Graduated - No Experience

Hello WSO,

I graduated from a non-target state school in December with a sub 3.5 GPA, no finance internships, and no work experience. I spent this year applying to random job positions in order to take care of my financial obligations, and managed to acquire a position in general labor; this was my first job. I have assembled my resume (as best as I could with my limited amount of experience/skills) and now I'm planning my execution. What kind of advice would you give me? Where should I apply? Am I attractive to potential employers in any way or will the path into a finance career be extremely unlikely? Thank you sincerely for taking the time to view this thread.

Comments (10)

Jul 18, 2019

Network hard and apply to smaller firms. Be prepared for an uphill battle. I would do an excel modeling course to improve your skills and even potentially think about signing up for the CFA.
You can get in to the finance industry, but it will be very tough.

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Jul 18, 2019

What kind of fields in particular (asset management, investment banking, fortune 500 corporate finance, etc.)? Would working as a bank teller/banker lead me to more opportunities?

Jul 18, 2019

Why no experience? Applying to firms (most likely) won't work out at all and only supplement the frustration. I'd agree with the first comment, the only way to break in will be through networking. I'd highly suggest reading, "The 2-Hour Job Search" as well as tapping into your alumni network via LinkedIn. Connect with people working at firms you could see yourself at, send at least 10 cold messages every day asking for a brief phone call. Make networking your part-time job. View every person you connect with as an interview.

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Jul 18, 2019

I really appreciate the brutal honesty provided; I'd hate to spend a significant amount of time job searching with no success. As to why no experience, I have nothing but excuses. What kind of jobs can I realistically acquire with a business administration - finance degree? With my limited amount of work experience/skills, will I have to start out at fast food/retail?

Jul 19, 2019

I don't understand why you are like "I have a university degree in business admin and finance, I should work in fast food." This makes no sense to me. You have a good degree from a reputable state school. Sub 3.5 GPA, but presumably 3.0+. This is GOOD. OK, it's not a 4.0 from Princeton, but not every successful person in the world started out with a golden ticket form an Ivy League (in fact, most didn't, realistically).

Everyone has to start somewhere. It seems to me that you are selling yourself way short. As others have suggested, use your university alumni network to start talking to people who actually work in finance. Start with people who graduated 1-5 years ago. They will have helpful perspectives and can relate to you. Then move on to slightly more senior people as you grow more comfortable. Start learning about the industry - aim to talk to 50 people over the next few months about jobs in various finance fields. When you have done that, I promise you will have a better sense of the industry landscape and what kind of jobs and companies are out there that might interest you and be a fit.

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Jul 19, 2019

This is my thought process mostly because of time constraints due to a lack of sufficient funds. I need a job yesterday. I can't afford to network for a few months. On top of that I'd really love to acquire a job without networking. Is networking the norm for most professional jobs? Simply put I'm the first one in my family to ever get a degree and I'm figuring it all out for myself here on out - not sure how it all goes down post graduation.

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Jul 19, 2019

I thought you are currently working and earning money? That's how I read your post - "I spent this year applying to random job positions in order to take care of my financial obligations, and managed to acquire a position in general labor; this was my first job."

Certainly if you aren't working and need money, take any job you can get, for now, just to pay rent and buy the essentials. Do that, AND ALSO use your free time outside of work to apply for jobs and talk to people.

Everyone wants to "get a job without networking." Networking is difficult and time-consuming. The thing is, it's also effective. We live in a world populated by PEOPLE, and PEOPLE (not companies) are going to be the ones giving you a job in the end. Also, how will you know what kind of job you want if you don't talk to people about their jobs? It's a learning process that can sometimes be very interesting!

You can certainly take your resume and apply online to every job you want, but I doubt you'll get very far, realistically. I'm not trying to be cynical, but it's my perception of reality. For example: I have 8 years of work experience and two masters' degrees from an Ivy League school. For my current role, I applied to over 300 jobs. Do you know what my response rate was on jobs I applied to purely online, not knowing anyone at the company or in the group hiring? Zero.

That's right: not a single company or person ever responded to my resume when I applied online. Ever. That's because - duh duh duh - the jobs out there in the market are jobs working for PEOPLE making hiring decisions, who you need to TALK TO to be considered for the job in the first place.

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Jul 19, 2019

I was working but I had to leave that position because it simply wasn't a good fit. Thanks for the detailed replies KingCluny. I got what I wanted out of this thread at this point. I understand that networking is unfortunately the only way to get in.

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Jul 19, 2019

Most of the small firms are ready to recruit people without experience. You just need to focus on this kind of companies. Then you can move to a bigger firm while gaining the experience you need. And one more advice: YES YOU CAN! JUST DO IT!

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Aug 4, 2019
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