Putting It Out There - the story

So as I've been asked for 'my story' but have never really done it in a full, comprehensive way... here we go.

I was born back in 1985 to two parents who realized they were going to become parents when they were 16 and 17 years old. Both of them dropped out of high school in preparation to keep me as a kid, my mom worked as a waitress while my dad went off to tractor trailer driving school. They seperated (never married) around the time I was maybe 2 or 3 and I proceeded to live with my mom during the week and my dad on the weekends... for a short stint of time while living with my mom I was living in housing projects in Connecticut (East Hartford, Mayberry Village area) and I remember 'playing' on the window bars outside like they were a jungle gym. My mom met and married some other guy who apparently was physically abusive to her (I dont remember seeing anything -- not sure if it was never in front of me or I just repressed it) and when they moved to Florida when I was 4 or 5 she sent me to live with my dad so that I would not be in this negative environment. I was living with my dad and grandparents back in CT and my dad worked pretty heavy hours as a truck driver/doing paving work to provide for us while my grandparents helped take care of me during the day after school, driving me places and giving me food, but in a way I was largely on my own to learn and discover things. My mom soon after divorced her abusive husband and went off on her own, but quickly was ping-ponging her way back from rehab for alcoholism and anorexia and I never really saw her at all. When I was 8 years old, I was featured on ABC (or NBC or whatever)'s night news segment Dateline as one of two families whose grandparents help take care of their kids' kids. When I was 11, my mother passed away in her sleep from the damage her anorexia and alcoholism had worn on her body (when she had just turned 29 or 30) which was a huge shock and a tad devastating to me especially as she had been cleared and been 'okay' for a few monthsfrom the doctors at her rehab programs.

I guess everything was relatively 'normal' until when I was 16/17 or so... my dad had saved up a large amount of his cash (although always was horrible with credit and money his whole life -- something I've turned to be the opposite of) and had bought his own big rig and was trekking gasoline around for work -- unfortunately he was making a good amount of cash and was partying/going to the casinos a lot (since he was young 30s making six figures from a blue collar background and no education) ith one of his buddies who owned a restaurant .. not so much alcoholism (or maybe it is) but definitely excessive partying. He ended up burning out, sold his truck and continued this lifestyle and burned through all of his cash... commence 'death spiral' ever since and not being able to get his life back together. Seeing this, I knew I had to go out on my own and be independent from my father due to the environment I was growing up in and set off on my own to push myself through school by working 35ish hours a week doing everything from retail (babies r us to hot topic to express haha) and IT on campus as well as internships so that I could provide for my food housing tuition social life and, of course, world of warcraft.

I entered UConn as a pharmacy major -- AP biology credits and all -- but quickly realized i hated chem with a passion even though i loved bio and physics. i had to take economics as a pre -req for the pharmacy program and had an eccentric, retired corporate lawyer as a professor who made the topic very interesting -- I always had a curiosity in th stock market but never knew what it meant but I went ahead and switched over to economics to explore these two new curiosities. After networking with uconn alumni I was able to secure an internship doing retail investments under a financial advisor at a local bank in CT -- I hated the cold calling and the other annoying things that went along with the job (riteof passage for most of us going into finance) but I kept sucking it up and asking how they put the different funds and investments together-- I knew I was interested in trading and portfolio management from there. I did a few trading competitions for both equities and commodities and did pretty well (11th out of 343 in CT for one and 1st place finish out of 10 teams for the commodities) and started pursuing the investment realm -- however I had a 2.71 gpa since I kinda went into college not knowing how much grades mattered and had other pressing issues such as survival going on at the time :) Thankfully, my econ/finance was around a 3.34 so I marketed that on my resume... my junior/senior internship had me doing economic development work and economic research as well as helping the CT hedge fund association put together their first annual hedge fund conference... I was VERY active in college in groups, starting as VP of my satellite campus' student goverment my freshman year to being a treasurer in the international relations association, doing sex ed stuff on campus, polish cultural society, and even helped push through an MBA level class on hedge funds.

