Broke in from the Big Four

I joined the Big Four out of college. I wound up in the CRE valuation/advisory group. Finding a job had been difficult for me. I knew that I wanted to be in finance, but I was a dumb college kid and had no focus. I figured this job could be a springboard.

I knew immediately that the Big Four was the wrong place for me, and I began sending my resume out to other firms within my first six months. I had many interviews but I couldn't get any offers. It was difficult to shake the impression that I was an accountant, and companies had a glut of people with relavent experience to choose from. There were multiple times when I got to final round interviews with prestigious firms. I was sure I had the job. I would wait to hear back. And wait. And wait. And nothing. Weeks later I would find out what I already knew.

After a few years I began to get more desperate. I had been promoted for a year and the next hurdle, manager, seemed not far off. At that point I would be a lifer, I figured. I started interviewing for positions in 2- and 3-person offices. Anything to get out of what I was currently doing. I was stunned that I didn't get those jobs. In hindsight, not getting them was a blessing.

It was around this time that my best friend quit. He left to do Asset Management for one of the largest real estate private equity funds in the country. He had lucked out due to a family relationship. We didn't talk much after he left. I was despondent at the office, as another of my friends had quit recently as well. A few months later I got a text message asking me if I wanted to interview. I'd have to pay my own way but here was a great opportunity. I'd have a man on the inside, and our backgrounds were nearly identical.

I flew out to New York and the interviews went very well. The hiring manager liked me a lot, and it was down to just me and another person.

I didn't get the job.

FIVE WEEKS AFTER I INTERVIEW and one week after I got rejected, I get a phone call from a 212 number. It is the hiring manager, and she wants to know whether I am still interested. An associate quit the friday prior and the group needed another person. Fortunately, I had just interviewed and everyone liked me. I was the immediate choice.

On one level, the way I got this job opportunity was discouraging. I sent out hundreds of resumes. I interviewed tens of times. Each of those opportunities were inferior to this one, and I still couldn't get the job. And at the end of the day, it wasn't my hard work or tenacity that got me the job. It was luck.

I try to think about the probability of having gotten this opportunity. It's almost certainly less than one percent. First, there are the odds that my buddy would have gotten his job. Next, the odds that they would have been looking for a second analyst and wanted me to interview. The odds that, in spite of flubbing my phone interview (my perception, anyway), the interviewer liked me. And the odds that the company ended up needing to hire a third analyst coincidental with when I interviewed.

I think there are two lessons to learn here. First, don't give up. The future is unknowable. Eventually, hopefully, a great opportunity will come along. At that point it is up to you to seize that opportunity. And last, do what you can to increase the probability that serendipitous events like this will happen. Build those connections, expose yourself to new opportunities, etc.

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Comments (28)

Nov 11, 2011 - 8:32pm

Good fucking job, man.

I'm proud of ya...

Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor. -Dr. Alexis Carrel
Nov 11, 2011 - 8:52pm

Not to be a pessimist and I'm not and believe in never giving up, but on the flip side there are people who will just never get lucky!!! In fact they only get bad luck!

Do what you want not what you can!
  • 2
Aug 11, 2012 - 11:15pm
bossman:
Not to be a pessimist and I'm not and believe in never giving up, but on the flip side there are people who will just never get lucky!!! In fact they only get bad luck!

Starting a statement with "not to be a pessimist" doesn't make it not a pessimistic statement. Which is fine - it's a valid perspective. Just own up to it.

"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."
  • 1
Nov 11, 2011 - 10:22pm

Congrats man. Though luck was on your side, you moved a lot of pieces until one finally fell in the right place. Anyway, great story.

Capitalist
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Nov 11, 2011 - 10:26pm

I love the fighters man, I always have, and will always continue..... You sir are a fighter.

Good job and Good luck!

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Nov 24, 2011 - 1:26pm

That's great man, congratulations!

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Aug 11, 2012 - 1:12am

Great job.Take big advantage of this opportunity man!

I think- therefore I fuck
  • 1
Aug 11, 2012 - 10:54pm

Good job mate,

Not all luck because you put yourself out there and kept working on jumping through those hurdles. I am sure if you had not have got this gig, you would have got something eventually. I am from australia so I am not sure how the US is but over here most people transfer to big companies from big 4 as a senior accountant and manager. In fact the higher up you are the more likely you are at getting a job assuming your field is revelent as in your case, valuations would be.

Well done.

Best Response
Aug 12, 2012 - 10:56am
UnclePanda:
Good job mate,

Not all luck because you put yourself out there and kept working on jumping through those hurdles. I am sure if you had not have got this gig, you would have got something eventually. I am from australia so I am not sure how the US is but over here most people transfer to big companies from big 4 as a senior accountant and manager. In fact the higher up you are the more likely you are at getting a job assuming your field is revelent as in your case, valuations would be.

Well done.

Agreed.

Even here in Toronto, senior accountant and upwards can (not will) land you a pretty good job. A lot of people often stay until manager and then jump ship.

My office had a number of people move on to AM, ER, MC as well as solid MBA programs. Here getting a CA designation serves as a good base for launching a career in financial services in general - I'm not sure if having a CPA is viewed in the same light.

Oct 26, 2012 - 7:01pm

Hello sir. I am a college student and am new to this forum and I just want to say I thought your story was really good and congrats to you. Hopefully I'll have the career I want in a few years.

Dec 8, 2012 - 6:27pm

congrats!

All we need is just a little patience
Dec 13, 2012 - 1:03pm

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