Clueless: What's Wrong?

Hello--after months of interviews for Summer Analyst positions that did not end up well, I 'm trying to reassess myself and prepare for future ones. This is a student majoring in Economics at an Ivy school who has been working his ass off since his return to study last Fall from a 2-year S. Korean military service.

I've wanted to work in finance for quite a while, and knew exactly what to do: network like crazy, gain relevant experience, follow the market, hone modeling/quantitative skills, build a consistent story, and rock the interviews.

I knew that for many banks, there isn't much incentive to hire a foreigner over an American with similar credentials. Quite understandable--finance isn't rocket science after all; unless you are some superstar, the work you do as an analyst don't require all that too great degree of intelligence, so banks better hire ones whom they will be most comfortable with. Not to mention things like the $6,000-ish Visa application fee and grunt documentation work for each foreign employee.

Anyway, knowing that, I really wanted to be such a superman, excelling at everything so that banks want to hire me over my American friends, and I can say I've become close to one.

Only that I don't have an offer--

So I am clueless; I seem to do well on every criterion I can think of--my story, familiarity with finance/markets, quantitative stuff, interpersonal skills etc. Am I missing something fundamental that is preventing me from an offer?

Here are some possible reasons I thought of:

  • Cultural fit? -- this is possibly one area that I'm doing wrong without realizing. I have no problem interacting with my American friends, professors, etc., and I think I interact fine with professionals, but I won't know.
  • Too smart/overqualified/not focused set of skills? -- maybe; I'm able to juggle with a lot of things, partly out of such pressure mentioned before; things like my crazy GPA/SAT scores, taking PhD level Econ courses, having done 2 banking internships and being familiar with modeling and finance in general, proficiency at computer programming (Java), etc
  • Lack of focus? maybe; started with banking but branched out to buy-side and more quantitative positions. But there is a good story this; I want to ultimately build my own semi-automated investment system that is both quantitative and value-based, and am trying to find the right middle steps. Also I need to hedge my chances well because of above-mentioned reasons.
  • Not my fault/ bad job market / it's just that hard for foreigners so keep trying? -- Probably

What do you think is the real problem which I can improve on?
I would really appreciate your feedback on this.

Comments (13)

Apr 13, 2012

We can't tell you whether you're a good cultural fit with anyone else. You obviously think you're smart. Having sell-side and buy-side internships should make you more hireable, not less. And finally, the job market is indeed bad, as you've noted.

It sounds like you've already decided for yourself what the problems are in your case.

Apr 13, 2012

How did you get your previous 2 banking internships?

Apr 13, 2012

Honestly, nothing's wrong with it. It was a pretty entertaining, albeit vapid, 90's high school movie, and it's where Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd's careers really took off.

    • 1
Apr 14, 2012
swagon:

Honestly, nothing's wrong with it. It was a pretty entertaining, albeit vapid, 90's high school movie, and it's where Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd's careers really took off.

+1 i fucking lol'ed

My drinkin' problem left today, she packed up all her bags and walked away.

Apr 14, 2012

my friend, the industry isnt in the best shape at the moment. i heard this word for word from an md's mouth "there are 3 analyst positions open. 2 go to the best out of over 10,000 applicants and the other one goes to a rich clients son." Dont get down on yourself, get out there and keep selling yourself. you seem like a great candidate. btw i trained with some rok marines. what branch were u in?

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Apr 14, 2012
spark1685:

I knew that for many banks, there isn't much incentive to hire a foreigner over an American with similar credentials. Quite understandable--finance isn't rocket science after all; unless you are some superstar, the work you do as an analyst don't require all that too great degree of intelligence, so banks better hire ones whom they will be most comfortable with. Not to mention things like the $6,000-ish Visa application fee and grunt documentation work for each foreign employee.
....
- Not my fault/ bad job market / it's just that hard for foreigners so keep trying? -- Probably

I can speak for post MBA (Associate): Bulge brackets still sponsor H1B's, boutiques are much more selective in doing so. Don't know if it's the same at analyst level. Have your international friends got offers ? If no, then, there's definitely a trend there.

Since you're S. Korean, have you considered going back and working for an American bank in their local office there ? Given your credentials you'd be a great fit for that role.

Just my $0.02, good luck.

Apr 14, 2012

There are still a few jobs out there.
Try as hard as you can, still.
You say you have programming experience? Try getting an IT internship.
Cronyism is barely present in the industry (except for companies like Motorola which should move their HQ to Banglore >:-( ).
The technical experience is better than no experience this summer.
It's may be a minor setback, but trust me MANY people do this in finance. MANY.
Plus, its good if you wanna go into financial engineering later (keep your options open).
They give a CPT if you're F-1. The company does not need to pay 6000$ for your internship.
Its just as they would recruit any american. Just avoid saying you need a sponsor.
Try killing your accent, remain confident and happy that you are in an Ivy, because you're at a target school and that's even more valuable than being american, citizen or resident.
I have many friends that members that went on to top 10 for grad school. Some are at Pimpco, GE Capital, TDameritrade and are very happy with their jobs and pay (all are making over $200k).
Keep at it man. It will pay off!!!

The Grid. A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day

Apr 14, 2012

OP is full of shit there is no way in hell you took Ph.D Economic courses

Apr 13, 2012
blastoise:

OP is full of shit there is no way in hell you took Ph.D Economic courses

You underestimate Asians. There was a feller at MIT who came out after 3 years with 2x BS, an MS, and a PhD.

Apr 14, 2012

"- Too smart/overqualified" haha wow, there is your reason buddy. You go into interviews thinking you are too smart. All of us in the business as smart, you just think you are better then us. If you walked into my interview room with what you just said in front of me, not only would i not give you a job, i would call my close friends at banks to make sure they stopped too

Apr 14, 2012

"- Too smart/overqualified" haha wow, there is your reason buddy. You go into interviews thinking you are too smart. All of us in the business as smart, you just think you are better then us. If you walked into my interview room with what you just said in front of me, not only would i not give you a job, i would call my close friends at banks to make sure they stopped too

Apr 14, 2012

Thank you guys for your input-- very much appreciated.

I come from a culture where humbleness and obedient hard work are most emphasized, so have been quite consciously working to shake that off, the American way I think it is: taking charge, being confident about one's strengths, having one's own voice, etc.

Having received you guys' feedback, I'll try to find the right balance, and keep looking.

Apr 14, 2012
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