Progress Update: Chapter One
After 1900+ cold emails, 244 Breaking Into Wall Street Videos, countless phone interviews, coffee shop meetings, first round interviews, and two super days later…I have received the offer I was looking for.
I will be starting as an investment banking analyst with BMO Capital Markets in their Chicago office next summer 2011.
If you are not familiar with the recruiting process for investment banking analysts, please read this link before reading how I secured this position.
As you know, investment banks typically recruit for analysts straight out of their target undergraduate programs. I recently graduated from a non-target school in May, so my only option was to network my behind off and make it happen.
In my search for people that are in the industry, I discovered an organization called Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO). The SEO Career Program recruits and trains outstanding underrepresented college students of color for summer internships that lead to full-time jobs with investment banks on Wall Street. Unfortunately for me, I was not aware of this program while I was doing my undergraduate training and as it turns out, they only accept people who are still in college. When I saw the composition of their board and the placement of their alumni I realized that my best shot was to establish a relationship with this organization.
I began by scouring their website for contact information and quickly discovered a list with their 2010 alumni (238 names). I e-mailed each of them the following message:
I trust all is well. I am a recent graduate with a strong interest in pursuing a career in investment banking. I have just completed two summer internships, one as a financial analyst and one as an investment banking intern. I recently became aware of the SEO program and regret that I had no knowledge of it during my undergraduate training. With recruiting season approaching for full time investment banking analysts, I was wondering if you had any recommendations that would enhance my competitiveness. I have taken the liberty of attaching an updated copy of my resume for your perusal. Thank you for your kind consideration of this request.
The response I received was largely favorable and led to many strong relationships and opportunities including being able to attend the AUC Career Fair for Morehouse and Spelman students after helping to set up the SEO booth.
My initial encounter with BMO started when I approached their booth and the analyst started telling me about their firm and how many Morehouse alumni work there. After he finished his presentation, I clarified for him that I was not a Morehouse student, that I had in fact graduated from Southern Adventist University, and that I had established a contact with someone that was gracious enough to allow me to attend the career fair. I told him that I felt that I had a working knowledge of the models investment banking analysts needed to master and he asked me to walk him through a DCF (discounted cash flow analysis) on the spot. So I did, and he and his colleague gave me their cards.
I followed up with thank you e-mails and received an invitation to their BMO: Money Never Sleeps pre-interview event. This was a networking event where they flew in investment bankers on different levels including multiple Directors and their Head of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A). They also bought out the movie theater at Atlantic Station for us to watch Wall Street 2 and reserved a private room at Fox Sports for a reception. When I arrived, I saw the analysts I met at the career fair and they introduced me to one of the Directors. The Director said that he had heard about me, I told him my story, and he introduced me to the Head of M&A. After speaking with him I continued where the Director and I had left off our conversation and he said, “the hardest part of this process is getting a shot, and I am going to make sure that you get one.” He told me that the interview schedule at Morehouse was full, but to come to the campus at 9am.
When I arrived I was led into a room with him and another Director. I gave them my resume and told them about my background and why I wanted to work for BMO. The interview did not go as smoothly as I would have liked because it was centered on graduation date, what school I went to, etc. They did not completely close the door and said that they would consider it. What he actually said was, “you should walk out of here with your head high because we don’t do this.”
Shortly after, I received a message letting me know that I had been chosen to participate in their Super Day at their Chicago office. They flew me out a couple weeks later, I arrived, and was given my interview schedule. I met with a Vice President from the M&A group, a Managing Director from the M&A group, and an Associate from the Food and Consumer group. Each interview started with delivering my story followed by various technical questions about valuation methodologies, leveraged buyout models, and how the financial statements interact with each other. I felt good about the interviews, flew back the same day, and eagerly awaited their response.
I received the call today letting me know that they are giving me an offer and that they look forward to working with me. I told them that I accept and thanked them for the opportunity.
This begins a new chapter in my life and I would like to first and foremost thank Mr. Easterly for being a mentor to me who has become my friend. I would also like to thank everyone from SEO that has supported me during this process. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who was receptive to my linkedin/e-mail networking, the people at BMO, and everyone that has been praying for me. Please do not stop praying for me. This is just the beginning and I will keep you updated with my progress.