TL;DR: Shoot out any questions you may have regarding any topics over here - the job, MF, , , unstructured recruiting, start-up dramas, networking, nerd culture, anything. I've got a couple of weeks off, and usually hang around the forums frequently, so I'll try to answer your questions to the maximum possible extent I am knowledgeable/ am allowed to. And apologies for the long post, and the noticeable incoherence in my writing style : it's a bad habit that has only grown over the years.
So folks, I've been wanting to do this for some time now, but really haven't had the opportunity to sit down and answer questions for the community. IMO, as I've mentioned before, this community has given me more than a boatload of knowledge for getting me where I am, so I really want to give back to this awesome forum. But thanks to popular demand - and a surgery I'll be having tomorrow - I'll be free for the most part of the next two weeks (using up my annual leave). Although there's a shit ton of online gaming to do, one can only play so much.
I've been referring to this site since I joined here, so I've a lot of appreciation to hand out. Maybe later, I'll make a bookmarked list of all the useful topics on this site, for a guy in my position. Made quite a few enemies it seems, but mainly a bunch of cool folks. Special shoutout to @aspiringchimp here - we argued acerbically sometime back, but now I think he's a pretty cool guy. Especially considering his useful advice for consulting wannabes (he has one of the highest SB/MS ratios too from what I've seen).
As most of you know, I'm not the real Frank Quattrone, but just a broke-ass low-level analyst. Just so that's cleared up.
For my background (chronologically):
- spent most of my childhood in the Middle East, learnt a bunch of languages including Arabic, Farsi (thanks to my crazy Iranian ex) and broken Hindi - hence the semi-liberal views most people see from me
- started working on some cool drone shit during high school (to be more specific, b/n freshman and soph) with 2 other friends. Got serendipitously partnered with an aerospace firm, which in turn partnered with a behemoth, and hired a cool bunch of guys. Dealt head-on with rejections from potential VCs (including a top VC from a top firm who poked fun at us for a valid reason).
- then girlfriend passed away unexpectedly, between junior year and senior year of HS. Heartbroken, overworked, under immense pressure and misery. Nothing more. Also, got accepted to some of my desired schools in the US, but didn't get schols to cover up the tuition. My dad isn't rich, and getting a loan is hard when your family has to pay up a home loan too, so that went out the window too. But s/o to UCB and Georgetown for offering me partial funding.
- Attended a top-tier school in my country with an engineering major a year back (5 yrs). Effectively disregarded my major and shot for opportunities in finance. Took up projects with professors from top universities during the school year, and covered the rest with internships and experience, hence a shit GPA. Had a crush too in uni - that didn't help much.
- interned at a major bank in developed Asian economy in AM, where I dipped my toes into finance; loved the kind of work, hated the culture of the firm (I think we know which one), but love the country. Amazing place. Got this intern by networking with a friend of a son-in-law of my dad's boss. Yeah, kinda went full retard networking.
- went full retard sometime afterwards, and began working on a couple of cool engineering projects in Machine Learning, since I thought my mediocre GPA would not help for consulting or finance, so thought about the MS option. Couldn't handle working on my company, studying and these projects, not to mention ECs and student orgs, so GPA went down further. As a note for guys who want to try this, I was practically sleeping 4-6 hours thanks to a phone perpetually buzzing about. It didn't help that part of my company's team was many timezones away.
- went desperately retarded and began emailing a bunch of star bankers for career and generic advice, after guessing email addresses (mailtester yo!). Only one replied. Kept in touch for a long time.
- next year's intern, due to crap uni rules, I had to stick to an engineering intern. Interned at a conglomerate, where I realized that engineering was not what I wanted to do, thanks to the dozens of dull individuals who like to call themselves "engineers" (though they were more like technicians). Oh, and rejected from a possible(though I didn't know what I was doing).
- Meanwhile, decided to chuck the VC route and opt for a huge investor and his son, a referral we got via a well-positioned amazing board member we had. Formally established ourselves as a company only around three years back though.
- the finance project I was working with an amazing professor from a top West Coast school (I should give a donation to those liberal fuckers) ended up as part of a white paper for athe prof consulted with. Prof offered to recommend me, even though I was miles away. Did not get the offer (it was in S&T).
- About to graduate without a good job, but I had the startup option to fall back to. But as time passed, I realized that working with defence behemoths sucks considering the number of demands they had for us. So I was thinking about getting out of the aerospace startup. Buddies weren't. Company had achieved steady state (to some extent), so I was able to focus on other things.
- the engineering project I worked on goes really well, I got a pretty solid publication out of it
- Decided to extend my school year, and to have a couple of networking chats to obtain an INTERN (yes, I wasn't looking for a job now). The story that stands out most is here (from some previous comments):
I once connected with an MD at a megafund simply because I waited outside his office everytime he got off work. Ended up giving me an off-cycle internship (it was unpaid, at one of the smaller offices, and in what this forum mightrole).
