Investment Banking Networking: How to Break In

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Investment Banking NetworkingAh, networking into investment banking.

No other topic creates so much confusion – so let’s dive right and see how you use networking to break into the industry.


There are 2 main approaches to networking:

  1. Developing Relationships – Meet bankers at information sessions, during weekend trips, and get to know them over time.
  2. Cold-Calling – Find a list of local boutique banks and go down the list, setting aside an hour each day for calling firms.

Method #1 – developing relationships – works better if:

  • You have at least 6 months between now and the start of recruiting season.
  • You attend a “target” school that many banks recruit at.
  • You’re aiming for bulge bracket banks rather than boutiques.

Cold-calling works better if:

  • This is a last-minute effort and you need a job ASAP.
  • You don’t have access to on-campus recruiting or similar channels.
  • You’re going for boutique and middle-market firms.
  • You’re an undergraduate or recent graduate.

How to Meet Bankers and Develop Relationships

Both processes are similar, but developing relationships takes more time because you don’t want to contact the banker and say, “Give me a job!”

Here’s what you should do to develop relationships:

1. Make Your List

Start with alumni, family, friends, professional contacts, anyone you’ve met at information sessions, and then think about options like student groups, professional organizations, volunteer groups, professors, and even religious groups.

Nothing is “unfair” when it comes to your starting list – if you have Capital IQ access, use it. If you need to “sneak into” other schools’ information sessions, do it.

Aim for 20-30 names before you start your outreach.

2. Make the Initial Outreach

Email each of your contacts and ask for a 15-minute informational interview.

Keep your email to 5 sentences at the most, and introduce yourself by giving your school name, explaining how you found them, and summarizing your work experience.

Then propose 2-3 specific dates and times to speak with them.

3. Follow-Up If You Don’t Get a Response

Follow-up within a week if you haven’t heard back. If you don’t hear back after another week, move to the phone.

Keep these emails very short – 1-2 sentences at most.

And if you haven’t heard back after 5 or so attempts, put the person on the back burner and move onto other contacts.

4. Do Additional Research

Once you’ve set up your call or meeting, spend 20 minutes doing some simple Google and LinkedIn searches of the person’s name and see what you can find.

Don’t go crazy with this – just do enough research to properly frame your questions.

5. Make the Call / Attend the Meeting

Start by asking about the person’s background and interests – always keep the conversation focused on them.

They may “test” you but never preempt this by bragging about your accomplishments or showing off how smart you are.

6. Make Your “Mini-Ask”

As your conversation is drawing to a close, ask them if it’s ok to follow-up with any additional questions you have, ask for referrals, and suggest meeting in the future.

You do this to condition the other person into helping you out. If you never ask for anything in the beginning, it’s weird when you do so later on.

7. Follow-Up

Only follow-up when you actually have something to say. If someone wasn’t helpful or if you have better contacts, don’t feel pressured to stay in touch with  everyone all the time.

Referral requests, advice about job offers, and news of an upcoming weekend trip are all good reasons to follow-up.

8. Make Your “Real Ask”

Once you’ve had your initial conversation and followed-up at least a few times, ask for what you want:

“I hope all is well. With recruiting season approaching, I wanted to follow-up and ask you how I could best position myself for an interview with your firm.”

That’s all there is to it. If you’ve made a good first impression and they like you, they’ll help you.

Otherwise, don’t dwell on it – focus on the bankers who are most helpful.

Even More Relationships

The process above shows you how to set up informational interviews and win interviews like that – but there are other ways you could develop relationships.

Information Sessions

I’m not going to repeat everything here because there’s already a full-length article on investment banking information sessions.

The short version: focus on the bankers with the fewest students surrounding them, chat for a few minutes, collect business cards, and then make an excuse and go off to meet the other bankers.

Quick follow-up is essential because these sessions usually take place just before interviews.

Weekend Trips

There’s no better way to network like a ninja than traveling to New York, London, or any other financial center and spending the weekend there.

Aim for 10 meetings per day (30 minutes each), and make sure that your meetings are in close proximity – you don’t want to be hopping around from Midtown to Downtown Manhattan every 30 minutes.

Even More

If you want even more on this process, check out The Investment Banking Networking Toolkit for email templates and sample informational interviews – and step-by-step detail on how to do everything listed above.

And Read These Articles:


The cold-calling process is not much different from developing relationships: it’s just an abbreviated version. Here’s what you do differently:

1. Perfect Your Pitch

You need a concise 2-3 sentence pitch that introduces yourself and explains why you’re calling – give your name, your school / where you work, and say that you’re calling to find out how to best secure a position at their bank.

Practice a few times in front of a mirror, then practice again by calling companies you don’t care about quite as much at first.

