Non-Target, 3.0 < GPA, non-finance major, to ER

Hedgie_bush's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 300

Background: I went to a non-target, had a 2.7 GPA, and didn't study finance in college. Ended up landing a job in ER.

I apologize in advance that I have failed to contribute as much as I should to these forums. WSO was one of the main tools I used and find myself looking at boards plenty often.

My story:

Throughout college I never knew what I wanted to do. I was a curious kid who liked figuring out how things work. I liked investing and always had wall st. (specifically ER) in the back of my mind.

It wasn't until late in my collegiate career that I wanted to get into ER. In fact, with 4 weeks until graduation, I decided to decline pervious job offers to pursue a career in ER.

If anyone would like to know my entire story as to how I did it, I will post in detail my full background. For now, I will tell you the most important tips that I have for anyone to break in,

#1 - Networking and how not to do it

You've heard it a million times that you should network. In my opinion, I think the term networking is overused and has been misconstrued ever since LinkedIn came about. Most people think networking is establishing some sort of business connection (which it really is). But in my opinion, a business connection can only go so far.

I set up a "networking" meeting about 3x a week for 4 months. The people that helped me the most were the people in which I developed friendships with rather than a "connection".

Moral of the story, don't network. Develop some sort of relationship and don't be a some kid just trying to get the hook up on a job. Express genuine interest in their careers and lives. Be a genuine human being. It's pretty simple.

I knew nobody in finance. I cold called people and expressed genuine interest in not a job, but learning about their job and what suggestions they had for me.

#2 - Don't apply to jobs, you're wasting your time

I interviewed at about 6 shops (1 for IB, 5 for ER) ended up getting 2 offers (one buy side and one sell side) and made it to the final round at multiple MM shops.

One guy told me that at his old shop (MM) that they never hired a guy that they somehow didn't know. Don't just apply to a bunch of banks cause you are truly wasting your time. And no, don't go through HR.

Out of all of the places I interviewed, only two places had the job posted some where (yes that is illegal) but that is just how the game is played.

#3 - "Walk me through your resume"

On this forum, people stress technical questions and how to answer them. Stop focusing on how to walk somebody thru a DCF and get them to engage and buy into you.

This is the most important part of the interview hands down. Get your story down and practice it. Everybody has a story. Tell it. I really think the WSO IB Interview Prep Course helps you shape your story, especially the fit module, so I highly recommend you check it out.

Nobody cares if you know the technicals. You know why? Because learning how to connect the three financial statements, model, and do a DCF is easy. They want to know if you're the type of guy they can work with for 12-15 hours a day and not want to kill. It's all about the Fit. It was apparent that I didn't fit in at some shops and I was fine with that.

#4 - If you are from a non-target, embrace it

The best shop that I interviewed at really liked the fact that I wasn't from a target school. In fact, only one guy had actually heard of my school. I ended up making it to the final two and all of the interviewers really appreciated it even though they were all from targets.

I apologize in advance for the poor writing.

Comments (42)

Apr 29, 2016

+1. Nice job and good thread.

Did you leave your GPA off your resume? Use some other metric like SAT? If so, I imagine you had some questions about it. I was a 3.8+ from a target, but I think it's a really stupid thing to put so much weight on. So many kids are outright lying and there's just a fuck ton of cheating that goes on in colleges these days (esp. for the kids pursuing fields where high GPA's are required, like pre-med and high-finance). Some just use fake transcripts altogether. Even then, if I saw a 2.7, unless it was some rigorous engineering degree or technical double major, I'd probably be skeptical and assume you were really lazy and enjoyed your extracurriculars too much.

    • 2
Apr 30, 2016

I did. Never put anything on your resume that isn't going to help you. I never used any other metric such as SAT.

Out of the 15 interviews I went through, my GPA was brought up 2-3 times. Out of the people that asked me, all of them said they didn't care about GPA anyways. It helped that I had played a collegiate sport and worked all throughout college. I was honest though in the fact that my GPA sucked when asked about it. I found other ways to make up for it though such as providing material that would display my interest and skill set.

May 2, 2016

This is great stuff! I was wondering when you developed these relationships how were you able to convince the people you developed relationships with that you would be a good fit? Also, did you kindly remind them to add your resume to book of candidates or it was just occurred overtime? I'm in the same situation as you with a sub 3.0

May 2, 2016

Just curious, what was your major?

