Getting ghosted 24/7

Hey guys,

This is going to be a long one, so firstly, thanks to anyone who actually reads this all the way. I'm going to be honest with you; it's hard for me to even type this out right now because I am so utterly disappointed and just damn tired of the same thing happening to me again and again. I want to give some context before getting down to the main point.

I'm a current Junior at UCSD pursuing a Mathematics and Economics joint degree. Some of you may already know from a previous post of mine that I switched from a premed track (and Biology major) into my current major and a pre-business track. This switch occurred at the start of my Junior year, so needless to say, its been tough trying to get opportunities in the finance industry with little to no previous internship experience.

However, in the process of simultaneously researching what it takes to break into the industry and applying to a copious amount of finance internships in a variety of roles, I have slowly started to realize the value of coming across as a team player, self starter, hard worker, and always striving to achieve; subsequently, I've tried to highlight these qualities in my resume by self-learning a variety of programming languages like Python, C++, MATLAB, and completing independent projects with these languages, such as developing my own trading algorithm. I also independently studied for and passed the SIE exam and CFA Level 1 exam. I'm also studying for the GMAT and have been scoring in the high 700s on practice tests, so I expect a pretty good score when I take the actual test soon.

Anyway, why do I tell you all of that? Because despite all of this "self-development" journey BS, all 80 or so applications that I have sent out have been either rejections or straight getting ghosted. I understand that this industry is tough, but I'm not applying to bulge brackets here, I'm literally applying to start up companies, small boutique banks, etc....and all of these internships are unpaid. Meanwhile, my twin sister is making $50+ per hour as an intern at a well-known tech firm with free uber eats delivered to her everyday. Like my god, I'm literally begging to work for free!

So I've been dealing with all of these rejections, death of a close family member due to covid-19, asthma/panic attack flare ups that were last a problem for me all the way back in sophomore year of high school (and randomly decided to poke its ugly rear right now, at the worst of times), and then the final straw snaps:

I finally get a congratulatory email to me from a self-described "inaugural" private equity based in Los Angeles (and that is a spin-off a pretty successful, well-known investment bank also based in Los Angeles), inviting me to schedule a follow up interview date. So I schedule a phone interview, and when the day of the interview comes, I killed it....I knew I did well, and even the CEO that was interviewing me said he was super impressed with me and that he looked "forward to working with me", literally word for word.

As expected, I get a follow-up email inviting me to a second interview, but instead of just a phone interview, this was a zoom call. Also, he wanted me to type up a 3-5 page equity research report on a particular company that he was looking into (don't want to name it exactly for anonymity purposes....if he happens to be reading this lol). Keep in mind that all of this happened around early June, which was also when all of my Finals were occurring. So on the same week as my finals (3 upper div math classes - diff eq, rigorous proof writing, numerical linear algebra (fk this class), and an upper div econ class btw), I was expected to write up this research report and prepare for the interview, and the CEO knew this. He knew I had to do all of this on the same week, but I stayed up all night for 4 days straight and managed to finish the equity research report, prepare for the interview, and study/take all my online finals.

During the zoom call at the end of the week (2nd interview), he said he received the research report and was super impressed by the quality, layout, content, and thought put into it. He also introduced me to one of the MD's, so I was thinking...."damn maybe they really want me if theyre already acting like I'm part of the team". I mean they were saying things like "you'll be learning X and Y once you start working with us", "we're so impressed by you and would love if you joined our team, tell your parents congrats on raising you so well!", "hope to work with you soon", and all that BS. He said he would make final decisions by next week and let me know.

Well, long story short, it's now pretty much mid July, so its been a month since my last interview with the firm. The CEO and I have been playing a sort of cat and mouse game. As you probably guessed, the "final decisions" never happened the week after my interview. I thought "ok, well hes probably busy and will tell me next week". So, I send him a reminder email and he says "sorry got caught up with some business but will definitely let you know by next week", so exactly as I guessed. What happens the next week as I sit and refresh my email the entire week 24/7??? No response. Nothing. Nada. I have to email him again and give a "gentle nudge", for him to email me and say he had to deal with a "medical matter" so he couldnt get back to me.

