Bio: tl;dr version: non-target, non-major, also had a sub average GPA in undergrad but compensated with a higher grad GPA and work experience.
I went to a non-target, east coast, liberal arts college and graduated with a biology major. Originally, I intended to pursue a career in medicine, so I found full-time work at a prestigious medical hospital in the NYC area, where I worked for some two years. After doing the "white-coat" gig and a few volunteer activities (e.g., working at a hospital in a clinical setting), I realized this is not what I wanted. At first, it was kind of alarming because I had spent the latter part of my life (6 years) focusing on best positioning myself to become a doctor, and now, here I was wanting to do something else, but I had no idea what!
Thus begun my long journey, involving lots of networking and relentless job search. I focused on my strong points - what was my background and my experience? It all spelled science/research/medicine, so I focused on selling those points. I quit my job as a researcher and then worked part-time at a CVS pharmacy (as a tech) until I landed something better. I took accounting/financial modeling books out of the library and bought the Breaking Into Wall St program to try giving myself an edge and show interviewers I was eager to learn. But no one bit, and people I had networked with said it would be a very, very long and uphill battle if I wanted to make it into a FO role at a bank, even with my background.
I guess I'll go into it later if asked, but I eventually landed a job at a pharmaceutical company, working within a business operations role (Pricing). Even though I knew it was not a finance role, I knew I had to bridge that gap of business background somehow. In addition, I managed to network into a MSF Part-time program in NYC. For an entire year, I worked my 9-5pm pharmaceutical job, while working on graduate school homework/projects, in addition to continuing to network/attend informational sessions.
About 3 months into it, I had finally landed an interview at a middle market bank for an Equity Research position, which I had failed to impress the Analyst, but it was a start! For lack of better words, it fueled my desire to push harder because I knew I was starting to receive some attention and people were starting to take me more seriously for such roles. More interviews started popping up: MM IBs (e.g., Oppenheimer, PJC, Jefferies), small boutiques, and elite boutiques (Evercore, HL, Moelis)...these were for either, investment banking analyst roles or equity research associate roles, all within the life sciences space - my bread and butter. After a year, I had two offers for equity research associate roles - ironically, both were at MM banks. I chose the one that I felt most connected with and had the best interview process with, not necessarily the one that granted me the most money.