How I went from non target 2.3 gpa to 7 figure buy side seat
I was recently advising a familyand remembered this site which was valuable during the early part of my career. I didn't read many success stories from people in my situation so I'm sharing this to give people hope and maybe some valuable lessons or ideas. I'm going to be vague about certain details to keep this anon.
I graduated with a 2.29 GPA from a private school that places okay regionally but not nationally. I had always been a good test taker, 1500 SAT, but mediocre student due to effort and undiagnosed ADHD. I received several F's for classes that I no showed entirely, and spent most of my free time (when not parting) playing and winning at online poker. I invested my winnings in stocks and became obsessive about finance and investing my senior year of college (2010). It was at this point that I was diagnosed with ADHD, began taking adderall (lol), and read dozens of finance books.
My resume was pitiful except for one mediocre internship, minor poker accolades and a couple of personal factoids that made me interviewable. I emailed my resume to hundreds offirms.
This was GFC crisis era and the hiring market was still bleak. After a few weeks of nothing I got one reply from an MD at a regional boutique firm. After a phone interview, he called me in for a full interview day for anrole. I spent countless hours on WSO prepping. This was my very first full time interview. I left my GPA off my resume and was extremely worried that people would ask about grades but luckily only one did. My response: "I was told to leave GPA off if it's below 3.5." That's it, say no more. I hit it off with everyone and BS'd my way through questions with the help of WSO browsing I'd done.
The firm had laid people off during the crisis and was now very understaffed. They just needed anyone who could do monkey work for little pay and start immediately. And just like that, I had a banking offer although one many would sneer at: $40k base salary, no bonus and the expectation of long hours. But I had the cushion of savings and accepted without hesitation.
At the above firm, I worked ~90 hour weeks which translated to about $8-9/hour. Most of my time waspitches and modeling for crappy companies in the industry we covered, and I spent work downtime teaching myself the finer points of excel and ppt. It was a brutal time for my social life but I was paying dues.
After about 18 months I started getting frustrated because this firm was failing and there was no path up. Hiring on the street was picking up, I had learned the basics and decided it was time to try to lateral. My passion was still investing, I didn't care for the hours or work and thoughtwould be a better fit. I emailed sell side analysts who covered the industries I worked on and miraculously within 6 weeks I had two offers in hand. Although I was only 18 months out of college, interviewers no longer cared about school or GPA which was a big relief. They only cared about what I knew, what I had worked on and if I could get the job done.
I accepted a role as aassociate with base pay of $80k, a 100% increase. I ended up getting along great with the analyst and worked in this role for almost four years. During that time I passed the CFA exams and earned the charter. I still had a chip on my shoulder from my poor college experience and non target undergrad brand, and thought it would help my resume if I ever wanted to go to the buy side. I was promoted to VP, began covering a few stocks and my pay topped out at over $200k. A far cry from an "unemployable" 2.3 gpa grad five years earlier.
Third job to present
At this point I was a quasi expert on an industry with a solid network and a marketable resume. I decided it was time to try to lateral to a buy side seat. My industry was hot and I got several interviews at top firms: every MM hedge fund, brand name mutual funds and a couple PE shops. After several strike outs I landed at the fund where I still work today, and have worked my way up to be a consistentwith seven figure all in pay. I'll leave my firm/role vague for obvious reasons.
This is especially for those from non targets or with poor GPAs... You can't change the past. Find a way to get your foot in the door and then the rest falls on you. Have no illusions about pay or your worth until you've proven yourself. Early career pay is irrelevant in the long run. Own your past, accept the hill you have to climb and be willing to outwork everyone. Diplomas and grades mean nothing if you aren't willing to work hard, learn continuously and dedicate yourself to being great at what you do. And always keep a long term perspective.