by Brian DeChesare Comments (114)

From Non-Target and No Finance Experience to 2 Full-Time Bulge Bracket Investment Banking Offers

Two Bulge Bracket Offers“Help, how can I move from PWM / asset management into investment banking?”

“I have no time left and need to find an internship! What do I do?”

“How do I get internships with no finance experience?”

I love this interview because this reader accomplished all of the above.

Plus, you’ll learn about:

  • A ninja trick to find names and contact information for local banks
  • How fraternities and sororities can help you – even if they’re not business-related
  • Good “not quite banking but pretty close” options for summer internships

Let’s get started.


Q: So how’d you get started breaking into investment banking?

A: Most of my friends and family were engineers, so I started out like them, intending to major in engineering – but after my first semester I realized I didn’t want to spend my life doing that.

I started looking into business and finance, and there were a few finance majors in my dorm, so I got interested like that initially.

At the end of my first year I made the switch over to our business school, and then at the end of my second year I applied to the finance track.

Once I made the switch to finance, I spent the rest of my time after that going after internships.

Q: So did you do a finance internship after your 1st year in university?

A: Nope – I did some technical work for my family’s business and it had nothing to do with finance or business.

Q: Ok, so you have this engineering to finance background and you don’t have a business-related internship after your 1st year in school. How did you get any banks to take your resume seriously when you applied for internships the next year?

A: Mostly by joining related student organizations – a student-run investment portfolio, a business consulting group, and I served as a mentor in a trading group.

I also learned some financial modeling, basic DCF skills, public comps, and more by working for the investment portfolio and learning to value companies there.

All of this helped, but I realized it wasn’t enough by itself to land interviews – I needed to get leadership positions, so I focused on that and moved up within each organization by my junior and senior years.

Last-Minute Networking

Q: So you have this engineering to finance background, you have a couple relevant-looking student groups on your resume now, and it’s your 2nd year in school. How did you start looking for an internship?

A: I waited until the last minute – the spring – and suddenly realized that I needed to find some kind of finance internship ASAP to have any kind of chance at the all-important junior year summer internship.

I knew that asset / wealth management internships were easier to get, so I focused on those and cold-called around 20-30 different places in my area, with only months to go before the summer.

Q: I get a lot of questions on how to find contact information for these local firms. How did you do it?

A: I went to Google Maps and typed in “asset management,” “finance” and other related terms along with the name of my city until I found the names and websites of different firms.

This may sound silly, but it worked very well and it’s much easier to sift through search results on a map vs. Google’s main search engine.

Then I went to their websites, got the numbers and contact information from there, and started cold-calling the front desks – those were the only numbers I had in most cases.

Q: Wow, I never thought of using Google Maps like that before. How did you get around the gatekeepers when you were cold-calling? I’m assuming you ran into a lot of resistance if you called the front desks.

A: I called and asked if they did internships, and then asked to be put in touch with whoever was in charge. I would usually say, “I’m a sophomore at ________ and I’m looking to get some experience for the summer – do you have information on internships?”

A lot of it had to do with who the receptionist was rather than how great my “technique” was – sometimes they were helpful and connected me, and other times they were completely useless no matter what I said.

I tried each place at least a few times, but if I kept getting a “Sorry, I’m not sure, why don’t you call back later”-type response then I would put the firm lower on the priority list.

Q: And how well did this work?

A: Even though it was last-minute, I got an internship lined up with a wealth management firm with 10-20 employees, most of whom were financial advisors.

The internship itself was pretty standard for PWM – the same type of work you’d expect, with screening funds and investments for clients, creating P&L reports, and analyzing their existing investments.

Even though it wasn’t amazing, it was exactly the steppingstone I needed to move into something more closely related to banking the next summer.

Leveraging PWM Into Leveraged Finance

Q: Ok, so now you’re back at school in your 3rd year and you have this PWM internship on your resume, which is a huge improvement over nothing. How do you move from that into something closer to banking?

A: My first step was “bankifying” my resume to make it look more relevant to finance and what bankers actually do.

I highlighted everything I had done at the student investment group in terms of DCFs, multiples, and valuation, and made sure all that was on my resume.

I figured that the screening and P&L work I did at the PWM internship would be most relevant, so I focused on that – even though I didn’t spend the most time on those tasks.

M&I Note: Yet another example of how you need to re-adjust the focus when spinning your way to success.

Q: Right, so that explains your resume. But how did you get access to financial institutions in the first place? You were at a school where hardly any banks recruited for front-office roles.

A: I couldn’t use on-campus recruiting because there was none at my school – so I had to network through my fraternity, alumni, and other sources.

Another source for names and contact information was a program at our school that set up graduates with alumni who worked on Wall Street – they brought back lots of alumni and we could contact them directly.

This is one of the advantages of going to a large school – even if not many banks recruit there, there are bound to be lots of alumni and other students interested in finance.

Q: You mentioned your fraternity – I’ve gotten some questions on the value of business or social frats for networking purposes. What was yours like, and how did you use it?

A: It was a social fraternity. When I joined as a freshman, there were lots of seniors working in front and middle office roles at banks, so I got to know them when they were still in school, and then reached out a few years later after they had already graduated.

