No relevant skills, unemployed, desperately want to get into IB anything

DFXR's picture
Rank: Monkey | 53

Title says it all. I'm at the end of my rope, in the most literal way possible. I went to a top school (and got mediocre grades, although not from lack of trying), wasted two years of my life in a middle office position with no transferable skills(although at a *very* good firm), and am now looking at absolutely *anything* which gets me even remotely close to IB. Anything at all which deals with corp. fin., capital markets, or transaction advisory.

I've had dozens and dozens of interviews, at nearly every firm under the sun, after prettying up my "work experience", but of course it went nowhere since the work I was doing is completely useless anywhere else(although I consistently answer technical questions correctly). I've looked at everything, networked with hundreds of employees/alumni, bought and sat through hundreds of hours of BIWS courses, applied to the smallest of firms, everything I can possibly think of in the past few years to get into IB, and am absolutely losing my mind. I'd do anything. I'd get coffee. I'd work for free, on the other side of the world, in the smallest firm known to man if it was relevant experience.
I don't know what to do. I'm starting to think I may never work again. I don't know how urgently I'm getting this across, but I guarantee it's not enough. I need help.

Comments (41)

Jul 7, 2015

Define top school, mediocre grades, and very good firm.

Just trying to get a more specific idea of exactly where you stand.

"There's always money in the banana stand" - George Bluth Sr.

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Jul 7, 2015

Top school as in within top 15 of USNWR, mediocre grades as in sub 3.5, and very good firm as in one of the three major US BBs.

Also, it is often suggested that I go to bschool, to which my objections are threefold: 1) I didn't have good grades in undergrad and am a very bad test-taker 2) am unemployed, and 3) bschool is just another series of obstacles before I even get to interviews. I've had interviews, ~everywhere~, but they go nowhere, for reasons which are never explained to me.

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Jul 7, 2015

If you're able to get dozens and dozens of interviews with your credentials (which are decent save for the lack of banking experience) your resume isn't the problem.

And if you're sure that you answer the technicals correctly, I have to assume that it must be the behavioral or your soft skills (confidence, personable, "airport test").

"There's always money in the banana stand" - George Bluth Sr.

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Jul 7, 2015

I agree.

Why would a firm waste time bringing you in for an interview after seeing your resume? Doesn't make sense. Your background is getting you the interviews and you're messing up during them. I suggest posting a youtube video of you answering basic interview questions and post it for a critique. Hide your face if you must.

Jul 10, 2015
ATLAnalyst:

If you're able to get dozens and dozens of interviews with your credentials (which are decent save for the lack of banking experience) your resume isn't the problem.

And if you're sure that you answer the technicals correctly, I have to assume that it must be the behavioral or your soft skills (confidence, personable, "airport test").

I think this one is spot on. Take a deep breath, good luck, and don't lose hope!

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Jul 7, 2015

Thats what I had been thinking too - I mean, its the only thing left, right? But I've talked to career coaches, bought time with mentors, read a number of guides on the soft skills portions (Vault, BIWS, WSO, etc), sharpened my story, and all the rest - nothing. I'm never told why, although if I had to guess, it's because places want people with experience, which I have none. And it is increasingly seeming like I'll never be able to get it.

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Jul 9, 2015
DFXR:

Thats what I had been thinking too - I mean, its the only thing left, right? But I've talked to career coaches, bought time with mentors, read a number of guides on the soft skills portions (Vault, BIWS, WSO, etc), sharpened my story, and all the rest - nothing. I'm never told why, although if I had to guess, it's because places want people with experience, which I have none. And it is increasingly seeming like I'll never be able to get it.

God hates you. Sorry. Try an MSF.

Jul 7, 2015

I agree that obviously places want a candidate with experience over none, but if that really was strict cut-off you wouldn't be landing interviews in the first place. So it's only part of the problem.

And even so, there should be no reason that you aren't qualified for a position at a boutique. The only problem with this scenario is that interviewing is much more informal, so spots may just open up randomly.

