by Brian DeChesare Comments (184)

Should You Delay Your Graduation to Level-Up Your Internship or Full-Time Job Offer?

Delay Graduation for Internship?

As recruiting season finishes up each year, we always get one question over and over.

Here’s a random sample from this year’s email volume:

“I’ve been meeting some people for coffee according to your Networking Toolkit, and they have been suggesting that I delay my graduation.

I am a liberal arts major with a 3.0 GPA and no IB experience, although I can spin some of my experience to make it seem more finance-related.

Do you think I should delay my graduation, which I can do without taking classes, and go to NYC or London to network my way into an internship for a few months?

Or will recruiters see through the ‘delayed grad with no classes’ plan?

Some questions require thoughtful responses, but this one’s simple: delaying your graduation is almost always a terrible idea.

There are a few limited, highly specialized cases where it makes sense, but it often yields “returns” that are far below your expectations.

Here’s why:

Why I’m Not a Fan of Delaying Your Graduation

The typical argument for delaying your graduation goes like this:

“I didn’t get a return offer from my summer internship and couldn’t get any full-time offer I wanted / I couldn’t get the internship or full-time offer I wanted because of problems A, B, and C.

Therefore, rather than accepting a sub-par role or being unemployed, I’ll stay in school for another semester, or even another year, and fix problems A, B, and C.

Then I’ll get the chance to do another, better internship, which I can then convert into a full-time role.”

This argument makes sense at first glance – who wouldn’t want a second chance?

However, there are logical flaws with this premise that make a delayed graduation less useful than you might think:

Logical Flaw #1: You Know WHY You Didn’t Get the Offers You Want

In my experience, very few university students understand why they did not receive offers.

Sometimes it’s obvious – a 3.0 GPA from a non-target school or zero internships, for example – but in other cases, you may not know for sure.

Often, the reason you failed to receive offers has little to do with your resume or responses to interview questions and more to do with the “vibe” you gave off.

You might be able to fix this… but it might take a lot of time, and you might not even be aware that it needs to be fixed.

For a delayed graduation to make sense:

  • You must know exactly why you didn’t get your desired offers the first time around; and
  • You must be able to fix these problems in only 1-2 school terms – which leads us into logical flaw #2.

Logical Flaw #2: You Can Fix These Problems in a Year or Less

Here are some problems that you can’t fix in a short time frame:

  • Low GPA – So you’re going to go from a 3.0 to a 3.7 GPA in only one or two semesters? How is that mathematically possible? Even a 3.4 to a 3.7 might be difficult to pull off.
  • Lack of Previous Internships – Maybe you can get one additional internship… but if you have nothing currently, you’re unlikely to win something highly relevant (e.g., an IB/PE internship) over the summer. You need to be a line, not a dot.

There are a few problems you might be able to fix in a year or less – lack of technical preparation, lack of networking, etc. – but even those are “borderline” since you have to start far in advance these days.

And if the problem will take 2-3 years to fix, there is no point in delaying graduation.

Logical Flaw #3: The Hiring Market Will Stay the Same or Improve in the Next Year

Finally, delaying your graduation assumes that the world will remain the same or improve between now and then.

Ask anyone who delayed their graduation from December 2007 to December 2008 how that one turned out.

We’ve been in a bull market with rising deal activity for the past 6-7 years, which means that a downturn is set to start shortly.

But the same logic applies whenever deal activity and hiring have been on the upswing: you know the market will eventually turn; you just don’t know exactly when.

So even if you improve your interview skills, your GPA, your resume, or your professional network, that may be irrelevant if banks hire 50% fewer candidates.

The Risk of a Delayed Graduation

Those logical flaws translate into specific risk factors for this move:

Risk #1: It Costs a Lot, But It Doesn’t Help You

A university education is quite expensive, especially at top-tier private schools in the U.S., and delaying your graduation by even one semester could add tens of thousands of dollars to your student loans.

Even if you’re in a country where universities are “free” or your parents are paying for everything, you still waste time and give up earnings by delaying your graduation.

Are the extra debt and the opportunity cost worth it for a slightly improved GPA, or another shot at interviews?

That’s an easy “no” in most cases.

Risk #2: You Can’t Explain Why You Delayed Your Graduation

So let’s say you go ahead with this plan, and then you walk into an interview room in the future.

The interviewer remembers you and immediately asks, “So what brings you back here? Didn’t we just speak with you a few months ago?

What are you going to tell him?

You “decided” to stay in school longer?

You added a thesis so you could graduate with honors?

You didn’t understand the exact requirements for your degree?

You decided to take extra sociology or anthropology classes “for fun?”

Interviewers will see through those excuses and realize that you delayed graduation to get another shot at recruiting.

That’s not necessarily the end of the world, but you better have a good explanation for how you’ve improved – especially if you did just interview with them a few months ago.

And if you end up spending another year in school, you’ll have to explain why it took you five years to graduate in future PE/HF interviews, business school interviews, and more.

Risk #3: The Market Turns

Again, ask anyone who had planned to graduate in December 2007 and delayed it to December 2008 about this one (for added fun, take a look at my blog post from the September 2008 apocalypse here).

Market turns are unpredictable and tend to happen quickly.

So it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to “time” the market in a meaningful way and get an offer just before everything collapses.

You’re almost always better off taking the best role you can get, and then going for a lateral move once you’re already on the job.

And there are dozens of reader case studies on the site from all different time periods to back up this strategy.

Alternatives to a Delayed Graduation

To illustrate what a bad idea this is, I’m going to walk through three scenarios where you might think that a delayed graduation is the answer, but where other strategies would be better.

Scenario #1: No Internship Experience, No Finance Major, and a Low GPA

This one corresponds to our reader question at the beginning (liberal arts major, limited finance experience, and a 3.0 GPA).

Delaying graduation would make no sense because:

  • You can’t improve your GPA up to the 3.5-3.7 level in 1-2 semesters.
  • You won’t be able to take enough accounting/finance classes to look relevant.
  • And even if you do get a finance internship, a single internship won’t help you much.

Instead, I would suggest:

If you have no luck with that approach, think about a Master’s in Finance degree at a highly ranked school to boost your academic profile and get better access to recruiters.

Scenario #2: No Return Offer from Your Summer Internship

So you networked your butt off, you went through interviews with a bunch of banks, and you won and completed an IB summer internship…

but you didn’t get a return offer because you didn’t perform well, because the bank reduced its hiring needs, or because it just didn’t work out.

It still makes little sense to delay your graduation because it will be tough to explain yourself to interviewers:

“So… you completed a summer internship at Large Bank X. Why are you interviewing for another summer internship? Why have you delayed your graduation?”

How would you answer that question?

Possible Response #1: “I didn’t get a return offer.”

Interviewer: “OK, so why didn’t you just apply for full-time roles elsewhere?”

Possible Response #2: “Well, I didn’t fit in with the culture…”

Interviewer: “Uh, so did you get a return offer?”

In this scenario, it would make more sense to go smaller and apply for full-time roles at middle-market and boutique banks, or to think about Big 4 groups or independent valuation firms.

Yes, it will be tougher if you admit to not receiving a full-time offer, but it’s still do-able.

Maybe you could consider delaying your graduation if you go through the entire process, fail to land full-time offers anywhere, and you need a “Plan B.”

But that outcome isn’t likely if you were skillful enough to win a summer internship at a large bank in the first place.

Scenario #3: You Have Solid Internships, But You Decided on IB at the Last Minute

For example, maybe you did an audit internship at a regional firm after finishing your accounting coursework, but you realized midway through that audit is mind-numbingly dull.

You won a full-time return offer from your firm, but you don’t want to take it.

You could roll the dice, delay your graduation, turn down the return offer, and go through summer recruiting for IB roles… but you’d be taking a huge chance because:

  • You may not even get an IB internship…
  • …but you’d have to turn down the full-time return offer and delay your graduation before you know for sure.
  • Your experience, while “solid,” may not be competitive enough to help you win an IB internship.

So in this case, you should accept the full-time return offer and do a job you don’t like for a while.

Then, transition into valuation work at an independent firm, a Big 4 firm, or whatever else you can find, and move into banking from there.

So Does It Ever Make Sense to Delay Your Graduation?


But I can think of at least two cases where it might make sense:

Case #1: You Came Very Close to an IB/PE Internship, But Didn’t Quite Make It

For example:

It might make sense to delay graduation – if you can afford it – because you can network enough in the span of a few months to make a difference.

Also, you don’t have any major problems that are “unfixable” in a short time frame.

Finally, there’s enough of a difference between credit risk/corporate banking and investment banking that it makes sense to roll the dice here.

Case #2: You Kept Making a Specific, Fixable Mistake Last Time and Can Fix It This Time

This case is kind of a stretch: how could you keep making the same mistake over and over again in dozens of interviews and not realize it?

But it is possible.

Here are a few examples I’ve seen:

  • You have decent internship experience, but you haven’t had enough practice with case studies and technical questions, and you get flustered in interviews (Solution: Take all our courses. Practice. A lot.)

The first problem – appearing “boring” due to a lack of interesting experiences/hobbies/activities – is the easiest and most realistic one to fix in this time frame.

The other two stretch plausibility, but I have seen legitimate cases where these issues have resulted in poor interview performance.

To Delay or Not to Delay?

The problem with delaying graduation is that it’s predicated on assumptions that are often false.

The market could change.

You might not even know why you didn’t do well the first time around.

And you might not be able to improve yourself enough in a short time frame to justify this decision.

The market has changed so much in the past 5-10 years (i.e., since the 2006 – 2011 era) that it’s very tough to become competitive with a single additional internship anymore.

So don’t assume that a delayed graduation is the answer to anything.

It might be an answer in very specific cases.

But more often than not, students take on extra debt, waste time and forego earnings, and fail to get much out of it.

So think before you make the delayed graduation leap – especially if you have a 3.0 GPA in a liberal arts major with no finance experience.

Your Questions

Are you thinking of delaying your graduation? Wondering if it makes sense? Have you delayed it already and are you starting to doubt yourself now?

Leave a comment below, and we’ll weigh in.

Further Reading

If you like this article, you might be interested in The Private Equity Associate: Pathway to Glory, or Glorified Monkey?

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hey Brian,

    Currently have a 3.8+ GPA at an Ivy, also diversity. I didn’t network this cycle and only got two first rounds, where I did pretty well and got 1 SD but didn’t think I fit very well. If I strike out this cycle, should I delay grad one semester and hit the pavement hard going for SA 2026 cycle? Thanks.

    1. If your main problem was a lack of networking, yes, it might make sense to delay graduation and try again.

  2. I’m transferred to a target as a junior, I’d be graduating in may 2026. Would it make sense to push my graduation back to December 2026, so I’d technically be a sophomore when I transfer for recruitment purposes?

    1. Yes, definitely. Unfortunately, due to the accelerated recruiting timeline, transferring universities is no longer a great idea in most cases… unless you can somehow push back your graduation date, as you’re doing. You really need to go into Year 2 of university on top of your plans since recruiting starts midway through.

