How to Break Into Investment Banking as an Engineer

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“It’s something very personal, a very important thing. Hell! It’s a family motto. Are you ready Jerry? I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money. SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY! Jerry, it is such a pleasure to say that! Say it with me one time, Jerry.”

-Rod Tidwell, Jerry Maguire

If you’re like Rod here, you’ve come to the right place.

You’ve done engineering or you come from a technical background, but now you want to break into finance. Show me the money!

So here’s how you break into the industry:

What You’re Up Against

Every recruiting effort is a battle – sometimes you have advantages over the enemy, and sometimes you’re at a disadvantage.

Here’s what other professions are up against:

  • Lawyers: They can work long hours and deal with annoying clients all day, but can they count?
  • Accountants: They can do mind-numbingly boring work and they know accounting/finance, but can they work long hours?
  • Consultants: They understand how to work with clients and how the corporate world works, but can they work banker hours and avoid using the mouse in Excel?
  • Liberal Arts Majors: They can communicate, but can they crunch numbers and burn the midnight oil?

And here’s your key challenge as an engineer:

“I know you’re good at math and making calculations, but can you talk to people? Do you have any social skills? Are you actually interested in finance? Are you willing to work 100 hours a week rather than the 50-60 you’d get at Google, Facebook, or Twitter?”

You need good answers to those, and your interview performance needs to be polished to a waxy shine – otherwise you’ll come across as the engineer who doesn’t know what he or she is getting into.

In Your Favor

But it’s not all bad news. There are some things working in your favor:

  • They won’t doubt your quantitative skills or your attention to detail.
  • Depending on your experience, you can prove that you can work long hours relatively easily.
  • You have options outside of investment banking that other professionals like lawyers and accountants don’t have access to.

Telling Your Story

Here’s how you apply our story-telling template and tutorial to investment banking interviews if you’re an engineer:

“I started off being interested in [Engineering / Technical Field] back [Before College / In College If You've Graduated], and thought I would do that for a few years.

But after getting exposed to [Your Finance "Spark" - Meeting Someone, An Event, Student Group, Internship], I realized that I was much more interested in pursuing business because I want to make an impact and work in something much faster-paced.

Since then, I’ve done some research on my own and also [Hopefully Done More Finance-Related Work / Activities], and I’ve realized that starting out in investment banking would be the best fit for me. In the long-term I want to be an investor or trusted advisor to companies, and I see banking as the ideal path to getting there.”

You might expand that in interviews or shorten it if you’re networking, but that’s the basic idea.

If you’re an engineer, you’ll have a much easier time telling your story if you’re applying to groups with a technology focus – whether they’re in banking, PE, or anything else.

It makes it much easier to use the Background In One Field + Finance Experience = Long-Term Success formula discussed in Why Investment Banking.

Networking Ninja Tactics

There’s not too much specific to engineers when it comes to networking: if you’re a student, go through alumni, your friends, family, peers, classmates, anyone in your fraternity or sorority, and so on.

Cold-calling also works well with local boutiques, and some regions – like Silicon Valley – have a high concentration of tech-focused boutique investment banks, so you may have more success there.

If you’re already working, you can go to your co-workers, former co-workers, clients, and former clients for networking purposes as well: just be careful to not say too much too early.

Should you go for bulge bracket banks or target middle-market / boutique firms exclusively?

It depends on how old you are and what you’ve done up to this point. Some rough guidelines:

  • Already Working Full-Time: Forget about bulge brackets unless you have a killer connection – go for smaller places.
  • Graduating Soon, With No Relevant Internships: See above.
  • You’re Applying for Internships in Your 2nd or 3rd Year at School: It’s worth spreading your net wide if you’re still at this stage, though you’ll have more luck with large banks if you’re at a well-known school.

Other Options: Hedge Funds, Prop Trading, Sales & Trading, and Middle/Back Office Roles

I mentioned above that engineers have options available to them that others don’t, because of their quantitative background.

There are 2 main categories here:

You stand a good shot of getting these jobs because they look for people with quantitative and technical backgrounds.

Even if you’re not doing algorithmic trading or any programming, you still need good math and probability skills to succeed in trading.

And if you’re in an IT or support role, programming is essential and you have a huge leg-up with your background.

But there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Even if the work you’re doing is more technical, having a demonstrated interest in finance is still critical. Especially at top schools, engineers are all very, very good at math – but they’re not all genuinely interested in finance.
  • You should avoid IT / support roles unless you truly have no other options – transitioning to the front office is quite tough unless you want to get into sales & trading rather than investment banking.
  • The main disadvantage of all these options is that your exit opportunities are more limited: you either stick with trading or you move into an entirely different industry if you get tired of it.

So they’re not right for everyone, but you should at least consider them and do some networking in these areas if you’re coming from an engineering background.

Spinning Your Resume

So you have your “story” set and you’ve planned out your recruiting strategy, which firms you’ll contact, and what fields of finance you’re most interested in.

Next, you need to craft a winning resume – because almost everyone will ask for it. Here’s how you do that:

Step 1: Use this investment banking resume template if you’re an undergraduate, or use this more experienced resume template if you’re already out of school.

Step 2: Pick the 3-4 experiences you want to highlight – these should be what you’ve done full-time, your summer or school-year internships, or major activities where you’ve held leadership roles.

Step 3: Remove technical jargon and engineer / programming-lingo from your resume and re-frame everything in terms of business rather than C++.