Not to mention there are a plethora of boutique, advisory firms that can serve as stepping stones to IB boutiques, then to MMs, then to BBs, then to PE, then to glory.

"There's always money in the banana stand" - George Bluth Sr.

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Jul 7, 2015

Well, I've been looking a lot, and 95% the positions I've ever seen call for "1 year experience in investment banking", of which I have none. Ostensibly, I was in the IB group at the firm I was with, but that was only for purposes of security: we got no training, never modeled, never did any kind of valuation work, never even saw the light of any kind of financial statements. We could very easily have been replaced by computers, but I guess the UI for it hadn't been figured out yet. The years of "experience" I had there are probably whats getting me in the door at all though, since it looks good on paper - but in actuality it was utterly, utterly useless.

Outside of those though, I don't see anything. There seems to be no openings for someone with no experience but out of school. To make matters worse, it's summer, so fewer places have openings in the first place - by the time it's not summer, I'll have been out of work so long that it doesn't matter (and again, no openings).

In the meantime, I'm staying very up to date by repeating my BIWS courses, reading everything I can get my hands on, and studying for the CFA come December. It just feels like it's useless since there are no positions anywhere. I've looked, and applied for months now, and the rare ones that don't outright require me to have that year of experience simply don't want to bring me in for an interview at all. This doesn't just go for IB either. I know JPM has a JA program which brings in newbies, which is what I aim for every year, so I've also been looking at S&T, PWM, ER, consulting, corporate banking, anything which might be even tangentially related...but there are no positions for someone in my shoes. They simply don't exist, and if they do, they refuse to give me first rounds.

..plus, you know, the lack of success on first rounds...

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Jul 7, 2015

What's a ja program?

Jul 7, 2015

from my understanding, grades aren't all that important for B-school. Coming from a good school and working at a BB (even if not in the FO) combined with a good GMAT should compensate. I found the GMAT easier than other standardized tests since it was computer-based. I would suggest taking an official practice to see where you stand.

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Jul 7, 2015

You said your in the ibd please don't tell me you put ib analyst or analyst in ib

I absolutely hate when people do that waste of people's time

Jul 8, 2015

.

Jul 8, 2015

Its for off-cycle. He's probably going to final rounds with a group of laterals. Its going to be tough to beat them when they all have direct experience.

I went through this same thing for my first job, which was off-cycle. You just need to keep trying. I had interviewed at almost literally every major/mid-tier bank with a capital markets team in the US before I landed a gig off-cycle (with no real internships, coming from a non-target, and a sub-2.5).

Jul 8, 2015

what was the split of technical vs behavioral questions you got?

Did you have any prior work experience (albeit unrelated) before the capital markets interviews? How much were you grilled on that during networking/interviews?

Obivously, at some point you beat out folks with direct experience. 'would love to know how you could do that.

Thanks!

Best Response
Jul 8, 2015
MBA_Junkie:

what was the split of technical vs behavioral questions you got?

Did you have any prior work experience (albeit unrelated) before the capital markets interviews? How much were you grilled on that during networking/interviews?

Obivously, at some point you beat out folks with direct experience. 'would love to know how you could do that.

Thanks!

- This was a while ago, but most of the questions I was asked were technicals + why do you want this job.Very little time spent talking about past experience.
- I only had part-time work, not finance related. I had some BS & half-made-up internships that I got really good at spinning into something material. Looking back, it was basically lying
- It was just a volume game. Eventually you will get a group of interviewees that are complete retards. But usually, you are the underdog. Sometimes, the other candidates are just better relative values because they have better experience - in OP's case, its pretty much all of the time.

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Jul 7, 2015

I don't know about the volume game...I mean, of course, the more I apply to, the likelier it is I'll be able to find one, but from what I've experienced, even the very smallest of banks are inundated with vastly more qualified candidates than me. Nothing I say on interviews ever seems to matter, regardless of how right and in-depth my technical answers are or how crafted my behavioral ones.
Plus, of course, the longer I'm unemployed the harder it is at all, which is why I'm so certain that at this point I'll just never work again anywhere. I used to be able to get 9 interviews a week, then 5, then 1, and now none for the foreseeable future. And that's only going to get worse.