  3. I have two relevant internships; one in M&A and one in PE. I attend a target school in Canada with an above-average GPA. I have one summer left before graduating. Here’s my situation: I could take on an internship (PE shop known for being sweater) in spring and delay my graduation by a semester OR I could take a summer PE internship (big fund) and graduate in December. My dilemma is whether I should take on the internship in the spring. Pros? Very sweaty and I will get a lot of reps. Cons? Delaying grad (yes I can afford it). Or I just graduate in December and recruit FT in January

    1. The issue with delaying graduation these days is that it’s less useful because recruiting has moved up to over a year in advance of summer internships. I realize it’s slower in Canada than in the U.S., but it still takes place earlier than it used to.

      If you already have 1 M&A internship and 1 PE internship, I don’t think it will be very useful to do another PE internship in the spring and delay your graduation. It’s better just to work at the large fund and graduate in December – but you have to consider the timing of the FT recruiting process as well, which I’m not 100% sure of in Canada (we mostly track the U.S. and European processes on this site).

      Another PE internship adds little unless it’s a) At a large and well-known fund or b) Comes with the possibility of a full-time return offer. But it sounds like working at the big fund would at least satisfy a) in this case.

  4. Hello Brian.

    Thank you so much for this insightful post. Surprising how relevant this is almost half a decade later.

    I am situated in Canada. Semi-target, 3.7 GPA, currently doing 12 month ER internship at a big bank after my 3rd year. I was supposed to graduate May 2024 (5 yr program) Tried to recruit for junior year internships, but due to very very accelerated recruiting catching me off guard+ some mistakes on my end, was not able to land a summer IB internship. I was very close, superdayed at 2 of the big 6 and first round at another one. Currently looking to land a summer at a pension/independent.

    I am thinking of extending my graduation by 8 months to have a shot at Summer 2024 IB (thereby graduating December 2024). Given I was so close this time out, I think its a good idea. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this + what would be the best way to answer ‘why did you delay graduation’ question in the interviews if I recruit for 2024 summer.

    Thanks a lot !!

    1. If you were that close, sure, it might be a good idea. To answer why you delayed graduation, you can just be honest and say that you got a late start in recruiting because it started so early, so you wanted to recruit again, and then maybe say that you also wanted to add some other academic program, course, or activity before graduating.

      1. Thanks a lot for the advice and really appreciate you taking the time to reply even after the article has been out so long.

  5. Vincent

    Hi Brian,
    I am currently a senior at a non-target state school (although plenty have broken in to EB/BB from my school) with a 4.0 gpa majoring in accounting – only semi-relevant internship experience would be working in audit. I’m about to graduate in a couple weeks after spending 3.5 years in undergrad, and it wasn’t until quite recently I took up interest in IB/PE. I’m planning on doing a 9 month master’s in accounting this fall at my current undergrad university with original plans of getting my CPA and working in public accounting, but am reevaluating my plans due to not enjoying public accounting. I’m debating changing my plans to pick up two more majors (mathematics and finance) and ultimately graduate in December 2024. This would essentially put me into sophomore status in Fall 2022 based on graduation date. I know this is a long time to put off graduation, but time and money aren’t an issue in my situation. If I’m willing to do this, do you think it would be a good idea to give myself a chance at relevant internship experience this coming fall/next spring in local shops and ultimately start recruiting in Spring 2023 for a Summer 2024 IB internship at an EB/BB? My main concern is that I will have spent 6 years in undergrad by the time I graduate in Dec 2024 and was wondering if that would be a deal breaker for EB/BB banks. Would they care if I spent 6 years in undergrad? My other option is to do my master’s in accounting this next year and graduate Spring 2023, take up a job in audit afterwards for 2 years, transition to a valuation/FDD role for 2 years to gain deal experience, and then work my way into IB from there for 2-3 years with the final goal of getting into PE (which probably wouldn’t happen until I’m around 30). I would prefer the option of staying in school to eventually break into PE by the time I’m 26-27, but wanted to get your opinion on what you think is the best long-term play in my situation. I appreciate your advice/guidance.

    1. Yes, delaying to Dec 2024 sounds like a good plan. I don’t think 6 years in undergrad is a big deal as long as you can explain it. If you can afford to stay in school, that is almost always a better option for getting into IB/PE because it only gets harder after you graduate, even in a related FT job.

      1. Vincent

        Thank you for the insight, Brian. What have you seen regarding going back into undergrad as a post-bacc? Is this a good idea to get some internship experience and compete for FT roles? Or is it too odd to go back into undergrad after graduation? Would it be better to lateral into IB/PE from a FT job instead of going back into undergrad? Thank you

        1. I have almost no data or examples of that, so I can’t really say. The main issue is that it will be very difficult to explain yourself, your graduation date, and whether you qualify for internships. So if you’ve already graduated, it’s almost always better to aim for lateral roles, followed by a Master’s degree, followed by an MBA if none of that works.

  6. Hi Brian,

    I am a senior at a target school in NYC, I am an economics major with a 3.2 overall GPA and a 3.5 major GPA. I switched majors from engineering, hence why my overall GPA is low. I am in my fifth year (took an extra year bc of the switch). I have had one internship in the business office of an engineering firm, and one in the forecasting department of a utility. I want to break into IB, but would take commercial, or anything at the big banks at this point. I have once class which I need for my minor which I will be taking the summer after graduation, but I can take it this fall instead so I graduate Fall 22 instead of summer 22. What would you do in my case? Thank you

    1. I would probably aim for something like corporate banking or valuation or a Big 4 role that’s less competitive and then use that to recruit for IB. I think your somewhat lower GPA (yes, they understand it’s engineering at a top school, but still) and relative lack of finance internships will make it tough to compete for full-time roles at the biggest banks. And even if you delay graduation now, it won’t help because summer 2022 internship recruiting finished up in 2021. So… delaying graduation makes sense only if it allows you to get one of the back-up/steppingstone roles that might eventually lead to IB.

  7. Hi Brian,

    I’m a senior at a target with a high GPA. I discovered my interest in IB very late, and I’m thinking of taking next semester off to intern, so I would then graduate in the fall. I’ve already scored a few interviews at EBs and other solid boutiques, but have not yet landed an offer. I think with proper preparation/networking, however, I would have a solid chance given my ability to get interviews with almost no networking or finance experience up to this point.

    My main question is, if I intern during the spring is justifying my semester off with “I wanted to gain experience working in finance” acceptable? I can’t afford to take a bunch of classes and to add on a minor to justify staying, nor do I want to. The truth is that I got to the game incredibly late, but I don’t want to give up breaking in as an analyst when my school already gives me a big leg up. I just down know if “I took off because I wanted to gain experience in IB” will be acceptable. Thank you

    1. I would just tell them the truth, i.e., you got interested in IB very late for [insert plausible reason, such as a major career/major change], and you knew you’d need at least one internship to be competitive, so you decided to take the semester off and complete that internship, and you didn’t want to add another semester or do a Master’s program or anything like that.

  8. Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for posting this article! I’m currently in a tricky situation, and I would love to hear your insights on how to best approach this situation.

    So basically, I’m a undergraduate senior at a target school and this summer I’m working in BO operations at a F500 company (after not landing a FO role last recruiting cycle). I decided to re-enter the 2022 Summer Analyst recruiting process again, and I was able to land a FO 2022 SA offer at a BB. Now that I have an SA offer at a BB, I was thinking about just taking a gap year by not enrolling in classes and then finish up my final semester after my 2022 SA internship. BTW, beyond recruiting, I also have real, legit reasons for why I have to delay my graduation (parents unemployed due to covid/financial hardships at home so I hope to work to make money to fund the rest of my undergrad tuition).

    How would my situation (gap year without classes) be perceived by the BB during background checks? Do you think that this would be grounds for HR to rescind my SA 2022 offer? Also, do you think that this could negatively impact my return offer chances?

    Thanks so much in advance, Brian!

    1. That is a tough one. But I don’t think they would necessarily care that much as long as you’re finishing the actual degree sometime *after* the summer internship and as long as you have a decent explanation for the gap year. I would focus on coming up with a plan, activity, volunteer work, part-time job, or something else to do during the gap year so you can present that if/when it comes up.

  9. Hi Brian,
    Thank you very much for this insightful sharing, still extremely helpful after 5 years!
    Going through the comments field, I’d still like to seek your advise on my situation :).
    I graduated from a portal campus of a target school in US and went for top b-school in Europe (2 year program). I missed to apply for SA in my Master 1 (applied too late only got interviewed by 1 BB into Superday but no luck) and now instead doing summer internship at a top 2 Chinese IB (but no return chances).
    In this case I would love to ask if it’d be wise for me to take a gap year, focus on IB-offcycle and IB-SA next year? Or should I go directly into FT recruitment and make plan Bs?
    Some more information:
    – I hope to land at US/EMEA/HK IB ?BB or boutique)
    – I have top Chinese bank DCM (junior year) -> financial engineering + VC internship (senior year) -> top Chinese IB (master 1, now); various extracurricular, okay GPA
    – I think I didn’t got BB SA because I applied too late (mid-late September for EMEA), but for the only one I got interview I felt comfortable…but no luck still
    – I have relatively diverse internship experiences than my peers but it is general in Europe to do a gap year in the 2-year Masters
    I am concerned and hope to seek your opinion on:

    – How much chance would it make sense to leverage my Chinese IB experience to international BB/boutiques directly in FT? Given BB hardly hires non-SA people…
    – Would it be too much / looks weird/redundant for me to do current IB, gap year and do another IB SA the next summer? It’s gonna be like: I already know I want IB (finally in Master 1) but I try more IB (international ones) with another year? Is it redundant?
    – Should I gap…?

    Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you!

    1. Are you in an actual MBA program or just a Master’s in Finance degree or similar non-MBA Master’s program?

      Assuming that you’re in a non-MBA Master’s program, the best plan here is to apply for off-cycle roles at the large banks in London. You have enough internship experience to be competitive there. I don’t think it’s worthwhile to take an entire year off just to apply to summer internships again, and I’m not sure how that would work if you’ve already finished 1 year of your 2-year program already (???).

  10. I am currently a junior majoring in Biochemistry and molecular biology and this semester declared an economics major as well since I’ve developed an interest in banking. I did not know how early banking internships recruited and did not have a network to apply with so I have absolutely nothing lined up for this summer (did not want to work/research in a lab). I plan to take economics classes this summer so that I complete the major on time (next spring). I currently go to a non-target school with a 3.81 gpa (upwards trend). My question is what to do right now since I am very confused on the best way to break into the industry as I have little exposure to the recruiting process. I just bought a few books on case studies/technical information on banking so that if I receive the opportunity to interview I will be able to demonstrate interest in the field. I think I just don’t know how to even land the first internship as it seems like many banks really want juniors not seniors. I want to purse a Master in Finance just to learn more about the academic side since it really interests me but again the top schools really want to see experience in the industry. I’ve reached out to the career advising at my school and they were very unhelpful. What do you think should be my first step from where I am now?

