I've lost hope in everything.

I am a final year undergraduate engineering student in the UK, and I have and can only imagine a career in investment banking. It's something I really want and I am willing to go through anything for it.

But it seems to be not enough. I go to a semi-target school and I have no prior work experience (for a whole lot of personal reasons). I don't expect full time job, but I just want an internship! I am delaying employment and improving my chances of full time by studying MSc Finance next year, but that's pointless without an internship this summer.

I have only been applying for internships for the last 3 months and couldn't focus on my studies, so it's all crumbling down. But here's the part that made me lose hope:

I recently applied to Citi Capital Market, and spent about 5 days on my cover letter with a lot of input from here and many CV guides. I got rejected 2 days ago. When I told my friend that I had applied, he too followed suit and sent his "general cover letter" -- the same one he sent for engineering, consulting, and now this. He doesn't know what investment bank does or what his role entails.

He got through the initial stage past the CV screening. I didn't even make it to the psychometric tests. I just don't know what to make out of this!

Sorry for the rant, it just feels so pointless. How on earth do HR assess applicants? I understand they look at loads of CVs, Cover letters and can't be bothered to spend a lot of time on them, but everytime they click "reject" they kill a dream.

Note: He doesn't have a great CV either, it's similar to mine and I've had more "society" positions than he does.

Comments (13)

Jan 16, 2013

Have you done any networking?

Jan 16, 2013

@Winning - from what I understand, networking is not as valuable a tactic in the UK as it is in the States.. it can hurt you, even.

@Jointhebank - how on earth did you spend 5 days on a cover letter? In addition, is this Citi Cap Markets opening the only thing you've applied to recently? With respect to your resume, have you articulated your experiences as well as you possibly can?

Also, this is not what you're going to want to hear, but this desperation you've got going on will not work. People can smell it a mile away, it pervades everything you do.. it could have made its way into your cover letter for all you know. The longer you brood the more you shoot yourself in the foot, so pull yourself together and figure out what you're going to do.

    • 1
Jan 16, 2013
Sandhurst:

Also, this is not what you're going to want to hear, but this desperation you've got going on will not work. People can smell it a mile away, it pervades everything you do.. it could have made its way into your cover letter for all you know. The longer you brood the more you shoot yourself in the foot, so pull yourself together and figure out what you're going to do.

This, this, this, this, this! Don't feel sorry for yourself and don't give up. Actually... once you start feeling sorry for yourself, you have given up. So keep going.

Jan 16, 2013

jointhebank - UK IBD recruitment is a load of s**t and a big big lottery game. I know people who didn't even send cover letters who landed interviews at GS. I know people who had spelling mistakes/errors who landed interviews. I know people who don't know what IBD even is - saw the salary numbers - and applied. I know people who tick all of the above who landed an offer.

What you need to do? Get laid. Think 'screw IBD if I I get it then good otherwise who cares I have 1,000,000 other options'. Don't waste 5 days on a CL as they don't even read them (source: inside recruiter) when recruiting a batch of people. I was just like you - desperate to get in. But honestly - its not worth chewing yourself up for. It's just a job at the end of the day - a really unhealthy one I may add.

Do something completely non-IBD related and if you still want to do IBD, apply again.

Jan 16, 2013

OP, I hope you take what I'm about to say as honest criticism and not a personal attack. I'm sure you're a great guy who's smart and works hard, but you need to be aware of what you're saying and how it's being interpreted.

jointhebank:

I have and can only imagine a career in investment banking. It's something I really want and I am willing to go through anything for it.

That's a great attitude. Investment banking is highly competitive and investment bankers work extremely hard. I hear about all nighters and weekend work from them more than any other profession.

jointhebank:

I have only been applying for internships for the last 3 months and couldn't focus on my studies, so it's all crumbling down. But here's the part that made me lose hope:

I recently applied to Citi Capital Market, and spent about 5 days on my cover letter with a lot of input from here and many CV guides. I got rejected 2 days ago.

Oh, okay, so you're willing to go through anything except spending more than 90 days looking for internships and powering through some rejection? That's pathetic. There's no other word for this sort of defeatism besides "pathetic". And Sandhurst is exactly right that this attitude is pervasive and it's likely rearing it's ugly head in everything you do. If you're already at your wits end, if you've already lost hope, you will never, I repeat never, be an investment banker. Your attitude must change immediately. Your struggles are minor and trite and if you can't learn to weather them, give up now and give up forever.

I realize that's harsh and I hope you don't take it personally, but your attitude must change and change dramatically. This site has a ton to offer and will absolutely help with your current situation. Let me first point you to UFOinsider's experience - //www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-much-sht-do-you... - that you should read immediately. Read it twice. Read everyone else's experience. What you're going through is not uncommon, in fact, it's the rule, not the exception. Buck up, change your attitude, have a game plan, and realize there's no magic bullet except persistence.

"My caddie's chauffeur informs me that a bank is a place where people put money that isn't properly invested."

