What was your first big break?

My first big break was back in freshman year, I managed to cold call the head of investment banking at X bank. Managed to impress him enough to say he would help in pushing my resume for an interview for that year's internship. But never got the internship nor interview for the summers internship program and he kept ignoring my follow up emails. So instead of the doing model and bottles that summer at an investment bank, I made burger and fries at McDonald's.

In my sophomore year, I tried to get an internship again in IB and cold called /email anyone with a pulse but no success and at best was referred to the careers webpage. Frustrated and nothing to lose I took a big gamble and bought a ticket to NYC to follow up with the head of investment banking and meet him in person. I called his assistant and said I traveled a long distance and would appreciate 5 min to follow up with me. Thankfully, she said to come at the end of the day. That 5 min turned into 45 min and he said recruiting is over but he will look into it. (Never brought the fact he ignored my follow-ups last summer). The next day I get an email from HR offering me a summer internship and the rest was history.

Still, always wonder why he ignored my follow up emails in freshman year. But nevertheless, he helped change my life in ways I could never imagine.

Comments (41)

Jun 11, 2019

SB for you

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Jun 12, 2019

excuse my ignorance what does "SB" mean?

Jun 12, 2019

SB = Silver banana
MS = Monkey shit

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Jun 12, 2019

You got lucky as fuck. What if you had travelled there a day he wasn't in office?

Jun 12, 2019

That was a risk I was willing to take. At worst the downside was what? A little bit of time and money lost?

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Jun 12, 2019

Well, considering he was the only big shot you had managed to get in contact with, to a good degree, I guess it was worth the shot, even in the case you had failed.

Fortune favours the bold.

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Jun 12, 2019

I met a guy playing POt limit Omaha (poker) at the local casino who ended up pushing my resume to apply to the corporate development group at the company he worked at.

I had no prior finance experience and was coming from a law school background.

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Jun 13, 2019

Just spent the weekend at the series playing PLO. Best game out there. Always a good mix of people to meet.

Jun 12, 2019

First big break for me was coming from a non-target with literally 1-2 alumni on the street. Just so happened while I was VP of our finance club, one of the alumni on the street came to speak, conversed with him before even knowing who he was, he liked me enough to let me know who he was and took my resume.

FT recruiting came around the corner and he helped me polish my resume, behavioral answers, and really went to bat for me. Fast forward a month later after all recruiting/interviewing was done, I had a call with an offer .

Never know who you'll run into and that life lesson taught me to always smile and be positive. Just might run into the head of investment banking in your case or an alum for me.

SB for you my good sir.

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Jun 12, 2019

For years I've known where I wanted to work, but didn't think I had the experience to get there. I thought it would be best to interview with other companies to strengthen my resume, but over a year's time I was turned down by all of them.

With nothing to lose I cold called the head of the firm where I've always wanted to work.

When we met he told me upfront that he didn't have a position open at the company. After our discussion, he said he would create one for me.

He changed my life forever.

Jun 14, 2019

what did you guys talk about to make him willing to create a position for you?

Jul 2, 2019

I knew what I wanted and was able to communicate why I wanted it.

I didn't want to get into development because I thought it was lucrative (....kind of), but I wanted to do it to have a genuine impact on communities. I believe it was my honesty and my work experience that showed him I was serious.

There's no secret formula, sometimes luck/timing is a huge part of it. I was turned down by (at least) a dozen people before this moment, but if you really want something, the key is to never quit until you get it. I hope my story is an example to others that opportunities like this really do exist in the world.

Jun 12, 2019

online forums literally opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities

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Jun 12, 2019

this. growing up with the internet and forums filled with slightly neurotic but smart people has been the saving grace.

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Jun 12, 2019
anonymnous:

online forums literally opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities

This. WSO has been an absolute game changer for not only getting started in my career, but also for giving me the drive to strive for more, as a good amount of people on the forum are very successful.

-- community college guy who makes more than friends with $80-100k+ College degrees.

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Jun 13, 2019

This^
If it wasn't for Reddit, WSO, and other forums IDK where I'll be.

Greed is Good!

Jun 12, 2019

I'll let you know when it happens. But you know you've made it when you're the one giving big breaks, not hoping for them.

Jun 12, 2019

Well, I think my first 'big break' was even getting a job out of college - in retrospect, I couldn't have screwed up more in preparing myself to get a job, getting decent enough grades to get a job and even realizing that 'hey, it takes a bit of work to get a job - even if you have good grades'.

God - when I look back, I actually shake my head at myself. Literally was called out of the blue by a headhunter, ended up taking a job at an asset management firm (unbeknownst to me initially, as a temp).

Nonetheless, once there I think my next biggest was being hired into a different group than I started internally - getting two really great bosses who gave me the opportunity and support to grow within the firm and my position. They were also willing to deal with me as I matured a bit and really developed in a working environment. It really allowed me to build a lot of skills in marketing, sales, business development, strategic thinking among others.

That all really set me up for my next big break - I've yet to figure that out yet, but hopefully will do that in short order.

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Jun 12, 2019

Manufacturer gave us an insane line of non-recourse credit and covered all r&d costs for my first "super" successful co. So stupid now that I think about it.

Jun 13, 2019

Sadly, I haven't had my big break yet. Still waiting for it, thought.

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Jun 13, 2019

i know this feel well

Jun 13, 2019

a single job offer from the Big 4 my senior year was enough to rebrand my non-target profile and created a snowball effect thereafter.

"shooters keep shooting" - Swaggy P

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Jun 13, 2019

Where at in Big 4? I've tried for advisory and valuation, but never heard anything back.