    1. You need to get a relevant job after graduation ASAP (such as a Big 4 firm, corporate banking, or an independent valuation firm) and then network and/or use a Master’s in Finance program to get into IB. See:

  11. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your sharing! My situation is a bit complicated. I am in a target school, major in accounting. I have two IB internships and sufficient GPA.
    Because of the COVID-19, I had to take classes online at home in 2020. My visa has expired, I cannot go to school, preventing me from an internship. Now I re-apply for my visa, but I will soon graduate. I want to postpone my graduation to network more and practice interview skills, and more importantly, to get local internship opportunities. I am wondering if it is a good idea? Looking forward to your reply!

    1. Yes, delaying your graduation makes sense in that case.

  12. Hey Brian. I’m in kind of an inverse situation. I’m a freshman at a semi-target, but because of COVID my internship was cancelled and I was able to take a bunch of classes over the summer. I can now graduate in 3 years if I want to.
    My question: Would it be worth it to declare I’ll be graduating in 3 years, then recruit for IB SA this summer? I have a strong resume, I’m an analyst for the student-run hedge fund which is pretty competitive and I’m headed to a PE firm this summer.
    The way I imagine it is I end up with a lower-tier offer (say BoA San Francisco), then the next year I announce I’ll be graduating in 4 years like normal and leverage that internship for a higher tier offer (say GS TMT). Would this work? Is there something I’m not thinking of?

    1. The issue with that is that if you perform well, you’ll get a return offer at the end of the internship… and if you turn it down to stay in school longer, that could come back to haunt you. It looks bad if you say you turned it down, and it also looks bad if you didn’t get the return offer or changed your status after the internship so you couldn’t accept it. I don’t think it’s a great idea to graduate in 3 years unless you have already been networking with alumni and are very prepared for recruiting in the first half of next year.

  13. Hey, Brian, I am a rising senior at a target school with 3.3 GPA. I am a Chemistry major but in the past 3-4 semisters I developed an interest in CS and have decided to pursue career in CS and have taken most of the CS courses. I have done a CS summer internship (Summer 2020) at a company which is not my target company to work at after I graduate. I don’t have any FT job offers as of now. Also, due to the current pandemic situation most of the IT Majors are making the return FT job offers to the interns (as the number of FT jobs are limited).

    I wanted to ask if its a good idea to delay my graduation by one semester and take up a 6 month internship for summer 2021 and work towards getting a return offer so I can have another shot? Appreciate your inputs Brian!

  14. Hi! I have a done 2 Corp finance internships so far and an off cycle Buy side markets internship. Currently I have accepted an offer to do Corporate Treasury at a BB and I will be graduating in 2021 December. I don’t plan to accept the return offer at the BB if I were to be given one as Corp Treasury isn’t what I see myself doing in the future. Will you recommend to take up another Off cycle internship to graduate in June 2022 to have a proper shot in the FT application process? Or should I just graduate in December 2021 and start looking for FT roles now?

    1. I don’t think it makes sense to graduate, turn down a possible return offer, and then look for FT roles. You should aim for a more relevant off-cycle internship and delay graduation if necessary.

  15. Hey Brian,

    I am a junior at a NESCAC school. I got one sales & trading superday this year at a BB, but didn’t get an offer. Other than that, I didn’t get any interviews at BBs. I am on the tennis team at school, and it looks increasingly likely that we won’t have a spring season in 2021. I have an opportunity to kill 2 birds with one stone now and take a gap semester (or be part time) so that I can play another season and get another crack at recruiting next year. I know what I did wrong (didn’t network early enough, had connections at banks through family but didn’t reach out until it was too late). I am pretty confident I can get an internship next year after going through the process this year and learning, but want to make sure im not making a bad decision. What are your thoughts on this? Will taking a gap semester so I can play more as a student-athlete be a convincing story as to why I’m going through the internship recruiting process again?

    1. I think it’s a reasonable story. This year, anything pandemic-related will work because everyone has been affected by it. But you can also say that the experience wasn’t worth it because so many students were gone, classes went virtual, etc., and so combined with the lack of a tennis season, you didn’t see the point in doing a spring semester, and decided to delay your graduation. Just make sure you can point to something productive you did during the gap semester.

  16. I am not sure how pushing back your graduation works. I am a Junior right now intending on graduating in May 2022. I missed recruiting but now I set my mind on investment banking. If I push my graduation to December 2022 does that mean I can apply to summer 2022 investment banking internships?

  17. Hey, I’m currently debating between doing a master in accounting or internship in VC. I have experience in corp dev and venture capital but the job market has been extremely tough this year. I’m not sure which one would be more helpful for full-time recruiting.

    1. Hard to say without knowing more information – but if you’ve already had CD and VC work experience, another VC internship probably won’t help much. A Master’s degree at least gives you time to network and look for better full-time jobs.

  18. Hi Brian, been reading your post for a while and thank you for all your inputs! I was originally an undeclared (liberal studies) student at a target uni in New York. Recently I transferred into our target business school studying finance as a rising Junior.

    I was afraid to recruit for ib previously because I thought only kids from our target business program place into ib so I spent most time transferring into the program and getting good grades. I do have a 3.95 gpa and have previous finance internships in wealth management (china) and at small boutique IB shop in NY (sophomore summer). But I basically missed out for networking times for Banks that recruited early such as Citi, CS, and Covid also hit and I wanted more time to network and recruit.

    Do you think I should delay my graduation and recruit as a sophomore or try the off cycle recruiting process? Thanks!

    1. It makes more sense to delay graduation in your case because recruiting for summer 2021 is over at most banks, but you already have some decent work experience and could be competitive for internships next year with enough networking.

  19. Hi Brian,

    My situation is a bit different to those described but I share a similar problem. I have a 4.0 GPA at semi-target yet no directly relevant work experience. I was looking at law until the start of this year then shifted my focus to finance.

    With being on the ropes lacking experience before COVID I have yet to find relevant meaningful experience outside of a couple of basic virtual schemes. I have been running my own (non-related) business since graduating last month to plug the gap in my CV alongside the basic virtual schemes. Would I be best to look for off cycle internships to build experience or look at masters programs?

    1. The problem is that even if you do a Master’s program, you’ll still need some type of internship experience to use an MSF program to win jobs in competitive sectors like investment banking. So, maybe keep looking for off-cycle roles for now and see if you can get at least one, and then think about Master’s programs.

  20. Hi Brian, I am a rising senior at a target school with 3.7 GPA, I have a return offer for FT Sales&Trading at a top tier BB. I got in the program from sophomore diversity program and at that time, I was not sure what I wanted to do after gradation. However, after a sophomore summer internship in Investment Banking at another pretty good firm’s regional office, I realized that I wanted to do Investment Banking. I have talked to my HR about internal transferring to IB at my own firm, but they told me that this year they are filling all spots with summer interns. They told me they will keep my name in the list, and give priority to internal hires over external if spots open. Now, I have three options in mind:

    1) Recruit IBD FT at other banks before my offer expires, and accept my offer if I didn’t get anything.
    2) Still recruit for FT, but if it does not work out, delay my graduation by one semester and recruit for summer IBD programs at other banks (not sure if I can still catch up with timeline).
    3) Accept the offer, and seek internal transfer when I am a first year analyst.

    What’s your opinion? Given this year’s circumstances, will there still be open spots? Should I wait one semester to graduate so I can have another shot? Thank you so much Brian!

    1. It’s best to accept the offer and aim for an internal transfer once you start. It tends to be very difficult to recruit for FT roles at other banks right as internships end, and especially in this environment when no one knows what’s happening with the economy. You don’t want to lose an FT spot in S&T no matter what you do.

      1. Thank you Brian for your reply. I agree that from a risk/reward standpoint I should not lose a FT offer in S&T given this year’s situation. Just a follow up question, I have been trying to network with IB people. Since HR said they are not conducting any FT recruitment this year, should I continue doing so? Is there still chances that they take a few internals? Will networking with them ruin my reputation in S&T? Given this year’s virtual internship, I didn’t get a placement so no one in S&T yet knows that I want to do IBD except for my HR. Thanks again for your help! Really appreciate it!

        1. I don’t think there’s a point in networking for IB roles at large banks this year because almost no one will be doing FT recruitment. You might have a shot at regional offices or smaller banks since the intern yields there are less predictable, but even there, it’s quite random, and many smaller firms could cut hiring altogether this year. Yes, potentially networking too much could hurt your reputation, but it’s more of an issue if you keep doing it before starting full-time.

      2. Just a follow up question, do you think it is worth a try to delay graduation and apply summer internships this year? Thank you!

        1. No. It’s just too risky because you already have a FT offer, and no one knows what will happen by next year. What if the economy crashes again? What if banks actually cancel internships this time? What if cities continue to burn down?

  21. Hi Brian,

    I have done one accounting internship and one as a research analyst. I will be graduating in Dec 2020. I was wondering if I should extend my graduation for an IB internship. I’m from a non-target but I am networking hard to get my foot in the door. What should I do?

    1. I would not necessarily recommend that because most internship recruiting for 2021 is taking place now (a year in advance)… some banks will continue into the fall, but unless you’re plugged into several processes right now, I’m not sure that you have a good shot at the large banks for next year. So it depends on the status of your networking efforts.

  22. Hi Brian, thanks for sharing this article. I am in a situation which I believe is not exactly outlined above, and would love to have you weigh in with your expertise.

    I am a California community college student who received admission into UC Berkeley Haas for this fall. Ever since I received my acceptance (1.5 months ago), I have been taking advantage of the Cal Alumni network to schedule phone chats with professionals in the IB space. However, I have noticed that despite the nonstop efforts I’ve made in the past few weeks, I simply cannot make up for the gap between myself and my Haas peers who have already been at Berkeley for the previous two years with access to all the networking/recruiting opportunities on campus. I am pursuing a math minor in combination with my business admin degree at Haas, but also learned that I can turn this minor into a full fledged applied mathematics double degree if I stay just one extra semester at Berkeley. I had been toying with the idea of staying an extra semester for the second degree (regardless of IB prospects) because I want to keep my career options open for more quant heavy fields down the road should I choose to pursue that route later on. Then, I realized that if I graduate a semester later (Dec 22), and apply/recruit for Summer 21 Sophomore Analyst roles, I’d give myself a competitive edge over other Sophomore Analyst applicants, and I’d carve out a better opportunity for a Summer 22 Junior Analyst role, which I could (optimistically speaking here) potentially turn into a FTO for Summer/Fall 23.

    The only negative of this is that I would have a 6 month gap between finishing off my second degree and going full time (hopefully) at an IB. Personally, I don’t mind the time gap because if anything it would give me an opportunity to travel, study for the GMAT, perhaps pick up a winter internship in PE… But I’m not sure how it’ll read on my resume. Also, would recruiters in the long run question my overall competence for spending 2.5 years at Berkeley instead of 2, or would the double degree speak for itself? My main question is: Do you think going for the second degree (for my own personal preferences, not to intentionally delay my IB recruiting timeline) will significantly deter my chances of a FTO in IB by latest 2023? Do you see any major blindspots with this plan?

    1. It probably makes sense to do the second degree in this case because you’re in a tough position as a transfer student, given the recruiting timeline for IB these days. I don’t think it will hurt you at all in the long run, and you can easily answer questions about the gap by pointing to something productive you did in that time.

