A few weeks ago, I had a boutique sell side research firm randomly reach out to me requesting that I take this test called the Wall Street Assessment Test (WSAT). It is an hour to hour and a half online test where you are tested on financial and analytic abilities. Apparently I did well enough for a phone interview two weeks ago. This was my first real interview for a research position after my four trips out to NYC. While I felt comfortable going into the interview, it was my first so I was slightly nervous.
Last week, a regional bank also reached out to me regarding a research position. This was not as random of an encounter as the small shop. I applied for the position on the corporate website, or as I like to think about it a black pit. Since my attitude towards this approach is not bright to say the least, I reached out to a contact at the firm in research asking if he could do anything to help. He knew all the networking and learning I have been going through and must have felt comfortable enough to help me out.
These two opportunities are a purely due to my networking efforts. The first company that reached out to me somehow received my resume or heard about me through some contact I made and impressed enough to reach out on my behalf. The regional bank reached out to me not because I applied online, but due to a contact that I reached out to asking if he could pass my information along. Both of these are validation of effort that was put in through pounding the pavement and building relationships with people. As one of my contacts has told me, “you only need one”. Hopefully having two opportunities is better than one.
This past Sunday and Monday I took a trip to New York City to network and visit with contacts. The trip started out well with timely flights and a decent Philly cheesesteak in the Philadelphia airport. After 5 hours of travel, I arrived at Grand Central Terminal and decided to call my family back in Florida and finally tell them about my trip (prior to that, they didn’t know I left Columbus). I came with one bag that contained my suit, laptop, and a few research samples. The point of the trip was to meet some of my contacts in person, buy them some coffee and connect with them.
The trip was a resounding success. I had the opportunity to talk with researchers at Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and KeyBank. They gave me insights to the industry that I had not thought about and shared their story with me. Hearing how others got to where I want to be is exciting. Every person has a unique journey, and I can relate to most of them in one way or another.
Besides researchers, I sat down with someone in FX at JP Morgan. I met him on my last trip to the city and wanted to hear his story. We seemed to bond over the fact that he was from a non-core school and made it to where he is now by seizing one opportunity. He reassured me that while it is hard to get to New York from a non-core, it is possible if you work hard enough and impress the right person.
Overall, the trip was worth it and it’s time to start planning my next round.
It all started back in December when I took a trip with Dan Oglevee and several other Fisher students, both graduate and undergraduate, to New York City. On that trip, we visited J.P. Morgan, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and several others. We heard from several investment bankers about their jobs, life on the street and about their journey. Unlike many others on the trip, I was looking more into equity research than investment banking. Even with meeting only 1 researcher, I learned 3 things:
Networking in person is key
Mock interview with an alum exposed me to how much I know and don’t know
I no longer want to do research on the street, I need to do it
With this I have now narrowed my focus and increased my drive. Since coming back, I have done several phone calls with sell side analysts and networking with people here in Columbus in the buy side to give me greater exposure and knowledge of what I’m striving to achieve. The next step is to book my flight to New York and network in person in February.
To quote the title of a great book by Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go”.
Thanks to The Ohio State University’s partnership with the CFA Society of Columbus, I have had the opportunity that is given to very few that are in school. At the beginning of the year, I signed up for a student membership to the society for (a low rate of) $65. This has allowed me to attend a dinner and a lunch with them. At these events, I’ve had the opportunity to network with investment professionals. They have ranged from a sell side analyst at Wells Fargo to buy side analysts at STRS to an interest rate derivatives trader at Huntington. All of them have been more than willing to share their experiences and talk about nearly anything.
The best part of the society meetings are the speakers. So far I have had the luxury to hear John Rodgers and Abby Joseph Cohen. Mr. Rodgers is the President and CEO of the CFA Institute. He spoke about how important ethics are. As having passed the CFA Level I exam, I know that there is strong emphasis on ethics. He also talked about the future goals of the Institute. I even had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes after the presentation. That was a top 5 moment of my life.
Abby Joseph Cohen was another great speaker. With her working experience from Goldman Sachs, she was the smartest person in the room from my perspective. Ms. Cohen talked about economic cycles and the current recession. My biggest takeaway from her was how she framed the current unemployment problem. From the charts that were show, it looked like a structural shift (which was was longer) combined with cyclical unemployment (higher numbers) .
One of the big selling points for the SMF program for me was the technology and the tools that would be at my disposal for learning and schoolwork. In my undergrad, I was able to use it once and loved that experience and couldn’t wait until I had one at my disposal. I finally got my hands on my first one recently.
The Bloomberg Terminal: The most powerful financial research and database in the world.
A massive data stream, unparalleled in scope and depth, delivered to your desktop in real time. Along with data, the Bloomberg Professional® provides access to all the news, analytics, communications, charts, liquidity, functionalities and execution services that you need to put knowledge into action.
Dr. Pinteris had one of the Bloomberg representative’s come in and provide more or less a crash course in the technology. He briefly covered how powerful the terminal was. You can do anything from look up historical bond yields to exclusive news stories to dividend discount models for any of the 410,000 equities. The rep added that there are so many functions that he doesn’t know all of them.
In the past week, I’ve spent 6 hours working on the terminal. Working at this point with my frame of mind is more like playing though. I just sit there, watch instructional videos and go into functions to learn more and obtain a better feel. It is an important skill to have because in the Investments community, knowledge of Bloomberg is essential. Having the navigational skills on the terminal before entering the job market will give a boost to my marketability.
I am a creature of habit. I catch the same bus into campus each day, work out at the same time, study in the same time windows, go to bed around the same time every night. I feel comfortable with routine, which meant I needed to find some type of fun to get my mind off school with all the work I’m putting in to start off the year.
Thankfully, I’ve stumbled upon a great place to take a mid-week break, Brazenhead Irish Pub. A few classmates (and fellow bloggers Joe Benny and Jeffery “Tyler” Berryman) and I were directed to try it out for their Wednesday $3.50 burgers from 4-9 pm. You may be thinking, how big can a burger be for that price and not at McDonalds or Wendy’s? It’s actually a good size, a full 1/3 lb. at least. They have a selection of 5 different types of burgers you can get for that price. My personal favorite is the Western, which has BBQ sauce, onions, and cheddar cheese which just melts in my mouth. It’s much better than any burger I grill (and I love to work the open flame). All the burgers are served with freshly cooked chips or fruit.
The food isn’t the only reason I enjoy going. Over the past trips, I’ve run into a few of the second year MBA students. It didn’t take me long to figure out they are a fun bunch, and even though they are on average 4 years older than me, and I am lacking any post undergraduate work experience, I am welcomed among them as an equal. They help get my mind off the work that is currently piling up and thinking about what to do when the weekend comes.
As a graduate student, I didn’t know how much of the normal student body I would be exposed to throughout the year, so a few of my SMF classmates and I took part in one of OSU’s Welcome Week events. The university put on a concert with Big Sean headlining. Six of us met up before just to hang out before with the main act not starting until 9:00 or so. Since most of us aren’t familiar with the campus, it was quite an adventure trying to navigate by foot across campus to the South Oval. We went up and down a few streets and alleys, maybe circling the same building a few times.
Once we got to the North Oval, which is next to the library, we could hear thousands of freshman screaming, yelling and singing along from about 200 yards away. The opening acts were just finishing up, so our timing was perfect. We all piled into the crowd and got to enjoy the fun that was a outdoor concert with thousands of others.
The concert was fun, but the best part was the bonding that went on through the entire ordeal between us. After, we all decided to swing by the nearest Jimmy Johns for a quick bite to eat then continued to enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the night. It may have just been some silly concert, but it was the start of turning people who were just classmates into friends.