I've been posting here for a while now, and it's been just under a month since I secured my first SA offer and I realized that I still hadn't taken the time to thank the WSO community for how much they helped me. So, get comfortable because this will be a long one.
First, a little back story about myself. I just finished my freshman year, and I go to a Non-Target in the Midwest. Our OCR is terrible except for one recognizable bank. I didn't pick my UG with my carrer in mind, in fact I made the last minute decision to go there against going to Norwich University which would have been a totally different life style. Initially I started as an Economics major because although I didn't know what I wanted to do yet, I loved being able to explain and understand why certain things happen in the world, and studying economics allowed me to learn and understand a lot more about what was going on in the country.
So, my first semester I fucked everything up. I was pledging a fraternity, drinking, partying, and having fun with drugs all the time. Being a student was at the bottom of my list. Everyone always seems to have a certain moment when they realize that they need to get their shit together, and frankly, mine came one night after finals where within 2 hours I had learned that I would A) not be initiated with the rest of my pledge class due to my grades, and have to go through pledging again, and B) I would have to appeal the university to not be dismissed. Wow, that night fucking sucked. What really hurt me the most wasn't that my parents and friends were disappointed in me, but that I was disappointed in myself. I knew that I wasn't in this situation because I was stupid or I couldn't handle the workload, I had just been lazy and was performing no where near close to my potential. That was when I decided I needed to make a change.
Two days after I started my winter break I was contacted by the compliance officer of a boutique IM shop that my Dad is a PM for. She was a family friend, and she called and asked me if I wanted to come in over my break to help out with a large project their firm had just taken on so I could earn some cash for next spring. I accepted, and two days later I was in a suit and tie. It wasn't glamorous work at all - it mainly consisted of data entry and filing, but since my Dad did work there he would invite me in to sit in on a fair amount of client meetings. I spent the last week of my break up in NYC going to meetings with him. Somewhere between walking through the lobbies and halls of, MS, and among a few others and listening in on the meetings I decided that finance was where I needed to be.
This was when I found WSO.
I wanted to learn absolutely everything there was about the finance world, so I started reading all sorts of websites. Unsurprisingly, IB was the main focus of the majority of what I found. But after reading through what exactly IB entailed I decided that wasn't for me. I was way more interested in how the market worked, what made it go up and down, what affected stock prices, and how to get the best bang for your buck in the market. So the IM/world was where I wanted to head. Right around when the Spring semester started I started filling my spare time reading heaps of books. Graham, Dodd, Swenson, Klarman, etc - I couldn't get enough of it.
However, thanks to my pitiful first semester GPA I knew that I wouldn't be able to take my freshman summer off and start interning after my sophomore year. I was already behind the 8 ball and that was a place I did not want to be. Except, I really didn't know what to do. It was February at this point and I knew that the majority of banks had already started interviewing. This was where WSO became my gold mind. I would spend hours reading through every thread on WSO over how to network, how to cold call and cold email people, what worked and what didn't work for people - I was network crazy.
I would spend my nights scouring my Fraternity and UG networks for anyone who seemed to have a job relevant to what I wanted to do. I would draft my emails and then wake up at 7 to hit the send button to ensure they saw my message before the market opened. This method turned out to be extremely useful and I was soon getting 80% of my emails returned within 3 days. I can't take credit for it though, I read the idea in a WSO thread.
The first couple of phone calls went rough, but after a while I really started getting my story down straight and mystarted being extremely productive. It wasn't until early April when I got my first good feeling about a position. A Sr. Analyst at a MM IB in their ER department really enjoyed my story and attitude, and decided to bring me in for an interview. Unfortunately, he and I both had conflicting schedules, and we were never able to meet face to face, so we conducted two conference call interviews with himself, and then the final one with himself and the Head of Research for the firm. Interviewing has always come naturally to me, as I'm a pretty personable person and I've always been comfortable speaking in public. So, by the end of April the impossible had happened - the non-target freshman with a 1st semester GPA of
I can't really explain how good it felt to get that phone call. There were times where my whole situation felt utterly helpless and I just wanted to give up. However, I found myself coming onto WSO every day and reading every new thread and finding that there were people with just as many questions and concerns as I had. The community here has really been warming to me, and I'd really be hard pressed to find another forum where every single member was helping and rooting for every one else to attain what some people consider a very top-tier job.
This really has been sort of a "rebirthing" semester for me. I wanted to make sure that this was a solid semester for me academically so I was only enrolled in 9 credit hours. I had taken a bunch of AP courses in High School, so I had room to slack on my course load. I still have more credits than the majority of incoming sophomores. However, I was in an upper level course where the only grade was the final, and 60% of the class failed the final - including me, so the professor just gave everyone who failed a 60%. So other than an A+ and a B+ in my other two courses that brought me down to a 2.5...fuck.
But anyway, sorry for the super long read, I just felt like there was a lot to my story which I wanted to share. I hope that those of you who took the time to read through the whole thing can find some sort of inspiration in that however bad your situation may seem, there's always a chance that it may work out favorably in your way.
I still have a long way to go to reach my goal of spending the summer at ain NYC, with any luck I'll be able to swing that next summer.
So thanks WSO for all of the wonderful advice and support!