How I landed my dream job in M&A - Never give up on your dreams

Foreword

Apologies for the long text but I wanted to share my journey since so many stories here on WSO moved me deeply, especially the one about a guy getting 10 rejections and finally one IBD offer – truly amazing. I have been a long time lurker and recently created my own account to join this amazing community. This story is dedicated to everyone who has faced disappointment. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions.

Description

I am a guy of Jewish origin from a second-world country in Eastern Europe from a middle class family with no inclination towards finance. I spent my early years in a public English speaking school and was naturally willing to study in England.
At the time I had no real idea what to do with my life but managed to secure a position into an undergraduate marketing programme in a well renowned university (think Portsmouth, Southampton, Leeds, Oxbridge).
Apart from that I had a short two month internship in a bakery on the management side. I was also a member of the national curling team (great team sport).

Initiation

I got really excited about banking from a couple of friends who were into finance so I started reading appropriate literature and watching finance related movies – even the documentaries! We began applying together in the beginning of our second year to all bulge brackets.
Since I occasionally play Call of Duty and Fifa and almost succeeded jailbreaking my old Iphone, I figured out that i have an aptitude for technology alongside finance. I then realized that my dream was landing a good summer internship offer at an M&A TMT coverage team and then converting it into a full time. What I found even more appealing was joining a PE firm or a hedge fund since analysts had an actual say in investment decisions.

Application

I spent countless days submitting applications, making tests, writing cover letters and more. I managed to make more than 10 applications in that month by sometimes putting more than 2 hours a day. While my mates were enjoying fresher's week I was stuck filling countless online forms and sitting aptitude tests with my trusty calculator, pen and paper.
The awful truth is that even though I spent weeks applying, my work didn't always pay off. I was about to find out how hard it is to break in.

Preparation

I managed to get some first round interviews in October and was on fire. I started preparing for technical and fit questions because I had no prior knowledge in finance. I used WSO's excellent guides for preparing – you can get the IB interview questions course at the WSO Courses website subsection.
I studied long and hard for about a week preparing scenarios and coming up with my stories while simultaneously working on a couple of assignments for my university. Even though I had no interview experience the hard work really paid off because I was doing well on my first rounds.

Desperation

Two months into the nonstop grind, I faced the brutal investment banking truth. Some of the applications I submitted were left without any response. I was waiting for the outcome of 6 assessment centers and had gotten a rejection from 2 of my favorite companies. I cannot begin to describe how depressing it was for me. I never failed at anything in my life before – I managed to score a first class grade in my first year at university (pushing 70%) and was on the track to do the same for my second year before depression and applying had taken their toll on my academic performance.
I started drinking quite a bit more and locked myself for a week in my room. I am not ashamed to say that I cried at times, even though I am not usually the emotional type. It was devastating. The companies discarded me like an used old shoe (or a more profane item, often discarded after usage). They didn't even bother giving me feedback on how I did despite my numerous request.

Provocation

In addition, some friends of mine were already getting offers at bulge bracket banks and were constantly asking me how my efforts were going. Unfortunately I had only the two brutal rejections to show for my work. In situations like this, you are happy for your friends… for like a second. And then you start reevaluating your own choices.

Invigoration

The first call came on Monday and I got the offer. I was so happy and exhilarated. The blood sweat and tears had finally paid off and I was on top of the world. What was more surprising was that four more calls came through in the following days. I could not believe it was really happening – Banking at Barclays, Asset Management at UBS, IBD at Credit Suisse and more. Even the exhaustive assessment process at a mid-cap PE firm paid off and I had the offer!

However, the cherry on the cake came last Monday. Apparently my last AC went quite well and a senior employee at the M&A TMT industry group liked me a lot. I remember speaking with him mostly about my personality and baking. Turns out he was a pastry fiend like me and we spent the majority of the interview talking about cheesecake varieties and strawberry tarts. Goldman Sachs wanted me to join them for the 2018 summer internship programme. This was my dream and I accepted the offer in a heartbeat over the phone. In hindsight I realize that the PE offer was good but I wanted to work for the Goldman Sachs, period.

