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.
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.
Finding my competition
I had never been to New York until my first. 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.
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
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.