At this point I was getting a little annoyed, but I mean if he got coronavirus or something serious, it would be douchey of me to not be a little patient and wait a bit longer. At the same time I was worried because it was now the beginning of July and I had been sitting all day practically doing nothing other than studying for the GMAT and reviewing some financial model stuff. Again this last week, no response from him. So I finally decide to just directly call him (in a previous email he mentioned I can call his personal if I ever had any questions). Goes straight to voicemail. I send another reminder email....nothing. He's pretty much just disappeared.

What I don't get is....he's obviously found a better candidate or something...why not just reject me then? Why waste my time with hope? Like holy cow, just say "unfortunately we had some great candidates this year, and decided to move forward with XYZ", or SOMETHING. Don't just disappear off the face of the Earth. What should I do at this point? Keep applying to more firms? At this point, I just don't have the heart to apply anymore. Thinking of just switching to Gender studies or something and living the peaceful life. I'll probably barely make enough to make ends meet, but at least I won't have to deal with this BS anymore. Oh and honestly if push comes to shove, I will publicly name and shame this supposedly "world-renowned" firm. If they are treating potential interns/applicants like this, they deserve all the karma they get.

Comments (51)

 
Jul 12, 2020 - 10:58pm

Thanks man, I appreciate that. Yeah, I've done some limited networking via linkedin but its tough being at a non-target like UCSD that's super premed/STEM heavy, cause it seems like all of my other business peers are also struggling and theres barely any UCSD alumni at these firms. But I'll continue trying to network.

 
Jul 12, 2020 - 10:36pm

It's a really really shitty time to be recruiting. Don't take it too personally.

 
Most Helpful
Jul 12, 2020 - 11:21pm

My man. You have not been "getting ghosted 24/7". You were ghosted once.

The other 80 apps you rifled off in to hiring portal la la land don't count. That's like saying the girl I liked on hinge ghosted me before we ever talked because she didn't like me back (ilu Maddie).

Anyways, lack of empathy aside, take a deep fucking breath. Let's disregard things like COVID, no one in offices, hiring/back office shit shows, virtual BS, summer time, future uncertainties (sarcasm: You shouldn't disregard any of these) for a second and just worry about you.

You got ALOT going on. Baggage. If you managed to make me cringe via WSO, Mr. CEO is long f'n gone. Learn to tone it down like 7 notches and control what you can control. Compartmentalize. Slow it all down. You are going manic / stage 5 with this thing right now and it won't help you right the ship.

The harsh truth is that we are all going to know someone that died from C19. We all took finals and idc what yours were called and how hard you think they are. We all got rejected in apps/super days/group choice/bonus season. The never ending uphill battle has just started and you are already crying up to the heavens...?

Get over it and move on. You are wasting time with the pity party when you could be stripping down the resume, fine tuning your target roles, collecting feedback, practicing interviewing, expanding your network. Just keep on keeping on. No one ever said it would be easy.

 
Jul 13, 2020 - 12:05am

Thanks for the tough love, I needed it. I didn't mean to be all woe is me, sorry if I came across that way. I shouldve mentioned that this happened around ten times out of the 80....got to final stage of interviews and then they ghosted me. No acceptance, no rejection, no communication at all.

I swear I'm actually not that cringe in real life lol. Thanks again though, I needed this harsh (but true) kick.

 
Jul 15, 2020 - 12:57am

also I have a friend who got into a back office technology role at a top BB with under a 3.0 and he has the same technical skills as you.
you should be looking at these back office roles at banks because you could prove yourself and eventually move up to front office. I think this route will be your best bet come apps in the fall

 
Jul 12, 2020 - 11:41pm

I really admire your work ethic. You should be really proud of yourself for putting in all of that work and learning all of those skills.

