12/22/14

Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 7/7/14 and ranks #16 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

Fellow Monkeys, this is my story of triumph, success, and most importantly, humility. It may be long, so if you want a quick "tl;dr" synopsis, scroll to the bottom. This is a long, but incredibly sincere thank you to Wall Street Oasis and more importantly my mother.

My Background

I grew up having a very "different" background (at least I thought at the time). Many of my friends had happy families living in nice houses, I on the other hand, didn't know my dad and my mom was living paycheck to paycheck just to make sure there was a roof over my head and food on the table. My mom was always my motivation to always strive for success, and make the best of myself. She is the biggest success story I know. She grew up in the Philippines, relatively wealthy (think upper-upper by their standards), actually, but when her father passed away, the entire inheritance was handed down to her brother, an alcoholic who had nothing going for him. My mom on the other hand was en route to getting her degree. The money got wiped out within a few years (he's now homeless).

With no foreseeable future, she moved to Japan to work at a Corporation where she met my Dad, who was in the navy at the time. My parents stayed together for 3 years, and my Dad convinced her to move to America, the place where dreams come true, right? Wrong. My dad (who decided not to marry her) denied her citizenship, and my mom could not get a job. I was now 6, and my mom gave up on her dreams of becoming an executive and instead had to become a Nanny to ensure I could live my life to the fullest. She is the most successful, strongest, and dedicated woman I know.

Failing at my Fresh Start

Fast forward 11-years to my senior year of High School. My grades were sub-par (around 2.8) and I had no goals in sight. Luckily due to my above average SAT scores, I was accepted to more than just a community college, though the school I matriculated to is a non-target by most peoples standards. I went to a relatively large State School in New York (Albany, Binghamton, and Buffalo). I thought this would be a fresh start. Nope. I drank about 5 nights of the week, studied minimally, and had no true motivation and guidance. I ended up getting a cumulative 2.9 my freshman year. I was on the verge of being not let into the business school and boy did that send a haunting jolt down my spine. I knew I was better than this. I remember having a long talk with my mom, her incredibly disappointed, yet supportive tone, and me thinking "what's wrong with me?" The reality of letting down a woman who sacrificed everything to give me the life she always wanted me to have was unbearable, and I knew it was time to get my act together.

My Realization and Turnaround

Sophomore year was the start of my transformation. I needed a 3.25 cumulative GPA to get into the business school. Half way through the year, during winter break, I found Wall Street Oasis. The motivation people had to get into Investment Banking, Sales & Trading, and the like, was incredible. This was a new world to me, and I knew this was the path for me. I had always been intrigued by business, but for once I had a concrete goal set: to get into high finance. That's when I found out about the Finance Honors program that my school offered. You needed a 3.5 GPA at the start of your junior year and every subsequent semester, meaning kids got cut along the way. I put my best foot forward and ended up getting a 3.9 my sophomore year, pulling my GPA up to 3.5. I got accepted to the program and the class was roughly 40 of us.

Now it was time to get that summer job for my junior year. I ended up getting a spring semester internship at a boutique bank working in their equity research department, which I loved. My boss was great, and every alum I spoke to who did the 1-year internship with this firm was doing something incredible (M&A Jefferies, Goldman IBD, Citi S&T, etc) so instead of pursuing a BB summer internship, I decided to stick it out for a year and hoped that things would work out. My junior year ended, and I was still in Finance Honors, and my class size was now 16. My GPA was around a 3.6.

My summer internship at this boutique was awesome. My boss taught me how to model, how to write more eloquently, and most importantly, my boss connected me with a TON of people. He worked buy-side prior to being recruited to head this segment of the firm. It was incredible how many things I was learning, connecting what I learned in school and utilizing it to a more practical use. My boss taught me a lot of shortcuts, and helped prep me for my interviews. This was when my networking efforts really kicked in. I emailed EVERYONE. I must have sent out 300+ emails over the course of my entire summer, and what I did find to be true was that you really do only get an initial 10-15% response rate. BUT, and THIS IS IMPORTANT, follow up with those who did not respond every 2 weeks and they will eventually respond (emphasize you understand they're busy). This bumped up my total response rate to about 40-50%. I tried to leave the best impression as possible, and from the responses and help I got, I don't think I did too poorly.