Here’s a poor way to word an example bullet on your resume:

“Inspected client’s customer support code and assisted with migration from Linux 2.4 to Linux 2.6 by implementing support for 64-bit multi-core processors in assembly code as well as support for threaded processes in operating system kernel.”

No one aside from programming geeks knows what the hell that means – so you need to write about the business results instead:

“Reviewed client’s customer support system and found room to optimize process by 20%; recommended and implemented changes, which saved client $10,000 and 10 hours of labor per week over first year.”

Please don’t write about multi-core processors – write about the time or money you saved people, or the additional revenue you brought in as a result of what you did.

In Interviews

Interviewers will focus on the key questions we referenced above:

  • Are you genuinely interested in finance? Do you have a demonstrated track record of interest?
  • Have you learned enough about accounting and finance to answer basic technical questions?
  • Do you have the stamina to work 100-hour weeks?
  • Can you talk to people? Comb your hair? Dress properly?

Here’s how you can answer these “objections”:

  • The 100-hour week one is probably easiest: just talk about all the lab work you had to do, all the last-minute projects you worked on, or any time you hit “crunch time” in your internships or full-time jobs.
  • To prove your interest in finance, pick a few interesting tech (or other) stocks or companies to discuss. Avoid Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, etc. as everyone will talk about those. Also talk about any investing you’ve done or any recent tech market news.
  • To answer technical questions, there are interview guides and financial modeling programs that will teach you everything you need to know. You can also go through accounting / finance textbooks or ask your friends for a crash-course.

The last point – proving your social skills – is tough to explain in words, but you need to be polished and you can’t hesitate when you answer questions.

The best way to get good at this one is to practice with any friends who are smooth talkers and imitate them as much as possible.

Also, make brevity a habit – many engineers ramble on endlessly about technical details, but in interviews you want to keep 90% of your answers to 2-3 sentences at the most. If they want more, let them ask.

Technical Questions

Since you don’t have a finance background, bankers will have lower expectations when it comes to technical questions.

But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore them: at the very minimum, you need to know the fundamental accounting and valuation questions – the 3 financial statements, how they link together, how to walk through changes to the statements, and how to value a company.

You could get questions on more advanced topics like merger models and LBO models, but these are more common if you’ve had some type of finance experience: definitely know the basic concepts, but don’t spend time learning every single obscure detail.

If you’re in a time crunch, your best bet here is a comprehensive, concise interview guide that lays out everything in plain and simple terms.

Plan B Options

So you networked your butt off, you spun your resume as best you could, and you nailed your interviews.

But you came out of it with no offers.

What are your options?

1. Consider Finance Roles Outside of Investment Banking

See the section above on hedge funds, trading, and middle / back office roles. While these have some disadvantages compared to investment banking, they’re still much better than sitting around watching TV all day.

You could also think about asset management, private wealth management, consulting, or anything else that takes you closer to business – investment banking is not the be-all end-all that some would have you believe.

2. Business School

It’s never a magic bullet solution, but you can use business school to re-brand yourself… if you do it properly.

Just make sure you get into a top MBA program, that you do some kind of pre-MBA internship, and that you have a few years of full-time work experience first.

3. Keep At It

This one is only applicable if you’re working full-time: if you’re in school, you have deadlines.

But if you’re already out and working, keep in mind that the job search process takes a long time even if you’re spending 8 hours a day on it.

Expect to spend 6-9 months looking before you find anything – and it might take a year or longer in a poor economy.

So don’t throw in the towel until you’ve exhausted Plans B, C, and D.

Series: Career Transitions

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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540 Comments to “How to Break Into Investment Banking as an Engineer”

Comments

  1. Aman says

    Hi,

    I graduated last year from a reputable university in Canada with a double degree in Electronics Engineering and Finance. I have done a couple of technical internships, including one in the financial services industry. What do you think would be the best route for to break into IB or in finance in general. I have also wrote and passed the CFA Level 1.

    Cheers!

  2. JV says

    Dear M&I,
    I read most of your comments and I really appreciate you taking so much time in assisting people.

    My turn:) I completed bachelors in Mechanical, but an interest in financial markets drove me to take up a sales and marketing job in a Financial Services company in India. In this meantime, I developed immense interest in Finance and IB in particular. 3 years later, my career growth became stagnant. So, I switched industry to join a friend in a start-up. Now I want to get back to Finance. Off-late, I came across quantnet website and after further research the MFE degree became very appealing to me. My question is what are the career prospects after I finish my MFE vs. getting into IB. I wanted to know on a 5-10-15 years horizon, where would such people be–considering they were good at networking and at work? Most importantly, I’d be super glad if you could throw light on a career with the MFE degree and the options and opportunities I may have.

    Thank you in advance!

  3. JV says

    In addition to my earlier post- please give me a candid suggestion considering the situation of the economy…
    P.S: I’m good at maths and great at networking!

    Thanks once again!

  4. john says

    I’m an MD(medical doctor) who didn’t finish residency and I’ve been working full time. I want to break into finance. What’s the best way to go about it?

