You Didn’t Get Any Full-Time Investment Banking Offers. Here’s What To Do Next
If full-time recruiting season is over and you don’t have any full-time investment banking offers, you should be panicking at least a little.
While summer interns who don’t get return offers have a few months to fix the situation, your options are more limited.
But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of getting full-time offers – so here’s what to do.
You might think the worst case scenario is not getting a full-time job, but that’s not true – there are two scenarios that are worse:
- Putting yourself in a position where it’s nearly impossible to break into finance in the future.
- Moving into a job that’s difficult to leverage for business school or eventually breaking into finance.
#1 happens most often when you get the brilliant idea to go to business school straight out of undergrad… oops.
#2 is not the end of the world, but you still want to avoid it unless you absolutely, desperately need the income in the short-term.
If those are the 2 worst-case scenarios, then the best-case scenario is simple: whatever maximizes your chances of breaking in without limiting your options or wasting time on things that won’t help you in the long-term.
What Went Wrong?
The next question you need to ask: what went wrong?
There are only 2 reasons why you didn’t win any full-time offers:
1) You didn’t get any interviews / enough interviews.
Your problem was your resume, your networking efforts, or both.
If you’ve been submitting applications online, please stop immediately. It doesn’t work, and you’ll never get a critical mass of interviews like that.
You need to get on the phone ASAP and start talking to real people and then meeting them in-person – if you’re coming from a non-target school and you haven’t done that, you stand a 0.0000000000001% chance of breaking into investment banking.
If you’re at a better-known school, networking is still essential but your resume / lack of solid work experience is more likely the culprit.
Diagnosis: Make sure you’re using this investment banking resume template.
Then, take a look at your resume and your experiences – if you haven’t had impressive-looking internships then you need to get them if you want any chance of getting interviews.
Finally, take an honest look at your networking efforts – have you contacted at least 100 alumni? Cold-called 100 local boutiques? Talked to at least 20 people on the phone and hopefully met most of them in-person?
If not, then you need to put your nose to the grindstone and keep at it until your investment banking networking results in interviews.
2) You got a lot of interviews but didn’t do well or didn’t connect with the interviewers.
Winning offers from interviews is very, very random.
Yes, knowing the key fit and technical questions is essential, but a lot of people know those – especially in bulge bracket interviews.
You need a “hook” to actually win offers, and unless you’ve had dozens of interviews the “randomness” factor is too high for you to say anything concrete.
Diagnosis: If you didn’t have dozens of interviews, you need to get them (see above). If you did, and you still didn’t get any offers then you need to figure out what went wrong.
The best way to do this: go through a few mock interviews with friends in the industry.
90% of interview problems can be reduced to:
- Issues with your response to the “Walk me through your resume” question
- You don’t have a good answer for “why investment banking“
- Your enthusiasm is low and you aren’t as polished as other interviewees
The good news is that “fixing” your interview skills takes less time than networking with hundreds of industry contacts and getting more impressive work experience.
But the bad news is that it’s very difficult to “teach” someone how to be more likeable, which is what tips the scale in interviews.
How Much Time and Money Do You Have?
Next: how much time and money do you have to fix whatever mistakes you made?
If you didn’t win full-time offers, you need to fix your resume, interview skills, or networking skills, or maybe all of those… but how you do that depends on the resources at your disposal.
First, let’s go through a couple examples of what you shouldn’t do when you don’t have any full-time offers lined up, and then a couple examples of strategies that make more sense.
What NOT To Do
I thought about adding the CFA here just for fun, but I’ll resist the urge to do that – just this once.
1) Business School
It’s a big mistake to go to business school with minimal full-time work experience.
How much do you need?
At least 3-5 years. We basically threw out resumes of Associate candidates who had less experience.
Yes, there are plenty of good reasons to go to business school if you want to use it for something else, but going immediately after undergraduate is a recipe for disaster if you want to get into banking from your program.
And be careful that your work experience is actually “full-time” – a bunch of side projects or travel combined with teaching English and intermittent work won’t stack up to the guy who managed a $1 billion product line for 4 years.
The other big problem with going to business school right after undergrad is that if you don’t get into finance when you’re there, your future chances also drop dramatically.
2) Back Office
For the last time, back office to front office moves – at least for investment banking – are rare and very difficult to pull off.
Yes, it may work slightly better in other fields and some people pull it off successfully, but you need to think about the probability.
What will give you a higher probability of eventually moving to a large bank’s investment banking division – starting in the back office, or going to a boutique first and then making a lateral move?
Please, stop the insanity and go for front office roles at smaller firms rather than “taking what you can get” and making the back office your backup.
3) Normal Job
By “normal” I mean not related to finance at all – marketing, engineering, medicine, etc. Corporate development, wealth management, consulting, and the like don’t qualify.
I would only “settle” for this if you’ve been out of school for months, have networked extensively, are doing all the right things, but still have no offers and you really need income in the short-term.
4) Nothing At All
I’m not referring to whether or not you have something lined up by the time you graduate – I’m talking about what you DO between now and when you graduate.
I had a reader last year who only started her full-time job search 2 months before graduation. Whoops.
No matter what you’re “busy” with, figuring out what you’re doing afterward comes before everything else – so move grades, classes, and activities lower on your priority list.
Possible Plan B’s
Here are 5 viable options. They’re not mutually exclusive, and there’s no “best” option – everything depends on your own situation.
1) Delaying Graduation
“Help! I have no offers. Should I delay my graduation and go for summer internships again this year, then do full-time recruiting before I graduate in December next year?”
It’s most helpful if:
- You got some interviews but had trouble convincing them you could do the work since you didn’t have substantial internships.
- You go to a well-known school that banks recruit at – otherwise it’s a huge gamble to bet on summer internships.
- Your problem was your resume or interview skills, as opposed to your networking efforts.
The main problem: if you’ve had impressive internships, done a lot of interviewing, but simply didn’t make it through any final rounds, then it will come across as an obvious Plan B to anyone interviewing you – and they’ll ask the questions you don’t want to answer.
2) Master’s Program
Another common plan, and also not a bad move. It’s good if:
- You’re using it to move to a better-known school where banks recruit.
- You didn’t do enough networking and need more time and better access to recruiters.
- You could also use some more impressive-looking internships.
This is not the best plan if the main issue was your interview skills – it’s a big commitment just to have another shot at recruiting.
The focus of your program is almost irrelevant beyond being related to finance/business/economics in some way – if you’re trying to re-brand yourself, don’t go for a Master’s Degree in English Literature. Read more about the MBA investment banking recruitment process here.
3) Keep At It
This one gets overlooked, probably because it’s not as “exciting” as the other options.
If you keep cold-calling and networking, you’ll eventually get something – the only way to fail is if you give up first. Even if you graduate without a firm plan in place, that’s still better than taking the wrong job.
You should think about this option if:
- You don’t have the resources to delay graduation or to stay in school even longer.
- You have a decent amount of work experience but you lack a good network and need time to build it.
- You don’t mind going for smaller banks at first and then making a lateral move.
If you’re at a non-target school and cannot move elsewhere or stay in school longer, this is your best option: set a target of making 10 calls per day, sending 10 emails per day, and so on, and never take “no” for an answer.
I’m referring to my suggestions on what to do with time off before you start working full-time: moving to another country for a few months and doing something interesting.
This one can work but it’s more risky than the others since it puts you out of the game for quite awhile – if you do this for an entire year after graduation, for example, it’s tough to jump back into recruiting.
It’s more viable if you combine this with the other options above – so maybe you apply to grad school, but take 1-2 months in between to go on an adventure.
That way you get a big boost to your networking and interview skills because you appear more interesting, plus you might get some solid leads if you go to a country with a major financial center.
5) Something Leverageable
If all else fails, none of these options is viable, and you can’t afford to spend more time recruiting, then you might have to take what you can get.
But still think about something that can be spun into sounding relevant to finance – corporate finance at a large company, helping governments manage all the financial services companies they now own, or even an economics/business-related fellowship.
Your Plan of Attack
If full-time recruiting season is over and you don’t have any offers, your plan of attack is simple: figure out what went wrong, decide what you’ll do after graduation to give yourself another shot at recruiting, and then spend your time between now and then fixing the mistakes you made.
Now, get to it.
If you liked this post, you might be interested in Business Valuation Firms: The Best Backdoor into Investment Banking and Private Equity?.
Free Exclusive Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews
Read below or Add a comment
I am a senior student at a semi-target school. Before applying for 2022SA programs, my internship experience is more focused on consulting (MBB and tier 2 consulting firms) with no IB experience, then I was waitlisted by several BBs after final round and did not get an 2022SA offer in IB. After that I got an off-cycle internship at a top PE (think BX/KKR/etc.), then I had another consulting internship and will join a Big4 strategy consulting department after graduation. Now I still wanna switch back to IB and I am thinking about working in Big4 strategy consulting for 1 year, then hop to Big4 Deals department and work for 2-3 years, then get a M7 MBA and join BB IBD as an associate. Do you think this is feasible and are there better options? Does my undergraduate internship experience still matters when I am joining as an associate with an MBA degree?
Thank you so much in advance!
I don’t know, that sounds very indirect considering you already did a PE internship and at least came close to receiving IB offers. I think you could probably move into IB without an MBA if you can work in the Big 4 TS team for ~1 year and network aggressively. An MBA is most useful for people with experience very far removed from finance who want to make a career change.
Recently graduated from university in London with great grades (top in year at a target in hard subject) but no IB offer. I did a summer internship in BB IBD 2020 (virtual) but did not convert, was in the 35% that did not convert, but they didn’t convert any interns in my team as extremely limited availability, most of my work was intern project based which is a bit BS.
Didn’t successfully recruit to a good bank FT for 2021 (managed to get Stifel /Cantor Fitzgerald offers), probably due to over focus on my final year grade at university, however have managed to get an off cycle analyst offer in PE (Cinven / EQT / Carlyle) but unlikely I’ll be able to convert it. Also received an offer for off cycle IBD M&A at a tier 2/3 bank (DB / Barclays / HSBC) which has high conversion.
I am highly likely to take the PE offer as it’s a very unique experience and I think it will give me great exposure / network to buy side investing which is my ultimate goal. The firm is also prestigious within London and it was a very competitive process, even taking the no conversion factor into consideration. Most of last year’s cohort have gone onto top IBD programmes / MBB / PE grad, however most of them converted their internships.
Is it too much of a risk to hope for an opening for a 2022 analyst role at a top bank / mid-upper busyide firm and take the PE offering? I haven’t secured a 2022 grad role yet in IBD, and feel like I’ve missed some openings (however this is due to some difficult circumstances). However I know that some of them open at the start of next year / before summer for spaces?
Please let me know your thoughts!
I don’t think here is a huge difference in those options, but if your top concern is making sure you have an immediate FT role right after the internship ends, the off-cycle IBD offer is better. The PE offer might be better if you want to roll the dice and potentially set yourself up for PE later on but maybe go a bit longer looking for an FT role in IB first.
Hey Brian, I recently graduated from a non-target uni and I’m not quite sure whether it’s possible for me to pursue IB or not. I have two masters degrees – one in electronic engineering and one in economics and finance which I decided to do last year because of covid etc. I got a 2:1 for the first and might get a first for the second because of covid grades policy, or a 2:1 otherwise. Recruitment season is almost over and I have yet to get any internships or full time offers. Is it worth trying to get some off-cycle internships (assuming they don’t want penultimate year students) or should I consider a different career at this stage? Thank you.
I think it will be tough if you have no previous finance internships, went to a non-target university, and just graduated. I would probably focus on other roles for now, such as the Big 4 firms, corporate banking, or anything else similar but less competitive, and aim to move into IB later.
