by Brian DeChesare Comments (53)

How to Interview with a Broken Leg, Picking Offers, Grades and Why I Won’t Do Your Homework: Reader Q&A

Economic doom-and-gloom has not been on peoples’ minds quite as much lately, at least according to the questions I received this week.

Maybe when another bank fails we can get back to discussing ways to avoid the back office or McDonald’s, but for now we’ll focus on more relevant topics.

Like what to do in an interview with a broken leg, and why I won’t do your homework for you.

Getting Hired, Getting Fired & Getting Paid

1. I broke my leg – should I wear take crutches to the interview or try to wear normal shoes?

Depends how well you can walk.  If this was an injury from awhile back and you don’t need crutches as much anymore, I would try to look as normal as possible.

On the other hand if you’re nervous about falling down stairs or otherwise injuring yourself, I would do what you have to do and joke about it, “Look, I wanted this so badly I crawled here with a broken leg!”

2. With the terrible economy this year, some of my friends in the back office are saying that IT salaries might be higher than investment banking salaries.  Do you think this could happen?

They will be closer than normal this year, but I think at worst they might be equal.  IT people tend to get higher base salaries but in this kind of environment they are looking at $0 bonuses… even if things get worse, bankers should at least get $10-20K (like in 2001-2003).

3. I’ve heard there is a 90% “firing rate” at each level – for example, 90% of Analysts will not make it to Associate and 90% of Associates will not make it to VP.  Is this true?

This is probably accurate, at least from Analyst to Associate.  Associate to VP might be better than that.  I wouldn’t call it a “firing rate” though – it’s more like people switching industries / dropping out / going back to school.

Models & Bottles (Lifestyle Q&A)

4. Is there a lot of pressure in banking to spend money recklessly just to “fit in?”

Depends on your office.  In mine there was not, though some people liked to flaunt new cars etc.  In this economy, I think there’s more “pressure” to keep your job rather than spend money recklessly.

5. Can you have a good family life if you’re in banking?

No, not really.  Even as an MD, you work at least 60 hours a week and are often traveling.  At smaller places it’s a little better but you’ll never be home to watch your kids getting off the bus every day.

6. Despite the poor economy, I managed to get a full-time offer.  How should I prepare for work?

Have you considered becoming a ski bum?  One of my friends took a drunken 3-month trip through Europe before he started, that’s another good alternative.

How to Pick Offers

7. I have offers from 2 private equity firms, but one offers a much better training program than the other.  Is this a good way to decide?

No, this is a poor way to decide on offers.  Training programs are mostly irrelevant; you will learn everything once you start anyway.

8. I have an offer from a bulge bracket bank in San Francisco and a middle market bank in New York.  I’m tempted to the New York offer just because it’s in New York.

Come to your senses!  Haven’t we already been over why you should pick bulge brackets if given the opportunity?  And today I would argue that being in New York might actually be a bad idea…

9. For part-time internships, what matters more – whether the company has a good name or whether you learn something valuable?

Skills matter more than name.

Grades, Grades & More Grades…

10. I had a family emergency my freshman year and my GPA suffered as a result.  When I send out networking emails, should I explain the reason for my bad grades?

No, this just makes you look desperate.

11. I have a 3.7 GPA, is that good enough to get into banking or should I try to boost it to 3.9?

Anything over a 3.5 is fine, don’t spend time on this.

12. Is it ok if I round my GPA from 3.44 to 3.5 on my resume?


How NOT to Get a Response from Me

13. help i really want to get into investment banking and i will do whatever it takes

What was your question again?

14. Could you help me with my homework assignment?  I need to write a 20-page paper on cross-border M&A in Thailand.

Sure, but this will count as 20 resume edits.  Please submit your payment.

15. What are my chances of getting into banking with a GPA of [xx] and [xx] work experience and [xx] other accomplishments?

Depends.  Have you spent months networking and developing dozens of solid relationships at many different firms?  Do you have a stellar resume and have you perfected your interviewing skills?

If so, then your chances are good.

If not, have you considered the back office?

Rant: I hate these types of questions because they encourage analysis paralysis.

You should know something before you get started, but emailing 30 alumni right now will help you way more than spending the same time asking me 5-page long questions.

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. Thanks for the article.