so on to 'how i got into my job' :) I was the first hire at my firm from uconn ever, my group consisted of princeton/yale/brown/cornell and one penn state guy as is kind of typical for wall street and I was asked my first day on the trading floor 'which ivy did you go to?!'. Joyous. But during the interview I think I held my own very well and basically spewed my passion fr the markets and interest and willingness to put up with whatever to ensure that I made it as well as having a multitude of trading competition related material to throw at the recruiter -- I think if you have enthusiasm and passion for something it will show, be it your ability to go ahead and do it or for a job/business school interview... I stated back in september 07 and had a VERY rough time starting of and he majority of my group thought I'd end up being axed haha but ultimately I won rookie of the year for my class -- took home some what over a 100k, the next year with the insane volatility of 08 gave me over 500k+ which the government promptly took over 200k of haha. When the markets died down volatility wise in late 08/09, I proceeded to be in a hole for 1.5 years and not get any pay except for draw... thankfully I bought ~150k of the S&P index around 84.02, paid off all my student loans (70k) and had plenty of cash laying around plus a very strong frugal conviction haha. The past two years I've done decently but my income has been far too volatile (better than my first year but nowhere near my 08 year) and since I am in the 4-6 year range that is the 'hotspot' for MBAs and especially for finance I've decided to make the jump now for the MBA process.

Knowing my GPA was a weakspot with my 2.71, I took ten (yes, ten.. theyre ~700 each) classes through NYU SCPS in finance, portfolio management and risk management and came out with a 3.76 to add to my story that 'Hey, im a very smart and driven kid just didnt know what was oing on and had other outside pressures before) for the admissions process. For the most part, whenever that has come up during an interview I've been very confident about mentioning my low gpa (although i dont ever bring it up myself haha) but the interviewers are usually VERY understanding in seeing what else ive done nad usually were like 'the reviewer mentioned your low gpa but we know why anddd ehhh doesnt really matter' usually with a quick smile and bruhing it off-- outside of work ive been the treasurer of a tenants association in harlem that sued our landlord for 300k in damages for low income dominicans (including repairs and rentals) and do a lot of alumni outreach at my alma mater, including helping re-spark a dead mentoring program at the school of business and being invited to join a small panel for the alumni association under the board of trustees that deals with improving alumni mentoring/student involvement initiatives on the campus.

I was looking at buy side equity research originally and while I love the markets, I really hate accounting and I am very much so a people person so I have been looking at account management/product management roles at large investment management firms (PIMCO Wellington Vanguard State Street etc) in dealing with a hybrid role of client facing/portfolio management.... but also at the same time I am looking to leverage my social/interpersonal abilities with that and also in consulting which has an array of exit ops (trading is VERY niche so grass is greener there haha) and I enjoy doing a variety of problem solving types of things so I think those two roles are more 'best fitting' for me. I would harikari if I did ibanking working 100 hours a week :P I dont want to blow up when I'm mid 30s and not have a time else to go so its opportune haha. My dad and I have a very good tight relationship -- Im 27 this year and he just turned 44 -- although it is a 'reverse' father son relationship where Im the dad because he still doesnt really have his shit together -- my car back home is much more so his now since hes been in and out of work (and suffers from depression and anxiety as well, forgot to throw that in there.. but somehow I've been okay as an extremely volatile trader lol) for the pst 3 years and I help support him financially as well.

To answer some things that were asked... the one thing that kept me going is that I knew that it was all on my shoulders to make myself successful and happy, and that if I did not it would be my own fault and as such I could not let myself down. Every large obstacle in life or other kind of detriment can be overcome if youre willing to put in the time and emotional strength to overcome it.

Trading I think is something that is very personality driven and on the job driven -- some may disagree. You have to be passionate about the markets, a bit of zen helps (although there are plenty of angry traders) but that can be manifested in a 'i dont give a fuck' kind of attitude as well haha, confident in yourself, and smart and be able to have a feel for mental math in so much that youre kind of always calculating risk/probabilities in the back of your head even if you arent doing actual math on paper or in your mind (does that make sense?)

I think my background was a strength as long as you are able to show tht you might have suffered some but overcame it and it made you stronger and youve excelled nonetheless and 'broken the mold'. Cant be too caught up in the past have to keep looking forward because otherwise youre not going to be able to do shit with your life if you keep moping or daydreaming too much about the what ifs of the future. Plan your life but taken action now. do it do it do it.

Comments (75)

Mar 23, 2012

oh and feel free to ask questions ;p

Mar 23, 2012

gotta know - who is your favorite Beatle?

Mar 23, 2012

this is ass raped long... gona read it after chick fil a

Mar 23, 2012
CaliforniaAnalyst:

this is ass raped long

that's what she said

Mar 23, 2012

yeah lol i was like wow thas long :P

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Mar 23, 2012
shorttheworld:

yeah lol i was like wow thas long :P

that's what she said

Mar 23, 2012

damn son, good shit.

and now you're about to go slay some blue devil chicks. good for you.

Mar 23, 2012

+1, thanks for sharing your story, and congrats again.

Mar 23, 2012

Props to you Short, and nice writeup.