The reason you studied hard was because you were able to develop a vision for yourself, that you'll be able to break into your desired role. Don't give up on the vision, it's still there. Working hard in your free time when you have nothing guaranteed is possibly one of the hardest things you can do, and you did that. The second hardest thing, it may be the hardest thing in the job hunt game, is being patient. Keep on studying, applying, and try to find some balance in your life so you don't come off as desperate in the job hunt, and miserable in real life.

Good luck.

Array
 
Jul 13, 2020 - 12:11pm

Lol thanks for the empathy. But yeah it stinks, especially since I've been through a similar kind of situation with a couple other firms. They give you so much false hope then one day, without as much as an email, they completely ghost you. I would greatly appreciate if just for once, a firm had the guts to tell me personally that they're moving forward with someone else and (this might be too much to ask), the reason why I wasn't chosen....like some sort of constructive criticism. Anyway what's done is done and I guess I just have to keep grinding out more applications.

 
Jul 13, 2020 - 5:39pm

you apply to JMP? I might be able to help in the fall if they keep things virtual in the fall. summer is super important but having consistent experience through the fall has been my key to success.

granted I'm at a non target in south Florida. but the fall and spring is my bread and butter. if summer doesn't work out you can turn this whole pandemic as a positive via working virtually with firms that you wouldn't be able to in the past. there's always a silver lining.

I agree with other replies saying don't irritate these CEOs or firms because there is often a second chance. if you make a good impression and are patient you can land something the second time around. keep your head up hoss

 
Jul 13, 2020 - 6:03pm

Nope, I don't think I have. Any sort of help would be immensely appreciated, I'm kind of desperate at the moment lol. And I don't mind working in the fall, I just want some sort of experience at all, even unpaid.

Yeah definitely, I didn't want to come off as annoyingly persistent so I've just moved on at this point. The fact that he hasn't answered my emails and phone calls is a good enough sign for me to realize he doesnt care either.

 
Jul 13, 2020 - 7:09pm

OP - it sucks. Many of us have been there. Do you have any close friends to rant to? If so, do it (and buy them a drink or give em an IOU) rather than here.

It's kind of odd isn't it? For such a "services oriented" and "salesy" industry, ghosting and poor communication is more common than not. It's crappy. Yeah for sure. As you get into the industry you'll see it happen more and will get used to it. The MDs and others that ghost you? I promise you that their clients delete at least half their emails and don't respond.

Hopefully these experiences have taught you one thing: empathy for others. So when you do get in or wherever you go, hopefully you will remember these experiences and will help out others who reach out to you or interview with you and treat them well making you a good guy (which is rare in the industry). Unfortunately, most develop a hard skin and become the dicks they hated. Don't be that guy.

Chin up. It's COVID, a recession and tons of people are suffering and unemployed. Finance is a super cyclical industry. It's tough at the best of times, and brutal at times like this.

Hang in there. Keep fighting.

Good Luck.

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
 
Jul 13, 2020 - 9:51pm

one thing you probably should be aware is that some boutique banks unpaid internships are really really popular among local schools and they don't really care about how much you know since anyone can do the job. So what happened is that those positions are filled way before by the eager students and by the time you applied, it's filled.

Don't let unpaid internship application affect your confidence.

getting ghosted is definitely something improper.

 
Jul 14, 2020 - 9:20am

exact same position as you. keep emailing CEO of a fund that I was recomended to. had a great first meeting, he told me that he would introduce me to his team early Feb... then coronavirus strikes and everytime I email him he says he will get back to me next month, emailed him about 3 times.

is it still worth pursuing? He still does reply to me, but its never good news. Im UK based so office work hasnt fully resumed yet so? not sure what to say or do

 
Jul 14, 2020 - 5:10pm

As someone who's (obviously from my post) gone through a similar situation, I would say keep in touch once in a while with him, but move forward with other options. That's the big mistake I made with this entire process - putting all my eggs in 1 basket. Don't put faith in any one firm and/or program because one day they can be singing you high praise and the other day, literally just disappear off the face of the Earth

 
  • Prospect in Other
Aug 22, 2020 - 8:43pm

Same thing happened with networking opportunity. Great initial conversation, said he's open to meeting for coffee and would answer every email or every other email (followed up every 2 weeks - 1 month for a few months).