      • john says

        I’m not really in any industry. After residency I became a stockbroker and then a trader. I freelance as a medical consultant now. I want to be an analyst/associate. I can’t find an internship bc I’m not a student. Should I take a financial modeling class? Should I go to b-school and is it worth it? Should i try management consulting? Is it too late? Thanks.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I’d suggest you to cold email/call banks and see if they are willing to take you on. Try boutiques and mid tier banks. Yes if you can into a target bschool you can break in as an associate but that’s another two years of your life

          • john says

            It sounds like bschool is my best bet. Hopkins undergrad, non brand name U.S. med school, no finance experience, 3.5 gpa, late 30′s
            hoping to score >700 on GMAT
            do I have a good chance to get into a target b-school? thx again

  5. joe says

    I graduated from the city college of New York with a BE in enviornmental engineering. I’ve been planning to get an MBA after undergrad but my Gpa will be worse then I expected. I have 4 years of finacial experience (before undergrad). I have a 2.9 GPA, given the fact that my GPA is so low, what do you think the chances are of getting into a good Business school? (TOP 20)
    Will colleges take into account that I selected a difficult major and have some work experience? I was a Stockbroker.Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Tough sell – you might have to do something “out of the box” like traveling a year around the world helping others (something of this sort) or starting/selling a company to get admissions counselors’ attention. Other than that I’d suggest you to get a solid GMAT score (700+) to compensate for your GPA & write solid essays explaining why bschool. We aren’t admissions consultant but hope this helps

  6. Vidya V says

    Hi Brian,
    i have been reading the articles posted on the website. i am in a stuck up situation and don’t know anyone who can guide me through it before i make another wrong choice.I have completed my engineering from a reputed college and later have done my MBA from a not so great college.(i have maintained a consistent 70-80% throughout my education).The opportunities for finance people were limited to only cross-selling of securities/accounts.I was very keen in breaking into a good investment bank.salary was no constraint.After failed attempts i joined a KPO that has good investment Banking clients.But to my disappointment i got the profile of reference data management (product & Client).Its been 6.5 mnths i have been working and i am already fed up of the profile as it is not challenging, no learning involved ,repetitive and way below my caliber.I am looking forward to a change in job after i complete a year and beak into an investment bank where i get a chance to use my knowledge. Please advise how do i successfully do it and what are the chances that recruiters find anything interesting in my resume.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If I were you, I’d change my attitude and try to see what I can do at the KPO to network w people in finance. I’d make a good impression with people there and build a good reputation. Start from there and network with people in finance.

      • Vidya V says

        Hi Nicole,
        What can be other options to break into an IB.Is a job profile that takes care of settlements or confirmations (back office) will be helpful ? i also had other options in mind i.e 1.) I was keen on doing a CFA but again i wanted a guidance . 2. )How helpful will be a financial modelling course ?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Not really. 1. Not so useful for IB but useful for buy-side related roles 2. Somewhat helpful but best if you could get into a target MBA school

  7. Civil Engineering Student says

    Hey M&I,

    I must say your use of hyperlinks scattered through out your articles is simply sublime. I could spend hours reading this site and still have double digit tabs waiting to be read..

    I was just hoping to get an objective critique of my marks and their prospects in the investment banking industry – I thought about asking networking contacts this question but figured it would be best to keep the negatives hidden until after I get the interview or had a chance to impress them with other things.

    I’m entering my 4th year this summer, and this past term (3rd year 2nd semester) I have a 3.4 GPA, previous to that my marks have been dismal (in the 2.7 GPA bracket). The major I’m studying is Civil Engineering, at the #1 school ranked for Engineering in Canada (think RIM). Some key motivational changes are in place, and I project my 4th year marks to be in the 3.5+ GPA range.

    I hold an investment portfolio, on the committee for a school finance club, studying for the CFA, and other juicy nonesense that I won’t bother to waste your time reading.

    I appreciate any critique you would have, looking forward to hearing from you!

    Cheers

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Try to land an internship in IB. Having solid work experience will boost your resume.You holding an investment portfolio is good – elaborate on that and discuss your returns and investment strategies/logic

  8. MC says

    Hi,

    I need some feedback. I have a bachelor’s and masters in electrical engineering from a top 5 engineering school (Georgia Tech. Finished in 5 years, graduated highest honors with 3.75 gpa, concentration in Digital Signal Processing which has strong parallel concepts with QCF). Then I worked 3 years for DoD, moving up to lead engineer for 20M/year program (have a patent, saved the gov 40% on system procurement costs). I’m still just turned 25. I thought I’d have a decent shot to land an entry level position, but I have gotten ZERO response from this most recent round of analyst recruitment. Any thoughts?

      • MC says

        I minored in management(conc. finance) in grad school. Granted, this was just two grad level courses. I take it this is not enough? What are some good (more formal) ways to demonstrate interest, now that I am out of school (To date, it’s just been casual reading to better understand concepts like Black-Scholes, DCF, and LBO)?

        Lastly, in my situation, is there any reasonably acheivable path to get an analyst position without an internship? Thanks in advance.

    • Willian says

      You need a top 10 MBA. During the MBA you need an IB summer internship. Only then you can apply successfully.

  9. michael says

    I am a systems engineering major, and have grown a lot of interest in investment banking and quantitative finance. My gpa is about a 3.25, and I am sophomore. Do banks give a little more leniency when applying for internships, and is it still worth applying for jobs if the general requirement is above a 3.5? Also I have a chance to work for a small private equity firm this summer for a part-time status, but do you think it would be more beneficial to get a full-time engineering internship for the summer?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You might not make the resume cut-off if your GPA is not above 3.5; you can still apply
      Depends on your goals – if you want PE I’d choose the PE role

    • Willian says

      Why would you waste your time with an engineering internship if you’re interested in finance?

