UG PE Analyst - 2.9 GPA, no internship, non-target

Mod Note (Andy) - as the year comes to an end we're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #25 and was originally posted 9/20/2015.

From Non-Target Undergrad Straight to PE

I've had some downtime the last few weeks before I start my new role and have been mulling over making a post on WSO, long time lurker, first time writer. I feel exceptionally lucky to have landed a buy-side gig (at at PE firm no less) straight out of undergrad with minimal experience, no "prestigious" internships, a horrible GPA, little to no alumni to tap.....frankly I could make a post dedicated to the list of hurdles I've faces for the last 3 years. I would like to throw my story out there as a counter to the conventional structured wisdom on WSO and present an alternative narrative to those aspiring to enter into principal investing and private equity.

Since my firm and school are quite small and I'd like to maintain my identity I will be intentionally vague about some details and focus on the meat of my story.

I graduated in 2014 as a finance/econ double major from a regionally well regarded liberal arts university with a strong track record of producing successful professional track graduates, but one with no national recognition, finance recruiting (we are one of the top schools in the country for accounting however), few if any alumni in corp. fin/IBD/PE/HF/PM/etc., and with no faculty from any of the above. In short, probably the worst setup possible from someone trying to get into a PE firm.

I had one internship sophomore year doing international trade and what I like to term "physical commodity arbitrage" for a company based out of Mexico. Unfortunately, I had a PE internship fall through right before junior summer began, but I'm still friends with the MD to this day (it's a small world people). My overall GPA was 2.9, and I'm rounding up, however my GPA my final 4 semesters was 3.4, and my MGPA was 3.5 - we have an unusual grading distribution and the median and average grade in a finance course at my school is a C+/B-, even in senior seminar - in other words I was one of if not the best finance student in my year. I also studied for CFA Level 1 my senior year and passed with flying colors.

I started out as an economics major, and figured out quite quickly that I hated the theoretical aspects of the subject and was more interested in it's application, so I switched my focus to finance beginning Junior year. I had a lot of time as a rising sophomore to do research and read - I actually spent part of that summer reading Security Analysis - 1951 - and figure out what kind of coursework I should take and what the 2nd half of my college education would look like. Upon returning from holiday I immediately started taking finance courses and in tandem started taking upper division accounting and digging into the world of finance. After about 6 months, I had figured out that if I wanted any kind of career in finance I would have to get out there, start meeting people, learn how to present myself, and develop a level of maturity beyond "above average", so I started attending alumni functions and went so far as to fly to several events in different top 10 metro areas to network. Nothing really came of it, but it was good experience. A few months later I coincidentally ran into an alumni who at the time was a director (now an MD) at a >$1B PE fund and ended up having an interview with him. It was my first contact with someone in principal investing and his story uniquely resonated with me as opposed to some HF and IM professionals I had met and found interesting. For me, the tangibility of PE, and the opportunity to be hands on with your investments and have a definitive impact was enthralling, and I kept in contact with him, and had a few meals. I also networked through an ex-board trustee who introduced me to a director at F50 company who introduced me to a young guy (30s) who runs a >$2B public holding co with a PE strategy, and he as well had a uniquely interesting story that resonated - he is extremely hands on with his investments as well. Those two people really sparked my interest in PE and are the reason why I chose to pursue a career in the space.

When I graduated I was a fish out of water - no job offer, no prospects, no nada. I spent time after graduation studying for CFA L1, took a few weeks after the exam to recharge from a senior year from hell (IBD hours every week), and started looking for a job in July. I had some prospects going when I decided to reach out to a boutique bank in town, and struck up a conversation with one of the MDs about how I'd never seen him at a CFA function. He invited me to meet his analysts and a day later they offered me a job. It was less than ideal - I was working as a "consultant" ie. a part-time analyst due to their level of deal flow, but I was working on PE due diligence for a few companies that our MDs were considering investing in and turning around (my MD was a M7 MBA with a MBB consulting background). I had, without realizing it, found a spot working in PE, even though I wasn't being paid well and had 0 job security. However the deal experience was invaluable, and I learned a ton.