A lot of times they put me in touch with recruiters directly, and I could get inside information on the recruiting process, how many students they wanted to take, and how to get an interview.

Q: So is that what you used to get your next internship?

A: Yup. I applied to a bunch of places, but ended up with an offer in the Leveraged Finance group of an independent financial services and lending firm – not a bulge bracket or middle-market bank.

I got it via networking with an alum from my fraternity, and then went through the standard interview process with them.

Interviews were definitely more technical than what I faced for the PWM internship, though they didn’t go too far beyond the “How do you value a company?”-type questions.

Q: So what was the day-to-day work like as an intern in this Leveraged Finance group? This was after the credit crunch and financial crisis had struck, so was there much activity?

A: There were actually a fair number of deals going on because we were working on smaller transactions rather than the multi-billion dollar debt offerings that stopped once the crisis happened.

I worked on a couple “big picture” research projects, screening companies in different industries – but I also got to jump on live deals whenever they needed help.

Since the group was small – fewer than 20 people – I worked closely with the Analysts and Associates on LBO models, pricing models for debt offerings, due diligence work, due diligence calls with CEOs, and I got to listen in on a lot of conference calls with bankers.

This experience was actually better than what I would have gotten at a bulge bracket, because we had real deals to work on and because the team was small.

2 Bulge Bracket Offers

Q: It sounds like your internship went pretty well – were you tempted to stay there and take advantage of a return offer rather than going through full-time recruiting?

A: That wasn’t an option – at the end of the summer the firm told all interns that they couldn’t extend offers due to the state of the economy and market conditions, so I had to find something else quickly.

Q: So how did you approach networking once you found out you wouldn’t be getting a return offer?

A: I used 3 main strategies:

  1. Alumni from my school, via the Wall Street organization I mentioned before.
  2. I continued going through contacts from my fraternity.
  3. I spoke to my superiors and actually got some referrals to bulge bracket banks from them.

Q: Wait a minute, you didn’t get a return offer from your internship and then you turned around and asked your bosses for referrals to other places? How does that work?

A: It wasn’t that difficult, because no interns received return offers – they liked me, I had performed well, and they knew that market conditions were the only thing stopping me from coming back.

They had extensive backgrounds in finance, so they had no problems at all referring me to their contacts at bulge bracket banks.

Q: Nice move. So how else did you get interviews at bulge bracket banks?

A: Primarily through alumni – all my first-round interviews at banks were via alumni, some from the organization I mentioned before and some from my frat.

Q: By the time you were going through full-time interviews, you had the PWM internship as well as a Leveraged Finance internship.

Both of those are good, but you also didn’t have a brand-name firm or school on your resume. What kind of reaction did you get in interviews?

A: The question of my school and why I didn’t go to a better-known place did come up a few times, but interviewers were generally not demeaning.

It wasn’t a totally unknown place – interviewers had heard of it, but they didn’t hold it in high regard all the time, so the questions were more like, “Why ________?” rather than “Couldn’t you have gone to a better school?”

I usually answered it by talking about the extensive resources and alumni network they had, and how I wanted to do engineering originally.

My lack of “brand-name” internships didn’t come up that much – they were more focused on what I did as opposed to why I hadn’t worked at bulge bracket banks.

The interviews themselves were not much different from what you’d expect in any investment banking interview.

Q: Great. So you ended up with 2 offers at large banks – how did you decide which one to take?

A: I went with the firm that had a better reputation – the 2 groups were not that much different and I didn’t have a strong preference on the people or teams, so I had to narrow it down by reputation.

The other advantage is that even though I’ll be placed in a specific product group, I’ll get to explore a few other groups in my first few months there – and I’m really looking forward to that.

Q: Awesome. Thanks for your time.

A: No problem.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Recent Graduate (20) in actuarial science with 4.0 GPA from Michigan State, currently working full time in Actuarial Pricing at a large insurance firm. Very limited work experience, and little financial background. After some research, I’ve become interested in more finance oriented fields. What kind of options might I have if I want to get into IB from this kind of position? Maybe its an unfounded rumor, but I’ve heard that those in finance don’t look kindly towards actuaries.

    1. Your best option is to move to some type of “intermediate role” first, like a Big 4 firm or valuation firm, maybe with an insurance focus, and then get into investment banking from there. You probably can’t move in directly because actuarial pricing is too far removed.

  2. I was wondering if it would be more beneficial during the summer before my junior year to take an internship from a small PWM firm or a Big 4 accounting firm. I am currently enrolled as an Economics/Accounting major and have been putting most of my emphasis on networking towards a career in Investment Banking. I have offers from both and overall I am wondering if the big name of a Big 4 accounting firm would look better than a nameless wealth management internship when applying for a bulge bracket bank for next summer.


    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you want to do PWM, then I’d stick with PWM. Otherwise an Accounting firm maybe a better option in your case.

  3. Hey M&I,

    I’m a senior in high school right now and just submitted my college apps. I’m in NYC and would like to stay here. I have a 4gpa but did average on my SAT’s. I am ranked 5th in my graduating class.

    I’ve applied to Columbia, NYU, as well as Baruch, and Hunter through the MacCaulley Honors program. Personally, I would be happy at any school. I don’t want to spend a dime on college, I know that I will get both need and merit based aid, but mainly the issue lies with my dislike of the elitism in these Ivy Schools and my desire not to take out loans and wanting to separate from my parents and make all my own money and pay for everything myself. I believe their only job was to feed me and put a roof over my head but now it’s time for me to leave the nest.

