Non-target -> 3 Superday Rejections -> Dream FT AM Offer

Like many users, WSO has been a major resource for me. Not just in information but also hope during times when it wasn't so easy or I didn't think it was possible. I've really enjoyed reading success stories, and I thought I'd take my turn to share my success story and answer any questions anyone had.

Background

I go to a non-target state school (>70% acceptance rate) with virtually no alumni whatsoever. No one who could tangibly help me at least; the only ones that had made it were someone who used grad school + starting with a lesser sweatshop in a non-core finance city to make into an EB and my first real mentor in the process who had just started FT role and was only 2 years ahead of me. There was almost no one from my state who I could reach out to as there's no target or semi-target schools here; Raymond James doesn't even look at applicants from my state as I found out.

No one in my family understands the industry or knows what I do (my dad is a firefighter, mom doesn't work due to medical problems) so no one could show me the path and no one told me how important where you go to school was. I could've gone to a better school, but I ignorantly opted for the one that cost me nothing.

I never really got serious until the first semester of my sophomore year of college when I took a Wall Street Prep modeling course, having yet to even take a finance class. I was hooked and never looked back. I read books, built my own models, studied finance to the point that when I took finance classes I already knew everything. I leveraged what resources I had around me including WSO and was pretty much told "go to a better school" or "network like hell." I chose the latter and began my journey of sending hundreds of emails for just a couple responses. I tried for everything from IB to ER to ST, just to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.

SA Superdays

Late summer, I networked my way into an interview with my dream AM firm for a buy-side ER SA position. It went well and I got invited to a superday. Things again went relatively well; I was told they needed extra time to make a decision only to find out later that I would be the last person cut. Obviously defeated I still had hope as next I had a GS superday. It went horribly and I walked out knowing there would be no offer. I was left wondering how I could come so far and do what no-one from my school had done and fail twice. It was a torturous few months knowing my situation, but I would get another chance. RBC was recruiting late and did a few superdays for SF in January. Once again, it was a no. This time I would find out they only took 2 people, and I was top 4. At that point I was completely defeated having struck out 3 times, when 5 months ago I was just hoping for 1 superday. I wondered how I could compete when I had just done a superday with kids from Harvard grad school, Columbia, Berkeley, and Georgetown. And at that point it seemed my chances were over having missed out on SA positions since the interns would take the FT spots. One of my contacts I had made tried to push me towards PWM at his bank to eventually lateral out. That just felt like my 3 superday rejections were making it to the World Series 3 years in a row and being told to rebuild, I wasn't having it.

The Offer

The period that followed was about a month of giving up. I couldn't really believe it; I didn't know it was possible to get rejected 3 times after how hard I had worked. Eventually, I pulled myself together and leveraged and maintained every connection I had. As part of my efforts, I emailed someone who I interviewed with last year at the AM firm. They remembered me, and it proved to be an important move. I considered delaying graduation to remain eligible for SA positions which is how I applied to every firm except the AM firm because I was told they would likely have a single spot open. I was lucky enough to make it back to final-rounds, this time with a case study allowing me to prove technical skill. I only had 5 days to work on it, and I put everything I had into it. At the interview, every person I met with except for one was H/S/W which was only a reminder of how out-of-place I was. Just a day after my interview I received the call with the offer. The director who gave me the offer told me "there's no one from (my university) on (firm address)" which has to be the best moment of my life. It was just validation of all the work I had put into it and that I had done something very rare.

Conclusion

The firm is a top asset manager (think Fido/Wellington/etc.) and it is quite literally my dream job. I guess the lesson in all of this is the importance of persistence. I was completely defeated after a 3rd superday rejection, but persistence is what got me another shot and impressed the firm I got an offer from. The fact that I didn't take no and was completely dedicated (along with extensive research experience which I didn't get into) stood out to them among the H/S/W candidates. Also to prospective monkeys: follow up with people you've interviewed with if it went well even if you didn't get an offer. Some of my best contacts have come from the people I did that with. And if you think you're screwed because you missed out on SA spots, it's not over unless you give up. Coming from a school with no prestige is now something I'm proud of as I did have to do it all myself and nothing was easy. Also no student loans is nice.

Comments (13)

Oct 8, 2018

Wow this is an amazing story. Hats off and congratulations!

Oct 27, 2018

How did you network if you didn't have any alumni in the industry from your school? Was there a "background similarity" between you, and who you reached out to?

Oct 31, 2018

Many times no, there were few i could find. I didn't get many responses because of this as all I was going off of was what I could dig up off LinkedIn. I tried other non-targets which led to more success, but it was mostly lots of shots in the dark. I had a few successes finding people who were from my city and went to target schools and also lucked in to a few people who has similar interests.

Nov 8, 2018

same boat as you but bump that acceptance rate to almost 90% and add 7 more superday rejections. congrats!

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Nov 8, 2018

congrats!

Nov 8, 2018

Good stuff! Mind sharing what your GPA/prior experience were prior to applying?

To infinity... and beyond!

Nov 8, 2018

Sure, I had a 3.97 GPA. For experience I had done some extracurriculars like stock pitch competitions, CFA research challenge, and running the investment club at my university. For internships I started with a plain wealth management internship that was mostly in excel and printing off fund fact sheets. From there I got an equity research internship with a local PWM group, managing a portfolio of ~25 stocks and >$500mm. That's what I had on my resume through the recruiting process, although when I did my final interview I was just starting with a $5B-$10B AM shop as a ER intern.

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Nov 11, 2018

Congrats!

Nov 11, 2018

Love stories like this. Great job! It really goes to show you the importance of early age mentorship. I was in a similar boat. Glad it worked out. Best of luck!

Nov 16, 2018

Congrats man! I myself went to a non-target in Florida and for a long time it was close to impossible to get a top job in finance right out of school. As someone who has also been rejected more times than I would rather admit, I learned that the persistence and perseverance are the main things that matter in landing that offer. After all, you don't need to be smart to get into finance...

Mar 4, 2019

What was your angle when you would follow up with those who you had a good interview with but did not get the offer? Have considered doing this, but don't want to come off as pestering or naive to being rejected.

Mar 4, 2019

Good question - if you had good rapport with them they're likely to want to help you. When you email them you obviously don't want to sound like you just want to pester them into getting you a job. I just emailed them asking for a quick phone call so I can get some feedback as to what I can do better in future interviews. That sounds quick and easy, and if you have good rapport with them they'll see that you're trying to improve and likely help you. Each time I did that the conversation quickly turned to them helping me make other connections and find me a job even though that's not what I directly asked for. I'd imagine this would be hit or miss, but it shows persistence and a desire to improve and that you really want it, that as much as anything should make them want to help you, assuming they already like you.

Mar 4, 2019
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