In 2005 my mother passed away unexpectedly.
In 2008 my family's house was foreclosed on and I was told I would need to support myself through college. I was 17 at the time and already unstable due to the emotional trauma of my mother's death.
In 2009 I was officially kicked out of college from Cal State Long Beach and on a path of severe self-destruction.
In 2009 I started to sell hair straighteners at the local mall and convention shows - think the people at the mall kiosks who harass you as you walk by. Yup - I was one of them.
In 2010 I received an offer in retail banking as a Personal Banker and began to get my life back on track.
In 2011 I declined a promotion to a Business Banker, a $50K salary at 21 years old, and moved back in with my father to again pursue my education.
In 2012 I unexpectedly was asked to become a Operations Manager within a retail branch. I accepted the full-time manager position (even though I did not feel qualified or prepared and had never worked in operations) and simultaneously pursued my education full time during the evenings at the local junior college. I maintained a 3.75 GPA, no social life, and severe sleep deprivation (6:30am wake up - 1/2am bed time).
In 2013 I was accepted to a UC. While at UC, I worked 24-32 hours per week to pay for my rent, utilities & tuition, all while again attending school full-time. On top of the already demanding schedule, from 2013 to 2015 I was active in internships and was a member of several clubs. I maintained a 3.0 overall GPA and was chronically sleep deprived (think 3-4 hours of sleep per night and to the point I was losing my short term memory).
Financial Analyst Career Path:
In the summer of 2014, I made the decision that I wanted to be a financial analyst.
Over the course of 12 months, I applied to said Financial Analyst program a total of 24 times. I utilized my network, cold called people I could find on the internal work website, reached out via LinkedIn... and not a single bite... I was deflated... I almost gave up... I accepted an offer at a boutique consulting firm and was preparing for my exit from "blank" - A company I had been loyal to for 5 years at this point. I was sad, frustrated, and felt defeated..
Three weeks prior to graduating, a gentleman by the name of "Bob" came into the local branch to make a deposit. We talked about my professional endeavors and he told me he currently works for "blank", started in retail, and is now the RVP of "Said team".
The very next day, I received TWO phone calls from TWO different recruiters. One from a Financial Analyst position I applied to on my own in Miami, Florida (I live in CA... I was determined to be a Financial Analyst even if it meant moving across the country) and another thanks to "Bob".
12 .... Months.... Later... Two Calls. Two different recruiters. Two positions. Same day.
Phone Interviews with Recruiters:
I pushed to have my phone interview ASAP as I wanted to secure a position as a Financial Analyst prior to graduation. I had a 3 week timeframe... The recruiter from Miami Florida said they knew of a potential position in "Blank" and asked if I would be interested as I lived in "Blank" - of course I said yes. I had absolutely no personal or family connection to Florida - just on the pursuit to become a Financial Analyst.
Phone interview (check) - I stumbled on one technical question and thought I bombed the interview... I cried and opened a bottle of wine to drown my sorrow. 12 months of pursuit, 24 applications later, all for a 15 min call. I felt like my dream was shattered.
Next day, phone call from a weird number while I am in the bathroom. I answered awkwardly...
Caller: "Hi this is ...". There was a weird eco in the background because of the bathroom walls. "Hi ..., this is ... from "said team". We would like to invite you to an in person interview in "blank". Silence...
More silence... *"Hello?" *
Me: "Yes, I apologize there was a weird echo. I would love to attend an in person interview. When would be a good time?"
Caller: "Are you available next week?"
Me: "Yes, yes I am".... Although it was most chaotic week of the quarter ... dreaded finals week. I didn't care. My heart was dead set on getting this job and securing it before graduation.
In person interview happens... essentially a...5 hours of meeting people back to back. As I am sitting in the office with the RVP of "blank team", guess who walks by and notices me... the RVP of "other blank team", the gentleman I met while working at the retail branch. He greets me cheerfully and tells the other RVP whose interviewing me our story of how he met me. He then ends the conversation with "you should hire "my name"", and closes the door.
I walked out of that office that day on a cloud. Think Goku in Dragon Ball Z on his cloud Nimbus, but replace him with me with a massive smile on my face.
Next day, the other recruiter calls me and tells me to update her on "blank team" decision because if they choose someone else, she will schedule me for an interview with a man named "blah blah" (the ultimate of all ultimate Financial Analyst managers in the West Coast).
Success - Corporate Banking:
Fast forward - I have now been a Financial Analyst for almost two years (Sept. 6th). I am now off to join the Corporate Banking (technology, media & telecommunications) team in "blank".
Two things I want to highlight:
1) College dropout to Corporate Banker.
I would not be where I am today if it were not for the team members who make this organization so great. Between all of the mentors, managers, inspirational leaders, and support staff - I could not have pursued my education while simultaneously building my professional skill set if it were not for them.
2) Passion... grit... and tenacity.
I could have given up. I could have accepted my fate. Heck.. I could have continued selling hair straighteners (trust me, the money is not all that bad). I could have accepted the Business Banking position or went back to CSULB. I followed my instinct and intuition and now have a B.S. in Managerial Economics and am off to Corporate Banking.
How... ? It did not happen overnight. It happened because of all the little choices I made every day along the way. I am proud to say the least, but I hope this message finds someone who too has doubted or is doubting themselves. Don't give up. When people say "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".. screw the lemonade. Squish those lemons. Do not sweeten your circumstances... push through them. You can do it... even if it takes 12 months and 24 applications later... do not give up.