The Non-Target School Sales & Trading Recruiting Process: How it Works from Beginning to End

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This is a guest post from a reader who broke into Sales & Trading (S&T) coming from a non-target school. In Part 1 of this series, you’ll get an overview of the entire process and what you need to break in. 

If you make it into sales & trading coming from a non-target school, congratulations: you’re part of The 1%.

No, not that 1% – at least, not right when you start working.

I’m talking about the 1% of job seekers from unknown schools who actually manage to break into the field.

It’s a daunting and challenging process, and it’s arguably more difficult than breaking into investment banking from a non-target school:

  • Unlike IB or PE, there are no true “sales & trading boutiques” (unless you count prop trading firms)…
  • …so there are fewer positions, and they’re concentrated at large banks.
  • Plus, networking with traders can be more difficult due to time constraints (you can only do it after the market closes) and interviews are much more random.

Should you give up and stop wasting your time applying?

Not at all.

For me, that difficulty was the fuel.

I was determined to prove everyone wrong, and I didn’t care what people said – it was the job of my dreams, and I was determined to break into sales & trading at a bulge bracket bank no matter what it took.

In this series, I’m going to explain exactly what it takes to break in if you’re coming from a non-target school like I did.

As the first step, you need to understand the recruiting process from beginning to end – and where you can “bend the rules” to gain an advantage.

Step 1: Getting on their Radar

Since bulge bracket banks do not recruit at non-target schools, you need to apply online to even have a chance at winning interviews.

At the minimum, these applications require a resume and cover letter, although many specialized S&T programs (e.g. diversity recruiting programs) require essays.

All large banks have minimum GPA requirements as well – if you don’t have at least a 3.5 / 4.0 (or 2:1 in the UK) you don’t have much of a shot. When the economy worsens, that minimum may increase.

If you’re at a non-target school, the minimum arguably goes up because they expect better academic performance out of you.

Technically all majors can apply, but for many trading positions they favor technical majors (math, science, engineering) since you use math quite a bit.

Often times, students apply with one of these ‘’mathy’’ majors in addition to finance as their second or third majors. Coming from a non-target school, a minor in math, at the very least, is a good idea.

The deadlines might be anywhere from October to February depending on the bank and region you’re in – to increase your odds of success, you need to track everything in an Excel spreadsheet and use columns for the deadlines and application requirements (resumes, cover letters, essays, etc.).

Recruiting is always a numbers game, but if you’re at a non-target school it’s truly a numbers game.

I recommend applying everywhere even if you have no interest in working there – you can’t afford to be picky. Just make sure that during the interview, you articulate why you want to work at that specific firm over others.

In your online application, you usually apply for Sales & Trading as opposed to a specific desk. During your interviews they will ask you the “Why S&T question?” and what desk you want to work on.

For the actual desk you will be working on – sales vs. trading, equity vs. fixed income – you must keep a very open mind.

I usually said something like, “I want to trade mortgages, but I will be happy on any desk where I can learn the most.” Once you’ve won an offer, you’ll be placed based on where they have a need and what you’re interested.

For full-time jobs, you almost always do a two-year rotation on two different desks. The rotation varies from bank to bank, and in some cases if you’re on a desk for a year and you absolutely love it there, you can stay.

For internships, the process varies by bank; some firms have 3 rotations across different desks (Barclays), while others have none (J.P. Morgan).

Step 2: Really Getting on Their Radar

As Brian has mentioned before, submitting your application online is often like throwing it into a black hole.

If, by some chance, it makes through the automated system it will get 30 seconds of attention from a human recruiter (at best).

So you need to network if you want to have even a 1% chance of landing interviews.

My best sources for networking:

  • Family, friends, and school alumni.
  • Professors.
  • Attending recruiting events at target schools (yes, going to events even when you’re not invited) and getting business cards there.

We’re going to go more in-depth into networking in a future article, but a few points to keep in mind when doing this on the sales & trading side:

Always email traders – they are on their computers from 7AM – 5PM, and can usually get back to you quickly. Unlike bankers, they don’t have meetings or client presentations during the day so they’re always at their desks.

Tell them that you’re interested in S&T and wanted to ask a few questions about their jobs/firms. Then ask them if there’s a good time to chat.

