Non-Target Freshman to Hedge Fund Internship

Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 5/29/14 and ranks #36 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

I've been reading WSO for a while but never really posted so I figured I may as well start now.

I am a freshman at a liberal arts non-target. For a while I've been interested in the markets and economics and have been absorbing and using as much knowledge as I can. My fascination with business goes back farther, I started a product review website when I was 16 that gave me a crash course in the real world (I promise this all relates to finance). I made over 900 cold calls that summer to just about everyone in the industry to try and get someone to partner up with me and let me feature their product. The first calls were a disaster, then I quickly learned how to sell.

Since then I've partnered with everyone from backpack companies to luxury watch and car manufacturers. It didn't come easy. I've been told to leave stores I even had a guy curse me out on the phone because "You're in F&&*% high school you can't do jack S*&% for me". That is a direct quote. he apologized via email about a year later. My point is don't ever ever give up. Don't ever let someone say you aren't old enough. Anyone who calls you lucky is just afraid of hard work. Actually luck may as well be deleted from your vocabulary. You control your own destiny.

I took these sales skills and worked at a bicycle shop as a sales person. I learned more from this job than I did anywhere else and I am seriously indebted to the owner and general manager. Being treated as an equal to the older workers forced me to constantly improve my skills. As the years went on my sales skills got a lot better and so were my financial skills. I approached my boss and offered to make a financial forecast for him. I built the model from the ground up in Excel and used the past ten years of data to make a store by store breakdown sales forecast. You can take as many online tutorials as you want but there is no substitute for experience.

After realizing how much I learned in the past from being hands on I decided to take advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me at school. Being a liberal arts school the finance department isn't huge but never have I met such passionate people. I met with the internship coordinator who introduced me to a professor that became my mentor. Again you control your destiny so go do that case study competition, go sign up for clubs, and definitely meet with everyone you can.

In January I pulled up the SEC EDGAR database and called over 250 funds in the NYC area. Practice cold calling, it is invaluable when it comes to finding unpublished opportunities. I got calls back from some of them. Most ignored me. But there was one that looked past the non-target school, looked past my age. I had a few fairly informal phone interviews with them and then was called to go into the city to meet with the CFO and Controller. There is a weird feeling of excitement and nervousness that somehow gets all bundled together when you walk into the office and give the receptionist your name. I met first with the CFO and he right away told me I had the position working in a variety of different roles for the summer. I'm pretty sure half of Manhattan saw the smile on face. I then met with the controller and we discussed some of what I'd be doing and who I'd work with.

So long story short: Work hard, talk to everyone you can, don't ever let someone say that you won't get somewhere because of your school, age is really just a number, cold call everyone, you create your own opportunity and luck...well you create that too.

Just remember sometimes you have to learn how to swim by jumping headfirst into the deep end.

Comments (53)

May 29, 2014

Congrats on your offer man. Keep up the hard work and desire to learn. While you're on the job, put in the time, give it your best and impress your bosses. Don't forget to keep networking as you go through college and try to get a diversity of experiences. It'll help you stand out, be an interesting person and land interviews when the time comes. You're doing the right things, keep pushing.

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May 29, 2014

Good story. Glad it payed off.

May 29, 2014

My man. Love the persistence/go-getter attitude. PM me if you wanna get some wings in Midtown this summer.

May 29, 2014

Thank you everybody! Its been one hell of a ride filled with more work and more fun than I could have imagined

May 29, 2014

Congrats, OP.

That's how you do it.

    • 1
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May 31, 2014

Great job... amazing opportunity and impressive as a freshman. Take note all, persistence is rewarded.

Jun 1, 2014

That's beautiful. Good job!

I have a question. Did you have a list of funds on hand before you used the SEC EDGAR? If not, how did it help you? I am very interested in this process.

May 29, 2014

Thank you everybody! I did not have a list before hand. I searched for filings that hedge funds typically use and then narrowed it down by using the geographic area functions. From there I opened each filing and called the listed phone number.

Jun 2, 2014

May you inform us more on your cold calling strategy? Did you outright ask for an internship position?

Congratulations by the way. Great story!

Jun 2, 2014

congrats

Jun 2, 2014

I'd take a cold call from a high schooler, you've got balls OP. keep that same sales skill set when pitching investment ideas to your PM, and keep us updated on your successes.

Jun 2, 2014

I'm going into my freshman undergrad and am interested in cold calling mechanics. Can you give me a sample template for what you would say during coldcalls for internships?