I waited outside the office building for maybe a week and a half, with a bunch of models I had built in my hand. Guy was chill enough to give me a chance to have a coffee chat. Literally put his saucer and tea cup on my resume, and asked me to explain my models and my assumptions. Ended up offering me an unpaid intern, since SA recruiting was long past, and that office traditionally didn't hire interns.
The decision to approach him was pretty stochastic though - I just scoured linkedin and the company team profiles, scoured them for anything I could talk about, then coldcalled and got rejected. Then decided to wait outside, since I had nothing better to do anyways. After all, as a student, one has nothing to lose.
That being said, I think this would only work if you worked in a smaller office in a city that had a similar finance culture to NYC or LDN, but without the usual high number of firms. That was what I banked upon when I contacted this guy,
Great story, extremely retarded now that I think about it, but not as retarded asand Frank Quattrone. Definitely not recommended, unless you have nothing to lose. Note, I was working in a combination of a "BO role" (not necessarily) and an AM role - kind of like that extra hand in the office. Learnt as much as I could, even though I was told head on that the intern was inconvertible.
- Towards the end of the intern, had an accident. Kneecap damaged permanently to some extent, and put on a morphine drip
- MDs seemed to have liked me. 3 MDs referred me for an interview at the MF. Story's somewhere out there, but basically I screwed up midway, but it didn't really matter since I could bounce back. Also, it seemed I wasn't competing with others, but a minimum (really high) threshold they had put up for me. This was for a specific, lean team at the fund with a great title for the business card, and quite close to a PE team. GOT THE OFFER!!! London beckons for the summer.
- Last (extended) semester, just focused on completing the little backlog that was left, and began networking extensively for advice from anywhere I could get. Offered an interview atvia referral. NAILED!!! Thanks to months of previous failed prep (for non-existent interviews). Though this was in an Asian office, so much easier. And rejected it (since the MF offered up first), though I doubt they really cared tbh. Still in touch with those folks though. Couple of other interviews, including at an IB, which I quit midway. Remember, all this with a shit GPA.
- Also got slightly addicted to the morphine (drip) so had to attend therapy sessions, which were just a slight bother. Notor Bain, even after letting them know I made final round - seems McK values entrepreneurial experience more. Finally graduated around this time. And diagnosed with a chronic condition, for which I'm regularly undergoing treatment (like right now).
- In the gap time between school and job during spring, I helped my dad manage his restaurant. I guess I did a number of auxiliary tasks that helped, because business boomed by 200% over 3 months, from unprofitability. Maybe I should have been a consultant. Basically anything to pass the time.
- Decided to sell the startup and bagged a few dollars in the process - behemoth was getting too bossy over us. Spent the rest of the time till start date partying with my rich buddy and hanging out with a lot of models and fashion designers. Basically the artsy liberal types who make us all cringe.
- All my contacts (including partners and MDs and startup CEOs) began telling me that I was retarded to continue working in finance (or consulting) after that. I decided to join my MF job only because my dad told me to work in a real job for some time and learn what it's like to work in a formal setting. Also, the credibility helps to some extent.
- Planning on doing another startup maybe in a few years. Definitely not making MF PE a career for me. Decided against B-school too, since I'm likely going to be rejected by HSW (yes, I'm kind of a prestige whore to some extent).
- Landed in the hospital recently, thanks to my never ending troubles with my condition. Not to worry, it's a regular thing.
So there you go, my life's story. Bottomline: networking works, GPA sucks but you have to maintain it, else life gets really hard, have as diverse an experience in college as possible since you'll never get such a chance ever again. And don't go full retard and desperado like I did.
TL;DR: Shoot out any questions you may have regarding any topics over here - the job, MF PE interviews, consulting interviews, ibd interviews, unstructured recruiting, start-up dramas, networking, nerd culture, anything. I've got a couple of weeks off, and usually hang around the forums frequently, so I'll try to answer your questions to the maximum possible extent I am knowledgeable/ am allowed to. And apologies for the long post, and the noticeable incoherence in my writing style : it's a bad habit that has only grown over the years.
And apologies to many guys for trolling around for a long time here and for my acerbic behaviour at times. Sometimes the job does get to you, in a nasty way.
Note:- I can speak for mainly recruiting in non-US countries, since recruiting in the US is IMO completely retarded. Also I can provide only what may seem like reused advice for the structured PE process, since my process was highly unstructured. That being said, I would also like to point out how much networking actually helps in PE recruiting.
Mod Note (Andy): top 50 posts of 2017, this one ranks #45 (based on # of silver bananas)