Hopefully this is inspiring to some other monkeys out there.

Mar 23, 2012

wow. you're polish?

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 23, 2012

Nice story man... respect and I wish you all the best with your MBA and future!

Mar 23, 2012

good shit! i found i have lots of exp/situations similar to yours.

good luck!

and can i do that nyu thing online?

Mar 23, 2012

Your story makes me feel very pampered. Wish you all the best with your future.

Mar 23, 2012

NYU is all in person but ucla extension and brigham young are around for online stuff

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Mar 23, 2012

you put your gpa on your resume? I assume most interviews were the result of networking so not much fear of getting filtered out.

Way to go man, very inspirational. makes me feel like a lazy asshole

I say fuck change, I don't chase dimes

Mar 23, 2012
shorttheworld:

To answer some things that were asked... the one thing that kept me going is that I knew that it was all on my shoulders to make myself successful and happy, and that if I did not it would be my own fault and as such I could not let myself down. Every large obstacle in life or other kind of detriment can be overcome if youre willing to put in the time and emotional strength to overcome it.

Thanks for the inspirational post. This part was the best thing I have read this week.

Mar 23, 2012

short, you're a boss.

Make sure you rape the mba's gpa with a vengence. Bury that 2.7!

Mar 23, 2012

short's about to go live that goooood life. well deserved.

Mar 23, 2012

Again, thanks for sharing your story STW and answering those questions. I'm sure going back that far in your life to recall certain events conjures up some emotions everytime they cross your mind, but it's clearly evident this gave you an unbelievable amount of drive.

" A recession is when other people lose their job, a depression is when you lose your job. "

Mar 23, 2012
shorttheworld:

the insane volatility of 08 gave me over 500k+ which the government promptly took over 200k of haha.

You need to pay your fair share.

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Mar 23, 2012
Abdel:
shorttheworld:

the insane volatility of 08 gave me over 500k+ which the government promptly took over 200k of haha.

You need to pay your fair share.

Is this serious?

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'

Mar 23, 2012
Abdel:
shorttheworld:

the insane volatility of 08 gave me over 500k+ which the government promptly took over 200k of haha.

You need to pay your fair share.

This retard must be Canadian.

Mar 23, 2012
JamesHetfield:
Abdel:
shorttheworld:

the insane volatility of 08 gave me over 500k+ which the government promptly took over 200k of haha.

You need to pay your fair share.

This retard must be Canadian.

He's kidding.

Mar 23, 2012

Always great to hear stories that prove being genuine, and a human being, will help you go farther than always trying to fit the cookie cutter mold new-graudate-high-gpa-elitists think it takes to get ahead.

Where do you see yourself moving forward from here?

Mar 23, 2012

Wow, Im glad that I got to know you. What a story!

Mar 23, 2012

This kind of stuff is really inspiring to see - congrats!

Mar 23, 2012

My condolences for your mother, and I hope you can help your father overcome his struggles. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story.

Mar 23, 2012

Very cool man. Good luck with your MBA.

Mar 23, 2012

Great story man. I'm curious though, why do you want to leave trading?

Mar 23, 2012

im pretty sure i paid more than my fair share wit hthat esp considering i made 500 a week the next year and only that

leaving trading due to volatility of my returns :) and want something a bit more stable and im in that 4-6 year 'launch off' period

moving forward we'll see buit i listed some of my ideas.. im leaning between duke and yale right now

emotionally im pretty set and done with what happened, just gotta keep it moving

i put the 3.34 gpa not the 2.71 :P

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Mar 23, 2012

oh, and another thing is dont be afraid of failing, be afraid of giving up after you fail. you may have to rework your strategies constantly and approach things from different angles which will take times and take the slower/not the quickest approaches or most direct approaches but should be able to accomplish a great deal of your goals if youre willing to be flexible and learn from your failures and shortcomings. learn the game play the game

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Mar 23, 2012

This sort of story always reminds me how privileged my childhood was. Good on you and best of luck at Duke man! You deserve it.

Mar 23, 2012

Short be dominating that front page.

In all seriousness, great story - thanks for sharing. Best of luck at Fuqua.

Mar 23, 2012

I think the important question is, have you made WSO mod yet? Or is that a feather still missing in your cap?

Mar 23, 2012

I tell you this sounds very familiar. Did your performance lead your employer to start recruiting at UConn?

Mar 23, 2012
pingafrita:

I tell you this sounds very familiar. Did your performance lead your employer to start recruiting at UConn?

Holy shit! Is he a campus legend? Do people at UConn tell tales of a mythological creature by the name of shorttheworld?

