I can't believe I am finally writing this but it is time to really reflect on what has happened in the past month.
Parents divorced, grew up in poverty in the middle of nowhere, etc. Chose to go to my extreme non-target because it was a full-ride and had no clue about job prospects from the school. Found out they were dogshit (our job board site is literally like monster and we're a non-target for big4 accounting), Stumbled into finance after the company where my dad worked was bought by a MF PE shop and wondered wtf was private equity.
How I got into finance:
After finding out about finance I decided to give it a herculean effort and googled for hours how to get in and was initially discouraged because my school had ZERO alumni who could help, finance dean basically said it was impossible, and I was very far away from any finance hub. I thought about it for a week and said fuck everyone and decided I was going to work at a good firm or die trying.
I started by going on linkedin, here, M&I etc. and started blowing up emails of anyone I could find. I narrowed my list to about 20 of the top firms and sent probably 2,000 emails of which around 150 responded, 70-80 had a phone call, and not sure how many pulled for me for job applications. I received many of the typical entitled responses from bankers and traders who told me I had no shot in hell but some were impressed with my persistence. I also made 2 networking trips to NYC and the contacts pulled for me because they knew I was coming from a long distance and was serious about getting a job in IB.
I did a few finance internships (nothing crazy) and got lucky to get a semi-decent (10 Billion AUM) AM internship that finally gave me a name and experience because I struck out for IB SA (only a few first rounds, no superdays). After this summer I knew it was now or never and that I had to really try hard to get something from FT recruiting because the firm I was at doesn't hire FT. I cleaned up my resume, applied to 10 jobs a day, followed up with past contacts, and sent a good 15-20 emails to anyone I could find.
I received 3 superdays at BBs and managed to get EXTREMELY lucky to get an offer at a top BB before attending the other 2 final rounds. I had your typical questions in the interviews (fit, technical, stress testing questions) and was really gutsy because I knew everyone else would try to play it safe.
I think I received an offer because I was pragmatic, worked hard, tried to be confident in the interview, and had a massive amount of luck go my way. My contact there said I was hired because I was much different than the other candidates and was someone he'd have a beer with. At the end of the day these people want to hire someone who isn't a finance hardo without any personality. Did I take a massive risk? Yes. I spent a few thousand dollars of my own money for suits, networking trips, etc. when it all could have been a huge failure.
Advice for others:
Just do what you can. If you're a non-target junior who missed the SA recruiting cycle all you can do is raise your gpa, get some sort of internship, and network like it is a full-time job. You may or may not get an offer but will at least be miles ahead of not trying. There's nothing wrong with starting in MM or boutique IB, Valuation, etc.
I know I am super lucky but man does it feel good to no longer have to go through the bloodbath of FT recruiting.