  10. Tarun says

    Hi,

    I just graduated from school, with a Masters degree in Computer Science from a highly reputed school. I am currently working for a Financial Software Provider company as a Software Engineer. I am extremely interested in Finance, far more than Computer Science, and would like to change my career soon. Can clearing 3 levels of CFA help me get an entry level finance position somewhere? Most of the entry level job descriptions for finance positions require like 2 years of prior experience in finance domain itself, which makes me a bit worried, considering the fact that I can only work as a software engineer for the moment.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Clearing CFA 3 is good and demonstrates your knowledge, interest and commitment in finance. I think it shouldn’t be hard to gain an entry level position (not necessarily banking)

    • Willian says

      Dude, in practice CFA doesn’t help that much, it won’t guarantee you anything. You can keep pursuing that, but meanwhile I’d find an IT job in a bulge bracket and then try to move around through networking, it could be way faster.

      Another path is through a top MBA.

      • M&I - Nicole says

        Willian, thanks or your input. A CFA would help if he wants to a buy-side role. Yes a top tier MBA would help. Networking from IT works too, though he’d still have to demonstrate his knowledge so if he wants to to move to the buy side/research a CFA would help. And a CFA doesn’t guarantee anything, neither does an MBA or networking

  11. Hary says

    Hi

    Firstof all thanks for all this information. really cleared a few questions. however i still have a few burning inside me.

    im currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow University top university in 2008 when i joined. I am in my 3rd year an my gpa is sitting at B average.

    however i have a huge ammount of experence in bussiness i can run a grocery shop, booze shop and hot food take away from scratch. But my real experence is setting up my own company at the age of 17. I set up a company to refine cooking oil in to biodiesel and i sell about 2000 ltrs a week to the distribution industry.

    i still dont feel this is enoughto land me an internship for 4th year. i have joined the university market and finance club. but i feel i need more exposure in the finance side of things. What can i do this summer apart from internships? i was thinking of volenteering ? to demonstrate my passion and understanding for the indusrty ?

    Thank you in advance

    Harry

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Join an investment club. I still think having strong and solid work experience will set you apart from others.

    • Willian says

      An internship in a front office finance area is your best bet. Could be asset mgmt, wealth mgmt, w/e. Preferably in a bulge bracket.

      Anything other than that won’t be as effective at all.

  12. Don says

    Hello, I am a Software Engineering and Computer Science double major who recently began investing in the stock market. I have been extremely successful thus far, and am wondering if this would help me get a job in the investment banking sector. I am also now working on a finance minor ever since I became so hugely interested in investments. I am a third year student at the University of Miami. Thanks in advance for any input or advice.

  13. Daniel says

    Hi,

    Thank you very much for all the valuable information.
    I graduated last year with a Computer Science degree from a reputable university in london, and started working as a software developer for an Algorithmic Trading team in a bulge bracket bank.
    Since then, having undergone a lot of research, I have now set my sights to break into banking. It would be very much appreciated if could help me answer those questions:

    1) I have considered staying in my role for 3 years and then going to a top business school to do an MBA. Given my work background do you believe my experience would be a major disadvantages while applying to an Associate positions?

    2) I could potentially get a sales/client management role at Deutsche Bank’s Global Transaction Banking division. This is a more commercial environment with exposure to clients/sales than the role I am currently in. Do you think I would get a better shot at breaking into IBD after an MBA if I work in this division, rather than my current software engineering position?

    Thanks and regards

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Depends on which division in finance you are interested in. You might need some modeling experience if you want M&A work etc
      2. I don’t know how transferable the skills you acquire from this division are to IBD though it is more relevant than your current software engineering role

      • Daniel says

        Thank you Nicole.
        For 1) I was referring to Associate positions in IBD, thus M&A. Would that be realistic? Perhaps I could learn some financial modelling myself in preparation?

        Would it be easier to transfer to M&A from, say, private wealth management after an MBA?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Yes learning financial modelling will help you

          Easier to transfer to M&A from PWM after MBA? Not really. Will you be going to a target school?

          • Daniel says

            Sure I will attempt to go to a target school. I have at least 2 years to go before I have the suitable amount of experience to go to business school.
            If I can’t get into IBD in the meantime I was trying to get into a more commercial role that would make me more suitable on paper after an MBA to break into IBD. Would you choose a client facing/sales role in Global transaction banking at Deutsche or PMW/other suggestion.

            Thanks and regards

          • M&I - Nicole says

            It depends on what you’re good at. I think both have their merits. In regards to which ones are better for you to break into IBD roles, I think PWM may give you better chances if you can secure HNW clients who want to do IBD deals w banks (I.e. their companies acquiring others or going public) Other than that I don’t think the 2 and IBD are closely related

          • Daniel says

            I see, thanks. Can you suggest other roles do you think would give me a good chance of getting an IBD position after an MBA from a top school?

          • Daniel says

            To be clear, I have unfortunately realised that I want a career in IBD quite late, and thus have no real relevant experience, having already started the career mentioned above. My plan now is to do an MBA at a top school after 3 years (I have a strong academic record). My only concern is that my experience as a software specialist for an algorithmic trading system will not serve me well when I apply for IBD associate positions after the MBA. Do you agree with that?

            If that is the case, given that I am finding it really difficult to even get interviews right now for M&A analyst positions, I am thus looking to move into a role that will be valued when applying for IBD after the MBA. I believe I have strong analytical skills, numerical skills, but also enjoy working with people, presentations etc.
            I have so far put all my energy into getting an IBD position with very little to show for it. Given my skills, can you suggest other careers that would put me in good light until i do my MBA.

            Many thanks, really appreciate your time.

