James Joyce doesn’t teach time management, but fate is the great equalizer

I should honestly be working for a marketing company. I mean in the last 5 days since I took the GMAT I have gotten more e-mails about what I got and why am I keeping people waiting…the hype was building. It finally reached a crescendo last night when someone broke into my apartment to find out what I got on the GMAT. (That last one isn’t true, but I did get a lot of e-mails and I want to thank those who cared enough to drop me a line). So why you ask did I wait this long to deliver this tidbit of news? Well something has been happening behind the scenes here at the blog. An exciting thing, a somewhat disappointing thing, and things that will have a huge impact on my life. But before we get to that, here is rundown of what happened on my GMAT.

I arrived at the testing center at around 7:25 for my 8:00am test. Why, because I am neurotic about being early. As I am looking for a way into the locked building, a woman asks me if I am here to take a test. I told her I was and she told me to follow her and that she was running late, she was sick, and the other guy who was supposed to be here today has a pregnant wife, so he might be a little late, or just not show up at all. This woman is talking a mile a minute and is pretty much giving me a verbal rendition of her autobiography. I pretend to intently listen, while inside a fire was burning. One that would fuel me to achieve greatness on this test (at least I hoped it was that and not just gas…). Too make a long and frustrating story shorter, lets just say that the guy whose wife was going to have the baby, forgot to come into work because he though it was Columbus Day weekend and the center was closed. I didn’t start my test until about 8:20, so I was just hanging out with 14 other people for about an hour. One hour, to think about the test…my strategy, the score I needed. I think I freaked myself out a bit during that time because when I went in to take the test, I wasn’t as confident as I was when that fire was burning inside me (it turned out to just be gas…).

The test began well enough, answering questions left (or wrong) and right. Swatting all comers away with confidence that I was getting them right. I was on question 20, when I realized that I hadn’t looked at the clock yet. This isn’t unusual, as timing has never been my problem. When I looked at the clock, it was a moment of sheer terror. If it was portrayed in a movie, the camera would have zoomed in on my horrifying expression, while some eerie music plays in the background. I don’t remember the exact numbers in play here, but needless to say, I was pretty much screwed. I think I had 20 questions left for 30 minutes, or something insane like that! I immediately hit the panic button (there wasn’t an actual panic button, but a metaphorical panic button instead)! I start whizzing through problems by just narrowing down answer choices to 2 and then picking one. I don’t think that was one of the strategies that Manhattan GMAT recommends…I finally catch-up to where I am supposed to be and there are about 5 questions left. I answer those to the best of my knowledge, but the damage was done. Time management had ruined my Quant section for sure. After this emotional and physical beating I still had verbal to contend with…

I don’t know if it is the GMAT in general, or I have just been really lucky, but every official GMAT I have taken has started the verbal section off with a sentence correction question (my least favorite of the verbal questions). Despite that I make my way through this section without much fuss, but with a constant eye on the clock. I finish it off and I feel pretty good about verbal, but I just know that my quant score it going to tank my overall score. I click through the questions about my background and I get to the section that asks if I want to cancel my score. I seriously think about doing this, but I was always told to never, ever cancel your score, unless there is something ridiculous that happens, like a lion breaks into the testing facility and bites your leg off. So I don’t cancel my score. Out of nowhere someone breaks through the door into the testing center with a trombone and plays WA-WA-WAaaaaaaaaaa. I see my score up on screen….640. Just as I suspected my quant had destroyed a good test. My breakdown was a 40 for quant (8 points lower than last time) and a 38 for verbal (2 points higher than time). So what did I learn? Well first, James Joyce seemed to help me, but not as much as I would have liked. Secondly, and probably the most obvious…even it has never been a problem for you before ALWAYS CHECK THE CLOCK! Time management ruined my GMAT and my day…but all was not lost.

On Thursday of the week prior to the GMAT I was supposed to have a call with Randall Sawyer of the Johnson School to discuss what I could do as a re-applicant to better my profile. The call didn’t happen because he wasn’t in the office. I don’t know if he had something happen, or the admin did not block that time out on his calendar, but they get a pass…once is a mistake and I can handle that. I was bummed out, but not totally destroyed.

Also on Thursday of that week, I had a 2nd interview at a bank in the city (this bank may or may not sponsor Liverpool F.C.). After 2.5 hours of interviews I emerged confident that I would be receiving an offer, but then I was told that because of funding reasons, the position would be put on hold until January. I was thrilled about that because I knew that I would find out about Cornell, Columbia, BU, and ND before January, so if I got in somewhere I could politely decline an offer, or if I didn’t get in…the new gig would have been a nice fall back option.

So what ended up happening? Well, the new bank was so impressed with me, that they ended up putting through an exception to make me an offer, which was incredibly generous, like 25% higher than what I make now generous! The offer came on Monday, which is incidentally the day that I was going to hit the submit button on my Cornell app. After talking it over with my wife, my family, my extended family, random people on the street, and a homeless guy who was trying to catch a unicorn….I decided that I am not going to be applying to B-School this year and I am accepting this new position. The past few days have been a whirlwind, but I finally got the official offer letter last night and I gave my two weeks notice this morning.

I am saddened to leave my current job, as the people around here really make the company what it is. Although I will miss the people I work with, I know that this is in my best interest now and for my future. Once I made the decision I decided that I should call Randall Sawyer to let him know that I wouldn’t be applying. I thought that he deserved to know why I wasn’t applying because he had been so helpful to me throughout the process. I have too much respect for him to just leave him guessing. I called Randall and while he was disappointed that I wasn’t reapplying, he said that getting an offer in this job market is something I should be proud of. I thanked him for his help, he thanked me for the call and we said goodbye, but not before he added that B-School would always be there for me in a couple of years if I still want it.

So now what? Well the blog dies….I don’t really know why I would keep it around if I am not planning on applying to B-school for at least 2 years. I had a great time blogging and sharing my successes (I don’t know how many there were but there had to be some, right, right????) and failures (multiple, soul crushing failures). I believe that all things happen for a reason. I was meant to take this job and to not go to B-School. Why? I have not idea…but it is going to be really fun to find out!

Before putting a knife in this guy, I just want to thank everyone who read,  commented, was a fan of, casually glanced at, or even hated my blog. Hopefully I have helped you in some small way, and if not, hopefully you had fun reading about my life. I want to thank my wife and my family for supporting me throughout the process. This experience took time away that I could have spent with them, but they always understood and they never let it become a problem. They were my biggest supporters and my best friends.  Love you guys!

I want to thank Clear Admit for featuring me in the Friday From the Frontlines. I want to thank anyone who has ever done a guest post for me and lightened the burden of having to come up with a brilliant post everyday. Lastly, I want to thank John Byrne from Poets and Quants for featuring my blog on his website, his stuff is cutting edge and he isn’t afraid to give you his opinion on things. Plus, he is a Jersey guy, so we have that bond going already. Go to his site people…you won’t be disappointed.

If you ever have a question about applying or want to mock me for coming this far only to stop about 1/4 of an inch from the finish line, I can be reached at sgargiulomba at gmail.com. So I bid all of you adieu and like Ryan Seacrest, I’M OUT! (cue curtain and applause)


Fill it up again!

So as you know, the Obama administration has imposed a $90B tax on the nations largest banks because they caused this economic melt-down. Most people figured that these measures would hurt a little, but the firms would be just fine. Obama was going to get his money, his votes, and people were going to sing his praises for taking punitive actions against the banks. But just when you thought he was done and he was going to get what he wanted, he goes and screws it up!

It was announced today that he would be recommending that no bank should be able to:

1. Invest in a hedge fund/private equity fund

2. Run a prop trading desk*

* A prop trading desk is a desk that trades with the firm’s own capital, and not for customers.

My first thought…well I won’t write my first thought, but after reflection, my next thought was that the banks are screwed if this passes. Obama couldn’t take away the biggest money maker for a lot of the investment banks, could he? He does want the banks to be able to pay this tax back, doesn’t he? Can Congress really pass a bill like this? Say it with me everyone, “YES WE CAN!”

Goldman Sachs makes about 90% of its profits from proprietary positions, so if this was to go away completely, they are fucked. I don’t curse a lot on this blog, but “they be fucked” if this happens. The only solution that I can see to this problem is to spin off the investment banking arm of large banks to separate commercial and investment banking again. If this is Obama’s end game, why wouldn’t he just re-institute Glass-Steagall? (a law that said a commercial bank cannot own an investment bank)

I can’t talk about this anymore because if you think about it for too long, your head explodes, so be careful!