Jun 13, 2019

email them. reiterate your interest in this role or adjacent opportunities there

Jun 13, 2019

My first big break came during my junior year in undergrad, which was such a long time ago... I was trying hard to get an ibanking internship during the regular season of interviews. I was fortunate to initially receive about six or so interviews at good banks. Had a few super-days and after a lot of hard work I did not get an offer.

I kept searching after the regular interview season was almost over and got one last ibanking interview at an top notch bank. Had a phone screen with a director and thought it was a terrible interview. Somehow/someway I got another interview with two VPs over the phone. That one went alright, but still was not that hopeful. Then out of nowhere I get asked to come to NYC to do a super day. Went through about six or so interviews with different people and later that day I received an internship offer.

That led to a full-time offer. If it was not for that one last interview, my life trajectory right now would likely have been completely different. So whatever you all do, keep searching and applying to positions until you find what you want. You never know if a spot might open last minute.

Finance and life in general is all about grit and how much you can deal with and overcome failure. I respect more those individuals who have tried something new and failed versus those who stick to the traditional path. A lot of great life lessons are learned by getting outside your comfort zone and doing something new.

There are good finance blogs out there (ie. Buyside Hustle) that are great reads if you are interested in learning more about a person's experience going through banking and the buyside.

https://www.BuysideHustle.com/ - Advice on Finance, Careers and Investing in General

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Jun 13, 2019

My first big break really just happened this past week. Non-target junior in eastern Canada (think UNB, Dalhousie, MTA, SMU) looking at breaking into asset management and cap mkts since January really no options. Got in touch with a reputable alumni at a PE firm in central Canada and began growing actual network (not just university city connections). This alumni helped me out by getting me in touch with a few of his connections across Asset Management firms. I began interviewing with a few large Asset Management firms in Canada (think Brookfield, Burgundy, RBC GAM) didn't really have much traction as interviewing skills were low tier and was ghosted post-interview and had no responses to any of my follow-ups.

After getting back in touch with this alumni I was plugged through when his PE firm started looking for interns. I interviewed with a different firm earlier that week and had an offer expiring the next week, I did my initial interview with alumni PE firm and leveraged my offer to get second round. Finally, finished my round and came out as top candidate in the interviewing process landing an offer.

Additionally, this alumni got me in touch with some MDs in Toronto allowing me to pursue a summer 2020 ib position. I really can't explain how much this alumni helped me out and allowed me to reflect on my recruiting efforts, ultimately giving me the desire to pay this forward to the next set of students trying to break into the industry.

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Jun 13, 2019

Cold emailed a VP at a BB (among a dozen others) from some working group list I had at my old corporate banking job. He responded and told me to reach out to some specific person in HR who ran recruiting. I made it sound like my relationship with the VP was more than just a cold email and I eventually got the interview and the job. Ended up working for the guy on a couple deals too and he obviously didn't remember this story. Drastically changed my career path.

Jun 14, 2019

I pulled something similar (pretending relationship is more than just a cold email) recently, but the firm didn't have any positions that match my current experience right now. Hopeful for future with this firm tho.

My question is how did you formulate your email to HR to make it sound like it's more without lying? I was careful not to mislead HR, but I'm not positive I did it the best way possible.

Jun 14, 2019

first big break was getting fired. taught me to not get too cozy. sounds counterintuitive, but I wouldn't be the man I am today without a few kicks in the arse.

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Jun 15, 2019

Break? There are no breaks; there is no stop. The blessed ~fees~ are not idly waiting

Most Helpful
Jun 15, 2019

My first big break was that I was born as a male in the U.S. Getting a job at GS TMT or PJT Rx is much harder to do from a village in Ethiopia or Bangladesh.

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Jun 20, 2019

Funny you say that I immigrated from a similar country to Ethiopia or Bangladesh.

Jun 15, 2019

MD from a lower BB pushed my resume to top BB due to conflicting recruiting timelines and ended up getting the offer.

Jun 15, 2019

My first interview was secured via cold email. I hit up some MD and he responded at 2am that he was on vacation but he liked my email and they would interview me. Had a bunch of typos in his email and he cc'ed his whole team and HR. He invited me to interview w/o seeing my resume or knowing anything about me--in hindsight, I've wondered if he was drunk or on drugs. I didn't get that job but the experience going through the interview is what enabled me to get an offer for the next one I clawed my way into.

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Jun 16, 2019

+SB lol

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Jun 16, 2019

My biggest break was interviewing at this BB, where I nailed the interview in every aspect and impressed this super senior MD who was expecting that I would be given an offer due to the feedback that everyone gave about me. A day after the interview I received the generic rejection email, later during the day the MD reached out to continue a conversation we had during the interview. He was unware that I had received a rejection until I informed him about it, he immediately offer to talk to HR and get me an offer but I politely decline (I was more interested in other banks). He respected my decision and told me he would help me get an offer and that his bank made a big mistake. That MD then connected me with superior senior connections at multiple EBs and BBs, I have talked to a few heads of ib, head of m&a, and other super senior people that have guarantee that I will get interviews at their banks.

Jun 17, 2019

I think it's just about connecting with people if you can nail that everything becomes so much easier. At that point, people will look for how they can help you instead of looking for why they should help you. This is very much true when you are a student with an edu email.

Jun 17, 2019

do mds really have this much power? have a few md level connections at some banks I really want for SA 2020 and am still pretty worried about it not working out. Any tips on how to use these to my advntage?

Jun 17, 2019
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Jul 7, 2019
Jul 7, 2019