When I was hired by this boutique Investment/Merchant Bank, the partners were very upfront that I probably wouldn't be there long because of deal-flow and their current analyst/associate pool, so I took a few interviews, including with several top notch boutiques and BBs, but really fumbled hard with my story and my work experience and although I managed to make it to final rounds with some exceptionally competitive firms was unable to land a single offer. I stopped working for this firm around November/December 2014, which looks rather bad on a resume to work for only 5 months before leaving. Christmas and New Year went by, and really everything from mid-January till now really blends together into one continuous timeline marked by incremental successes.

The one major event in between was I began studying for Level 2 CFA in February and ultimately passed the June 2015 exam. I cannot articulate strongly enough how important an event studying for level 2, and passing it, was for my job search. It doesn't matter what space you're in, no one with ever doubt your technical savvy if you're a CFA candidate with at least one, and preferably two exams under your belt - the material you are REQUIRED to know in order to pass those first two exams puts you far above most IBD analysts/associates in terms of financial and accounting knowledge. While it may not teach modeling skills, you really must have an intuitive grasp and truly understand the mechanical and theoretical aspects of financial statements to pass, which will get you past numerous technical questions/teasers and give you a unrivaled skill set to critically evaluate financial case studies which are part of the PE interview process and your day-to-day job.

From January to August, I really can't even begin to count the number of interviews I've had. For those of you who care, the list includes JPM, Goldman, Piper, RBC, Cowen, multiple other MM banks, several endowments/sovereign wealth funds in the 10's+ billions, probably 20-30 PE funds....it's a long list. I also turned down multiple offers during that time from things I didn't really want to do long term like portfolio management and real estate PE. I decided to keep interviewing full time because I saw continued improvement with my interview prospects, the frequency with which I was contacted by PE firms, and how far into the interview process I was able to get within PE/IBD. If I had been shaken out consistently in the first or 2nd round, I would likely have caved much sooner, but I was able to consistently make it to 3rd, 4th, and final rounds with strong firms, and lost closely to a pool of 2-3 other people, all of which were associate level hires to my fresh undergrad resume with ~6mo IBD + CFA L2 Candidate. I knew that if I kept at it, eventually things would fall my way and this back log of associate level hires would pan out.

Eventually they did, and I passed Level 2 CFA (2/2 so far baby), and I'm starting my new gig in October. I'll be working for a PE firm with a fixed capital base (yes, we are not a private equity "fund" per-say), working directly under the CIO, leading the due diligence process, portfolio company integration, transaction financing, participating/presenting in board & hold-co. level meetings, etc. and I'll have an office with a window, at 23, and all with the ridiculously stacked-against background that I have.

If I could identify two things that made me truly unique, and that ultimately differentiated me from a host of 2nd year analysts/1st year associates landing me a coveted spot which was advertised as a post BB/MM IB analyst program pre-MBA associate job (312 resumes last I checked with my boss), one is the ability to be articulate, and the other is genuine intellectual curiosity. It's unbelievable easy to find someone who can build a complicated excel model and has technical abilities, but asking that person to walk another person through the model, detail their assumptions, be concise in doing so, and answer questions while conveying understand, is a rare skill. At the end of the day, it's all about making things tangible for someone else - maybe that means thinking up a metaphor on the spot to explain a revenue accrual, or intuitively explaining the pitfalls of a valuation methodology in a way that makes sense to your grandmother, if you can do that, someone will eventually see that skill and recognize how rare and valuable it is when working closely with the partnership or a portfolio company. Secondly, having genuine intellectual curiosity - unlike investment banking, investing requires a creative mind and type, which is essential to vetting deals and seeing pitfalls/opportunities no one else does. At a typical PE firm, you will end up investing in maybe 2-3 deals a year, out of over 100 evaluated, or many more depending on firm size, every year. If you don't find the evaluative process interesting - picking up a new product, learning about it, understanding how it works, is made/marketed/serviced/used, and enjoy questioning facts and the status-quot, you may make it to final rounds, but will never get an offer.

I'll add a couple of things for housekeeping before I end this post.