          • M&I - Nicole says

            Dani, its very hard for me to suggest you roles because I don’t know your strengths, weaknesses etc, but I’d think your background in algo probably means you’re v strong in quant/maths. I would do a lot of research to see if you truly want IBD because it is not for everyone. I also think that you might want to look at structured finance roles though I may be v wrong w the above

  14. Daniel says

    Thank you Nicole, I really appreciate your assistance. Just one final question. If I do decide to go for IBD and stay in my current position until I do an MBA, do you think I will be at a disadvantage, or would recruiters value my work experience?

  15. Andrew says

    Hi!

    I’m currently majoring in Chemical Engineering at a Non-Target University in New England and I’m going into my second year of school. I was also planning on getting a degree in either Accounting or Finance, which even with APs and summer courses will take me a little over four years to complete. I figured since I’m from a Non-Target University getting the Engineering degree might compensate for a lack-luster name and prove my quantitative abilities while an Accounting or Finance degree would show my interest in Investment Banking. Also, with the additional time in school I would have more time to network and do internships.

    Does this seem like a sound plan?
    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    Thanks

  16. Luke says

    Good day,

    Ime a Nuclear engineer (Power industry) and have been working in the field for 4 years now (28 years old). I own a real estate company (18 properties >6 units residential) and I have always been interested in finance. After reading several of your articles I beleive getting into trading is my best bet. I currently live in Toronto and don’t necessarily want to move and would love to get your opinion on best way to secure a trading job. Day to day I dont interact with anyone in the trading industry but starting to polish the resume and building a list for cold calling people.

    Regards,

    Luke

  17. Dilip says

    My son is doing Bachelor’s Degree on Comp.Engineering in India.He may plan to take up
    MS(Comp.Science) in USA with Finance/Business Analysis.
    Is this a viable plan to enter Banking/Finance fields with a background of comp.Engineer ?

      • Dilip says

        Thanks for your reply.Few more querries:-

        1.Is it advisable that he does a MS(Comp.
        Eng) first and then joins B-School.

        2.Which B-School ?

        3.Will he need to take up GMAT Test ?

        4.What is the score of TOEFL/GMAT/GRE

        Score required for MS and B-School ?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          1. If he wants to be an engineer, I’d think so. Otherwise, I don’t know why having an extra degree will help
          2. Target ones like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Stern, UChicago
          3. Yes
          4. Please refer to each school’s admissions page for this

  18. Abhay Agarwal says

    Hi Brian

    I am Abhay from Mumbai, India. I am currently pursuing 1st year of my 2 year full time MBA course. I am an avid reader of your posts over here & sincerely respect & appreciate your effort.
    I sincerely need your advice about some of my career aspirations. I want to work in an I-Bank. As the starting point, I have to pursue an 8 week internship as part of my curriculum during may-july 2013. But I am not able to get any such opportunity. I would humbly request you to kindly guide me to get an internship in IBD for a boutique bank (considering the fact that bulge bracket bank would be nearly impossible in the current economic scenario) as in which boutique banks should I apply to where I might have a shot etc.
    I would be highly obliged if you would help & guide me to get such an opportunity.

    Thanks
    Abhay Agarwal

  19. gaurav bhasin says

    hello Brian,
    first up i must tell you that i’m an avid reader of your posts and its really pretty catchy and informative .
    i’m currently pursuing a 4 year marine engineering degree course and i am in my 4th year.However i dont think i am well suited towards the jobs which i will be getting after the completion of the course
    i feel i have a genuine interest in finance and i have a fairly good mathematical skill as well
    so should i switch on right now or gain some work ex in this field???

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you are already in your 4th year and are going to complete your course in the next 6-12 months, maybe sticking with it isn’t such a bad idea (assuming you somewhat enjoy the work)

      Try to gain some internship experience in finance now and see if you like it first

  20. Jonathan says

    Hi,

    I am an engineering major in sophomore standing. I have worked in a hedge fund company as a summer intern last summer. However they didn’t really give me any ‘real’ tasks but just excel and looking at financial statements (maybe since I dont really know much).

    1)Does this experience help me in getting an intern from an Investment Bank next summer (2014)?

    2)I am planning to get another internship this summer and I wonder which sector in finance should I try out this time?

    3)I know you warned, but I am preparing for the CFA I, partly because I am interested in finance and partly because I consider portfolio management as an exit option in the future. Does this help demonstrate my interest in finance as an Engineering student?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Somewhat, depending on how well-known your HF is
      2. What do you want to achieve? What are you interested in?
      3. Yes it does, more applicable for buy-side roles. A must if you’re interested in buy-side roles

      • Jonathan says

        I am most interested in going into PE/VC in the future. But as you always say, breaking in finance through IB gives me the broadest skill set and the exit options are better. And also, though I am at UCLA now I plan to work in Hong Kong after graduation. Do you have any suggestions on internships and networking this summer (2013)?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          If you want to work in HK after graduation, it may be best for you to intern in Hong Kong in the summer. Network a lot. The community here is very small so it is relatively easy to meet people once you’re in the loop

  21. says

    Hi Nicole,

    Wonderful website and thanks again for sharing your knowledge. I am 25 and have an undergrad in civil engineering (GPA 3.7) and masters in civil (GPA 3.8) and have been working as a project manager for an engineering consulting for three years now. I am going to take my GMAT’s this winter and apply to Rotman (Univ of Toronto, #1 school in Canada here) for the next winter semester. I have some knowledge in finance as ive taken the CSC (Canadian securities course), which gave me a broad insight on stocks, bonds, trading etc and have a strong passion for the field. I have been reading up on IB for some time now and have decided that this is what I want to do. Given the high rate of competition and low admission rate, is there something in specific that I should be doing now/do in the near future to increase my chances in the industry? I have been told the CFA is, well, a waste of time in this case.

