How to Break All the Rules and Hustle Your Way Into Anything – Jobs, Networking with CEOs, and Yes, Even Free Financial Modeling Courses

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Hustle Your Way Into Jobs, Free Courses, and Networking Opportunities“I really want to sign up for your courses / coaching services / buy your $4.95 Kindle e-book… but I just don’t have the money.”

Yes, that one might just be one of the funniest comments I ever receive on this site.

To be fair, I rarely get this exact comment because most readers understand that it’s ridiculous to claim that you want to get into an industry that pay $100-150K at the entry-level, $200-300K as you move up, and then into the millions (or more) when you reach the top… and then say that you “do not have” $200-300 to invest in training to help get you there.

It would be more common if this site re-branded itself and we started catering to the hippy demographic, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that one to happen.

But I do see many variations of this comment, as well as similar comments about why you “can’t” accomplish various goals:

  • I can’t network because I don’t have the time or money to travel
  • I can’t get into the industry because I have never even taken a formal accounting or finance class (neither have I, and now I teach accounting and finance. Oh, the irony)…
  • I can’t convince boutique firms to hire me because I don’t have the right experience…
  • I can’t get a good grade in this class because I’m not good at [math / writing / test-taking / sucking up to the professor]…

All of these excuses have 2 things in common: the words “I can’t,” and the lack of resourcefulness you display.

But not everyone thinks this way.

Some people out there, both in university and MBA programs and in the finance industry itself, are incredibly resourceful and will do what it takes to hustle their way into anything.

To demonstrate, I’m going to share with you today the story of one reader who took the right approach to everything above and not only landed multiple job offers, but also free access to a $497 package deal on all the financial modeling courses offered here.

This story is not just about bending the rules during one of our promotions, nor is it just about how to get into fields like investment banking, sales & trading, private equity, and so on.

This is a story about life itself and how to defy the odds, break the rules, and get whatever you want… as long as you want it badly enough.

You might want to pay attention.

In The Beginning: January This Year

In January this year, I announced a promotion that would take place in advance of a price increase on the industry-specific courses.

There were a bunch of reasons for that, but the main one was simply that the courses were dramatically underpriced for the quantity and quality of instruction provided, and the underpricing was actually hurting sales (supply and demand only works perfectly in economics textbooks).

I expected that a lot of readers and BIWS customers would ask for discounts or upgrade deals to pay the difference between the $497 offer and whatever they had already paid for certain courses.

And I was right: there was a ton of interest in this offer, which resulted in our most successful promotion ever.

Most people just went along with the terms as stated or maybe asked for an extension or an “upgrade” deal…

But not everyone chose to play by the rules.

A Modest Proposal?

Right after the promotion was announced, I received an email from a reader that was both interesting and skepticism-inducing.

I almost always run in the other direction whenever anyone starts talking about “investment strategies” or starts asking about how they can help me make more money…

But this message had a slightly different twist on the usual email, and I was immediately more intrigued:

“Interested but skeptical” would describe my reaction…

And then there was the small issue that I don’t really invest in the public markets because I don’t have time to follow individual companies. So I wrote back:

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

But he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, so he wrote back with a different proposal:

And this one got my attention.

It showed a couple very important points about his approach to problem-solving and negotiation:

  1. Most importantly, he understood what I wanted and re-framed his suggestions until they matched what I was looking for.
  2. He did a critical analysis of the site, and gave me feedback (“You’re lacking in material on S&T”) which was both useful and true.
  3. And then, using both of the points above, he made a specific proposal which would be mutually beneficial – he would get free access to the courses, and I would gain high-quality, long-term-traffic-generating articles on sales & trading.

We went back and forth on the details: the number of articles, the topics, and how long and detailed each one would be.

The Result

But those details were easy to work out, and you can see the results for yourself: all the S&T-related articles on recruiting, networking, interviews, and internships released over the past year (with more on the way… cross your fingers).

And, of course, he’s been able to learn accounting, valuation, and financial modeling with a $497 package that contains over 150 hours of instruction – and which is probably worth more like $1500+ if it were priced at “fair market value.”

To be honest, I should have been stricter about the requirements because I ended up spending a lot of time editing each article.

But that’s on me: the point of this story is that he was able to go around the official “rules” to achieve mutually beneficial results for both sides.