    I worked as waiter for a while (so I know the value of a dollar), and am trying to get another job now but I’d really like to break into finance asap.

    After reading M&I I think I’d like to go with the timeline of 2 years IB, and then straight into PE.

    My questions are: Do I have a chance? Do I have any advantage considering my circumstances? What should I be doing RIGHT NOW to get in?

    Many thanks,


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think getting into an Ivy League school will give you the network and make it easier for you to break into IB, and then PE. It is hard to comment on your chances on this forum, but I do think you will have a fair chance if you have a GPA of above 3.5, decent work experience (relevant finance experience), and are from a target university in the next few years. The links below should also help

      1. Hi Nicole,

        Many thanks for your swift response.

        From what I read on the blog, the solution to being in a non-target schools seems to be “get the heck out of there and transfer to a target school.” I don’t want to feel insecure if I do end up going to a non-target. It would be great if I could beat the odds and persevere despite the competition provided by my Ivy counterparts. With a large city school, there has to be some advantage. How can I spin my decision not to go to Ivy route when it comes up in the future? The larger alumni base? Basically what I am asking is how can I make a non-target work for me?

        I checked out the links you provided and they were helpful, but I am still lost here. As a 17 year old living in New York City, what specifically should I be doing to get in to finance. Is it premature to cold call? Is it too early for internships? For now all I’ve been doing is asking people I know: “do you know someone in IB/PE/Hedge Fund?” I know this is a start, but I’m sure there’s more I can do.



        1. M&I - Nicole

          No I don’t think its premature to cold call. You can always intern at a smaller firm first if they are willing to take you in. I can’t think of a way to spin going to a non-target other than costs (perhaps the pricing is better). Otherwise, I’d aim for a target school if possible.

  4. Hi M&I,

    Thanks a lot for the invaluable information you have on this website. Very rarely am I not able to find an answer to a problem on this website. Your website / modeling courses / guides were instrumental to where I am today.

    However, I’m in a unique situation and am confused on how to proceed. I received a fulltime offer from a leading bank up here in Canada. I don’t start till next year. But, I’m very interested in moving to a BB. The problem is I go to a school that has literally no alumni in the states, let alone in IB at BB’s. I’m confused on the time line on which I should network, and how I should proceed at all.

    Could you please provide me with an idea of the ideal time-line I should have to lateral into NYC at BB? When am I most likely to get an interview? Am I likely to get an interview at all? How should I proceed to build my network in an effective manner given i have no one from my immediate connections to help me out there? Is it even worth it ?? .. Ultimately im looking to switch because of two reasons: Reputation and Better Transaction experience.

    Any advice is much appreciated.

    Thank you,


    1. There isn’t a real timeline, and we actually don’t recommend attempting to “time” the market at all. Basically, you should move over as soon as you have 1-2 solid deals to speak about in interviews. The deals do not need to have closed yet. In practice, this means earlier rather than later. Try to do it before or around the 1-year mark if you can. There are some more details here:

  5. Hello,

    Wonderful website, I’m finding a lot of great information here.

    I will be graduating next April with a degree in Finance from a non-target school (Eastern Michigan University, a generic state Uni). I had an internship with Northwestern Mutual as a Financial Rep as a sophomore, but that’s the only Finance related internship I have. Recently I’ve come into thinking I’d like to be an analyst and eventually an Investment Banker, hence my research and me coming to your site.
    My grades are good now, but they were bad in High School and Community College, which is why I’m not going to UM-Ross (which is like 4 miles away). I’m not a traditional student either, so i took time off between Comm. College and now. My question is what is my best bet breaking into this industry with my current situation and history laid out to you?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say network a lot and try to find some relevant experience at a boutique bank. should be a very useful article for you.

  6. Hello,

    This is a great website.
    I will be graduating this May ’14 with a Masters in Healthcare Administration from Seton Hall Univ. in NJ. I want to do an MBA in Finance from Villanova Univ. in PA. (They will waive the GMAT and some credits). With these two degrees, what are my chances of getting into banking or finance/Wall St.? Long-term goal is consulting and management in financial institutions. Thank you.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It is hard to say but I’d say 50/50 because you’ll be competing with people from target schools who have had experience in the industry

  7. I am currently a freshman at smaller state school and I was wondering what strategies I should employ to get an internship offer for this summer. I am assuming my best options would be to try to get an offer from local boutique banks? I already am applying to bulge bracket bank internships offered for freshman and sophomores but I feel the chances are slim for this summer. I know I do not really have any “real” experience at this point in time but what would be the best way to set myself up for success?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes applying to local boutiques can help. Perhaps you can join a finance club at school or work on finance projects with professors to increase your chances.

  8. Thanks M & I Nicole for the link to this interview, it was a huge help. I am in a very similar situation as the contributor to this post and its refreshing to learn that he was able to succeed and that it’s never too late to break in. Is there anyway you can ask the contributor for permission for me to contact them? Would love a chance to get speak to him/her to pick their brain. Thanks.