    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Thanks to Brian!

      Network a lot. Business school will help you re-brand/re-tool yourself. Join a finance club in b-school if you can

      • says

        Yes thanks to Brian my apologies!

        I appreciate the advice and have already begun speaking to alumni at Rotman. I guess, to rephrase my question, do I stand at a disadvantage, given my qualifications, to those with finance degrees? Or are engineers valued in a certain way?

        Thanks

  22. Reina says

    Hi I am mechanical Engineer. I have been working in technical departments in the oil and amnufacturing industry (3 years). but most of the time I have worked in business (6 years). I have worked on marketing & sale. I have experiece as entrepreneur in my home country but now I am looking for a new challenging career here in canada. That´s why I would like to work as a investment banker. I am going to complete my Master of management in accounting and international finance this december at windsor University. I would like to know how to start to develop a career in this area.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think this article covers quite a lot of aspects on how to break in as an engineer. I’d suggest you to network a lot and gain experience in the industry, be it a paid or unpaid internship if IB is what you are interested in

  23. Dan says

    Hi Nicole,

    thanks for sharing your insights with us and taking time.

    I have two M.Sc. degrees in chemical and environmental engineering (one from a US school and one form a European school) and am in the top 5% of graduates in both programs. Other qualifications are Fulbright and other big scholarships, years of teaching undergrads at university and working for my Department. I am now 25 and considering a career in finance.

    I mainly want to apply my mathematical and analytical skills. Social skills are not the problem. Even though I think the underlying math for most jobs in finance is very basic, I have no specific knowledge in finance or business.

    What are your recommendations to get started in the finance industry?
    Which sectors would you recommend given my skillset?

    Thanks a lot!
    Dan

      • Dan says

        HI,

        thanks for your reply. But could you elaborate a bit more please?

        1) Is it a reasonable assumption to think that one might be a valuable addition to a finance company with the skillset mentioned above?

        2) Are advanced math or analytical skill even needed/qualification enough fo this kind of job? most of my friends who work in investment banking just play around with spreadsheets.

        3) As far as I know, the necessary business skills are taught to engineers/mathematicians in many consulting companies in their first months of employment. Is that an investment that companies in the finance industry are willing to make to secure the qualities of engineers/mathematicians?

        4) Are engineers expected to have at least basic knowledge in business before even applying?

        5) What kind of positions are ideal to apply for as an engineer in the private equity sector? There must be various specialisations within the field.

        Thank you for your time.
        Best,
        Dan

        • M&I - Nicole says

          1) Sure though its hard for me to say because I’ve not met you before and I don’t know how you present yourself etc
          2) Depends on the team. I’d say you might want to look at structuring roles
          3) Most companies have training programs lasting 3-weeks or so for analysts. Depends on the firm and location though.
          4) Yes I believe so. It also depends on how you define “basic”
          5) It can be more challenging if you don’t have a few years of IB experience or 8+ years of industry specific industry experience – pls refer to http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting/

  24. Sean says

    Hi
    I know you hate ranking universities but I would just want to know your preferences, if given the choice. Im a Malaysian here and for a certain reason, studying abroad is impossible so here are the 3 choices:

    1) Top UK online MBA programme
    2) Top local U in Malaysia, namely Universiti Malaya
    3) University of Nottingham(Malaysia Campus)

    I understand that if you choose to ignore this due to it is actually comparing schools, but would really appreciate if any advice is given.

    *I’m also networking but the IBs in Malaysia are really limited, so I would like to search another way out other than networking.

    Warmest Regards.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Perhaps a top tier university in Asia like HKUST? Not the same as HBS, Stanford but if you want a degree and work in Singapore/Malaysia, that degree should help a bit

  25. Oskar says

    Hi.

    I’m a twenty year old guy currently studying Civil Engineering at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Since the start of my degree I’ve felt that engineering is not my “cup of tea”. After taking some business courses I’ve discovered that I am much more interested in the finance sector and after a lot of reading investment banking seems really appealing.

    My dream is to work in the US in general and NYC in particular. I am originally from Sweden so therefore I am not a native speaker. How do I turn these facts to my advantage? Will it be possible for me to get an internship at a bank in the US or will the VISA rules forbid this? Will the fact that that I am not going to an American university have a big negative impact? Edinburgh is ranked 18th in the world (and therefore higher ranked than several IVYs. Even though my english is fluent I still have a Swedish accent; how much does the banking sector care about that?

    Thank you for your time and patience.
    //Oskar, Sweden

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Not having a visa can be challenging. Perhaps you can try to study abroad in the States (ideally in New York City or/and in a target school like Stern, Columbia) for one year and get in touch with the school (in US)’s career center? You can try applying for internships in US then. Otherwise, I’d suggest you to apply for finance roles in UK and ask for a transfer!

      • Oskar says

        Thank you for your help.

        I will have the opportunity to go abroad for a year and study at either UC Berkeley or Caltech within my course. Do you think that these schools are good choices or should I try to get to another school instead?

        I really appreciate your help. Thanks in advance.

        Warmest regards,
        Oskar

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Both are good schools! Some banks recruit at those schools, especially if you want to stay on the West Coast.

