I've been debating whether or not to post this but decided to go ahead with it as I know these sort of posts always spurred me during my darker days!
Will just be sharing my story and path from how I went from a pretty poor state school to a non-target university and getting myself a full time offer at a top bank in M&A. Will share my tips, for what their worth, in hope they can help anyone going through the recruitment cycle now
Firstly, a big, big thank you to WSO. Both the community and the interview guides were instrumental in my success so for anyone looking to get a job, read the posts, ask questions and buy the interview guides!
As I mentioned, I went to a state school in my hometown which, by most measures, was pretty abysmal. I always knew I wanted to work in banking but was pretty naive in thinking I would just be able to get into a half decent university, apply to a few internships and I'd get myself a job - easy right? Won't go into the details but suffice to say I didn't get the A-levels I was really capable of and ended up at a mediocre university (consistently ranked around 50th-60th in the country). I started to apply to's 1st year intern Spring programmes and soon found I was not making it past the online application stage. It was around this point I discovered WSO and started to see where I was going wrong. Take away the fact I was at a poor university, I had barely any work experience to my name except a small accountancy gig I had done for work experience week back at school.
With this in mind, I went into hardcore cold emailing mode. I would spend my nights looking for firms in the City, anything from brokerages to wealth managers to middle market investment banks and everything in-between and would spend my days sending emails to all these firms, I would send hundreds and hundreds a week. I got lucky and got myself a summer gig at a large AM firm in The City, it was in thebut I was going to take anything I could get my hands on. At the end of my first year of university I had worked my ass off and got a 1st class grade (somewhere in the region of 80%-90%). So whilst I was working at the AM firm during the summer I was also looking at better universities that I had the chance of transferring over to - I found myself a much, much better university that would take me (because I had done so well in my first year at the previous university, not because of my A-level grades...... the AM internship helped too). I was accepted onto the course if I was willing to start again in the 1st year, of course I agreed. For the remainder of the summer I spent doing two other internships. One was a month at a local accountants and the second was for a week at a financial institution in their risk/commercial banking/real estate investment departments.
I had went into the summer with virtually no work experience and had come out the other side with 3 completed internships, 2 of which had great name recognition.
Transferring universities meant leaving great friends I had made etc etc, but that was obviously a price I was willing to pay. There was also the extra financial cost (I was transferring the year university fees went up to PS9000 a year... I was paying PS3000 at my previous uni) but felt it was worth the risk if it all paid off. The university I am currently at is still not great, it is definitely a non-target and I have virtually no alumni working in banking.
So, starting again in the 1st year I cold emailed until my fingers bled and managed to get a boutiquegig that I could do around my studies - I have no doubt the work experience I had gained over the summer helped me land this. All the work was done remotely by email and was able to start learning about how deals worked, some valuation and basic accounting. Through all this I landed a 1st year spring week programme and was able to leverage this into a SA role at another bank at the end of my 2nd year of studies.
At the start of my 3rd year I found out I had been offered the full time Analyst position within the M&A department to start this coming Summer. I HAD FINALLY MADE IT! The day I got the call to say I had been offered the position, I can't remember a time I had been so happy. To come from looked like a hopeless position when I first started university 4 years ago to now having the dream job was a moment I will never forget, all the risks I had taken paid off.
Apologies if this is long winded and sounds a bit rambling but it is a story I am proud of, I will try to tidy it up a bit in the next few days to make it sound a bit more coherent. But If there's anyone out there who is in a similar sort of situation hopefully it will show you that you just need to keep your head down and get as much work experience as possible under your belt. I can't stress that point enough, HR told me that the defining reason as to why I got any interviews was because of the amount of work experience I had - it shows your willing to put yourself about, especially if it was through cold calling.
..... of course, the easiest way to avoid all the stress I have been through would have been to just knuckle down during my A-levels, get into a target university and finding a job would have been a lot easier. But that's life!
Thank you once again to you guys here on WSO, many of you have been extremely helpful with answers to my questions over the years and for that I am forever grateful!