Undergraduate-Level Recruiting Questions
For undergraduates, the recruiting equation is simple: get an investment banking internship. Or come very close.
I'm a student / I have no relevant background - what should I do to get into investment banking?
Get a relevant internship. It doesn't have to be at a bulge bracket bank - even an unknown local boutique will give you a huge leg-up if you can write "Investment Banking Analyst" on your resume.
Activities and classes are useless next to a solid internship.
See this article and video tutorial for more on how to spin your resume if you've had no real work experience.
Do I need to be a Finance or Economics major?
No, but it helps because you then have a demonstrated interest in the field.
More on what major to pick for investment banking.
What classes should I take?
Specific classes matter much less than internships.
Finance or economics-related classes are good to demonstrate interest and gain some knowledge, but if you are spending hours deliberating whether to take Advanced Microeconomics in Developing Economies I or International Monetary Policy II, please stop because it doesn't matter.
More on why banking does not require rocket science math.
How much do internships matter vs. activities and grades?
Internships are much more important. If you have a low GPA you'll have trouble getting interviews through official channels, but beyond that a "good" vs. "better" GPA doesn't matter nearly as much as doing an investment banking internship vs. being a lifeguard.
Someone with a 3.5 GPA who can write "Investment Banking Summer Analyst" on his or her resume will beat the person with a 4.0 who only has experience waiting tables any day of the week.
What is the best type of internship to get?
The closer it is to investment banking, the better. Investment banking, private equity, and hedge fund internships are the best; venture capital, corporate development, sales & trading, and consulting are also good.
Asset or wealth management are further removed but are also better than non-finance alternatives, and everything else is below those.
If I get a Master's degree can I start as an Associate? What about a Senior Analyst?
No, and no. You will never start as an Associate unless you have an MBA or unless you're a direct promote from an Analyst - and you need at least 2-3 years of work experience to pull that off.
And you won't be anything more than a normal 1st Year Analyst if you're just out of school and have no full-time work experience, no matter how many degrees you have.
Is a Master's degree worth it?
It might be. If you went to an unknown school and had no access to recruiters, going to a Master's program at a top school could be a good investment.
For more on this issue, read this article.
Also check out Masters in Finance HQ for more on Master's programs.
What about a Ph.D?
What are these "target schools" you speak of?
There's no universally agreed-upon list, but they are schools that investment banks actively recruit at. In the US these are mostly the top schools according to the US News & World Report.
Recruiting is 100x easier at these schools because banks come directly to you and say, "Hi, would you like to work for us? Please submit your resume here."
Should I delay my graduation if I couldn't secure a full-time offer?
It might be a good idea, but it depends on why you couldn't secure the full-time offer. If your interview skills were the problem and everything else was fine, consider it. Otherwise, other strategies like pursuing a Master's degree are a better idea.
For the more detailed answer, read this article.
If I’ve already graduated, can I do a summer internship?
Nothing is impossible, but most places are pretty strict about only giving summer internships to students. It never hurts to ask, though, so you might as well see what turns up and focus on smaller places that might be more receptive to the idea.
I'm in elementary school / middle school / high school - can you give me an exact blueprint for how to become an investment banker?
No, but you can check out The Banker Blueprint for what to do once you get to college.