Jun 2, 2014

Love the story. Having sales experience is awesome. Remember guys, the hardest call to make is always the first one.

May 29, 2014

Thank to everybody again for all of your support and congratulations. On the note of cold calling, I would gladly write a whole on cold calling if there is interest just let me know or PM me.

There are a couple things to remember about sales and cold calling in general. Know who your pitching and adjust your pitch accordingly. I'm not talking about just knowing what they did but why they did it. If you don't know why THEY did it how can you tell them YOU can do something similar.

Talk about anything that keeps their mouth moving be it why they love their job, how they started, their strategy, etc. When the time feels right close the deal. Let them talk and tell stories then you comment. Listening is worth a hell of a lot more than talking. Depending on the situation this can be asking their email address, asking to go for coffee, or straight up if their is any way you can work together.

On the note of a script, ditch the idea. Sure you can use some of the same phrasing but dont use the same wording. It sounds too rehearsed. There has to be true emotion behind your voice let your passion come through because that is in the end what your selling.

Again if there is interest I'd gladly write a whole post on the cold call/sales process if it would be helpful, just let me know.

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May 29, 2014

I agree with the points above. Regardless of a cold call or informational interview, you should strive to put the focus on the other person. Ask them questions about their background, try to find out what motivates them, their experiences and then any advice they might have for you. Everyone loves talking about themselves and if you're genuine in trying to learn more about the other person, then they will feel more involved and more inclined to help in the future.

Jun 19, 2014

First of all, stories like this bring tears to my eyes, beautiful...

Cold calling has always been a mystery to me, would seriously appreciate a more in depth post on that. Can't send you a PM due to the acute lack of the all-important banana juice.

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Jun 2, 2014

Who specifically did you target with your cold calls to land that internship? Higher-ups, HR, lower workers who can throw your name at the top of the pile, or just anyone that would listen?

May 29, 2014

Most of the time it was the most influential person that would listen. At smaller funds it was often the Portfolio Manager. In fact I had a 35 minute conversation about investing strategy with a PM from a small fund. The guy ran a small shop and was an absolute genius. I have also spoke with people that were just hired and didn't have influence. In that case find out who the big players are and ask to speak with them. Just be nice to who ever picks up the phone and have a conversation.

Jun 3, 2014

Were you ever asked for a stock pitch on-the-spot?

My posts will be fraught with grammatical errors since I post from my phone. I will try my best not to post an incoherent babble.

May 29, 2014

On the phone,I was not asked but did to a few funds because the conversation was headed down that road. As far as at the internship, I start next week so we will see. I don't foresee it, the strategy is really unique and not terribly conducive to me pitching.

Jun 3, 2014

i don;t believe a word u said

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Jun 3, 2014

Great story, +1. Would be interested in a detailed post on cold-calling, especially specific incidents that you feel are worth recounting.

Let us know how the internship turns out. All the best!

Jun 3, 2014

Thanks for sharing your experience with us and congrats on getting the internship! Hope you write a post telling us how it went later.

Jun 6, 2014

when there is a will there is a way! efforts always pay off. Glad to hear your story.

Jun 6, 2014

Awesome story. So many kids your age are such shit head losers, its nice to see someone who has the gumption to make moves.

alpha currency trader wanna-be

Aug 4, 2014

Kill it in NY!

Jun 8, 2014

every time a hater gets their wings, it's BC someone else succeeds...grats man. you'll be fine in the long run BC you'll make sure you are.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Jun 9, 2014

gosh, so true! "Anyone who calls you lucky is just afraid of hard work. Actually luck may as well be deleted from your vocabulary. You control your own destiny."

I'd tell everyone my story by starting the word "luck", but damn, there were so much efforts back it up only a few close friends know.

good job man! best of luck! :)

Jun 9, 2014

yes, there's no luck. you just go and get what you want or do your best at least. good story, another point - you never know, everything can change in 2 days.

Jun 13, 2014

hard work pays off, congrats

It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation. -Gordon Gekko

Jun 13, 2014

Congrats on your offer dude! I'm a freshmen at college too and looking to go into hedge funds. However, unlike you I have a limited amount of knowledge about the market. What should I know in terms of the market/hedge funds before I start looking for interviews? i.e What kind of knowledge is expected of you.

Jun 13, 2014

Don't mean to pour cold water, but make sure your role in the HF is front office. Doing back office work in an HF is no different from doing back office work in any company.