Entering my senior year, I had an internship that I was still dedicated to and a senior thesis due by December and so my networking slowed, but was still running. This is where I saw my efforts from the summer come to fruition. People were contacting ME. I'm not talking about texts from friends. MD's and VP's and analysts were emailing me, curious on how I was doing and offering help if they could. This made my life a lot easier. Along with that, my Professors knew I had worked hard to get into and stay in the honors program, and they too connected me with alum who I would never have found on my own. Lastly, I was President of the student-run investment group on campus my senior year, so all of the alum who had been in it (roughly 20 students per year get accepted, and in 8 years since inception, that meant roughly 160 alums) were messaging me just to see how it was going or if they could help me or the group in anyway. To recap real quickly, I had 3 sources of networks: 1) my efforts, 2) professors contacts, 3) alums from the investment group. And conveniently, those were the reasons I was offered full time positions.

Upon graduation, I had 3 offers, one from each of those networking sources mentioned above. Each offer I got was better than the last. My first offer (MM MO position in NYC!) I got was around March, and boy was I excited! Life couldn't get any better. That is, until I got my second offer (MM FO IBD position in NYC!) in April. I was extremely excited to be getting this opportunity. I went out and bought all of my friend's drinks for all of their support and bearing with me and shutting up during my first round phone interviews.

I thought recruiting was done and I was set to graduate. But one final opportunity came right before graduation, there was a position open at one of the most prestigious firms on the street. With the help of 2 alums, I had an expedited interview process, and within a week I was given my third offer (BB FO IBD position in Los Angeles!).

I had the job of my dreams, at a great location. Furthermore, I was graduating with magna cum laude, and my mom had the biggest smile on her face. I went to almost being completely rejected to the business school, to being one of 16 people to graduate within the finance honors program. Something else to marvel at was this was the second year the program had a 100% placement into reputable firms and respectable positions. I start my training this Wednesday and I hope to continue to work hard and strive to thrive.

Final Words and Advice

1) To all of the non-target students or kids who didn't grow up in the best of neighborhoods, know that if you work hard, there will be light at the other end of the tunnel. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.
2) Never, ever, let anyone tell you that you can't do something. The only person holding you back is yourself, and once you can get over that hump, you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish.
3) Set your goals high. To quote a cheesy line by Norman Vincent Peale, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars". As lame as this line is, it truly does hold true. I would have been happy with my MO offer, and I knew I'd be better off than most graduating students. It wasn't FO but it was something I could be proud of.
4) Take risks. People who take risks are the one who reap the long-term benefits. I understand everyone's need for security, but taking calculated risks will allow you to realize your true potential.
5) Network. This is key to your success. Do not network to get a job, rather you should do it to make connections. Everyone you speak to know your true intentions, so no need to make it more noticeable, but if you can break down that barrier and connect with them on a personal level, you will see remarkable benefits, at least I have seen this to be true.
6) Believe in yourself. You know what you are capable of, and you should realize that you are actually better than what you may think.

I hope this didn't take too much of your time. I just wanted to send out a heartfelt thank you to WSO for all the guidance it has given me, and my mother for the strength I needed to utilize the words that have been said in WSO.

As Promised, here is the tl;dr:

Single Mom moved from Philippines to America (NYC), had a terrible job by most peoples standard (nanny), though I am incredibly proud of her. I had bad grades in HS and my freshman year at a non-target state school in Upstate New York. Almost didn't get into the b-school. Turned around sophomore year and graduated this past May as 1 of 16 students in the Finance honors route (3.5+ GPA required). President of the student-run investment group my senior year. Networked hard during summer internship. Graduated with 3 offers. Took offer in BB FO IBD in Los Angeles. Training in NYC starts Wednesday. Now I want to payback my debt to this community and my mother.

