My Guide to Success: Becoming an Investment Banker

Submitted from a Street of Walls Contributor:

One of my big problems in targeting an investment banking job out of college was that I wasn’t a business major, or so I thought. At first, I ruled out the possibility of going to Wall Street having studied history, thinking that there was no way I could compete with the economics and finance majors; they were light years ahead of me. But still, my curiosity got the best of me and, honestly, I was driven by the money, so I started doing my homework. I found several sites that talked about how to “break into Wall Street,” but nobody could help me understand the process. Whom do I send my resume too? When is recruiting season? What if I already missed the recruiting season – was there another way to get in? I bought a guide from Street of Walls, and it gave me the direction I needed to get started. With the road map in place, I knew I had a lot of studying to do in order to be able to “talk the talk,” so I hit the books. I studied the SOW guides for about 4 weeks, until I felt comfortable with the frameworks, and then I started sending out my resumes. I sent out over 300 resumes and didn’t get much of a response. That is what the guide told me to expect, so I knew I had to keep stepping up my game.

I went to a school that had limited on-campus events, but I made sure to find out when the banks were coming and whether I was invited or not, I was determined to go to the events. The first event I heard about was a mixer with UBS, which one of my friends told me about. It was a simple meet and greet. I faked my way in (was not very difficult – just told them there must be a mistake and that I received the email invitation my friend told me about), and started talking to people. It became very clear very fast that this was not an elite group of PhD’s, but they were just people like anyone else. They had the job I desired, so of course I looked up to them, but this gave me confidence and belief that these people weren’t better than I was at all.

My goal of the mixer was to spend most of my time targeting one person that really “got me.” Most people took a different approach and fanned out and talked to as many people as possible, but I just wanted to make 1 connection, and I did. I met a first-year associate named Andrew, and for whatever reason, he took a liking to me. After the mixer, he sent me an email that was brutally honest and difficult to hear. He told me I need to upgrade my wardrobe. He explained I needed to wear a white button down and not an off white button down, and the stripes on my tie should be diagonal and not horizontal. As ridiculous as that sounds, he was right. It was pretty embarrassing to learn I was the idiot wearing the off white shirt, but the student/mentor relationship that came out of our discussions really paid off.

Andrew got me an interview, so I immediately went back to my SOW guide and made sure I was prepared. I studied the behavioral questions, practiced technical questions, and went over as many brain teasers as I could. I felt confident going into the interview, and rightfully so because I was prepared. I nailed all of the questions, which made me a standout candidate because I wasn’t a business major, yet I could still compete with the business students. I actually played up my knowledge in history and wove several Abraham Lincoln quotes into my answers.

In the end, I turned my weakness into a strength, got the offer and I am now happily working my dream job as an investment banking analyst.

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