I'm told to take a temp job, but I've never heard of those being useful for this area of finance. I'm told to go back to school, but I'm a truly terrible test taker and am, of course, unemployed. I've even considered joining the military since they've a "going back to work" program, but I know I wouldn't be able to last training. It feels like every day is a new "worst day of my life".

...and no, I don't say I'm an IB analyst, I just say analyst (which is what I was).

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Jul 8, 2015

Why don't you just go for a masters program at a good target school and apply for SA positions? My buddy who I summered with did that. He went to Babson for his undergrad but got into some 2 year program at an Ivy and just applied and interviewed the same way undergrads would. Might be a step backwards, especially compared to going to b school, but at least it might get you back into on-campus recruiting. Pretty sure SA classes have more seats than for associates too. I would imagine it would be slightly less competitive given your background.

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Jul 9, 2015

Seems like you have worked on all the major stuff required for an interview. But for some reason you remain unsuccessful. Try asking for feedback (any would help) from the places you applied to and try again the next recruiting season. Rework your resume, your story, and make your goal to impress them during the interview. Try to imagine the juy BB would hire and try to become one
Practice makes perfect, right?

Jul 9, 2015

Your resume is obviously good enough to land you the interviews. Connect with the recruiters or people conducting the interviews on LinkedIn and ask them directly why you got dinged. I would guess that most of them would be brutally honest with you.

Jul 9, 2015

You can always go work for the government.

Also, it sounds like you have a confidence problem; the biggest thing in IBD. They smell your desperation in the interviews. Just like a new girl your dating... got to play hard to get.

Jul 9, 2015

As some people have stated above, you're getting interviews meaning your paper profile is good enough to the point that people reach out to you for an interview. You apparently get all technical type questions correct so that's not the problem either.

Based purely on what I'm reading from you, your problem is you. You appear to have an extremely negative outlook on life in general and I'm willing to bet my next bonus that it spills over into your interviews. Don't take this the wrong way but I can't say that I'd be looking forward to interviewing you based solely on your posts in this thread.

Fix your personal outlooks, look at things from a brighter perspective and go into those interviews a happy, motivated and positive individual, which no matter what you may be thinking, is clearly not the case presently.

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Jul 7, 2015

Well, I always try to follow up to figure out why I didn't clear an interview, but nearly never get any responses. And they always say "email me or give me a call if you have any questions". I get it's just a formality, but come on...

The times I have gotten a response, on the other hand, is that I didn't have enough modeling experience. I've gotten the "you fit the culture very well but.." response several times. Which makes sense. When I'm asked about previous transactions, it's hard to say anything. I was never really on a transaction. I certainly didn't work with operating models, or had a position which required any thought at all. I didn't work with financial statements. As I said, it was a job that very easily could be done by a computer, but I guess my company had other uses for their programmers. All my modeling "skills" are completely self taught.

This is all combined to give me the outlook that I have. I've never heard of a position for people out of school which accepted those without modeling or transaction experience. It's a complete catch-22 system. I need experience, which I can't get, because I need experience. Plus, the longer I'm unemployed, the harder it is. Which makes it hard to have any kind of hope - like I said, I know there's no position which I'm actually qualified for. I suppose this outlook could bleed into my interviews, but in the rare occasion that I do get feedback, my lack of experience seems to be far more damning. I've never heard "attitude" or anything like that mentioned. Admittedly, I DO rarely get feedback in the first place, but still.

I mean...what do I even do now? I'm no longer getting interviews at all, and even the seemingly easiest one I apply to are far, far above my experience level. I won't be able to apply for student jobs come fall either. The longer this takes, the harder it gets, and it already seems completely impossible now. I hadn't really considered my masters outside of an MBA, but wouldn't I need to be working in the first place to get anywhere? Do I try to find some kind of temp job? Like I said, I've never heard of those being for banking, but still. Working for the government sounds...well, what kind of government job leads into banking?

