AMA: JUCO to IB

I have some down time for the next couple days, so decided to do this AMA for the non-HYP, blue-collar kids who are assessing whether or not they can break into IB given their background. I won't be going into my story granularly ITT because it's fairly off the beaten path and it'll be pretty easy to figure out who I am (it very well may be regardless), but feel free to PM me if you want.

My IB story starts in HS, when I had zero concept of what investment banking actually was. I was a good football player and had scholarship offers after my senior year. At the same time, my parents were tapped out financially, save for their house and a highly illiquid piece of land, which dramatically reduced any financial aid I could potentially receive. The reason that this ended up being relevant is that I had a career ending injury while training during the winter of my senior year and lost all of my scholarship offers.

At that time, I wouldn't have wanted to go to college even if I could afford it so I got a job when I graduated (banking on a football schollie and having a shitty GPA in HS didn't help w/ affordability, either). It was a shitty, manual labor job and I hated it. I did that for two years while socking away any cash I had after paying rent, groceries, etc. in order to pay to go to a JUCO. I ended up finishing two years of JUCO (while still working the same shitty job) w/ a 4.0, thinking I wanted to major in business (if you asked me what that meant, I couldn't have told you specifically), eventually go to law school, and having a firm belief that since I had a 4.0, I could get into a UNC/UVA/UM type of school on scholarship. That didn't end up being the case at all and I settled for the more non-target school that gave me the most money.

When I got to said non-target, w/ no real concept of what finance was, I enrolled as a marketing major. My first semester there, I took the required intro to corporate finance course, realized quickly that finance was for me (having never considered that as a possibility before), and switched my major accordingly. At this point, I had no network whatsoever, knew I liked finance, and knew that IB was the most competitive career w/in finance for kids coming out of school, so I decided to chase it.

I wish that I had a great story about networking my way into a job, but that didn't happen. Honestly, it took me a long time to get comfortable/competent at talking to guys in IB because our backgrounds were so different. 90% of it was in my head (you realize later that most guys in IB/PE/HF/whatever aren't geniuses and didn't get to where they are because they were dinged by the hand of God), but there were practical things that I was bad at and needed to work on. I talked like a guy off of a construction site (still do when I don't have to not) and didn't realize it. If you talk to bankers and leave them w/ the impression that you've never heard of the letter "G" (nothin', sayin', workin', etc.) and that you don't view the words "to" or "are" as their own distinct words (whaddaya, gonna, tryina, etc.), you're probably going to make a worse impression than the other kid they grab coffee w/ who speaks English correctly. If you're in a similar situation, I strongly recommend making it a priority to get better at and be comfortable w/ networking - it would've made my path a helluva lot easier if I'd done the same. Literally practice speaking while being cognizant of how you're pronouncing particular words.

I did realize that networking was not my strong-suit and focused on competence to compensate. I read and studied IB relevant material non-stop. Essentially, I gave myself the tools to do well at a superday if I got a shot without focusing on what would have actually enhanced my chances to get a shot (networking). I ended up not getting a SA my junior year and took a job at a credit shop for the summer. I made sure to do some networking that summer in order to get something quasi-close to interview reps (primarily in terms of consciously having to get rid of bad speaking habits) and hoping that something would materialize out of it. It really didn't.

There's no informative singular story as to how I got my job. I landed a few interviews at IBs and had a seamless interview process w/ the one I ended up at. One on campus that went great and a superday that also went great - I heard back the next day. Now that I'm on the job, it's apparent that background doesn't actually mean shit. It's about competence and that's it. If you can get your foot in the door, there's no reason that rich kids who went to targets will inherently be better at their job than you. Btw, those kids aren't universally douchebags either. Some of them are, but I've known plenty of guys on construction sites who were douchebags, so it's not as though it's confined to upper-crust folks.

Hope this is helpful to some and happy to answer any questions folks in similar situations may have, either ITT or via PM.

Comments (13)

Jan 21, 2020
    • 1
Jan 22, 2020

Pleasantly surprised

Jan 21, 2020

Great story. You have a lot of sand, so to speak, to grow in the way you have. It's a great contrast to the AMA from some d-bag freshman at an Ivy earlier this week.

Jan 22, 2020
TechBanking:

Great story. You have a lot of sand, so to speak, to grow in the way you have. It's a great contrast to the AMA from some d-bag freshman at an Ivy earlier this week.

You are aware that was a troll post, right? RIGHT???

Jan 21, 2020

Current JUCO student currently applying for transfer. Did you try and apply to targets/semis, or just some state schools and non-targets?

Jan 21, 2020

I applied exclusively to semi-targets.

The thought process in picking what schools not to apply to was that I was wasting $75 on an application to apply to an Ivy because they're just not going to take a JUCO kid w/ middling test scores, and my state didn't have any competitive business programs, so that wasn't an option for me. If you're from a state like MI/NC/VA/WI/etc., state school is a good route.

The thought process on picking what schools to apply to was (i) what kind of scholarships can I bank on (Phi Theta Kappa, guaranteed x number of dollars for JUCOs w/ a certain GPA, etc), (ii) Is the school located in a city w/ a good job market that I can see myself in long-term, because the city you go to school in is more likely than any other city to be the school where you take your first job in, (ii) what is the alumni network like? If you're going to a semi/non-target, alumni network is a huge consideration. Generally, alumni from these schools (especially if they're smaller private schools) are going to be more interested in hiring kids from their alma-mater, or at least more willing and eager to help them get their foot in the door w/ other firms, or just to coach them up. Even though I would give myself a C or D for how well I utilized my alumni network, it was an important factor in where I landed and I have alumni relationships that I know I can use to get my next job when that time comes.

One general word of advice would be not to transfer as a junior. By the time you get on campus and get up to speed, recruiting will have ended and you won't have had any time to leverage the resources that your school has. If you go in as a sophomore, you'll have plenty of time to get acclimated, network, beef up the academic resume at a 4-year school and get a sophomore year internship on the resume.

    • 1
Jan 21, 2020

thanks for the response. I'm applying for Sophomore transfer, and I live in Illinois (UIUC seems decent for Chicago.) Also applying to targets/semis, not sure if i'm wasting my time.

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jan 21, 2020

I'm curious about this

If you talk to bankers and leave them w/ the impression that you've never heard of the letter "G" (nothin', sayin', workin', etc.) and that you don't view the words "to" or "are" as their own distinct words (whaddaya, gonna, tryina, etc.), you're probably going to make a worse impression than the other kid they grab coffee w/ who speaks English correctly.

how did you know this or did someone tell you to change the way you spoke to give yourself a better shot?

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Jan 21, 2020

I realized this very quickly when I transferred to a school which happened to have one of the wealthiest and WASPiest student bodies in the country. Where I'm from, I talk like everyone else. When I got to campus and went to networking events or interviews, it was immediately apparent to me that the way I talked made me stick out like a sore thumb and sound like I didn't belong.

    • 2
Jan 23, 2020

Not entirely relevant but is there any banana ranking higher than "The Pro" ?

Jan 23, 2020

Just click on The Pro and you'll see the ranking system... I'm very close to "The Addict"

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/rankings

Jan 21, 2020
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