I really enjoy regarding your insights on the IB industry. I am a recent Economics with a Finance concentration major, Business Administration minor graduate from The City College of New York. I graduated with a 3.745 of 4.0 GPA and Magna Cum Laude latin honors. Due to the covid-19 pandemic’s onset occurring during the crucial junior and senior years of my academic career, internships were very scarce. Though lack of internship opportunities remains a challenge, I remain determined to break into the investment banking industry. I have been actively applying and networking which has gained some traction but have yet secure a position. I also have what some may call a non-traditional resume as I am 30 years old and my previos professional career was in the entrepreneurial space of the restaurant/bar industry. I have been calling, sending direct messages, and trying to utilize all methods available to me. If you had any insights about what positions i should be focusing more on or how to present my skills and conduct my job search better they would be very much appreciated.
Your main options are: 1) Keep networking for IB roles and focus on boutique firms that might be open to off-cycle/non-traditional hires. 2) Apply to top Master’s in Finance programs to rebrand yourself, get a better name, and get better recruiting access. 3) Forget about IB for now and go for related roles such as Big 4, valuation firms, etc.
I can’t say which one is best because it depends on how much time you’re willing to spend on this and if you are able to / want to do another degree at this point. Personally, I would say that if you don’t see much traction with banks after ~6 months of trying, it’s time to consider other jobs and/or the Master’s degree.
I am about to enter my third year of a four year BA in Economics in what I would call a semi-target school for IB in London (Trinity College Dublin). I have a cumulative 2.1 grade. I do not have any internships or much finance related experience to put on my CV and as a result do not believe I have a great chance of getting a summer analyst position for 2022.
The way I see it I have a few options:
Do a masters in finance in TCD (which is essentially free for me), do internships, build up the CV and go for a summer analyst internship in the summer 2023 between undergrad and postgrad.
The same as above, but do a masters in finance in a UK target school (expensive).
Repeat the year just gone, go for spring weeks, build up the CV and go for a summer analyst position in 2023.
My questions are:
Do you think TCD a big enough name in London to just continue on with a masters here?
Is it possible to do a summer analyst internship after graduation in the summer between undergraduate and postgraduate?
What do you think is the best option if any, of the above?
You can potentially get into IB coming from TCD, but your chances would be higher via an MSF at a target school in the UK, so it depends on how much you’re willing to pay for that. I would not rely on spring weeks to get in for various reasons (they’re over-hyped online but less useful in real life).
Your best option is probably to do the Master’s at TCD, do internships to build your CV, and then aim for a summer 2023 internship. If you’ll still be in school when it ends, you should be able to complete it (just set your graduation date to the end of the Master’s program).
The biggest potential problem with this plan is that there aren’t many IB / related opportunities in Dublin, so you’ll probably have to find something in London, which is tricky with the never-ending travel restrictions (or contact firms and ask for remote internships and see if they agree).
I recently graduated from a target school with a 3.6 GPA and am wondering what the best way to proceed is. During my junior summer, after striking out on investment banking internships, I interned at a Fortune 500 insurance company and received a full-time offer but declined it. Starting in the fall, I will be attending a Top 10 Business School to get my Masters of Science in Accounting (MSA). This summer, I have a somewhat informal Private Equity internship lined up as I also have to take a few required classes for the MSA program. At this point, I am considering three different full-time options: investment banking, transaction advisory / business valuation, and Big 4 audit (CPA route). My previous problems during investment banking recruiting were not networking enough and not brushing up on my technicals enough since I was late in the recruiting process. Do you have any recommendations on which of these paths (or any others) would be best to pursue given my current situation? Any advice would be much appreciated!
If you have a PE internship, good grades, and a target undergrad and target Master’s program, you should be competitive for IB roles. The only issue is the timing, as you might run into trouble with internship applications if it’s a 1-year program and you haven’t already applied for summer 2022 internships. If that’s the case, I would say go for transaction advisory / business valuation roles and then lateral into IB from there. I don’t think audit would be useful because then you’ll just have to move into TAS or valuation or something similar first and then move again.
Thanks Brian! I appreciate the advice. Do you think it would be possible to win a full-time investment banking role without going into transaction advisory / business valuation first?
It’s almost impossible to win full-time IB roles without doing an internship first and converting or doing a very relevant full-time job and moving in from there.
I recently received an offer for a Financial Due Diligence position at a Big 4 firm in their Deals practice, which starts this summer / fall in NYC. If I plan on lateraling into IB, when is it best to begin actively recruiting and networking? Also, is it worth looking for an off-cycle spring internship this year to better my chances of moving into IB? Finally, out of curiosity, is it typically easier to break into IB from FDD, Business Valuation, or another group within transaction services?
As soon as you have 2 solid deals/client experiences to speak to. That could mean anywhere from 6 months to ~2 years depending on your experience. I wouldn’t bother with an off-cycle internship if you already have a Big 4 FT role. I don’t think there’s a huge difference in getting into IB among those different groups.
I recently received a full-time offer from a strong MM bank in their FIG group. However, FIG would not necessarily be my industry of choice. That said, I assume moving to a different group would be easier from that position than it would be from a Big Four FDD role. Is that true? Or would it be about the same?
Even if FIG is not your industry of choice, yes, it’s easier to move to a different group from there than from a Big 4 DD role.
I am a rising senior at a non-target state school and am curious about the best way to proceed. Last summer, I was an ER analyst at a private wealth management firm and have recently begun a SA program at a very small boutique IB firm. I have missed most of the deadlines for 2022 SA programs and am behind on networking for a BB role post-grad. Is it worth spending my time trying to find a spot in a BB SA program, or should I move on and start looking for FT roles? Will my experience in a boutique firm remedy the fact that I didn’t come out of a summer program? I really didn’t know I wanted to do IB until this year and am feeling the ramifications of a lack of foresight. Thanks in advance for your insight. Love your articles
It’s possible, but not probable, to find a FT role at a large bank at the last minute (see: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/last-minute-investment-banking-recruiting/). A bulge bracket offer is unlikely at this stage, but you might be able to find something at a middle market or in-between-a-bank (HSBC, Wells Fargo, RBC, etc.), especially outside of major financial centers. It really depends on how much you’re willing to network over the next few months.
I would say that if you’re set on winning a BB offer, and nothing else will satisfy you, aim for a full-time role somewhere else, such as corporate banking or Big 4 valuation, and aim to move over into IB from there. But if you’re fine with an offer at a smaller bank and you’re willing to put in a massive amount of effort networking in a short time frame, go for it.
First of all, thank you for your articles – they have always been very helpful so far. I am planning to start in IB M&A in the US in summer 2022 and have two questions.
I study Finance in Frankfurt, Germany at a Target Business School and will go to the US for a Master in Finance with a scholarship starting in fall. I have the following universities in my sights and partly first acceptances: University of Illinois (Gies), Ohio State (Fisher), Michigan-Dearborn, Boston College, Bentley (McCallum) and Fordham (Gabelli). My first question is which uni would you choose purely from the perspective of getting into IB in what rank order?
On my experience: 2 corporate banking/midcap structured finance internships in an international bank, 2 tier 2 IB M&A internships, 1 PE small cap internship, 1 corporate M&A in tier 1 auto industry with high deal flow.
Since I didn’t have time for an IB Summer Internship this summer, I will have to apply as a Full Time Analyst. My goal is to start as an IB Analyst in the US after my Master (Summer 2022). Networking early and mastering all technical/personal fit interview questions is something I am aware of.
My question is more about when is the right time to apply Full Time and if there are tricks and tips to network efficiently in the US with BB/EB recruiters? What are the best ways to do this?
I would really appreciate an answer and the exchange.
I’m not familiar with all of them, so cannot give you an exact rank. If you go by published rankings, Boston College, Ohio State, and Illinois seem like the best bets, but I believe Illinois is more accounting-focused (??).
Applying directly for full-time IB roles is tricky and not very reliable in the U.S. because almost all full-time Analysts are hired out of internship programs. Sometimes lateral and off-cycle roles open up, but the usual path is to complete a summer internship first. If there’s any way you can make time for a summer internship, you should do that. Otherwise, you’ll just have to apply to FT roles when they open up (usually at the end of the summer) and/or work in another field first and then apply to IB as a lateral hire.
Long time reader here looking for advice. I was at a target school and had to come home due to family issues and transferred to a non target closer to home. I ended up finishing my degree in finance at the non target and have been out of school for over a year working in back office for wealth management. I was at the target school 4 years ago and have explored other non finance areas since then. So making a lateral move would be difficult. MBA’s are also too expensive for me. I was thinking about transferring back into the target school to finish where I left off (sophomore) to recruit for banking. Should I mention my other degree in interviews or just leave it out when networking/interviewing? Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!
You’ll have to mention the other degree somewhere, but maybe just frame it as you having to return home and wanting to finish undergrad close to there, but eventually wanting to back and finish at your original school. You can act like the non-target school was sort of like a “transfer.”
I am a junior at a top 10 school but failed to get an IB summer internship. Instead, I have secured an equity research internship at an independent research firm (think Reuters, Bloomberg, Morningstar-ish). What would be the best idea for me to leverage this into aiming a IB/ER role at a BB/EB? (and is this possible?) Thanks!
I think you should focus on turning it into an ER role at a bank first, via networking since most ER recruiting is off-cycle. There are examples of how to do this in the ER recruiting article on this site. Since ER recruiting is unstructured, yes, it’s always possible to find something when a spot opens up, especially since burnout and turnover rates have been rising over the past year.
I am a senior w/ a 3.9 gpa at a semi-target. I did a boutique IB and PE internship and am president of two organizations. I became interested in IB in my junior year and missed SA recruiting. Unfortunately, I can not delay graduation for SA recruiting. I networked with over 50 bankers, but few banks were hiring. I have a few IB interviews lined up, but I am not sure I will win a offer due to limited spots/limited banks recruiting. I have a big 4 valuation offer on the table. If I strike out in full-time recruiting, should I accept the valuation offer and lateral? Should I try cold calling boutiques to win a full-time role and renege the valuation role if I get a boutique IB offer?
Yes, I would just accept the valuation offer and aim for lateral roles later on. I don’t think it’s worth cold calling hundreds of boutique banks when you’ll just have to move to another bank later on anyway.
I recently secured a 1-year internship program in a BB in the Global Markets Department and the usual route to a full-time position is to undergo a Graduate Program with the bank. Will it be wise for me to apply for the Graduate Program while I am still undergoing internship in that bank? The internship does not guarantee a full-time conversion and some context: I have zero prior experience in finance before this internship. Thank you for your time.
You could, but it would make more sense to wait and see if you are going to receive a full-time offer from the internship, which you should know by about midway through.
For option 5 for “Plan B” options, would product management at a F500 company be something I could leverage for the full-time recruiting cycle next year? I have banking, accounting and hedge fund internships from college, but I received a full-time offer at this F500 company in product management to start in Febuary, so I was thinking I could start working there when I graduate this December and leverage it for full-time recruiting in 2021 for class of 2022 when market conditions are less crazy. Would you say this is a better option or should I just try to delay graduation and see if I can get a summer analyst position for the summer of 2021? Thank you!
I don’t think that’s a great idea because the first question in any interview will be, “Why did you switch from banking/hedge fund internships to product management, and how do we know you’re serious about staying in this field now?”
Also, you can’t really apply for full-time roles if you’re already working full-time in another industry. They normally accept only students, so you would have to apply for lateral roles. That is possible, but it’s difficult to get in from something like product management. So… probably delay graduation and go for internships next year, but watch out because a lot of banks have already completed that process a year in advance. The timing is much earlier now.
Hi, I recently graduating from a well-known school that banks recruit at in my country. However, I don’t have any internship related to IB, I have some experience as Credit analyst and in consulting. Most of my applications hasn’t passed for an interview and my chances are almost none. Although, in the last week I have had a little of luck and get some interviews in IFC and Bloomberg – fuandemant analyst, do you think that would help me in the future to get a job in IB or I should pursue another path?
I think you’d be better off getting an internship at a local/boutique IB/PE/VC firm and then using that type of off-cycle internship to eventually get into IB. IFC/Bloomberg are better than nothing, but not as relevant as working at an investment firm or bank.
