I wanted to tell my story on this forum - as WSO has been the sole reason which helped me learn about the industry and how to break in. I am from downstate New York, born and raised. I was a poor student in high school, so much so I didn't even take my SAT's. I was sent off to a residential junior college in Upstate New York, where I hated my life and desperately wanted something better. I got a 3.9 my first semester and then transferred to a 4 year school in the SUNY system.
Throughout my time there I was a fairly mediocre student, my GPA was pi (3.14 cum), largely due to pledging an unrecognized fraternity and massive grade deflation. SUNY is not highly regarded for its academic rigor or prestige, so my school tends to deflate student's grades massively. However, I came across this forum after wanting to break into S&T. I read hundreds of forum posts, and never became disheartened despite my lack of good grades, Ivy League background, and on-campus recruitment opportunities.
Needless to say, junior year came around and I knew I had to make some very difficult decisions as to what I needed to do. Students getting FO roles were generally uncommon, as the best OCR opportunity my school had for the top students (3.7-4.0 GPA) was a JPM Ops internship, I am not kidding. Anyway, an opportunity came around for an internship at Ameriprise Financial. It was sort-of-kind of PWM in my mind, so I took it. Anyway, the advisor I worked for was an absolute bitch, but she left me alone in my corner desk and I spent most of my internship on WSO and financial modeling sites, getting to know the business and how to break in.
I didn't get a return offer (nor would I have accepted it) and went to begin my job search as my senior year began. I interviewed at a few PWM firms - and it looked like I was going to go that route post-grad given my experience. However, a friend's father was an MD in S&T at a boutique and I successfully secured an interview. I got killed in that interview, and knew I wasn't getting called back, so I went home and applied for 200 jobs in IBD, S&T, and PE to vent my frustration.
One day, the CEO of a small PE firm reached out to me for a phone screen. I knew I didn't have the background for it, and I was honest and upfront with him about my lack of banking or formal modeling experience. Regardless, he pulled me in for an interview in person and less than 2 weeks later, I got the job.
So, you're probably asking how the fuck I got through that interview. The answer. I was a person, I was nice, I had genuine interests, I could talk to people. The CEO would put me in front of clients, I gave off an appearance of professionalism, and I minded my manners when I went to dinner with them. I found throughout this experience that sometimes the small things matter the most. You can model like a genius, but if you can't be a real person, it will be difficult. Above all else, I told the CEO of my nontraditional background for PE and how much of an asset I would be because of it. I was hungry, I was passionate about it, he could hear it in my voice. And it was my passion above all else that helped me get the job.
The purpose of this post is not to be braggadocios, but rather to to thank everyone on this forum who has offered insight and aid throughout my years of searching for a position on Wall Street. You have all been instrumental in making a dream become a reality. Thank you, WSO.
Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #20 for the past year