It's really hard to improve my outlook when looking at the jobs available and knowing how banks hire only points in one direction for me. Overly dramatic, perhaps, but I really feel hopeless.

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Jul 7, 2015

I'd love to, but I need to be employed first. At least, that's all the advice I've gotten on graduate school - they need a story, and said story needs to not have "being unemployed".

Jul 10, 2015

You should take some time to chill and step back before you go back into interviews...
Just based off your post & comments you seem way too depressed and desperate, which are two qualities which will get you nowhere in Investment banking.
You need to figure out how to sell yourself better to bankers and pitch some of your past experiences in a way that people could see you adding value.
But most importantly, you need to stop shitting on your job even if you hated it. Even if it feels like you "wasted" your life at your previous job, you were still working at a BB bank, probably making decent money. You need to change your outlook on things, once you do revisit the idea of getting into IB. At least that way you won't say that after having 2 years of work experience, you'd be willing to work for free...

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Jul 10, 2015

Why are you unemployed?

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Jul 10, 2015

If you want to go the masters route (MSF or MBA) but are worried about being unemployed go work for a non-profit with a decent mission and spin it that you always wanted to feed the poor, improve education or whatever. Choose a decent one though that's more organized and where your role can be seen as more business like-don't just go serve people at the soup kitchen. As far as I know grad schools like non-profit and it takes a special person to shit on someone who went to work somewhere for less pay to help others. It'll be lower pay but you're not making anything now.

Jul 10, 2015

Why don't you work somewhere else that would also look good on a resume, gain some new experience that other analysts there might not have, continue to study for the CFA, get it, and learn how to model? Then, you can show you have been working, are competent, have a CFA (huge) and can model? Or work somewhere else that can give applicable skills, get a masters in finance or MBA. Practice interviewing in those times too. You can never practice enough.
Perhaps I am naive and that answer is too simple. You do not have to work in IB now to work in IB ever.

I'm a rising-second year classical studies major who had never used excel before, knew no statistics, and had never even heard of the thing the firm I'm interning for invests in, in an internship supposedly reserved for rising fourth years with experience. So i think it is possible to get into IB without direct experience. Once again, possibly a naive opinion.

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Jul 10, 2015

Why are you so dead set on doing IB specifically?

The general benefits of a job (money, power, title, responsibility, challenge, sense of accomplishment, camaraderie, etc) aren't limited to some particular segment of the finance industry. Why don't you figure out what your strengths are and go hard for things related to that. If you do this and do it well, eventually you will wind up somewhere near where you want to be after multiple jumps, assuming that's what you still want to do then (which it probably won't be).

Also, not sure why you're unemployed but I think that's a bigger issue versus the MO experience, make sure you explain/spin this well and make sure you're making good use of your free time. Good luck.

Jul 7, 2015

It's..comforting to hear that it's possible to "leave" IB and still return to it (so denoted since I was never really in it in the first place) - although I have heard that doing so is particularly difficult. Given how hard it is already, I'm very resistant to the idea of exacerbating things. And am I wrong? I don't think I'm overlooking many lateral positions; it's not like I can apply 2016 analyst roles in the fall or that there's a secret junior analyst position I'm missing out on. This will only get worse.

Even just "financial analyst" positions seem impossible - they all require at least a year of relevant experience, which I know I don't have. Now, of course I don't say that in interviews, but when I was in a role that had zero modeling, zero looking at financial statements, zero research, zero due diligence, and zero analysis, it's kinda a hard sell. My role was pulling requested trading data from places like Bloomberg, copying it, and pasting it. I would be asked, for instance, to graph the NTM P/E for a company for the last 2 years. I wouldn't decide the data, I wouldn't be doing anything but using a database. No thought required. Again, I try to spin it in interviews, but that can only go so far. Think of it as data entry.