Jun 13, 2014

Terrific story, hopefully I end up in the same position as the OP, but I don't have work experience anywhere as of yet as a high school senior. I don't know how paper trading fares as an experience since I did it throughout high school, but I will definitely try cold calling some hedge funds around my area and land a gig like OP did. Thank for the story!

Jun 13, 2014

I don't mean to be negative here, and I definitely give you credit for what you did--hopefully it was worth it and you will actually enjoy what you do. My question is...was getting an internship in your freshman year really all that important? Was it worth giving up countless hours--taken away from studying, socializing, etc.,?? I do believe this involved a little bit of luck. It's just the odds of probability...if you call enough people, you will inevitably catch someone at the right time, in the right mood, who will be sympathetic/compassionate enough to give you a break and actually talk to you--that's LUCK, and not much more than that. I believe that people with real brains, talent, good work ethic, and integrity do end up succeeding in some way--even if it's not in the coveted jobs people talk about on this site. Even if you didn't get this internship, or don't end up liking it, you obviously have developed some great skills that will be put to good use some day--maybe in a way you haven't even imagined yet!

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Jun 13, 2014

Again don't mean to pour cold water, but, what can a freshman do in a hedge fund anyway? Will the OP be doing some sort of investment analysis? Not likely. Most likely, he will be doing admin assistant type of works. There is nothing wrong doing that type of works in a freshman or sophomore internship. But doing that types of work in a hedge fund is no different from doing those works in any other company. An hedge fund admin assistant is no more "prestigious" than an admin assistant at any other company. Don't get carried away by the glittering label.

Jun 13, 2014
HedgeKing:

Again don't mean to pour cold water, but, what can a freshman do in a hedge fund anyway?

To be fair, what can a recent college grad do at a hedge fund anyway? You act like there's a big difference, but I promise you, to someone my age there is exactly zero difference between a freshman and a recent college grad. Both couldn't find their own ass if you turned off the lights.

Jun 13, 2014
DickFuld:
HedgeKing:

Again don't mean to pour cold water, but, what can a freshman do in a hedge fund anyway?

To be fair, what can a recent college grad do at a hedge fund anyway? You act like there's a big difference, but I promise you, to someone my age there is exactly zero difference between a freshman and a recent college grad. Both couldn't find their own ass if you turned off the lights.

I agree with you. That why I don't think it's a good idea to join a hedge fund right out of college. Most hedge funds do not have the resources and the time to train those just out of college. They would often end up doing glorified MO or BO works. On the other hand, the analyst training programs at BBs usually provide solid training and mentoring. Skipping IBD or S&T to enter HF directly is a bad idea. There is no shortcut. Those who think there is and think they have found one are just wrong.
.

May 29, 2014

Thank you everyone for the replies on this, I had no idea it would get this attention. As far as what I'll be doing, I will keep everyone posted as the internship progresses. It will be interesting to see where the opportunity takes me.

Jun 15, 2014

Wow, I'm surprised by all the nonsensical hate-sauce being thrown around on this thread.

Good job @"HedgeFundHopeful94"!

Jun 18, 2014

congrats!

Jun 18, 2014

This story is freaking awesome. I don't think the moral of it is the fact that the OP got a job at a hedge fund, but rather how persistence pays off.

Congratulations man, you've really inspired me. Definitely keep us posted on how the internship goes.

Jun 25, 2014

'grats m8. Would love to know more about your cold calling technique.

Jul 3, 2014

Congrats man! I also believe in the real essence of your story that the persistence permits to achieve a tough goal.
Would be very interested as well to know more about cold calling techniques, if you've set up a sort of algorithm or if you handled reactions on-the-go..
By the way is cold calling more praised than cold emailing? I'm not so familiar with "cold" techniques yet thus I'd appreciate to have insights about that.
Good luck for your internship and let us know!

Jul 3, 2014

Congrats. Your story is very inspiring especially since I'm from a non-target as well. Most important thing I learnt from what you said is that networking is key. I have to work on my cold-calling skills and try not to blabber on and on because I'm nervous. Keep it up! If you have the time I would really like to see any tips you could share on networking/ cold calling.

Jul 30, 2014

Congrats! Inspirational story, and I wish you all the best.

Oct 9, 2014

Great example, it's nice to see motivated people out there!

Dec 28, 2014

Would you be able to say which hedge fund you got the internship at?

Dec 28, 2014
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Dec 31, 2014
Dec 31, 2014
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