I emailed him earlier this year to let him know that I was writing this story about him and he approved enthusiastically, also adding in another interesting bit:

This story is the very definition of hustle: through sheer effort and by refusing to ever give up, he moved from a non-target school into sales & trading at a bulge bracket bank, won free access to the BIWS modeling courses, and networked with senior executives in the finance industry as a very young entry-level guy.

What Should You Learn from This Story?

No, the proper interpretation is NOT “Ask Brian for free stuff by offering to write articles for him” because chances are that you won’t be able to offer me anything valuable enough to justify that.

Of course, maybe you can… and maybe I am just testing your confidence with that last statement.

But here are the key points that you can take away from the story, even if you have no interest in writing articles or otherwise creating content for this site:

Most Finance Firms (and Most Businesses) are Small Businesses

Yes, they might manage $200 million… or even $20 billion… but guess what?

They still don’t have that many employees.

Even the biggest firms on the buy-side – the likes of KKR and Blackstone – only have a few hundred investment professionals.

And most places have far fewer employees than that…

Which means that there isn’t much “middle management” and it’s not that difficult to get in touch with decision-makers directly.

Like most small businesses, these boutique banks / investment firms are also laser-focused on ROI: they’re not going to spend time or money on something unless it increases revenue, reduces expenses, or saves them time.

But that also means that as long as you can offer one of those, they’ll be willing to speak with you.

This applies to more than just finance firms: the vast majority of businesses out there are small businesses, and the same principles apply anywhere.

If someone emailed me tomorrow and said:

“Brian, I see an opportunity to improve revenue / conversion rates / traffic… all you have to do is do Specific Thing X, because right now you’re missing out by not doing it, which results in Y and Z. I also have a bunch of other ideas, which I’ve attached in this Word document, and several more that I want to discuss with you.”

I would say, “You’re hired! When can you start working?”

But this rarely, if ever, happens because most people don’t know enough about Internet marketing to offer actionable suggestions, or are simply afraid of contacting of me in the first place.

Never Take “No” for an Answer

About 10-15 years ago, one guy in my “Friend Circle” was exceptional at picking up women. His approach could be summed up like this:

“Yes means yes, maybe means yes, and no definitely means yes.”

Naturally, he experienced his fair share of failures, he developed a bad reputation over time, and this strategy stopped working so well when he… became an unemployed forest ranger, but that’s a different story for a different day.

So I’m not suggesting that you apply this strategy to dating – but you should definitely apply it to your job search.

Look at what this reader did: he made an initial offer that sounded like a “win/win proposition” to him… but then I didn’t like it for reasons that he couldn’t have predicted, so then he proposed something different that was much more attractive to me.

Be like Rocky: persistent adaptation is the name of the game.

Think of all the possible objections that a boutique finance firm, or any small business, would have when they’re considering hiring you:

  • Do we need to train you? We don’t have the time / money for that.
  • Can you add value right away? We need an immediate ROI.
  • Why do we need you? Things are going fine right now, and we’re not over-burdened with extra work at the moment.
  • We never hire interns because we don’t have the money / can’t hire you full-time / don’t need you to do grunt work for us.

Prepare responses to these objections in advance, and present them and change your offer until you’ve given them “an offer they can’t refuse you” (a mafia hit is optional, and I generally discourage killing people unless you can do so in secret).

Possible responses to the objections above:

  • “Nope, I’ve already trained myself via [List Courses] and have completed [Training] – plus I’ve gotten materials from friends in the industry and have spent 100 hours teaching myself based on those.”
  • “Yes, because I’ve already trained myself and have spoken with people who were previously in this role and know exactly what is expected, plus ways that I could make things more efficient.”
  • “That might be true right now, but is there really nothing that you need extra help with? Do you spend 100% of your time on high-value tasks such as winning clients and 0 time on administrative work? And what happens in the future if things pick up and you’re understaffed?”
  • “That’s OK – I’m not expecting a full-time offer out of this. Let’s make it a 3-month trial, see how well I perform and how much I help you, and take it from there.”

Sometimes, you can’t get them to say “yes” no matter what you offer up.

But that’s less common than you’d think; generally, if a firm is open to needing extra help for something, you can negotiate your way into a role.

