Goodbye JC100021, Hello Military_MBA_Banker

Hello WSO Members,

I recently changed my WSO handle from @JC100021" to this. You might also notice I went from Gorilla to King Kong & Certified User overnight. Below is an explanation why, but I want to first state that my aim now is to help people looking to change careers through an MBA, especially military guys (though all walks of life welcome).

Long story short, I have been on WSO since early 2007, when it was "ibankingoasis.com." I raked up about 600 bananas, and then after feeling I may have lost my anonymity, made a completely random name "@JC100021" to start fresh. My initials aren't JC, I literally hit the keyboard with my eyes closed and that is what came out.

When I first started using this site, I was a brand new officer in the military with no idea what banking or PE was. I found the site by Googling "how to get into investment banking"

I asked the site moderator to allow me to take my credits & bananas from my old account, and add them to my new account, and for Certified User status because I felt I could contribute from my past experiences.

My story:

I grew up in NYC and came from a family of civil servants with no idea about finance or Wall Street. I thought my friend going to Wharton undergrad to study business was a sucker because being an entrepreneur was so risky (because obviously, business means starting your own business). I thought I was the shit for getting into Rose-Hulman and RPI for engineering, because that is where the money was (shows how little I knew in High School).

So I go to a U.S. Service Academy, get my commission as an officer in the military, and earn a degree in engineering.

Let me squash any notions you might have about me-I was not a grunt, a ground pounder, a trigger puller. I was not a SEAL, a Ranger, and PJ, or any type of Special Forces nut. Those guys are the real heroes. I spent my first 3 years sitting behind a desk managing weapons Research & Development. Don't get me wrong, it was cool stuff, and got to travel to a lot of sites. I even earned a Masters Degree in engineering while working. I did a year in Iraq, but it was as an intelligence guy working in the main headquarters-more like a bank that one would think. Ironically, my deployment consisted of 120 hour weeks of making spreadsheets and slides, and printing 100-page handouts 20 minutes before a meeting and then having to switch the 37th page for 20 copies because my boss wanted to make a pen and ink change at the last minute. Meetings with the Generals were like pitches where the General was the CEO, the Colonels were MDs and I was an Associate keeping my mouth shut, even though I wrote all of the content. My enlisted who were there before I was were like Analysts who knew more than I did, but after 3-6 months I knew more about doing the job and the "big picture" than they did, and I was checking their work.

Rewind back to about 6 months after I graduated the Academy. I met an investment banker while sitting in an airport coming home from a contractor site. I thought he was a stock trader, because that is what they do on Wall Street, right? Well he gave me a quick dose of what bankers did-taking companies public, advising on mergers and acquisitions, managing LBOs for private equity investors. I realized that banking was about grinding out crazy hours and making a lot of money, and not nearly as risky as some other parts of the finance career fields. This lack of risk attracted me. I also liked that I could work in an industry group, and over 10 years or so make it to the SVP/MD level becoming an expert in that industry.

So, I looked into banking online and found this site. Then I learned about PE…..and how I probably was not going to get into it because I wasn't informed in high school like my friend who went to Wharton. Oh well, what can you do. I still see myself trying for it but I am not holding my breath.

So, where were we…oh that's right I am 6 months into a 5 year commitment in the military and I already know I want to do Investment Banking 4.5 years into the future. I was enrolled in a part-time MBA program at the time, and was sad about it, but WSO convinced me I needed a top MBA. I dropped the program, but I think the MBA primers I took in finance, accounting, management, and econ were very helpful later in the future when applying to top MBA programs.

At this time I planned my whole approach. I wanted to get into banking, and for that I needed a top MBA. My next 4 years were "Operation: Get accepted into a top MBA". I had an uphill battle. I took the GMAT previously for the hell of it and scored a 480 (33rd percentile). My undergrad GPA was under a 3.0. I was not in the sexiest of military jobs, working with civilians and no soldiers reporting to me, when other guys had whole platoons/flights underneath them.

