So I have been around here for about a year and half now, and have to say thank you to the community. Really learned a lot and got my foot in door based on the advice on these forums.
The Non-Target School
Now for my story, I attended a large (20,000+ students) non-target school. We were in proximity to a banking center but for the most part had no recruiting for any positions related to IBD. To be truthful, I didn't even know what IBD was until about 2 years ago. Met a kid in a bar, told me about the career path and sounded like something I would like.
Nonetheless, I messed up horribly throughout college due to my mother passing away the summer before my Freshman year. This led to non-stop drinking throughout my career. First day I came to campus, decided I wanted to pledge and that was the best/worst decision I made. Love the people the friends and the camaraderie, but it did heavily influence my substance abuse. I finished up my freshman year and worked at a small accounting firm in the college town, just taking summer classes and bullshitting around.
...That Just Got Worse
During this time I dated a girl lets call her L, who severely hemorrhaged my ability to make logical decisions. She would often use my emotional attachment to her, which came from my lack of family support, to her advantage. This culminated in us getting messed up every night. Ended up breaking up with her because I found out she cheated on me which left me devastated but not done.
Started my sophomore year, and at this point my father was in the process of getting remarried, whilst my sister was busy getting a masters degree at an ivy-league institution. I had been left a large sum of money which I used to pay for school/support a drinking and drug habit. This began to dwindle quickly as I overspent without any regard to how difficult it is to actually earn money.
Therefore based on my social circle, I decided to sell various exotic substances we will call them to support my habit and get me through school. I will let you be creative enough to think of which ones. While I did make a a lot of money doing so, I also used and abused. Began dating a new girl during this time that enjoyed similar habits as I did at the time. This really led to us just attending a bunch of music festivals and having sex as a reason to miss class. I was lucky that school was fairly easy still and my grades never really slipped.
I was on scholarship as well so I never wanted to lose it. This made me always keep my grades in check think I never got below a 3.5 for the most part.
Nevertheless, the lifestyle was unhealthy and it began to unravel towards the end of my sophomore year. I ended up failing my first class and had to retake it during the summer. I did so, but did the stupidest thing I ever could have and decided to try and cheat instead of study. I ended up getting caught and this led to me being dismissed from school for 1 year. I was lost distraught I did not know what to do. I thought my life was over, thinking as a 20 year old that I will never be successful. I ended up losing the girlfriend who I adored, friends abandoned me and well all of my life went to shit per se.
3 Random Jobs & Getting Back Up
During this year is when everything changed in my life. I picked up 3 random jobs from bar tending, to hosting, and even picked and packed boxes at warehouse. All of the most meaningless and repetitive tasks known to man. It did indeed build a respect now for the average working American. It really in essence got my ego in check which was my biggest dilemma.
I quit selling/drinking so much and finally got the help I needed during this time as well. My family began to give me the support I needed which quickly healed a lot of old wounds. Also, remember how I had mentioned earlier I met a friend who was very interested in IBD? He was one of the few people to stick by me as he "saw potential" in me. Funny enough he was right in the end. I worked my ass off this entire year and saved up enough to put myself back into school.
People Came Back
Many people began to return to my life during this time as well who had abandoned me earlier. Began to realize the whole actions speak louder than words mantra really does hold true. I spent the summer which puts me at the beginning of my junior year academic wise but I should be a senior at this point. I buckled down when I returned to school and never got anything less than a 4.0 the rest of the way. I had no idea how to get into IBD and began reading these very forums to figure out what the hell I needed to do.
Networking and Tools to Make It
I started networking very late and didn't get an analyst role in the summer, but did find a BO/MO role at a BB bank. I loved every minute of that internship, and was hooked on working in banking.
As a competitive person though, I wanted to premier role and that led me to really spend the last year making sure I networked in. During the summer at my BB internship, we had the [email protected] email handle. Got a lot of response to this handle as compared with an @gmail.com. Probably was not supposed to do this, but as an intern they didn't look after us very much.
I used this along with Linkedin to seek out any alumni I could speak with. I ended up getting a pretty high response rate because I emailed them constantly and professionally. There are probably 100-150 alumni i found and spoke with probably 70 of them.
I Sent Over 400 Emails
Being a non-target the people who were involved really enjoyed speaking with students sharing a similar interest. It led me to a PE shop position I was able to take on for my fall semester as well as numerous interviews with MM/BB banks. I think I sent probably 400+email, 200+phone calls, self-financed a trip to Chicago, NYC and Houston. These along with being presentable and having a good story have taken me the farthest.
Then I Bombed My Interviews...At first.
After doing all my networking, I began interviewing and sucked the first 2 or 3 times. I mean I was the worst candidate in the group because I was nervous. Eventually, I found my balls and began to understand the process and what qualities they were interested in. Also, working at a PE shop, I began to really understand the technical aspects that people dread. Honestly, besides one particular boutique/MM shop I never got really ridiculous technical.
The investment banking interview course from WSO was fantastic and the models were easy to follow. After perfecting my story, I still kept ending up short handed. I was pretty discouraged until I had a VP I had spoken with email me asking if I was still looking for a position. Fortunately I was, crazy enough an analyst from a different group at the same bank emailed me asking if I wanted to interview for an analyst role for them as well.
I ended up getting past the gate keepers and did a double super-day at the office going from 1 group to the next. This time, I was prepared and felt awesome about everything I had done. I probably got 3 blocks from the office until that beautiful area code popped up, received my first FT offer for an off-cycle hire as a BB IBD analyst.
After saying thank you, and barely getting back to my hotel, the second group called and extended an offer as well. This is right around the holiday time so you have to imagine I'm ear to ear grinning after all I had done to get there.
It Kept Getting Better...
But it kept getting better, a position I had interview for that I thought I had not gotten also made me an offer the same day. So there I was tired from endless interviews with 3 offers from BB/MM IBD groups. I was finally, in my experience happy as everything I knew I could do was finally going in my favor.
The countless risks I took were paying off. I now start in a couple weeks with a group I had been hoping to join up with from the beginning as a FT analyst. Felt that there are not enough true to the heart stories sometimes, but this is as honest as it comes.
I went from being kicked out of school, friendless and down on my luck to 2 and half years later taking a plane home to see my family with 3 IBD offer letters. Although, I am excited/nervous to start my new career, just felt I my story my inspire people who may feel down on their luck as well. I thought at 20 years old my life was over, now I realize it's just beginning. Keep chipping away my fellow monkeys opportunity awaits those who work for it.
If anyone wants any clarifications, feel free to post a response, not going to get very personal but will clarify any tactics I used and tid-bits I picked up if anyone is curious.
Thanks for the support everyone, really appreciate it. Look forward to an opportunity to give back in the future.
Mod note (Andy): TBT - this was originally posted in 2014