Retrospection

Those three months were some of the worst in my life. I cannot believe that I spent so much time and sanity grinding towards that goal. The light was nowhere to be seen but by the end it shone brightly.
In conclusion, never give up on yourself, no matter how bad the situation might seem. Do as I say, not as I do – do not give in to depression like me, especially when your efforts don't pay off. In the end hard work always pays off. It is just hard to see how far the end is, is it weeks or perhaps months?

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (21)

Dec 12, 2017 - 7:28pm

Well done! Amazing inspirational story bro!

Congratulations on getting the offers! Hard work always pays off in the long-run. I was in a slightly similar situation once back in the day.

Keep up the good work and spirit! People like you - with all the spent time and efforts - deserve these jobs!

Dec 16, 2017 - 11:38pm

Good. Now you can hate your life being locked in a cubicle for a week straight and cry there. B$nking 4 Lif3!

Cb
  • 4
  • 1
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Dec 17, 2017 - 6:21am

Got almost same background as yours ( third world country, middle class family, no family connections, attending decentish uni in UK (Semi Target) etc etc). I had almost spend my freshers week on CV and Cover Letter and currently going through desperation phase after getting rejected by 3 banks for spring weeks.

Not gonna lie, this was pretty much a motivating post for me.

Dec 17, 2017 - 8:54pm

This is genuinely what happened, just wanted to share my two cents. I am quite interested in the small things and they play an important part of my decision making process. Call it a hunch, but I really think TMT is where I belong, not because of the prestige.

As for my hardship, getting rejected can really bring you down and that was a big deal for me. In the end, it is important that you keep pushing harder and going forward even if you don't feel like it because in the end it will pay off.

Dec 18, 2017 - 8:24am

I have trouble believing this is a real post.. But frankly, most M&A TMT interview go like this, so congrats.
"Turns out he was a pastry fiend like me and we spent the majority of the interview talking about cheesecake varieties and strawberry tarts."

Dec 18, 2017 - 11:30am

Kind of my thoughts exactly....jeez only 3 or 4 rejections isn't a hardship that's like a best case scenario for applying to IBD. And several roles after what 20 applications in 3 months?

I mean congrats man, super happy for you but you might need to redefine your definition of struggle and "worst time of your life"

Dec 18, 2017 - 12:51pm

Was thinking that too. He's either trolling or so out of touch with reality that he doesn't understand that a majority of applicants don't get offers. Playing COD and Fifa and "almost jailbreaking" your iPhone is indicative of a knack for technology? Jesus fuck.

Dec 17, 2017 - 10:05pm

Congrats man. I personally would have take the PE gig right off the bat, but you pulled off GS and that is no small feat. Just make sure to work your ass off and get an offer to go back FT.

"I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. " -GG
  • 2
  • 1
Nov 28, 2019 - 6:03pm

Magnam molestiae suscipit ex. Iure est non eveniet esse nisi aperiam.

Modi dolore quia quibusdam sunt doloribus. Fugit suscipit et explicabo animi dignissimos consequatur. Quis et a mollitia eius et aut omnis omnis. Ratione hic quibusdam nemo.

Nov 28, 2019 - 6:09pm

Sit omnis impedit deleniti inventore adipisci fugit voluptatem. Rerum officia maiores id sint sint beatae. Aspernatur quia et magni culpa. Non praesentium officiis est aliquid esse.

Iste fuga molestiae reprehenderit dolorem ut. Inventore et non error modi quasi qui nostrum esse. Dolor veniam voluptas est velit qui optio. Vel fuga in enim est. Deleniti pariatur perspiciatis sunt ducimus quasi omnis et. Asperiores magnam iure maxime.

Reiciendis consequuntur vel ipsum ut non quo. Qui assumenda in minima fugit. Quidem ut omnis iure. Velit quaerat laudantium sapiente neque.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

October 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (39) $363
  • Associates (229) $233
  • 2nd Year Analyst (139) $155
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (32) $149
  • Intern/Summer Associate (104) $143
  • 1st Year Analyst (504) $135
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (387) $83