Don't. Stop. Hustlin'.

Don't give up out there, kids.

I'm a high school drop out who's now a Manager at a top 10 consulting firm. For all of those out there who are asking 'do I have a chance if...', here's your answer: you f*cking bet you do. The only thing stopping you from getting that prime job is a little gumption, some solid dreaming, and that burning desire to go after it with everything you got, and a little more. If I can get to where I'm at today, you can, too.

Alright, here we go.

That wasn't a typo up there, nor was it the crappy airplane wine making stories. I dropped out of high school after my junior year of high school because, well, it sucked. I had my sights set on breaking into extreme sports like every self respecting teenage punk and, besides English and Photography classes, I couldn't stand another year of high school.

Yes, I was the product of a broken household in Baltimore City. (See: The Wire)
Yes, I was with that crowd who got into bad stuff. (See: Baltimore Drug Trade)
Yep, arrested when I was 17. (Nothing to see here)
You get the idea.

1. Have some character.

However, the extreme sport thing kind of worked out - I was pretty good at mountain biking. I rode every day as much as I could, even getting ranked internationally a few times. I was passionate about something and I wanted to get better at it for the simple fact of knowing that I was better than myself after every ride. (Little did I know that drive, that psychological ability to get above the pain, would come in hand later on in life.)

2. Be passionate about something. It will pay dividends.

Then the hustle started. I started working at bike shops as a way to fund my hobby, slowly making my way up the ranks from broom pusher to sales guy. Sales guy to mechanic. Mechanic to service manager. I was even asked to write for magazines. Retail was my home, but I wanted to be more in life than a bike mechanic.

3. Work hard. Now, work harder.

I should have been in college at this point but didn't want to take a step back (stupid), so I took some reputable Project Management courses and earned some certifications. I started applying to every single job online; I was a recruiter's worst nightmare. I looked at jobs and always thought 'I could do that'. When the occasional callback did happen I swear I was an expert in whatever the topic.

4. Don't let someone else's doubt get in your way of being awesome.

I was hungry.

I landed a couple project management jobs and made the jump out of Retail, but was laid off at each of them because business was bad and, hey, I was the lowest on the totem pole and was already a stretch hire. I got the first one because the company owner was into cycling and knew of me. I got the second one because a friend believed in me and recommended me to the owner.

I felt awesome getting those jobs - I felt like I 'made it' - and felt like such a failure losing them. Life started catching up at this point. I lost jobs. I didn't have a college degree. I wasn't successful at much besides bike riding, and even that started to wane.

While collecting unemployment I asked around and started working PT at some bike shops under-the-table to make ends meet. I wasn't above anything. I was lucky to be able to afford rent. But I couldn't afford that and had to ask the landlord to break the lease. I was buying ramen noodles......with my credit card which was getting maxed out.

I will never forget having to go to McDonald's for dinner ($1 menu) and not being able to use any of my three credit cards on me because they were maxed out.

5. Things are gonna' get bad. But, listen, keep your head above the water and wait for the moment.

I mentioned I was trying to get back into corporate life to someone who worked at the bike shop, and it turned out her husband was an MD at a top-10 consulting firm. I chatted with him about my situation, talked about my experiences and built up what little moxie I had left to present myself as someone who could do well in consulting. I was completely honest about my educational background and said it might be an issue with recruiters. It turns out government contracts, especially those for long term outsourcing gigs, have stipulations that say resources can have more years of experience in lieu of a degree.

I interviewed strong and left a great impression with the group, eventually getting an offer in the outsourcing group as an entry level analyst. In other words, I got the absolute lowest level position available within the US at the firm and couldn't have been happier. I got a job at one of the world's best consulting firms. Holy shit. Literally, I went from brooms to briefcases.