Plus, of course, there aren't a whole lot of financial analyst positions open. Everywhere I've looked, there are no positions in anything even remotely relevant for someone with no experience, and the very few that I've run across (think 2015 analyst slots) refuse to even give me a first round. So where do I go from here? How do I spend my time? I hardly know why I'm asking, but I feel like I'm completely losing my mind.

re: why I'm unemployed, well, a number of reasons, but I left of my own accord. I could go into the exact reasons, but would probably be told "that was stupid/you're an idiot" anyway and at this point, it can't be changed.

re: why IB. I like modeling for various situations, I like understanding where a company fits alongside it's competitors and in capital markets, I like understanding why companies make the financial decisions that they do, I like providing third party advisory, I like working with financial statements, I like being involved with long term projects instead of just keeping an eye on a company/industry over a period of time, and I love the idea of trying to realize value in a merger. Are those the kind of things I would be doing as an analyst in IB? Of course not. I'd be doing what I'm asked to do, with no independent thought, and instead staying up to 5am on a Saturday morning to get the font sizes right on revision 87 of a book so my MD can ignore it whilst playing golf. But that's the general arc of IB, and I want to be a part of that.

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Jul 11, 2015

In your situation, I would get back into the workforce in the same field and in a similar position that you had before. Bust your ass and see where that takes you. Meanwhile, try and move into a different role somewhere else that is a step-up (whatever that is) from the current job.

Obviously unemployment isn't working and you aren't converting your interviews into offers which means you need to try something else ASAP. Just remember, IB is extremely competitive and it isn't the only lucrative career field out there. What makes you think being an IB analyst is going to be more glamorous?

I'm sure that's not really what you wanted to hear, but that is what I'd do in your shoes. This might come off as harsh, but that's life, you have to run with what you have. If you're really as motivated as you say, you'll move up the ladder no matter where you end up. Stay humble, obviously you're frustrated and anxious but to some people your comments/attitude may (might) come off as feeling "entitled" which is a non-starter.

"I am that I am"

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Jul 11, 2015

I would try to be a bit more optimistic, your negative mentality is probably leaking over into your interviews. I know, its hard. Ive been unemployed with no work experience before, its a tough sell. At least you have two years work experience in the financial field at a good firm. Sure, your role was probably not very sexy, and you didn't do any modeling, but you are still way better off than somebody with no experience.

You need to get out there and try to make some connections. Set some goals no matter how simple, like contact one person per day, or meet with 3 new contacts a week, just so it doesnt feel like youre just aimlessly spinning your wheels. Also set your schedule so that you only look for jobs / network during a normal work schedule - say 9-6 Monday - Friday. Otherwise you are going to drive yourself crazy staring at indeed and LinkedIn all day and night.

Jul 7, 2015

I'd love to do the same thing I was doing now, but no other bank besides where I was seems to have anything similar, and it would be a rough sell to go back to where I was before. It was the very definition of a dead-end job: I spoke to my manager several times about eventual chances to move up through the organization from where I was, and there weren't really any at all - which I don't mean as in "it'll be hard, but it's not impossible", no, I mean it was impossible and was effectively told so more than one. The company had rather...underwhelming internal mobility, and most of databases I used there were proprietary to the place; I only used Bloomberg as a proxy.

I don't think being an IB analyst will be glamorous at all. I fact, I know it's the exact opposite of that. But at least it'll be on a road to be doing what I like doing (see above posts).

Networking...well, networking has always been "so close but so far" for me. I have no idea whats to be done with it. I mean, like I said, I've reached out to hundreds of alumni/bankers over the year, but what invariably happens is that I get put through to HR, which is the same as applying online. No one ~~ever~~ seems to know anyone else I can speak to or has a relevant position. Even in the best case scenario, I get an interview, but again they're looking for someone with more experience. They say some 90% of jobs are gotten via networking, but I've done a LOT of networking and it never seems to go anywhere for entry level positions. Advice?

