Stories of failure

On WSO I always see stories of success by long shot prospects, and I feel that has skewed my perspective of the difficulty of recruiting. With that being said, does anyone have failure stories to tell and how they dealt with it and ended up?

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Comments (43)

Jul 4, 2021 - 10:51am

You're not in real estate. You're an internet at a real state company.


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.
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Jul 3, 2021 - 1:20pm

After several rehab centers, long talks in church groups, and several court cases (she was raped and beaten by that guy) she is now in a government funded program with housing and educational facilities for women who come out of these scenarios. She is lucky to even be alive, based on what she took through the years and didn't die.

Jul 3, 2021 - 1:16pm

Yeah, that's why private school is good imo.  Even though there are a lot of dumbasses in any prep school most of them are set on getting a decent white collar job, they might just get drunk too often.  Very little crime, hard drugs, gangs, fights or anything like that thankfully. 

Jul 3, 2021 - 1:35pm

I went to a semi-target and was an idiot/didn't have a clue how to recruit. Most of my peers came from wealthy families in the NE so understood how the typical finance track worked so were way ahead of me in terms of networking etc. whereas I had no sense of all that.

Anyway long story short I struck out big time in IB recruiting, since I had no idea what I was doing and didn't prepare adequately. Ironically the only superday I got was with GS TMT, as I made a random connection with a partner there who told them to talk to me. Showed up to the superday and proceed to bomb every interview, like embarrassingly unprepared. Didn't get the job obviously. In hindsight maybe a blessing, though obviously it was an opportunity to put my career on a crazy trajectory very few get to be on.

I started scrambling for internships, wound up in PWM at a lesser known regional bank my junior summer where there wasn't a clear opportunity to be hired after but decided to make lemonade and work my ass off, be friendly with people and just not dwell on the fact that I didn't want to be there. It was basically a back office internship. All this time I followed the markets and tried to be as prepared as possible, and wound up impressing one of the senior MDs in the biggest team in terms of AUM/revenue in the bank and was lucky to get a return offer for a client-facing role.

Fast forward 5 years, I continued to work really hard and was promoted quickly, joined a well-known boutique RIA somewhere in there and now I'm going to get an MBA at an M7 program with a chance to kind of "reset" the recruiting mistakes I made in college.

I think if you work hard and try not to dwell on failure you can put yourself in a position to have new opportunities open up to you that you may not have considered before. I didn't love my job, but working hard allowed me to make a ton of connections and develop a good working relationship with lots of people, and that results in a strong network of people who want you to succeed whatever you do. It can't be understated how helpful that was for me getting into my program and will ultimately be when I'm looking for jobs in the coming years.

This may not be like complete failure story, but everyone stumbles at some point and I think how you respond to adversity really will define where you end up in 20+ years. Even for the GS TMT - MF PE - H/S people, life doesn't always go as planned and I think if you recognize that it will allow you to not dwell on the shit that doesn't go your way and focus on how to make the best of your situation. I'm sure luck played a big role for me too but I wouldn't have been in a position to get lucky if I didn't work hard too.

Idk if this is why you're looking for but figured I'd throw it out there.

Most Helpful
Jul 3, 2021 - 2:09pm

Really depends on how you define failure, but I have a few of my own. 

I was arrogant in high school, probably to make up for all of that insecurity. Had a bunch of dreams lined up and they fell one by one, so went into a spiral of depression. I had a long term girlfriend, plans to go to a prestigious university pre med, and just have a baller life. Girlfriend broke up (I still think she was in fact cheating), grades slipped, schools rejected me, I injured my back so I was in physical therapy for six months. Went to a local state school as pre med clueless to what I wanted out of life. 