Mar 23, 2012

I didnt go to uconn dbag. Just funny how I met with a prop trader from uconn who spoke of some dude's performance leading his shop to start recruiting there.

Mar 23, 2012
pingafrita:

I didnt go to uconn dbag. Just funny how I met with a prop trader from uconn who spoke of some dude's performance leading his shop to start recruiting there.

It was actually a serious question. Didn't mean to come off rude or dbag-like... would be pretty awesome if it was indeed short.

Mar 23, 2012

Loved your story Short! I think a lot of us in our generation are so privileged vs. our parents' lives and we really don't have too many hardships to cry or whine about they way we all do. If I grew up the way you did, I wonder if I could come out of it half or a fraction as successful the way you did. I don't think a lot of us would be able to do what you did - a lot would fall through the cracks and tell themselves life dealt them a crappy hand.

Congrats on Duke and Yale!

Best Response
Mar 23, 2012

I was the first one hired from uconn and then they started recruiting a bunch of kids from uconn and other state schools like Maryland penn rutgers and Delaware

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Mar 23, 2012

And actually said he was at the bar one night on campus and mentioned my name and he said a bunch of people knew who I was when he mentioned my name or something lol we also threw parties that ended with a mini swat raid on our apartment to arrest my room mate but that's another story lol

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Mar 24, 2012

Great story! very inspirational. Take care of yourself and your dad!

p.s. U polish? :)

Mar 24, 2012

Great story! very inspirational. Take care of yourself and your dad!

p.s. U polish? :)

Mar 24, 2012

Hey man, very inspiring story. My situation was nowhere near yours; however, I think it's interesting that we share some things and both used it to fuel our fire. It actually forwarded this to my little brother (17) who is about to start looking into colleges. Hopefully he can get into your mindset.

Mar 24, 2012

you're leaving trading? what do you want to do?

Mar 24, 2012

what was your biggest loss

what was your biggest win

-be detailed and list symbol

ty

also any unethical shit that goes on in finance you can tell us about?

Mar 24, 2012

also what happend friday and what was your initial reaction

Mar 24, 2012

Great story Short, especially since I can relate to a lot of it.

I'm curious, did you feel that your Economics courseload prepared you for trading?

(I'm a Computer Science major @ a complete non-target, and though I know CS is much more lucrative..I really love Economics.)

Mar 24, 2012

No blastoise no lol

I think you can be any background for trading with a passion for markets so economics can help you understand things... Comp sci is good for quant trading lbv

Yes I'm polish yes I'm leaving trading and I explained all that above lol

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Mar 24, 2012

Congratulations! Very inspirational!

I can only imagine how much determination it took to overcome everything - Congrats once again! Good luck with your future goals!

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Mar 24, 2012

Finally got around to reading this. My background is not standard either but nowhere near yours, hahaha. Props man.

Mar 24, 2012

Can we make a new sub-forumn for success stories? It's definitely deserving of such a space

Good job OP!:)

Mar 24, 2012

^^^ they already have one! "WSO Success Stories" in Forums.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 25, 2012

Great work Short! It's commendable that you're helping out your pops now, hope that's working out well. Have you decided between Yale SOM and Duke yet, or are you waiting to visit the campuses in person? What exactly does Product Management consist of? How is that related to Management Consulting?

Mar 25, 2012

The account and product management roles, from what I understand, are hybrid positions of client facing sales and portfolio management/development based on the desires of the institutional investors.. Gonna revisit both schools and decide.

Mar 25, 2012

Thanks for sharing your story and your hardships. With all the bullshit that floats around on WSO, it's refreshing to see something as inspiring, informative and sincere as your story.

That said, I've got a question for you... like you, I'm considering applying to quite a few MBA programs. Can you please elaborate on your letter of reqs process? Since you applied to so many schools, what was your strategy? Did you get A LOT from a small group of people, or did you get different people to write it for different programs? Did you use your "best" recommendations for your "reach" schools like Columbia, or your "sweet spots" like Yale/Duke?

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Mar 26, 2012

Respect.

I want to share mine here at some point - though it doesn't compare.

Mar 26, 2012

Since I had an off-kilter and low GPA application I wanted to do a shotgun approach -- start early and apply to a LOT of schools. I had my current boss and my old boss write them all -- it becomes copy and paste and less effort after a while than asking multiple people to draft multiple copies.

Mar 26, 2012

Short - Congrats... did you emphasize the background / reason for low ug gpa on more than one of the essays?