Here are some good things to ask:

  • How they got to where they are, personal background, etc.
  • Why sales and trading, sales vs. trading, equity vs. fixed income.
  • Why that specific firm over any other.
  • Always ask advice for the recruiting process (application/interviews).

Depending on who they are and how you approached them, they might offer to pass your resume to HR, or you can ask them to do it for you.

Use your best judgment to feel out the situation, but always make sure you follow up with them and ask if HR said anything about your application because they often “forget” to submit it unless you keep asking about it.

Step 3: The Phone Interview – Round 1

If your application passes the first round of screening, you’ll be offered a 30-minute phone interview.

Just like with investment banking interviews, the first round interviewer will most likely be a junior analyst, and you’ll be asked to walk through your resume and answer behavioral questions…

…but your opinions on the market are much more important in S&T and they’ll ask you about different asset classes, indices, and so on.

They’ll focus heavily on why S&T over fields in finance, and why you’re interested in their firm over others.

When walking through your resume, don’t take longer then 1-2 minutes, and focus on the things that are S&T related (anything that is quantitative, and that has to do with the market).

Actual interviews are not tremendously different from target school interviews. Once you make it in the door, everyone goes through the same questions, and the fact that you come from a non-target is not necessarily held against you.

And just as with normal interviews, you’ll get the chance to ask 2-3 questions at the end where you want to convey your enthusiasm for sales & trading and for their firm.

Definitely send a thank-you email after the interview to everyone that interviewed you. Sure, it may not always make a difference but if it takes 5-10 minutes, why not take the time to do it?

Afterwards, you will most likely hear back with the results of each round within 2 weeks.

Step 4: Phone Interview #2… or Superday

If you advance to the next round after the phone interview, you’ll either have another phone interview, or you’ll be invited to a Superday interview.

A second phone interview will be the same format as above, except the interviewer will be more senior.

For Superday interviews, the firm will invite you to their headquarters and put you through several rounds of 30-45 minute interviews.

The interviews themselves vary quite a bit and different banks do things very differently – but here’s generally what you can expect:

  • Interviewers tend to be more senior-level employees…
  • …from different divisions, ranging from equity sales & trading to fixed income sales & trading to credit risk to research and anything else on the S&T side.
  • You’ll get at least 4 interviews, and each one might be with anywhere from 1-4 people (yes, you might actually have interviews with four people).
  • Almost every interview will start with “Tell me about yourself” and “Why Sales & Trading?” and “Why our firm?”
  • They will focus heavily on market-related questions – you need to know about all asset classes, what the important indices in your region (e.g. the S&P and DJI in the US) are trading at, and what oil prices, treasury yields, and currency exchange rates are.
  • Oh yeah, and then there are the mental math and brainteaser questions that don’t come up nearly as much in IB/PE interviews.

Forget about using a pen and paper or calculator – you need to get really good at thinking in multiples of 5 and 10, or you’ll be at a severe disadvantage.

Practice is the key to success in brain teasers – I highly recommend getting a book of sample questions (You can usually get the Vault S&T Guide for free through your school – also search for questions on Google) and also practicing your thought process out-loud.

People get hung up on getting the “right” answer, but your thought process is actually more important.

Once the questions end, you’ll get the chance to ask your own questions and then make your “closing arguments” for why they should hire you.

In your arguments, enthusiasm and attitude are the keys to success. You might talk about how there’s no candidate who wants this job or this firm as badly as you do and that no task is beneath you, as you are willing to do whatever it takes to add value to their team.

So that’s an overview of what to expect – we’re going to do a deep-dive on interviews soon, but you need to understand the entire process first.

Step 5: Final Decisions

Within two weeks of the Superday, you’ll receive either a phone call congratulating you and letting you know that you were offered a position, or an email letting you know that you have been rejected.

If you did get the offer, congratulations! You’ll be given about two weeks to accept or reject it.

If you need more time to get back to a firm, tell them that you’re still waiting to hear from a few places, and that you need more time so that you can really figure out what your best option is.

Don’t be surprised if they don’t grant you an extension, and don’t ask for a second extension.

As a trader you need to minimize risk and the same applies when you’re recruiting for trading: don’t screw up a really good offer, or even any offer at all, in hopes of getting a marginally better one.

If you were rejected, you have two options.