2. Make Your List

Focus on local / boutique firms. Actual people are ideal if you can find them, but if not, just settle for the main lines of companies.

Where should you find this list of boutiques?

  1. Ask a friend with Capital IQ / Bloomberg / Factset access
  2. Random Google searches
  3. The IB Networking Toolkit (Best source – 10,000+ firms)

3. Refine Your List

Before you start calling places, verify that the information you’ve found is accurate – check out each bank’s site first and make sure it exists and that you have the right numbers.

4. Place Your Calls

Now start placing your calls. If you hit gatekeepers, try early morning or early evening – before they get to work or after they leave.

Don’t take “no” for an answer until you speak with someone who’s actually in charge of recruiting – always answer their objections with another question.

“They’re not hiring” – Is it money? Lack of time/resources? They already have someone?

And then offer to work for free, train yourself, or check back next month.

5. Follow-Up

Follow-up at least once a week until you receive a definitive response. Even if it’s “no,” follow-up with the bank once a month to see if anything has changed.

This is just stupid, persistent effort – think like Rocky.

6. Rinse, Wash, and Repeat

Keep at it until you win interviews and offers. If you’re out of local firms to contact, expand your scope and do some traveling.

If you read through all the networking and cold-calling case studies on this site, you’ll see that it really is just 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

Networking Like a Ninja

So that’s how you break into investment banking via networking – whether you want to develop relationships or cold-call your way to success.

For even more ninja tactics and for email templates, video instruction, and real informational interview and cold call transcripts with analysis and commentary, check out The Investment Banking Networking Toolkit.

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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257 Comments to “Investment Banking Networking: How to Break In”


  1. Jane says

    Because I had started hunting for a summer internship late in the game, all the roles of summer analysts had been taken so I had to resort co cold-calling. I was so nervous every time I picked up the phone (and still am whenever I have to do cold-calling) but I took the initiative to do so, and also set up informational interviews with contacts I obtained through networking. And with that I was able to get an internship with a mining company – not investment banking, but some similar experiences.

    Having been in the situation of cold-calling, I would recommend to anyone who wants to try this, to remember when you call, don’t sound formulaic. Don’t rehearse your script over and over every time you call, rather make it personal and sound very interested in that particular firm and that particular VP (if that b**ch receptionist even let you through!) =D

    I’ll do a helluvalot more networking to land a full-time job in September.

  2. Druway says

    I would be applying to junior year internships next summer and so have some time but was wondering if I could get your thoughts on how should I follow through after the initial informational interview to “build a relationship”. Also wondering if the initial informational interview would differ in some way and the dress code for the informational interview(formal/business casual/casual?)

    • says

      I answered this separately via email, but basically you have to ask for something very specific and ask to speak on the phone or in-person… dress code, I would just wear a dress shirt and dress pants but I don’t think you need a suit unless you’re meeting at their office. Most bankers don’t even wear suits on normal days.

  3. soph says

    I will have an informational interview with an alum via phone in a few days. Do you have any advice on this? How to break the ice for example? How to prepare for it? The alum is senior, 20 years older than me, and I don’t know if I could make it a casual conversation.

    • says

      Look at all the recent Networking articles on this site and everything under “Networking” below for hours of video/audio on this topic. The short answer is be yourself, come across as an interesting person, and don’t prepare that much.

  4. Dan says

    What about cultural differences? People from Asia aren’t that familiar with “Networking” and I even heard some employers find it as “ill-intentions”.
    Any insights on how to network into Asia(Asian offices like jp, hk?)

    • says

      Networking into Asia can be more difficult – I would suggest looking for people who are from the US / Europe originally and going through them, because they’ll be more likely to understand networking and help you as opposed to people who have never been exposed to it.

  5. P says

    The alum I talked to told me at the beginning of the week that she would try to push my application as far as possible this week ‘cuz she is gonna be abroad next week. It’s weekend now, and I haven’t heard back from her. Should I send her an email and ask how it’s been going or not? Would that border upon being annoying or pushy?
    What is the appropriate approach, in your opinion? Thanks a bunch!

  6. Alpha8 says


    A senior banker I have not met, but spoke with via email, asked me to send her my resume/cover; she offered w/o being provoked. Because of work/travel/personal reasons, I wasn’t able to send it until a week later. she mentioned she was busy w/ travel the 1st email, can I assume she hasn’t responded because of that, or did I screw up?

    Can I follow up w/o bugging her? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  7. Alpha8 says

    Oh wait, I just noticed above someone asked a very similar question and you gave a response, thanks.

    Any particular way of asking? I guess “Hi XXX, I’m following up to see if you had a chance to read my application or send to the recruiter?”


