By: Jonathan Quinn, Finance and Business Economics
Going into Junior Year of college, I sincerely thought that I wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever finding an internship. I was doing well in school and just got into my first semester of Eller and felt that I would have an internship offer by the end of first semester. I didn’t really know it what field of finance or what position, but I initially thought that financial services was a quality fit for me given my analytical thinking and strong quantitative background. However, the end of first semester came and although I had been to a plethora of interviews and networking events through Eller I hadn’t landed anything yet.
I was frustrated and felt as though I failed, but remained optimistic in the fact that I just hadn’t found the right fit yet. Then, Spring Break came around and I still hadn’t received an offer of any kind and became a little more pessimistic in my search. I would tell myself that “maybe it’s just me”, “maybe I’m just not smart enough to get these jobs”, or that “I’m just not good enough for any of these companies.”
Prior to the end of my Junior Year, I landed an internship with a Private Wealth Management group called “The Old Pueblo Group” based in the Catalina Foothills at the local Morgan Stanley office. The internship was a great experience and continued on throughout my Senior Year (in a much more part-time role), but towards the end of my first semester of Senior Year I realized something important. I had come to realize that, although the Financial Services industry was a great field, it wasn’t necessarily for me. I loved the more quantitative, financial modeling, and analytical thinking portion of the job opposed to the client-servicing portion of the job. There are positions in the Financial Service field that have the more quantitative and analytical thinking portion in their work (i.e. Valuation Associates and Investment Management Specialists), but upon taking a class in my last semester of college (Real Estate and Investments with Dr. Bond) I realized that I wanted to work in a field with tangible assets. Tangible referring to the ability to go out and see/touch the projects I am working on. Seeing as how I am a very visual person and the fact that Real Estate requires strong quantitative skills and has positions like Financial Analysts, I immediately knew that this was the field for me. However, I was a little late to realize this and I definitely didn’t have any “strong” leads into the field. But, what I knew I could do is get on the phone with alumni and network with them, I knew I could call family friends and see if they could help me, and I knew that I could reach out to career coaches like Katelyn Rose to help me become connected with people within the industry.
After months of persisting and speaking to people, I was put into contact via a family friend to a commercial real estate developer based out in Newport Beach. I applied for the position and knew I had a lot to learn (given my lack of experience/knowledge in the field). So, instead of just “winging the interview” I went to google and learned about as much as I could on the field, I spoke to the people I networked with to have them explain concepts to me, and met with Dr. Bond during Office Hours to ask clarification questions on concepts I was confused on. Throughout all of this, I knew two things 1) it was an uphill battle and 2) I really wanted to get into the field and after experiencing so many rejections for so many other positions, I was going to do whatever it took to get into the field. The interviews with the company went well and about two weeks before graduation they offered me a full-time position as a Financial Analyst for their company and after about three months of working with them I am thankful that I experienced as many failures as I did because without them, I wouldn’t have ended up exactly where I was supposed to be.
Remember that not every “no” from a company is a bad thing, it just means that maybe you’re looking at all the wrong positions or in the wrong field. I highly encourage students to ask questions in fields/positions they’re interested in and to really think about what you want to do because when the interviewer asks “Why do you want to work in [such and such] field?” The best answer is genuine and honest, rather than one you’ve rehearsed to simply get an internship/job.
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