Let me first begin by saying that for most of my time in college, getting into aat a F500 firm has been my goal. I am very intrigued by the exciting, fast-paced life and lucrative pay of the IB world, but the 80-100hr work weeks and the fact that the company doesn't "make something" simply doesn't interest me. That said, I decided early on that I want to make it to the C-Suite of a F500 company, and a is probably the best place to start.
My background: I'm finishing up my senior year of college, majoring in Finance and Economics. To call my school a non-target would be an overstatement. When I was applying for jobs, my school wasn't even listed on the drop-down menu for colleges. I can only imagine what the HR people thought when they saw my resume and saw I was listed as having attended "Other". Furthermore, the school is 11 years old, so we have a very sparse alumni network. Because of this, I knew I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to work for a company outside the geographic area of my school.
The summer after my sophomore year I spent a ton of time on WSO, looking for what I wanted in a finance career and how to get there. I read so much about networking and knew that I would have to rely on my network completely if I wanted a job.
That same summer my uncle said he knew a guy who worked in. He put us in touch, and we had a good conversation on the phone. I was forwarded to HR for a opportunity, and then had conversations with some people in FP&A at the company. It was a F1000 apparel company based in Atlanta. I had to network pretty hard, following up with them every few weeks. I knew that if I didn't land that internship I would spend the summer after my junior year doing manual labor for my school.
I got the internship (in treasury and IR) and spent 11 weeks in Atlanta last summer. It was a fantastic internship because treasury has such a wide view of the entire company. Through my IR function, I was taken to many meetings with bankers from all over the city and region. I got to expand my network and gain a lot of experience.
This past August I was investigating's, and found a brochure online for a program with a top 5 defense contractor. The brochure had the email address of the assistant director of the program, so I contacted her and was fortunate enough to hear back. We got on the phone and I made a good enough impression that she set up a call with a current program participant. After a few weeks and a few follow-up emails, I got a phone screening with the director of the program. That went well, and two weeks later they flew me out for a final round interview. My unknown, liberal arts education was pitted against students holding degrees from huge state schools. After four interviews that morning, I flew back to school.
I got my offer letter last week.
What I Did
1. Networking, Networking, Networking
My initial strategy for getting an internship was to cast a wide net and hope for a bite or two. I applied for 50-100 internships online, getting nothing but rejection letters, and only from about 10 of them. I changed my strategy and started going really hard after opportunities in my network. I followed up every other week with the people at the F1000 company in Atlanta. I found that I would only get a response after about my 3rd email each time. I focused on keeping my emails short and casual. I wanted to sound like a real person, and I think they appreciated that.
During my internship I made sure to follow up with anyone show showed any interest in helping me. I'd shoot them an email and try to get a chance to talk to them and hear about their background. Those business cards you get at meetings are your ticket to expand your network. Keep all your emails short and personal. The people you are contacting have been in your shoes before, and can spot a formal "form" email from a mile away. It makes you look like you didn't put any effort into contacting them.
2. Be Eager
Excitement is contagious. I made sure to show excitement in every call I had. I showed that I am eager to learn and am excited for the opportunity to get on the phone with them. I knew my story in and out: why I was interested in their industry, why I was interested in finance, what I liked about their company, why I picked my school, what my goals are, etc. At my in-person interview, I focused on being social an likable. I'm normally an introvert, but I made sure to be outgoing, to smile, and to be easy to chat with.
3. Show Your Drive
I have been driven to be successful since I was young. At 13, I started reading motivational books such as Think and Grow Rich and The Millionaire Mind. My summer jobs before college and after my freshman year were sales jobs because I wanted to get rewarded for working harder than others, rather than getting an hourly wage. Furthermore, I knew sales work would help my communication skills. I always try to stretch my comfort zone, and after doing that for eight years (I'm 21), I began to have a lot of stories to tell in interviews about leadership, dedication, and drive. If you truly want something, your drive for it will become very evident, and will rub off on employers.
Some of you might look at getting into anas not much of an accomplishment, but for me, I feel like I've hit the jackpot. I realized too late in my college career that getting into a F500 company from my school would be a miracle. Our education is solid, but no one knows about us. An is the best post-graduation job for someone who wants to get into CorpFin, and I'm so excited to have landed one in my ideal industry (Aerospace & Defense). I want to thank WSO for providing a wealth of information about finance careers. I'd still be totally clueless without you all.
Let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer what I can.