  8. Summer Banker says

    I did it!!! I FINALLY DID IT!!! After recruiting since my sophomore year for banking positions, having a shitty economy mess up my chances during FT recruiting, and having to start in another industry….I FINALLY DID IT!! Against all odds, I finally broke into to investment banking! And it is all because of NETWORKING, my best friend. Thanks M&I. I read this from the day it began and will continue to do so…keep up the good material.

    Now comes the fun part…surviving…

  9. RisingBanker says

    Since summer analyst recruiting just wrapped up, is it appropriate to start/resume networking with alums at other companies (which you may pursue for full-time recruiting) ?

    I guess it can be awkward because you haven’t even started working at the firm where you’re interning this summer. But if you wait till August (post-internship) to network, it may be a little too late for the purposes of full-time recruiting.

    At the same time, there is an inherent risk. The alum you network with will likely ask where you’ll be working this summer. The street is very small. Every target school kid has friends at pretty much every bank. And if word gets back to your company that you’re networking at other places even before starting your internship, that could be disastrous in terms of your summer experience and full-time return offer chances.

    Any advice about navigating this full-time networking/recruiting process? Basically there is a window of opportunity starting now (March-August) to improve full-time interview chances.

    • says

      I would maybe wait until May-June so it doesn’t seem as odd. But you shouldn’t worry about it too much because everyone does it and it’s not really seen as odd… just say you already have something lined up for the summer, but also wanted to find out about other areas. They’ll obviously know what you’re doing, but as long as you’re not overly explicit in the beginning it’s fine.

  10. James says

    Had a question about networking… you can email me if more convenient. Thanks in advance.

    I recently finished my recruiting for a summer position. However, I didn’t end up at my “ideal” firm. I plan on emailing the recruiters I met over this season and maintaining contact with them.

    Do you have any advice in regards to what I should write to them about? Any good subjects to discuss, good ways to reach out, etc, as I don’t want to come across as too intrusive.


    • says

      I would just send them an “Update Email” let them know where you ended up and what you’re doing, and say that you look forward to fall recruiting season. Email is fine if you’re just sending them a quick update, you can follow-up via phone once closer to the fall.

  11. James says

    Sorry, maybe I should have clarified my question. I’ve already sent the email you mentioned, and they noted they wanted to keep in touch. What should I write about in my weekly/biweekly correspondence with them? Should I ask them about projects they’re working on, etc? Thanks again.

    • says

      Don’t make it weekly / bi-weekly, that’s way too much. Aim for once a month or once every 5-6 weeks, just update them on what you’ve been doing in the internship.

  12. Non-target says

    Hey M&I,
    I am from a completely non-target and decided to go for ibanking really late in the game (this junior year) and only discovered your site in January. I knew my only bet for this summer was small boutique, so I cold-called like mad and got an unpaid gig at a small firm in NY. Two questions now. 1. What do you think of this gig? I appreciate this opportunity because it will be the most finance-related experience on my resume (besides the fact that I’m a finance major), but not sure whether this will have any impact since it wasn’t really hard to get to begin with, and I’m afraid the work won’t give me enough exposure to the field (like seeing deals, building models… I was told that I’ll work with the analysts and help them).
    2. Also I’m well aware that I will have to network like mad to have a shot at FT this fall. I have started networking with some alums in banking and PE by calling them n asking them questions etc. Will try to meet them this summer. However, the problem is my school is non-target and there aren’t many alum who work in ibanking in NY (at BB and top boutiques, to be specific). I have been searching on Linkedin and alum database etc, sure you’re familiar with this scenario. So, what do you suggest for my networking efforts this summer?

    Thanks a bunch in advance. If only I found your site and WSO earlier things would have been much clearer.

    • says

      It sounds much better than doing nothing finance-related at all for the summer, so from that perspective it’s good, even if it’s not as good as working at a larger bank.

      If there aren’t many alumni from your school in banking, go through other nearby schools and go to their career fairs, ask your co-workers this summer for help and introductions, and think about avenues like professors, student groups, and so on.

  13. Non-target says

    OK, gotcha. I’ll definitely look into the those avenues. I have only this summer to prepare for fall recruiting, so it’s gonna be pretty tough. But will give it my best and see how it pans out. I recently read your article on Plan B, C…and have started making other plans lol. Plan B as it seems is to get a Master (in finance or management) and break in later. But, from what I learned, it’s not gonna make a difference if you’re in the top program. And getting into a top program is just equally hard. Suppose Plan A & B didn’t come through, what do you think would be the best move? Ski bum comes to mind lol.
    Thanks a lot. Some of my friends who are from non-target too have learned all the tricks from your site and WSO since their sophomore year, and secured SA offers at BB.

