Wall Street recruiters receive their fill of curious applications, with some aspirants inflating GPA figures and test scores, and others presenting overwrought or bluffed accounts of job skills and experience. But one Wall Street hopeful drew praise and intrigue Monday after penning a  cover letter  with precisely the opposite intent. An interviewer at a boutique investment firm in Manhattan noticed with great surprise the letter’s plain and almost blithe mention of the applicant’s lack of extraordinary qualifications, while emphasizing his inclination to work “ . . . for next to nothing.” For those who haven’t founded a business, written a best-selling novel, or solved the hunger crisis by their sophomore year, a little honesty and realism can evidently prove refreshing to potential employers.

After an introduction, the applicant went on to write the following :

I am writing you to inquire about a possible summer internship in your office. I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like [redacted] to intern at [redacted], but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception. I am extremely interested in investment banking and would love nothing more than to learn under your tutelage. I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can.

I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line . . . about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I’ve interned for Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at [redacted], for whatever that is worth.


In the ensuing exchanges amongst the bankers charged with vetting the candidate, the mood was decidedly in favor of granting an interview.

Articles by Kevin Staley-Joyce

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