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 groundand 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.