6. Present the best of yourself everywhere you go. The person next to you could be the link to your favorite job.

Fast forward about 5 years and I've been on a tear at the firm, getting transferred into the more prestigious units, promoted ahead of schedule, and then promoted ahead of schedule again. I'm frequently sought out for my industry experience and am well regarded as a savvy communicator who can go from the board room to the factory floor with a 'surprising amount of ease for a consultant', as I've been told by many a client. I'm not above any job - I'll print the best god damn presentations ever. You need a coffee? I gotchyou', and I already know you like a dash of soy milk in your medium americano.

You are always in a position to be the best version of yourself, at all times. Dig deep.

Stay strong. Stay hungry.

MTBaltimore

Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #28 for the past year

Comments (51)

Jan 6, 2016

Amazing story. Thank you for sharing.

Jan 8, 2016

That write up fucking BANGS. Good stuff brotherman!

    • 1
Jan 8, 2016

You got gumption, kid !

Jan 8, 2016

DAMN SON!!! That just lit a fire up my a$$. Thanks for that man!

Jan 8, 2016

Holy shit. Felt proud of you just reading this- keep kicking ass.

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Jan 8, 2016

This is really badass. Props!

Jan 8, 2016

Great story. Yes, making contacts and not giving up matters. It takes time to land that gig.

I have no college degree. Been a CRE broker for 15 years. Sure, I regret not going back to school. I'm still landing interviews at various commercial real estate firms and REITS. Haven't landed that position yet but I'm in direct contact with HR at a handful of shops now.

Gotta keep digging and trying.

    • 2
Jan 8, 2016

Good read for the kid struggling to get their "dream job"...Great read for the kid that hasn't struggled at all landing their "dream job." Nice work

    • 1
Jan 8, 2016

Loved this.

Jan 8, 2016

Nice to see other people from Baltimore doing great things... for all 10 of us on WSO anyway.

Jan 12, 2016

truth

Jan 29, 2016

Haha, I laughed when I read this - I guess there's not much representation out there? Strange considering we've got some Financial firms based out of there and its proximity to DC. Then again, most folks are more worried about getting to Canton Square to get themselves an orange crush than they are about career growth.

I love Baltimore.

Jan 8, 2016

What an amazing story of overcoming adversity. Keep kicking ass!!

Jan 8, 2016

Very Nice!!!

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jan 8, 2016

Well done, sir. Starts a slow clap

Jan 8, 2016

Amazing read. I have a ton of respect for your dedication and work ethic. Did your arrest record hinder your job prospects or promotion scheduling at all. Do you know what kind of background check they do for consultants at your firm ? Did you get it expunged or sealed?

Finance

Jan 8, 2016

Thanks for sharing your story, I feel very much strengthened by it. I've been through the $1 menu before and it's definitely not pretty. I recently finished my Associates in Business Management, now heading to finish my bachelors in Finance, here in NY. I will share my experience on here on time soon, if God allows.

-No Pain. No Gain-

Jan 8, 2016

+1!

Jan 8, 2016

Nice one +SB

Jan 8, 2016

Great story. Thanks for sharing. +1

Jan 8, 2016

This is remarkable mate nice one, you made a decision, stood by it, and never looked back. Now you have a cracking job even after all your struggles. Keep it up.

Jan 8, 2016

Wooowww that was some really motivating !!!

Jan 9, 2016

So you just make powerpoints and get coffee for people? Congratulations I guess?

    • 6
Jan 6, 2016
verycdk:

So you just make powerpoints and get coffee for people? Congratulations I guess?

So...just like investment banking?

Douchebag.

    • 1
Jan 10, 2016

not really the best attitude to have.

anyways, thanks for sharing @MTBaltimore ! A very inspiring story indeed!

Jan 10, 2016

Everything positive from this story you could have commented on and this is all you got. Good luck, you will need it.

Jan 10, 2016

save

Jan 10, 2016

". I started applying to every single job online; I was a recruiter's worst nightmare. I looked at jobs and always thought 'I could do that'."