Again, thank you for everything, Patrick and the WSO community. Good luck to everyone, and never stop pushing! Willing to answer any questions either on the comments or PM if you prefer.

Comments (61)

7/7/14

Absolutely amazing. Great job and good luck!

Financial Modeling
7/7/14

Truly inspiring, congratulations!

7/7/14

@"AndyLouis" homepage this ish, great story

"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

"The investor's chief problem - and even his worst enemy - is likely to be himself." - Benjamin Graham

7/7/14

done! and thanks @"henchman" for sharing your story!!

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

7/7/14

Great story and best of luck.

7/7/14

That's what I call an amazing story. Congratulations, very inspiring!

7/7/14

henchman:

Now I want to payback my debt to this community and my mother.

This along with your final thoughts and advice are my favorite parts. I have always believed that more important than thanking those that helped you to get where you are is helping others get to where they want to be.

7/7/14

Phenomenal story @henchman

One quick question: You mentioned that, during your networking process and when you were cold-emailing people you would follow up every couple of weeks. How many emails did you send before deciding to move on to the next person?

7/7/14

Bravo!

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

7/7/14

Great job sir. Keep up the good work!

7/7/14

Great story!

CNBC sucks

"This financial crisis is worse than a divorce. I've lost all my money, but the wife is still here." - Client after getting blown up

7/7/14

Bravo! This is the kind of inspirational stories that ought to be made into movies.
Have you been in touch with your dad? Now would be a good time to notify him and let him feel ashamed for what he did to you and your mother.

Also did you mention your background to your professors and people at firms you interned with. I bet they knew what you had to overcome and how hard you have worked to get to where you are, that is why they went the extra distance to help you line up job openings and interviews. I know I would have done exactly the same.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.

7/7/14

Awesome story. Keep on keeping on!

7/7/14

Awesome story - hardworking and sincere people like @henchman are what make this community so great.

7/7/14

awesome story @"henchman" - I love it when people come back and explain in detail how they overcame so many obstacles. The fact that WSO played any role in that journey is simply awesome. The Certified Users on here really do kick major ass which is one of the reasons WSO continues to remain well balanced and a great resource.

Thank YOU for sharing and make sure you become a Certified User once you are working FT. :-)

Congrats!
Patrick

7/7/14

Inspiring! I love hearing stories like this. Thanks for sharing!

7/7/14

This is awesome. Congrats - I'd take the tl;dr out just so people are forced to read & appreciate the story!

P.s Sounds like you owe your old boss a big thank you too - incredible stuff.

Financial Modeling
7/7/14

Great story! Well deserved offers you got there!

7/7/14

I'm shocked at how close your story is to mine, even went to school in upstate NY. I am now just starting a full-time analyst role, but not yet where I want to be. Thanks for the motivational boost!

7/7/14

Awesome dude! Congrats.

7/7/14

Congratulations! Well done, and well deserved!

7/7/14

Congratulations. Thanks for sharing.

7/7/14

Nothing but respect, good luck!

7/7/14

Isn't it amazing what people have had to endure to come to this country and make even a modest living for themselves... and then look at their shit head kids.

7/7/14

Great story and immense respect. Sounds very well deserved.

7/7/14

Thank you all for your kind words, they are truly appreciated and definitely motivates me to keep working hard.

@"thebrofessor" & @"AndyLouis" Thanks for putting this on the front page, definitely did not expect that. Hopefully someone in a similar situation can find signs of encouragement from my situation.

oaktree capital:

Phenomenal story @henchman

One quick question: You mentioned that, during your networking process and when you were cold-emailing people you would follow up every couple of weeks. How many emails did you send before deciding to move on to the next person?

Oaktree, I followed up no more than 3 times (so a timespan of roughly 1-2months of trying to connect). If they were an alum and they had no response, I would ask a professor who knew them well to connect me and that usually worked. If they were a random contact (i.e. cold-email MDs who had no real connection to me) 3 times was a enough to realize that they would just never respond. People in this "random" category were usually contacted and the first thing I'd address is that we had nothing in common, and that I only wanted to speak for guidance and support from leading professionals, which actually led to a decent amount of people letting down their guard and talking to me (back to not using people, rather, befriending them and allowing them the opportunity to give you an opportunity when they saw fit).

brandon st randy:

Bravo! This is the kind of inspirational stories that ought to be made into movies.