Goldman Sachs – The shining beacon of Wall Street (for MBA grads)

Amazingly, this BWeek article says, get this….people, especially MBA grads, still want to work for Goldman Sachs! Rubbish, you say? Ridiculous? Preposterous? Diabolical? Apparently not. Goldman is still attracting MBA grads in pre-crash numbers, which can’t really come as a surprise to anyone in the financial community. There are many things that draw people to Goldman, such as:

1. High Compensation

2. Work with the “smartest people on the Street”

3. High Compensation

4. Be a part of the Goldman conspiracy to slowly take over all US government positions

5. High Compensation

6. The opportunity to laugh at other, 2nd tier bankers while at your 3-martini lunch at San Pietro’s

Lastly, I am pretty sure that Goldman compensates its top employees well, so I would add high compensation to the list.

In all seriousness, Goldman is (at least perceived to be) the best at what they do on Wall Street. Having the Goldman name on your resume is the equivalent of a “work anywhere you want card.” Goldman does also have great connections with the US government, so if you aspire to do more than make it rain at the club with models and bottles, you can join the government and shape the future of our country. Again, Goldman does compensate people very well, so it is only rational that people with $150k in debts would want to collect some coin from the the money machine that is Goldman Sachs. If Lloyd Blankfein went on national television, cursed off Jim Cramer and defecated on the set of “Mad Money,” people would still want to work at Goldman…So give the article a read and see if you agree with the reasons that these people want to work at Goldman.

The GMAT is becoming more important

This Businessweek article talks about the increasing importance of the GMAT to top financial and consulting firms. Recruiters seem to be weeding people out based on GMAT scores. The article doesn’t exactly spell out what score is the cutoff for these institutions, but it does make this reference, “even ‘slightly below 700 might not be a help.” The beginning of the article also talks about how some schools are alerting students about this and in turn the students are re-taking the exam. One school is even offering a 4 day course for in coming students.

My take on this is that this would be the same as filtering out people based on SAT scores, which I know does happen. The tests themselves do represent your ability to retain information and apply in to solve a problem, but it doesn’t measure more qualitative things that go into making a good leader/worker. If I got 690 on the exam, which I did, does that make me a better candidate for an I-banking job at  Goldman than someone who gets a 650, or am I worse than someone in the 700s? That I cannot say…what if someone is a bad test taker or a great test taker? Does my 690 mean that I would pick better stocks for my hedge fund than that 650?

I suppose that this is really used because recruiters have a bevy of qualified candidates and they need to widdle the pile down somewhat. The GMAT is something we will all have in common, the great equalizer, if you will. So this is a heads up to all those who plan on “making it rain” for the rest of their lives…you better have the GMAT score necessary to get into the club!

MBA Salaries

Found this article/podcast, which focuses on MBA compensation and the state of the MBA job market. The focus is mainly on compensation for consulting/i-banking jobs, so if that is not your focus you might want to skip this article. One interesting tid-bit is at the end of the article when it is mentioned that the school you attend can greatly effect your compensation during year 1. Wharton, Harvard and Tuck were mentioned as the top 3 schools for high Wall Street Salaries.

Nothing earth shattering here, but still a good read/listen. Just a little something to start Tuesday off right….

I’m still at work????

How can this be? Well while most of my company has left because we are mainly a bond brokerage house, we have a small equities desk, and as a risk manager, I have drawn the short straw and I am staying until 4pm, ouch! This article was a little pick me up though. It is an article about the various graduation day speakers at top MBA programs. Just reading about who these people are listening to gets me excited. I also think the message that business schools are conveying by changing the types of speakers they have is a necessary step. Business schools, colleges, and the financial community in general put too much an emphasis on creating shareholder value, which led to short term goals and misaligned compensations with performance.

A lot of people look at me funny when I tell them that I am investing in my future by going back to school and that I intend to work in the financial sector after getting out. Most tell me that the compensation of the past few years will never return and Wall Street will never be what it once was. I am fine with that, I am not going to Wall Street because of the compensation (although if someone wants to pay me millions of dollars, I suppose I could put my Wall Street dreams off for a bit), instead I am going for the challenge and my love of the stock market. No other job tests its participants more often than the stock market. Every trade that is executed will typically have a winner and a loser. (ex. you sell and the stock goes higher, loser!) This forces you to be at your best at all times. You won’t always be right, but what you learn from being wrong will only help you in the future.

Congrats to all the grads who are venturing to Wall Street this year (or trying to), follow your dreams, not the compensation and all with work itself out in the end. Happy Memorial Day!

Why It’s Time To Reform Investment Banking’s League Tables | The Big Picture

Nice video about investment banking league tables.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Big shout-out to Vodpod, which allows me to grab any video I want and post it to the blog. It should allow for me to add more and more multimedia content.