December 2, 2020

Graduate receives Wall Street job right out college

Semir Gabejlic took 33 credit hours his senior year at Webster with one goal in mind: to work at one of the top investment banks on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs. It paid off.

Gabejlic received a job right out of college as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs based out of New York City. Although the process was not easy, he said it was worth it.

“At the end of the day I realized, if I really wanted something out of life, I can make it happen,” Gabejlic said. “If you really set your mind on a goal, it’s obtainable no matter how hard the circumstances are.”

In 2016, Fortune said getting accepted into Goldman Sachs was rarer than receiving an acceptance letter from Harvard University. Gabejlic, who graduated in 2017 with a finance degree, said it is even more rare that they accept a college graduate not coming from an Ivy League school.

Even though he was coming from a university like Webster, Gabejlic said, the people at Goldman Sachs saw something different in him. He took on extracurricular activities to make him stand out from the rest, like piano and fencing classes. He also obtained several internships.

“Whatever’s on your resume paints a picture, but whenever you are sitting face to face with someone, they can pick up on who you are as a person,” Gabejlic said. “When I’m there, I want people to know me for what I like and certain traits. That’s what I want to be remembered by.”

All of his hard work before graduating could not have been done without the help of his former advisor Debbie Psihountas. She said when it came down to it, it was really about stretching policies and begging and pleading in order to make the 33 credit hours happen Gabejlic’s senior year.

“I know financial markets and financial firms well enough to know that those sorts of opportunities don’t come by very often,” Psihountas said. “I used to be a stock broker myself, so I knew that Goldman Sachs was quite a coupe.” 

There were a lot of mishaps that almost cost him to lose the job he had lined up. Psihountas said it was really by the skin of the teeth that he didn’t.

“I told him ‘I can’t guarantee anything, it’s really so far out of policy at this point, but I will promise you that I will give it my all’ and I did,” Psihountas said.

Gabejlic said out of all the Wall Street banks to work at, Goldman Sachs is the one that is chased after the most because of the diverse workforce population. He said coming out of a college like Webster where he was exposed to different races and cultures helped him at his new job because it is similar.

“You work with some of the brightest people in the world, and you also work with some of the most intriguing and interesting people,” Gabejlic said. “You’re constantly working with [them]. You’re never doing your own work, but it’s like a chain link fence.”

Growing up in a different culture

As a first generation college student and Bosnian immigrant, Gabejlic said he didn’t have a lot growing up, and he had to work hard with his family to make it into college. He said he would not be where he is today without his family.

“Without their sacrifice, and without them providing for me in the early years I would not be here. My parents pushed me to do it,” Gabeljic said. “They knew how much I worked towards that too, so they were thrilled.”

Gabeljic’s good friend Irhad Sehovic has been by his side since they were in high school. He is also a Bosnian immigrant, and they bonded over coming from the same type of background. Although Gabeljic went off to Webster, Sehovic landed at Harvard. He now works in corporate finance for Microsoft in Seattle, but they still keep in touch even after getting different jobs.

“For him to graduate from one of the smallest schools in St. Louis county, and still be one of the very few people [to get in], it really speaks to his intelligence and determination,” Sehovic said. “A lot of that came from his time at Webster.”

The future

While most people work towards their top dream job after graduating, Gabeljic’s got his already. So when he thinks about his future, he says, he gets a little stumped.

“Honestly I’ve been thinking about [the future] a lot recently. I’m gonna be at Goldman Sachs for a while. I don’t know the career path in front of me yet,” Gabeljic said. “I don’t know what I want to do long term, but I’m gonna stay here, learn as much as I can and get the valuable experience.” 

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