…But Don’t Ask for Free Gifts from ‘Santa Claus,’ Either

On the flipside, though, don’t go in with an “entitlement” attitude and assume that just because you went to School X / earned a GPA of Y / did an internship at brand-name company Z that they’ll automatically hire you… because nothing could be further from the truth.

When you go in and propose a “trial internship” or any other type of informal role, you also need to offer something of value to them.

This may sound ridiculously obvious, but I often get emails like the following:

“Hi, I really like your site and I want to contribute, but I have no skills, no contacts, and no industry experience. What can I help with?”

Sadly, this is also extremely common in the job market: just look at the horrendous resumes submitted on sites like Monster.com if you don’t believe me.

Remember that nothing is really “free” – yes, if you propose an unpaid internship then it costs the firm less money… but time is also a huge expense, and time is more expensive than money since you can never generate more time.

If you cannot offer a time-saving, expense-cutting, or revenue-generating skill or service, don’t even bother arguing your case.

There is so much grunt work required at most companies that it should not be difficult to come up with something to offer – failing to do so reflects a lack of research and lack of initiative on your part.

Understand What Your Customer, or Employer, ACTUALLY Wants

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when proposing a partnership or job / applying to business school / doing anything else that involves multiple people is failing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

I saw this all the time when interviewing people for banking jobs – the conversation would often go like this:

Me: Why should we hire you?

Interviewee: I go to Top School X and have a GPA of Y, and I’ve done internships at these 3 companies.”

Those are features, not benefits.

And if you want to sell anything successfully, including yourself, you need to sell the benefits: more money, reduced expenses, and/or time savings.

One of the reasons the reader above succeeded where others have failed is that he understood what I wanted.

I have no interest in content that goes out of date, general commentary on the economy, or anything else that would appear on CNN or in The Wall Street Journal.

Yes, occasionally I’ll write about current events, but those articles comprise less than 2% of the content here.

And yet, 90% of the story pitches that I receive are variants of: “I want to write about the Fed’s new policy decision!” or “I can cover the stock market!”

There are very, very, very, very few people who take the time to research an employer or customer in-depth, understand what makes him/her tick, and then propose something specific that is 100% in-line with what he/she wants.

And if you become one of them, you’ll automatically be in the top 1% of job seekers.

Propose SPECIFIC Solutions

I mentioned above how one common pitch sent to me goes something like: “I don’t know what you need help with, but I have tons of free time and can help you!”

A much better pitch is: “I have 10 hours per week of free time, and am looking to earn $X per month. I have experience editing essays and news articles and uploading them in WordPress. I would really like to work for you, and I would propose a trial run where we work together for 1 month, see how it goes, and take it from there.”

In the finance job hunting arena, one related problem / question that has come up repeatedly goes like this:

“Should I apply to multiple divisions at a bank? How many divisions should I apply to? Can I apply to both sales & trading and investment banking?”

Now you know the answer to all of those. No, it won’t necessarily kill your chances if you apply to more than 1 group, but applying to a lot more than that is not a smart move.

When you go in to propose a trial internship to a bank, PE firm, or hedge fund, don’t make it open-ended or you’ll never get them to make a decision.

People need constraints to make decisions: this is why, for example, when you network it’s a dumb idea to say that you’re free all day on Monday and Tuesday.

Give a very specific window, such as 12 PM to 2 PM on Monday and 9 AM to 11 AM on Tuesday to limit the options and reach confirmation more quickly.

Similarly, don’t approach a small firm and say, “Well, I’ll work for free… or we can do a trial internship… or I’ll do anything! Please, hire me!”

The better approach is to propose a 3-month trial internship where you work 40 hours per week and where you assist with tasks X, Y, and Z. If you can’t save them at least X hours per week and free up their time for more valuable tasks, no worries – it’s just a trial internship and there’s no long-term commitment or obligation on their end.

I’ve been referencing “trial internships” throughout this article, partially because they’re becoming increasingly common at all levels.

Many friends who recently graduated from MBA programs, for example, have used this approach to find work at small investment firms.

So don’t assume that “trial internships” only apply if you’re an undergraduate or recent university graduate.

Never Overestimate the Competition

Remember that initial promotional email I sent out in January?

Over 30,000 readers saw it. As I write this, there are now closer to 60,000 readers on the newsletter.