The first is to respond to the email thanking the recruiter for their time and move onto the next bank.

Alternatively, you can email all the people that you interviewed with and ask them if you can come back in for another interview.

Tell them that you feel you were not judged fairly, and that you know you’re the right candidate for the position. You should also email all of your contacts, and try the same thing.

And if that doesn’t work at first, you could give up and move on or keep trying.

Think this sounds desperate or overly aggressive?

I know someone who won a job at Goldman Sachs Sales & Trading after being rejected 5 times – he kept going back and back again, and his resilience paid off.

You don’t want rack up 1500 rejections like Sylvester Stallone did before the first Rocky movie, but you don’t necessarily want to give up after just 1 rejection, either – especially if you answered all the questions well and really were misjudged.

Stay confident in your own abilities, and success will come.

Coming Up Next

Now that you know how the recruiting process works from beginning to end, the next step is to prepare for each part of the recruiting process, as they are all critical to your success.

We’re going to do a deep-dive into everything from networking to resumes and interviews and show you how to succeed at each stage – even if, like me, you’re coming from an unknown school.

The competition is tough and the odds of success aren’t great. But if you apply everything here, you’ll gain a big advantage over everyone else.

And you might just make the leap from The 99% to The 1%.

This is a guest post from a reader who broke into Sales & Trading (S&T) coming from a non-target school. In the upcoming parts in this series, we’ll do deep-dives on networking, resumes, interviews, and more.

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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85 Comments to “The Non-Target School Sales & Trading Recruiting Process: How it Works from Beginning to End”

Comments

  1. Angelus99 says

    This is currently exactly what i’m doing…I have been networking tremendously at 4/5 bb and its absolutely been tough. I’m already 4 years out of school so i do have sales experience and i have work at two bb for at least 1 year each. What do you think is a good way to take advantage of this upcoming March Madness? Is their any recruiters or headhunters i should speak to or should i just keep networking like how am i doing now?

    • says

      If you’re already 4 years out it’s even tougher – if you have sales experience, I would actually suggest expanding the scope of what you’re looking for and thinking outside of large banks. Sales experience can translate better into related fields in finance, so that could be an option – talk to smaller hedge funds that need help with fundraising, bankers, PEs that are fundraising, and even normal companies that might need someone with sales skills. If you’re looking to move into a different field entirely, you might want to consider MSF / MBA programs but for now I would keep networking and talk to firms beyond those 4-5 bulge brackets.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Adding to Brian’s points, be open. In this environment, I believe quite a few “laid-off” bankers or those who are disgruntled w their bonuses and the way things are will be (if not already) starting their own firms. You might want to sniff for such people’s info and try to “create” yourself a position w them.

          I’ve also found this to be helpful – figure out what you really desire, how your strengths (Figure them out) can add value, and go with the flow

          • Angelus99 says

            I actually have done that a little bit and that is a great suggestion because I didn’t think of focusing on that aspect too much

  2. Chester says

    Hi Brian, what do you think of a sales position (insurance) with a large financial company as a step towards S&T at a BB? I am finishing up grad school in engineering and am eager to get into any finance/banking positions but unsure of the potential tradeoffs. Thanks!

    • says

      That could be potentially helpful, but more so on the sales side than the trading side of S&T. It’s better to work at something more directly in finance if you can, but something insurance-related is better than nothing at all.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Adding to Brian’ points, I don’t think selling insurance would really help because you need exposure to institutional investors but your sales skills will still be useful

  3. nano says

    Bravo! Always enjoy reading these great interviews. I went from substance abuse at a non-target (in the Caribbean) with an 8yr undergrad plan to being recruited by UBS and later by a boutique trading desk on wall st as desk strategist. One thing is clear, that is NOT taught in school, you need to build meaningful relationships and network your way in. N

  4. RC says

    This article is so accurate! I broke into S&T from a small non-target in Texas, thanks to a few IB alumni from our school who had connections on trading desks, and some connections I made in summer PWM. The description of interviews is very accurate — all fit + the question about your opinion on the markets. Be prepared to defend all your points well. They also like to ask about current events, i.e. events that happened that morning a few hours ago, just to see how up to date you are with the markets.