  9. M&I,

    Thank you for all the work you put into this site. It’s incredibly useful, informative and entertaining all at the same time.

    Now, to the point. I am no longer an undergrad; I graduated a year ago from a non-target state school (I actually got into an Ivy but turned it down because my family couldn’t afford it) and have been working in management consulting ever since. However, I am deeply passionate about finance, have extensive financial knowledge though my work is mostly accounting-involved, and have one chief desire: to break into IB at a particular BB bank that I will not mention by name. Here’s the kicker: I have absolutely no connections there and don’t know anyone else who does either. I have a great GPA, impressive major(s), impressive experience, but that’s about it. Is my case completely hopeless? I am at the point where I will do whatever it takes to get a position at this firm. I’m completely comfortable with cold-calling, but I read on M&I that cold-calling BBs rarely works.

    Any and all advice is welcome. For me, it’s BB or bust.

    1. If you have no connections, you need to either find some via your alumni network or LinkedIn (or go to events etc.) or focus on smaller firms instead. Cold calling bulge bracket banks is basically pointless.

  10. By the way, have you ever met a banker who started in homeschool?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not really …

  11. Do you know the approx. percentage of how many people get internship offers through the online application system? I’m applying to a BB right now, and I was just curious. All I’ve received from my previous applications are standard rejection emails.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes standard rejection emails are common because there are quite a lot of applicants and I don’t think banks/most companies have the resources to dedicate writing individual emails to applicants, unless the interviewers really liked you and know you on some personal level

  12. M&I

    I’m currently a junior at a small school in upstate NY. I’m majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance. I have a low GPA (3.0) due to a horrible 1st year and there is a long personal story behind that. I’m also a member of our student association and involved with a handfull of different committees. Although my overall GPA is low, I have a 3.3 in the school of business and a 3.7 in my concentration. I don’t have much experience other than doing busy work at medium size accounting firm and keeping statistics for hockey leagues at my local ice rink. Next semester i’m joining the VITA program where I’ll be doing tax returns for low income households. I’m currently in the interview process with Northwestern Mutual as a “Financial Services Intern” I’m almost positive I have the position but I don’t think it’s even worth accepting since it seems like all i’ll be doing is trying to sell life insurance to my friends and family all summer.

    I really want to intern or land a summer position as an analyst or something along those lines but not sure how to go about it because I’m not from a target school or have an amazing GPA. My school does have a good reputation in the area and we have a Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley branch in the city as well as an AYCO (Goldman Sacs Company) branch. I know this is similar to many other scenarios you have seen on this website but I was wondering what your opinion was on my particular situation and how I should go about trying to stand out and beat the odds.

  13. Pardon me if this question has been asked before but…

    I am currently a freshman in a non-target school and will most likely be transferring to another non-target school for sophomore year for personal reasons. Do banks look down upon someone who transfers schools and should I put my first school on my resume? If so, how do I spin it?

    Thanks so much for your help, as always I love your site and the help that you give all of us.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, I don’t think interviewers will look down on you. You don’t have to spin anything; just tell them you transferred!


  14. M&I,

    Do you know if the University of CT is considered a target soul? Or a school with a lot of alumni?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not really a target …

  15. I just got done talking with an associate at a BB, real down to earth.

    However, when I asked him how I could best position myself for an interview (for SA position), he said apply online.

    How can I leverage this contact to getting an interview or getting connected to someone else?

    I know I’m not going to get anywhere by applying online.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes apply online and establish a good connection with him so he can give you a low-down. No some people actually get jobs by applying online and its standard procedure. What you need to do is to network and meet more people (perhaps through your existing network) and sniff info

  16. Hi, Im at my 3rd year of studies, and already did an internship at local investment bank – I participated in ipos and buyside m&a. I’m studying quantitive methods at the top B-school in Poland, and i am in top 15% in my class. I’d like to do a summer internship in London or Frankfurt. How should i maximize my chances of interview, if it is hard for me to network ( because of the localization and weak alumni network )?

  17. I’m currently a full time student at Baruch College in the business program and have a 3.75 GPA sophomore year. I am 21 years old, I have a Series 7, 63.. was a licensed stockbroker for over 3 years at a boutique investment bank. Besides trading/managing money for private clientele I was involved in a Private Placement offering (raising money for the company “Media Morph”). I’m applying to the Stern school at NYU but was told my GPA is not high enough. Have any opinon? Do you think my experience is attractive for a top MBA school if I stay at Baruch? Is my experience valued at a BB? Do you have any other suggestions?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Impressive. Haha, I think you should apply to other schools and increase your chances. Is your experience valued at a BB? Depends on how you pitch & sell yourself. Hard to say on comments page.

  18. Hi i got a quick question. If i am a student at a ‘non target’ school in nyc do i have better chance of getting a Ib job as a school say somewhere else in the country, also if i dont have any student organizations in my resume right now is there a way i can still get the freshman internship.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t know what your first question is.

      Depends on your experience/grades etc

  19. Hello,

    I have the choice of going to Villanova in Pennsylvania or Elon in North Carolina. Villanova is more expensive with less chance of a scholarship but has pretty good on-campus recruiting. Elon is less expensive and I’d prefer to go there but doesn’t seem to be a “target” school. How much does being at a “target” school help a person and should that be a major factor in deciding schools?