And guess how many saw what was going on, realized they wanted the package but couldn’t pay for it upfront, and then proposed a creative way to give me something of value in exchange for it?

One.

This is a theme I’ll never stop repeating on this site because I’ve seen it pop up repeatedly across multiple different industries and in different contexts.

The same thing happened last year when I put up the application for writers and customer support staff: the majority of applications were sub-par and many of the candidates applying for writing roles… had grammatical and spelling errors in their writing samples.

With this promotion specifically, many people just asked for discounts or special treatment without giving a reason why.

I understand where you’re coming from – might as well ask, right? – but this type of strategy doesn’t work well because most businesses have guidelines and policies for these situations.

So no, “the competition” is not to be feared… as long as you execute better than them.

Deliver on What You’ve Promised

Pop quiz: what is the #1 reason why finance firms would not hire you?

Is it because you have poor grades? Not the right experience? You didn’t go to a brand-name school?

No.

It’s because they think you’re unreliable, that you’re going to screw up / slack off repeatedly, and that you’ll quit without notice or warning.

In part, they are right: most people in this world are unreliable and fail to honor their commitments. And younger people who are just out of school are generally much more unreliable because they haven’t figured out what they want out of life yet.

“Oh no,” you say, “Maybe that was true years ago, but today the market has gotten so much more competitive… everyone’s at the top of their game! You need to be a world-class superstar to get ahead!”

Well… not exactly.

Yes, things are more competitive, but a surprising number of interns at all levels simply can’t do anything right and are completely unsuited for the job.

You can read some stories about recent intern screw-ups in sales & trading at a bulge bracket bank right here.

Finance is not for everyone.

If you’ve read everything on this site and are not certain it’s for you, quit and do something else. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and the time of the firms that are interviewing you.

It was the same when the reader approached me with his offer: I discount most of these “proposals” since 90% of people will hype up whatever they want and then disappear off the face of the Earth, “have a family crisis,” or otherwise fail to deliver on what they promised.

He did the opposite: not only did he actually write the articles, but he wants to contribute even more in the future… even though it’s not strictly required.

That is how you set yourself apart from everyone else.

Yes, people are generally more competent, reliable, and intelligent in the finance industry… but you’d still be surprised at how many are not.

What’s Next?

The next time you approach someone to propose a job / internship / joint venture / other partnership, ask yourself:

  • Am I actually speaking with the decision-maker?
  • Do I understand what they’re going to object to, and am I prepared to answer those objections?
  • Am I offering them something of value, or am I expecting free gifts from Santa Claus?
  • Do I understand what they want? Have I put myself in their shoes? Or am I only asking about what I want?
  • Am I proposing something specific? Or is it so vague that they can’t possibly make a decision?
  • Am I in a position to deliver on what I’m going to promise? Or will this make me look like a fool and burn bridges?

Most people never think about any of these points when applying to jobs or when attempting to go around the official “rules” in a contest, promotion, or any other application process.

And that’s why you gain the upper hand when you implement all these strategies.

Or you could ignore everything above, go back to square one, and fail to land offers as students from non-target schools who know how to hustle mysteriously get into the top firms.

Up to you.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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58 Comments to “How to Break All the Rules and Hustle Your Way Into Anything – Jobs, Networking with CEOs, and Yes, Even Free Financial Modeling Courses”

Comments

  1. Varun says

    Hey Brian,
    This is by far one of the best, if not THE best article ever written on this website. Absolutely amazing stuff. How passionately you feel about being intelligently persistent comes across all too well in this article.

    Really inspirational. Thanks a lot indeed!

      • Varun says

        I keep coming back to this article. :)

        But I have a question this time. Say I network for months and develop a host of contacts and finally I get the job that I want. But now when my other contacts call me and say that ok, we’d like to call you for an interview, what do I say?

        Keeping in mind that these are people I have been pestering for months to grant me a meeting. And I don’t want to sour the relationship developed over so many months. So now what do I tell them?

        • says

          Just say thank you for the opportunity and do take the time to speak with them, but tell them that since you’ve spoken you’ve already landed an offer elsewhere. It happens all the time, if they take it personally they aren’t very professional to begin with.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Congrats Varun! Tell them that you have already accepted another offer. Thank them for considering you, and tell them you would like to stay in touch! I’d even treat the contact who granted you the interview a coffee/lunch and maintain a relationship with him/her

  2. Mustang says

    Brian I’m really glad to see content like this on your website. I have to say, this is something I’ve actively tried to work on. It’s an under-researched area for sure – “hustle”. Sounds stupid, but really, how do you develop that eye of the tiger that every successful person has. I think listening to examples like this has gotta be a step in that direction. Thanks again.

  3. Dannie says

    Really great article. I have been a long time fan of your site and work. I never felt compelled to write a comment, until I read this article.

    Great work Brian.

  4. Andrew says

    Correct philosophy. I’d call it being entrepreneurial

    P.S. I guess you now start receiving numerous volunteering letters titled “ultra exceptional” proposal.

  5. RY says

    Hey Brian,

    I’ve been reading M&I religiously and this is truly one of the most inspirational/mind-opening posts.

    I need some advice from you regarding an opportunity. I got the information that a small boutique in my region is hiring for an analyst. Thanks to your posts I realized I didn’t want my application sitting in the same pile as everyone else’s, so I called the Founder/President of the boutique and asked him how could I best position myself for an interview. He repeatedly said he doesn’t have time for this, and I should send in my application through their official channel (which I’ve already done).

    After hanging up I quickly connected with one of their associates on LinkedIn. Should I ask for an informational interview? Or should I try calling another MD at the firm? Or would there be anything else creative that you would suggest me doing?

    As for my background, I am currently working for a mining M&A advisor. I have assisted in closing a couple of acquisitions and am familiar with the process. I have a good general knowledge in modelling, although, I don’t have any actual work experience related to it.

    Thank you very much!

    • says

      Thanks! Yes, I would ask the Associate for an informational interview or just frame it differently and ask for 5 minutes or a few questions via email even just so you’re on their radar. Then, see if he can refer you to one of the other MDs there since the Founder doesn’t seem terribly receptive.

      • RY says

        Brian,thank you very much for prompt reply.

        I emailed the associate asking for a 10-15 minute call to learn more about his experiences in the industry. I’m a little concerned that the firm will make a quick decision before the associate even replies. Would you suggest cold-calling another MD at the boutique at the same time?

        Thank you again.

  6. Tristan says

    I would personally love to find out what this reader talked about with the CEO and the senior managers once he hustled and was able to schedule a lunch meeting with them. For instance, did he pitch an idea to save money for the firm or was it casual lunch with other conversatinal topics. If so, what?

    By the way Brian, I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I’ll bet more readers will try to get hold of you now with more refined business propositions :)

  7. Dinky says

    Hey Brian,

    Really useful information. But can you give me some ideas on what to do if the interviewer or the person ur networking with says no multiple times? And also, wouldn’t it make u look aggressive when asking the interviewer to hire you when they are adamant and say no? Thnx. :)

    • says

      The key thing to note is why they are telling you “no” – are they giving you a reason? Or just saying, flat-out, “no”?

      If they don’t give a reason, it means that your chances aren’t good because they’re probably not hiring or have a hiring freeze for some reason. In that case, you probably want to move onto other leads and focus less on that firm.

      If they do give a reason, apply some of the examples above with addressing objections.

      • Russ says

        Ask for a referral to another firm/department! Bankers know bankers. If you make someone say no more than once, they will either A) feel sympathetic and push you to someone who may hire you or B) be annoyed and shove you off to someone else to get you to leave them alone.
        If they refuse to offer any referrals, they don’t like you on a personal level or he/she is a complete a**hole. In either case, walk away.

  8. hsg says

    Absolute best article ever written on your site….and i’ve been following for years. Couldn’t be more true. Props.

  9. Ranney says

    How much do you think Brian height is important? I am standing at 5’7 barefoot, and almost all the other guys are taller than me, and I guess, that would also lower my chances of being promoted.

    Being a manlet does not give you an impression of a leader, or somebody who is respected.

    • says

      If you can’t control it, don’t worry about it. Aside from bionic implants, you can’t control height so there is no point in worrying about it. Yes, maybe it gives you an advantage to be taller but honestly these days most people sit behind a computer 90% of the day anyway… so it’s gradually becoming less relevant.