  5. GAR says

    Ok, so I work middle office at GS (finance div), and recently emailed a vp at MS who is an alumnae from my school (non-target), he has a front office role. Essentially I asked for more info on his line of work and the firm in general. He responded! And agreed to a phone call, now the problem is what the HELL do i say in this phone call? What should i ask? I’m supposing i should not be too direct, especially so early on, but any tips or questions to ask that maybe start planting the seed for a possible opportunity. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congrats. Just treat him like a fellow human being :) and be genuine. Ask him questions related to his work and tell him what you’re looking for. Ask him if he can share with you his thoughts etc – should be easy. Make sure the conversation is flowing!

      • Adam says

        Just to add, do you know which asset class he’s in? If so, search for whatever sell-side (or even buy side if you find it) research you can find. Just google things like “US fixed income strategy,” ” FX monthly,” ” sector research,” or variations of the above. Try several combinations, you should find a couple of things.

        Also try googling names of analysts/strategists quoted in the business news, i.e. the guy that’s on bloomberg tv for 2min talking about the oil market. Things they’ve written can come up too.

        Read whatever you can to get a feel for the issues that people in that asset class are talking about/dealing with at the moment. This will also help you internalize what’s going on in terms of market action. You may get asked for opinions, but you can just talk about something you read and why you agree/disagree with it.

        Do this and the guy will think you’re both passionate about the markets and really on top of what’s going on. Just be careful not to talk about things you don’t know or haven’t read about, bullsh*t is detected quickly and not tolerated.

        Good luck

        • Adam says

          Brian, your site can’t show text in brackets? The above should be “(insert company name, e.g. UBS) FX Monthly” and “(steel et al) sector research”

        • GAR says

          Thanks for the additional input Adam, he is in alternative investments and used to be in prime brokerage (where I presume he still has some connections). I’ll definitely look into what you suggested. Thanks again!

          • Adam says

            For prime brokerage look for things on “equity finance” – for prime brokerage this is a way to finance leveraged trades, “synthetic equity” – basically equity swaps, and “stock loan” – for short selling.

            Also know what “freebie” services that prime brokers will offer to win business, things like office space leasing, investor relations work, and recruitment.

            Next, alternative investments is ripe for interesting discussion topics, you should be able to find some things.

            Lastly, wanted to add to my original post, be up to speed on new regulations, like the derivatives stuff and Volcker rule in Dodd-Frank. This has a big effect throughout the industry.

            Best of luck

  6. Bill says

    Hi, Brian. This might sound like silly question, but does non-Haas Berkeley considered target for trading positions? (I am currently an applied math major at UC Berkeley.) Also, in addition to what has been offered in this article, I have seen some people who went on to acquire master’s degree in financial engineering and received offer from BBs. I guess it is another way to secure trading positions from BBs.

  7. John says

    Hi,

    I am a junior at a semi-target university who’s looking at S&T positions. I couldn’t get any S&T summer internship at BB and I am thinking about applying for the full-time positions. What’s your recommendation for the summer? I am a member of an investment club with real money invested and am thinking about devoting myself to it during the summer. Do you think this would be a good option, or do you think getting an internship in a prop trading firm or doing anything related to corporate finance are better? I mean, there are no such thing as ’boutique’ S&T firms, right?

    Also, I heard from someone that in some cases they are slightly biased against those with significant experience in trading, since they want to teach people from scratch. Is it true?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Sure though getting an internship w a boutique or a trading firm might help you better,provided that you get to work on some good projects/work

      No. I think having experience will put you ahead of others who are inexperienced (unless they can demonstrate their raw talent). Sometimes people like inexperienced people because they don’t have an ego given their lack of experience. So I think what is relevant is your humility open-mindedness and willingness to learn

  8. Ez says

    I recently received an offer from a bulge bracket in S&T from a nontarget/semi-target as a sophomore. Definitely, I’d say the most important things that you want to get across during the interview is
    1) enthusiasm (passion for the markets by being knowledgeable)
    2) fit (ability to take risk and make decisions; be prepared to give examples)
    3) get to know some people at the firm before your interviews and speak with them about what they do to really show your interest, hunger, and desire to learn.
    Good luck!

