I thought it would be important for all college students to read my story and understand that ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE to get a job on the street coming from a Non-target school. I'm sorry if this post is long, I just have first-hand experience going through recruiting and I know how stressful and debilitating it can be at times. This is my story:
Summer before junior year
So lets back this up a little bit. Came from an average public high school, had a sh!tty GPA and okay SAT scores. Ended up at a private non-target college, recruited to play D1 Football. Really had a tough time balancing the whole student-athlete thing for the first year or two, and had nothing to call home about GPA wise. Decided to double major in Finance and Economics. The summer going into my junior year I had applied at a few local wealth management shops near my town. Nothing panned out for me the way I wanted it to so I took a job at a very small (8 employees) accounting firm, really just doing administrative work. I had met with the two partners and told them my background and what I was interested in which was equity research and trading. They gave me a few projects regarding company valuation, and I pretty much taught myself how to do a three statement valuation model. All in all, it was an okay experience but nothing that I was really interested in.
Junior year - determined to land a big-time internship
From there, junior year of college I really began to hit the books hard and raised my GPA significantly. I became really interested in the markets and would spend hours doing just my own research on one of the schools Bloomberg Terminals. I was determined to land a big-time internship for the summer going into Senior year as I knew the chances of getting a FT offer was a lot higher with an internship experience within that company. I sent out applications to all of the Bulge Bracket Banks, and all of the big time Asset Managers. I received 2 first round interviews for two separate positions at Blackrock and a first round interview for IBD at JPM.
Hopes were crushed
To make a long story short, I did not receive a second round interview at JPM, but for Blackrock, I made it to the third round Superday for both positions. I was siked! I took part in both Superdays (2 1/2 hours each) and left that office in NYC feeling like a million bucks because I knew I had great chances of landing one of the internships. Month, after Month, after Month, after Month goes by and finally 5 months after my interview the HR rep at BlackRock calls me and tells me that I didn't get either position. Crushed was an understatement. I thought my career aspirations were completely over. I knew that my odds of applying to FT jobs without internal internship experience would crush my chances. So I ended up sending out around 60 applications that night and landed an internship at an insurance/Mutual fund shop in NYC.
I was well aware that this place did not make any full time offers to their interns, so I had made the decision to make the most out of this internship experience and make as many connections as I possibly could. For the course of 10 weeks, there was not a week where I didn't have at least 4 coffee networking sessions or lunches with people all throughout Manhattan. I was on WSO every single day reading as many posts as I could to find a single FT opening for any company. [you can learn about WSO's networking and IB interview course here ] I was determined to land a Full-time job on the street. Then, I created an excel spreadsheet and made a list of 400+ banks, asset managers, and hedge funds (All throughout the Tri-state area) with corresponding contacts with someone in the firm, email addresses, phone numbers, and an application date (if they had one).
I couldn't even count the number of rejections
Fast forward, and I'm back at school for the beginning of my senior year and last football season. While in training camp I had devised this plan that I was going to individually email every firm on my list, send individual emails to every one of my contacts, and send handwritten letters and resumes to every Bulge Bracket Bank and large AM firm that I could. I did just that. Weeks and weeks and weeks go by with rejection after rejection. I couldn't even count the number of rejections I had received. I would sometimes receive a rejection email within seconds of hitting the "Submit my Application" button. I had recruiters ghosting me, and everyone in the world looking at me telling me it was impossible. It was impossible in everyone else's eyes because every other candidate that I was going up against was from an IVY league school with a top percentage GPA. It actually got to the point where I believed them.
Until one day... I receive an email from a Bulge Bracket Bank that wants to do a first round phone interview for a FT S&T position. I did the phone interview (while in my car on the way home from practice) and we had a great conversation about football and work ethic and what it takes to be successful in the industry. I received an email inviting me to NYC for a final round Super day. I was pumped! With just the luck I have... I end up getting the flu the day before the Superday. I sucked it up, chugged a few packets of Vitamin C, and was off to my interview.
I was on cloud nine
I had to part take in a 5 round interview and also give a 45 min presentation on specific investment examples (after being given 20 mins to read through the material) with a 101 fever. I absolutely killed the interviews despite my cough and teeth chattering fever. Two weeks later I get a phone call while I'm in class and I quickly run out of the classroom to answer. It was the bank offering me a FT job in their S&T analyst program. I was on cloud nine. I think the whole business building had heard me scream in excitement. I start training this upcoming July!
Anything to separate yourself from the crowd
So again, I apologize for the long post and probably not the best grammar, but I wanted to share my story because I can first hand understand how extremely stressful it can be. People will be telling you "Its Impossible" or "You can never do it" for the entirety of your life. It takes determination and consistency to separate yourself from the crowd. Any job or position you hold, you have to make the most out of your experience. It's too easy to just sit there and complain about how you hate your job and you wish you were doing something else. Actually do something that is going to help you down the road! Learn something! Teach yourself something new! Think of a new investment pitch! Anything to separate yourself from the crowd. Every finance major at any school no matter where you are has the notion that they are going to end up with this amazing job on the street. Its determination, hard work, and perseverance that really separates the men from the boys.
Thanks for reading and I wish all of you monkeys the best in your careers.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask!