I’m a long-time follower of this site and found it to be very helpful during my job-search. I want to share my experience to offer some encouragement to those still trying to break into ER.
Non-target, state school, Finance/Information Systems dual degree, 3.6 GPA. My first job out of school was in an IT assignment at F100. Prior to graduation, I had one wealth management internship and a BO internship at a BB. I tried to land a Research position, but was unsuccessful. I took the IT job at the F100 because I knew I had a shot at transferring internally to a business finance role.
So I spent a year in IT, got CFA level one under my belt and networked internally to try to transfer into a job closer to accounting/finance. A year after doing IT, I networked my way into a Cost Accounting position within the same company. About 6 months of doing accounting, I lateralled internally again into a FP&A role within the same business segment. During my time in accounting and business finance, I started reaching out to alumni who were working in FO jobs in NYC.
I also cold- emailed/called 50+ firms with very little success. All of this effort yielded nothing but 2 phone screens and even more rejections. One of my phone screens resulted in a second round interview which did not go well at all. At the end of this second round interview, the Associate showed me a stack of resumes and told me that they had a long list of candidates with Ivy League degrees and actual research experience. He then asked me “So why the f— should we hire you?”… I had no answer and left feeling defeated.
I spent the next 1.5 years focusing on gaining business experience in my company and traveling back and forth to NYC to continue building my relationships with alumni.
Fast forward to June 2015, one of the alumni I had been speaking to informed me of an Associate position that had just opened up. It just so happened that this position was with an ER team covering the same company I worked for. This job was at a BB in NYC.
I immediately sent my resume to the MD of the team and that same day, he responded, copying his HR associate and telling me that she would schedule an interview. I was shocked when she actually did and had my first phone screen the next day. Shortly afterward, she scheduled a second round with the MD. Not wanting to repeat my prior failures, I reached out to the alumni I knew in IB and ran through mock interviews with them. These mock interviews were critical to preparation.
Fast forward 3 interview rounds +1 modeling/writing test later, the bank made me an offer!
The transition to ER may have to be done in multiple steps. If you’re in a back-office IT role, try moving internally to a job where you can gain actual business experience. Contrary to IBD recruiting, you can bypass the MBA route if you gain meaningful business experience in an industry that a research team covers. Look at some LinkedIn profiles, quite a few Associates came from industry/other research roles.
Really understand what an Associate does and be ready to explain how your current responsibilities relate to the job. I spent most of the time talking about my experience and how it was transferrable to ER.
Prepare outside of work. This includes reinforcing your knowledge through CFA studies, practice financial modeling and writing research notes. I invested in BIWS and I was well prepared for my modeling test. Success requires some luck but luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
Network! Your contacts may not get you the job, but in my case, they can help you learn about what the job entails and can be critical to your success when you actually land interviews. The key to networking is building a relationship over time. Start early and take the time to cultivate the relationship. So when an opportunity presents itself, your contact will be more than willing to help you and takes a genuine interest in your success.
Sorry for the long post. I hope some of you find this helpful and encouraging. This will most likely be a time-consuming and ego-bruising journey. You’ll most likely get rejected MANY times over, but all you need is just ONE team to give you a chance.
Best of luck and keep chugging!