He recently retired and said he's not in my area anymore... so I texted him congratulations (he gave me his cell for a follow up convo we had).

He then said he's open to a call for making a switch, gave me a day and when I followed up he said now is not a good time... I'm thinking with COVID it may be something personal/maybe medical and I'm giving him space. Will follow up in 6 months and if it's still a no just move on. The key is you have to find many people to talk to and not just rely on one. It is annoying, but if he's saying he's still open to at least giving advice/answering then I'm going to keep trying, but be understanding.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 14, 2020 - 12:36pm

You might want to tone it down a bit and consider first of all
-what do you want to do: m&a or s&t? You can learn all the python you want but it'll never be a selling point for a m&a candidate
-how can you get there: if you cannot get directly ib and you're sure that's what you want, maybe consider internships in fp&a for example at a known brand. Having SQL could indeed help you there.
-focus on the essential: maybe things are different in the USA, but here in Europe getting the gmat just for the sake of it sounds like too much. Unless you're applying for postgrad roles it's a waste of mental and emotional resources. You have cfa level 1, that's enough. Maybe try to connect with regional cfa charreeholders?
-reassess your expectations: don't expect to hear back, ever but do what you have to do every time. I was rejected for a f500 internship once. Applied 2 more times and never heard back. One day I received a call from their hr saying how they found my cv relevant for a similar role like the one I applied to 6 months ago.
-find sth to keep you "sane": your sister did it, so you could too reach your own goals too; don't let this stuff damage your character and confidence in the long term

Good luck!

 
Jul 14, 2020 - 5:08pm

Hi! First of all, thanks for the input, I greatly appreciate it!

So the problem with me as well is that I still don't really know exactly what I want to do. One of my dream careers is to be a quantitative analyst, but that requires a Master's or PhD degree, which is why I'm studying for the GMAT now. At the same time, business school, MFE programs, and PhD programs all expect some sort of work experience/internship experience beforehand and that's the part that scares me because as of now...I have pretty much null experience.

My GPA, LOR's, Essay are or will be more than fine for the programs I'm looking into, but again, the experience part of my application is a huge gaping hole rn.

And as for connecting to other charterholders, that's a great idea! Another thing I haven't done well is leverage my connections. I usually like "working independently" and trying to get positions/roles by myself, but I dont think theres anything wrong with getting a little help once in a while.

 
  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jul 14, 2020 - 3:36pm

I've had exactly the same mate. a good number of rounds 4/5, then an interview with both Partners, to be told my work was impressive, and I'm a good candidate significantly above the other applicants, but they want to benchmark me against other options. As you can guess, didn't hear back from them for a few weeks until the headhunter called me to tell me they had found someone more fitting the skill set of the vacancy. It legitimately hurts having to start from scratch with each process again, but I know it just builds you up stronger a little bit more each time, so good luck in your search!