Have you been in touch with your dad? Now would be a good time to notify him and let him feel ashamed for what he did to you and your mother.

Also did you mention your background to your professors and people at firms you interned with. I bet they knew what you had to overcome and how hard you have worked to get to where you are, that is why they went the extra distance to help you line up job openings and interviews. I know I would have done exactly the same.

Brandon, haha thanks for the kind words but I'm no Chris Gardner, now that was an incredible story! I have been in contact with my dad, and he is ashamed of the way things turned out, and though I do not frequently talk to him, we do say hello every once in a while. I do feel some resentment, but part of me wants to just move on, but he will never reap any of the benefits from me.

Regarding your other questions, yes, few people knew of my story. Never thought of it that way, but you may be right in thinking that's why they felt so inclined to help me. My boss, loyal professors, and even my moms employer (F100 Executive, you'd know who it is) was willing to help me. Never thought about leveraging it that way, but I guess indirectly, I did just that. Thanks again for your kind words, definitely appreciated.

@"WallStreetOasis.com" thanks for that. This site has been tremendous, and this community means a lot to me. Like @"brosephstalin" said, this site is is made up of great individuals that make the site great, and I am grateful to be a part of its growing community.

GMG:

P.s Sounds like you owe your old boss a big thank you too - incredible stuff.

haha @"GMG", trust me, I've already taken him out for drinks and dinner. He is a great guy, and I'm not the first person he has helped out like this. I'm actually really happy I decided to stick it out instead of finding a "better" opportunity.

@"Hamburghini_Murcy" Anytime! Please keep us updated with your progress. Good luck, and make sure to pay it forward when your time eventually comes!

To everyone else who has commented thus far: Thank you all for the kind words. I hope to remain humble and to kill it in my future endeavors. Let me know if anyone every wants to grab a drink! haha. Always looking to make lifelong friends and future business partners.

7/7/14

Great story, thanks.

7/7/14

Good job. Glad you overcame some hardships you were born into and some you got yourself into. I'm impressed that you recognize how much your Mom did for you and you appreciate that she actually did that for you. Bravo, sir.

7/8/14

Good job, congratulations! I'm touched by your determination to overcome the odds and your humility on achieving your goals. Don't let finance get to your personality - people like you are few and far between nowadays.

Thanks for sharing. Good luck, and congrats again!

Read my blog: Bateman Begins

7/8/14

Love hearing stories like this. I've been struggling to land an offer and reading posts like this helps me keep my head up.

Congrats dude

7/8/14

My favorite success story on WSO. Great Job! Keep it up man!
i'd make sure the dad never benefits from your success. Your success is 100% by you and your mom.

7/8/14

Yes!! That's the way!

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

7/9/14

SB'ed, great story. You not only achieved for your own good, but I'm sure your success is a dream come true for your mother as well. Sounds like she went through hell to raise you, and its great to see that it paid off.

7/9/14

Awesome story, how did you not accept any of those first offers, that must have been tough?

It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation. -Gordon Gekko

7/9/14

You truly are an inspiration to me and i'm sure many other kids who are still in college like me. Everyday i think about how to improve myself. I had no choice but to go to a community college(i live on long island) and found this website my second semester. Ever since then i do nothing but try to get exceptional grades so i can get into my dream school. I just got finished applying to my dream school, which is CUNY Baruch, and all that's left to do is wait, i hope i will have a success story like yours and it truly does motivate me even more. Congrats on your achievements.

VPA

7/9/14

I really enjoyed reading your story, very inspirational. Just goes to show there is a TON of hard work behind the scenes to make things happen, but people usually only notice the final result. Way to hustle and perservere, Thanks for sharing, SB for you.