Hi, I would really appreciate if you could give me advice.
I am a junior studying an irrelevant major at a target school in NYC. I found out I wanted to work in IB late, so I will be graduating late (so I am technically a sophomore) However, I have no work experience, effectively making my resume barren, and I have nothing lined up for spring and summer. What should I be doing? It also seems more dire given that it is now January and applications for the summer are past due. I was thinking about cold-calling boutiques and seeing if they have positions.
Your best bet at this point is to aim for internships at local PE/VC firms and banks and see if you can get something lined up during the school year or for the summer. I don’t think you have a great chance at the on-cycle recruiting process for 2021 because it will start in a few months. But if you can win one of those internships first, maybe you can get lucky and leverage it into a full-time role later, or you can start out at a valuation or Big 4 firm or something similar and lateral over to IB.
How bad are your chances for IBD London if you’ve been rejected at a bank the previous year? Should I re-apply with a new email and see what happens?
As long as you can point to how you’ve changed/improved since then, an initial rejection should not be a big obstacle. So, yes, re-apply.
Right, I made it to an initial Hirevue after attending an event so will someone from HR remember me and ding my application?
Unlikely because banks are generally disorganized and HR tends not to be competent…
Hi, what do you think is the better move for me going forward, with a view of getting in to IB – M&A @ Big 4 or Valuation Advisory?
M&A at Big 4 due to the brand name + skill set relevancy.
I have 2 internships in venture capital, good grades, and some tech jobs at top tech companies. I graduated a few months ago but since I’m off-cycle I haven’t found too many IB opportunities. I got a corp-dev offer for a private PE backed company that focuses on tech and is acquisitive. It could be a good experience, but I would rather do IB first. With my background, is it better to take this opportunity and try to lateral. Or could it be a good idea to do my best in a few months when more jobs open up?
Thanks in advance.
I would take the corp dev offer if you’re not close to winning anything else because it is always easier to find another job when you’re employed. And it’s not great to have a gap on your resume, especially if you’ve already graduated.
Hi Brian, I live in the UK and I’m going to study A-level Maths, Further Maths and Economics. I’m unsure of which degree, out of Economics, Mathematics, Finance or Business, is most useful in gaining internships and a position at an investment bank. Or does the type of degree not matter significantly, and is there more importance in attending a top university?
Hey Brian. I interned at an elite HF last summer (big name fund that runs internships), enjoyed the work, and received a return offer. I chose the HF over a banking offer (non top 3 BB bank) back then as I thought it would be interesting but I also may have been naive in making my decision based on general “prestige”.
In fear that I would not get a return offer, I went into this upcoming recruitment cycle applying for IB Summers (since full-time graduate roles are really scarce anyway). I received a banking offer from a top bank for summer and so now I’m in a bit of a dilemma.
1. Start at the HF full time? The work’s interesting, lots of responsibility and little grunt work. But like you mentioned countless of times, its unstructured and niche – so opportunities to lateral in the future might be relatively low
2. Do the banking summer and hope I convert it? But then I’ll be giving up a job at a top HF and I may not even be able to land a comparable role after doing 2 years banking because of how competitive recruitment is post-banking(so either way you can’t be picky when looking for exit-opps)
General feedback I’ve got from my friends in college is that I would be foolish to give up a “coveted” spot at this fund. But on the other hand, I feel like a broad-based structured analyst programme could also be useful for my development?
Am I thinking about this completely wrong? What would you advise?
I think it depends on how certain you are that you want to stay in the hedge fund industry for the long term. If you are not really sure what you want to do, or you could consider other options such as IB/PE/VC/Corporate Development in future years, then it probably makes more sense to accept the IB offer and aim to convert it into a full-time role.
On the other hand, if investing is your passion and you have no interest in working on deals or moving into other industries, then it makes more sense to accept the HF offer because it will be harder to win an equivalent offer later on out of an IB program, even one at a top bank.
I just finished up at IU but unfortunately finished with a 3.0 gpa and only one internship in wealth management. Is there any hope using an MSF program to get into IB. thanks
Potentially, but only if you’re willing to network like a madman and win some internships before/during the program (oh, and get into a top program).
Love the article, and your insights in all of them are great.
I had a quick question. Given my grades aren’t great, and I have internships from a mid tier consulting firm, I suppose its going to be impossible to break into IB immediately. I was thinking of working in consulting a while, maybe get a few M&A deals if possible; then do my MBA and get into IB/PE via that route.
Do you think tis a good idea?
Yes, most likely. Mid-tier consulting to IB is very difficult, so it might be better to do something like a Big 4 firm or valuation firm first. Or even corporate finance at a normal company.
Thank you for another very useful article, and giving us constructive feedback on our career moves!
I graduated from a target school and did an MM IB internship prior to starting in a real estate corporate M&A role at a fortune 500 firm. I stayed there for a year and a half (added a $15bn+ transaction to my dealsheet), and then left the company on mutual accord. It has been almost 4 months since I’m looking for a new opportunity, sent out 100+ applications, interviewed at 12 places [o/w 3 final rounds], but received no offer. My point of focus so far was generalist/real estate IB and MM RE PE.
How would you advise me to position myself next? Should I continue networking/applying or perhaps consider alternative finance roles? Any ideas would be more than welcome.
That is a tough one. If you made it to 3 final round interviews, you must be doing something right, but you might be making some type of mistake near the end that is hurting your chances (could be your story, your deal walk-throughs, performance on case studies, or almost anything, really). You definitely have a higher chance of winning offers if you keep focusing on real estate groups and firms, so assuming you want to stay in the industry, you should continue to do that. You may want to consider real estate lending roles since there’s often more of a supply/demand imbalance there. I would also strongly recommend reaching out to your interviewers to see if you can get feedback on how you can improve.
I have been selected for the round 2 of Credit Suisse Holt Valuation Challenge where I have to prepare Investment Pitch.I can’t understand what to do now since I am from a small University in India I have no one to give guidance.Can you please help me?
We’ve covered this topic before:
I major in International Business. My school is top 4 in the US in International Business major. However, I am a fully online student and my school is in another state. I am graduating in 2 month. I never have any internship but I do have job experience in payroll and account payable. I really don’t know what I want to do with my major. I know I want to work in Finance field. I just accepted a part time job as Life Insurance & Investment sales but I don’t like walking door to door selling life insurance. I do like selling the investment part of it since I feel like I’m helping my client with their money for the future. However, if I can’t sell then I lose money for the membership fee. I don’t want to do payroll or AP or selling insurance anymore after I graduated. Money is also my problem. I cannot delay my graduation or quit my current job. My ultimate goal is Investment Banking. What else can I do with my major? I applied to so many internships and recent grad opportunity but no one has contact me back. I really want a Master Degree in Finance but I cannot afford that at the moment. What should I do?
If you haven’t had several internships, you won’t be able to win the types of opportunities you want (IB or anything deal/investment-related). Your best bet is to work in life insurance, move to the investment side, and then leverage that to move into something like valuation, Big 4 advisory, etc. And then think about investment banking, maybe going through business school in the process.
Hi, I have taken a masters and was wondering if I can get interviews for SA positions with the following stats + networking and how do I increase my chance? What about opportunities in SG/HK?
UG GPA (in SEA country): 3.4 (Major GPA : 3.8) in Computer Engineering
Master GPA: 3.9 in MS in Management Science and Engineering at a target Ivy League School
1 year exp as project coordinator in Renewable Energy Industry
1 IB internship at top tier bank at my home country
Yes, I think you can. Only networking or a higher GPA would increase your chances at this point, but you can’t do much about the undergrad GPA now.
I’m going through a pretty tough time and I need advice. It’s been almost 2 years since I graduated from an average school with a 3.9 GPA. I had a wealth management job for 3 months a year ago, and I went through some personal struggles that further delayed my return to work. I’ve always wanted investment banking, but never found jobs close to where I live so I applied online to every finance job I could find, and didn’t get any interview offers back in October. This made me think and I decided to ramp up my efforts for investment banking, so I’ve started networking in the DC area with no avail. The question is after I now sadly figured out the nature of this industry, what is the best course of action for me? Do I get a master’s degree, do I give up on my dream, or do you suggest something else? Please help me with some advice. Thank you.
A Master’s in Finance degree combined with an internship before/during the program is your best option at this point. Or, you could work in another industry for a few years, go for a top MBA program, and get into IB like that. But it will be tough to break in directly if you’ve already been out of school for 2 years.
After college, I joined a large life insurance company as an actuary and am realizing how narrow a field I am in. I was a math and economics major at a target school, GPA just above a 3.5. I am half a year into the job and am in NYC. I want to move into IB and would be willing to start at an entry level come next summer. What is the best way to go about this, given that I do not have the platform of true campus recruiting, and have largely missed the season?
You will probably need something closer to IB first, such as work at an independent valuation firm or at a Big 4 firm doing valuation/advisory work… so focus on getting one of those and then making the move into IB.
I just finished an investment banking internship at a boutique firm. I am a rising senior at a top 15 non-target with a 3.8, tough double major, solid internship experience, and strong extracurriculars. I wasn’t able to land the SA position I wanted this summer primarily due to lack of networking in the fall. Now, I am applying to places full-time and it doesn’t seem as if I am getting any leads. I received a return offer from my bank this summer, but I have worked so hard to get to where I am and I know my resume is top tier caliber, so settling for an unknown boutique is extremely difficult for me. I would be more than happy to intern again next summer and am wondering what you think the best plan of attack is. Should I delay graduation until next December? Should I say I am doing a Masters? Programs don’t let you know until spring so I am not sure how that would work. When asked about my graduation, what should I say? Should I play it off to interviewers as if I’m graduating early in December or will that get back to me? The fact that I have such a strong resume but people won’t even take a look at me now because of my subpar SA stint and non-target school is depressing and disheartening. I am in a really tough place right now and would welcome any advice. Thanks a lot.
I would recommend taking the return offer from the boutique. Yes, it sucks to have to accept that after so much work, but sometimes the market just does not go in your favor. For what it’s worth, tons of other interns didn’t even receive full-time return offers.
If you delay graduation or do a Master’s, the market might be even worse when you get out.
It’s almost always better to take an offer at a smaller firm and then move to a bigger one than it is to roll the dice with full-time recruiting or summer recruiting, especially in a market where deal activity is falling and banks are reducing their hiring.
If I were to apply to a few SA roles just to see, which approach do you think would be better? Delaying or Master’s? How would the Master’s look on my resume since I wouldn’t know what program I’m accepted to yet? And what would be a good answer for those questions I don’t want to be asked for either my graduation date or master’s?
Thank you very much for all of your help.
Delaying your graduation is probably a better approach because your bank *might* be OK with you starting a bit later if you do that (i.e., you delay graduation but then don’t win an offer elsewhere, so you have to go back to the original one)… or maybe you can apply to SA roles first, claim that you’re graduating at a later date, but then only delay graduation if you win an SA role at a bigger bank. It would be harder to do that with a Master’s degree because of the timing.
For the questions you’ll get, I would just answer them directly and say that you felt you could win an offer at a larger bank if you recruited for summer internship roles after your IB experience, and so you decided to stay in school so you’d have the opportunity to do that again.
I am a corporate banking summer intern in NYC. I am mostly working on the credit memos and Enterprise value model. I think the most relevent task relevant to IB is the EV model because I have to do DCF and comps.
However, this EV model is considered to be unncessary for corporate banking because it is required by the regulators. And the model is not as complicated and accurate as the real models in IB.
My question is: should I put down my EV experiecence in my resume to break into IB? IB people may think my EV models aren’t as good as theirs
??? What is an “Enterprise Value model”? Enterprise Value is typically part of other analyses. I would not list something like that – maybe just say that you valued companies, calculated credit stats and ratios, and so on.
I am a banking and finance student who recently graduated. I was unable to get any full-time investment banking positions and I believe the main reason was the lack of interview experiences during the time I applied.
However, I was offered a full-time position in product management for a mortgage investment firm, so I was wondering whether this will affect my chances?
(I interned at a bank, doing Financial Markets.)
Yes, I’d take this internship as a start and see how this goes. You can then transition internally, lateral externally, or pursue your advanced degrees to improve your chances of breaking into IB if this is what you desire.
I am a student at BIWS and have a question concerning this. I’m graduating in a few months (this May), and I don’t have a job yet. The BIWS Courses have been incredible but I simply started too late. I am working with a recruiter who has connections with the bulge brackets, and he said he can get me in the door for short-term full-time investment banking positions. It will be around 3-6 months at an hourly wage. I’m guessing that based on performance and need it is likely I can be offered a full-time permanent offer, but I’m not sure. What are your thoughts? I haven’t been able to find any information on this topic.
In this case, I’d try out the offer and gain some experience first. I am not 100% sure if you’ll be offered a full-time role, but I’d do very well and list such experience on your resume.
I planned on taking an extra semester to be eligible to apply to S&T internships again since my GPA was too low last year. I’ve received an offer, but am no longer able to pay for an extra semester. Is this a big enough deal that I should notify HR of my current situation?
Yes I’d notify HR of your current situation, and see what they say. If your internship is depending on certain criteria this maybe an issue but I wouldn’t worry too much about it
First off, I just want to say that I love your articles and really appreciate your insights. I also have a question about my situation. I’m a Biology/Econ double major senior at a target, but could never make up my mind on whether I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacology or in finance. I thought I’d spend the summer doing research to decide for sure. Ended up really becoming discouraged by the slow and disinteresting aspects of the experimental design process.
For the past few weeks I’ve participated in OCR and got about 12 interviews at various asset management, PE FoF, and consulting firms but it always seems like the interviewers sort of dismiss me. My story is probably partially at fault but it’s clear I don’t have the skills or experience – I interned at a boutique public finance shop and did some economic research.
Given my experience and the fact that I’m at a target, would you recommend delaying graduation to try for a summer internship? My gpa sits at 3.5 so I believe I’m okay in that regard. I’d start networking hard ASAP.
Have you seen anyone break into IBD from this scenario?
Thanks so much!
I’d reach out to the interviewers and figure out how you can improve: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/how-to-get-honest-feedback-investment-banking/ And if you really can’t find anything promising, yes you can delay graduation but you’ll have to speak with HR re. whether you are eligible for summer internships or not. I’d also network with alum and boutique banks to see if there are other opportunities out there.
I graduated from university this past May and got most final rounds, but no offer. Am i able to do full-time, on campus recruiting in september again? or is there another period of full-time recruiting? Thanks!
If you have already graduated I think you maybe be considered out of the campus recruitment cycle. I’d keep in touch with your interviewers and see if any other opportunities come up. I’d focus on networking and looking at off-cycle opportunities at this point.
Thank you for the reply. Just a question:
In this article under “What Not To Do” it states that it would be a bad idea to go to business school immediately after an undergrad (which I agree). In the same sense, the article states under possible b options, that it may be an idea to seek an MBA, isn’t this a contradiction?
I believe the recommendation there is to think about a longer-term MBA, so maybe work somewhere else for a few years and think about an MBA as an option to get into IB in the future.
Here is my situation: I just recently graduated in May 2015 from a small private instituion in Illinois as a finance major. My school is small and has really no name in investment banking I cant find 1 alumni who is in investment banking.. Currently I have 2 internships under my belt one as a summer analyst which was more of a corporate in house financials analyst. I also had a financial compensation consulting part time summer opportunity. Unfortuantley you learn things later in life and by the time I graduated I did not have any investment banking interns. I see all my friends in the entry level analyst programs at JP Morgan and BMO. Logic would run that I should apply for the program yet I did not know of the hierarchy of hoe this works until I graduated.. The program opens back up for entry in Spetember but Apparently it is only open to 2016 “rising seniors.” As you can see I am in a pickle. HR recommended that I just apply for the regular main line direct positions but they require experience and often the program is the bridge to these full time analyst jobs. I am now not sure how I can break into the door. One positive thing is that I (unlike the worst situation) have my background in financs at least. Should I try to target smaller investment banks or what plan of action would you suggest? I would say try to intern but as a graduate they usually want students who are still pursuing their degree.. I know one recruiter suggested that I try to find a temp/contract position and get my foot in that way but it will still be hard to even get that position. I have an oportunity and a connection to be a trader down town with a professor as he liked my performance, should I try to get in there and transcend, look for small private equity firms, or focus on boutiques ? Any advice and feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Yes a temp/contract position can potentially help you so I’d focus on networking to obtain such roles. If the trader you have connected with like you, I’d focus on staying in touch with him and see if he can offer you an opportunity/referrals. Without IB experience, I wouldn’t focus on PE firms unless you have built a connecting with GPs there.
I got an offer from a boutique M&A shop. The offer itself is a bit murky. Basically, they called me and told me come in and work for 3 months and lets see how things go. If things go well they’d extend this to a full time offer. There was no mention of compensation or anything else.
I have no prior IB experience and i come from a product-oriented middle office position. And i am a fresh MBA-grad.
Do i go back to them and inquire about compensation? would that be appropriate in this situation?
Yes I’d ask them re. the compensation for this role. If this is an unpaid role, and you don’t have other offers on hand, this may not be a bad way to gain some sort of experience to prepare for recruiting.
I have a summer internship offer for a back office role working with the derivatives team, but I am planning on doing a masters and I am in my third year. Will this internship help me get a front office internship next summer before I start my master’s, or should I pursue other options?
I may pursue other options but take this role if nothing comes up.
Thanks for the reply. I have been pursuing other avenues like you suggested and an interview for a position in the M & A team of a supply chain company has come up, which deals mainly with commodities. Although this isn’t a bank, do you think this is a better opportunity than the one previously mentioned?
Yes this can be a better opportunity depending on the role and the team you’ll be working with.
Did an IB internship last summer and have lots of work experience but there wasn’t really any potential for a full time offer at the end of the day(i networked with the MD there quite a bit who offered to me to join his team for the summer, but the bank doesn’t really have a traditional recruiting process so no FT offer). It’s better than MM bank but not usually considered BB despite their size.
How should I spin the fact that I didn’t get any FT offer in an interview ? also if I can’t get a FT offer, does it make sense to try and get more internship experience in IB and then re-apply to FT programs in the fall despite the fact that I would have already graduated ? I’ve gotten mixed sentiment for that path since some campus recruiters I spoke too said they don’t like to recruit if you will spend a year essentially doing nothing.
Thank you in advance for all advice.
You can just say that the bank did not have a traditional recruiting process and did not hire full time employees from summer intern pool, but you did very well and are happy to provide recommendations from your previous employer. Yes you can try that but it maybe more difficult to get in after FT recruitment – yes it can be more challenging if you spend a year idle.
I am currently a senior at a non-target UC school and am really behind on the hunt. I hadn’t officially decided what type of finance job I wanted and really lagged on applying. It is now March and I have yet to even begin applying. My (obviously reach) goal is to work at a bulge bracket firm in NYC but I know now that recruiting is mostly done and the fact that I am not even graduating with a strong brand school is not beneficial. I will have 3.5-3.6 at graduation and have 5 years of accounting experience but I am wondering what my best steps are for somehow breaking into IB still at a top firm. Should I start applying now to boutique firms in hopes of securing a job and eventually making a lateral move? I do have 5-10 front office contacts through people I know but I’m wondering if it will seem very unprofessional and unprepared of me to try to reach out to them this late in the season. Please help as I am so anxious about my situation.
I’ll also add that I was a transfer student but have a good amount leadership experience at my current university. My major is hybrid of Economics and Business Finance so I have the analytical knowledge and have taken and done well in several different finance/investment courses. I would also consider an internship to gain the knowledge and experience from a BB bank with hopes of getting an offer because my accounting experience was from a boutique firm (managed clients with 10mil+ assets).
Yes, I am not sure if an internship is the best idea, though you can always make an offer to firms and tell them you’d be happy to do contract work for them / help out with various projects and see how that goes.
Marco, yes I’d probably start with boutique/2nd/3rd tier firms first and lateral from a BB. I think you can still network with the front office contacts, and no I don’t think it’s unprofessional if you present yourself well. While you maybe a bit late, I believe you can still try connecting with people to establish the relationships first.
My name is Julien Aponte and I am currently obtaining my bachelor’s degree in finance. I currently work at a wealth management firm that has AUM of about 100 million and obtaining my 2-15 for insurance and annuities. I have a keen desire to go into investment banking (considering there’s a raymond james IB 30 minutes away). Will this experience help push me closer to a full-time IB offer? I have a 3.9 GPA and study stock analysis and work in a sales position.
This experience may potentially help. I’d apply and see how it goes especially since you’ve got some finance experience (even though not deal experience) and a solid GPA.
Appreciate the quick feedback!
Thanks for the help
I just recently finished my final round interviews for a full-time position with an elite boutique IB firm and I’m waiting to hear back. Do you think I should ask for switching to their summer internship candidate pool if I do not get the FT offer? Even though I’m graduating this year. Thank you.
You can try, but I don’t think this is feasible since most banks only take juniors for their summer internship. You can speak with HR and ask, after you’ve heard back. In the meantime, I’d wait and perhaps network with other firms to increase your chances.
If you don’t have an impressive internship on your resume and don’t get a full time offer by senior year, is it possible to apply for a post-graduation summer internship with the rest of the junior class and hope that post grad internship turns into a full time offer by the end of summer? Basically a smooth transition from intern to full-time analyst? Does anybody try that? Are banks even open to that?
It is possible but unlikely because HR limits those who apply for summer internships. Usually only juniors are allowed to apply for summer internships. Some boutique banks maybe open to that though you’ll have to contact them individually and go through the off-cycle recruiting route I believe. Using LinkedIn to reach out to such potential firms may actually help in your case
Thanks for responding! I was asking because I’m a junior at a target school, but I’ve only recently become interested in finance, and all of my internship experience so far, including the internship I’ve already lined up for this summer, has been in non-finance fields like publishing, non-profit work, and film production. I just assumed you had to have a finance internship on your resume before a bulge-bracket bank would even consider hiring you as a full-time analyst after graduation. What are my chances of getting full-time banking offers next year if I emphasize in interviews how my non-finance internships were even tangentially related to finance or how they peaked my interest in business in general? If I took a financial modeling course like BIWS and put that on my resume, would that help?
Yes, your assumption is mostly correct though there are exceptions. Your chances are around 50/50 and you can increase them by gaining relevant finance experience in the meantime if possible, networking a lot, demonstrating your passion in the industry. If, by around May you don’t get traction you may want to consider a target MBA/Masters. Our courses can most definitely improve your valuation skills and help you in interviews, however, the certification alone wouldn’t be able to land you an internship. You’ll need to have relevant work experience, solid presentation skills, etc to break in. https://mergersandinquisitions.com/low-gpa-investment-banking/ should help you.
Hello M&I Team,
I’m currently a senior at a fringe semi target. I got lucky and was able to intern this summer at one of the top elite boutiques in a regional office. Didn’t get an offer due to low headcount and I was not interested in location. After my sophomore year I interned at a large PE shop managing over $3bn. I spent september and october doing full time recruiting but came out empty handed. The no offer status, along with my GPA in a difficult and irrelevant major, which is approx. 3.3, definitely hurt me.
I am dead set on banking. After getting rejected after 5 FT super days, I decided early october to potentially delay graduation and try pursuing summer analyst opportunities. I have had some success recruiting thus far but keep getting dinged because of my GPA, despite name brand experience (including a closed M&A deal involving a blue chip company). My school network is pretty small and I feel like I’ve exhausted it. I’m still not getting interviews at a lot of places. I talk to as many bankers who will reply to my emails but everything is over once my resume gets forwarded to HR and I get filtered out due to my GPA.
It is still early. Recruiting season is far from over. It is plausible that I could end up with a solid offer for the summer that I can convert to a full time offer. Having said that – my end goal is PE. If I do get a banking offer for the summer and the subsequent FT offer, how much will my mediocre GPA hold me back when I eventually try to go for buyside recruiting?
Would it make more sense at this point to focus my energy on applying to MSF programs at a more well-regarded school so I can build an alternate transcript? Is it too much of a risk to try and go for internships again on an undergrad campus where there isn’t a ton of recruiting? How hard is it to get into banking out of MSF programs vs. out of undergrad? Applying to graduate school seems like such a commitment. Those who are willing to overlook my mediocre GPA are impressed with my resume.
Any advice would be appreciated!
George, to break into PE, I’d suggest https://mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ Its best to gain some deal experience in IB before breaking into PE, and at that point no I don’t think your GPA would matter too much if you have solid experience to compensate for it
Yes you can apply to MSF programs and see how that goes. If something comes up in the meantime you can take the role. If you get into a top tier MSF program this may increase your chances quite a bit, though there’s no guarantee so I’d treat MSF as a backup option. https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-masters-programs/
Hi M&I Team,
I interned at GS IBD during the summer 2013 and got no full-time offer. I have just finished my BSc in a finance unrelated field (non-target school) and I am now going for a one-year MSc in Management at a top UK university. I am starting to apply for IB jobs in order to start working in 2015. Assuming I get any interviews, how should I go about explaining why I did not get a full-time offer at GS? The truth is, my first rotation was not great as I clashed with the team a lot. The second one (M&A) was good but apparently the feedback from the first one dragged me down and thus no offer. Quite a few interns did not get full-time offers, and a VP I know said the number of people sent away was quite high. Should I just use the ‘headcount’ as an explanation (how believable is it?) or mention in some diplomatic way that I did not fit in with the first team and their culture while also emphasising that during the second rotation I became sure M&A was a better fit for me? Any alternative ideas would also be really appreciated!
I’d just say that there’s a headcount issue and try not to elaborate on it unless they ask
Ok, thank you Nicole!
Hi, I received my first degree in political science in 2013 from a top UK university and went straight into pursuing a masters in finance from a good European business school.
About to graduate soon but no internship or job offers. Obviously no prior experience in finance before, mostly just startups/public policy/journalism. Admittedly, I had no idea how it worked and mostly only applied for jobs which is really stupid of me in hindsight.
I have networked a little bit but since I do not have the right to work in Europe or the US, it has been quite futile. I am honestly not sure where to go from here. Any advice is much appreciated.
I’d approach alums and see if they have any opportunities for you, especially those who were in your similar situation (i.e. they needed a visa). I’d also approach your school’s career centre and see if they have any opportunities for you – as long as you can extend your stay in Europe you can use the time to look for a job that can sponsor you. You just need to buy time.
Love your website. I find myself in the situation that you mentioned in this article. I will be graduating in May and have no full time offers. This makes sense since I have no banking internship experience. I have done internships related to finance but not banking directly.
I did managed\ to land a summer internship at a boutique investment bank. The problem is that it is unpaid (although they will give me a bonus in the end based on my performance) and the hiring manager said that I should not have the expectation that I would be hired when I finished the internship. He said that they are a small and that their hiring depends on their needs. I know this situation sucks but I prefer this than taking a random, low-paying job.
My question for you is how do I make the most out of this situation? Is it possible to make this internship into a full time position? Can you please give some advice. I would really appreciate it. Thanks!
Yes it is. Ace your internship and demonstrate your value https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-internship-guide/
I think I know what your answer is going to be, but just to reiterate. I have an offer from a tiny (500mm) PE shop in Baltimore for an investment analyst position and a back office offer from a top 3 bulge bracket bank in NY.
Based on this, I am certain you are going to say go with the PE offer. My biggest issues with the offer are that it is in Baltimore, which I feel will make it really hard to network with a bigger bank to transition into. Additionally, even if I stick with the PE position for lets say 2 to 3 years, do I even stand a chance at a top 20 B school? It’s not at all a well known firm. Wouldn’t it be easier to network and go from a top 3 bulge bracket back office position in NY to a front office position or top 20 B school?
Please let me know what you think.
Yes you can say that, especially if you want to hang out in NY and are confident that you can network and transition into a front office role. I think the PE offer can potentially be attractive though its location as well as reputation can be a minus, and the BB’s name and location may make up for the fact that it is a back office role. So if you want to go back to b-school, maybe the BB is a better option, especially since you can leverage your b-school network and get into PE, and the key now is to focus on getting into a top b-school https://mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/ maybe useful
Amazing article !
I have a question on normal job. Currently, I am in my senior year and simultanously working as an analyst in journalism, economic newspaper. At my job, I cover almost all economic fields and events, do DCFs and things alike, prepare rankings and research, interview brokers, etc.
Will this count as a normal job ? Finance related ? Or maybe semi-finance related?
Thank you so much!
I really appreciate what M&I is doing for prospective bankers like me.
It is somewhat related to finance and gives you the opportunity to network with bankers
Should I list this job on my CV ?
Will bankers see it as something positive and will it give me more advantage ?
Or is this job for networking only ?
If you don’t have other work experience, yes you should list it on your resume.
Hey M&A Team,
Great topic, again, that fits a lot of my concerns.
Still I don’t get that kind of link between career paths in finance that seems critical to plan one’s career and Plan B options. ie, assuming there’s a pyramidal hierarchy of financial careers in terms of responsibilities/salary/interest, working one’s way through the top career should leverage one’s chances to land in all the lower jobs in the “pyramidal hierarchy”. (The same way two correlated assets of the same portfolio will increase when one of them increase)
I know you don’t like to rank, for many relevant reasons, but this is not the main point.
So here’s my concern: Does a basic IB career path fits with financial jobs less important (responsibilities/salary/interest) in this hierarchy?
1)If I work my way and follow a step-by-step career path aiming IB,will it be easier then to exit toward a good job in finance?
2) And above all, if I have to use my Plan B options BEFORE starting in IB because I failed, will it be easier to consider other GOOD banking jobs or even corporate finance ones? Or does those activities imply career paths too much different?
1) Please go to https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-career-path/
2) I don’t think executing your Plan B option first is the best idea.
I am a Senior, applying to full time positions in IB and Equity Research. I am realizing that I have missed most of the deadlines for online applications. I have done some solid networking and have gotten my resume in the hands of several people in both areas, who said they would be happy to push it through to HR. So, my issue becomes that HR won’t have an application to go along with that resume and I won’t be in their system. Any advice?
If HR and the team like you, I don’t think its a big problem. As long as you’re not too far behind the process, you can submit your application separately via email I believe though I am not 100% sure
I am a senior pursuing a BS in Business Admin at a school that is heavily recruited for many finance positions.
I only entered the business school as a junior, and have not had internship experience in investment banking (and so I do not feel sufficiently prepared to apply for full time analyst positions). I am planning to apply for and complete a Master of Finance program following my graduation year to better prepare me for an analyst position.
I want to apply for a summer internship with a bulge bracket for next summer before the program begins, but most of the banks say that they want students that are “undergraduates” or “juniors” to apply for their internships. Can I still apply as a summer analyst even though I will not be an undergraduate? How should I go about doing this?
It depends on the firm but I think for some of the bulge brackets they only want juniors and that is their requirement. You may want to speak with the HR/recruiters of each bank and let them know of your situation. They maybe able to make an exception. Some firms have roles for “pre-master” students so I’d be applying to such roles.
Do you think that doing a one year masters program and trying to get an IB internship over next summer is the best way to pursue an IB analyst position? Or would you suggest just trying to network and study this year in the hopes of securing a position without previous experience and skipping the masters program
Yes getting into a top tier masters program may potentially increase your chances though I’d suggest you to network this year first and see if you get in. I’d also apply to masters program as a backup
I am William Liu currently having more than 6 years of experience in banking , insurance , food and beverages and print media industry with a MBA in finance from ITM Business School Kharghar tier 2 B-schools India and graduate in accountancy from St Xavier’s college.
My areas of expertise has been in business development and marketing and entrepreneurial venture.
I want to start my career rather build my career in IB ,, can you please suggest me How to get into one….I am ready for any courses too.
You may find this article useful: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/mba-investment-banking-recruiting-process/
Yes if you want to brush up on your fundamentals and valuation skills, you may want to check out https://breakingintowallstreet.com/biws/excel-financial-modeling-fundamentals/. When you scroll down to the bottom, you should be able to watch a few sample videos which maybe useful to you.
Would someone who went to a prestigious school, but not an ivy league (Duke, UVA, Middlebury, Amherst, etc.), and got a high gpa studying economics or finance struggle at finding a “normal”job if banking didn’t work out immediately?
No I don’t think you’d “struggle”. It really depends on your interviewing and networking skills, pitch as well as your drive. I don’t think you need to have an Ivy League degree to thrive. While the interviewees below didn’t go Ivy League schools, they got offers in banks. If they can get offers in banks, I think they are capable of getting “normal” jobs.
I interned in capital markets at a top tier IB and was not made a return offer. I went through full time recruiting and was not able to close any interviews as I didn’t have more relevant IBD experience ie M&A, coverage.
It is worth mentioning that the IB community is extremely small in my city where everyone works in the same building and everyone knows each other. My former employer is unlikely to take me back as an intern again. Now that these banks have seen me come through recruiting, do you think it would be wise to try and intern in IB again? I figure that if I am not made a return offer again, it would shatter my chances of full time hiring next year. And although recruiting was think for the banks this year, the bankers will all know that I couldn’t close any interviews and think I’m inadequate.
What would you advise me to do?
Applying for an internship again may help you in your situation. Re. you not having a return offer, you’ll just have to have a solid pitch and good explanation as to why you didn’t get the return offer (i.e. little/no headcount). I’d also look for roles at smaller/less established banks in your city if this option is available.
Im a junior and majoring in Economics and Statistics. I have applied to around 70 summer internships but didnot get a return call from even one of them. Its making me anxious and scared. What should I do to land an internship even in a small firm.Thanks
I am sorry to hear. I can understand your frustration, though rather than panicking I’d spend your energy on more constructive actions such as reevaluating your application. Perhaps you can ask your contacts in the industry/friends in finance for some feedback on your application and resume. Can your grades/ work experience be improved? If you don’t have relevant work experience, it may be useful for you to gain some before you apply again. Can you structure your resume better? Please refer to the articles below.
I have an summer internship offer in Hong Kong this summer. I am doing the internship in Hong Kong due to some family reasons, but I really want to work in New York for full time. Do you know if I could leverage my re-offer (if i get one) and apply to BAML or another firm in NY?
Thank you very much!!
You could, but sometimes it’s difficult logistically to do that because accelerated recruiting takes place right as internships are finishing up… so you’d have to convince them to let you do the interviews remotely, which can sometimes work, but it’s more difficult than if you were in NY.
My application has been put on hold after the final round interviews. I am really keen on this job and didn’t hedge by applying to other firms as well… so I am anxious now. What should I do? I had some really good conversations with some of my interviewers, should I email them updating them of my status? what else should I say? this is for S&T if that matters.
Yes, you can follow up with your interviewers expressing to them how much you want this role and how you can help them. Maybe you can let them know of any recent developments you have in your career/work.
I’m currently completing my degree in broadcasting (took an extra year) and was recently offered a spring internship position at CNBC as an analyst.
Should I accept the offer at CNBC for the Spring and start networking and requesting informational interviews with firms in New York for a possible summer investment banking internship? I personally thought working at CNBC would make a great story during my interviews. What is your thought on that? Is this just another “normal” job. And if I start networking intensively from February, will it be possible to find an internship position for the summer?
My plan is to transfer to a second-level entry target business school (another undergrad which I’d be entering as a 3rd year student) and network with bulge bracket banks that recruit from that school. Do you think 5 years of broadcasting and another 2 years of business will be disadvantageous?