    Thank you!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Neither is a target so I wouldn’t worry too much.
      If you want to be a banking, being in a target would help you immensely

  20. Is USC, University of Southern California, a target?
    Also how are the exit opps from respected but not BB banks such as Jeffries or Piper Jaffray?

    Thank You! Great article as always

    1. M&I - Nicole

      In Cali, I believe so.

      Exit opps ok, of course can’t be compared to BBs or brand name boutiques

  21. Firstly awesome site, all credit to your team for my break into banking,

    I currently an undergraduate attending a “target school” in Melbourne, Australia and am a part time analyst at a boutique bank. I have another summer internship at a larger boutique lined up early next year. Furthermore, I have well over two years accounting experience in a Big4 accounting firm, however I have a below average GPA. What should I do to get noticed by HR/analysts to get interviews at the BB banks? I have heard HR culls applicants if they do not meet the standard despite work experience/extra-curricular activities.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes they do. I’d suggest you to email your resume directly to MDs at the BB you want to work for, instead of going through HR

  22. I am currently a Junior at a small, non-target liberal arts school that does not have a business major. I major in economics, and worked a non-finance (IT) internship at a fairly well-known commercial bank in the Midwest. I have a solid GPA, but am not part of any student organizations (my school is seriously strapped for cash and had to cut a lot of programs, which is a shame because there were very few to begin with my Freshman year). What would be an appropriate step to take so that I can enter a career in Finance, not necessarily Investment Banking, despite being at a disadvantage as a student of a “non-target” school with limited resources.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Network like crazy. Email your prospective employers and tell them to give you a chance so you land an internship.

  23. Great post, I just have a quick 2 part question on different groups. -1) How important is it for you to know different groups, sectors they cover, and products they specialize in? -2) Do I need to have my sector/product already figured out when I go into interviews?

    Thank you so much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      1. Its important if you want to better understand which division you fit into. This knowledge also prepares you for interviews.
      2. Yes, I’d suggest you to at least have a brief understanding of your sector/product (related to the role you are interviewing for) before interviewing.

  24. just wondering you’re opinion on this. I’m at Baruch currently, and enjoy paying $2,500 tuition (out of pocket) but am strongly considering transferring to NYU (if they take more than 50 of my 75 credits). I don’t care “that” much that NYU would cost me another 60g’s or so (loans; and assuming I get in) but I realize it would be incredibly difficult to get into Stern, so would likely switch my minor from Finance at Baruch to Economics (through their College of Arts & Sciences) at NYU. What do you think? Honestly, it matters for literally nothing to me as far as recruiting, it’s just a personal thing (I have huge connections in PE, BB’s, and Boutiques in literally every division. [And these guys all say transfer to NYU but we didnt discuss if to transfer if I do not get into Stern]…) I.E., I see that the most successful Wall St. guys/gals do not end up pursuing an MBA, so their undergrad is the only school that really represents them. Therefore, I want the best undergraduate school I can do. However, since I’m not (likely) going to be a grad of Stern, do you think that makes a HUGE difference? A lot of people tell me to stick it out at Baruch, and later on just get into a great MBA program, but like I mentioned that’s not really in my plans. Ultimately, my question is: if your undergrad is NYU does it matter your major, or essentially do most people in your opinion see NYU and immediately think ok good school/bad school…and the major is only a small part of their feeling? Thanks, as always

    1. If you can’t get into Stern I’m not sure it’s worth it. I personally wouldn’t transfer unless you were going to move to something significantly better with lots of on-campus recruiting.

  25. Hi,

    I was wondering if you feel it would be more beneficial to get a MBA from one of the best schools in the world (e.g. Harvard) or get a part time MBA from a top local university?

    I know finance firms typically pick from top MBA programs, but do they mean top around the world or top within their respective country?

    Here’s why I specifically ask:

    1) Assuming I get into a top 10 school (e.g. Wharton) BUT I am not recruited by a finance firm, I will have given up a great career potentially.

    2) I do not wish to work outside of Hong Kong. (am I already being too picky?)

    3) While I recognize that Harvard has a brand name, I wonder if they have extensive enough an alumni network in Hong Kong to be worthwhile? Plus, an MBA there is very expensive and I would also have to take 2 years off (meaning lost work experience). I would also be overseas studying, so I’m not sure how I would network overseas.

    Please kindly let me know what you think.

    1. If you want to do IB or PE, get into a top MBA program or don’t do it at all. There are tons of HBS alumni in HK. For fields outside IB/PE, you don’t need a top program.

  26. Would first like to give tremendous thanks for all of the help this site has provided, in only a few hours of glossing over. What a resource you have created Brian.

    As for my question, I wanted to know how my chances of getting into IBD are coming from Penn Non-Wharton. I will be a freshman this Fall. Would you consider this a target, in your experience? I’ve heard both sides. On the upside, I get access to all or most of Wharton recruiting, and Wharton and Penn use the same Career Services Dept. On the downside, the competition for me at Penn as an Econ major in the College (and not Wharton) is monstrous. As for my other options, it was Cornell Arts and Sciences (Econ again) or Emory Goizueta Business. Duke and Dartmouth are slim possibilities if admitted from waitlist.

    What do you think about my choice and future prospects?

