Q&A: Non-Target State School with 3.1 GPA to REPE Acquisitions in Major MarketSubscribe
Hello fellow RE monkeys! Finally got my certified star, and figured now is a good time to do an AMA to continue to give back to the community. Truly, WSO is one of the best resources available online for people trying to break into high finance. As corny as it sounds, without the content on this forum, and the balls to take a couple risks, I'd probably be a financial advisor working in a call center for Vanguard making $55,000 a year (one of the offers I received at the end of undergraduate). ####My story So, let's start off with my story, which is going to be very long winded. I went to a large ACC/SEC in the Southeast and majored in finance. Around the Fall of my sophomore year of college, I discovered WSO and subsequently decided that I wanted to sell my early-mid twenties to the highest bidder (investment banks). I absorbed as much information as I could in class and online, but struggled (like most non-targets with very average GPAs) to find my entry point into investment banking. ####Taking an unpaid opportunity After speaking to 50+ people and spending 18 months chasing the white rabbit, I finally landed an unpaid Fall internship my senior year at a boutique bank in a city over an hour from my school. As much as unpaid internships suck, it was the hand I was dealt, my options were limited, and time was not on my side. Looking back, I absolutely have no regrets and would recommend anyone that was in my position to take an unpaid opportunity if that is your only option. I checked my pride at the door, realized that $20/hr is literally nothing in the grand scheme of life, and looked at the internship as an opportunity to learn tuition-free with the hope that the time investment/experience would pay dividends down the road. Here's a hint: it absolutely did. Waking up at 5am and getting home at 7pm three days a week to commute 1 hour each way, while balancing a 15 hour course load along with a social life and extra curricular activities, was extremely stressful. I definitely overextended myself, but I learned a ton, and what I learned most importantly was that I hated investment banking and that it is over glorified brokerage that sounds a lot sexier than it is. ####CRE checked all the boxes In February of my senior year, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to pursue investment banking any further. The boutique I was with offered to keep me on as an analyst post-graduate, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was using investment banking as a stepping stone to some other undefined future goal. The more I thought about this undefined goal, the more I realized that it wasn't traditional PE or really any other IB parallel career path. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that CRE checked all of the boxes I wanted. It didn't require me to do a grueling 3 years in a job I didn't want, it had an obvious impact on my local community, I could still make a shit ton of money, I found it very interesting, and work-life balance would be undeniably better. With the goal of CRE in mind, I evaluated my options and came to the conclusion that timing was good to pursue an 18 month MRED. It would allow me to completely redefine the narrative surrounding my mediocre GPA and when combined with my IB internship it would give me a pretty good shot at a really good Summer internship (and subsequent job). During graduate school I busted ass, took another unpaid internship during the year for a boutique GP doing acquisitions, cold emailed hundreds of people, did another 50+ informational interviews, refined my job search strategy (I'll definitely make a guide on this in the future), and landed an internship at a top 20 investment management firm (similar to Nuveen, AEW, Clarion, etc). ####How I landed the internship How did I get the internship you may ask? Well first of all I did my time doing two unpaid internships during the school years. Through these internships I had gain IB experience and acquisitions experience. Also, immediately after applying online I hunted down the email address for the head of the group and cold emailed him. That got me a 15 min initial phone interview, which resulted in a final round interview. Here's the catch, since I was remote and they had plenty of qualified candidates local, they didn't want to spend the money to fly me to the final interview and offered to do it over the final interview via a phone call. Knowing that I would be at a significant disadvantage by not doing an in person interview, I took about half the money in my bank account and paid about $400 to fly myself to half way across the country to do the interview in person. This was by far the best investment I'll ever make in my life or career. Showing that much hustle and desire for the role ultimately ended in me getting the internship. In the end I got the money back. As soon as they made the offer I asked to be reimbursed for my flight, which they had no problem doing. That internship was the goose that laid the golden egg. I was able to parlay the internship into multiple full-time offers at top shops, and ended up landing an acquisitions role at a REPE firm that sponsors funds focused on industrial throughout the United States. So that's my story. Ask me anything!