Yes unless you have a better offer I’d go with CNBC.
I don’t think it would “put you at a disadvantage” but I don’t quite understand why you’d want to get into banking after 5 years of broadcasting?
I’m career changing. But instead of working full-time and going to top tier MBA to rebrand myself, I am choosing to goto a second-entry level program top-tier undergrad business program for 2 years. (Think Wharton).
Interesting – do you mean doing another bachelor degree in business?
Hi, I was at GS IBD – liability management and didnt get a return offer. I reapplied for another country (HK) and got an interview there again with GS IBD. For the interview, should I just tell them that I didn’t want to work in liability management and so I told off everyone I didnt want it and wanted IBD product groups instead? If they ask why I didnt get an offer, do you have any better suggestions? Thanks!
Yes you can say so.
So rather than try online applications, we should try to contact the bank and ask them who we can directly forward our CV to?
“Moving into a job that’s difficult to leverage for business school or eventually breaking into finance.”
“3) Normal Job
By “normal” I mean not related to finance at all – marketing, engineering, medicine, etc. Corporate development, wealth management, consulting, and the like don’t qualify.”
So it defo need to be linked to finance e.g. insurance or working in anything economics related?
Yes it will be hard to break into IB from a “normal” role unless you go back to bschool to retool yourself
Does it real to launch your own M&A boutique without investment banking experience? For example, I have some experience in audit, have learned your modelling courses, read relevant books, etc. I know, it sounds crazy, but… Really no chances? Or what else I can do to get it except for winning an offer in another bank or a consulting firm and working there for some time? We are talking about developing country.
I can’t really answer your question on this comments board based on the limited info you gave me. Starting your own M&A boutique can be challenging, and even more so if you haven’t had any experience in the industry. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t try. I believe most would recommend you to gain experience in M&A first.
Thanks so much for your insight. I graduated from a target school in the Spring of 2011 and because I wasn’t able to secure a banking position, decided to start my work in the Transactions’ group at a Big 4. I’m now finding it difficult to find opportunities in banking given that there’s no longer a formal recruiting process. With that said, I just one question: 1) In terms of time frame, would it be more valuable to continue looking/networking for current, analyst positions in banking or wait until I receive my accounting designation before making the move to banking?
You can do both. Just continue looking/networking & do what you need to do to receive your accounting designation. When you do get interviews and ideally an offer, then you can think about whether you should leave the accounting track though I think it’d be a no-brainer
Thank you for the enlightening article.
I have already graduated with a finance and marketinng major from a non target school for 2 weeks and I face the visa issue with international students. I got decent GPA and a variety of internship, but none of them are IB related.
I did not land on any investment bank interview for the recruitment season and I am planning on to go to NY for two month to network extensively.
The question that I m afraid of being asked is “y didn’t you start networking earlier?”
And the true answer is that I did network, but did not reach a good volume. I was unsure of getting in to investment bank until senior year.
How should I explain this in an interview or in a networking conversation? Is it worth it for me to stay 2 or 3 month just to job search and network? (i am able to manage the cost, I m just not sure about the time) Any other suggestions for me? ( please don’t tell me to give up IB, cuz I most likely won’t)
I am coming out of a target school (no finance undergrad major, however) as an economics and history double major. I had a number of investment banking interviews: almost all the first rounds that came on campus and 5 super days. The bankers would say “well everyone from your school is very smart, but seem to underestimate the importance of prepping for the technicals,” which I fell victim to. I did, however, get a job in corporate/commercial banking in a BB here in Houston, focusing on larger deals. It is an 18 month program with an intesive focus on credit and financial statement analysis.
What sort of chances would I have to break into IB after this experience? Would capital markets or leveraged finance be a viable option as I would actually be more interested in that than M&A?
It is viable though I’m not quite sure how your skills/experience are transferable to cap markets/lev finance. I think it also depends on the deals you are working on.
“Corporate development, wealth management, consulting, and the like don’t qualify.”
Darn, I was actually about to put these as by back up option too. lol
This article probably saved me from making a fatal mistake!
This has me thinking: why don’t areas such as corporate development, wealth management, consulting and the like (such as accountancy) not qualify?
Surely they have work/skills which can be transferred into IB?
Depends on how you spin them but it can be difficult because IB requires deal specific experience and contacts.
If you’re working in a particular industry dealing w lots of bankers, and the bank’s industry group is looking for someone w your skills and experience then it can be a relatively easier transition.
I graduated with no offer and am still trying to find an IB Analyst position. I have possible FT jobs at various valuation firms. Most these firms are regional. Would the transition after one year from valuation > IB like a MM be difficult? Keep in mind these firms are not known outside the city. My second option is to pick up an IB internship in the mean time to fill up my resume while I keep plugging away for FT IB positions. I don’t really know what my chances of getting an off cycle position is either given that the economy is not doing so hot. Would appreciate any advice.
What are your chances of getting an IB internship? If your chances are high I’d probably do that and keep plugging away for FT IB roles
Otherwise, I’d go for the FT job at one of the valuation firm(s)
I’m actually currently doing my IB internship stint. Would you recommend that I stay at my IB internship and try to find a FT IB position or take the FT valuation offer and try to lateral into banking after a year? I know that I’m going to get more technical skills in the FT valuation position versus my current internship where I’m mostly doing busy work. And is it possible to leave a FT position sooner then a year to lateral into banking? I know that most people say you need to stay at least a year.
I would stay at the internship for at least a month or two and then move to the FT valuation role to get more technical skills.
I recently graduated from non-target school, with degree of economics. I am currently working as an paid intern at merchant bank, and planning to get additional internship at boutique IB. I am planning to apply to MM IB summer analyst program through networking. Do you think it would be better to apply for full-time or summer analyst position?
I have a question regarding extra semesters. I haven’t had much success with FT offers thus far, and SA recruiting is fast coming up. I am considering taking an extra semester, but I find it very difficult to answer the “why did you take an extra semester” question. An honest answer would be that 1) I want another shot at banking and 2) want to take the extra semester to finish off a second major (economics) and gain a better understanding of the markets. Does that sound too wishy-washy, though? What are generally some good reasons for an extra semester that recruiters like to hear?
Just say #2 – that you wanted to finish a second major to gain a better understanding, or better yet, to meet prominent people in the industry or get to some project you wanted to work on for a long time. People also cite minors, leadership roles, and others as possible reasons for wanting to do an extra semester.
One other question: let’s say (hypothetically) that I go through recruiting and manage to get a summer offer, but things don’t work out as I planned and I end up having to graduate in June 2012 instead (there are many factors that could influence this, but not really that important to the question). Would my internship offer be retracted or something? It’s a concern because I won’t know whether I can do the extra semester until probably March or so, and by then summer recruiting will be wrapping up, so if I want a summer program I have to start looking now… but at the same time I am not 100% sure of my extra semester. Excuse me if that was extremely confusing.
I don’t think it would be retracted, but if you’re not staying an extra semester they might make you start later anyway (so not just go straight from internship to full-time job) depending on deal activity, the economy, etc. Would not even bring that up until you get an offer from them during the internship.
i recruited for ib this semester and despite getting to a few final rounds (despite the gazillion interviews i got without networking), i wasnt good enough to secure any offers. i have an offer with an economic consulting firm (one of the top). if i take this full time offer, how improbable would it be for me to lateral into a first year banking analyst position next year? i have a high gpa from a target, and have spent summers in a boutique ibanks and bulge bracket as well.
I’m sorry to hear re your rejections. It happens to the best of us.
I think taking this full time offer isn’t the be all end all. You can still network w bankers and try to move your way in. If you’re going to be in econ consulting, it might be easier for you to switch into equity research though.
I hope this message finds me well. Thank you for posting these articles. They are very helpful. I do have a question that is a bit specific to my situation and I hope you could help me.
I am from one of the top liberal arts schools in the US, with Mathematics and Economics major, GPA 3.9+. I completed an internship last summer in the ECM Group of a bulge-bracketed investment bank in Singapore. The internship went very well and I received very good reviews. However, I did not get their full time offer, and from what I can sense, it might be because of the lack of equity deal flows in South East Asia after the downgrade has forced the group to downsize. I went back to the US for my senior year and had a lot of interviews, but only 2 in investment banking since not many banks recruit full time this year (their class is filled by the returning summer interns). Of the two investment banking interviews that I got, I got to their final round but did not end up getting extended an offer.
Now, I have two offers from very well-known economic consulting firms, with strong track-record of sending people to top business schools, and am waiting for a reply from a high-end boutique management consulting firm. I was wondering, though, how much chance you think I will have to break into IB in the associate level after about 2-3 years working in economic consulting and then go to business school. What else would you recommend that I should do in order to maximize my chance of breaking into IB?
Thank you so much for your help.
Chances from Econ consulting to IB – hm you really need to spin your story right. Ibankers want peeps w exposure to deals so not sure if Econ consulting is too relevant. Network a lot w bankers to break in. If you really want an MBA, a top tier one can retool you and help you break in but it’s not a guarantee w a high opportunity cost !
Thank you for your answer. So the switch from Econ consulting to IB is still harder than the switch from Management consulting to IB? In Econ consulting I plan to be in anti-trust or finance groups that focuses on litigations. Would that help at all?
I think it will be hard for both to switch into IB in this environment because bankers want deal experience. Unless you have that and/or list of corporate clients, you’ll have to network extensively and spin your story really well
I have previously read the articles in which you discussed interviews, full time offers, not getting them, etc. Is it unheard of if you don’t get a full time offer as an investment banking analyst from a bank, but the same bank contacts you about you being a good fit for another department (i.e. sales and trading) and giving you a full time offer there. Or if you interview for a certain position and don’t get it, your essentially finished?
Yeah it definitely happens. Not common, but I have seen that before where one division gives you an offer and the other does not.
Hello M&I Team,
I have a question concerning delayed graduation. I’m currently a fourth year senior at college, but recently discovered that one class is preventing me from graduating on time this Spring. This means I am considered in “junior” standing for recruitment.
The reason for me graduating late is because (A)I am a triple major (with one minor) and (B) I did a fully-funded (through an extension Fulbright and several program and university merit scholarships) semester abroad in Shanghai.
So, if I graduate in December 2012, will this put me at a disadvantage for internship recruitment? I don’t want banks to think I’m a lazy or dumb super senior with no planning sense for graduating late.
No I don’t think banks will think you are lazy as long as you have a proper explanation. However, you’ll probably have to get a full time job which starts right after Dec 2012 – you’ll have to speak to the banks, network, land an internship in the summers, and hopefully have an offer by the time you graduate. If not, you can just delay the whole process for one year.
I really wouldn’t worry about graduating in December. The only potential issue is that most recruiting schedules are based on spring graduations. So, as Nicole noted, make sure you are job hunting/networking during the summer.
This past summer I interned at a Big 4 firm in an assurance role and it was awful. Instead of accepting a FT offer in that function, I secured a transfer into the firm’s M&A Strategy Advisory department. The Partners there are all ex-directors from BBs.
Should I accept the offer, network with management and build a solid technical foundation, and then try to lateral into IB? Or should I hold out for IBanking interviews? The only relevant experience I have on my resume is the audit work I did this past summer…that is to say, tie-outs.
If you can buy yourself more time, I’d try to interview with as many IBanks as possible.
If you can’t buy more time, I’d figure out
a. how much do i really want to work for this big4 team. will i enjoy the work or the team?
b. what are the chances (be honest) that I can actually land an offer with an ibank? How confident are you in landing yourself an offer with an IB? (You’d probably be competing against peeps with previous experience in IB, which might potentially make it harder for you to get into IB.)
While I think it is not difficult for you to move from your dept at the big 4 to IB given the skills you will gain from that job, there is a risk that moving to IB might be more difficult than you think. However, you might end up liking your job so much that you don’t move. :)
The M&A Strat team is very small and I will actually be the only individual without 2-3 years of prior work experience. I think it’d be a great setting for development (fewer hours than ibanking, more attention from seniors).