The interview process was as follows:
Applied via LinkedIn - I have a flashy color resume, and yes, the color is red
Contacted 1w later, phone call next day

1st round: 30-40 minute call, long form elevator pitch followed by unique technical questions stemming from the firms current portfolio companies, invited to case study 2nd round at the end

2nd round: provided CIM (Confidential Information Memo, in case you're in undergrad) from one of the partners former investments, also given previous year of financial statements in excel - asked to create a full month-by-month lbo model with tax schedule over a defined investment period, and do a short write up on the investment - given 24 hours to return a model and materials - essentially a firedrill. I ended up running out of time, emailed the partner my work at the 24 hour mark, explained that I was having some difficulty linking the schedules he asked from back to the circular LBO model but that the rest of the model was build and functioning, and he offered me more time. (be honest, humble and willing to admit if you can't finish something, rather than turn in a half-ass product and hope it gets by)

3rd round: week after I turned in my model, partner setup a call to discuss it, the logic behind my assumptions, gave me another few technical questions, and invited me to fly up and meet with him

4th round: flew up the following week to meet with the partner, was given another case study in person - no modeling, just a really, really, really difficult scenario that required a lot of financial statement knowledge to solve, was immediately given an offer in the room upon solving the case study in ~5 minutes. Called from the airport to accept, with the stipulation that I would receive an office, with an outside window.

Comp was offered at 55+30, reset at the end of 15', very much in-line with the industry, if not slightly above after we renegotiate after he's seen a few months of work product (I'm a Level III CFA Candidate too, for crying out loud). Could have negotiated higher but I'd rather not fight for 5-10k more this year when i can ask for 30-40 more next year, at least. It's better to to prove yourself anyway.

I guess I'd like to end this post with a note to the community: WSO has been helpful, while there is plenty of bullshit here, there is also plenty of good information and it's been helpful to peruse it over the years, and educational to have to read between the two. It's been a far better resource, combined with a fair number of blogs and interviews, than my university career services was.

Comments (41)

Sep 14, 2015

Great post and SB+. On a side note, I was wondering if you think that you could have done better if you had spent your time on learning financial modelling courses like WSO and M&I instead of CFA. Thanks.

Sep 14, 2015

Thank you for sharing this.

Sep 14, 2015

Good write up, thanks for the insight. So you're basically saying the whole 'CFA is useless' train of thought on WSO is bullshit? Just out of curiosity, how long did you spend learning everything other than CFA material (financial statements etc.)?

+SB

Best Response
Sep 14, 2015

I don't think you can really weigh the CFA AGAINST additional modeling skills from M&I/WSO/Training the Street/etc., because they're very different animals in terms of time commitment and they aren't mutually exclusive by any means. I think there is value to be had in those programs for some people, but not for myself, and that the financial skills from the CFA curriculum are far more useful. The first lbo model I ever built, I just used a template as a reference and built my own up from scratch. If you can sit down, given a Balance Sheet and Income Statement, and build up a statement of cash flows without googling line items to make sure you know where they're classified (any CFA candidate worth their salt can do this), you can build a circular LBO model without much trouble. It's hard to start to describe how insane the CFA curriculum is, especially at level 2, with regard to financial statement analysis. My favorite example is you must know how to reclassify changes in the funded status of a pension liability/asset......to the statement of cash flows (seriously, go look it up)....there are just so many little things like that, and when you're in a room with someone pitching yourself, you can point to that knowledge (for example), and the many other financial adjustment you know you can look for and perform, and say, do your current analysts know how to do that? The answer is of course, no. And those little adjustments are just 5% of the exam material or less. It will give you an extremely strong base of knowledge to draw upon, one that goes into far more nuanced financial detail than even an MBA program gives you.

I heavily over studied for level 1 - I really wanted to pass it straight out of school and have that stamp of approval, and it was so much more interesting that my senior corp. fin. class - so I actually spent ~300 hours studying. I used Kaplan. For level 2 I slacked off and maybe studied 150-200 hours. I think the time commitment for the CFA pays majors dividends for the rest of your career, and, as a I said above, no one ever has to question you and drill you with teasers with it on your resume. The vast majority of senior bankers/investors/transaction professionals I've met were extremely impressed that I was working towards the charter, and it was amusing how many blanched at the though of the exams (there are a LOT of failed candidates out there who couldn't hack it and got an MBA instead) and who took me much more seriously as a result, so much so that I was, as aforementioned, competing neck and neck with pre-MBA associate level hires.