    I attended the military after high school, and attended a solid but non-target state school. I have been at a top restructuring/advisory firm for the last two years (promoted with excellent reviews), but would like to make the jump to to a Restructuring/Special Situations banking group. I am about to turn 30, so the natural fear of being too old has crept in. Thoughts?

  2. M & I,

    Thank you for all the helpful information. I had a quick question about GPA. Say if you round your GPA from a 3.43 to a 3.5 when applying for summer analyst positions for the summer following your junior year, receive a SA offer, and do well throughout the summer. At the end of the summer you receive a full time offer and accept. Now, you still have a full year of school left. What happens if you graduate without reaching at least 3.45 to justify the rounding up to 3.5 when you were applying for SA positions? When the company checks your transcript right before you start working full-time and sees that the closest you ever got was a 3.43, will they rescind the offer? Or will an overzealous rounding of two hundredths of a point be unimportant at that point? I really appreciate the help.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think they will rescind the offer but I may be wrong

  3. What about women in investnment banking? Have you seen any female analysts / associates? Would you, honestly, suggest this as a good career path for females ? — thinkin of headin into i-banking….

    1. M&I - Nicole

      depends on what you want in your life…there are female associates/analysts but you see less females as you go up the ladder

  4. I have an offer but want a few more days to think about it. Is it ok to ask for an extension or could something bad happen? And what would be the best way to go about asking for an extension if it is alright?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Its ok to ask for an extension. Just say you want a few more days to think about the offer and tell them the exact date when you can make a decision.

  5. Hi Brian,

    I finished my third year with a GPA of 3.4 at a target school and I’m currently on a leave of absence due to my compulsory military service. I will be returning to school on 2012 Fall semester as a senior and would be recruiting for Full-Time. Now you’ve mentioned that we can round our GPA on the resume by 0.09 at most and BBs don’t check our transcripts until right before we start working. So, with this logic, can I round my GPA from 3.4 (flat) to 3.5 with the confidence that I will have brought up my GPA near 3.5 (e.g. 3.41-3.49) by the time I graduate, which is before I start working full-time?

    So basically my question is, can I round up my 3.4(flat) to 3.5 because background check only starts after I graduate and I still have two more semesters to bring up my grade?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, assuming you can bring your GPA up to 3.45 or above

  6. Is it all right to round a 3.41 to a 3.5? Thanks for your help.

    1. Eh I would probably not do that unless you anticipate your grades to go up, but opinions will vary… not the worst thing in the world to do and you won’t get questioned unless they see your official transcript.

      1. Brian – thanks for your reply. The only reason I’d consider it is because I am anticipating a huge gpa boost this semester (easy classes, studying my butt off, etc.) and would like that to be reflected for SA interviews. Transcripts at BBs and MMs aren’t looked at until right before I would start working, right?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yeah I don’t think transcript matters as much as long as you get the interview

  7. I have a business GPA of 3.43 and have a double major in finance and economics. My GPA for one major is 3.67 and for the other is 3.2. Can I use the 3.67 as my GPA on my resume and applications?

    1. Also, I should mention I have already graduated this past December, so there is no room for my GPAs to change, so should I not round any of them?

      1. You can still round to one decimal place

    2. You have to list your overall GPA somewhere

  8. Hi Brian,

    In #8 you mentioned that you would argue that being in New york “might actually be a bad thing.” Could you elaborate on that please?


    1. Ok this Q&A was from 3 years ago so I don’t remember why I said that, think it was because NY was harder hit than other regions at the time

      1. Oh I see, sorry to bother you then. Having a date posted would be helpful.


  9. how important do you consider GPA if I’ve graduated for a year already and have only been in retail banking since? Whats the best way to break in towards ibanking from someone that had a bad undergrad start? in terms of bad, lets just go with “worse case scenario bad” for the sake of a better direction in this question lol.

    1. It is less important a year out but still factors in. The best way to break in with a low GPA is to network/cold-call a lot, go to a top Master’s program and do well there, or go wait a few years and go to business school.

  10. Hey. If an employer asks for an unoffical transcript, do you still think it is okay to round GPA on your resume, or should I keep it the way it looks like on the transcript?

    1. Depends how much you’re rounding… 3.66 to 3.7 is fine, but for something like 3.64 to 3.7 maybe leave it as 3.64.

  11. Brian,
    Thanks for all the info on the site it is great. I am currently doing Risk Control for my summer internship at BB. About to start my senior year and am trying to get in contact with alumni but the issue is where do I get their names and contact information? If my school doesn’t give this sort of information out, 3/4 of the people on linkedin are private… how can I find this info?
    Sorry if you’ve answered this before and thanks again!

