Long-time reader, first-time poster.
Just wanted to share my story so far since I graduated from undergrad ~8 months ago & when I was a prospective monkey, I really appreciated people's stories of their experiences and their advice they had for others. My take is a little different than the typical "I went to a target and got into a, here's how to do it" post, hopefully you can take away something useful for you as you are going through the long, mysterious, and frustrating journey of getting a job on Wall Street.
Like everyone here, I was desperate to get an investment banking job out of college. Coming from a non target , I was realistic with myself and focused my internship/employment targets on middle-market and boutique banks. Throughout my four years, I had anat a PE shop focused on mid-market companies in a variety of industries. I got this one through some connections and actually a high school alum whom I networked the shit out of to get me in there. Although I did not have the chance to see a deal close, the experience was absolutely amazing and I knew that I wanted to get myself over to the buyside as soon as I could.
My senior year of college, I had the opportunity to work (unpaid, again, making so much paper here guys) a a tech-focused IB start-up part-time while I was going to school. In all honesty, I hated the menial tasks ananalyst had to do: updating contact lists, powerpoint formatting, etc, you know the deal. But, I loved the jungle that is Tech finance and was willing to grind it out at a tech boutique bank in the hopes of getting over to a tech-focused PE firm. After a long summer after I graduated calling and interviewing with any tech boutique in Silicon Valley that would talk to me, I was offered a job at a small boutique that would start out part-time for the first 6 months and if I didn't fuck up or anything there would be a full-time offer waiting for me.
At that same time, my buddy who was working for an investment fund administrator put my name in for a job at a very small(HF in its infancy for an absolutely pitiful salary. Talk about some real job prospects, eh?!? There was no third option of getting a job in another field, because I love finance and couldn't see myself in any other industry.
I ended up taking the HF gig. And here's what I've got for you guys so far 6 months in:
1. my pay is pitiful. I know I've already said this but it needs to be said again so you really understand. I'll put it this way: My roommate, a business management major, got a job working in "Information Systems and Testing" at a big electric/gas company and is making double what I am making. He basically sits on a comp all day and waits to see if one of their IT systems fails a routine test. I am making so little money, you big whig PMs that are on this site lose more change than I make in a year.
2. I've had to take a second job working at a bar on the weekends to pay for rent/car payments. I've always worked at a bar or restaurant my entire life and actually enjoy it, but not after working 60-70 hours during the week.
3. Watching friends that I know who are so much less smart (didn't want to say dumb, so using that combo of adjectives, judge me if you want) make literally double or even more than what I am making. This sounds very entitled-ish, but those who have been through this know what I mean. It really starts to weigh on you as the time goes on.
4. Because of con #3, I have experienced many sleepless nights and long thoughts on what the hell I am doing at this job and whether or not I should start looking for something else.
1. I am on the buyside. Every piece of work that I do is meaningful to my boss, the fund, and to me. Does my boss ask me to do update spreadsheets / do some menial administrative tasks? Absolutely. But I am definitely not pulling an all-nighter because my MD decided to change his mind last minute on the format scheme of a Powerpoint he's showing to clients the next day. This is where I wanted to be in the first place, except I don't have to deal with much of the bullshit that much of everyone else has to go through for 2-3 years, or longer.
2. The wealth of knowledge I am obtaining is unparalleled to the usual IB analyst. This really exemplified itself to me when I saw an old friend over the holidays who's a first year analyst in the High yield division of a BB. I knew 10x more about the current state of the HY bond market than he did. And my fund only trades equities....
3. My boss is truly my mentor. The best comparison I can give of my relationship with my boss is he's Mr. Miyagi and I'm whatever that kid's name is from Karate Kid. He's the type of boss that gives me an assignment with some misinformation and will not tell me until I figure it out myself. Sounds annoying as shit, but trust me, it really teaches you how to think and analyze on your own and come up with your own investment process. Nevertheless, working this closely with a finance genius (he retired at age 45 from and just decided to start his own fund, and has very high ambitions for it) will never ever hurt you.
4. Working in a start-up like this is just for me. I know it's not for everyone, but I absolutely hate big business bureaucracy. I interned for a big corp in college (before my other internships) and the office politics and menial bullshit you have to do drove me up a wall. Here, I have my own office, just have to let my boss know a day in advance if I want to take off, and he's never asked me to write up a formal memo or powerpoint since I have been here. Whenever I recommend a stock to him, it's only through discussion and whatever else I want to bring to him. I really like this informal approach a lot.
5. I feel like a real contributor to the company and am already starting to develop a passion and obsession to enhance our fund everyday. I actually get pissed when I have a relatively unproductive day.
So, reflecting back on my first 6 months on the job, I asked myself "should I stay"? The answer is absolutely and unequivocally yes. Sure the pay is shit, I have a second job, and there is no name recognition to the company I'm working for. But I am doing real work everyday, have a great boss, and have the opportunity to try and make this company have some name recognition.
My message to all you prospective monkeys: go to the place that offers the best learning experience. If you are able to get that job at the BB that you've been wanting to get for so long, good for you and I applaud you for it. But if you get denied, do not scoff at others just because of the pay. I cannot believe I am saying this, but when you first start out, fuck that number that shows up on your paycheck every two weeks. WE ARE ONLY IN OUR TWENTIES. Guess what guys, even with that fat salary at that BB, you aren't gonna have time to spend it.You will be stuck in your office on Friday & Saturday nights doing god-knows whatever mindless shit your boss has you doing. And why are a lot of you doing it? To get to the other side.
Why not just start there? Take a chance on something that could be big. I think it is safe to say that a good majority of people on this website are smart and very ambitious, so if the new fund/shop you're working for goes under, I assure you that you will find another good job.
Like I said earlier, I am the third member of a very new HF. If we keep on doing well, I will then hopefully be the third member of a high-performing, large HF. You do the math on what my salary will be then. If that doesn't happen and we go under, my boss, a very well-connected man, has already told me he will personally make sure he reaches out to anyone and everyone he knows in the banking/finance industry to get me another job.
The time to take risks is now, prospective monkeys. Who's got the balls????