      • HK Banker says

        Actually I think there was a study made on short(er) people: they tend to do very well in their career (maybe because they want to prove to the world their height does not make them any less capable) – See Henry Kravis, Napoleon Bonaparte, Nicolas Sarkozy etc etc all fairly short people

    • Tom says

      There is a kind of surgery that involves extending your legs, its very effective, but is very painful and takes a long time. If height really is a problem this is always an option.

  10. Michael says

    Brian, great post. I’m a long-time reader of this blog and this is one of the articles that shows M&I is worth its salt.

  11. Josh says

    Hi Brian,

    I went to a big networking trip sponsored by my school to meet banker alumnis in nyc about a month ago. However, due to some problems at the time I didn’t get to follow up with a lot of them, so I’m just starting now. It’s very late to send them a followup email now, what do you suggest I do in terms of phrasing in the emails?

    Thanks
    Josh

    • says

      Just give them a quick reminder in the first line that you met at the networking event last month and then ask your questions / ask if they can speak with you. I wouldn’t apologize or say you’re sorry for following up so late, no point in doing that as it only draws attention to it.

  12. James says

    Hey Brian,
    As many have posted here as well, just want to tell you that this article is top notch. anyways how can one respond if the firm says that it is a physical impossibility to hire you? I.e no desk space, no spare computer..the only answer I got is that I can use my own computer and work remotely- but that still sounds far fetched
    Thanks

    • says

      Thanks! Physical impossibility: yes, just say you’re willing to work remotely or that you can bring your own equipment such as a laptop. That is one of the stranger objections since being physically present matters less and less these days…

  13. Themb says

    Awesome article. In all seriousness, I don’t think it is out of line to say that it is probably the best and most valuable article on this site. What makes it even better is that it actually touches on a couple of concepts and not just want. I am pretty tired now, but I know genius when I see it. As I said, awesome article.

    Similar to your example above with internet marketing/ web analytics, there is an example in Dale Carnegie’s “Hot to win friends and influence people”. It’s about a bank employee receiving several job offers based on five line cover letter stating upfront her value to potential employers based on her past experience. Shows that sometimes, less is actually more. It just has to be the right less.

    • says

      Thanks! Yeah, the examples in that book are all great and are all 100% true even today. I really like the part about using peoples’ first names when speaking to them, since I always forget to do that.

  14. Natalie says

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for the great content. I’ve been reading your website for general hustling techniques even though I am as far from finance as you can possibly get (and never ever ever EVER plan on getting into I-banking), and so far have gotten quite a few offers for dream job/volunteering positions. Thanks for the great content :)

  15. Steven says

    So I have to be in complete agreement here on this. If you are not willing to pay for these courses then you do not want it bad enough. Nothing should stop you if you really want something. My question falls in those lines. I started out going to school for computer networking at DeVry university(Which is by far not a target school) in Chicago. I started out by going into the Marines as infantry for 4 years then started school right away after that. As for jobs while I was going to school I was doing door man at a bar and security at a night club. I have no real finance experience and my GPA as of right now is 2.9 which I am working on getting up as hard as I can. I have about a year left and it is now just turning into the recruiting season for summer internships and I have nothing lined up. The reason I wanted to go into finance was because my father does a lot of trading on his own and it interested me as well as the fact that numbers make more sense to me than anything else. Accounting wasn’t an option as it just didn’t interest me but finance did. I was browsing the internet when I came across your site and have been reading it for a couple weeks now getting all the information I could. I have no finance background and a school which I am not sure how company’s look at for a degree. Do you think with your programs you could help me in this situation or is it one of those things that I am SOL on? Currently I am working in retail as loss prevention but they have me doing everything at this store including shipping and sales. I also started up a Billiards club at the school and have to deal with all the recruitment and budgets for the club and also am looking into the option of starting up a Finance club that would help other finance students understand some things that I could learn from your programs and pass on to them. As of right now I am kind of lost in the sea and could also use some directional support which I know you have a coaching program for as well. Thank you for any information you can shed on this situation and also help me decide which one of your courses I should be looking at first.

    • says

      You need to get into the best school you can – at this stage, it may actually make more sense to think about top Master’s programs and leverage those to participate in on-campus recruiting. It will be very, very difficult to get in from a non-target school with a 2.9 GPA and also no finance experience. Small prop trading firms might be possible if you have a great trading track record, but anything else would be tough.