I discovered WSO and decided IB was for me. I tried really hard to transfer but I got into another bad relationship, grades slipped, got rejected. I invested way too much time into these girls… By that time I figured my IB dream was probably gone. But I did enjoy my law classes, but law school is very expensive. Decided I'd sell homes to pay for law school. Invested too much time into work, grades slipped (honestly I just never did my damn homework), I was 21 making $80k a year or so while living at home. Quite a big change from working at Starbucks making maybe $15k a year if that. Decided I was going to drop out, but my parents talked me into staying one more semester. I met my now wife, graduated from state school, and decided being a realtor wasn't the life I wanted. I was unemployed and had spent my last remaining dime (custom suits, expensive alcohol, 2 Jaguars I totaled and a Mercedes that I still own). I decided Real Estate Development was for me. Wound up as a Project Engineer for a Development firm with an in house GC. 

I loved that at the start but became burnt out and jaded. I was still taking classes because I wanted to boost my GPA for my slim chances at a prestigious MBA program. I had been working full time and going to school for the past couple years at this point, was driving literally 4.5-5 hours per day, working long hours, and had a lot of racist coworkers (I'm Mexican and Russian ethnic Jew, so not the best mix for people who openly hate both).

At this point I was really depressed. My now wife, then girlfriend/ fiancée, and my family (I consider my best friends family), were keeping me afloat. I posted on WSO "Happiness and Reason for Living" or something like that, truly not sure if life was worth living as a failure. I know that's pretty dark, but that was my headspace at the time. It was the lowest I had ever been. 

I learned to code, ended up with a short term contract gig, rolled that into another contract to hire gig, got converted as a Senior Engineer at a finance firm, and that's where I'm at now. I also got married. While my total compensation is quite high, I would've never considered life working out this way. I took a very meandering path. 

I think the key is to never lose hope and never quit. I am NOT self made. If it wasn't for my loved ones, my closest friends (one of whom I actually met on this forum), even distant friends, and even this forum (big shoutout to CRE and thebrofessor, both have been really big helps here) I would not have taken these risks and pulled my life plane from a nose dive to a steady ascent. 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Jul 6, 2021 - 9:43am

Appreciate the shout-out, man. Hope you're doing well. 

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 6, 2021 - 10:53am

It was really kind of you to reach out when I was going through that. Things are going well! Hope all is well with you!

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Jul 9, 2021 - 1:14pm

Appreciate your advice!! Hope all is well with you

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Sep 10, 2021 - 4:04pm

I sold homes in Southern California, your commission is a percentage of home values so expensive homes mean more income. I also worked my face off during college and my GPA slipped as a result of that.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • Intern in PE - Growth
Jul 3, 2021 - 3:14pm

Fuck, where do I even start?

I was already born weird. My older sibling is strongly neurodiverse, so I developed a god complex, only fueled by parental expectations and the fact that I am indeed not a complete retard. Additionally, my social development kinda ended when I entered kindergarden, so I had no friends or anything in school. My parents divorced and I "moved down" socially, which was really fucked up. My older sibling and I both had criminal tendencies and almost got put into juvie several times. I got expelled from two high schools and had to repeat a class. My first "job" out of high school was a prestigious federal program I got kicked out of after two or so weeks - after I literally moved to the other side of the US for it. The "getting kicked out thing" got kinda into a regular thing for me by then. My GPA in UG was atrocious, I didn´t know anything about IB or shit, just wanted to "work on the stock market". Yeah, right. Fast forward, I´m graduating with a horrible GPA (think <2.5), still am thinking that I´m hot shit, in a shitty AM role in NYC. Kinda get my stuff together, thinking about doing an MFin or MBA. Whoops, too late by a few weeks. Try next year, champ. Okay, sure. Get another internship at tiny HF, damn, transactions are awesome. Get another internship at Big 4 audit, damn, audit is horrible. Apply to colleges after fucking crushing the GMAT, get accepted to low-tier target, surprise surprise, we pulled back your offer because of Covid and you´re not getting back the cash you forwarded, so you´re also in debt now. Get another offer from higher target (think T10), it´s going well, even more in debt, but fuck it. One year later, I´m getting my shit together. Old as balls as far as IB is concerned, but hustling harder than ever throughout the program. Now having a few interviews with T2 boutiques set up and a few friends in PE.

