I arrived in Toronto to start my master’s program. This was it I thought, I’m finally plugged in to Bay Street. I’m going to be an investment banker, I can feel it. Nothing was going to stand in my way. Except that there was one thing… a prereq before the real courses began… math camp.
Nothing says fun times like 3 weeks of optimization and statistics. Then add the kicker that the course is pass/fail and a fail would be very, very bad. Of course my undergrad should have prepared me for all this, but unlike my classmates who had graduated 3 months ago, I had taken a little time off to “find” myself. I graduated 20 months ago and I was not finding myself by doing matrix algebra. In fact as I partied my way from Whistler to London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Brisbane, Sydney and Surfers Paradise, I’m pretty sure matrix algebra didn’t come up even once.
I locked myself in a room. During lectures, my classmates would talk about how easy the material was. After class when they hit the bar I would go straight home and study until I couldn’t see straight anymore. We had to pass 3 exams, one at the end of each week. Exam #1 came and everything went smoothly. Exam #2, no problem. Then came exam #3.
Not the kind of “not good” where at least you tried and maybe you got some things right, but the kind of “not good” where you stare at a completely blank page where your answers are supposed to be. I left the exam feeling like I got hit by a truck.
The results came in an Excel file by email. People’s grades were sorted from highest to lowest and the instructor had inserted a black row near the bottom. If you were above the black row you passed; if you were below you were toast. I started at the top and scrolled down… down… and further down. The black line was getting closer and closer. Finally, there it was; the last row before the black line. I passed and I could stay.
I was ridiculously relieved and I also had an epiphany. IT WAS TIME TO STOP WORKING ALONE. I thought that cutting myself off would allow me to focus, but in reality I was missing out on the fastest possible way to learn, through a team of people that already had the answers.
I went all-in. I found a group of other students that wanted to be bankers and we started working TOGETHER. We ran workshops to teach each other about the markets. We networked with alumni and other experienced bankers. We researched interview questions and taught each other the answers. Then finally, we grilled each other with mock interviews.
By the time interviews came along we were on fire. One-by-one we were picked off by Big 5 and the boutiques. We had landed our dream jobs and it was all because we had WORKED AS A TEAM.
That’s why I’m so fired up about our newest project: the All-Canadian BreakingBayStreet Investment Banking Team. We’re going to put together an all-star team of soon-to-be investment bankers. The team will benefit not just from working with each other, but also through the expertise and guidance of our two coaches who bring a decade of investment banking experience to the table. If you’re serious about becoming an investment banker this is your ticket to the Promised Land. Visit our application page here and submit your application today!