I had to kick ass in my job, do something to cover up my undergrad GPA, and rock the GMAT. I ended up getting a Masters in engineering while working full time, graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, got a 720 gmat score after 2 additional attempts (and months of painful preparation), and by getting my Masters in engineering combined with the MBA primers I took I was able to do better in my job as an engineering manager. I won professional awards and was the top ranked junior officer in my unit. This was all done just 2.5 years after I decided I wanted to be a banker. For those of you keeping up, I had 3 years in at this point.

Deciding I wanted to do something more meaningful, I volunteered for a deployment to Iraq. I thought "I need to escape the desk." Joke was on me. I volunteered blindly for a job without know where, or what I would be doing. I ended up in headquarters pushing paper-just with the occasional rocket flying overhead.

So, I have my "transformational" experience in the sandbox while at the same time applying to business schools. I hired Stacy Blackman and went 2/4, dinged at HBS/Wharton and accepted to Booth/Columbia. I also got into Darden & NYU on my own. For many reasons previously stated on this site, I chose CBS. For reasons I won't bore you with, I had to defer a year due to the military being unclear about my retention. Now I am finishing my time and about to start school in the fall.

This is a long time coming, but I am realizing a goal I have had for close to 5 years. I got a lot of advice and help from people on this site, and now rather than just asking questions, I want to start helping others in a similar position I was in.

So, PM me, reply to this post, whatever. I can talk about the military, engineering, GMAT prep, MBA applications, career changing, mapping out goal setting, and my recently discovered talent, networking like a motherfu*ker. I am not a consultant, I don't want money, I just want to help…a Banana or two is always appreciated though ;)

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Comments (51)

Feb 24, 2011 - 9:24am

Great story (I read it all the way through).

Congratulations on getting into Columbia.

- Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered. - The harder you work, the luckier you become. - I believe in the "Golden Rule": the man with the gold rules.
Feb 24, 2011 - 9:27am

SB to you sir.

First and foremost, thank you for your service – and don't ever downplay the fact you weren't a SEAL, what you did was just as important. Given your superb planning and execution, I am positive you will have an extremely rewarding future. It is very inspiring to see people reach their goals, regardless of the odds. CBS will be a wonderful experience, succeed there as you have in your other endeavors and I don't see you ever having a problem scoring a gig in banking.

"Jesus, he's like a gremlin; comes with instructions and shit"
  • 1
Feb 24, 2011 - 9:30am

Good write up man, congrats again.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Feb 24, 2011 - 9:45am

Congrats on your acceptance. That is a great write up.

"yeah, thats right" High-Five
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Feb 24, 2011 - 9:50am

Excellent story. Glad to see you're now certified. +1 SB

looking for that pick-me-up to power through an all-nighter?
Feb 24, 2011 - 10:20am

For the sake of not giving away what service I am in (for anonymity reasons), I cannot agree or disagree with the above statement.

Feb 24, 2011 - 10:20am

BTW, it is Sink Navy, Beat Air Force, Beat Army

Feb 24, 2011 - 10:40am

+1 SB.

Thanks for your service and Congrats on Columbia.

Talk a little bit about your GMAT prep. What service did you use? Strategies?

Feb 24, 2011 - 10:48am

After four years of freezing my ass off in a Veteran's stadium parking lot at 7 AM, waiting to go inside for a 2 PM game or getting hazed in the "Beat Navy" tunnel I'm 100% sure its beat navy. Beat 'em with a stick.

I guess that rules out the king of service academies. So you are either a lazy cowardly zoomie, a filthy smelly squid, a glorified lifeguard or even worse one of those merchant marine academy people.

Plus who would want to sink navy, those ships are awesome. Hot food in an officers only mess, beds with sheets, total safety at all times, chicks walking around,aviators with cases of booze hidden in the officers only quarters and the occasional marine I can give a barely usable hand-me-down item to that he will thank me for. I've been on Caribbean cruises that weren't as nice as the 3 days I got to spend on a Nimitz class carrier.

Jokes aside, congratulations on the acceptances.