  9. John Smith says

    Hi I was wondering what would be best for majoring at a semi target. Should i major in asian studies specifically chinese language And minor in Business to hopefully land something in S&T or something finance related in China or major in Business and Minor in the language

  10. Archie says

    Hi i’m an undergraduate from singapore looking for internship in asset management companies. I wonder what’s the efficient way to get hired? Besides, does coldcalling still work? Can I design my resume according to the IB resume template?

  11. Amelia says

    This questions might be stupid, but do headhunters offer services to people seeking summer intern/full-time 1st year analyst? Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Some do. But the top tier ones usually don’t help juniors unless they are working on a mandate for the whole team or a close client specifically requests them to do so because they don’t make much out of a 1st year analyst

      Summer interns – No HHs are usually not involved – they won’t get paid enough to justify their costs

  12. Max says

    Hi,

    Thanks the article. I am also trying to break into S&T. I will be graduating in April 2012 from a non-target.
    My obstacle is that most of the Canadian BBs are not hiring for S&T right now. In addition, I have no relevant experiences, my work experiences consist of 2 years sales and about 1 year in office administration, I also never had a internship.

    Am I hopeless with thinking of getting into S&T? or are there ways for me to still get in?

    THanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Network a lot and see what’s out there. Talk to boutiques, second/third tier banks and even trading firms

      If you can’t get a S&T role, try investment management firms

      Broaden your search

  13. Alex says

    I recently havent heard back from goldman sachs ibd in almost 2 weeks. should i send an email to all the bankers i met saying i wasnt fairly judged? what should my course of action be? Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      No don’t send them that email – I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t leave them a good impression of you

      Send them a nice email to follow-up and express your interest in working for them!

  14. Vikram says

    Hi, I noticed that Brian really pushed the Anex Advantage program. I am running out of options and recently applied to their program. I noticed that they the firm they want me working at is called Meridian Partners, literally a middle market company with the MD being the Anex program director (a little weird). Given I am from a UC Berkeley – NonHaas, How would that look on my resume for full-time recruiting vs say bulge bracket internships at Sales/Trading or even Asset Management? Thank you!!!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It is not a bad option. Of course, if you have a BB internship or a brand name AM internship on hand I’d take those. Otherwise, go for what you’ve got and see where it takes you

  15. Frank says

    This is spot on. Came from a non-target to a BB S&T. Alumni helped me get a first round interview and the superday was as described.

  16. Michael says

    Hi,

    What would be considered ‘target schools’ for Sales & Trading desks for the major banks operating within Hong Kong?

    Also, to what percentage are S&T staff within HK, educated in America relative to the local Universities?

    Thanks,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Target schools – Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Georgetown, UChicago, NYU Stern, Oxford, Cambridge, etc

      From what I’ve seen, most S&T staff are educated abroad, unless your team and clients are very local

      • Michael says

        Thanks ‘M&I Nicole’!

        If working at S&T in Hong Kong, will you be asked by your colleagues about your educational background? If you do not come from a ‘target’ school, will this be held against you?

        If you avoid the question, by not answering it directly or giving a BS answer, will this also be held against you?

        Thanks,

        • Adam says

          They won’t ask; they won’t care. They’ll only care about how much you contribute to the team. Education comes up at the interview stage; after that no one cares.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          No, as long as you make it to the first interview. Then you are fair game with others from targets. Your passion and knowledge of financial markets matter more. They also value trading/investing experience.

          No don’t avoid the answer. As a matter of fact, I’d confidently tell them that I’m from XX school. Who cares. If you sound shady or avoid the question it shows 1. you’re not trustworthy 2. you don’t have the confidence; both of which are killers in interviews, even if you are from Harvard.

          • Michael says

            Oh No! Nicole, I was referring to how I should answer those questions by my colleagues once I’d start working there! Of course I’d tell my interviewers where I’d gotten my education from- doing otherwise would just be …. awkward. :)

  17. Dan says

    A quick question regarding online application. I was asked if I have any contact in the bank, and specify my relationship with this contact. I initially got referred to this contact by a good friend. We met and he’s very helpful. He referred me to a few people in the firm as well.

    My question is: what should I say about the relationship with this contact?