  14. Nick says


    Does your Networking Ninja Kit lend itself to British social etiquette? I find myself in a delicate situation which will require me to adjust my usually quite shameless approach.

    • says

      It’s not intended specifically for the UK – the networking program is more useful in North America so if you’re looking for British social etiquette it may not be the best option.

  15. Non-target says

    Thanks for the reply above.
    As you suggested, I’ve started looking at some big (good) state schools in my region, and damn some even have investment banking program to help students land gigs. Now the question is how do you approach alums of those schools if you got their information on the internet, say linkedin? Would it be really creepy as there is nothing in common except the state of our college?

  16. Randy says

    Hey Brian,

    I had a quick question about networking. I am planning on setting up some information sessions for the beginning of the summer for full time opportunities before I start an internship. After meeting people in person or talking on the phone, in the follow-up thank you email is it appropriate to ask something like “I really like what your bank/group has to offer. Do you have any advice as far as the best way to position myself for an interview?”

    Or should I just follow up with a thank you and save that question for another day when giving an update or asking a question, etc.


    • says

      You can ask that one immediately but if you have the time it’s usually better to follow-up a few times or meet again before asking.

    • Maya says

      What if your contacts (3 to be exact) unbeknownst to you shared your resume with the hiring official? In response, I followed up with a e-mail personally introducing myself stating I was aware John gave you my resume and in sum expressed that I was very interested in working for this person and company and desired ot talk further over coffee or lunch. Further, I made reference to affiliation 10 years ago with this hiring official when she gave very progressive feedback to me that proved to have impact on future program successes I managed. She responded immeidately with she has been given my resume by several sources and will be reaching out to past connectionce once she is sure of the organization’s new direction. That was all she said. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t remember me but thought the reference might help. Was this e-mail appropriate and how do I move forward to get a face to face? Did I blow it?

  17. RB says

    Hey Brian,
    One question about Linkedin. Do you think networking with people at companies you wanna work at by adding them on Linkedin and sending them polite messages is a good idea? For example, when we share some groups in common. I know this would be a number game, but just don’t want to annoy them and be put on the blacklist lol.

    • says

      You could do it, but it’s honestly not that helpful vs. calling directly unless you have some type of solid connection with them (military background, alumni, mutual friends, etc.). You won’t be blacklisted.

  18. RB says

    Gotcha. Also, if you want to work in a particular city, do you only network with alumni in that city or also in other cities and then ask them if they know anyone in that city?

    • says

      It’s more efficient just to target alumni in that city, but you can go beyond it if you find good connections elsewhere.

  19. ezy says

    the information is indeed useful. however, i realised the networking tips seemed to be more applicable in the developed world? ur thoughts?

    i observed that in the asian market, this is not usually the case:-
    1.) networking/ developing relationship – i heard that those seniors people do not even bother to look at junior/ entry level people. they have to know you at the very personal level before they will bring u in, and that personal level usually means through family connection and or how much they see you will bring the same level of usage back to them in the future.

    2.) cold calling – i tried cold-calling for 2 wks. and nearly 90% of them firms put me to the HR and then the HR personnel just gave me her/his email address to drop my CV, without even listening to my ‘script’. thereafter, i was given silent treatment. when i gave them a follow up call, they simply told me, my CV was under review and even ‘warned’ me not to ring them but to wait for their calls.

    can you advise how should i get around with it?


    • says

      It’s true that networking doesn’t always work as well in Asia. You’re better off going through alumni, going to networking events, and trying other approaches – cold-calling doesn’t work well in a culture that places so much importance on family / close connections.

  20. P says

    If there is more than one alumni from my school at a firm, should I contact all of them if I already talked to one? I am preparing for fall recruiting, so I know I’d better cast my net really wide because I don’t know when the time comes, who will be willing to pass my resume. But I’m just afraid talking to several people at the same firm would backfire since they talk to each other rite?. What ya think?

    • says

      It’s fine to speak with several people at the same firm. I wouldn’t contact, say, 20 people all at the same company but 3-5 are fine.

  21. Lucas says

    I began networking for fulltime recruiting a couple weeks ago. I have gotten many MDs on the phone and have struck great conversations. I have 5-6 more scheduled phone calls here in the states and abroad. I have already sent thank you notes to them, what do you suggest I do next? I do not really know what I can update for them during the next couple months. Should I just wait till September and ask the question?

    • says

      I would just send them a quick update midway through / at the end of your summer internship, thank them again, and say that everything went well. Then contact them again right before recruiting and ask directly for help with getting an interview.

  22. Target says

    I go to top target school, and I’m starting to look at FT opportunities as I’m a rising senior in the fall. How do you suggest I network, given that there is a very formal and rigid recruiting mechanism for both BB/boutiques at my university? Does cold-calling do any good in this case?

