I'm not really sure how to start this post, but I'm really only posting as motivation and inspiration to all the non target kids out there who are worried about GPA, ECs, etc. This story will be a long one, but I want to give as much detail as possible, because I have been through so much and want people to know that it is still possible.
I went to a complete non target state university in the southeast and hadn't the slightest idea of what high finance was, let alone what I really wanted to do with my life. I changed majors 3 times, all to completely unrelated professions, letting my grades slip along the way. Once I made up my mind to change majors, I basically said "fuck it" and didn't put all of my effort into the classes that I thought wouldn't matter. It didn't help that I was in a fraternity and partied just as the reputation states.
Going into my junior year, I was carrying about a 2.5 GPA and, once again, changed my major; this time to the college of business, MIS to be exact. I started to enjoy the business courses and was doing surprisingly well. My final 3 semesters I received a 3.5, 3.5, 3.9 GPA respectively. My final GPA came in just around 2.8.
My final semester I was in a course what required us to audit a F500 company and work on improving corporate structure and strategy. In this course I learned about corporate M&A which I had no idea what it was prior to this and it really interested me. I started to look into this topic and began to learn more about valuation and finance in general. This was when I came across this website, which soon became my bible to learn more about the industry.
After graduation, I had no hope to follow my interest in finance, I took a position as an operations analyst at a Big 4 firm in the city in which I went to school. I immediately went into the position trying to put my knowledge of networking with alumni in hopes to learn more and gain whatever knowledge I could from their experiences. I tried networking with consultants and auditors at my firm, family friends, anyone that would give me a few minutes of their time. I utilized a simple cold email that I put together and sent emails to every 2nd and 3rd connection I could find on LinkedIn.
At this point, it was November of 2011 and I was given the same response from everyone: "With your background, it is gonna be very tough, but keep in touch." Awesome, I already knew I was trying to climb Mount Everest backwards in a swimsuit with this goal of mine, but thanks for your advice!
At this point, I knew I needed to get something appealing on my resume, so I started by purchasing the Breaking Into Wall Streetcourses and learn that shit like my life depended on it. I started mentioning this in my cold emails, which got me a little better overall response, but still that haunting GPA from a non target killed my hopes; I needed something else.
After the new year, I decided to enroll in an online Graduate Diploma program at a semi target school. I knew this is my best chance at a new start without taking the GMAT and committing to an MSF (due to financial reasons). I was still stuck in myrole, but now, with my and now this program, I was slowly working my way to my goal and getting more and more positive responses. I still was sending my cold emails, making my cold calls, and trying to position myself for an internship anywhere.
It was now May 2012, I was 5 months into the diploma program and I had made 238 phone calls, sent 421 emails, and applied for 93 positions online/via website (yes, I kept track of everything). I got one reply which invited me to interview for an internship in NYC. I was ecstatic! The phone call went great, they loved my drive and determination, and they wanted to meet me! It was just my luck that I was going to NYC for a weekend with 3 of my friends the next weekend, so we scheduled around that.
The interview went great, asked me alland a few basic accounting/valuation questions. They asked me all the questions that I studied and I killed it. The next week, once I returned back to work, I got an email stating that they want to bring me on as an intern, albeit unpaid. I didn't care about money, I was on Cloud 9. Within that week, I quit my job, planned to move in with a friend in NYC, got rid of my apartment, and packed my car to drive up north.
On the insanely long drive, my Cloud 9 went to sheer disappointment. I received a call from the firm I dropped everything to go work for. They had 2 of their large deals go to shit and no longer needed the help of an intern. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I just dropped everything to go to NYC for the summer, now what am I going to do?
I got to NYC with my friend and everyday I woke up, made phone calls, sent emails, went back on the grind. I Google mapped "investment firm, NYC" and called every single place I saw a dot for. Luckily, 1 small boutique I called was looking for an intern and invited me in to interview. I had 2 interviews with them, told my story, the whole deal, and was offered the position. THANK GOD!!
This was late June 2012 and I was finally in the position I wanted, basically 10 months into my journey, I was able to take the first step as well as complete my diploma program with a 3.7 GPA (it's amazing what one can do when you put your mind to something and have a real interest). My internship went through October 2012 seeing as how I was already graduated and flexible with duration, but then deal flow died down and they just couldn't keep me busy. So I went to live with my parents in Pennsylvania while I was back on the grind ONCE AGAIN, looking for the next position. I kept getting rejections from all of the positions I applied for, no matter how many contacts I made, it was just a tough environment out there and I just wasn't that candidate they were looking for. Even recruiters turned me down. I was getting annoyed.
After 2 months of searching again, it is now after Thanksgiving 2012 and I needed to do something. I arranged to move back to the town where I went to school and worked after graduation. I re-packed my car and drove the crazy mileage back down south. I hit the phones and emails again searching every avenue possible. I found a position as an analyst at a real estate investment firm focusing on distressed assets and applied to it. The next week, I called and followed up, two days after that I received a phone call and was given a first round screening. During the same call, they invited me to come in that same day! I went in and met with 4 people, including 2 principals and was told they would get in touch. No real difficult questions that I couldn't answer, but they were interested in the fact I came from NYC and did what I did in order to get that internship in the first place. They also liked the fact that one of my 4 majors in undergrad was architecture (true story). They were more interested in my drive and motivation than whether or not I had any solid real estate experience. They asked me for my references and I went on my way.
The next week, they brought me in to meet with them again. It was more of a formality, THEY OFFERED ME THE POSITION. A FULL TIME ANALYST!! I was happier than I have ever been before and could barely even accept. They asked me when I could start, I said "tomorrow" and have been working there for about a week now and already have a good deal of responsibility. I love it. It's a smaller firm and the people are awesome. I am so glad I made the move and firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
-Follow your interests and true passions.
-Don't be afraid of rejection, call/email everyone, if they don't answer, do it again until they answer. I didn't care about annoying someone, I wanted something and I wasn't going to stop until I got it.
-Do everything you can to better yourself and learn more.
-Never burn bridges. If my references wouldn't have given me the strong reviews that they did, I would not be in this position.
-Don't hate the people who have it easier than you do. Ask them for advice and how you can benefit from certain things.
-Don't give up, but don't turn things down. I took some shitty part time positions during the past 16 months to hold me over, but it was worth it.
-GET YOUR STORY DOWN ASAP!
-Once you accept your offer, refrain from calling everybody that turned you down just to tell them to suck it. Go party with friends instead.
GOOD LUCK MONKEYS!!