Hey guys. So This past week I received offers fromStrats and MS S&T. For me it marked the end of a 2.5 year journey that I thought some of you might find interesting. Before I begin I want to say how lucky I am to have parents that could help me immensely along this long and sometimes expensive transformation. Though scholarships here and there were a major factor as well. If you're not in such a position please don't despair because there are MANY roads to the so keep grinding!
I went to a non-target ranked about 50 in the U.S. where I was math and pre-med. I had relatively good grades but still plenty to learn about what hard work was. In my junior year I began to realize that I didn't want to go to med-school. I was good at math and I wanted to find a job where I could use these skills. Finance felt like a natural fit as I tended to align myself with business majors personality wise and I knew math majors are generally sought after in the industry. I geared up for recruiting season and applied to S&T jobs at around 60-70 banks/prop firms. Out of these I landed about 3 interviews, all of which I was eliminated in a first round. This sucked, probably one of the first times in my life I truly applied myself to something and failed, definitely a blow to the ego. If I sound arrogant or undeserving at this point it's because I was.
Fast forward a year. Graduation is approaching and I'm no closer to a job. I was still interested in finance. I began to learn a lot about the industry by reaching out to family or business school friends I had in college. I realized at this point that if I was going to do this I'd need to seriously strategize. Networking wasn't my thing but @"TheCityBoy" can teach you a lot about that route. I decided that my best bet was to get to a target. Quant Masters programs seemed like the perfect fit though my credentials needed a LOT of work. I was able to find a non-degree program at a target and figured (correctly) that they'd let pretty much any idiot in who would be willing to pay. Once again, thanks Mom and Dad.
Though the program did have a curriculum of about 7 classes many were low level intro math courses. I realized something truly amazing at this point, the program coordinators couldn't care less about what I did. I was now into a top school and had access to pretty much any course I could imagine. I crafted a BRUTAL 10 course curriculum for myself with classes like Complex Analysis, PDE, Stochastic Processes, Programming in C etc and started summer classes 10 days after graduation. From then until December 2013 my nose was to the grind stone. In my free time I studied for the GRE and a few months later pulled off a pretty nice score (on math at least). Around Christmas Quant apps were due and I had finished the first 7 courses of my program with a 3.95 and multiple letters of rec. By the beginning of my Spring semester I had several acceptances to target programs. I had a few beers to celebrate when I landed my top choice but there was still a lot of work ahead of me.
Now that grad school was lined up I had a few months to try to find something for the summer. I knew the following year would probably be my final shot at recruiting so I wanted to beef up the resume. I got extremely close to landing a job at a dream firm (think SIG) but crumbled in a final round. This really sucked but I learned a lot about interviewing from it. Most importantly how to handle pressure and use it to your advantage. Through cold emails I found a mediocre prop firm that would take me for the summer. Far from a dream job but I learned a lot abouthere.
First semester of grad school is here and the competition is fierce. Multiple Phd's, Olympiad winners, literal rocket scientists... It was intense but I busted my ass and finished with all A/A-'s. This was absolutely pivotal. I also don't want it to sound like my grades weren't hard earned because I'm no genius and I accomplished all of this through many, many 12 hr days in the library. The reason this was so important was because as you'd expect everyone else in my class was competing with me for interviews. The difference was clear immediately when this semester started. My hit rate for applications was well over 90% compared to 5% a few years ago. I probably put 100hrs into interview prep over the course of this school year. For quant interviews this is an absolute must because they will eat you alive withif you don't. Another thing I didn't really mention were the many interviews for jobs I didn't want that I went on both this year and the year before. Time consuming but practice makes perfect.
This pretty much brings us to now. Two amazing offers for the summer and numerous Superdays elsewhere that I could turn down. It was a really long journey and to be honest I got a bit chocked up last week when I got the call with my first offer.
The Takeaway: If you put in the work, sacrifice sleep, sex/relationships, time with friends etc you will eat your competition alive once you get the chance because you'll want it so much more than them. This is what I found coming into interviews against kids from Princeton, MIT or whatever other target I was up against this year. It's a long road but I can tell you the feeling at the end of it is worth it.