      I would also review these articles because they’re directly relevant:

      http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/military-to-sales-trading-bulge-bracket-offer/

      http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/military-investment-banking/

      • Steven says

        I do like the fact you say very difficult instead of almost impossible. I thrive on doing the things people say are hard which is why I chose the marines over any other branch. I would just like to say that retail could be a huge untapped resource for contacts. I work currently at Armani in Chicago and have been talking to the sales people who have been here for a while. A lot of their long term clients are bankers and they have opted to help me out in talking to them. Do you think I should use the networking toolkit first or something else.

  16. Cardinal says

    Hey Brian, thanks for all the advice you’ve provided. It has been immensely helpful in getting into banking for me, especially the articles regarding networking. Now that I have been on the desk for a few months and with PE recruiting coming up, I was wondering how I should approach networking with PE firms – what are the main differences between networking to get into IBD and to get into PE? Is it acceptable to contact both alums of your school and also people who worked at your bank previously?

    Thanks much for your help!

    • says

      It’s not that different, really – yes, it’s fine to contact both alumni from your school and “alumni” from your bank.

      The main difference is that you need to be REALLY specific with what you’re looking for… geography, industry, etc. Just wanting to “do PE” won’t work. And you must point to solid deals / client experiences that explain your interest in a specific type or sector of PE.

  17. Simon says

    One of the best posts ever! Keep them coming!!

    And yes, I can’t afford your courses either, but I have a deal for you. Grant me free access and I will make you the CEO of Blackstone or KKR; your choice!

  18. TJ Smith says

    Hi Brian,

    I was wondering your thoughts on what specifically I could offer a bulge bracket firm as an undergraduate?

    Thanks
    TJ

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Your time, youth, excel modeling skills, ability to work very long hours, intellect, ability to obtain information …..

  19. morange says

    I just wanna share this video with you guys. This guy initiated this 100-day rejection therapy and it has gone viral since.

  20. Awais says

    Dear writer,
    This is the first article which I read completely, It is very interesting and really helpful for my thesis search,,, I will implement the strategies that you mentioned. Thanks.

  21. Jesse says

    Dear Brian,

    Thanks for your brilliant articles especially on networking. I originally started out as a lost, helpless sheep resigned to my fate of mediocrity, but your methods and stories drove me to realize that there is no “impossible”, there is only “difficult but still possible”. The main thing I took away from all your networking articles for recruiting is “How hungry are you?”, and with this mindset I have gone the whole mile, and the result is having a wide network of professionals whom I can call upon once recruiting season begins towards the end of this year for next year.

    However, I seek your advice for my next event that I am afraid is out of my expertise. I am now generally very comfortable with networking approach, interaction and follow-up protocols with Analysts and Associates (it’s almost second nature to me after dozens of sessions and approaches). However, my next opportunity is a hard-won closed-door exclusive “tea session” with the CEO of a major BB IB. In terms of ratio, it’s less than 2 dozen undergrads to one CEO, though we get to monopolize his time for a few hours.

    My gut feeling tells me that this opportunity is a very good one and that I should somehow make a good impression and seize this chance for a better positioning for next year’s recruiting, but how do I go about it? A CEO is fundamentally very different from the A&A excel monkeys (I think) and I am afraid that I might accidentally shoot myself in the foot if I used the same techniques I used on them on a CEO (by “same techniques” I mean the networking techniques you outlined in your Networking series).

    In other words, my question is, what is the “right” approach for CEOs of BBs (not MMs, not boutiques) when I get to monopolize his time (I’m in a target school, which is why this opportunity is even possible) with a small bunch of others and to maximize this opportunity in my favor?

    For the benefit of other readers, I think it would also be good to generalize to high level execs of BBs, maybe MDs and above as well.

    Hustlin’ forever,
    Jesse

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes a CEO he/she is busy and probably got a lot on his/her plate, with power and responsibility. However, I can’t think of a “right” way to approach him/her because there is no “right” way. What I’d suggest you to do is to do a lot of research on the firm, the person, and show that you’ve done your research by asking very articulate question which others have not thought of. I’d also refine your pitch to make sure your message comes across in a way you want it to be perceived – having someone, a friend perhaps, to give you feedback on how you talk about your pitch, would help

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