 100 internships across the U.S., at commercial banks, insurance co, investment banks, real estate companies, etc. I had zero offers, until the very last one, where I received an offer for a top BB in their S&T division. It was a dream come true, and I had been mentally preparing for that day for many years.

I started my internship off in the best of manner, and was well liked by my floor. I was even communicated a verbal full-time offer half way through the internship. I had it all. I loved working with the people in the group, but the product was very dull and boring and I didnt think I would be happy doing that full-time, so I politely asked to be moved to another group mid-way through the summer. They were very accomodating and I got to sit with 3 other groups, looking for that ideal role.

No return offer...

The summer came to an end, and I was left empty handed, with no offer. I was so disappointed in myself, the last few weeks of the internship, I remember going off into the bathroom to cry because everything I had been working towards was evaporating into thin air. My ideal vision for myself (FT in NYC working in the markets)was no longer going to happen. I came back for my senior year of college, completely burned out, and not wanting to interview or recruit for a FT job thereafter. I still applied for roughly 50-100 roles, but came back empty handed, New York was out of the question as I don't believe I even got a single first round interview for firms out east.

The 2 year slump begins

This is when a 2 year slump began, I lost the fire and drive that I once had for finance and became largely indifferent towards everything. Thats the problem with competitive overachievers, when you don't achieve, you really feel it.

I graduated from my university with no job in hand, and despite getting to the final round at a very well regarded option MM group in chicago, I ultimately had nada, it was a very shitty feeling. I was regarded as the one in my friend group who was head and shoulders above everyone else, and destined for success, and yet I had nothing to show for it while everyone else had multiple job offers in our city.

Landed a job at a HF

Fast forward 10 months, and I finally had a role at a fund in NYC. I am still processing my overall opinion of that experience, I recently was let go due our lack of profitability, and am now searching for a new role. I am not nearly as distraught as I was before (senior year looking for a FT job), and am in fact, taking funemployment in stride.

I basically just wrote whatever came to me, so the thoughts may be a bit random. There really wasn't a purpose beyond telling my story, hopefully some of you may find it valuable.

I have definitely matured since college, I no longer feel defined by my job (i still do, a little bit, but not nearly as much as before), and I am no longer so focused on the whole preftige of high-finance as I am now more focused on finding a role that I enjoy and has interesting work.

Advice to my freshman self

If I could go back and tell my freshman self some advice, it would be to not take things so seriously, and that I'll never be happy if I am constantly comparing myself to others. Your job doesn't define you, and realistically nobody should care what you do, its about how you are as a person, the sooner you learn that, the sooner you can move on with your life.

Happy to answer any questions.

Comments (20)

Feb 3, 2018

Thanks for the nice post, it helped! :)

Feb 3, 2018

Thanks for the story Darth!

I agree whole heartedly. Luckily for me I came to this realization sophomore year college and have been able to enjoy college and not stress over grades, finding prestigious FT offers etc.

Question: Why specifically did your junior year internship not lead to a FT offer? Was it because you switched groups half way during the summer so you weren't able to build any relationships with the team?

Feb 4, 2018

Essentially that.

I spent time in 3 other groups. The first I wasn't a good fit for, but the feedback was that I was still tracking for an offer...just not with them. 2nd the other intern beat me out for the spot they had, and the 3rd, I was placed with a weeks left in the internship, and it was blatantly obvious the head of their group assumed i wasn't worth consideration as I showed up onto the desk so late into the summer.

HR/my supervisor really dropped the ball. Not that I blame them for not getting a return offer, but I had been asking to switch onto that last group for 3 weeks and they finally came around to it on the last week, while knowing the entire time the desk was looking to hire an analyst.

It just goes to show you are the one ultimately in charge of yourself and you can't rely on others. Obviously it's great if your colleagues or HR help but I don't wait and hold my breath for it anymore after that experience. One needs to be proactive, not reactive.

    • 1
Feb 5, 2018

Respect.

Feb 5, 2018
Darth-Trader:

Advice to my freshman self

If I could go back and tell my freshman self some advice, it would be to not take things so seriously, and that I'll never be happy if I am constantly comparing myself to others. Your job doesn't define you, and realistically nobody should care what you do, its about how you are as a person, the sooner you learn that, the sooner you can move on with your life.

well said thanks for sharing your story

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Feb 24, 2018

I disagree, the only way you get better is by comparing yourself to those above you.

Mar 6, 2019

the whole point is that maybe you don't have to "get better". you can just be.

Feb 5, 2018

Ok so you have a couple years (months) experience and now you are unemployed? Curious what you have in mind next?

Feb 5, 2018

I still want to be involved in the markets/investments in some capacity. Whether it's PWM, S&T, research , IR, or biz dev, I'm really indifferent. It would be ideal being in a more sales/relationship focused role, so private banking is having an appeal to me.

I think being on the trading side of things was a good experience, and definitely provided a solid foundation for understanding the Dynamics of the stock market (we traded equities at this place) , but at the same time, I'm curious towards what else is out there

    • 1
Feb 5, 2018
Darth-Trader:

I think being on the trading side of things was a good experience, and definitely provided a solid foundation for understanding the Dynamics of the stock market (we traded equities at this place)

I'll assume this experience was recently, so . . . you traded equities, over the past two years (the top of a ridiculous bull market) and you were let go due to lack of profitability??? Something is not adding up here, there must be parts you are leaving out.

Feb 5, 2018

"That didn't really matter though, much like the settlers who came to America, I felt I had a certain level of manifest destiny. "

You're a fucking nerd.

Mar 29, 2018

..

Feb 5, 2018

I likely didn't specify that , but I did apply for positions in major cities, Chicago, Philly, San Fran, NYC, and Boston, as well as a few of the less prominent finance cities, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver...you get the picture. Again, not much traction on the recruiting front there, but admittedly a lot of this was simplying filling out online applications, and not networking and reaching out to groups. I studied finance in undergrad.

Mar 29, 2018

...

    • 10
Feb 11, 2018

Hi OP, thanks for sharing your story!

I am in kind of a similar slump as you- graduated with no offer and some internship experience.

Questions- within those 10 months of applying and networking, how did you spend your free time? Did you get a contract job or something to keep you busy or were you just preparing for your interviews? Also, how did you spin your story to get the position at the fund you were at?

Feb 11, 2018

So afte I graduated, I went backpacking for 5 months, then came back and tried to start a fund with a friend. I also worked at my dad's company doing business development/tech things (building website, sales, etc). So I stayed busy, for the interview for the HF I focused more on the fund we were trying to launch, about raising capital, back testing strategies, and things like that.

So although I had a 10 month stint of not being professionally employed, half the time I was off backpacking, the other half I was just staying busy with things.

    • 1
Feb 11, 2018

Excellent post. I find our stories to be very similar.

Just out of curiosity, what didn't you like about S&T? I will be in a role for my job this summer that includes part of that, and I was wondering what I may be getting myself into. I interviewed for several S&T roles and it seemed very interesting on how spread out you can be throughout the day.

    • 1
Feb 11, 2018
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