I can totally relate to that. Lol

Jan 11, 2016

I do this quite a lot. It's cool that linkedin lets you see how many people applied.

Jan 10, 2016

You want 3-5 years of experience for a entry level job?

Too bad I'm applying anyway.

Jan 10, 2016

And we are supposed to believe this?

    • 3
Jan 11, 2016

way to make things happen man

Jan 11, 2016

cheers to mountain bikers! you have to share some pictures of the trails you hit at Baltimore!

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jan 12, 2016

Sounds so completely false. Someone who doesn't even has a ged is all of a sudden in consulting? BS! Consulting has even more of a GPA/Undergrad Prestige barrier to entry than Investment Banking. Until he is a Certified User I think it is completely false. Although Dickfuld got it despite being a fake.

    • 1
Jan 12, 2016

You can become a Certified User even if you're a troll, especially if you happen to be knowledgeable and helpful. Just because he wasn't actually Dick Fuld doesn't men he wasn't a managing director.

Anyway, I believe this guy. Anecdotally, I've met someone who graduated from an online college that works as an investment analyst at a reputable buy side shop. The bottom line is that if you are competent, persistent, and lucky, you can get anywhere.

    • 1
Jan 29, 2016

Says the person who's 'Anonymous'. Ironic. Regardless, I got some note that says I'm now a Certified User so according to our statement (and presumable logic) you believe me now, right? A little tip I learned - don't put your faith into titles, certifications, and 'stamps of approval' because they're not always the best methods of qualification.

You are right on this: the prestige barrier is huge. It is even bigger when with clients who are paying a small fortune for expertise, expertise they sometimes assume comes from H/S/W. However, you quickly realize its not prestige that gets results, nor is it the pedigree. Its the will of an individual to deliver that can get results. That same will to achieve is what allowed me to see past the barrier and not let someone else's issue become my problem.

Oh, and where did I say I didn't get my GED? Freshen up your reading comprehension. I earned that bad boy (ranked pretty high, too) and am proud of that sucker. ;)

    • 1
May 3, 2016

Have any clients/colleagues ever asked you about hs/college? And if they have, how do you typically respond?

"You adapt, evolve, compete, or die." -Paul Tudor Jones

Jan 13, 2016

This post is fake as fuck brah

Jan 13, 2016

Great story.

You still ride?

Jan 29, 2016

Yeah man, take Metro North up to some trails when possible, just built up another road bike, and take my Langster Pro over GWB up the Palisades all the time.

Jan 14, 2016

Great story man. I have been applying everywhere and anywhere and just recently started interning as sell side research associate

Jan 16, 2016

My hats off to you sir. You have inspired me as well and I will definitely stay strong.

Jan 30, 2016

Jordan Belfort once said, "The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." You told yourself no such story. Amazing post and very well done, sir.

Apr 13, 2016

Great story for those in the same situation. I certainly do see who this can work for you but the world that I live in having a degree is the only way people will even talk to me ask me, in for an interview and even then there are hurdles to over come.

Thanks!

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

Jan 29, 2016

I hear ya', and I too live in the same world where a degree is required for a seat at the table. Its your decision to use it as an excuse or establish it as your roadblock to success. My counsel is there's another way to get your foot into the door.

Read. Study. Research. Want to be a consultant? Read every book on cases to learn how to solve problems with a structured approach. WSO has a great program I've had a chance to peak at that can at least get you the foundational skills.

Next, pick your targets. Pick the firm, then research folks at the firm and pay attention to where they dedicate their time. Are they on the board of a non-profit that you believe in? Reach out to them and tell them you want to get involved. Are they members of a running club? Join.

Never forget that these firms are run by people, people who are willing to go out of their way if you give them sufficient reason. Nothing will happen over night, but you can do it - believe in yourself.

    • 1
Dec 12, 2016

.

Dec 30, 2016
Comment
Dec 30, 2016
Comment

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Jan 2, 2017
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