    1. I’ve heard it is difficult, but I don’t think Cornell/Duke/Dartmouth would be much better – would stay there if I were you.

  27. Amazing site. I’ve subscribed to your newletters and I read your site regularly to keep me on my toes and motivated about studies and stuff.

    Thanks for putting in so much effort for monkeys like us. Totally appreciate it =)

    1. Sure, glad you have found it helpful!

  28. Hey Brian,

    I know this question has come up a million times in different formats , but i think my case is a little different. So hopefully you can lead me in the right direction. I spent the last 8 years in a religious school studying Talmudic law and was going to take the lsats this month. In the process of researching law schools i realized that finance interested me a lot more. so here goes,
    #1 Can i still break into IB even without any financial background at all?
    #2 If i do manage to get an internship will all the necessary financial modeling be taught in the training course, or should i try to self teach myself(like maybe with biws) ?

    1. 1) No probably not unless you have a crazy connection or get experience + do an MBA or do corporate law for a few years.

      2) Depends on the bank and group; at larger banks you might get decent training, at smaller places it’s very hit-or-miss.

  29. Dear M&I,

    This is indeed SUPER informative and helpful. Thank you so much!

    I have a question here regarding to my situation here and I hope you can take a look:

    I am a junior at a Canadian non-target school (it’s a good school…but just not one that banks recruit at) doing a quantitative degree and I really want to work at a BB (or elite boutique). What are the chances of me landing interviews with them by directly applying through their websites?

    I had an internship at a very large Chinese ibank in china last summer. However the job itself wasn’t very technical and there was no training so I feel like i didn’t really learn anything solid. Also, to offset my ~70% GPA I went on and took CFA 1 and passed.

    I know networking is important, but it’s very hard to do get contacts at my school since no ibanks come to our school and we don’t have an alumni network.

    So right now should I keep applying to BB through their websites or should I stop wasting my time on that and start cold-calling?

    1. Very low. Start calling people and talking to real people.

      1. Hey Brian,

        My situation was EXACTLY like KK, my school doesn’t use GPA system, instead is just percentage. Do you think it’s a good idea to “spin around” my GPA? And moreover, if I do actually get an interview, will the firm still care about my GPA that much?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I don’t know how you can “spin” your GPA. You can convert your percentage to a GPA system if that suits. If not then just put your % on your resume. If you get an interview, no firms won’t care as long as you can explain your GPA if it is not ideal

          1. Nicole,

            Thank you!

  30. This is really a great website; I commend everyone for putting so much time and effort into this to help everyone out.

    So, I’m starting college next year, with a major in either Economics (Business) or Finance (some colleges didn’t have this major – I applied to Economics for that college). I am not sure which school I will be attending (hopefully Baruch College because IB’s like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan recruit there). I most likely will not go to an Ivy for my first year (considering transferring afterwords). I will be giving the tests for the Series 63, 65 and 66 Licenses though. My question is – if I get the licenses and start networking/going for internships my first year in college, would it be worthwhile to even transferring to an Ivy or similar like UVA or NYU? Or would I be safe in the college I go to (target or not)?

    1. If you can transfer and can afford it, then you should. Even with a lot of networking you still get a huge advantage at a better school.

      1. I see. Thanks for the advice.

        And just two more questions:

        Will the Series licenses look any good? The 63, 65 and 66 are the ones that don’t need a sponsorship.

        And what is the earliest you can start looking for internships? Maybe not an IB internship, but another one – accounting or what not?

        Again, thanks.

        1. No. Start looking in the fall before winter recruiting begins.

  31. Currently, I work in the medical field with an undergraduate degree in biology. About 6 months ago (upon becoming extremely interested in IB), I returned to school (not an ivy-league) to complete a finance degree. Since I am not looking to waste time, I am on the “fast track” to finish this degree up. I am basically taking just upper level courses and I plan on completing it all in about 3 semesters. I work full time on the side, so between my job and class I don’t have time for internships.
    My question is this: what are my options (if any) for breaking into the IB industry? With an undergraduate in finance and basically no internship or finance-job-related activities…are my chances slim to none? Would completing an MBA program upon graduation help? Should I give up on finishing quickly and spread the hours out so that I can take on an internship? ( it absolutely crucial for me to have intern experience to break the ice and get a job as an analyst?)
    Also… do these summer internships usually pay or not?

    1. You really need either a summer internship or a degree from a top school to have a good chance… part-time classes are fine but you need access to recruiters. The main reason to even get a degree is to gain access to IB recruiters. Summer internships at large banks are paid, at many smaller firms they are not.

  32. I’m going to be a Senior at a target school and applying for full time jobs. I’m majoring in Econ, so I don’t have a ton of technical IB-related knowledge from my coursework, but I’ve been learning some on my own (Vault guide) to prep for interviews.

    I had a PWM internship at a major bank last summer, and was hoping I could leverage that via recommendation into a banking job. How realistic is this and what would you do in my position?

    1. You can do that… just reach out to your bosses and ask for referrals to any bankers they know, no need to be awkward about it or hesitate.