          If you want target schools that most banks recruit in, I’d suggest you to look at schools such as Wharton, Columbia, Stern etc

  26. Jon says

    Hello M&I,

    I am an Electrical Engineer major at a state school as I got a full ride there. I currently have a 3.93 and I have great financial awareness as well as a stellar resume (I have had jobs at prestigious engineering internships such as NASA). However, I have been having troubles getting interviews at all the major investment and finance firms. I am wondering what type of stuff I could do to leverage what I have to better position myself for better opportunities. If all continues to not go well this way I feel I will have to get an MBA at an Ivy to be taken seriously. Is this common for non-target colleges and what can I do to improve my chances. I should also mention I am going to be a rising junior next year.

    VR,
    Jon

    • says

      It sounds like the biggest problem is that you have nothing finance-related on your resume… so try to spin that internship experience into sounding more business-oriented, and think about student clubs, activities, and case competitions to show your interest (do a search on the site for guides to all of those).

  27. Chad says

    Hey!

    I am currently a freshman at UC Berkeley, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I am quite interested in investment banking and am confused as to whether or not my major is right for me.
    I can change to Industrial Engineering and operations research or I can try my luck at Haas as a sophomore(that is when they accept applications.

    All responses are greatly appreciated.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you can take some finance/accounting courses on the side, or take finance/accounting as a minor, I think this will increase your chances. While you may be majoring in engineering, some firms actually like engineering majors given the quantitative background, though you’ll have to demonstrate your finance/accounting skills & passion. I think having an internship in IB will also help you a lot.

  28. Ethan says

    I’m a 3rd year Engineering Physics major from a non-target university (in Wisconsin) with one summer left to try to get an investment banking/finance internship (summer ’14). I have no real finance experience and I’m trying to find the best course of action to get some type of job in finance. I realize I have plenty of time to make connections, but do to my lack of finance experience would it be better for me to focus on slightly smaller banks for example in Minneapolis instead of Chicago or New York? I really love the twin cities area and I’d be curious to know if you have an opinion on the financial sector there?

    Also, if I don’t have much luck this last season, would it be better for me to stick around an extra year or year and a half at my university to add a second major in finance to make myself more desirable and give myself some more time to try to find an internship or try to get into an MBA program? I currently have a gpa of about 3.4 and it will take a lot of work to get that up above a 3.5 with the engineering courses I have left. Another option, should I try to transfer to more of a target school for the second major?
    Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I am not 100% sure but I think focusing on smaller banks in smaller cities may give you a better edge because there may be less competition, though there may be less opportunities vs. Chicago and NY.

      I think adding a second major in finance may make you slightly more desirable though this is a big risk and it will not guarantee that you will have a leg up over other candidates, especially those who have had experience in the industry. Yes getting your GPA up to 3.5 will help. Taking business courses to demonstrate your knowledge in finance/accounting will help. Getting into an MBA program (top tier) may actually help you (more so than delaying graduation). If you can transfer to a target school and can bear the costs of doing so, I’d do so.

  29. Oyin says

    Hi Nicole, I’m currently in the Sixth form (year 12) in Secondary school and my A-Level subjects are Maths, Biology, Chemistry and English Language.
    I am a bit unsure about what to study at university but i am interested in Chemical Engineering and Finance specifically Investment Banking. I was searching online about both courses and stumbled on your website.
    I was wondering if it would be better and beneficial for me to study Chemical engineering and then go on into IB after university? Or if i should just stick to Chemical enginerring or just look for a financial course that would lead me to Investment Banking?
    I love making and spending money! So, a job as an investment banker would do me and my family good. How can i work my way up into IB?
    Thanks Oyin!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you want to go into banking, I’d suggest you to take some finance/accounting courses/major/minor to demonstrate your passion and knowledge in the industry. You may still be able to break into banking majoring in chemical engineering, though you’ll be competing against candidates in finance/accounting who may have had experience/connections in the industry.

      • Oyin says

        Thanks Nicole for the advice. I was looking at undergraduate courses and saw Chemical Engineering with Business Management. Do you think this course would help? Thanks Oyin.

      • Oyin says

        Thanks Nicole for the advice.
        I was looking at undergraduate courses and saw Chemical Engineering with Business Management. Do you think this course would help?
        Thanks Oyin.

  30. Anis says

    I have worked as control engineer in a thermal power plant for a year. Now i am interested in investment banking. Can anyone please tell me how can i become an investment banker.

  31. Bruce says

    I’m a sophomore majoring in computer engineering with a minor in finance in one of the best universities in east Asia. And my GPA is as good as 3.9. I have one technical internship in a telecom company. I think a full-time internship in IB may be very helpful for me to break in to finance or IB, but how can I get one? Will the employer think I lack the knowledge of finance? Does a pass in CFA[1] help in this case? Thank you very much.

  32. Tim says

    Hi, I am hardware engineer working at one of the top tech firms (e.g. apple, google, microsoft). I have bachelor’s and master’s degree from top engineering school. I also took a few economics courses. I would really like to switch my career to investment banking or hedge fund, specifically in technology sector! I am planning to attend a top MBA to learn more about finance. Do you think it is common/plausible for someone like with no finance background to break into investment banking or hedge fund in tech sector after pursuing MBA? I wish my tri-lingual can help too.