    • says

      I wouldn’t cold-call for FT opportunities if you’re at a target school – just contact alumni as usual and follow the steps above. Even if it’s “rigid” you can do what you want… make a good impression on alumni and they will definitely help you with getting interviews.

  23. Non-target says

    After informational interviews, I always send follow-up emails thanking the interviewees for talking etc and saying hope to stay in touch in the future. But I usually don’t get a response from them saying “no problem..etc”. I know they’re busy, but is that common? Does that mean anything? I initially ask for only 10 minutes of their time but we often went on to talk for at least half an hour. And usually it’s me who end the conversation first. What do ya think?
    Also, at the end of the summer how should I ask them to pass my resume along to the right person?

    • Non-target says

      Oh I forgot to mention. In my email, I invite them for lunch or a cup of coffee. But in the end, when I was about to foot the bill, they insisted on paying and I let them do that. Is it inappropriate of me?

    • says

      If you’re not making a specific request that is quite normal. Anyone who gets hundreds of emails a day can’t respond to everything. I would usually only follow-up if you have something specific to ask about. Letting them pay for meals is fine as long as you tried to pay first.

      To ask about your resume, I would just contact them again at the end, ask if they have 10 minutes to chat about recruiting tips and then ask at the end of the conversation about passing your resume along.

  24. says

    It’s a chance to meet dozens of bankers in one weekend and improve your chances of getting interviews / possibly just interview on the spot. It’s covered in detail in The Networking Ninja Toolkit and I will write an article about it on M&I in the future.

  25. Rising Sophomore says

    I’m a rising sophomore at a top 5 target, and am looking at applying to IB SA positions for next summer. I’m currently interning at a mid-sized management-consulting firm abroad, working on pretty substantial projects. I’m interested in consulting, but I’d like to get a feel for what banking is like. I tend to perform well in fast-paced high-stress environments. I’m not sure banking is definitely for me, but I figure that sophomore summer would be the time to explore.

    However, I had a difficult time adjusting to college last year while dealing with a medical issue. My GPA currently stands at 3.31 in a liberal arts program, with a 3.67 “major” GPA. That being said, I have taken math through first semester linear algebra, statistics, and applied math, and economics through first-semester macroeconomics and second-semester microeconomics. I have not declared a major, but would like to study some combination of applied mathematics, economics, sociology, and/or political science.

    I’m confident in my ability to perform better first semester sophomore year, and will probably end up applying with a cumulative GPA in the 3.5-6 range. Outside of courses, I also participate on a varsity team, a club team, and volunteer at a nonprofit microfinance and consulting organization. My resume also mentions a local government position I held and that I participated in a BB female recruitment day.

    I have no direct banking experience, and understand that my chances at landing a BB SA position for 2011 are somewhat slim. What routes do you think I should pursue? Should I mention my participation in the recruitment day when applying to other firms? Do I have a shot at MM? Should I stick with consulting to stay consistent and have a better chance at landing a FT offer upon graduation?

  26. Kinoko says

    I have a question about making an initial outreach to a person who was a panelist at a forum I attended. It happened that he is in a very very high-up position at a BB, and I definitely do not want to lose the chance to (attempt to) contact him…

    In my email, I’m thinking that I should at least respond briefly to some of his points/questions for the audience he raised at the forum–I’m hoping to develop a relationship, and I’m thinking that this would help my email be a little more memorable out of the hundreds he must be getting from job-seekers.
    On the other hand, I realize that people of his rank are extremely busy and that your recommendation to keep the standard(?) outreach email of 5 sentences makes perfect sense. The last thing I want is to come across as annoying or too pushy…

    How would you suggest I go about this particular outreach? Also how/when should I be hinting that while I am genuinely interested in his talk and want to give feedback, I’m ultimately contacting him for recruiting help…for referrals as well as eventually the “how to best position myself for an internship interview at your firm” ask.

    For context,
    – The forum was two weeks ago
    – He left midway so it wasn’t possible for anyone to approach him after the event.
    – The forum topic was not finance- or even business-related. And it was definitely not designed as a networking event…
    – Since you’ve explained that networking’s effectiveness differs across regions/cultures, I’ll add that he’s a ‘Westernized’ Asian now based in the Asia region.