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Jan 16, 2013
mikesswimn:

This site has a ton to offer and will absolutely help with your current situation. Let me first point you to UFOinsider's experience - http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-much-sht... - that you should read immediately. Read it twice. Read everyone else's experience. What you're going through is not uncommon, in fact, it's the rule, not the exception. Buck up, change your attitude, have a game plan, and realize there's no magic bullet except persistence.

It's also two days shy of the original post date. That was a helluva post..

There are no excuses. There is no self pity. That's what I took from that post a year ago, and still jumps off the computer screen.

@jointhebank - I know where you're at. As alluded above, plenty of people have been "there," myself included. It sucks. It seems insurmountable. It isn't. Seizing this challenge will free you from hopelessness.

Two quotes that might help:

"Suffering is the origin of consciousness" (Dostoevsky). Treat this experience as your awakening to whatever you need to take from this experience. My suggestion? You now know that the universe is not particularly fair.

"Life begins on the other side of despair" (Sartre). You can sit where you are, in abject misery, or you can live your life. The only way to do so is to confront and overcome your despair. So get up.

A thought to keep in mind: As one door closes, another opens.

Time and time again, this has proven true for me. And don't get me wrong - all of those times when things felt worse than I had thought possible, I would start to think that there is no way I'm going to succeed, that this time, the last door had shut and I was stuck outside. Within the next couple of weeks, I was invariably amped up on another couple leads. You learn to make your own luck, and trust in your growing ability to generate opportunity.

It takes time, but this me to my last point, which ties all of this together: You have to make your own luck. As you've found, the luck you've got isn't working out for you lately. So figure out how to improve your odds. It's time to get started.

Jan 16, 2013

Continue looking and grinding man, do not be so close minded and be open to casting out a wide net instead of just IBD. And besides, why "can only imagine a career in investment banking.?"

There's a lot of competition and you have to know, that engineering student with no internship experience, competing with a bunch of other who probably have experience, and grades.

And to touch base on your friend making it pass the resume screening, I can smell a little bit of envy and that type of shit happens all of the time.

A quote that I think you and the rest of the WSO community can maybe sit back and think about because I think it's true about a lot of people on here.
"you like seeing your friends do well, but not better than you"

Jan 16, 2013

Thank you all for your replies and support. I fully understand how most of you had to go through similar situations to get where you are -- but there are many who don't.

I didn't give up after 90 days of trying, and I wouldn't except once I get rejected from a bank I can't reapply for a year, and if I don't get an internship now I would have to still look for an internship after my MSc. It's a bloody Catch-22.

As some of you have noted, it is so much worse in the UK -- they don't give feedback for rejections at an early stage, so I could never know why I got rejected. I am not some kid who just wants to do this for the money; I will be happy to get an unpaid internship or at least work shadow someone. I just want to be in a place where I could see and have a real impact on the way the world works, how businesses rise and fall, how my work affects peoples' lives. I am not doing it for the "fame" either, I believe IB is perhaps more noble than Medicine and I can't even begin to express myself when I am asked "Why IB?", for me that's like being asked "Why do you love your child?".

Am I envious of my friend? Yes, I am. But that doesn't hurt me. What hurts me is that he doesn't know what IB is and I don't know how Citi thought he would be more suited to the job. Why on earth do they even ask why I want to work for them then?

About two months ago, I asked a silly question here about all stock deal, and I was told to go read books -- and I did. I didn't do it because I wanted to improve my chances of getting in ( I wasn't asked a single technical at a prestigious boutique even at the final stage) I did it because I loved it. I loved how it made sense; how significant it was; and how exciting it was.

I spent 5 days on the cover letter (and I would've spent more) cause I wasn't applying for the sake of it but because I wanted it. I am sorry if I sound spoiled because I am not. I have never gotten anything I wanted so easy, I've had to fight through obstacles to get where I am (which is unfortunately no where). Through my university years, I've realised that unless you do something you're really passionate about, you can't succeed.

I fully agree with people who rightly say that I have no chance without experience. All I want now is that experience to move forward. All I want now is that one step forward.

@Sandhurst: I fully agree with you. My desperation is very very visible, but that's not desperation because I have no other options. It's the desperation you have when those options close on you and what you really wanted is no longer an option. I know that the moment I accept the "second best" I am a failure/loser -- unfortunately, in this world there are winners and losers and I am somehow stuck in between.

Thank you all for your kind replies.

Being a prospective monkey I am bound to post stupid comments due to my lack of expert knowledge. I implore you to correct me harshly or constructively, and I will appreciate any learning opportunity.

Jan 16, 2013
jointhebank:

I believe IB is perhaps more noble than Medicine and I can't even begin to express myself when I am asked "Why IB?", for me that's like being asked "Why do you love your child?".

and

jointhebank:

I know that the moment I accept the "second best" I am a failure/loser -- unfortunately, in this world there are winners and losers

.