      1. Sounds great. Thank you for your feedback, Brian!

  23. Thomas

    Hi Brian, I am a current senior at Berkeley with a FT private equity associate offer lined up at a sub 100MM AUM firm. I transferred into Cal as a junior and was already behind recruiting as a result. I now have 6 finance related internships PE/IB but they are not a large firms (most at sub 10 people in headcount). With graduation a week away, I’m thinking of possibly dropping half of my coursework this semester in order to be eligible to deffer a year and return back to Berkeley Fall 2021. During this time I would work at my PE firm and recruit from Cal for IB. Do you think this is a good idea? The only reason I didn’t get a summer IBD spot is because I didn’t study my technicals enough but always kicked it off in terms of behavioral. Do you think it might be worth delaying graduation and just working/interviewing through college recruiting for a year, then finishing up my last semester fall 2021?

    1. I don’t think it’s a great idea because we don’t really know if things will be better or worse in a year, and you already have a desirable FT offer. Even if the normal economy improves, the finance sector could go either way depending on default rates, government bailouts, etc. Also, if you finish up in fall 2021, you *already* need to be recruiting for 2021 summer internships because the process starts over a year in advance.

  24. What are your thoughts on this topic in light of COVID-19? Does it make sense for a rising senior who was unable to lock down a finance-related internship for this summer?

    1. It’s completely dependent on why you did not win an internship. You are taking a risk because the economic situation could be even worse by next summer. Imagine what happens if unemployment reaches 50%, or if 90% of small businesses fail. So unless you have a very-easily-fixable problem that you’re sure will result in more/better offers, it’s probably not a great idea.

  25. Hi Brian, I’m currently a rising senior at a semi-target in NYC and was expected to graduate in May 2021, but have decided to push graduation to December 2021 to give me a shot at recruiting for 2021 SA positions as I failed to land anything for 2020 SA due to lack of networking and preparation.

    I would be in a much better position applying now as I believe I have gained valuable knowledge and have started properly networking from now, however, I have already applied to most banks before for their 2020 SA positions. When applying for 2021 positions, should I use a new account and email address when applying? Or should I be using the same account and email as last year’s applications?

    1. The email address will not make a difference. Just use what you have and make sure you can explain how you have improved since last year.

  26. Hi Brian,

    My “delay graduation” situation is a bit different from those covered. I’m a college senior with a FT IBD offer from a lower-ranked bank like CIBC/Mizuho, and my 3-5 year plan is to get into a top 3 MBA program or exit to one of the FAANGs. My plan was to take this FT offer and lateral up to a BB, but was recently told that move would be harder than thought. I don’t think I’d want to stay in IB if not at a BB.

    This is why I’m currently in a mad dash trying to figure out if I’d be able to delay graduation and land a FT gig at a MBB next cycle. With summer recruiting for good consulting firms over, I doubt I’d land anything substantial. The plan is to get at least something consulting-related this summer to show interest, and prep hard on casing in the meantime. As I was reading your points about “why I didn’t get the offer” the first time around, I realized that my heart wasn’t really in finance. Which is why I think I’d actually be able to perform better in consulting interviews.

    I was wondering if you could weigh in on the 2 options I’m considering right now. (1) Delay graduation, get a 3rd/4th tier consulting summer gig, then recruit FT for MBB/2nd tier gig. (2) Take the full-time gig where I’d get very little deal exposure, then lateral to a BB. Which of these seems more doable?

    Thanks Brian! (I hope this is not off-topic. Reading your other articles, it also seemed like you know quite a bit about management consulting as well.)

    1. I don’t think option #1 is a great idea because you’re taking a huge risk – what if you don’t win any consulting offers? Or what if it’s harder than expected to recruit for FT roles at MBB? Like banks, consulting firms tend to bring back interns for full-time roles rather than hiring new people.

      So, even if you don’t really want to do IB, option #2 is still better. If you hate it and never want to go to a bigger bank, quit and recruit for consulting or FAANG or something else instead and then do the MBA.

      1. Hi Brian,

        Thanks so much for weighing in! I will definitely keep your advice in mind as I navigate next steps.

  27. Alexander Lee

    Hi all,

    So I’m a junior at a target school (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc), and I’m in a weird spot. I’ve currently signed onto the Power & Utilies group of an EB in Houston for the upcoming summer, but I’ve recently realized that I’m more interested in generalist M&A. I’ve also been mulling over getting master’s degree for one-year after graduation.

    If I did this, would I be able to re-recruit? I understand in some ways, this is similar to reneging, but I wanted to weight the pros and cons.

    1. You could recruit again after doing the Master’s degree, but I’m not sure that’s worth it – it seems like it would be easier to spend some time at the EB, assuming you win a full-time return offer, and then recruit for generalist M&A groups. Either way, you lose about a year, but at least you’ll gain work experience and won’t have to pay for an expensive degree if you go to the EB.

      1. John Murphy

        To clarify, if he did this, would he still be able to do the internship he signed on to do this summer with the EB? Additionally, if staying an extra year, how do you address this in interviews and on you resume.

        1. Um, sure, just turn down the return offer at the end if you receive one. It will be pretty difficult to address in interviews, though, because literally no one will believe you if you say you turned down a full-time return offer at a top bank just because you wanted to be in a different group. This is why it’s a bad idea to do this in the first place rather than just working for a year and then switching teams/banks. Maybe you could say that you just didn’t want to be in Houston and make it about geography instead.

  28. Hi Brian,

    I am currently a rising senior at NYU studying economics while also receiving a minor in business from Stern (GPA: 3.65). I didn’t decide until very late (September 2018) that I wanted to really pursue IB, and by then missed out on the recruiting process for Summer 2019. I was able to land an internship at a small boutique IB for this summer, and my previous experience includes interning in the Investment Department (M&A) for a large pharmaceutical company. I have taken many relevant finance courses in excess of my minor through Stern. I am seriously considering delaying my graduation a semester in order to apply for Summer 2020 Internships at BBs and more prestigious boutiques and MM firms. I feel like applying for full-time IB would be much more difficult compared to graduating a semester late (December 2020/January 2021) and going through the recruiting/return offer process. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Yes, if you’re really serious about IB, it’s much better to win an internship and convert from that. It’s very difficult to apply for full-time roles directly and get in since most firms attempt to fill all roles with their interns (but it is possible sometimes, see:

      Be careful because the summer 2020 recruiting process is already underway or done at many firms since it now starts over a year in advance.

  29. Hi Brian,

    I’m currently a rising junior that just transferred from the NYU College of Arts and Science to NYU Stern (next semester will be my first semester at Stern). My GPA is 3.96. However, I didn’t get a summer internship my freshman year (I took a summer class instead) and this summer I don’t have a very impressive internship (Research Intern at a FinTech startup). I found out I wanted to do investment banking late because I didn’t do research about different careers in finance early enough, and I was hyper-focused on transferring to Stern. I was thinking that delaying my graduation might be the best option for me so that I could take full advantage of the resources at Stern that I didn’t have access to before, try to get an IB internship in the spring and summer, prepare more for interviews, and get involved in case competitions and finance clubs to gain more experience. What do you think I should do in order to maximize my chances of getting into IB? Thanks so much and let me know if you need anymore information.

    1. Yes, it probably makes sense to delay graduation in this case to get more/better internships and give yourself more time to recruit.

  30. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the article and info, and I was wondering about your perspective on my situation.

    I’m a junior with a 3.52 at a top public interning at a decent asset manager for this summer, about $25B in AUM, currently on track to graduate in 4 years. I’m considering delaying my graduation because I was very close to getting very good offers this summer, and I interviewed at 30+ places, with 11 final rounds, and only got that one offer. My resume before was slightly weird in some ways – not a huge amt. of activities, lots of work experience at no name boutiques which I think made me seem weird.

    I’ve improved it a bit over the course of this year, and I think that with a very solid internship on my resume this cycle after doing my internship this summer, I’d be much more competitive. I’ve also joined more student orgs as well and become more “interesting”, although I don’t think that I can raise my GPA to a 3.55 this semester.

    If I delayed, I would be trying to interview at the same places I did this time, just for another chance – large AMs, some HFs, like Fidelity, Putnam, D&C, Harris Associates, P72, etc. If I did though, I don’t know how I would explain my delay, and I suppose it would be slightly weird reinterviewing only less than a year later with probably the same people. However, I understand my interviewing flaws much better this time, and I think I would get off to a much stronger start.

    However, I also understand that FT AM recruiting is different from IB, and spots are easier to come by, in a sense. So I’m not sure of the value there in delaying yet, if I can just recruit for FT if I do well this summer.

    What are your thoughts?


    1. I wouldn’t recommend delaying graduation in this case because you can probably win FT roles at AMs/HFs, unlike IB, where it tends to be very difficult if you don’t complete a summer internship there first. I also think you might run into the “So, what’s different this time, and why did you delay your graduation?” objection in interviews.

  31. Brian,

    I’m an ethnically-diverse junior at semi-target 3.65 gpa, on track to graduate May 2020. I interned in the finance department of a Fortune 500 company during my sophomore summer thinking I wanted to go into corporate finance, but discovered that IB was where I belonged afterward in the Fall. Had no idea how accelerated IB recruiting was, and subsequently entered the recruitment process for SA 2019 fairly late (October). Despite that, still managed to get to 2 BB superday invites with a worse resume than I have now. Didn’t have my technicals down, and ended up not getting an offer. I ended up taking an exploding S&T offer from a top BB for Summer 2019, but still have my eyes set on banking. I’m currently interning at a regional IB boutique and love it. My question is: If I have my heart set on banking, should I delay a semester (Dec. 2020) to get a BB SA position for summer 2020, or just stick with the S&T and try to lateral into full-time IB with a return offer in hand. I’m not the type to half-a**, so I’m assuming I’d get the FT S&T return offer. I just hear the transition from S&T to IB can be very difficult. Especially straight into FT. Thoughts?

    My thinking is, if I have a full recruiting season in front of me to practice technicals, improve my GPA, reach out to diversity placement wall street organizations (recently got into one), and continue to network, why wouldn’t I be able to secure a SA IB position.

    1. That is a tough one, but I would say that if you can afford to delay graduation in terms of time and money, then yes, it’s worth it to delay graduation and aim for a summer 2020 position. Just be aware that recruiting is starting very, very soon, if it hasn’t already – last year it began in February for summer 2019 positions!

      I think you can move from S&T to IB if this plan doesn’t work, but it will be difficult to do so directly after an internship when everyone else also wants to move. You’ll probably have to work for close to a year and then move over at around the 1-year mark. So you might as well just delay graduation and go for summer internships again if that’s the alternative.

  32. Currently a senior with a 3.5 (recently increased) from a nontarget. Completed a boutique IB internship (during school year) with live deal experience as well as a REIT and RE internship. Didn’t have relevant IB experience during 2018-2019 FT recruiting cycle so I didn’t really seriously network/apply. Also have relevant extracurricular activities I recently added to my resume.

    I have the opportunity to delay graduation for 1 semester so I would graduate in Dec 2019. The IB internship + gpa increase came recently, so would it be worthwhile to delay? Also, I have been heavily networking with solid results and I am confident I can find a relevant summer internship. Is this reasoning logical?