I mean, could be worse. I learned a lot over the course of my life. Still, I feel absolutely shitty over all the opportunities I wasted. Just don´t know what I would have changed. Guess I´m just built different.

Jul 3, 2021 - 9:06pm

been unemployed for the past 6 or 7 months after I stupidly quit my job for a new job that turned out to be a bust. dealt with some pretty tough mental health struggles recently, was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for 2 weeks in march after going off on some crazy tangent on instagram while I was in a bipolar manic state. feeling like a total failure right now tbh, been spending all day lying in bed because it feels like there is nothing to do.

Jul 4, 2021 - 2:10pm

What type of job are you looking for?

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
Jul 4, 2021 - 11:26pm

tbh idk at this point i'm looking for some kind of real estate analyst type of job, either with an owner or with a developer or with a bank or with a debt equity brokerage or with an investment sales brokerage. I'm also looking at credit analyst jobs at banks and also insurance underwriting jobs. i've had a couple of interviews just haven't converted anything into an offer. last time I was looking for a job I did something special to stand out so that it helped me secure a job but i'm not sure how to replicate that same kind of thing with one of these real estate analyst jobs. i'm open to pretty much any location so that's been helping with getting interviews a bit applying for jobs in more remote areas. tbh open to doing an internship too just cause I don't have that much relevant experience so I've been applying for internships now just haven't found anything yet.

Jul 4, 2021 - 11:29pm

I don't mind. There were red flags from the start. It was a commission only job with a real estate wholesaler. Seemed like a step up in responsibility as it would just be me and the other guy, and I was interested in doing some investing myself so I thought that it would help with learning how to value property in my area and be good experience. But I started working for the dude and the whole thing just seemed kind of shady, the whole operation of wholesaling, basically lying to sellers telling them you want to buy their property for a specific price when in actuality you don't intend to close on the property and you instead want to flip the contract. Sort of seems like what a real estate broker is for, bringing together buyers and sellers for a fee. I just didn't feel comfortable being associated with the operation.

Jul 4, 2021 - 8:00am

The vast majority of my life from 20 onward has been failure, but failure isn't fatal, just a roadblock.

ive been rejected from every business school I've applied to, I was denied every internship and job I gunned for in pwm, am, and consulting, and only got a job from a career fair at the tail end of my senior year, the division shut down 6 weeks after I started in a city I'd never visited 

before I became client facing, I tried to network my way into l/o am again, failed time and time again, maybe 5 jobs I gunned for, failed CFA exams multiple times after passing some easily.

then when I became client facing, it continued. It took me nearly a year of cold calling to get my first client, and even though I've got a solid base today, I'd put my close rate at no better than 70% off an initial hit rate (people contacted that actually hear a proposal) of maybe 5%.

I learned early on in the business that failure is normal, all of those cheesy sayings about michael Jordan missing tens of thousands of shots, baseball players missing countless swings/throws, they're all true. I heard from a mentor that if you stick with good behaviors, every rejection is just one step closer to a win, because if you do the right things for long enough, you will progress.

so yes, I have plenty of stories of failure, it's a part of life

Jul 4, 2021 - 9:52am

went to a semi-target uni, failed to get spring week, failed to get summer internship (partly due to C19 but mostly because of the quality of my applications), thought the finance dream was dead; last month I received two FT offers within a week of each other at very well respected shops. 

'Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.' - MJ

Jul 4, 2021 - 11:53pm

Started out in Big 4 auditing. I don't work there anymore, but I pray for the people I still know that do.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Jul 5, 2021 - 10:12am

Funny story (kind of). I was at a family function a year ago and this guy asked me what I wanted to do after school, I told him I wanted to be a real estate developer. He looks at me and says, "Forget about real estate, go and get a big4 job. It's the best thing a finance major can get coming out of school."