    • says

      Just say you enjoyed hearing him speak and wanted to follow-up and see if he has time to speak for 10 minutes because you had a few questions / wanted to learn more about him. Don’t go past a few sentences or he will stop reading

  27. FT says

    Brian- just 2 quick questions
    – I asked one of my contacts about how to best position myself for an interview specifically with his firm. He replied and said that I should make sure that my CV and resume are in perfect shape and express my interest clearly in them etc. No idea if I wasn’t being direct enough (he isn’t from the U.S if this matters) or he got it but doesn’t want to forward it to HR (he’s been very helpful with all my questions though). How should I proceed at this point? This is a good boutique, so I don’t think it’s gonna go anywhere if I just submit my resume to
    – For some contacts that told me to forward them my resume (which I did) but haven’t heard back from them (like I’ve sent your resume to…and you should hear back within…), how long should I wait before following up and what is a tactful way to ask them in emails?

      • FT says

        Thanks for the reply. I asked again and was given the name of the recruiter. The question now is how to maximize my chance of getting an interview because if the criteria is brand name school & internship, then I’m definitely not in.
        Another question. I just read that if your resume is sent to HR by 2 different people, it actually hurts your chance. I know a couple of people within the same firm, and the one that I talk to most frequently and seems most helpful is an associate so not sure how much weight she has. Was thinking of asking another higher-up contact (I really need some push ’cause I’m from non-target and has only one finance experience). But now I’m not so sure about that. What do you think?

  28. Dakota says

    Hey guys,
    Big fan, I’m a Junior in college staying 5 years and looking to get into investment banking first in Chicago, then NY, and Asian market for a bit. I’m double majoring in Finance and Commerce Economics with a Minor in International Business and a Masters in Economics by the time that 5 years is up. I don’t have any internship experience yet, but hopefully I’ll get one at the Chicago FED. I was hoping you might have any extra words of wisdom in breaking into the Big Bulge Bracket?

    • says

      There’s not much to add aside from what’s already on the site under all the Networking articles under the Recruiting link at the top of the page – alumni, informational interviews, cold-calling…

  29. Anna says

    Hello there,

    What will I receive once I pay for the “network like a Ninja”? Is it going to be a link or a mail package from you?

    How much more information would be listed there other than the 37-page blue print?



    • says


      I already emailed you separately several times – I’m not sure if you didn’t receive my replies, but to reiterate:

      I would strongly recommend against signing up for any of the programs here because they are intended for undergraduates / recent graduates and MBA students. They are not appropriate if you have 10+ years of experience and I don’t cover how to get into finance coming from that type of background.

  30. Anna says

    Hello there,

    Do you offer one-to-one mentor service over the phone or in person? If yes, please let me know what are the steps to take?



    • says


      I already emailed you separately several times – I’m not sure if you didn’t receive my replies, but to reiterate:

      I do not offer any consulting at this time because I am out of the country on business. I will post an announcement if anything changes.

  31. Anna says

    Hello there,

    What is your opinion on “The Analyst Exchange” program? Do they really offer an internship opportunity? Will the intership lead to a full-time position?



  32. Anna says

    Hello there,

    May I ask who makes the ultimate decision of hiring of Investment Banking Anaylst position? Is it the head of Investment banking?

    I read your article of 99% fail rate of cold-calling the top 10 investment banking firms. But I still want to try. What is my best strategy of passing through their assistants whose jobs are keep me away from contacting their boss?



  33. Robert Alexander says

    I am a UK student, studying International Business, averaging a 2:1, currently on my year out placement working for a British Fund Management company in Jakarta, Indonesia. I am looking to apply for a summer internships in 2011, because I feel investment banking appeals to me the most.

    My A-levels aren’t amazing B-C-C in Accounting, Economics, and Business, but my CV is very good and will be even better after my placement has finished. I am posting on your website to ask whether investment banking firms in your opinion, will still be interested in me as a candidate or will my average grades kick me in the balls every time and my best hopes for a good job in the future would be an accountant for a corner shop..?

    Cheers Rob.

  34. John says


    Quick question. When I cold email alumni I should mention what I’ve done in the past and what I’m looking for. Should I re-iterate these things against when I have a phone conversation with them?


  35. Sophomore Dude says


    I have two questions pertaining for sophomore recruiting which I was hoping you could answer.

    I just received an email from a BB out of the blue which detailed an accelerated undergraduate summer analyst intern position for sophomores and juniors. The only time I recall leaving my contact info to them was through a corporate presentation. Do you think this is why the chose to send me this app?

    What do you think my chances of getting this position are given that its a sophomore program and that I attend a semi-target? I don’t know anyone at the firm, but I will definitely begin to network next week.

    I went on some websites of BB’s and they have positions open for summer analysts, but they give no deadline or further info. Is there a point in applying to these or will they just get ignored?

    Thanks, I’d really appreciate your responses.

    Sophomore Dude

    • says

      Yes, probably. Hard to say what your chances are without knowing any of the details, but I would assume you’re competitive if they picked you in the first place. Don’t apply online in general… networking is the way to go, online apps are borderline useless.