    1. The problem is that summer 2019 internship recruiting is largely over. It began in February 2018 at the large banks. So… I’m not sure delaying graduation is a great idea in this case. You could probably find an internship at a smaller bank, but I don’t think it’s worth it to delay graduation unless you can win an EB or BB internship over the summer.

  33. Hi Brian,

    I have a related question to this thread. I am from a non-target school without a finance program, have 9mo of internship experience working for a small time Hedge Fund and decided late I wanted to break into IB. I graduated June 2018 with a 3.68 GPA, was President of a Club, but was unsure what I wanted so I went on a trip for 3mo then came back and gained clarity. I networked as hard as possible, but getting any conversations was a ton of work. I ended up talking to 20-25 bankers, most of which had already filled their positions. It seemed the best I could do was an internship with the possibility of a full-time offer – then someone in my network contacted me about a 3mo internship in PE with the possibility of a full time offer. At the same time, I made my way to a fourth round interview with a Capital Markets Advisory shop in the cannabis industry that would require me to relocate – so not a sure thing yet.

    So, my question is if my ultimate goal is to be on the buy-side in either PE or a hedge fund and go to masters school then would it make sense to take on a post-grad internship opportunity? Its a hard question to answer, but I would appreciate if you could provide me with some of the criteria you would take into account so that I may see how my current thought process lines up.

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking about whether it’s better to accept the 3-month PE internship or the Capital Markets Advisory internship? If so, and your ultimate goal is a buy-side role, then I would recommend the PE internship because at least there’s the possibility of a full-time offer. I’m not sure why you would have to go to grad school in that case.

      The IB offer would make more sense if you’re not sure of what you want to do, or you could see yourself doing something like corporate finance, corporate development, tech, etc. rather than a buy-side role and you want to keep your options open.

      1. James Smith

        Hi Brian,

        The question just comes down to whether I can use a post-undergrad internship PE experience as leverage in the situation where no full-time offer after 3mo (for buy-side or sell-side rolls). In total, I would have 9mo hedge fund experience & 3mo PE at that point with the SIE completed & progress towards the CFA level 1 (taking June 2019). In my mind, I can position myself well & use the extra internship to show how hungry I was to get more experience.

        But, just to be clear I am asking whether you have talked to people in similar situations before and if so what were there exit ops. Additionally, any other insight you have would be appreciated.

        Thanks for the previous reply!

        1. Yes, any type of internship will help, but a lot of it depends on the market and how much hiring banks are doing because you’ll be applying for off-cycle/lateral roles at that point. There is a similar story here:

          1. James Smith

            Thanks Brian, I got the official offer and am going to accept. The above mentioned article really helps out, and I will say I have built a important skill-set in cold-reaching out to IB associates/VPs/MDs and constantly hustling these past couple months. I recommend everyone who is interested in IB/PE or anything tangential should try this, even if your from a target school.

  34. Hello Brian

    Im a student at a non target in Chicago, 3.0 GPA, finance major, portfolio management extracurricular, no internship experience, irrelevant job experience and one year until i graduate (May 2019). should i spend one more year or semester here? im not interested in BB yet, boutiques will do just fine for me. Thanks.

    1. You will have a difficult time winning investment banking roles in general with that profile – your GPA is on the low side, you attend a non-target, and you have no internship experience. Normally you need at least 2/3 of those to have a good shot, even at boutique banks. If you really want to do investment banking, your best bet may be to apply to MSF programs, get internship experience and a higher GPA in the program, and use that to move in.

  35. I am an incoming senior at a semi-target school (expected Spring 2019). I didn’t receive an offer from my summer internship overseas. So I’m thinking of taking a semester off in Spring 2019 to go back home to do the military service (4-month duration, possibly 6 months including wait time), and delay my graduation until fall 2019 or spring 2020. I have a 3.7+ GPA and a BB internship in PWM, from which I didn’t get an offer. So I’m deciding to take time off to:

    1. Try recruiting again
    2. Get rid of military service so it wont become an issue for employment going forward (I’m an international student)
    3. Pick up another skill (computer science) or refine my technicals
    4. Rethink my options and try other industries

    I’m planning to defend my delay by saying that, due to the variability in the enlistment of the military service, I’ve decided to delay my graduation in order to complete it before graduation.

    Tuition is not an issue so my real concern is how my response would come off if I go through recruiting again for a summer analyst program?

    Your response will be highly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. I think the military service justification makes sense, though they could ask why you didn’t do it earlier. But the #1 point you have to ask yourself is why you did not receive return offers from these internships – because that same issue could hurt your chances in recruiting this time around if you go through the process again.

  36. Joe Higgins

    Hi Brian,

    I am an incoming junior at a target school and have been recruiting for internships for summer 2019. Our school is also on the quarter system, so I’ve been talking to a bunch of different firms and have prospective IB/PE options for fall term, winter term, and spring term (before my summer 2019 internship). I was just not prepared for the technical rigor of interviews at EBs (PJT, Evercore, PWP), and now mostly only BBs are left for summer 2019.

    If I was able to secure a BB internship for summer 2019 and received offers for the fall term, winter term, and spring term of my junior year, what are your thoughts on just taking a year off and doing a bunch of internships? My thinking is that I would be so technically strong by that point and have so much relevant experience I could get a summer 2020 internship at a top elite boutique bank. I also wouldn’t be paying any extra tuition since I wouldn’t be at school for my entire junior year.

    I am concerned, however, that this would harm prospective business school applications or reflect negatively in interviews for summer 2020. Please let me know what you think – thank you so much!

    1. I don’t think that is a great idea because working at an EB rather than a BB would give you virtually no benefits unless you want a long-term career in banking. Even if you do, you could easily start at a BB and move to an EB later on. Also, multiple internships will not necessarily improve your technical skills because you do a lot of administrative work and random tasks on the job.

  37. Hey Brian,

    I am recruiting again by delaying graduation. One major concern I have is that I applied for SA positions as a junior and for that reason the companies I am applying to will all have that under their records. I am worried that if I apply for SA positions again this year, I will be an auto ding after they see I am applying for SA positions for two consecutive years. Do you think this is a major concern or am I overthinking?

    Thanks in advance for your time.

    1. It’s not a major concern as long as you can explain what has changed since last time. Also, a lot of companies are not that organized, so they may or may not realize it.

  38. Hi, I’m currently a junior at a target(just transferred junior year), majoring operations research (financial engineering)and econ GPA:4.00. I have a small growth PE fund experience in Boston and an ECM experience at a top 10 Chinese bank in Beijing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted at the beginning of junior year, and I thought I was going to be a quant(due to my engineering background) so I applied to only sales and trading positions just to find out I’m not a good fit. Throughout the semester, I also found out I’m not super into math and CS and just decided after lots of networking IBD in HK would be my ideal place. It was late in the recruiting season when I realized that and all the BB IBD positions were closed, so I got summer IBD internship position in one of the top 2 investment banks in China through a family connection. However, I knew I wouldn’t want to stay in China FT and probably won’t get the return offer. My plan is to do a one year masters and apply for Summer IBD Analyst position in HK between senior year and masters degree. Do you think I would have a good chance? I’m worried about the explanation for “not getting a return offer” during interviews. Or do you recommend me applying for FT positions right away? Thank you in advance!

    1. Assuming you get into a top Master’s program, yes. I would not apply for FT positions if you still have the option to complete an internship first. I don’t think you need to tell them that you didn’t get a return offer – just say that you knew going into it that you didn’t want to work in China full-time, so you were using the role to gain more experience.

      1. Hi Brian, Would you recommend me to delay graduation instead in that case?

        1. ??? Why would you delay graduation if you’re going to do a Master’s program and complete an internship in between university graduation and the Master’s program? I’m missing something or am misinterpreting your story.

          1. Thank you so much for your replies. It’s just that after speaking to a couple of people working in HK, I found out the pre-master summer recruiting in HK offer very few positions and is geared towards candidates who went to top unis in mainland China(THU/PKU). I was wondering if it would make more sense to delay graduation for one semester and recruit for junior analyst position again?

          2. If there aren’t many opportunities for pre-Master’s summer recruiting in HK, then yes, it might make sense to delay your graduation by a semester and recruit for internships once again. But you have to be careful with the timing. HK recruiting isn’t as accelerated as recruiting in NY, but it is moving up each year.

  39. As someone who is delaying graduation for recruiting and going for recruiting again during my 4th year, would it be dishonest to address myself as a junior in interviews? The consensus I am getting is to address myself as a junior instead of a 4th year student in a 5 year program.

    1. No, it’s fine to do that, and you probably should do that.

      1. What are your thoughts on people who don’t address delaying graduation and pretend to be a 3rd year junior in the interview room? I know some people who successfully pulled this off and they are telling me to follow this approach as mentioning that you are staying in school for an extra year will make interviewers see you as inferior and have higher expectations.

        1. If you can get away with it, yes, do it.

  40. Xhon Daulle

    I am a Human Biology major from a non-target school in NYC and recently decided to go for IB .I am a junior and have been reading about the industry for the last few months. I have declared a minor in Economics and I am planning on taking your courses this summer(THE platinum Package). Would it make sense for me to delay graduation if I double major in Economics?It`s gonna take me an additional year to finish it.(5 yrs total). Thank You!

    1. If you’re already a junior, you’re very late to the game because summer internship recruiting now takes place over a year in advance of internships. At this stage, you probably need to do more than delay graduation to have a good shot at getting in. Please see:

  41. Hey Brian- I’m a junior at a semi-target school studying Finance with a 3.7-3.8 GPA. I’ve had an accounting internship and corporate finance internship in the past and am currently interning for a big 4 valuations group from Jan-March, June-August 2018. I plan to intern at a boutique investment bank in between March-May. Due to lack of preparation and not knowing the technical knowledge for interviews in the last SA recruiting cycle, I landed interviews but didn’t get any offers. I’m thinking about delaying my graduation one semester to have a shot at recruiting for SA positions again and plan to study techs and network more. What do you think?

    1. That sounds reasonable, but make sure you’re aware of the recruiting timeline… internship recruiting now starts insanely early (interviews take place over a year in advance… so they’re starting in maybe 1-2 months).

  42. Hi Brian,
    I’m currently in my 3rd year in a finance program at a target school, and I finished up the recruiting season with not too many banking interviews and no offers for an internship. I have a couple offers for S&T and PWM, but banking was definitely my goal. I have a pretty strong previous internship in PWM and a 3.7 GPA.
    I’ve though about sticking around for an extra year in order to take another crack at recruiting, and it would also give me the chance to get a dual degree in History (a side-hobby of mine). I feel as though I was close last time around, and with a lot of practice and networking over the next 12 months I think I’d have a solid shot. If tuition costs weren’t a factor, would you recommend I delay graduation, or is the reward not worth the risk? Thanks!

    1. I think it really depends on why you didn’t win more interviews. I suspect it might have something to do with your internships because these days, you usually need more than a single PWM internship to have a good chance at winning 3rd year IB internships. So… if you can get something more relevant, such as a PE/VC internship at a local firm, yes, it might be worth it if tuition is not a factor.