 
Jul 14, 2020 - 6:58pm

The reality is, you're trying to recruit, as a non-traditional candidate, in the worst period for recruiting since '08-'09. Not to mention any new hire, even experienced hires, are negative value add for a period of time; and that's especially the case for an entry level hire with no relevant experience. Any CEO, MD, PE Partner, etc, has far more important things to worry about than responding to an entry level hire (like holy shit my company might not make payroll next week, wtf am I going to do and wtf are my employees going to do; a big client wants to cut pricing or even worse terminate their contact). They're worrying about how they will, or their companies and employees will survive; on top of personal stuff that they also have to juggle. It doesn't matter the kind of company, if they're a startup, FT500, a boutique, a BB bank, a new PE fund, an established PE fund, etc - every single company is focused on either survival or capitalizing on a highly unusual environment. Right now, you're only thinking about your side, but not the other side. You have to ask yourself, what are you providing to the counter party that justifies their time and attention? And "free work" isn't enough, particularly when it's actually costing them things extremely valuable - time, and physical and mental energy. Time and energy are typically what a senior person lacks and want the most, they are (or should be) highly protective of where they're committing their attention to. This should apply to you too. Focus your attention on what you can control and actually moves you closer to your goal.

Lastly, unfortunately welcome to being an adult. No one is obligated to babysit your feelings, especially not in a corporate environment. If you can't learn to handle rejections without distracting you from your focus or purpose, finance (and really life in general) is not going to be an easy path for you (not that you should expect finance to be easy to begin with). Do you know how much time an analyst puts into pitch decks that CEOs literally throw away the second the meeting is over, or frankly leaves on the table so someone else throws away. Or the amount of time you can spend in diligence for a deal only to lose it right before signing a purchase agreement?

Don't take your situation or my post personally. It's just a reality of life that every single person faces at multiple points in their lives. I'm not saying you shouldn't feel disappointed or angry. If you gotta vent online or to friends, workout, whatever it is to blow off steam, go for it. But if it's actually detracting you from your end goal, you gotta learn to keep your chin up and keep moving.

 
Jul 14, 2020 - 8:51pm

I can tell you though, having been in the industry for some time, I've seen plenty of underdog candidates make it into IB/PE, or just "make it" in general (IB/PE is not the end all be all). Pretty much in every case, it came down to being persistent for long enough (sometimes years) that, with a little bit of luck when breaks came around, they killed it and continued to kill it after. And I've seen great candidates on paper flame out, some rebounded and some didn't. Your career is a long game, and by long I mean very very long, as in decades. Play the long game.

 
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 15, 2020 - 2:13am

sorry to hear about the situation.

what I'm not really getting is that if your goal is to work in IB / PE, the programming skills you listed are just not helpful. taking CFA / GMAT as a junior? not helpful. I'd assume you spent a ton of time doing those - if you spent just a portion of the time on networking with alum & non-alum extensively, the result should be much much better.

being a hard worker is always great, but you need to know what your goal is and put your efforts into things that can efficiently take you to where you wanna be. simply put, worker smarter not harder.

 
Jul 15, 2020 - 2:41am

Yup, I get what you mean. The reason is because I actually want to get into a top MFE program and then hopefully pursue a quant analyst/researcher type role aka fintech. It just so happens that the type of internships I applied to were more pure finance roles. I just wanted some sort of experience in the finance industry because I don't think it's really possibly to intern at a quant fund...they are already notoriously hard to get into even with a PhD. So ig there was a bit of a disconnect there.

 
Jul 16, 2020 - 5:00am

if you're intent on pursuing the quant track, you should consider none-finance but quant-heavy roles such as data scientist/data analyst type roles at any firm. when you apply to quant-heavy mfe program, these experiences could highlight your quant skills in a working environment; in addition, the quant skills you use in these types of roles will be much more similar to the quant skills involved in a finance quant role than something like IB, which involves elementary school arithmetic and algebra at best. when fall comes around, you should focus on applying for quantitative analyst/portfolio analyst full-time roles; there are many of them at asset management firms, family offices, etc. basically any investment-related firm that has a portfolio that needs analytics, client portfolio reporting, and investment modeling, etc. your programming skills and cfa will all be incredibly valuable for these roles that need basically no networking but look at your hard skills solely. so, bottom line, you are focusing your energy on the wrong opportunities(pure finance, ib, etc.), and even if you get into ib, it won't necessarily be in line with your true passion and long-term goal of becoming a quant.