Passing the CFA exams says two things 1. you're smart and you're willing to work hard without someone looking over your shoulder, you can go out and work independently and 2. you have a deep and genuine passion for finance, and are committed to a career as an investment professional. No one in their right mind would study for 800-1000 hours if they didn't find the material interesting and intellectually stimulating.

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Sep 15, 2015

Thanks for the reply but I am more inclined to believe that having the WSO/M&I courses are more beneficial than CFA if these courses are mutually exclusive after your reply as well. On a side note, I was wondering if you could share your opinion on whether you would take a BB IBD job over your current MM PE job after you had interviewed for both types of jobs. Thanks and gave another SB+.

Sep 16, 2015

Great point. The overwhelming WSO sentiment is that the CFA is not worth the time/money investment unless you're on a specific career track (ER or AM research analyst), but it's definitely been very worth it for myself and many others in all areas on finance. Good luck with level 3!

Sep 14, 2015

Beautiful story. It is really interesting that you're 1 year out of college and got interviews with JPM/GS. I'm told to believe by this forum that recruiting is impossible without SA, yet you got interviews a year after graduating. My question is, I thought most of these MM/BB banks are very structured in recruiting. How did you get interviews as a college graduate w/o MBA, and between the months of january to august? I was seriously considering to delay my graduation to have another shot at SA, but if one can get interviews out of college, then maybe I should just graduate..

Sep 14, 2015

I managed to get those kinds of interviews for a number of reasons all working together. I've got a really fantastic looking resume that recruiters and HR immediately notice and pay attention too. It's in full color with red accents and tasteful use of bold and grey contrast . It looks like something a senior creative professional would use, and it REALLY sticks out from all the black/white, and sparks HR's initial interest. (I'll assume your resume has enough "keywords" on it to get through a robo screen.)

Banks ALWAYS have off season recruiting, and it pays to stick around, and keep in touch with HR staff once you have a contact. Even if you interview and get rejected, if you have a good soft-skills game, they'll reconsider you when something else you're interested in comes up later, especially once you get into the MM banks where 2-3 recruiters manage all front office hires (Hello Piper), it's a small world people. As much as I'd like to rag on HR, they aren't completely stupid, and they recognize that candidates who make 3-4th rounds may have lost out for lots of reasons outside their control, and that they may still be a good fit on another team/for a different MD.

I got interviews with some of them through networking - I'm family friends with a female JPM MD for instance, who "retired" to have kids - and some through cold calling/emailing senior professionals/group heads. Take the advice of Brad Hintz ("A Job on Wall Street" is a must read IMO) and be a cat burglar, keeping an eye out for any way into an investment bank/PE firm/etc., and trying every window possible, including submitting your resume on linkedin or though HR, as painful as that can be.

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Sep 14, 2015
wanttobreakin111:

Beautiful story. It is really interesting that you're 1 year out of college and got interviews with JPM/GS. I'm told to believe by this forum that recruiting is impossible without SA, yet you got interviews a year after graduating. My question is, I thought most of these MM/BB banks are very structured in recruiting. How did you get interviews as a college graduate w/o MBA, and between the months of january to august? I was seriously considering to delay my graduation to have another shot at SA, but if one can get interviews out of college, then maybe I should just graduate..

Yeah but what sort of jobs at GS/JPM? I mean he turned them down for an 85k all-in salary, so I doubt it was in their IBD division. GS/JPM aren't that exclusive when it comes to things like financial reporting, corporate treasury, credit research, etc.

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Sep 14, 2015

I enjoy reading your long post. It looks like you have alot of experiences in the recruiting process. Did you notice any patterns for your phone interviews, do they generally ask the same questions/ do you provide an in-depth answer, and generally how long does it last?

Thank you.

Sep 14, 2015

The most common teaser/technical questions stem from differences between accounting concepts and cash flow - this can be deferred revenue, depreciation, receivable charges, off balance sheet financing - because they're an easy way to test if you understand how all 3 financial statements work together mechanically, and also because accounting concepts are fairly arcane and mysterious. Your answers need to be technically correct, but partner level guys also want to see if you can explain these concepts in plain English. Most people at the analyst/associate level in IB and PE have greater technical expertise than many mid-upper level managers at portfolio companies, and it' important that you be able to work with other people, communicate clearly and effectively, and not "blow everyone out of the water" with your technical brilliance.

