I am posting my success story for a few reasons. First, to (hopefully) inspire someone in a situation that I was in. And second, to thank members of high finance and this website specifically.
I will try to keep this as brief as possible.
Why High Finance
I had aspirations to be on Wall Street at about age 15. Keep in mind, for all the wrong reasons. Then early in college I decided that I wanted to become a financial advisor, as I had a great role model who thought I would be very successful in that field. Then during my junior year in the fall at a non target school in the pacific north west, I began reading wall street oasis. I was reintroduced to the idea of becoming (to quote the book *Straight to Hell*) "A big dick swinging banker." (To clarify, this is a joke. I do not think that book is truthful, as someone questioned in the comments, and it is simply a reference and a light hearted joke. I just wanted to break into high finance.)
Where I was at
Now being very late on the recruiting chain, and under qualified compared to most in high finance, I had limited options. I began networking HARD. Every day over winter vacation was spent on my laptop emailing, cold calling, on linked in, reaching out to alum, friends, friends parents, etc. For about 10 hours a day I sat on my couch, in front of my laptop, trying to connect with anyone who could help me out. Fortunately for me, I had a few alumni who sent me in the right direction, and helped me immensely.
After reading several articles, I realized that many of my hours were wasted. My resume, cover letter, and other methods of reaching out were not up to par. Rather than dwell on my mistakes, I learned from them. I reached back out to previous contacts, and continued pushing. If you take anything away from this post, lesson one is **do not dwell on mistakes**. Reach back out to people, learn from the mistakes, and continue to grind it out.
Dealing with Rejection
During my entire life I really never faced constant rejection. If I was rejected from something, I would usually bounce back and be ok. I received a scholarship to play my sport of choice for college, I had internships at high school in a law firm and a congressman's office, and I had early success in my life. During Sophomore year I received three summer internships for Financial advising, a nonprofit, and a political office, but did not pursue any of them due to family reasons. Applying for high finance internships I was rejected, a lot. In a big way, this rejection was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I firmly believe that rejection can really help people. Rejection is not failing, which is something I have just recently understood. Being rejected means you tried, and though you did not ultimately get what you wanted, you gained feedback, you maybe had a chance to practice, and you are more prepared for the next chance you may receive. Rejection for me really helped me evaluate my position in life, where I was, where I wanted to go, and the most effective and efficient route I could take to get there.
Networking/Trying to make it
During my networking, one important contact I made via a cold email. He kindly agreed to speak with me about his career in IB. He and I spoke a few times, emailed back and fourth, but ultimately his small firm in the Mid West did not hire a summer intern. I offered to work unpaid, and they were still not interested. This was the lowest I had felt during my search. To work for free, and still not be wanted, was not a great feeling. However I understood, as the time it would take them to train me, and my minimal, if any, contributions would not be worth the time it would take to get me there. But what was lesson one? press on. This would become a theme almost in my search, getting close, interviewing, connecting well with people and feeling like I could win the offer, to not be hired. Whether it was them not hiring, or selecting other people, I just wasn't landing offers. Ultimately I was rejected well over 100 times in a four month span. Some random company applications, some final round interviews where I had contacts on the inside, and some in the middle of those two.
It's always darkest before the dawn
This is right about the time (March) where I had exhausted contacts, and almost felt like my search for an internship was futile. I really considered going to the city my girlfriend was going for the summer, working at Starbucks, and meeting everyone in the area that I could who worked in high finance to network. However right as I started to feel down, I connected with an alum who was a consultant in a southeastern city. I had never really considered consulting, I always wanted to be a banker, but I gladly scheduled a phone call to learn more about him, and **ask for guidance and or help**. *(Something I have noticed with people in general, not specifically bankers, but people as a whole are they are unwilling to ask for help. Why? to quote Don't Eat Alone"Everyone you meet is a chance to either be helped, or help them" So please ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask for things, everyone in their life has been helped by someone else, and the best thing you can do is either help that person in return, or pay it forward and help someone else when you can.)*
Keeping an open mind
During the phone call, I realized that I had never really considered consulting, and furthermore, had no idea what a consultant really did. Another key note here is to **KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN**. Do not assume that you are meant for something based off of a book that you read, a quiz you took online, etc. Always keep options open, and do not talk down about career fields that you may not know about. I see this all the time on this website about private wealth management or financial advising. Just because it may not take a niche skill, does not make it a bad field to go into. If you want to purse that career, do not let anyone judge you. The only person you have to accept the outcomes of the decisions made in the past, is the person you see in the mirror.
From "down in the dumps" to "on top of the world"
To continue, I had interviews in the alums consulting office in the southeast, I felt great about the interviews, how I connected with the people I met, and I felt great about the case study, and that I was finally about to land the internship I was desperately seeking. I got rejected after the final round. In a state of shock, I emailed my alum and thanked him for the opportunity, and asked for some feedback. I was told that I did great, and that I was highly considered, but not chosen. (I was given reasons, and these helped me in my next interview) I do not know if this was BS or sincere, but I felt deflated. My alum then told me that he would reach out to some other friends in consulting, and get back to me. But during this process I learned a lot about consulting, a lot about myself, and most importantly how consulting interviews and banking interviews differ, and how to spin previous experiences just a little differently to be more appealing. Expecting to never hear from him again, I started looking over other options. I then received an email from the alum, with a CC to one of his consulting friends. After a few emails and a phone call with a random consultant I was told to speak with, I had an interview. I made it through to the final round, and of course had the flu during my last round. After struggling through it, I ultimately landed a summer internship, in a great city, for a well respected firm that I am very excited about.
Epilogue and Thank you's
Also, to the people who have helped me out along the way, I am extremely thankful. And if I am in any position to help you out in the future, I will. However the main thing I can do is pay it forward, and always attempt to help someone who reaches out to me, not matter how irrelevant they may seem. For example, I have started helping freshman in my fraternity build a plan to pursue high finance, even though I certainly do not have it all figured out, I just want to help them start that initial research on what jobs they might want, and how to put yourself in the best possible position to get them
Thank you again to all members of this community, I love discussions on here and am very fortunate to have found this website. Great members, and I hope this post will inspire a few people who currently feel a little lost, like I was.
Thanks again everyone! Sorry it was so long!
Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday, this was originally posted May 2017