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Jul 11, 2015

At this point, it sounds like you've struck out for IB. Start looking for other opportunities and parlay your last role into the next.

"I am that I am"

Jul 8, 2015

I'm sorry but this just seems kind of odd. To be completely honest, it seems like you're misrepresenting your situation. According to your comments, you've reached out to "hundreds" of bankers over time. You've gone to a bulge bracket (even if it was a BS job). You've nailed technicals. You've reached out to every possible investment bank no matter how small or regionally focused. You essentially seem to be saying you've done everything perfectly, or the best you can, and simply been rejected hundreds of times.

My gut is telling me that you haven't really done all this and you're half expecting someone to PM you a job offer. While it's possible, I really doubt anyone's going to do that. What's really going on .. Do you have a horrendous GPA that doesn't get you interviews? Are you refusing to explore small regional shops? Have you considered being an intern again at a smaller firm? It just doesn't really add up.

Jul 7, 2015

I know - it seems impossible, right? Ridiculous. Unbelievable.

If I roll a dice 50 times, eventually it simply has to land on a 6? Numbers game, I keep getting told. But that's just gamblers fallacy. Me constantly failing for god knows what reason on an interview doesnt mean I won't fail on the next one (although I keep a list of every question I've ever gotten to reduce the chances. So far no luck). That's how I feel, and what prompted me to make this thread in the first place. It feels like every interview is just a joke. I no longer feel any positive rush when I get another interview, because I feel its all useless no matter what I do. Of course, I don't treat it that way. I go into every. single. interview. as The One that will be my ticket out of this cycle of insanity...but nope. Time and time again.

Now, I'll admit, I don't put my cumulative GPA on my resume, just that of my major (Economics: 3.66). Other than that, I have explored small shops - I've explored regional ones, I've explored ones with just 2 or 3 offices, I've explored ones just a few years old, with maybe a dozen employees. Places that aren't even on Glassdoor. Places that barely have websites. Still hear "no", "no", "no" - not even second rounds (if I get first rounds). No matter how correct I know I get the technical questions, no matter how many times I go into career counselors to polish my story, no matter how many hours of mentoring time I buy.

"Sounds like you're really committed to this"
"You clearly know [those technical things] up and down, left and right"
"I look forward to meeting you in person"
"That's exactly the attitude we're looking for"
"I had been in a similar situation and joined [company]; I know you'd fit in great here"

And so on. Endless platitudes. Endless. Like I said, I'll do anything, I'll work for free, for anyone. In anything even somewhat related to IB, as long as it's actual experience. That's whats really going on, and I can PM you if you want the places Ive interviewed at (complete with emails of their rejection letters), the stacks of emails of alumni I've reached out to, or my diploma, or the letters of my benefits ending where I last worked.
I know I won't get a job from this website (in part because this thread has revealed just how crazy this is driving me). I made this thread because I want two things. One: maybe some ideas of the ways in that I haven't considered - so far, charities and MSF have been great ones that I'm currently tracking down now, and internships...do they offer internships for people out of school? And two: I need hope. Because I feel like I'm completely losing it as my life becomes a statistical impossibility of constant, ~constant~ failure. And I know that it will only get worse.

BTW: I apologize if I come off as...uh...aggressive. I really do appreciate everyone giving me their angle on my situation. It's...it's tough guys. It's... real tough.

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Jul 13, 2015

Get any professional job and bust your ass. This is your best chance of creating an opportunity for yourself.

Jul 13, 2015

Need to echo an MSF. Zero work experience required. Although the fact that you have work experience at a top BB and a not horrendous gpa from a top school makes you a very competitive candidate at most MSF programs, regardless of whether or not you crush the GMAT (although that would be helpful).

Jul 7, 2015
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Jul 7, 2015
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"There's always money in the banana stand" - George Bluth Sr.

Jul 7, 2015
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"There's always money in the banana stand" - George Bluth Sr.