Especially when it comes to PE firms, they really like to hammer down cash-flow calculations, and you should understand that there are MULTIPLE ways to calculate FCFF, and they do not all result in the same number. You can justify a FCFF calculation using modifications to EBITDA, NOPAT, or as your college professor will teach you, from Net Income/Operating Cash flow, and that you recognize that as a PE investor, you are are control investor, and take a very difference stance on these calculations because you are able to control capital structure.

Your answers should ultimately be concise and articulate.

I've had interviews all over the place, generally if they go well, 30-40 minutes, but I've also spent 90 minutes on a call with an associate trying not to fall out of my chair from laughing. But I wouldn't read into time too much - some partners are extremely busy and may have carved out 20 minutes because they really wanted to speak with you. Don't take a long or short interview too personally, you never know what someone else is up to, so sit back, and don't refresh your email every 5 minutes - if they liked you, you can be assured they'll reach back out as soon as they can.

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Sep 14, 2015

I swear, I thought I was the only person who used that phrase "blow everyone out the water" at least once in their lifetime.

Thank your insight. Yeah, I've been refreshing my email every 5 mins for like 3 days now... LOL

Sep 14, 2015

55 base and 30 bonus? Is that low for 23? I thought PE gigs like this earned more

Sep 14, 2015

He said the pay resets at the end of 2015 and he may have some negotiation power.

Big congrats to him, 85k at age 23 is fucking good, not everyone is on track to Blackstone at 23.
He has a good attitude, I think it will carry him far

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Sep 14, 2015

Congrats, man! That is a great story full of perseverance. I know that Level II struggle - big accomplishment by the way.

Sep 14, 2015

Congrats on the offer and best of luck!

Quick question. Did you list your GPA on your resume when applying ?

Sep 14, 2015

Congratulations and thanks for doing this. Is "A Job on Wall Street" by Scott Hoover?

Sep 15, 2015
stoked365:

55 base and 30 bonus? Is that low for 23? I thought PE gigs like this earned more

As an Analyst, that is very much in line with the industry. Comp overall is lower at junior levels compared to banking, and again, I'm an analyst, not a 2.5 year pre-MBA associate, so of course comp is lower compared to associates. The upside really comes later anyway, and frankly, we're talking about a small amount of money compared with what partners/principals make. Whats far more valuable is the quality deal experience and responsibilities I'll be given, which will set me up nicely for a M7 MBA (Our partners/board are well regarded HBS/Columbia/Warton), or a run at a Mega Fund, or continue to grow in the MM/LMM. There really are no bad options. Money is the least of my possible worries.

kufco:

Congrats on the offer and best of luck!

Quick question. Did you list your GPA on your resume when applying ?

I did not. For many people, the CFA speaks volumes about your academic prowess and it was just assumed I had good grades, and for those few who did ask, 85% understood the drivers of my poor overall GPA (C's and a D in liberal arts courses). For the 15% left over, who cares? If you're such a hardass that you can't look past a few mistakes, that were identified and corrected successfully, I don't want to work for you anyway.

plow:

Congratulations and thanks for doing this. Is "A Job on Wall Street" by Scott Hoover?

Brad Hintz - A "How to" Guide to Wall Street Careers.

One of the best pieces I've ever read on wall street careers, and I think visually, seeing him lay out your odds, is beyond insightful. Too bad it's a little referenced piece, because now a day, it's more relevant than ever with the commoditization of analysts/associates in banking

http://d1z8aenxk3z1kj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/up...

wikileaks:

He said the pay resets at the end of 2015 and he may have some negotiation power.

Big congrats to him, 85k at age 23 is fucking good, not everyone is on track to Blackstone at 23.
He has a good attitude, I think it will carry him far

Thanks for making my point for me. Don't get me wrong, money is great, and I'd like to have an Aston by the time I'm 28, but if you're on this website and pursuing a career on the buy-side because of money, you won't last long and you'll certainly never make partner. Just like any other occupation in life, you have to enjoy it, in-and-of itself, and if you're satisfied and good at what you do, the money will come.