Jul 7, 2021 - 9:19am

I will say though, everyone that I know that has since left audit got pretty interesting jobs, especially some in real estate actually.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Jul 7, 2021 - 9:30am

To be perfectly honest, it is really unfortunate but I have seen a number of super exceptional people be sidelined by serious health issues. These things tend to happen as you progress through your 20s. On direct failure, Americans need to stop attributing their worth to society on the basis of their 9 to 9…

Jul 7, 2021 - 4:39pm

Got some pretty great stories from recruiting out of undergrad. Went to a state school, at the time was top 40 in the US. Double majored in English and Economics. Came in as an honors student, missed the GPA cutoff to stay in the program by hundredth of a point (think 3.74 when needing a 3.75) the end of my Sophomore year. Carried on still taking honors classes, slipped a bit with an illness junior year, battled back and graduated with a good GPA. I had no real internship other than my junior summer at a small niche real estate company. Graduated without a job lined up due to some ridiculous setbacks in recruiting. Had two good job offers in real estate pulled due to HR error (needed someone two months before I graduated) and failing a psych test which to this day I have no idea how that happened since it was very obvious what the test was looking for. Worked as a back at the small niche company essentially cold calling while continuing to recruit. Landed a back office contract job at a FinTech firm and wasnt hired on after the duration. Back recruiting had essentially almost everything happen you can think of, was ghosted on a phone interview with no explanation, ghosted on a virtual interview with no explanation, told in the first min of a final virtual interview they had given the job to someone else, purposely interviewed for the wrong job that I didnt apply for, recruiters and headhunters reached out for an interview and then ghost me before we even have the interview, and rejected via phone call from an interview before I even got to my car on the way out. Essentially had everything happen besides showing up to an interview and being ghosted there. Finally ended up in a pseudo MO/BO role at another FinTech company in a bigger city, did that for almost two years and ended up where I am now, working in procurement on a team of 12 managing the almost 3 billion in spend for a public manufacturing company. I am looking to leave as the pay just doesnt match what I have done, saved the company over 5 million dollars since Ive been here and have overseen close to 50 million in budgeted spend programs with some of our biggest vendors for roughly 70k all-in in a reasonably cost city compared to NYC, LA, SF, etc., but much higher cost of living than most of the country. I am sure there will continue to be failure as I look for another job, as failure is a guaranteed part of life. All you can do is learn from it and continue to improve as you keep going and eventually get to where you want to be.

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Jul 8, 2021 - 3:33pm

Health issues held me back in school for years and years.

Yet people assume you're stupid for entering uni at a much older age when you just simply do not wish to reveal private information about yourself on why you entered uni late.

  • Associate 1 in VC
Sep 10, 2021 - 4:28pm

I once interviewed to work at a large multi national alternative asset management firm in their client relationship department for private equity. The job would be to manage marketing materials, some slides, and correspond to LPs whos money is in the fund and support the sales team (fundraisers). I was able to get this because my mentor throughout college worked there and heard they needed a junior and I had experience in this area in internships. I went through the interview process nailed every interview all the way up to the global head herself. Apparently I did a very good job but there had been a problem with client service people bailing to the sales side (where the money is) and 1. The person asked my mentor "why wasn't he hired by a Goldman or jpm what's wrong with him?" As if that's just a simple thing lol. 2. She then concluded "he's capable but I think he'd be a better fit in a sales role for his career." She was right haha but I wanted a start! I was crushed did not get an offer and my mentor was embarrassed and angry about the whole situation. Later found out 2 people hired instead both failed one girl from an Ivy who didn't write anything down thought she was a genius and flopped and then a guy who tried to get fired because he didn't like the hours lmao. None of them were referred internally but it's something me and my mentor laugh about now.

Sep 12, 2021 - 12:40pm

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