  33. pallavi says

    i have finished engineering in ECE and now pursuing MBA in finance. all are scaring me that i will not get job and that i made a wrong decision of getting into MBA. i want to know what kind of jobs i can get into. please guide me.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Its hard to say since I don’t know your background. I’d suggest you to connect with your career center since you’ll have an idea of the firms that are recruiting at your school and this may guide you

  34. olaitan yusuf says

    I’m a student of banking and finance,I have national diploma in it, during my school time, one of my course called enterpreneurship, I learnt electrical installation it, later I just find happiness in the work, pls counsel me on what career am going to do nw.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Perhaps something related to electrical appliances? I am not sure if finance is the right fit though you may want to speak with people in the industry to get a better idea

  35. Steve says

    Hi ,

    I’m a graduated student in Aerospace engineering in one of the top universities in north america. I graduated with a GPA of 3.92.
    I’m currently doing my Masters in CFD(Computational fluid dynamics). I make high speed models to predict forces on aircraft.
    I’m interested in the financial field and i’m looking for a way to pierce in the financial world. Especially in financial modeling

    I need to know which path I have to take and the type of experience needed.

  36. Aria says

    Hi all,

    I’m a recent graduate from a well-known state school with a highly-ranked Aerospace Engineering program. I got my B.S. in Aero. Eng. as well as a B.S. in Mathematics. Currently, I’ve been in a job since the summer in the aerospace industry that’s pretty decent, but I’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t want to do this type of work forever. I want to enter finance/IB. Just as a side note, my GPA was 3.7. I’ve had two strong technical/leadership-oriented internships, a business-related study abroad, and experience in programming.

    Any thoughts on how I can break into IB?

    Thanks!

  37. Priya says

    Hi, I am working in a semiconductor industry for 2.5 years. I have done MSc in Electrical Engg in Europe. I would like to switch to non-engineering role without doing an MBA (as I do not want to go back to school). More specifically, I would like to see myself working in business development. I would be glad to know the possible steps forward in this direction – what kind of study I can do and also if companies hire people with background such as mine? Kindly advise!!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I think its best for you to work for a corporate first and try to move internally to business development. Otherwise, I’d rely on networking and cold-calling people in business development and convince them to take you on. It is best if you have done research on their company and can tell them what the company needs improvement on and how you plan to add value to them.

  38. ganesh says

    Hi,
    I’m have my under-graduation in Computer Science and Engineering but i relatively have work experience.
    Now i am doing my Masters in Quantitative Finance and Risk Management and taking up FRM Part 1 exams this following May.
    What are my Chances to get a Job/Internship in IB.
    And need your suggestions on what are the other options should i consider.
    Thank you.

  39. Fahad Khan says

    Hi

    I am in a stuck up situation. I am Electrical Engineer from a reputed engineering institute with 3.1 CGPA, did part time Masters in Engineering Management while I was employed in field job in a world renowned telecommunication Vendor. After doing technical job for 2.5 years, I switched in Internal Audit role in a high profile company in telecommunication industry and have been working here for more than 5 years now. I have recently stepped in my 30s and now want to formally do joint chartered accountancy program from NewZealand and Australia because I want to pursue my career in Finance, particularly business planning in corporate world. Preferring CA over MBA from a high profile school is because CA can be done from a remote location and is comparatively inexpensive than an MBA. I also want to do something which gives me International recognition and doesn’t restrict me to a specific industry!

    What do you suggest, will it be the right move for me? I am curious if moving into Finance will be good for my career? Is Engineering and Finance a lethal combination in corporate world?

    Thanks
    Fahad

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Engineering and Finance can be a good combination. Yes unless you get into a target MBA, it is not worth it. If you’re considering the CA, you may want to check out the CFA instead if you’re interested in buy-side (asset management, wealth management) roles.

  40. Niki K. says

    Hi Nicole,

    I was accepted to study Computer Programming in the UK for 2 semesters before realizing that it is not for me and I prefer the world of business.

    I dropped out of the University, launched a profitable startup in my home country (very insignificant revenues but forced me to wear many hats and gain an enormous experience in a wide range of fields) and am now in Germany, planning to enroll in a Business Administration Bachelor degree.

    I am thinking about spinning my story and experience in my startup to bankify my resume.

    My question is: should I include the UK University and say that I have dropped out. Would that not sit well with the bankers (showing lack of commitment or something).
    I can just hide the fact that I have enrolled in a Bachelor degree before (I am 21 now) and play it off as if I decided to try and build a business first instead of entering University straight away.

    Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

    • says

      I think you need to include it because it may come in background checks. So I would leave it in, explain why you stopped out, and have a story ready for interviews when they ask about it.

  41. Nick says

    “I know you’re good at math and making calculations, but can you talk to people? Do you have any social skills? Are you actually interested in finance? Are you willing to work 100 hours a week rather than the 50-60 you’d get at Google, Facebook, or Twitter?”

    Not sure where this stereotype arose from. Silicon Valley tech firms are definitely laid back in the sense that they have lax dress codes, more comfortable offices, and less office hierarchy and politics, but Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others all have 80+ hour workweeks, just like banking. In addition, their jobs are quite intellectually demanding, as they are solving complex engineering problems, which is not nearly the case for the vast majority of banking analysts.

  42. Jake says

    Hi!
    I just finished my second year as a Civil & Environmental Engineering at the university of pittsburgh and I want to get into IB or work in risk for a bank. I had a pretty dificult sophmore year, as i took mor credits than I should have. Right now my GPA is around a 2.9 and I have plenty of technical internships under my belt. What would be the best path for me to take? Should I focus on getting an MBA? Where should I look for internships?

    Thank you!

  43. Smarty says

    Hi M&I,
    I have BEng in Electronics Engineering from London University. I want to get into IB/M&A/Private Equity. I have been Software Engineering for 9 years. I can not afford to do MBA. What is the other options I can do. I am 35 years old.
    Thanks,
    Smarty

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