Mar 27, 2012

Great story! Do you ever make it up to Hard Hittin New Britain for some good Polish food?

Mar 28, 2012

That was a humbling story. You have many good things coming to you in life, all of them deserved.

Mar 28, 2012

texas -- yeah kind of , i drew alink between growing up without a mentor for what i wanted to do since neither of my parents gradutated high school and thats why now i do a lot of mentoring stuff so i can give back what i didnt have

whalers im from south windsor but ill go to the east village for polish/ukrainian food now haha

Mar 29, 2012

Great great story short. I'd shower u with silver 'nanas if i had some WSO juice.

We're the same age & I had a 2.0GPA & sorta similar family background (deadbeat dad) so I can relate to a LOT of what you're saying (though in may sace my GPA was down to pure laziness). At the end of the day, passion really does count. I sit on interview teams now and I'm always looking for fellow underdogs who know what it is to work against odds and rise above self-failure.

To all you low GPAs, non-targets, immigrants etc: The world is yours. You'll have to bleed for it but it's there for the taking.

Mar 29, 2012

i concur, iom going to be highly biased on both adcom at school and interviewing for wor

Mar 29, 2012

Congratulations!!

Just when I thought Africans had interesting stories of overcoming adversity.
This is truly spectacular. You should be very proud of yourself.

As they say in Nigeria "Make you chop de money, O" [Rough translation: Get this money!]

Enjoy B-School!

P.S.: If you spot any Africans tell them you can beat their story :)

Mar 30, 2012
PanAfricanBanker:

Congratulations!!

Just when I thought Africans had interesting stories of overcoming adversity.
This is truly spectacular. You should be very proud of yourself.

As they say in Nigeria "Make you chop de money, O" [Rough translation: Get this money!]

Enjoy B-School!

P.S.: If you spot any Africans tell them you can beat their story :)

Africans in the US actually tend to do quite well in the US and I know why. I'm currently based in the subcontinent and the work ethic required to make a decent living here is absolutely insane!

I met a gardener who makes 3-4 dollars a day. You take this guy to the US & give him any menial job for +10x that price you can bet your ass he's gonna perform.

This is even more pronounced in Asia. I met a PhD graduate in Taiwan (he's 25!) working as an anlyst for a big bank for ~$40K. Were it not for language & culture, I definitely would've hired this kid over the myriad of over-pampered +$90K ivys I've got under me. Adversity has always been the mother of achievement.

Mar 30, 2012
SaucyBacon85:
PanAfricanBanker:

Congratulations!!

Just when I thought Africans had interesting stories of overcoming adversity.
This is truly spectacular. You should be very proud of yourself.

As they say in Nigeria "Make you chop de money, O" [Rough translation: Get this money!]

Enjoy B-School!

P.S.: If you spot any Africans tell them you can beat their story :)

Africans in the US actually tend to do quite well in the US and I know why. I'm currently based in the subcontinent and the work ethic required to make a decent living here is absolutely insane!

I met a gardener who makes 3-4 dollars a day. You take this guy to the US & give him any menial job for +10x that price you can bet your ass he's gonna perform.

This is even more pronounced in Asia. I met a PhD graduate in Taiwan (he's 25!) working as an anlyst for a big bank for ~$40K. Were it not for language & culture, I definitely would've hired this kid over the myriad of over-pampered +$90K ivys I've got under me. Adversity has always been the mother of achievement.

Amazingly you can live fairly well in South Africa and Nigeria on the local currency equivalents of USD 40, 000!
I'm an analyst, I've got 3 degrees and I wouldn't mind getting that top tier MBA (just have fiscal barriers of entry).

As my high school teachers would say "Virtute et Labore", as there is no free lunch with the competition here.

Mar 29, 2012

How did you land the interview for your job? You said that you were the first UConn hire and that all the other hires were pedigreed ivy leaguers, so you must have had some kind of connection.

Very inspirational story. I'm amazed that someone born and raised under your circumstances was able to make it this far. Hell just the fact that you made it into UConn is actually pretty damn impressive considering where you came from. Most kids in your situation would've gone to community college. Your story is a hell of a lot more impressive than any kid born with a silver spoon that had everything handed to him in life. Thanks for sharing.

Mar 30, 2012

Bravo STW, Bravo!

Mar 30, 2012

nah they just came to campus and i was the test subject for uconn haha hen they hired 4 uconn kids (or extended offers) the year after :P

Mar 31, 2012

awesome, story. Thanks for finally sharing Short :-) You better get your ass to the conference this summer.

Apr 1, 2012
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Apr 2, 2012
Jul 16, 2012