I’m not really confident of my chances with BBs right now, even though I do have several contacts in the industry. I just have no background to go on.
How long would you recommend staying with the Big 4 department before lateraling over, if I choose to do so?
I’d recommend at least one year to learn the ropes. However, if the right opportunity presents itself, I’d take it. Don’t think too much, just continue networking throughout your career and see what opportunities come up
Tomorrow I have a informal phone call with a director at a boutique investment bank to discuss the industry and potential job opportunities in his local market. The difference between this and other phone interviews I have landed is that he is my gf’s uncle. I have met and chatted with him a few times at family events, but have never talked business with him (I had absolutely no idea he was a banker), and therefore, am looking for some advice on how to approach the call.
As for some background, I have a PE internship under my belt (boutique PE firm in Mexico City), have done some FCF and scenario analysis as a intern for a growing marketing firm that was looking to acquire some companies (freshman and sophomore yr), and currently work in compliance at a top ten asset mgmt firm (failed on a few interviews, had to get a job, thought more opportunities would come available, but on the bright side of things, realized that I much prefer banking over asset management).
As he knows that I have been looking to move to his area (chattanooga, TN) and have been trying to get an analyst position somewhere, do I play dumb, or be aggressive and see what opportunities his company has etc.
Sorry for the bad grammar/sentence formation, I wrote this in a rush.
The same way you would approach any other call, don’t be awkward, just casually mention it’s good to get a chance to talk with him about this and don’t emphasize your personal connection too much don’t be too aggressive just casually ask at the end if he knows of any openings but don’t push it
I just got done with my junior year. I am from engineering background.
I am right now interning with a not so big bb.
Do you think it’ll be better to try again for the summer internships by delaying graduation(the first point in Plan B) rather then applying for full time roles. I generally feel getting a full time offer from an internship is easier.
So, I try again for the summer internships and if I land up with a good one and don’t get a full time offer , I can still apply for full time before I graduate next december. I have another option. I can take up a econ/finance/general business major along with engineering ,something like a dual degree/major and extend by an year officially. I feel this is more sensible coz I kinda get some valuable certification in finance and also gives me another chance for the summer internships. And I feel a engineering/finance dual major/degree would put me in a better position overall.
Your opinion please!?
Does it make sense to work in the IT department of a bank, say like the ones who develop applications for traders?Front Office IT? or rather work in a tech company? considering I trade regularly and have a tech background.
Ohh, btw, this site is a life-saver :)
Yes it can work but may be hard to make the transition search for “middle office”
I would be okay If I get sales and trading or some trading tech role to start with, if not mainstream Ibanking.
What kind of bonuses do middle office guys get? I heard the base salary is the same, right?
Bonuses are way lower than IB, maybe 1/10 of what analysts get
Yes go for summer internships again
If I defer, that’ll be one semester but if I take a second major ie. dual degree , I officially get an year extra. Considering an extra year wouldn’t make a difference because I am in a 3 year programme, like the one in UK and engineering is 4 years in the US and mostly everywhere. So, an extra year is not an problem.
Which path do you suggest?
If you can defer without taking an extra year yes do that
So a bba degree along with engineering would do no good?
This will be two extra semesters compared to one if I defer, so its a matter of one semester.
Do you think the fact that only only elite students are allowed to go for dual degree will give the interviewers a good impression?
I lost track of the original question here but I don’t think it matters all that much, if delaying to get a business degree is feasible then do it.
The good thing is I got interviews from almost all ibanks , basically I have to improve my interview skills.
One more thing, if I am applying for a tech role at a ibank, the resume format should be the same as the one you suggest for Uni students on the your website, right?
Sorry for so many questions.
Another plan B (wonder why you didn’t mention that):
My plan B was to go for consulting instead, because you can interview all year round with consulting firms. I obtained an analyst position in Risk Managment Consulting at a well-known firm, and I’m really looking forward to that job :)
Come on now, this is a finance site… consulting shouldn’t even be a Plan D
I’ll be graduating soon with an undergrad degree in Economics, and will be working in the PWM division of a Bank.
Besides networking aggressively, is there anything I can do while I work full-time in PWM, to eventually break in to IB?
Also, a number of banks have a Graduate Associate Program which is targeted at individuals with an MBA “and/or” 2-3 professional work experience. Realistically, do I have a chance to make it through this after working in PWM (no MBA)?
Thanks for all the answers!
Not really, other things outside work experience don’t help much. For the Graduate Program if you have a few years of PWM experience yes you could do it
I am currently a junior at a semi-target and have managed to secure a BB IBD internship for this summer. All is gravy on the recruiting front, but I’m getting the feeling that my courseload will need me to graduate a term or even a full year after my 4th year.
I understand that if I do stay for a 5th year, I will technically apply next year as a “junior summer analyst” to banks and will have 2 relevant internships from this upcoming summer and the one after that assuming everything goes to plan. When I do recruit for full time during the beginning of my 5th year, do you think this could cause any red flags?
Do you think this is a better idea than trying to take a monstrous courseload untill graduation and do damage to my GPA? All financial problems of tuition aside, I want to know how banks will look at this.
Not really. Much better idea than damaging your GPA.
How about getting into a small PE? What will be my career path like if I land a job in a small PE firm? Can I get into a top MBA school after a few years?
Yes. There is no real “path” it’s completely dependent on how much money you make: https://mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-career-path/
I’ve never posted on your site before, but I’ve been an avid fan and reader for several months now, and I attribute much of my success thus far to having read your articles. I’m currently a senior at a Target, but I made the decision to plunge into IB at the end of my Junior year.
I went through the motions of on-campus recruiting last semester, and while I landed several interviews (both first and second round), I didn’t receive any offers. I realized over this winter break (coupled with receiving your “No IB offers?” email) that if I really wanted a job, I had to make it my number one priority.
That being said, with only three days of cold-calling and contact scrounging, I’ve landed three interviews. I guess I just wanted to say thanks and relate to other job-seekers that you can’t kid yourself-if you haven’t been going after it 100%, you’re not going to get an offer. Additionally, you’re gonna be getting advice from a zillion sources throughout the job hunt, but in the end, YOU are the one who makes things happen.
Specifically, I’ll relate how I feel I’ve become a “networking ninja” to hopefully help others realize that you cannot count out ANY contact. A contact is a contact, and some people will surprise you in a big way. Case in point:
At the beginning of my three day job hunt binge, I reached out to a kid I had met at a fraternity conference 2 years ago via Facebook. I vaguely remembered that he had said his brother worked at a MM firm, and I explained my situation and asked him to help me out. Mind you, I knew this kid for a week in 2008. Within an hour, I received a response with his brother’s contact info. I emailed the brother with my resume. Turns out the guy moved on to VC, but he still is good friends with everyone in his old IB group and furthermore HAD RUN RECRUITMENT for the analyst pool before he left for the buy-side. By the end of the day, I had a phone interview lined up, as it just so happened the firm was looking to add more analysts even though formal recruitment had ended – and the group wants to meet with me in person next week. I’m a happy camper.
So thanks again for your site Brian, and best of luck to everyone still in the job hunt.
P.S. Hopefully I’ll be back with an offer :)
Glad to hear it, thanks for sharing that story
Do you have to be a junior to be a SA at a bank? Do they accept apps from seniors or even grads 1 year out?
Generally yes, though sometimes they take sophomores. Usually they won’t look at seniors and grads 1 year out unless you are set to go to school once again e.g. master’s program
I am currently a senior with GPA 3.5 and I have not been landing any interviews with BBs. I have only prior internships in research and accounting and do not have any big names/IB internships and I think that is the reason. Unfortunately I did not do a lot of networking and I was only applying online. I study at a semi-target school, but I am planning to go to HK, my hometown, for my full time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much, and keep up the articles. I believe they are really helpful to any IB hopefuls.
You pretty much have to network aggressively at this stage – if you look under Recruiting at the top of this page there are dozens of articles and interviews explaining what to do. One point is that networking can be more difficult in HK / Asia in general because it’s more of a traditional environment, so try to focus on bankers from the West…
I will be obtaining my Executive MBA from a very good US B-school in March 2011. I have about 5 years of pre-MBA experience, mostly in financial reporting, as we as in marketing and fundraising. I also speak 2 foreing languages in addition to English, and lived in Asia, US and Russia. I have a Finance/Accounting undergrad.
I am trying to land an Associate role with BB Investment Bank, but so far two major manks have already rejected my application (I have applied through their websites.) I know a banker of one of the banks and I had an “informational interview” with him.
I have three questions:
Why does my application for the Associate role get rejected?
Should I speak to my banking contact and ask him for help, or at least find out from their HR why refused my application?
Would I be able to switch to IB from a wealth management role or equity sales role?
Thanks so much for your advice.
1. You probably haven’t networked enough or your resume doesn’t stand out.
2. Yes, always always always network.
3. Yes but it’s difficult post-MBA.
Thank you. It is helpful.
I am not quite sure where to ask this question I hope its reasonably applicable to this column.
I was wondering what your knowledge was on BB banks hiring recent college undergrads for summer analyst/internship positions?
Are there any extenuating circumstances where they may allow or permit this?
I have researched some career-sites and see that some of the banks have specific programs tailored for this. However that was only 1-2 at most. With most other BB banks or larger mid-size finding specific information can be extremely painful. I couldn’t find any data relevant to answer my question so I was hoping you could.
It’s very rare, I’ve never heard of large banks doing that. I’m sure it has happened but I don’t know much about why – probably most likely if the undergrad is planning to go back for a Master’s program or something like that and therefore they’ll still be in school.
Thank you for the helpful article. I am a rising senior at a target school with 3.7GPA. I am currently interning at bulge-bracket PWM in HK and I want to switch over to banking in the top 5 banks in Asia/US. I’d take both locations but I am leaning more towards NYC than HK because I think it’s a better fit.
My question now is that I am considering taking a gap year (delay my graduation) to do something in China. I run a respectable student non-profit and have a big crew coming with in Beijing. I am considering taking a banking internship on the side while starting up a company in a sector of interest (it’s a whole year… I’ll pull it off). Do banks value entrepreneurship experience at all? I am also considering applying to top 3 business school down the line so I am trying to get experiences that will be “interesting” to them.
My big concern is if I want to recruit for next summer’s round of IB internships (HK or NYC), how would they know about my gap year just by looking at my online application? NYC interviews are probably on-campus, so how do I get those if I’m in China?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Banks do value it but not as much as they value a banking internship. You are at a disadvantage for interviews if you’re in China at the time – you’d have to just indicate that and go for interviews on the phone instead of flying on, which can work, but you would lose a lot of networking opportunities.
I had a three year military service before starting my undergrad education at a target university. I have not been able to secure any internships this year, and am thinking of studying for the GMAT exam this summer instead.
My plan is to get into a top MBA progam in the US (I currently study in the UK). While I’m aware that going to business school straight after college may not be the best option if I want to gain entry to a BB, I was wondering whether my case is different: three years of military service, plus 1.5 years in an IT company I founded (spinned it to sound more finance related).
Will recruiters overlook my CV?
MBA might be ok in your case, just make sure you make your experience very clear and highlight how you have 4-5 years of work experience and are not just straight out of school.
I’m a recent graduate doing doing a 3 month internship (no prior ibanking experience) with a BB right now. Please don’t ask me how I got this opportunity, just lucky. There are a lot of internal opportunities and I’m looking to apply very soon but I want to be very prepared for interviews. Do you have any idea how these interviews will be different, if at all?
The specific position I’m looking at right now lies within a team in the same department I’m currently working for. As an added bonus, I’ve already met a few guys on the team who asked me if I was interested. Anything you would suggest?
The interviews shouldn’t be that much different if you’ve only had a 3-month internship – I’d expect the usual fit and technical questions. Make sure you can back up why you want to move into a division with specific stories / people you’ve spoken with.