"You adapt, evolve, compete, or die." -Paul Tudor Jones

May 3, 2016

Entrepreneurship. No matter what you study, there is always a way to relate it back to IBD, ER, S&T, etc. You just have to get creative.

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May 2, 2016

Great story, I can really relate.

As far as developing connections, how did you do it? An ER associate is easier to relate to since they are roughly under 30 but have little room to hire in while a senior analyst has influenced on the hiring decision but is much harder to relate to. Any thoughts?

May 3, 2016

You don't have to relate to him and have the same hobbies or whatever. Reach out to people, be grateful for their time, and express interest in working within that field. After meeting/talking with someone 1 time, you will be able to tell if they like you because they will offer to help you. BUT ALWAYS KEEP THAT RELATIONSHIP GOING AND STAY IN TOUCH WITH THEM.

May 2, 2016

Does this apply to people who have been out of college for a few years and would like to work in finance?

May 3, 2016

Of course.

May 2, 2016

Thank you for sharing your experience. You nailed it on the "expressed genuine interest in not a job, but learning about their job and what suggestions they had for me" comment.

Best Response
May 2, 2016

"I set up a "networking" meeting about 3x a week for 4 months. The people that helped me the most were the people in which I developed friendships with rather than a "connection".

Moral of the story, don't network. Develop some sort of relationship and don't be a some kid just trying to get the hook up on a job. Express genuine interest in their careers and lives. Be a genuine human being. It's pretty simple.

I knew nobody in finance. I cold called people and expressed genuine interest in not a job, but learning about their job and what suggestions they had for me."

THIS!!!!!!

Networking does not mean emailing or calling somebody to ask them how you can get a job. You contact people who either A) Have the job you want, B) Are the boss of people who have the job you want, or C) Have previously held the job that you want.

Then, you ask them about their background and how they got to where they are now. Ask them what they enjoyed about the process and the job, and what they wished they had done differently. Ask them about what they like to do in their free time (an indirect way to find out how much free time they have without asking how long the hours will be, which makes you look lazy).

With informational interviews such as these, whether by email or by phone, you will have a much higher success rate by making the conversation about them rather than about you, a random kid who they have never met who is obviously looking for a job (why else would you be contacting them?)

I would disagree with your statement of "don't network" with the substitution of "know what networking actually means"

This approach will not only create job opportunities for you in the short term, but will also establish potentially long-lasting relationships that will improve your upward mobility for years to come.

Great job here, @Hedgie_bush and thank you for your post.

May 3, 2016

Absolutely nailed it. I have a strong belief that the term "networking" was the worst thing to happen to "networking".... if that makes sense. +1

Mar 27, 2018

Any thoughts on looking to move to a new market? It's something I'm going through now. Alumni will not be very helpful as I'm also a Non-Targeter.

May 6, 2016

Yes. This is SUCH great advice for anyone at any stage. You summed up everything that helped me transition from non-finance career to a REIT analyst 10 years after undergrad, in the same boat as you with a non-target MBA and low GPA. This post should be a sticky.

Mar 27, 2018

I'm going to shoot you an email about ER specifically, thanks.

Mar 27, 2018

Sooo how legit are those Sell side TP? What is the average haircut to their TP a buy side analyst should do to get a more realistic upside potential.

Mar 27, 2018

AllDay_028: Don't tell me you are going to email me, just do it.

ladaubs111: ... every firm has their own way of deciding what to buy and at what price, there is no right answer. I dont use sell-side TP in any part of my analysis. explain to me how a sell-side came up with a TP and I'll tell you if I agree based on my own research.

    • 1
Mar 27, 2018

STOP starting these emails with "hope all is well", be creative and differentiate yourself and then dive into brief background and what are your questions.

    • 2
Mar 27, 2018

also, be specific about what you did at your internships/jobs/school... I can't help you if all you tell me is you graduated and had such and such internship in investment banking/equity research. What did you do at such and such? Did you work with a portfolio manager who specializes in large cap growth? What does the firm do? Does the firm have $4b AUM and implements a bottom up research process? What do you know? Can you perform discount cash flow valuations on companies within machinery sector. I realize it seems like you are being rushed, but that's part of the game. Get me the information I need to know in the shortest amount of time possible.

    • 2
Mar 27, 2018

.

Mar 27, 2018

How many e-mails have you received?