  33. First off, your articles are great. I’m from a non-target school, and am looking to get into IB or possible PE. I’m a sophomore and I have summer internship offers from UBS PWM and Janney Montgomery Scott PWM/IBD. Which do you think would be a better experience, resumé builder, etc? I know PWM does basically nothing for IB, but given my options I thought maybe the BB name would be worth it. Thanks for your time.

    1. I would probably do UBS due to the name

  34. Thanks for the quick response. One more question. I am from a non-target school. Will the private equity internship trump the fact that i go to a non target? Oh, BTW, i already have a couple years of experience as a research anlalyst, and i am in my fist year of graduate school. I’m not sure if that matters or not. Thanks again.

    1. It really depends on how much you’ve networked / how much you are going to network. A PE internship helps, but you’re not going to get interviews in the first place unless you have access to recruiters or you know people at banks.

  35. I really enjoy the articles on the site. They have provided a lot of great information. I have a question. I have been enough to obtain an internship at a private equity firm for the summer. I would like to move into investment banking upon my graduation. I know it seems backwards. Most people go into private equity after a stint with an IB. Is it difficult to get into IB if my internship was in private equity? Or will it be easier since a lot of private equity associates are former bankers? Thanks.

    1. It’s fine, moving from PE internship to IBD full-time is common

  36. Work Experience


    How would an internship within Business Development or Strategic Development or some similar line of work look for the summer after junior year? The job market has been extremely difficult this year, and I think this may be my only option… it won’t really give me the excel/number crunching type of work that I’d like (I’m expecting), however I’m looking to work at a middle-market firm within LA after I graduate (coming from an Ivy school), so I was thinking their work experience demands wouldn’t be as strict as BB. Thanks for all your help.

    1. It’s fine and certainly a good alternative if nothing in banking worked out.

  37. Really? Are we really allowed to write “ib summer analyst”? What if the place I am interviewing for example call the place I interned and find out that the position’s title is inflated? I read this all the time on WSO, so gotta be careful :(

    1. Is it an investment bank?

      If so, then you are an investment banking summer analyst.

      If it’s not an investment bank, then you are not an investment banking summer analyst.

  38. I know you have mentioned this before, but this is still kind of tugging me. There are some opportunities this summer at small firms and boutiques. However, when I talked to MDs about the responsibilities of the position, they mention that the interns will focus on doing research most of the time and other administrative tasks (maybe running errands, coffee or making photocopies lol) Since those firms are small, I don’t think there will be really deals going on, so there will be no LBO building or doing comps…What do you think? The no brand name fact coupled with no models building, do you think it will help at all when it comes to FT?

    1. Yes, because you can still write “investment banking summer analyst.” It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing

  39. I’m currently a junior at a semi-target school. This summer I’m interning at a management consulting firm, but the goal for full-time is still banking (financial institutions groups seem like the best target.). I have two questions:

    1.) Does it make sense to also do a relatively brief/informal internship at the local (suburban town) office of a top-5 wealth management group? I have the time, but I don’t know if it’s going to be too trivial (compared to the consulting) to help me.

    2.) If I know that I’m going to want to get an MBA at some point, might it make more sense to just work full-time for this consulting firm (they’re small but somehow have fantastic b-school placement) and then try to get into banking at the associate level? Would the difficulty of getting into b-school as a banker work against someone like me? And is management consulting the kind of work experience that bankers take seriously when looking at a prospective associate?

    1. 1. No.

      2. You could do that but its harder to get into banking if you’ve done consulting before. Consultants do make the switch but if you’re really interested I would try to do it right away instead.

  40. jjzstanford

    Hi M&I,

    Have you done any of the following training programs for IB, or know much about any of these:
    – wall st prep
    – dealmaven
    – training the street
    – the analyst exchange
    I am thinking of enrolling in one of these to boost my resume but want to know which of these is going to be best for IB interviews, or if you have any other recommendations?

    1. It depends what you’re looking for – if you want *just* online training, the BIWS programs that we offer provide the best value:

      If you want in-person training and a really solid internship, AnEx is the best. No one else offers the internship, or the depth of their training. So I highly recommend them, and we’ve actually partnered together several times.

      1. 100% true

      2. Even analyst exchange, the company you talk about in the news letters? Seems like apples and oranges because of the internship. I love your program but was thinking about doing anex as a last resort.

        1. Haha this comment was written about 3 years ago before we partnered with them.

          Basically, AnEx is the best option for in-person training + an internship.

          If you’re looking for *just* self-study training, BIWS offers the best value.

          But among the in-person training options, I like AnEx the most. And the internship is a great addition especially if you don’t have work experience.

  41. I have a couple of networking questions. I’m a junior at a target (Penn/Columbia) with a 3.5 cumulative GPA working this summer at Citi/BofA/JPM as an SA in S&T.

    Since I already have an internship this summer with a BB, and I know (based on what I know about hours/lifestyle/compensation/exit opps) that I definitely want to end up in S&T, is there any reason to start networking? Obviously there’s a possibility that I won’t get a full time offer, but assuming I’m in the lucky group of 70-80% of interns that do get offers, should I even bother?

    If I do start networking, should I try to cram it all in before the end of the school year? I have a feeling that if my bank finds out I’m contacting employees at competitor banks that that could be frowned upon. Thoughts?

    1. If you’re really 100% certain you want to do S&T, then no, you don’t need to do as much networking as someone who is less certain or someone who doesn’t have anything lined up.