Sep 15, 2015

Too bad I can't SB you twice. You have a damn good attitude man, you'll go much farther than those Harvard Blackstone kids that only entered for money. My dream is ultimately to work for a middle market late stage fund. I really enjoy the idea of working with management and helping to grow business. Megafund associate/analyst work sounds like shit anyway, IBD 2.0 overpaid secretary-slaves. It's not always about the pay/prestige.

Sep 15, 2015
Middle Market PE:

stoked365: 55 base and 30 bonus? Is that low for 23? I thought PE gigs like this earned more

As an Analyst, that is very much in line with the industry. Comp overall is lower at junior levels compared to banking, and again, I'm an analyst, not a 2.5 year pre-MBA associate, so of course comp is lower compared to associates. The upside really comes later anyway, and frankly, we're talking about a small amount of money compared with what partners/principals make. Whats far more valuable is the quality deal experience and responsibilities I'll be given, which will set me up nicely for a M7 MBA (Our partners/board are well regarded HBS/Columbia/Warton), or a run at a Mega Fund, or continue to grow in the MM/LMM. There really are no bad options. Money is the least of my possible worries.

kufco: Congrats on the offer and best of luck!
Quick question. Did you list your GPA on your resume when applying ?

I did not. For many people, the CFA speaks volumes about your academic prowess and it was just assumed I had good grades, and for those few who did ask, 85% understood the drivers of my poor overall GPA (C's and a D in liberal arts courses). For the 15% left over, who cares? If you're such a hardass that you can't look past a few mistakes, that were identified and corrected successfully, I don't want to work for you anyway.

plow: Congratulations and thanks for doing this. Is "A Job on Wall Street" by Scott Hoover?

Brad Hintz - A "How to" Guide to Wall Street Careers.

One of the best pieces I've ever read on wall street careers, and I think visually, seeing him lay out your odds, is beyond insightful. Too bad it's a little referenced piece, because now a day, it's more relevant than ever with the commoditization of analysts/associates in bankinghttp://d1z8aenxk3z1kj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/up...

wikileaks: He said the pay resets at the end of 2015 and he may have some negotiation power.
Big congrats to him, 85k at age 23 is fucking good, not everyone is on track to Blackstone at 23.
He has a good attitude, I think it will carry him far

Thanks for making my point for me. Don't get me wrong, money is great, and I'd like to have an Aston by the time I'm 28, but if you're on this website and pursuing a career on the buy-side because of money, you won't last long and you'll certainly never make partner. Just like any other occupation in life, you have to enjoy it, in-and-of itself, and if you're satisfied and good at what you do, the money will come.

Giving advice already? Give me a break, youre at a shit small PE shop, you seriously giving the "enjoy it and the money will come" speech?

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Sep 16, 2015

His whole point is to go against what the majority of WSO thinks and not giving up hope when odds are against you.

And yes, he might not be at the best PE shop, but he knows his career is a marathon and not a sprint. I'm sure with his attitude, he will be at a pretty decent spot. Just my 0.02.

Sep 17, 2015
dontbugme:

Middle Market PE: stoked365: 55 base and 30 bonus? Is that low for 23? I thought PE gigs like this earned more
As an Analyst, that is very much in line with the industry. Comp overall is lower at junior levels compared to banking, and again, I'm an analyst, not a 2.5 year pre-MBA associate, so of course comp is lower compared to associates. The upside really comes later anyway, and frankly, we're talking about a small amount of money compared with what partners/principals make. Whats far more valuable is the quality deal experience and responsibilities I'll be given, which will set me up nicely for a M7 MBA (Our partners/board are well regarded HBS/Columbia/Warton), or a run at a Mega Fund, or continue to grow in the MM/LMM. There really are no bad options. Money is the least of my possible worries.
kufco: Congrats on the offer and best of luck!
Quick question. Did you list your GPA on your resume when applying ?
I did not. For many people, the CFA speaks volumes about your academic prowess and it was just assumed I had good grades, and for those few who did ask, 85% understood the drivers of my poor overall GPA (C's and a D in liberal arts courses). For the 15% left over, who cares? If you're such a hardass that you can't look past a few mistakes, that were identified and corrected successfully, I don't want to work for you anyway.
plow: Congratulations and thanks for doing this. Is "A Job on Wall Street" by Scott Hoover?
Brad Hintz - A "How to" Guide to Wall Street Careers.
One of the best pieces I've ever read on wall street careers, and I think visually, seeing him lay out your odds, is beyond insightful. Too bad it's a little referenced piece, because now a day, it's more relevant than ever with the commoditization of analysts/associates in bankinghttp://d1z8aenxk3z1kj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/up... wikileaks: He said the pay resets at the end of 2015 and he may have some negotiation power.
Big congrats to him, 85k at age 23 is fucking good, not everyone is on track to Blackstone at 23.
He has a good attitude, I think it will carry him far
Thanks for making my point for me. Don't get me wrong, money is great, and I'd like to have an Aston by the time I'm 28, but if you're on this website and pursuing a career on the buy-side because of money, you won't last long and you'll certainly never make partner. Just like any other occupation in life, you have to enjoy it, in-and-of itself, and if you're satisfied and good at what you do, the money will come.

