I will be graduating in one week, and just received an offer to join the structured finance group at a big 3 rating agency. I wanted to thank WSO (I have been lurking on the forums for years), and tell my story.
I started out as an economics major at a non-target, and decided I wanted to be in finance after sophomore year. I busted my ass to finish with a dual major in finance and economics. My junior year, I was able to participate in our school's equity fund, which was a great experience. However, summer was approaching and I was unable to land any internships.
At the proposal of one of my professors, I accepted a research grant to spend the summer further developing my economics thesis (relevant to equity and foreign exchange markets). Not having an internship put me at a big disadvantage entering senior year, but this research experience would prove useful.
Senior year, I was involved in our school's fixed income fund, which peaked my interest in structured finance. I decided to try to get in to a rating agency, since I was always heard they were a great place to learn and prepare to move elsewhere. I applied to new openings persistently starting in November 2013, and finally made it to alast week.
My first set of interviews was focused solely on my economics research, as I was put up against two Economics PhDs. I held my own, defending my thesis, and they were very impressed. My next two sets of interviews were strictly related toand . My experience in the fixed income fund allowed me to really impress them with my knowledge, and eventually led to my offer.
If I could give some advice to other non-targets, it would be to make sure you always take advantage of anything your school offers that can be helpful (for me it was our fixed income fund). Additionally, always be learning on your own, do not be afraid to seek a professor's help for an independent study of a topic you are interested in. If you are intelligent, and go above and beyond, it is all about getting to the interview, once you get in front of them, you will be able to impress them.
Thanks and good luck to all!