I haven't been on here for a while but have been wanting to do this particularly with recruiting on the horizon.
I am not a god or by any means an expert but I may write like I feel as though I am so my apologies beforehand. Little annoyed at getting crazy questions:
I'm a mentor at my college (I'm a senior) and have been paired with many younger kids trying to "break into finance." I've also been exposed to many other kids in this state of mind both when I was recruiting and also currently by way of other mentors. I just want to share some advice because beneath a lot of the brand judging and speculating that unfortunately takes place on forums - that leaks into the minds of younger kids and scares them away - there's useful information to be had on this site so long as you're reading with the right lens.
I interestingly found that, on average, while recruiting on campus I kept seeing the same group of kids being invited for interviews by firms. Trying to pry into their backgrounds, I found the following:
- GPA is very important, but not the make it or break it factor. A 3.8 does not get picked over a 3.7, or 3.6, or 3.5 necessarily
- The FORMAT of your resume is almost more important than what is inside it. There's no over exaggeration when you hear firms getting thousands of resumes. You make yours stand out by being professionally, and carefully, crafted to be different
- The world is unfortunately unfair and not designed to serve either you, or even better serve you when you do what you're told to. By this, I mean that the application process is not curved by some exact measurement scale. There's no magic formula that guarantees anything, regardless of who you are. When you realize this, you'll either make the decision to work under the assumption you don't have the opportunity to quit until you get what you want, or that you'll just "try your best." You only fail once you've stopped trying.
- Building on the above, this process is managed by humans. Human beings who on the outside and by way of email signatures are crafted to appear unbiased, racially or socially indifferent, and objectively looking for "the best and brightest." This couldn't be further from the truth. Kids get jobs because of their parents, because of their standing on a sports team, because of their looks, but overall because of WHO THEY KNOW and WHO LIKES THEM. Your success will be primarily driven, in my opinion and observation, by how far out of the vacuum of pure academia you venture and even more importantly how you make those activities known and to whom. I saw kids ten times more academically intelligent than me fail because they, in my opinion, forgot that the world is managed by people, not a test bank. The second you start criticizing yourself based not upon your beliefs of what you should be doing by way of social standard, but how someone genuinely may view what your doing emotionally, you'll probably be better off.
- Lastly, I found the people who typically got these opportunities [aside from family connects or whatever have you] were the hardest working. They may not be the smartest (I sure as hell am not) but they knew everything, never stopped trying, read every guide - book - site - networking event - company site - you name it.
If I were interviewing two kids (if I ever get the opportunity to do such a thing) and met two interviewees - one from x school with x grades and was incredibly bright vs another from x-10 school and x-10 grades and was smart enough but was ready to do whatever the fuck necessary to get an opportunity, you'd be sure as shit I'd pick the latter.
I write this because I keep getting asked what are, in my opinion, the most ridiculous questions about recruiting. No one in this economy DESERVES a job that pays well, you just get lucky - but my belief luck can primarily be a function of hard work in the right direction.
Good luck this recruiting season all of you - kill it.