  43. I would love your advice on this. I’m currently a junior who missed the train for IB internships. However, I can probably get a relevant role (financial analysis at F500 bank) this summer. My GPA is currently a 3.25, but if I raise it, do you think it makes sense for me to delay graduation, if money is not an issue at all? I can even delay graduation by 2 years, if need be.

    1. Only if you can boost your GPA significantly, i.e. up to the 3.6-3.7 level.

  44. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the post, it is extremely informative. I am currently a junior at a semi-target with a 3.7. This summer I will be interning at a MM Bank and am thinking about staying an extra year. Had it not been for banking recruiting, I actually would be staying a fifth year for sure as it would enable me to pick up a double major and spend a year studying abroad at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. I was wondering how understanding you think bankers would be of this situation and all else equal, if it would be possible for me to recruit for banking internships again next year.

    1. If you stay in school for another year, sure, you could go for internships again, but one issue is that you need to decide quickly because summer recruiting now starts so far in advance of actual internships. And I’m not sure it’s really worth it just to recruit for a potential offer at a bigger bank.

  45. Vinayak Bharadwaj

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for your post. I needed advice regarding this exact topic and could relate to one of your specific cases in favor of delayed graduation. I am an international junior, pursuing Finance and Economics, at a non target (but very well known) university in the midwest with a 3.7 GPA. I missed the timeline for recruitment this year as I could not establish a decent professional network in the US. However, I have previously interned in a Big 4 Corporate Finance (M&A and restructuring) advisory function in my home country. I have made some progress this year with establishing my professional network and had 8 info interviews last week. Should I consider delaying my graduation for SA position 2 years from now? Another thing is if I decide to graduate in 4.5 years, I would be able to complete both my majors but if I graduate earlier, I would have to drop one.


    1. Yes, I would say so, but being able to complete both your majors should not factor into this decision at all. It’s really a question of time/money and what a delayed graduation can get you. If you already have the Big 4 internship and you’re making solid progress toward networking for a summer 2019 internship (since recruiting now starts 1-1.5 years in advance), then yes, you should consider delaying your graduation.

  46. Hey, first off thanks for the post, it’s very helpful.

    I completed my last summer in Private Equity (previous summer was Big 4 Audit) and my hope was to leverage this to get an IB job from full-time recruiting. Unfortunately, most banks took their interns into full time and therefore, there were few postings.

    My GPA is decent, at 3.70 and I’m confident that with a bit of networking I can get IB summer interviews.

    Do you think it’s a good idea to delay graduation?

    1. If it is a good idea, do you have any input on how I should spin it? The real reason as to why this happened is because I decided on investment banking too late (I wanted to do accounting at first).

      Thanks again!

      1. You pretty much have to say you decided on IB too late or didn’t know about it until later, so you got a late start. And you delayed graduation because you wanted to add Major X or Class Y.

    2. Yes, but beware of the hyper-accelerated timing (you now recruit for summer internships a year or more in advance, at least in the U.S.). So a delayed graduation may not give you enough time anymore.

  47. Hi Brian,
    I interned in IBD at a BB this summer in the UK and did not get a return offer. I do want to apply for other summer internships and delay graduation by a year as I believe I can get a good job this year to delay graduation by one year (I have a job lined up in SE Asia which may look good on the resume). I was told I didn’t get an offer due to “lack of attention to detail”, which is something I fixed towards the end of the internship.
    How do you think I should spin this if I am asked why I am recruiting again in any future IBD interviews?

    1. Say that you made a few mistakes in the first 1-2 weeks and fixed them quickly based on their feedback, but that initial impression cost you the return offer.

  48. Hi Brian,

    I’ve never gone through IB recruiting because of an initial interest in the tech industry, and I came upon your website a few days ago. A friend showed me this article, and I was wondering how the IB recruiting timeline worked for transfer students with delayed graduation. I was recently accepted to Yale as a junior transfer student, but because of losses in the transfer credit process I’ll be graduating in the Class of 2020 instead of 2019. So would I be applying for IB sophomore summer internship programs at my new college because of the change in my class standing? If so, would I have the chance during recruiting to explain the delay in graduation since my previous college’s transcript would show two years of coursework?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    1. Recruiting is based on your graduation date. Recruiting for junior-year internships as of 2017 starts a year in advance of those internships, so you need to act quickly. You also need at least 1 previous finance-related internship to have a chance. If you have 2 summers there, you have 2 chances at summer internships. Regardless of how many chances you have, you’ll probably need a school-year internship at a local bank or PE firm ASAP, and you’ll have to start the networking/recruiting process a year before your last summer.

  49. Hi Brian,

    I am entering my fourth year at a non-target, Liberal Arts School with a GPA slightly lower than 3.5, majoring in Econ with a minor in Finance. After climbing back from a 2.9 after my freshman year, I am hoping I can graduate somewhere between the 3.6-3.7 range. After having to take a semester off for medical reasons, I am currently 3 classes behind – which I will not be able to make up for over the coming year. Would you recommend extending my college career an extra semester and graduating in the Winter? Or should I complete classes over the summer? I am the captain of the soccer team at my University and am biased towards being there in the fall as I have an extra year of eligibility. I could also add another internship to my resume rather than taking summer classes. That being said, I am hoping to get into PE and am not willing to stay if I run the risk of hurting my career opportunities. I have interned at a large bank in Risk Management and will return this summer in Alternative Investments. Additionally, I am a CFA Level I Candidate to compensate for my non-target school status.


    1. If you have not yet done an IB internship, you should delay your graduation and apply for summer internships ASAP since banks now recruit 1 year+ in advance. This is assuming that you are set on the IB/PE path.

  50. I’m currently a 2nd year student at a semi-target school in the UK with a GPA of around 3.8 majoring in finance. Until recently I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so my experience consists of short placements with a consulting firm and a local accountancy firm. Additionally, I will be spending some time with an insurance firm and a wealth management firm.

    I have the opportunity to spend a few months interning in a finance related role abroad instead of returning to university after the summer. After completing this internship I would have the chance to apply to all the insight programs offered (I missed the deadlines this year) as I would still be a 2nd year student. Do you think this would be worthwhile or should I continue into 3rd year and network aggressively in order to gain a summer analyst role?

    1. Actual internships are more useful than spring weeks / insight programs / etc., so it depends on what the internship abroad is. I wouldn’t delay graduation just for a few spring weeks – focus on getting a real IB/PE internship ASAP.

      1. The internship is an Investment Research analyst at a boutique in SE Asia. I understand this is not exactly an IB internship, but do you think this would be considered relevant enough to be beneficial when applying for summer analyst roles?

        I appreciate your help.

        1. Yes, the internship will help.

  51. Brian,

    Thanks for putting this together. I am a junior at a non-target (>3.8 GPA). I interned at a local PE shop and I ended up scoring 7 SA interviews (1 superday). Due to a lack of interview preparation, I ended up coming short and taking a corporate banking internship.

    While I’m excited about this next internship, I want to eventually move into IB. Would you suggest delaying graduation and recruiting as a SA again?

    If so, how would I go about reaching out to bankers I’ve already had conversations with?

    1. Potentially, yes, but how do you know you’ll be prepared the second time around? You have to be sure of that or it doesn’t make sense. So unless there was a very specific reason why you weren’t prepared, such as a family emergency, it might not be a good idea. You can just send bankers quick follow-up emails before your internship starts indicating that you’re doing corporate banking, still interested in IB, and decided to stay in school for an extra term.

  52. Hi Brian,

    I’m currently finishing 2nd year at a target school in Canada (Commerce Degree) looking to go into IB. Unfortunately, due to struggling with mental health issues, my GPA is only 3.25 (which will be bumped up to 3.4 through summer courses). My extracurriculars are very minimal (position on a conference and being part of a few clubs during first year) and last summer I ran a $25,000 painting business in my community.

    As you can see, I’m in a hole. I’ve recovered from my issues and now I see reality. I’ve calculated that if I retake a course and do well next semester, it is possible for me to bump my GPA to 3.6 at the end of the fall semester (right after SA recruiting ends), and further to a 3.7 by the end of third year. At the same time, my social skills are lacking and I will need some time to build this up in order to network effectively. However, I have the opportunity to complete a dual degree in Economics, which would require an extra year of school, giving me just enough time to bump up my GPA, join more extracurriculars, and network.

    Would this be a good strategy for IB SA recruiting? I would delay graduation by a year, be a much more competitive applicant during my fourth year for SA, then graduate in five years.

  53. Hi Brian, I’m a junior at a target UK university doing a MIS degree. I have an offer to spend a placement year (11 months’ work experience) at a large US tech firm (one of the older ones, think IBM/Cisco). I’ve been told the role may involve finance but being a tech company I doubt it would be the sort of experience banks look for.

    Knowing well that I want to go into IB and not tech, and that I don’t have any other internship offers if I rejected the one for this year placement, would you do it? If I did reject it, I do have a guaranteed first round interview with a BB for summer 2018, which I got through an event. But there’s a risk I may get no summer 2018 offers as I wouldn’t be doing anything this summer.

    1. If you want to do finance, don’t work at a tech company in a probably-non-finance role. Interview with banks, aim for small PE firms, go for VC firms, or find anything else that’s more relevant to finance. Small firms don’t follow set recruiting schedules, so you can still win offers there.

  54. Currently a Junior at a non-target school. 3.5 GPA. Finance major and I want to go into IB. I have no previous internships and could not land one for this upcoming summer. I have previous work experience but no internships. I have been getting involved with my school more such as joining a student investment association. I’ve been thinking of delaying my current graduation date of May 2018 so I can land a relevant IB internship next summer instead of trying to look for a full-time job when I have no previous internship experience. If I do delay my graduation by a semester I will be going for a minor in Economics which I can finish in that extra semester. What do you think?

    1. I think it depends why you didn’t win an internship this summer and what you’re doing instead. If you just got unlucky and you’re doing something finance-related for the summer, even if it’s not IB, delaying graduation could make sense. But if not, then it might be smarter to go for a Big 4 or corporate finance role, graduate on time, and network your way into IB from there.

  55. If I am graduating this year and have no full time offer, is it worth applying for business school ( finance masters etc, not MBA) or should I focus on applying for full time roles in smaller/ less well known firms?

    1. Depends on your internship experience… if you don’t have anything, you need to focus on gaining work experience somewhere first. If you do have internships, it might be better to apply for Master’s programs and go through recruiting there once again.

  56. I am currently a Junior studying mathematics at a non target school with a 3.8 GPA, and I decided to commit to investment banking very recently. As such, I have no internships or relevant experience and I’m worried I won’t be able to get anything full time once I graduate. I’m currently networking and trying to line something up over the summer in a related field such as Sales and Trading or maybe do IB at a small local place, but I was thinking I might delay my graduation for a year so I can double major in finance and network so that I can get an internship next summer.

    My university’s business school isn’t a target school either but I think it would still be better than nothing, and I can always explain that I decided to switch majors late and it forced me to go to school for another year, which I feel is a reasonable explanation. That way even if I get an internship in something only semi relevant this summer, I can spin that to help me for next summer. Otherwise I may try to also transfer to a ST or Target school which would then also leave me with two more years before I graduate. What are your thoughts?