    Can I also put people if we just briefly exchanged emails? Thanks

  18. Bob says

    Hi,

    I am in a similar position, S&T is my dream job but I do not go to a target school. I have accepted a position at a major bank in Operations which I will begin this Summer after I graduate. I was wondering if you could give me any tips on how to approach transitioning into S&T from Ops as a first year employee. I have a solid resume with summer internship in Technology at another major Financial Instituion and I am strongly involved in academic activities with a strong GPA. Thanks

    • Adam says

      It would depend on which area of ops you are in and how much interaction you have with the front office. If you don’t have any/much FO “face time” it’ll really be uphill. If you have it, use it to show how much you know and how much you can contribute. That means you’ll need to get to know how the FO teams you talk to function and how they do their jobs, what issues they face, and what ideas you have to help.

      Also, be careful in trying to network with them for networking sake: they’ll know what you’re after quickly and you’ll annoy them even quicker. Focus on getting to know what they do and how you can make their jobs easier.

      Best of luck

  19. Korea says

    I’ll be starting internship at one of BBs in IBD.
    Im at NYU with 2.9 GPA but I had connection in my relatives and was able to get the internship.
    It is unique however. I’ll be working in Korean office and it will be 1-year long (instead of six months)
    since Ill be having the internship record on my resume, it this going to cover up for my low GPA and non target school status?
    Also, is internship at BB in Korea going to cause problems because of it’s location?
    What do you think about doing the year long internship. The person who connected me suggested I should do so.
    What other recommendation do you have for me given my circimstances?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      NYU is fine. GPA of 2.9 – can you get it up to a 3.0? Firms have a cut off of 3.5, if not 3.6.

      If you want to work in US, its better to have an internship in the States

      Yes, I think the year long internship can be a good idea. Do you have other internships on the table?

      Boost your GPA & network immensely!

      • Korea says

        Im currently working at a Korean investmentbank IBD as an intern. I will be working at BB next month.
        What can I do to cover my GPA?
        I have two years left at school so I’ll try to boost up my grade. but what else can I do to cover up?
        What are the mertis of 1 year intern compared to 10 week summer intern?
        Thanks for your comment

          • Adam says

            Well, it would depend on what you want to do. What is that? If you want to do IBD in Korea then you’re already set: internships at a Korean house and global one. Do well and get another internship next summer and you’ll be more than fine.

            IBD in the US? To be honest unless you can get a work visa by yourself (which you basically can’t) then I don’t think you’ll have that much opportunity no matter what your grades are. Yes you have the 1 year practical training, but that’s not enough to entice a co to take a chance on you when they can easily get many, many people that don’t have work authorization issues.

            Focus more on getting an offer in Korea then trying to get an internal transfer to the US if you want to.

            If you must try for an internship in the US, then the fact that you’ll have done 2 in Korea is a big advantage, bigger than any grades issue. Focus on building relationships in your teams to get personal recommendations to folks in NY.

            This is what I would do were I in your shoes

        • M&I - Nicole says

          What do you mean by “covering” your GPA?

          I think 10 weeks is sufficient for you to understand the role & requirements etc to be honest.

  20. Lau says

    I will be interning during my junior summer at one of the top-tier BB in Tech. My team would do the supporting work and risk calculation/reporting for Fixed Income S&T but we are not even close to the real trading floor. Do I stand a chance of applying for SA position in S&T next summer, given that I will be pursuing a master degree in Fin/MathFin/FE upon graduation?

  21. Mike says

    Great Article!
    I have a quesstion about cross-division networking. My school is a non-target, but has been very successful at placing students into BB IB. How effective would it be to network with IB alumnus, hoping that they pass my resume to a trader?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It can be effective. Continue networking and see how it goes. Don’t hope that they pass your resume along, ask that they pass your resume along (in a polite way)

  22. Josh says

    Hi,

    I am a finance student at the University of Melbourne and will be on exchange at Rutgers University for the duration of 2013. I have strong grades (equivalent to a US GPA of around 3.88-3.96/4, depending on some results that will soon be released), some extracurriculars and have solid, “pure” sales work experience but no specific financial work experience. I really want to obtain an internship over the summer (in S&T or investment banking, I haven’t fully decided which but would enjoy both) and understand how important the networking process is in doing so. For Brian, the author of this post or anybody with more experience, could you recommend certain strategies for networking/obtaining an internship while I will be outside the US for the initial application process? I will be in the US in time for interviews and superdays etc. Any information would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Josh

    • Josh says

      Also, if anybody could offer advice on how to present my education on my applications- the University of Melbourne is the best school in Australia and incredibly competitive both in the Southern hemisphere and globally (I think around high 30′s/low 40′s on most world university rankings), however it is still overseas. Should I highlight that I am at the University of Melbourne and on exchange at Rutgers given that Melbourne is a much better school, or downplay the fact that I am an international student and try get in “from” Rutgers?