Feb 24, 2011 - 10:56am

Great post man. I'm just glad I knew you before you were famous!!

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
Best Response
Feb 24, 2011 - 11:09am
Ben Shalom Bernanke:
+1 SB.

Thanks for your service and Congrats on Columbia.

Talk a little bit about your GMAT prep. What service did you use? Strategies?

Most people say Manhattan GMAT Books and stuff, but because I am an incremental learner, I did it like this:

1) 7 weeks before exam: Read the Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT from cover to cover, doing all problems. This was a good start because it explains how the exam works, that a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) is, and tips on just things like visiting the test center a few days before so you a comfortable with the expected surroundings and driving directions. They have written exams, but it is still a good warm up. This is kind of like the first few weeks of weight lifting where you are going for form instead of power/strength/weight.
http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-GMAT-Graduate-School-Preparation/dp/0375429751

2) 5 weeks before exam: I then did 1 of the free GMAT practice CATs you get when you sign up for the test. This was a diognostic to see where I stood, and kind of way to understand the enemy before trying to kill it.

3) 5-weeks before exam: Time to beef up and add some 45-lb plates to the bar. I used Kaplan GMAT 800-- it is the hardest questions. This is a lot like using the heavy bat when you are on deck, so when you are at the plate the regular bat feel lighter.
http://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-GMAT-800-Advanced-Students/dp/1419553429/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298564133&sr=1-1

4) 3 weeks before exam: Manhattan GMAT has 6 practice CATs plus one free one, so 7 total. In 1 week I did 3 exams, after work, every other day, including essays and all. It was painful, tiring, and not fun--but guess what: when you train for a marathon, you run a lot. After a while you get your wind and pick up a pace. I was getting 500s at first and then started to break the mid-600s. Progress made.
http://www.manhattangmat.com/storeitemshow.cfm?ItemID=257&catid=1

5) 2 weeks before exam: Get the Official Guide Math & Verbal. I started to notice I was overthinking the easy questions because I was so used to the Kaplan GMAT 800 examples that were insanely difficult. These questions will bring you back down to earth and boost your confidence a little. I did these for 1-2 weeks.
http://www.amazon.com/Official-Guide-GMAT-Review-12th/dp/0470449748/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298564475&sr=1-1

6) Final week before exam: The weekend before I did a Manahattan GMAT CAT exam with essays on both Saturday & Sunday, and then the remaining two I did on Monday and Wednesday. That left the one remaining free GMAT CAT from the makers of the test (you get two, and I did the first one early on as mentioned). I did that one on Friday. I scored a 690. I was hopeful.

7) The test was the next Monday, and I rested my brain over the weekend. I tried to forget the fact the first time I took the real exam 3 years earlier for my local MBA I scored a 480. I did a few practice questions but nothing heavy. I went in and took the exam: 640. FUCK, its an improvement, but not what I needed.

8) I re-signed up for another exam exactly 30 days later (you have to wait a month). I did almost nothing. I relaxed. I was leaving for Iraq soon after. I said screw it all. I walked in, took it, and banged out a 720. I almost fell out of my chair.

I hope this little story helps inspire people who don't do well the first few tries

  • 3
Feb 24, 2011 - 11:19am

JC/Military_MBA_Banker - great writeup man, and congrats on the success. Nice to know you're around here for the long haul and interested in helping out, I'm sure all the other military guys browsing the site will really enjoy the expertise.

- Capt K - "Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham
Feb 24, 2011 - 12:02pm

JC/Military_MBA, You got 6 SBs (so far) for your autobiography. I predict 17 more posts like this before midnight tonight.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
Feb 24, 2011 - 12:06pm
happypantsmcgee:
JC/Military_MBA, You got 6 SBs (so far) for your autobiography. I predict 17 more posts like this before midnight tonight.

Haha nice, I might overtake you for "Bananas in Last 30 Days"

Feb 24, 2011 - 12:18pm

SB for you sir!

I bet the determination and patience you showed to break into investment banking is lacking in 99% of the people on this board.

"Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."
Feb 24, 2011 - 12:20pm

Bro, you are by far the most transparent member on this board. You've been so transparent I even remember your old WSO username and the branch of service you are in.

Props to you for doing this country proud, but you weren't exactly ninja on this board.

Feb 24, 2011 - 12:23pm
whateverittakes:
Bro, you are by far the most transparent member on this board. You've been so transparent I even remember your old WSO username and the branch of service you are in.

Props to you for doing this country proud, but you weren't exactly ninja on this board.

Haha oh well. If you can keep it to yourself I would appreciate it. I would say ANT is the most transparent, but he doesn't try to hide it. If you email me with my name and Linkedin page I will give you a SB.

  • 1
Feb 24, 2011 - 12:31pm
Military_MBA_Banker:
whateverittakes:
Bro, you are by far the most transparent member on this board. You've been so transparent I even remember your old WSO username and the branch of service you are in.

Props to you for doing this country proud, but you weren't exactly ninja on this board.

Haha oh well. If you can keep it to yourself I would appreciate it. I would say ANT is the most transparent, but he doesn't try to hide it. If you email me with my name and Linkedin page I will give you a SB.

Does this apply to everyone?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
  • 1
Feb 24, 2011 - 12:35pm
Military_MBA_Banker:
whateverittakes:
Bro, you are by far the most transparent member on this board. You've been so transparent I even remember your old WSO username and the branch of service you are in.

Props to you for doing this country proud, but you weren't exactly ninja on this board.

Haha oh well. If you can keep it to yourself I would appreciate it. I would say ANT is the most transparent, but he doesn't try to hide it. If you email me with my name and Linkedin page I will give you a SB.


This is true. Anthony is unrivaled in this regard.

Definitely won't spill the beans. During my time as a member, it's been encouraging to see you claw and fight your way into bschool. I'm also not inclined to shit on a serviceman.

Feb 24, 2011 - 12:49pm

I served in a Joint HQ--I know all the lingo.

Feb 24, 2011 - 1:17pm
Ben Shalom Bernanke:
Military MBA,

Thanks for the study outline. What were your costs for all of these tests?

$250 per GMAT. I have links to all the books/practice exams so you can see how much they cost.

Feb 25, 2011 - 5:11pm
Military_MBA_Banker:
Ben Shalom Bernanke:
Military MBA,

Thanks for the study outline. What were your costs for all of these tests?

$250 per GMAT. I have links to all the books/practice exams so you can see how much they cost.

I hope you used the one-time $250 payback the military offers after taking the GMAT.

Great story man. I may see you at CBS next year. Will know more at the end of March. PM inbound.

Feb 24, 2011 - 2:22pm

Awwww they took me off the "Bananas in Last 30 Days" board. I didn't deserve to be, but I will remember the good times when I was on there...

Feb 24, 2011 - 5:36pm

.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT
Feb 24, 2011 - 5:35pm

Thank you for sharing your story. SB for you!

By the way, awesome quote for your signature.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - DT
Feb 25, 2011 - 5:34pm

MBA banker now what do I call you JC? or MBA banker haha

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

Feb 26, 2011 - 6:02pm
blackfinancier:
MBA banker now what do I call you JC? or MBA banker haha

MBA Banker is fine--like I said, but if you call me JC I know you have been following my posts longer.

  • 1
Feb 27, 2011 - 7:59pm

Great story man, looking forward to seeing where you go!

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Dec 18, 2012 - 2:28am

Not sure if you are still checking this blog, as you are probably on winter break in grad school right now. I am almost in the exact same position you wrote about- I am in Iraq in my fourth year of my ADSO and studying for the GMAT. Anyway I can start a dialouge with you through email?

Dec 21, 2012 - 3:16am

nice see a fellow service member with a similar story to mine. I am about a year behind you, and I definitely appreciate the story and encouragement.

Mar 5, 2013 - 9:38pm

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I had a flair for languages. But I soon discovered that what talks best is dollars, dinars, drachmas, rubles, rupees and pounds fucking sterling.
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