Thoughts/opinions on moving to IB from equity research? Is it leverageable at all, or just a slight step-up from back office? How would you spin the story of why you are in ER but you really want IBD?
Say you want to work on transactions and advising companies as opposed to just following the markets. You can definitely do this, but you need to have a solid connection in IBD to make the move.
So what do I say when they ask why I went into research to begin with? Truthfully I took what I could get (I graduated in May when offers were nowhere to be found), but of course I cannot say that.
Say that at the time you thought it would involve more “creative” work and original thought, but realized that wasn’t the case at all – and that your work would be more impactful in IB.
I’m in a bit of an annoying situation at the moment. If you could help me out I would really appreciate it.
I’m a UK student. I just graduated this year with a good degree in economics from a top university. However I graduated without having a full time investment banking job lined up. Last summer I did an IBD internship at a top bulge bracket bank (I didn’t get an offer at the end although my performance was good) and another finance related (but not banking) internship this summer. I am determined to get into investment banking (M&A). I have made many full time applications but have not got as many interviews as I was hoping to get (without meaning to sound arrogant with my background I would have expected to get more interviews). If I do not end up with a full time offer which is looking increasingly likely I plan to do a masters next year and reapply again. In the meanwhile (before my masters starts in fall next year) I plan to network extensively to try and secure a banking internship somewhere for next summer before my masters starts. I also plan to travel early next year. Does this sound like a good plan? The masters would be a masters in accounting and finance at another top uni. However as I already have a degree from a top uni how much value will this masters actually add? It’s very expensive and I’m wondering whether it will be worthwhile. However I can’t spend another year not studying or working (I’m only using it as a back up just in case I don’t get a full time job).
Apologies for the length of this post. If you need any clarification I’d be happy to elaborate.
I think it sounds like a good plan. The Masters degree will not add that much value, but it will give you more time to network which is arguably more important.
I’m going to say something that might not be popular….
Maybe, if you didn’t get any investment banking offers, you didn’t get them for a reason:
-You wouldn’t fit well in the investment banking culture
-You think you’re interested in banking but you’re really not
The interviewers can usually tell this stuff from when they’re talking to you since they are actually in the industry themselves. So maybe, just maybe, you should put your banking aspirations on hold, at least for now and not let it guide your entire life.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about not giving up, learning from failure, etc. and I don’t work in IB, despite several final round interviews last year. When I was interviewing, I thought banking was all that I wanted to do in my post-college life. But now, I’ve started a great job doing something else and can’t fathom how I could have wanted to work 100 hour weeks including weekends, when I hate working 60-70 hour weeks now and cherish the social life I have. In hindsight, I’m actually somewhat glad I didn’t get any offers and realize that it probably worked out for the best for me and my life for right now. If banking is something I decide I want to do later on again, so be it, I’ll give it another shot.
But have some fun with your life and don’t let your aspirations to be a first year investment banker keeping you up at night worrying about potential technical questions you may get in an interview (yes, it’s happened to me). Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to be successful, work in PE/HF/etc, or do whatever you “think” is going to make you happy down the line.
Agreed, but anyone looking for information about finance online is going to be VERY determined to get in no matter what
Hi Brian, I am a senior at a non-target rank 50-100th college, major Econ/Math. I want to work at IB after graduation but got no final interview or offer so far. I have good academic record 3.9+ GPA and lots of activities. The weakness is that I don’t have IB related intern experience. The internship I did was consulting and commercial real estate, and there are not well-known companies. I am also a international student, which means that I need sponsorship to work in US.
I only wish I had found your website earlier. I wasted a lot of time doing online application and worked little on networking and cold-calling. I do have a backup plan, which is getting a fifth year master degree of MSF (Master of Science of Finance) at my college. It’s quality is not very good. But I can have a chance to apply for summer internship at a IB company.
At this point of time, what’s your suggestion on my ongoing job search? Should I give up looking for full-time position and focus on summer intern, or begin networking and cold-calling people? I really don’t want to give up. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get my ideal job.
The Visa issue makes it harder for you – you may want to consider moving back to your own country and looking for finance jobs there. If I were you, I would look for full-time positions and start cold-calling aggressively to see what the response is… if it’s not good, then think about Master’s programs, preferably at a better school, and then leverage that to move in.
Are visa issues more of a problem or less of a problem for FT analyst positions?
More of a problem – easier to get permission to work for 2-3 months vs. 2-3 years.
What about taking an Audit position w/ the Big 4 post-MBA and then trying to leverage the accounting experience into investment banking?
It’s hard. See the recent article on this topic. You can do it, but it’s harder than moving in from, say, management consulting.
There’s a decent boutique in nyc I like that won’t be recruiting analysts until mid-spring. There’s also a small 6 person shop in nyc that I could probably get an offer at this month. If I accept the small shop offer and then get an offer at the much better boutique, what if I ended up reneging in the spring? Can anything bad come out of this? Examples?
Eh in that situation probably not since it’s a boutique. I would only worry if you renege at a larger bank.
would you say it’s easier/better to break into banking through PWM/Corporate development -> MBA or through the law school -> corporate law route if tuition is not a concern.
PWM/Corporate Development -> MBA is easier.
whenever I cold-call VPs, they just say talk to HR or go online. I tell them I will most likely not get any call back and have almost no chance if I apply through their website or HR.
And they say there is nothing much they can help if HR rejects my application.
Any suggestions for my case?
Tell them you understand that, but are interested in speaking to them directly because you know they call the shots with recruiting. Keep in mind that your chances of rejection with cold-calling are VERY high and you have to keep at it – most people will not be helpful / receptive, so it’s a grind until you can get a good answer.
When one applys for a IB position, they apply to a specific group (like M&A), correct?
Incorrect. You apply just to an Investment Banking Summer Analyst, Analyst, or Associate role. Group placement happens either during the interview process or after you accept an offer.
Does one get to choose what group they want to be in?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Varies a lot by bank – sometimes you have no choice and other times you get to select preferences.
Is it after one accepts the offer do they they tell you or let you decide what group to go in? And obviously salary ranges quite a bit from group to group, right?
Thanks for all the helpful input!
Yes. And no, salary does not change that much at the junior level between different groups.
Hi Brian, quick question:
I’m a sophomore at an ivy (but it is quite possible I’ll graduate in three years)
I’m not sure if I want to do IBD or S&T. Is it possible to apply to both for SA? or would that look weird?
Also, should I mention somehow that I might graduate in three years? This complicates things because if I’m a sophomore SA I’m obviously not in the running for a full time offer, but I’d like to be
Yes you could apply to both – and if you do want to be in the running for an FT offer I would mention the early graduation.
You mention moving from back office to front office being very difficult, but what about a move from Sales and Trading to IBD? Both would be considered front office, although clearly they serve different purposes at the bank and involve different skillsets / personality types. Does anyone ever do this? Is it easiest to move within the same bank? Do guys in IBD look down on sales and trading people trying to move over, or is it fairly doable?
It’s easier to go from S&T to IBD. You need a solid connection in IBD and a great story / rationale if you want to do it. There’s always some hostility between S&T and IBD, but they don’t look down on each other nearly as much as they look down on back/middle office
haha it sounds like the finance ship has sailed for me. I took a crappy corporate job (which I can spin, but you can only do so much), and I managed to get into this early admission program to a top 5 MBA program that requires me to get 2 years of work experience.
But it sounds like my weak work experience + inexperienced MBA tag means I can’t get into traditional finance. Ironically I feel like my background is pretty well suited for entrepreneurship, and I have done some entrepreneurial projects in the past and enjoyed them.
I bought your financial modeling course, if I did another entrepreneurial project, how much do you think the course would backfill some of the skills I would have acquired in banking?
If you’re talking about Harvard 2+2 program that’s not necessarily true… assuming that you can get a solid 2 years of work experience. It all depends on how much you can spin it… bankers and consultants are often fine with only 2 years.
Whether or not you want to start something on your own is a big decision and it’s honestly completely different from finance.
And yes, the course will fill in the gaps – especially if you go through the Yahoo case study, that is 99% of what you actually do in banking.
Awesome thanks. Sounds like in that case you could really market it to two different groups: 1. people who want to get into finance and 2. people who just want the skills but don’t want the grind, or can’t get in =D
That’s definitely true, though I think there are very few in group #2 so haven’t done much there so far.
If you don’t get an analyst offer, what if you suggested to smaller firms that you’re networking with that you’d be willing to intern and then work full time after they decide if they like you. Is this ‘trial’ period effective? I’m sure it’s also risky because if they say no you’re out of a job a few months after you graduate.
That could be a good strategy – you might want to just propose it as an “internship” at first without framing it like a “trial period.” Even if you don’t end up with an offer, you can still leverage it to get interviews elsewhere so it’s not as risky as you might think.
How does somebody acquire an internship that banks are looking for during recruiting season? Are they usually set up through the school and you send your resume and interview, or does one have to cold call banks and ask for internships? I am going to a community college for 2 years and was wondering how I could compete with Ivy Leaguers for the more well known internships.
I’m not sure I understand your question, but if you’re going to a community college you need to transfer somewhere else ASAP to have a shot at internships at all. Depending on where you go, you might be able to use on-campus recruiting to get internships, or you might have to do some cold-calling, or both.
After information sessions, I typically follow up to the bankers through email. However, I usually never receive any response, even when I ask a question. Am I doing something wrong or are they just busy? Can you recommend a sample “template” for followup-related emails? Thanks
There are templates included in the Networking program – it’s hard to say what’s going wrong just from what you said.
After meeting someone at an information session, you should always ask to meet in-person or talk on the phone for a specific purpose, and do so sooner (within 2-3 days max) rather than later. If you just “ask a question” then they may not know that you want interviews with their firm.
I have to do an internship in the spring even though I have a FT offer. As a liberal arts student would it be better to join a CPA firm to become more familiar with accounting or would I be better off to join a PE firm in order to position myself for PE recruiting. I would be happy to know. Thanks.
For summer internship offers, when does the general deadline to apply for internships end?
Most banks start interviews for summer internships in December, so deadline is usually before that.
I briefly explain my situation.
I’ll earn my degree (MSc in engineering) in December; I completed a 6-month in a regional office of a BB investment bank, which was unable to make me an offer because of headcount’s problems.
I therefore sent more than 50 CVs and I networked with a lot of people, but, although I’ve been not rejected yet, no-one called me for an interview and I suspect I’m out of the competition.
I may have a great advantage…my dad was a “big cheese” investment banker in the 80′-90’s and therefore I may get interviews from almost each BB; the problem is I’m not on good terms with him and therefore I wouldn’t rest with him, but at the same time I would leverage his connections…
Thanks in advance.
Hmm, if your relationship with your dad is not great then I would not rely on him and his connections – your best option is to keep at it and focus on local firms now. If you’ve already done that, go beyond banking and think about consulting, PWM, and related fields.
If you do go into consulting doesnt that help you break into bussiness school than investment banking as a associate?
It does help you with b-school – whether or not it helps more or less than banking is debatable. Very close.
Yes Brian, but you have to put in your time somewhere first to add value to many of your entrepreneurship ventures
It’s true that you need some kind of experience first to do it… but the amount you need is greatly overestimated by most.
To hell with IB, how about you set up another site detailing how to “break into” entrepreneurship ?
I’m getting quite jealous as to how you can travel the world and make a living doing it.
LOL – I’ve thought about it, but most people in school are not interested in doing this.
Just like anything else, it has its ups and downs – it’s not all rosy.
But I may start something next year on this topic…
Similar to Anon’s question but actually kind of serious, is there a website similar to yours about getting into MBA programs? I know that there are other sites out there, but I’m not sure if you know of any sites which have the quality of yours. I’m searching right now, and I still haven’t found any.
Hmm, not too familiar with MBA sites – there’s a lot of information out there but I think a lot of it is “fluffy.” Not sure that there’s anything that has an “edge” to it if that’s what you’re looking for.