Mar 27, 2018

haven't had chance to get to emails, will check them when get a couple minutes
J

    • 1
Mar 27, 2018

Which region do you work in and on?

Mar 27, 2018

i'm done for tonight, will be checking inbox tomorrow morning.

Mar 27, 2018

US Equities

Mar 27, 2018

Hi, sell-side analyst here....3 quick questions:

1) on the buy side how long are the research reports you produce for your PM? Are they just 2/3 pages with your investment thesis and some info on the company? Do you attach your model at the back/appendix?

2) In terms of the modelling you do, is it basic stuff or do you guys build out full 3 statement models?

3) do you guys meet the management teams of the companies you invest in or do you think its a waste of time?

Thanks

Mar 27, 2018
Ovechkin08:

Hi, sell-side analyst here....3 quick questions:

1) on the buy side how long are the research reports you produce for your PM? Are they just 2/3 pages with your investment thesis and some info on the company? Do you attach your model at the back/appendix?

2) In terms of the modelling you do, is it basic stuff or do you guys build out full 3 statement models?

3) do you guys meet the management teams of the companies you invest in or do you think its a waste of time?

Thanks

1) every buy-side firm has a different investment process, some require pages of research similar to initiation, some require just a quick email. when i started i used to write a couple pages, starting with quick summary aka thesis and buy/sell/hold decision, then would go through my dcf model which was built off identifying key drivers / why i think the security was undervalued, then would be my model, then would be my notes from the development that lead me to the company in the first place, maybe earnings calls, industry call, acquisition, ect. when you get the hang of it and portfolio manager begins to "trust" your research, he/she will require less and less. that's just from my experince

2) the models again, differ from company to company. i''ve been at a firm that requires in-depth dcf modeling and other firms that just basically looking at income statement trying to model those. it differs, a pm will do what ever has got them into the position they are in. if they are successful doing it, they will continue to use it.

3) management meetings again differs, i personally think it's beneficial to talk with management to understand strategy and answer questions that i have concerning about maybe past acquisitions they made, reasoning for buyback, ect. there are some buy-side firms that help management through activist letters and help mold strategy which they think will maximize share holder value. all different.

if you want to look, i'd recommend you go onto some of the larger/smaller buyside firms websites and just click through website and look at investment process and go through some of their top holdings. you can gain alot about learning a investment process and looking at which firms they recently bought. even try to read news letters, maybe get an marketing investment presentation, those all have good info. ultimately you have to decide what philosophy and strategy you are looking to learn, large cap growth? small cap value? all cap core? just starting out probably don't have an idea, so just take what you can get and you will develop an opinion of your own.

Mar 27, 2018

Great thread John. Got two questions for you.

1) How did you get your 1st ER gig? Moved from sellside? Prior internship etc.
2) How you get the buyside gig?

Nothing stops this train. NOTHING --W.W./Heisenberg

Mar 27, 2018

.

Mar 27, 2018
faruk:

Great thread John. Got two questions for you.

1) How did you get your 1st ER gig? Moved from sellside? Prior internship etc.
2) How you get the buyside gig?

1) through internship, they hired me full time after graduated.
2) first buy-side gig was internship. had no formal experience and was going to community college at the time. Still managed to gain internship at recognizable buy-side firm. I won't tell you how I did it (not going to make it easy), but will tell you if you really want a internship you can get one, you just have to prove it. As for job, those are tougher, but still possible if you leverage what you can and you know how to market yourself.

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Mar 27, 2018

btw, I'm trying to get through your emails. I'm replying to them based on deemed quality / who actually made it seem like they didn't just half ass write the email.

Mar 27, 2018

hello j0hnchi

may I know how big your fund is?

Mar 27, 2018

$50m

    • 1
May 9, 2016

I really enjoyed learning from your expereince in an industry that I am trying to break into but my issue is that how do I even get to met these people in the first place? I just finished my MBA and been applying for jobs left, right and center but not getting much traction, I did not go to a target school, so I am not sure what I am doing wrong, I have got some insurance companies responses but zero banks, my background includes plenty of science/engineering/IT research, so research to me is second nature. Can you help?

Thanks

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

May 16, 2016

Don't apply. For every 10 people you reach out to apply to maybe one job.

Competition is too fierce to just apply in this industry.

May 17, 2016

Thanks, then what do you suggest?

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

May 21, 2016
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May 9, 2016