Giving advice already? Give me a break, youre at a shit small PE shop, you seriously giving the "enjoy it and the money will come" speech?

Wow and I thought I knew how to troll

D.I.

Sep 15, 2015

Low GPA people but strong work ethic unite.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

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Sep 15, 2015

+SB
Excellent read, thanks for sharing.

Sep 15, 2015

Wow this is inspiring, I posted a similar situation or advice about my GPA problem. I have a worse GPA than you (sub 2.5). I was grilled on it by a MM. The person didnt really seem like the person I would want to work for anyway. But I have about 4 banking internships, and I am still not sure how that will match up with full-time recruiting. JPM usually loves screening and dinging because of GPA. I have been networking and havent reached much progress. I started with two BBs (anyone from MDs down to associates). One day I would like to work in PE, but thats down the line if I get an MBA. The point I want to make is that I have a similar strong ethnic to yours and I have found ways that could help me stand out, but its always been an uphill battle to prove I can do the work.

Sep 15, 2015

Interesting how you were able to basically substitute the CFA for your GPA. IBD/PE tends to be really hardheaded about GPA, irrespective of school, major, or circumstances.

Great work and thanks for sharing your story.

Sep 15, 2015

+1 SB for you. Phenomenal story, and you have an almost intimidating work ethic. I also liked seeing how creative one can be with the CFA.

Sep 15, 2015
Woozy:

Thanks for the reply but I am more inclined to believe that having the WSO/M&I courses are more beneficial if CFA and these courses are mutually exclusive after your reply as well. On a side note, I was wondering if you could share your opinion on whether you would take a BB IBD job over your current MM PE job after you had interviewed for both types of jobs. Thanks and gave another SB+.

Absolutely not. Most of our partners and board were very senior BB bankers, have been involved in PE ever since they left, and as mentioned, are just as pedigreed in terms of education. Their former analysts/associates are at HBS, Carlyle, Blackstone...., most of who joined the firm straight out of school or with <= 1 year on their resume.

Sep 15, 2015

Just wondering, what word of advice would you give someone if they were trying to break in the fund you are in. Perhaps if they were not going for the CFA route and had the same situation as you. How could these partners be proven that regardless or GPA and school that the person got what it takes? Any ideas? Perhaps PE training out of school or LBO classes?

Sep 15, 2015

At the end of my interviews, after I had been extended a verbal offer and before I left his office, I asked my boss what his process was, what he was trying to identify though each round of interviews.

  1. Technical ability - 85-90% of applicants are automatically thrown out because they lack the basic financial skills necessary to answer teaser questions (His questions were harder, but for instance: If depreciation changes X, what happens to the 3 financial statements). Most people fumble these questions because they don't actually know how financial statements, accruals, and cash flow work together, and even if they do, they aren't very good at explaining it.
  2. Excel skills - you can teach a monkey to build an lbo model with about 4 hours, but you can't teach someone if they don't have a good grasp of excel and programming. You should start early, from your first finance class in undergrad, use Excel to complete your homework, and get comfortable with formatting, and making your work look neat. I also had 2 semesters of computer science (I can code in Python and Scala) which gave me a huge leg up on excel VBA. Being able to creatively solve problems in excel so that your model is FLEXIBLE and TRANSPARENT is essential.
  3. Intellectual curiosity - The X factor. As i eluded to in my narrative, I think this was the clincher for me, and why I received an offer over the other final candidate. Investors want people who can think critically for themselves and who are highly-motivated problem solvers. The mark of a great investor is knowing how to think. A great investor can be highly successful investing in a particular sector, industry, or strategy, then become interested in another industry they know nothing about, learn about it, and become a successful investor there as well because they know how to learn new things and have an open and receptive mind.