Are you serious?!? Going for your second best does not mean that you are going to be a loser. If you really think that, I think you need to change your attitude. There are thousands of reasons why you may not be successful at first and sometimes it is not because of you.
Some practical advices, since 2 yrs ago I was where you are right now, are:
- If you are still considering the MSc in Finance route, and you can choose, target 2 years programs abroad. They will allow you to apply for internships, will give you an extra year, they usually are way cheaper (RSM, ESADE, Bocconi, HEC, SSE, etc.) and they will give you a different profile (since they are abroad);
- Apply for off-cycle internship: they are made for final year students or graduates and it is less difficult (still difficult) to get in;
- Apply to any bank out there: BB (GS, MS, DB, etc), Elite Boutiques (Rothschild, Lazard, EVR, etc.), MM bank (Baird, etc.), Commercial banks with corporate finance practice (Rabobank, CA, Unicredit, etc.), Foreign banks with offices in London (Mediobanca, Santander, BBVA, etc.);
- Use eFinancialcareers/Monster/etc. and look there for internships in bank you don't even know or in countries where you don't even speak the language but that just require English (got an internship in Germany, in an Italian Bank and I don't speak German). SocGen posts there a lot;
- Check your cover letter with someone in the industry (a friend, an alumnus, here) so that you can't go wrong (if that is an issue) next time;
- Don't sounds in your cover letter/competency based questions like you want to do IB because it is rocket science (because it is not) or because it is more noble than medicine (because the second year analyst or the associate that will read this (if they will read it) and who work 80-100 hrs a week and hate the job while think you are insane) or because it will have an impact on people. Say something good but more standard and down-on-earth.
- apply for any internship available to get some experience this summer that you can put on your CV for the next recruiting cycle. If you get a respected name in another industry (consulting, big 4, FT500) it will look good/ok and not like you failed. Personally, when I started my MSc I did not have any corporate experience on my CV. I put there a BO position in a BB during the summer and it helped me (a lot) to interview with 4 banks during the following year and obtain 2 offers.
Don't feel like you are failing. Feel like you are already doing that step forward.

Jan 16, 2013
jointhebank:

As some of you have noted, it is so much worse in the UK -- they don't give feedback for rejections at an early stage, so I could never know why I got rejected. I am not some kid who just wants to do this for the money; I will be happy to get an unpaid internship or at least work shadow someone. I just want to be in a place where I could see and have a real impact on the way the world works, how businesses rise and fall, how my work affects peoples' lives. I am not doing it for the "fame" either, I believe IB is perhaps more noble than Medicine and I can't even begin to express myself when I am asked "Why IB?", for me that's like being asked "Why do you love your child?".

1. Aside from the added assessment center and the weakened impact that networking has (though it does have an impact, believe me), the UK IBD recruiting scene is not much different than in the US. I can assure you, people get rejected left-and-right in the states as well and nobody stops to smell the roses to let you know why you "didn't bubble up" among the candidates.

2. Please don't say that stuff about "Why IBD" in an interview. The younger analysts/associates will laugh at you for thinking how noble/glamorous their job is, having just spent the last evening churning pitchbooks when their best mates were out on the town. The senior bankers will find you ignorant for not understanding that IB is really not that complicated (ie: "a monkey can do it"). No exaggeration, I have spoken with more than a few MDs at BBs who straight up said their middle school children were doing more complex math problems than they were.

3. Keep it in perspective. Read the guides. Follow the news. Network. Best of luck.

Jan 16, 2013
mountainvalley:

2. Please don't say that stuff about "Why IBD" in an interview. The younger analysts/associates will laugh at you for thinking how noble/glamorous their job is, having just spent the last evening churning pitchbooks when their best mates were out on the town. The senior bankers will find you ignorant for not understanding that IB is really not that complicated (ie: "a monkey can do it"). No exaggeration, I have spoken with more than a few MDs at BBs who straight up said their middle school children were doing more complex math problems than they were

So true!

Jan 16, 2013

I haven't said anything similar to that in my interview/cover letter, but I was trying to say what I really feel about working as an investment banker. I fully realise it isn't rocket science and that I won't be doing PhD level math as a banker at any point ( Ido those now), but over the last few months of applying, researching and explaining my rationale for applying to finance despite an engineering background have only furthered my interest in both the industry, and what the profession entails.

@Cruel3a, Thank you for your post! I am now in the process of applying to universities, but I am absolutely drained of any motivation and momentum. I am yet to do the GMAT, and many European universities require them and are well into the third round of applications.... so I just hope something materialises.

I really appreciate all your supportive and kind replies and I am grateful for your advices. I know that I need to stop cribbing about rejections, move on and be persistent, BUT without knowing what is causing my rejections I am simply making the same mistakes over and over again.

I am 21 years (22 in a few days) and it feels like my life is over before it even began. I don't have unlimited financial support for me to wait and look for opportunities, I have financial commitments (almost $150,000 student loans) and at the moment no where in my career path. I just need that one opportunity to prove myself, and to start a career in something I am certain I will enjoy.

If anyone has any advice please let me know.

Thank you.

Being a prospective monkey I am bound to post stupid comments due to my lack of expert knowledge. I implore you to correct me harshly or constructively, and I will appreciate any learning opportunity.

Jan 16, 2013
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