    1. It’s not a great idea to delay graduation at this point if you’re starting late and have no previous internships. Just get that experience and try to convert it into a full-time offer at a small firm; if that doesn’t work, go for Big 4 or valuation roles and move into investment banking as a lateral hire.

  57. Brian,
    Very insightful piece, thank you. My situation is as follows, I’m a rising senior studying finance at a non target undergraduate business school in Massachusetts (think Babson College) and currently have a 3.6 GPA. I have interned in commercial banking this past summer and wealth management in the summer prior (didn’t land any offer because I didn’t network at all). I have been networking pretty aggressively this summer but have increasingly heard that BB, EB, and even top MM banks are only hiring out of their current SAs. I still plan on participating in full-time recruiting but wanted to know if you think delaying graduation to December 2017 would be worth it if I come out of FT recruiting without an offer (since FT recruiting ends as SA recruiting kicks off)? I was thinking of going abroad for the spring semester internship as an alternative to taking classes. What are your thoughts?
    Thanks in advance

    1. I’m not sure if it’s worth delaying graduation in that case because summer recruiting has moved up so early now that you may or may not be able to win a summer offer if you start recruiting at the usual time. If you don’t win a full-time offer, it might be easier just to do something like a Big 4 role and move into IB from there.

  58. Hey Brian – I’m not sure if you are still checking / responding to this post but I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m a finance student with a 3.4-3.5 GPA at a non target university in the US. I have had previous internships (in order) in general roles like – marketing, accounting, finance, and now a back office spot in project management at a well known global PE firm. Right now I’m going to be a 4.5 year senior at my school this fall, I have 18 credit hours left to take this 2016 fall semester. I’ve been paying for a bunch of my school through working full time while at school and some student loans (1st generation student from poor blue collar family). I have made a good amount of contacts in MM investment banking, and am currently looking to intern part time this fall at a boutique investment bank while taking classes. I was going to take the 18 credit hours and graduate this fall, but with the internship and working a lot, trying to apply to full time jobs/interview- I decided to go part time and graduate may of 2017 (5 year college student). I think this will allow me to intern, pay for school, apply for jobs/network/interview. Do you think I made a good choice given my circumstances? Will graduating in 5 years from university hurt my chances of getting into banking?

    Thank you!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I think you’ve done the best you can given your circumstances. I don’t think graduating in 5 years will hurt your chances. And its great you have PE experience; this is useful to have on your resume. Your upcoming internship will also help. We commend you for your hard work and “hustle” – great work!

  59. I am currently doing an Audit Internship at Crowe Horwath. Last year, I did a 7 month internship at a Fortune 500 company and next Spring I have another internship lined up with KPMG in Tax. Yes they will delay my graduation by a year, but at least I will have a lot of work experience and maybe a job offer.

    Bottom Line: Employers will not care how long you were in school for. They will care that you have relevant work experience in your field of study. So if you don’t have any experience, do the internship. Other wise you will have difficulty finding a job in your field after graduation.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  60. Hey Brian! I’ve been considering extending my graduation, and have been scouring the Internet for advice for the past couple of months. Suffice to say I definitely appreciated the article. I’m a junior (well technically senior now, since I just finished my finals) at a target undergraduate business school with a 3.6-3.7 GPA. I came in as a transfer, and barely knew what investment banking was going into junior recruiting (I didn’t apply to any banks). However, as I received more exposure to investment banking and finance in general, I knew that it was I wanted to go into. Unfortunately, by the time I realized this IB recruiting was already over. However, knowing that I wanted to do IB in the future, I tried to land an internship that would be looked upon favorably in the next recruiting cycle. I was able to land a couple of interviews at growth equity, private equity and S&T shops, and ended up receiving two offers. I chose to do S&T at a relatively well-known boutique S&T, and interned at a boutique private equity shop during the semester to build up my resume. Now, after having gone through recruiting once already, I am quite confident that I will be successful if I repeated the process. Unfortunately, I have heard non-lateral senior recruiting is nearly impossible since so many interns receive full time offers. So, in my case, do you think that it would be wise to postpone my graduation and graduate in the fall instead of the Spring so that I could apply to internships again? My goal is to land a top boutique (Greenhill, Centerview, PWP, Lazard).

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you can afford to postpone your graduation you can do so. However, this can be quite risky because you’re also dependent on the state of the job market when you graduate. So hiring needs will depend on the economy, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a full time offer after postponing your date. With the above being said, if you’re very confident on your ability to ace full time interviews and want to stay another year in school, you can do so. I personally think that you should be able to land interviews with your experience, though yes without the internship it can be more challenging to break in full time.

  61. Hello Brian.

    I am a final-year undergraduate student at a British university looking to do a Masters in Management at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. The course really appeals to me; the only problem is that it is an 11-month course (September 2016- August 2017) and being physically present in St Andrews from June-August is mandatory, as the summer period is designated solely for thesis-writing.
    Since most financial organizations start their training programs in the summer, how will this affect me during the hiring process? Will I have to start applications AFTER I have completed my Masters? (I am specifically interested in finance jobs in the States)


    1. Yes, you will most likely have to start applying to jobs after you finish your Master’s. Some banks may let you skip training or do it remotely, but a lot of firms won’t go for that. So I’m not sure this option is worth it unless you really need it for something specific.

  62. Hi Brian,

    I’m currently a sophomore studying at a school in the Chicago area, looking to go into investment banking.

    My freshman year summer, I interned at a PWM boutique and then a private equity firm, but I’m struggling to find an internship for this summer. My boss at the PWM place offered for me to return this summer, but I was also thinking of studying abroad in London if I don’t get any other offers.

    Would this look bad after my internships last summer? Which route do you recommend?

    1. I would not do a study abroad program for the entire summer, as it will hurt your case quite a bit for recruiting in the future. If you can’t line up anything else for the summer, going back to the PWM firm seems like the best option.

  63. Hi Brian,

    I’m a junior at a semi-target with >3.7 GPA. I did an internship at a PE shop last summer. I got a handful of interviews for SA and made to a few superdays but haven’t landed anything yet. I screwed the first few because of lack of preparation. The last superday went really well but still no luck. I think the biggest problems during interviews are not being able to build rapport, giving the ‘boring’ vibe and getting nervous a lot. Now I’m interviewing with regional boutiques but am losing confidence about if I can get something for this summer. I’m also an international student who wants to stay in US so BB is really the only way to go for FT.

    If I can’t get anything in US this summer, I’ll probably do an IB intern in my home country. Do you think it’s a good idea for me to delay graduation or directly take a shot in FT next fall? Finance support isn’t a big problem. But I don’t know how to explain it next year (I can’t add any more major/minor). I’ve already contacted a lot of alum this year, not to mention that OCR interviewers would probably be the same group of alum. So I don’t even know if they’ll give me a first-round again. Do you have any recommendation? Thanks!

    1. If you end up doing an IB internship in your home country, delaying graduation is probably not a great idea because it’s really, really tough to turn a summer internship at a smaller bank into a full-time role at a bulge bracket bank, which is what you need as an international student.

      I think you would be better off turning that internship into a full-time offer in your own country, seeing if you can move to a large bank there, and then pushing for a transfer to a US-based office after you start working there full-time.

      1. Thanks. But I’m a junior right now, so delaying graduation means that I will have still two summers and another SA recruiting (Summer 2017). The main problem is how I should explain the delay.

        1. Oh ok. Yeah, explaining it might be difficult, but maybe say that you wanted to complete a thesis or add something else to the degree (even if you can’t do that…), or maybe just be honest and say that you delayed graduation because you wanted additional internship experience.

  64. Hi Brian,

    I’m a second year student at a top private German business university. What if I have the possibility through contacts to get an great internship at a top PE firm such as Blackrock starting next summer, when I normally would probably not get it with my grades/experience, and this year might be the only chance I’ll have at it. The only problem here is that they’d require a minimum 6 month internship meaning I would have to delay at least one Semester. My career goal at the moment is to work in PE/VC after I graduate. Would you recommend me to do it?

    1. If it is a top PE firm (I assume you meant Blackstone?), yes, it’s worth delaying graduation by a semester for that. Such an internship will also make it much easier to work at a large bank in the future, or even to go straight into PE after graduating.

  65. Hello Brian!

    My situation might be somewhere in between. I go to a semi-target w/ a GPA of 3.5 but no prior finance experience (chem major). I’m new to the process, but got a handful of 1st round SA interviews for IB. I landed a PWM (portfolio management) SA at a BB this summer, but I hope to broaden my options (& figure out my interests) by doing another summer internship in IB or S&T. I can take half a year off and go through recruitment again for IB /S&T SA positions. I will network and brush up on my technicals in the off time. Do you see my situation as too risky? What do you see as my best bet at the moment (take time off& go through recruiting again VS continue w/ school and maybe network my way to IB/S&T within the BB that I work at? Or just try to land an asset management position elsewhere as a senior.) Thank you very much!

    1. If you came close to winning an offer last time via the summer interviews you received, it might make sense to delay graduation and go at it again (I’m assuming you just needed more interviews or more experience to have a better shot?).

      You could just accept a full-time PWM offer and then network your way into IB/S&T at the bank, but that tends to be harder once you’ve already begun working full-time there.

      So assuming the cost is not exorbitant, delaying graduation and going through recruiting once again makes sense to me here.

  66. Interesting article, although it strikes me as common sense. At any rate, I was wondering if you where considering doing an article on IB for activist investor consulting and activist defense. Its been gaining lots of traction because of activist HF and banks making specialised product groups.

    1. Sure, at some level everything is common sense. But we still get a lot of questions on this topic, and the questions seem to be increasing each year. Delaying graduation is increasingly a bad idea, so I wanted to issue a warning against it.

      Activist investing: yes, possibly, if someone volunteers for it. I do not know enough personally to write about it.

  67. PasterOfMuppets

    Hi Brian,

    I am a final year student at a non-target school in France with high GPA and several off-cycle internships in corporate finance (18 months cumulated in FP&A, PE and corporate-side Project Finance). All my internships were within one industry (infrastructures) and I have just received an offer for a Master’s degree at a target-school. My goal is to work in a bank with a strong focus on the infrastructure industry (i.e. Macquarie).

    From your point of view, should I accept this offer (therefore being a student for one additional year, adding extra-debt and taking the risk to apply to FT during a downturn), or use my industry specialization (despite the lack of brand-name) to get a FT at any firm having an Infra IB team?

    My strategy if I go for the master’s degree: since off-cycle internships are very common in France, I will get one in a well-known firm then leverage it for a FT position in the same firm or somewhere else.

    NB: it is nearly impossible to get a FT in France in IB if you are not a target-school graduate but maybe it could work outside my country (for instance in the UK).

    1. I think it depends on whether or not you want to stay in France. An interviewee last year said the same thing ( – very tough to get in outside the top schools there). If you want to work in IB in France, it seems like you have to go to a target school, so the Master’s degree would be the best decision.