  36. Graduated, no job says

    Hey Brian, I really enjoy your site, it’s really a required read for anyone wanting to get into the industry.

    As my name implies, that’s my situation, but late is better than never. I have two questions: first, I don’t have experience in finance, so when cold-calling local boutiques would it be advisable to ask for an internship if they are “not hiring”? I thought that if I could at least get that, it’d be a whole lot more leverage on my resume if for some reason I don’t stay there.

    My second question is: I feel like i’m dying in my current town, so I would really like to get a position in NY/Chicago/SF/LA, but not being local is an obstacle for cold calling, especially when the particular firm has an office in my current town. Do you have any advice for this situation, or should I just suck it up, try to find something, and reposition w/ MBA later?

    Thanks for your time good sir.

    • says

      You could ask for an internship if you have no relevant experience, even offer to work for free if they object to that. If you want to move elsewhere, you need to travel to those locations… go and set up informational interviews with alumni or anyone else you can get in touch with and go there in-person. You can cold-call them and say that you’re visiting [xx] location in 3 weeks and wanted to introduce yourself and ask about the firm.

  37. Student says


    Whats your take on using linkedin?

    I did a bit of browsing and find a person who could be very resourceful. I added and she confirmed.

    How can i go about asking her for information regarding recruitment and so on? Doesn’t it seem to be a bit inappropriate?

    Any help will be highly appreciated.


    • says

      Not inappropriate at all. Use LinkedIn just as you’d use email – send a quick message asking for a time to speak and follow the informational interview guide on the site.

  38. Daniel says


    Thank you for your efforts on this great website. I found it really helpful.

    I have a question.

    Recently, I have been selected to interview with one of the bulge bracket banks in Seoul.

    I met an associate from the bank during the campus visit at my university. He is actually working in Seoul office right now. I followed up with him a couple of times after initial meeting. I am quite sure that I made good first impression.

    Do you think it is ok or necessary to contact the associate to ask how I could best position myself for an interview?

    I am concerned that I might be regarded as the one trying to get insider information and play unfair game.


  39. Bob Johnson says


    I’m having a hard time following up with my contacts. After making my initial reach, I got to know the person I contacted pretty well, and now I’d like to stay in contact with them up until recruiting season. But I’m struggling with how to follow up and keep in contact. What types of questions do you think I should be asking to keep in contact? Should I also be updating them on what I’m doing?

    Thanks for your help in advance.


    • says

      Don’t try to stay in touch every week… aim for 2-3 months and ask questions specific to their background / give updates on what you’re doing

  40. David says

    Ok so I’m in my final year at a non-target with a non-finance major. Getting into the industry is going to be a crazy uphill battle, so I’m trying every angle I know how.

    There is a local Merrill Lynch branch that specializes in wealth management. I’m looking at it more for the name than what they actually do. Using the advice on here, I successfully cold-called my way into a meeting with the Assistant Vice President, who is alumni of my university. He has an AAMS, and Series 7, 63, 65 accreditation and apparently spent some years in “banking” (not sure which kind) before switching to wealth management.

    What exactly should I talk to him about and what do you think he would be looking for? I’m trying to eventually leverage this into an unpaid internship (again, for the name, but perhaps for a backup plan if necessary) and in the cold call he even mentioned how “Merrill Lynch does recruiting for these kind of things but I’m not sure what the process is.” I know I should keep the conversation focused on him and his “path” and his job and whatnot, but I’m not sure if my goal of investment banking will mesh well with what he does. Franking I know more about investment banking (a lot of which is thanks to this site) than I do private wealth management.

    Any advice?

    • says

      It’s just the normal informational interview (do a search) – can’t say what to focus on unless you know what he did specifically before (look him up on LinkedIn, alumni networks, etc.). You can still explain your goal at the end and ask if he has any tips regardless.

  41. danielle says

    Hey Brian,

    So two questions: 1) you mentioned looking up alumni on “bloomberg” i’m assuming you mean the bloomberg terminal, which i am pretty familiar with. how exactly can you search your school-specific alumni on this? (is there an article on here about this- couldn’t find it) does it narrow down by company/industry?

    2) whats the best thing for a undergrad sophomore to do during the summer- granted it will be too difficult to get into a BB at this point.. ? or, since thats a pretty broad question- wheres the best place to start?

    thanks brian for all your help, again!


    • says

      1) Don’t remember the exact function but if you look up Bloomberg shortcuts online you can find it; generally you want to find the people elsewhere like in the alumni database and then get their firm from LinkedIn, then look them up by firm on Bloomberg.

      2) BB internship is the best move but anything related to finance is good; wealth management, corp fin/dev/bus dev at company, even something like real estate development.