also, regarding your getting ghosted, there are some red flags in this past experience you described; you could pay attention to these going forward to avoid encountering such losers again.
1)CEO interviewing - red flag. no reputable firm will have their ceo interviewing an entry-level intern. even if it's a startup/small-sized team, a reliable firm usually has a recruiter or some other lower level person handle this. even if the ceo interviews you in the final round, they would never be your first point of contact regarding hiring decision/recruitment timeline. again, these types of communication should always handled by a lower-level person.
2)telling you all about how much they like you, or how much you'll like working with them/how cool the office is/how great the city is , etc. - red flag. the better a firm actually is, the lesser their need of boasting/trying to convince you how great they are.
3) failing to follow up as promised - red flag. when a firm wants you, they never miss the promised timeline to follow up/notify you. if there are no news, it's probably bad news. they stall only when they don't want you but also want to keep you around as a backup plan while they go fish for a better candidate. if you want you, they can't wait to let you know and tie you down. this is very much like guys proposing to their girlfriends. if he doesn't propose after you've been together for a reasonable while, this is likely never gonna happen.
4) more interviews with more people at the firm - red flag. no, it's not because they want you to meet more people on the team. they interview you because they are not sure of your ability/not sure whether they want you. again, going back to my analogy of dating, you date only when you're still testing if you want to be with the person for the long term. if you're dead set on her, you get married, not ask her on a 101st date.

spot the loser early on, and avoid wasting time.

 
Jul 15, 2020 - 6:05pm

As a junior in a very similar position as you this year, I would recommend cold mailing professionals (analysts/associates/ even some higher ups) asking for advice or an informational interview. This will help you gauge the expectations and general atmosphere in the industry. You could also try applying for off-cycle internships so you still have a shot at interning once you have the contacts you need. I never thought I would say this but cold mailing definitely works.

Array

 
Jul 20, 2020 - 4:24am

I'm a bit late to this game but I think your experience is slightly different than getting ghosted. Based on what you've described, you're more likely to be a "backup." If they wanted to outright reject you, the CEO would never say: "I'll let you know next week" ... they would just straight up reject you. The likely scenarios in my mind are: (1) They've extended an offer to another candidate and given them X weeks to decide. The candidate asked for more time and they extended the decision period. This cascades to your candidacy as they need to continue to "keep you warm" without actually telling you that you aren't their first choice. To use a poor analogy: They've asked their dream girl to prom and are waiting for a response, but don't want to tell you because they'll go to prom with you if they get turned down. (2) They're dealing with some internal mess that they don't want to speak about and it has delayed any hiring decision. Maybe a key employee is sick (small organization) or their deal pipeline is empty and they want to fill it before committing to an intern. You'll never know.

Anyways, the concept of "keeping a candidate warm" is a longstanding practice in recruiting. Like you, I'd rather just be told the truth about where I stand, but a lot of professionals don't operate this way. So do what you've been doing - stay in touch, pursue other opportunities, and hope things go your way.

CompBanker

 
Jul 30, 2020 - 5:53am

As someone who is familiar with the UC system and has studied math plus Econ as an undergrad, and has then pivoted into finance, my advice is, unless you are dead set on IB or PE or some other kind of finance, go the data science or Econ consulting type of route. You'll find you get interviews easier once you have the technical skills - maybe not the big shots, but companies that are good enough and pay well (better than most finance jobs). Finance is not an industry that's known to be friendly, and once you get into it, as a math major, I promise you that you will find a lack of "hard" or technical knowledge required, assuming you have got used to data and math heavy analysis, which is not really there in traditional finance.In traditional finance, the "analytical" part is different and it can still be difficult and requires complicated analysis, but it's nowhere near math level. It mainly involves a lot of valuable soft skill improvement and development.

Back to your recruiting, it really is not that uncommon to be ghosted, say, 50 times. Get used to it and move on.

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