      But if you want to work in London or anywhere else in EMEA and you’re willing to network your way into another off-cycle internship, it’s better to do that and skip the Master’s degree. There is a good chance that hiring will be down over the next year, so it’s less risky to apply for internships now.

  68. Hi Brian,

    I finished my undergrad in finance (3.4 GPA) last May and went straight to MBA at a non-target school. I decided to do it that way because I had an attractive offer between a graduate assistantship and additional scholarships on the table so it made sense in my mind to just stick it out here despite being just a state school. I’m top 15% of my university for my MBA GPA. I had an accounting internship during my undergrad at a manufacturing company and have been working in the financial planning and analysis department at a different manufacturing company for about a year now. I know this isn’t a delayed graduation situation but it is similar because I stayed in school. Any input?

    1. That is a tough one – I think the biggest issue, more than going directly from undergrad to MBA, is that it’s a non-target MBA program, which will make it more difficult to win offers in fields like investment banking.

      So it depends on your goals: are you set on IB/PE, or are you considering broader options? A non-target MBA program can work for asset management, corporate finance/development at normal companies, and so on, but it would be much tougher to go for IB/PE roles at large firms coming from that background.

      If your goal was to save money while expanding your future career options, you probably made the right choice. But if you want to work in Goldman Sachs IBD, this was probably not the right choice.

  69. Hi Brian,

    I’m currently a senior at non-target. I networked and got myself an IB SA role at a top MM. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an offer due to extenuating circumstances. I had top reviews in my class and VPs/MDs called their friends at other banks to help me get Interviews. I wasn’t able to land a FT offer but I got another SA role at a top BB group. However, I had to delay graduation by a semester. The good thing is I will still graduate with no debt.

    Do you think I made the right move rather than pursuing boutique opps.

    1. Yeah, in your case it probably made sense to delay graduation because you were very close to winning an offer at a large bank anyway, and then you did. And you didn’t lose much of anything by delaying graduation. You might have to address it if it comes up in interviews in the future, but you could always explain it by stating that you needed extra time for the job search because of the extenuating circumstances at the bank you interned at.

  70. Hi Brian,

    I think for me, it might make sense. I’m at a target (but non-core) public university, I have an offer for a middle-market IB internship, and I didn’t have *any* internship experience- but I still got Superdays with 5BBs, thanks to pretty good ECs, a very strong GPA/major, and great technical understanding. Full-time recruiting for MMs is highly variable, from what I hear, so I think going for an internship would be a far safer option- plus it gives me one more year of my 20s to enjoy. Would my decision to go for an internship instead of full-time recruiting hurt me very much in the eyes of a recruiter? I’m assuming that recruiting for full-time automatically puts me out of contention for internships.

    (Note: I’m going into IB to improve my work ethic and get into an M7 program , the latter of which is why I don’t want full-time with the MM firm)

    1. OK, so just to clarify, you’re asking if it’s a good idea to complete the MM IB internship and then go for an internship at a larger bank the next year rather than accepting a full-time return offer from the MM bank?

      I’m not sure if I see the logic in that because it seems like the downside – possibly not getting an offer at a large bank – outweighs the upside – slightly improved chances at a top business school. I’m not sure how much being at a top bank would boost your chances; there would be some benefit, but there are so many bankers applying that it may not help as much as you think.

      Plus, if you really want to move to a large bank, the easier option is to make a lateral move over once you’ve worked full-time at the MM bank for some time.

  71. Brian- I am a senior at a non-target school, did summer internship at Bulge Bracket, did not get a return offer. I networked heavily during junior year and ended up having a 3.0 GPA. This is my laster semester and I was thinking about delaying a semester to graduate. You mentioned go smaller but I am an international student smaller firms don’t sponsor. I wanted to work in the USA after I graduate. Should I delay my graduation?
    Thank you

    1. In this case, yes, it might make sense to delay your graduation assuming that you’re set in working in the US afterward. You’re right that it would be very difficult to move to a small firm in this case. The main point is that you really need to have a good explanation for why you didn’t get a return offer and how you’ve improved since then. It will still be tough to win an offer at a large bank at this stage, but given all the effort you’ve already put in, you might as well stay in school a bit longer and go through the process once again.

      1. I went through summer internship process by cold-emailing all over again this fall semester, but I didn’t get any internship . Summer Internship recruiting is wrapping up at many companies, I would really appreciate any advice on what I should do at this stage.

        Thank you

        1. Did you just not get enough interviews? Or did the interviews not go well? What was the main reason you didn’t receive an internship? I would need to know that before giving advice on what to do next.

          1. I got 4 interviews from firms at regional offices, and one interview from bulge bracket in New York. Does 5 interviews sounds enough? Some of them I am not a good fit, some of them I did not perform well during interviews.

          2. I think 5 interviews is a pretty good result, but it’s not enough to conclude that interview performance was your main problem. Not receiving the return offer probably hurt your chances a lot at the larger banks and made it harder to get interviews there.

            If you didn’t receive a summer internship from a large bank, you’re probably not going to work there right away after graduating… but if you are really set on working in the US, one option might be to apply for corporate finance roles at large companies, under the logic that a big company might be able to sponsor you even if it’s not a bank.

            However, you’ll probably have to delay graduation to do that since you need to get an internship… but then internship recruiting has finished at most places.

            This is a tough one, but if you are 100% set on working in the US, yes, maybe delay graduation, keep going for an internship at a smaller firm, and see if you can leverage it into something else. But if you’re somewhat less than 100% sure you want to work in the US, delaying graduation doesn’t seem to be worth it here.

  72. Hi Brian,

    I know you have suggested the New York School of Finance program before. Would you suggest that if I did not receive any offers I wanted, then to participate in the summer program after graduation? And then hope to receive an offer from a bank after the program?

    1. That is a tough one because it depends on many factors – Can you afford it? What does your previous experience look like? How close were you to receiving offers? What about your academic profile?

      Generally, the NYSF helps more if you’re in an earlier year in school because you want to move from smaller banks to larger ones as you complete each year… so if you’ve already had experience at banks, the NYSF program would be less helpful.

      On the other hand, if you’ve had “similar” internships, but nothing exactly in investment banking (e.g., valuation, TAS, consulting, or something like that), then potentially the NYSF program could be helpful and might be a good alternative to delaying your graduation.

      However, please note that you won’t receive an offer from banks that participate in that program as they do not make full-time hires in most cases – so you would need to go through another networking effort during/after the program.

      So it could potentially help you, but it depends on your profile so far and your time frame for finding something after you graduate.

      1. Student

        I’m curious about the “internships” with NYSF. What companies do they frequently match their students with? As a sophomore, should I accept an offer in a BB’s middle/back office, or consider NYSF because of the more relevant technical experience? Cost is a consideration but I’m willing to take the chance if NYSF offers a clear-cut advantage for JR. year summer recruiting. What do you think?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I’d probably go with the offer at a BB because it is a real offer from a BB, but I’d also suggest you chat with one of the reps at NYSF to gain more clarity.

  73. Hello!

    I am currently a second year student in the UK reading Economics at a top 10 university. I didnt make the IB or sales internships I applied for but have received an offer for Auditing with a big 4 firm over the summer, where the conversion rate to a graduate role is near enough to 100%.
    Having read the article, I was just wondering what the actual process/mechanics are behind working in a big 4 firm in audit to landing a job in banking, as I think that is a path I would be interested in transferring to at some point in my career.


    1. Usually, you need to go through some “intermediate” step first, such as transferring to TAS within the Big 4 firm, or going to a valuation firm, or doing something more closely related to deals. And then you go from there into investment banking. Getting into TAS at a Big 4 firm can be quite tough, but it is do-able, especially if you start early and stay at the same firm. A few articles on this topic: – How one reader moved from audit to TAS – From a regional audit firm to valuation to investment banking – Big 4 restructuring to investment banking

  74. Luis Augusto

    Hi, my name is Luis Augusto and I’m from Brazil. I want to know to have an experience abroad it’s reasonable to delay the graduation? I’m in a target school, my grades are not so good, but I’m starting the third year now so until I graduate I can do better. I’m applying for a Finance Certificate in UCLA, it’s 6 month period and my graduation can be delayed this time. I have a summer internship in a consulting company and some courses, like Investment Banking course in Brazil. I am worried because, in my school I am able to be an intern only in the last year, and if I don’t delayed my graduation I will be able to have a internship only for 6 month until I graduate. I think it’s little time to get my full time role in the bank. What do you think?

    1. I think it depends on the internship experience you can get during the UCLA program. If it’s just a Finance Certificate and you don’t get any work experience out of it, it’s not a great idea to delay graduation solely for that. Experience abroad will help, but more so if you want to work abroad in the future. A 6-month internship right before you graduate, during your final year, sounds good to me, especially if you’ve already done a consulting internship.

  75. Hi Brian,

    Great article and hits right at home. I ended up delaying graduation and it turned out for the better and here’s my story for those who are curios:

    I go to a target school and have IB and other finance experience. Due to a very competitive school and lack of networking and general unawareness, I only got a few interviews last year for SA, and didn’t do well. I literally had no other options. FT recruiting came, but almost every bank filled their class up with summers or accelerated recruiting from kids who were looking to transfer from BB to BB. I ended up receiving a corporate banking FT offer, but knew that I wanted to do IB so didn’t take it.

    I decided to delay graduation and re-recruit. I did a lot of research, came up with explanations to why if anyone asked (no one did). I really worked on myself and my technicals- and by work, I mean not just memorizing answers but knowing exactly how everything worked and the concepts. Having more experience got me a lot more interviews, but the biggest difference was that I was just much more confident going in.

    I heard every variant of every question, been to so many interviews and felt like I knew any technical that could be asked that was reasonable. I ended up receiving an offer to a solid MM bank with good deal flow, and looking back, I think it was much better choice than if I had just decided to take the FT offer in corporate banking. Having this big IB experience will also help me in FT if I decide to switch.

    Not exactly advocating for delaying graduation, but just my case where in turned out and really happy I did. Thanks a lot for all your help too.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story! Yeah, if you go to a target school and have relevant experience but just haven’t put in the networking effort yet, it can also make sense to delay graduation. The additional interview practice is a big plus that I didn’t really consider here, but yes, that can make a difference especially if you didn’t interview around much the first time.

  76. I am currently a 4th year student at a non-target school. I go to a large state university but banks rarely recruit here. I have a 3.0GPA for business management but I am thinking about delaying graduation to take a finance major. Would it be a smart choice for me to just list my finance major GPA on my resume and do my best through those courses? I currently have a couple of past internships as a business analyst but not in finance. I’m not sure if I should get my finance major? What do you think?

    1. I personally would not delay graduation for a finance major in that case – it’s probably not enough time to significantly boost your GPA, and I don’t think a finance major would help you much if you’ve mostly done business analyst internships in the past. The finance-specific GPA might help, but you may not be able to write that much by the time you recruit once again.

      I would say your best bet is to follow one of the plans above and get the most relevant finance role you can find, even if it’s more of an accounting or business analyst role, and then move over from there – or maybe go for the “cold-calling small PE firms” strategy, but that sometimes doesn’t work as well if you’re at a non-target school.

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