  42. Student says

    I am currently a first yr student and study engineering but have decided to switch course for the upcoming September to finance and accounting.

    I have always had an interest for IB but have no
    relevant experience and was wondering what I could do next?

    Furthermore I am based in London and go to a very low university and was wondering whether this will affect me if I decided to break into IB?


    • says

      Go for an unpaid internship or rotational internship or spring program (since you mentioned being in London). And yes your university will affect your chances, try to transfer to somewhere better if you can.

  43. Desperate Junior says

    Hey Brian,

    I am a Junior with no SA offers. I have started cold calling regional boutiques and was wondering if this is a good strategy…

    If I have the main line to reception I say…

    Hi, my name is _____, and I am a Junior at _____. I am looking for a summer internship and was wondering if you could connect me to someone i can speak to regarding employment at your firm.

    If I get a banker..

    Hi Mr. __
    I know your busy so Ill be brief. My name is _____, and I am a Junior at ___. I was wondering if I could talk to you about internship opportunities at your firm.

    Is this a good approach? I worked at a really small firm as a research analyst intern before. Should I include this into there even though he probably wont know what it is?

    • says

      That is fine, I would add the part about you having worked as a research analyst before at that firm though so you have more credibility

  44. Jay says

    Hi Brian,

    I currently have a contact from my dad’s friend, a VP at ML, that’s willing to send my resume to his friends at another BB firm. What can I do to leverage myself to increase my chances for an interview? We don’t know each other and haven’t met in person before.

    Thanks for your help!

  45. Jianan says

    Hi Brian,

    I actually have a question aboout “Update Email”. I try to write an update email to give some of the alumni a little bit refresh about my name in their minds. I am not sure whether you have any advice about how to write an update email or you have any kind of template for this. Thank you so much.

    In addition, if I sent emails to an alum several times but he/she still didn’t reply emails. What should I do? I only have his email address. It was so disapointing that they didn’t reply. They could be extremely helpful for my future because they understand how hard it is to break into IB industry when we are from the same nontarget school.


    • says

      Just make it very short and give 2-3 sentences on what you’ve been doing… if they don’t reply after 3-4 tries forget him/her for now and focus on others. Or better yet try calling instead.

  46. Jeff says


    Should I contact higher up bankers first (Sr. VPs, MDs, etc) or lower level bankers (Analysts, Associates) to secure most effectively a good position in terms of networking?


  47. Zeek says

    Hi Brian,

    I go to a target in Canada and am currently working at a investment advisory firm in Toronto. I wanted to start my networking efforts a few weeks ago but I kept delaying it. I created a list of all the people I want to contact and emailed 5 of them today (analyst/associate level). Even though its only been 4 hours, I haven’t received any response yet. Is that a bad sign? Also, is late July a bad time to start networking for FT interviews in September? Anything you can suggest to make sure I get the most out of my efforts?

    • says

      Are you kidding? If you don’t hear back within a week that’s a bad sign. People in finance are busy and it can take a long time to respond to emails especially if they’re junior. July is a little late for interviews in September so I would be more direct with them.

      • James says

        Zeek: when I emailed analysts, I got replies after 2 weeks from them apologizing that they are really busy. Try VP + Associates because they usually have the most time to meet up for coffee in my experience. Would you agree Brian?

        Brian: I am in the same boat as Zeek. However, I started mid July. Looking at your answer to Zeek, given that July is a bit late for September interviews, what in your opinion is being more “direct.” Like at the end of the convo, should I ask if it is okay to email with any follow up questions? Then in early September, I can email saying “with recruiting fast approaching, what can I do to best position myself for an interview with your firm?”

        • says

          At the end you can ask him about recruiting and how to approach it at his firm or be even more direct and ask him how to position yourself for an interview there… not even much time now before September so there’s nothing wrong with that.

  48. Mike says


    I’m an undergraduate moving into my senior year at a non-target school in Southern California. I’m also currently doing an internship in the finance department of a publicly traded fortune 500 company in the restaurant industry. I’ve gotten to know the CFO fairly well and recently asked him for any contacts in investment banking he could connect me with (it’s all about who you know right). I now have a list of 20 or so contacts at various investment banks including bulge bracket banks but the contacts I have are mostly for the sell side research analysts who report on the company. What would be your advice about contacting these analysts if I am trying to go into investment banking? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

  49. Matt says

    Hey Brian,

    How exactly should one follow up if you don’t receive a reply for the contact. I am struggling with trying to be subtle about the fact that I sent the person an email a week earlier and want to follow up. I do not want to be too pushy and show that I respect their time.


    • says

      Just send a quick note “Hi [Name], Just wanted to follow-up and see if you had a chance to chat on [Date/Time] – I had emailed you earlier so just wanted to touch base.”

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