      Again, thanks a lot!

    • says

      I would start by setting up informational interviews when you’re outside the US, and then move to in-person meetings when you arrive there. That is really all you can do when you’re outside the country – find a time that works given the time zone difference and try to speak to a few of your best contacts on the phone, maybe 1-2 months before you get there.

      I would not highlight one school over the other on your resume because the University of Melbourne is not as well-known in the US.

  23. S&T love says

    This is such a great post.
    Just had two S&T interviews (both BB).
    But was not able to get through 1st rounds.
    I have a few connections in HK so I might be able to pull off a S&T internship in HK but I really want to work in US. There is one MD who I got to know pretty well as I was going through the recruitment process. So my plan is to do an internship at HK and maybe try to get back to him during full time recruiting season. I want your input / advice.
    Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes having the internship on your resume will help. I’d also suggest you to keep in contact with the MD (and network a lot with other banks) during the internship. Contact him again during full time recruiting season.

  24. Tony says

    Out of curiosity, what is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign considered in terms of target, semi-target, etc.
    And would a Finance degree from UIUC, with coursework in Financial Engineering be extremely tough to get into Sales and Trading at a bulge bracket?

    Thanks, great article as always.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think it is a target. It can be challenging because you’ll be competing with people who have had some level of experience in the industry and from a target school. Your chances would increase if you have connections and industry experience.

      • Tony says

        Alright thanks a lot. One more question, would getting an internship at a prop trading firm, the CBOE or CME look good for trying to get an investment banking S&T internship in my junior year (Going into my sophomore year this fall).

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Yes it will help you with your S&T experience esp since you’ll have exposure to the markets and environment

  25. Jeremy says

    Is S&T similar to Investment Banking in that if you do not hear back the next day from a Superday odds are you were either put on hold or rejected?

  26. Thompson and Thomson says

    I’m a student at CMU Tepper hoping to get into trading. I’ve seen a lot of prop firms here, but not many BB Trading arms. Is Tepper a target or semi-target for trading at the BBs? How about prop firms?

    Also, I’m considering a second major in math (which is a difficult subject here). Would a math major actually help me break into trading (either BB or prop) if I can get a 3.6+ GPA? Thanks in advance.

  27. says

    Interesting article. Does the advice: “You can email all the people that you interviewed with and ask them if you can come back in for another interview (…) You don’t necessarily want to give up after just 1 rejection, either – especially if you answered all the questions well and really were misjudged” apply to investment banking summer analyst applications as well?

    Personally, I recently had a non-target superday where my interviewers noted afterwards that I performed well, but was not given an offer based on the number of qualified candidates and the limited number of openings available. This is not an example of being misjudged, but I am confident in my performance and in my ability to deliver if selected as a summer analyst.

    My perception is that traditionally prospective and professional ‘markets people’ are more aggressive than ‘banking people,’ so I am interested in your thoughts.

    Thanks,
    TS

    • says

      It can still apply to IB as well, but sometimes it won’t work as well there for the reasons you stated… if you really feel you can do the work and are as good or better than other candidates, I think it is worth another shot to go back to them and mention your enthusiasm for the role again.

      • says

        Thanks for your input. I would be more likely to follow the original poster’s advice if I wasn’t interested in coming back and interviewing for an analyst position next year. There’s probably risk of turning people off in the present by being too aggressive, and that can impact coming back to them in a year.

        Thanks again for responding so quickly.

  28. BIM says

    Hi Brian

    When exactly does the recruiting season/interviews start and end for Sales/Trading positions at bulge brackets? What about Investment Banking positions? Do you think around Feb/March, right after bonuses have been distributed is a good time to follow up with my contacts at BBs in the hopes of nailing an interview? I have been out of a non-target undergrad for just over 5 years now and am still trying to break into the front office from my current middle office role. I am also studying for the CFA level 1 this coming June in the hopes that will also help me get more interviews. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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