My boss is not the only one who feels this way, Bill Ackman hired a fishing guide, Oliver White, simply because of the 3rd criteria.

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Sep 15, 2015

Congrats on landing a nice gig, and a great salary for just coming out of school. Get the experience, learn as much as you can and within 2 years your salary should jump 20-30% if not more. Good for you!

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Sep 16, 2015

I followed similarly to what you did by passing the CFA Level 1 early on. Although what I learned from the CFA Level 1 materials were significant, I felt it wasn't enough for me to know the technical knowledge well (and articulate them). Level 1 also didn't help much with modeling. Would the level 2 be a lot different? What resources did you use when you practice your interviews? Thanks

Sep 17, 2015

Level 2 covers pretty much everything you were tested on in level 1, except for level 2, it's expected that you already know the mechanical calculations and can now apply them in concert with critical analysis (Ex. level 1 will ask you to calculate working capital ratios, level 2 might give you 2 periods of financial data and ask you questions about return on assets under different scenarios - this is extremely simplified but hopefully it gets the idea across), level 1 is about tools, level 2 is about applying those tools. Level 2 also expands it's depth and digs much deeper into important topics - in the case of financial reporting, for example, this means understanding the different ways multinational operations can be consolidated and the differences in financials as a result depending on the method used.

Pursuing the CFA isn't going to get you a job, that isn't what I'm saying in the slightest, but, it is a knowledge platform that you can use to build onto.

This is just me personally but I think the CFA has helped me become a better modeler. At the end of the day, a model is just a generic financial statement with some formulas and some data inputs for different scenarios - and if you are a strong finance student, it should be pretty easy for you to add all the line items together without making mistakes. You should be able to sit down and figure out how to build a debt/tax/depreciation (or whatever else) schedule using the tools you've practiced and link it to the appropriate line item.

I never formally practiced for my interviews, or really prepared for them either. I've just had a lot of interviews and gotten really good at telling my story. Practicing your interviews too much leads to "canned" answers, it's better to be a little less polished and a little more candid. The best interviewers are people who are good at speaking anyway - if you have opportunities to present/lecture in class/work, always take it.

You should have 2-3 modified versions for your elevator pitch. I have a standard short form, a long form, and a long form that also includes some personal riffs and background about myself. One is for when people are in a hurry or phone calls, another is for when I'm dealing with people who are overly serious and professional (usually baby boomers, people who went to Columbia/Wharton, or worked at Goldman), and the last one is for when I've got time and want to come off as warm and affable, and throw off a few humble brags, in addition to showing off my background (I reserve the last one for people who I really like already, and who like me as well already - it's a closing move to ensure that I've got at least 1-2 people pulling for me hard at the end).

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Sep 17, 2015

First and foremost, excellent post. You do in fact have a keen ability to describe things in detail yet in a concise manner and easily understood by all.

With that said, is it possible to take a look at the "format" of your resume (without the actual content)? I've used the conservative and standard resume format everyone uses for years now and just want to see what the fuzz is about, in regards to the creativeness and colorfulness of your resume. Feel free to send a blurred version or a screenshot of it via PM. I dont particularly need to see the content (as you've expanded enough on that) but rather the layout itself.

Sep 18, 2015

"university career center" lol

Anyways man you hustled like a MFer you deserve it, bravo!

Sep 19, 2015

Your work ethic and detailed answers here are both great! You walk us through your thought process - truly valuable.

Sep 19, 2015

Fantastic post! Good luck!

Nov 15, 2015

Hi, different user here under dontbugme; do you think I could get the general outline for your red/gray resume? A PM would work if preferred--I am in such a similar position as you right now it's uncanny.

Nov 30, 2015
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May 2, 2016
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