      I would probably reach out to a few alumni elsewhere just to keep your options open but there’s no need to go crazy with it. I would contact people once now and then once again when your internship is finishing up / over.

  42. For internships, I have cold emailed MDs and they said they’ve forwarded my resume to the recruiting head, who will contact me if there is opening or I’m a match. But you know the chance of hearing something back from HR isn’t very high (especially I’m from non-target and haven’t had any finance-related experience under my belt). What would you do in this situation? Is there any way that can get MDs put in some good words to HR? This is purely cold email/call, not like networking with alumni. So, I’m not sure what to do.
    Thanks a ton.

    1. In that situation, you really just have to follow-up with the MD repeatedly. It sounds stupid but if you have absolutely no other connection to him, all you can do is be persistent and keep following up until you hear something more definitive.

  43. are investment bankers fratty in the vineyard vines/patagonia sense?

    1. Really depends on the person/group/region… some are, some are not. It’s becoming less of a fratty culture over time

  44. You emphasize networking in a lot of your articles. Once I do get hold of those emails and numbers and let’s say I’m applying for an internship at their respective firms, what exactly do I tell them in my emails? “Hi I’m applying to the firm…see if you can intervene” – obviously not as explicitly…At the end of the day, I will have to go through the standard online assessments/interview process…I’m a newbie to this, so sorry if the questions are amateur. Thanks.

    (Ps it would be great if we can get some sort of notification to our email once you do reply to the comment…)

      1. Wow thanks.

  45. Quick question regarding your advice for rounding GPA up to a full .09; is this still the case? I’m concerned that it’ll get my profile flagged by the background check firm as an inconsistency.

    1. Yes it doesn’t matter, they assume your GPA will not be exactly the same as when you graduate as long as its not dramatically different should be fine

  46. It seems like everybody does internships their first year. I’m a finance student at a non-target but I was able to get a part-time internship at RBC DS but no chance of getting full time summer internships. What are the chances of getting a full time internship next summer ? Are part-time internships worth it ? (Maybe I can get another one during my 2nd year) Should I apply to a target school mid-way and maybe finish my BA there ?
    Thanks for all your help and amazing resources…

    1. If you already that internship you have a good chance of something full-time for next summer. Part-time internships can definitely be worth it, much better than nothing at all – going to a target school would also help, if you can afford it.

      1. Thanks for your reply. Is it common that people transfer from non-target to target mid-way like after you finish your second year or is it considered late ?

        1. You could do that but that’s the latest that you should think about it, after first year is better

  47. Great article. Gives hope to a first year student like me who’s studying physics at a “non-target” university in the U.K. Will definitely try and employ these tactics, thanks.

    Only problem I have is being a first year, I’ve tried calling some mid-market/ boutique banks for some summer unpaid work experience, but they generally can’t be bothered with first year students, any advice?

    1. Just point out that there’s probably extra work they have that needs to get done, and that more senior people there shouldn’t spend time doing certain things… and that you’ve learned a lot on your own, done self-study, etc. and can hit the ground running

  48. Hi M&I,

    These posts and the ones that have been on this site have been fairly helpful. With that said, I got a couple questions as well

    1) Do you think it’s pretty relevant to work as a intern as an Insurance Underwriter or is it pretty hard to spin? Is the insurance industry pretty narrow in that we can’t really spin it into something IB related?

    2) It’s almost April now, and cold-calling for summer internships seems pretty late already. Is it possible to just cold call to see if the firm offer internships in the Fall or something? Or typically, firms do not hire interns other than summer? To me, it seems like the workflow should be pretty much the same for small boutique firms.

    3) Do you think doing case competitions is really important during the time that you are in school? What about participating in a student endowment fund and such? (I question the student endowment fund stuff because in the end, you’re just doing research and it’s on the buy side and not on the sell side)

    Thank you.

    1. 1) It’s ok but I would not do it as your junior year internship unless you have no other options.

      2) You could still call and ask about summer internships even now… the person in this article got started extremely late as well.

      3) If you have no other experience these are good to have, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on either one

  49. Dear M&I,

    I have been reading your posts for a while now. They have been very helpful.

    I have three questions that I want to ask you.

    1)I am currently a junior in a target school. Recruiting didn’t went too well for me, so now I only have an offer for an business analyst internship at a Fortune 100 company. This job is not finance related. Therefore, in the perspective of next semester’s full time recruiting, would it be better for me to accept this internship now or continue looking for something else?

    2) If I accepted this internship, what are my chances of getting a full time job in IB.

    3) Lastly, what should I do this summer to increase my chances for the full time recruiting?


    1. 1) At this late stage I would just accept this internship because you’re unlikely to find something much better with only a month or so left.

      2) Hard to say because it depends on the rest of your profile… grades, school, networking, etc.

      3) Network, network, network.

      1. Thanks for the reply!

        In terms of networking. Should I start calling/talking to people in IB immediately or should I wait toward the end of the summer (around August)?

        1. I would start midway through your internship or maybe even earlier if you can – if you wait until August that doesn’t give you much time

  50. what are the chances of someone getting into KKR PE by directly applying at any chance?

    1. There’s a 0.0000001% chance

      1. That’s awesome lol

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