7/10/14

Damn,this is some shawshank redemption stuff.Congratulations man,it feels great when your hard work pays off.

7/10/14

Very inspiring story. Kudos to you Sir!!

The dragon dozes off in the spirit which is its dwelling.

7/10/14

I loved your story and perseverance. It's absolutely awe-inspiring to see where one can go when they take full responsibility for where their life is heading. Kudos to you OP :)

7/11/14

You and I have very similar backgrounds. Because my father was a maniac, I was also raised by a single mother. I completely understand what you mean by how much of a motivation boost online forums like WSO can provide. Thanks to my discovery of College Confidential, I can proudly say that I'll be attending a target school next year.

Surrounding yourself with a community of people with common goals can provide the extra boost for people from disadvantaged backgrounds who would have probably never realized that careers in high finance were attainable.

Thank God for the internet.

7/11/14

Just want to say thank you to everyone for the kind words. As @"DickFuld" mentioned, I dug myself a pretty deep hole and luckily I got out of it. Make the best out of a shit situation.

@"Bateman Begins" haha thanks, I'll try and keep my head straight. Really appreciate your words.

@"Jrajk1" Glad to see I can help. Good luck!

@"VCPEORIB" Well, my first offer I got the deadline extended cause I wanted to hear back. The alum was pretty understanding and realized I had to do what was best for my endeavors. Respectfully declined when my acceptance came from Firm #2. I signed and accepted my second offer (had no iviews or anything coming up), making things a little more tricky. The renege process is pretty awkward, since you have people who could potentially hate you forever after sticking their necks out. I messaged my contact first and told them, then went on to HR. HR was a lot more critical, actually, telling me to "dont even say sorry, bye". I don't know how strong the relationship between me and that firm/contact is going to be, but it may be bleak. Hope that helps.

@"vpa94" I would suggest looking into UAlbanys FA Honors Program. Seriously starting to pick up steam in Wall Street. I'd say about 60% of my class went into Front office at banks or is doing consulting. The rest are doing FP&A or midoffice at respectable firms. Baruch is great for the networking and off-cycle internships, though, and is definitely much cheaper. Just suggesting to take a look at it.

Thanks again everyone! Last weekend before I start. Any suggestions or advice? Would be willing to talk to anyone who has valuable insight.

7/12/14

Thanks a lot, i heard nothing but great things about baruch so if i get in i will try it out, but will definitely look into Ualbanys FA program. i will also try to transfer into a target school once i'm in the school i am in next. I appreciate the suggestions and you're opinions. Thank you so much

VPA

7/12/14

Congrats! What an incredible story. I know you wrote as a "long and sincere thank-you" to WSO, but honestly, it was you who made it from near rock-bottom to where you are now; WSO was just the push you needed. Congrats again and I hope you have a great time at your new job; you deserve it!

7/12/14

Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

7/13/14

Fuck Yeah.

7/14/14

Very inspiring ! Keep it up!!!

7/14/14

I should've known this website earlier. i hope its not too late! =]

7/14/14

Congrats man. That Boss you had is someone special, especially in Finance that kind of person just doesn't come around often. I'm sure you are forever grateful to him. Enjoy yourself and try to have some fun

7/16/14

Very touching it was nice of you to share with us.

7/16/14

Never give up!

7/16/14

I am currently a high school rising junior. My background is very similar to that of yours. However I live in New York City and I am a girl. My personality is a bit shy.... I get really awkward to talking to people at initial meeting. Can you give me some advice for networking?

7/21/14

Winner. If I could cry I would. Current sub-3 GPA senior reading this for inspiration. Thank you, OP.

Benjamin A Gilman Scholar
Economics & Finance, Mandarin Chinese & Japanese
Small Business VP

7/25/14

Not gonna lie I teared up while reading this at work!! Awesome story.

10/9/14

Hey good job, I am sure your mother is proud of you!

12/23/14

Awesome story!

12/23/14

Great story! I am really proud you were able to do this! I am also an aspiring individual like your self trying to break into IB.

12/25/14

This was fucking incredible!

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