    1. For LinkedIn I think you can get their information if you have common connections – aside from that, another good method is to ask upperclassmen at your school for names and contact information of alumni or anyone they’ve met in the industry. You can also try taking your case to career services and not taking “no” for an answer until they give in.

  12. Is it safe to round a 3.44 to a 3.5 if you are applying for an internship in your Junior year too? Do they still only do background checks right before you join for an internship?

    1. Yes they only do background checks before you start working

  13. Question: How can you round a 3.44 to a 3.5? and what if you get the job and they ask for your transcript, and you don’t actually have a 3.5?

    1. Because your GPA will change slightly between the time you apply for the job (3 years of grades) and when they do background checks (just before you start working – all 4 years).

  14. Hi Brian,

    Just wanted to let you know that your link to resume/cover letter edits no longer works. Is this a mistake or are you pulling the service?

    1. Kevin from Management Consulted ( has taken over the service, so I would speak with him if you’re looking for resume/cover letter editing.

  15. What about ACT scores on the resume? I’m from the midwest and nobody takes the SAT’s out here. (I scored in the 99th percentile)

    1. Yeah I would include ACT scores if they’re good (above 32 maybe?)

  16. Michael Blackmon

    i have a phone interview coming up and was wondering how this differ or are the same from a regular interview and how should I prepare

    1. It’s very similar, only difference is it’s over the phone rather than face-to-face… you should focus on sounding confident and proper phone etiquette, sometimes it’s a bit harder to come across well in a phone interview vs. in-person.

  17. Just wondering about what the exit opportunities would be for government organizations such as the SEC? Would it be something to consider if I eventually wanted to end up in banking? I heard that there is a lot networking opportunities as banks often send their people down to conferences/presentations.

    1. Yeah there could definitely be good networking opportunities, and now that the US gov’t is effectively a PE firm you can have some good experience “managing portfolio companies.” As far as the SEC specifically I’m not sure – I would think generally it’s, “Better than random back office job but not as good as banking/PE.”

  18. Another resume question:

    SAT scores on the resume if they are say, 800M and 740V. Yes or no?

    1. Anything over 1400 yes.

      1. What does this translate to under the new 2400 system? Or do most people -still- not care about the writing portion?

        1. Anything over 2100 is fine.

  19. Another minor GPA question.

    If you are rounding a 3.44 to a 3.5, should we always round from two decimals to one if it makes it looker better? For example, should a 3.55 be written as such or rounded to a 3.6?

    Thanks, and as my first comment left here, thanks for all the great posts you’ve had. I added you to my Google Reader a few months ago and your posts are so valuable.

    1. Personally I don’t think it matters too much, but yes, I usually tell my customers to round to one decimal point unless they already have a 3.93 GPA (for example).

  20. You mention there you cannot have a good family life in IBD even as a MD. Are there any exit opportunities (PE and HF) after IBD that will offer you a better family life? Or corporate finance really the way to go?

    Assuming, I still want to do finance after a two-three year stint (if i could get the stint obviously) as a financial analyst.

    1. Well, the buy-side is generally “better” in terms of hours and such but you will never have a 9-5 situation at any HF or PE shop either… it just doesn’t happen. Still lots of travel and business when you’re getting ready to make investments / acquisitions.

      Going to a normal company is probably your best option if you want to do that – but in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that even there, sometimes you can get quite busy and run into long hours as well.

  21. A sincere thank you for all of the info you provide. What is an appropriate rounding range for the GPA? Can a 3.43 be rounded up to 3.5 as well? If not, am I better off only leaving my econ major GPA (>3.5)?

    1. That’s normally fine… you have to use your judgment a bit. Background checks only occur just before you start so they expect your GPA to have changed somewhat. But I would not hesitate to round a 3.43. You definitely want to list both overall and major GPA.

  22. Any thoughts on how you think the SA recruiting will go this year? Could it be that the bottom right now, and in fall ’10 things will look at least a little better?

    1. In general, SA recruiting is not hit as hard as FT recruiting in downturns because banks always like to have a certain number of interns on hand in the summer… and it’s much less of a commitment since they only pay you for a few months. No idea what fall 2010 will look like compared to now, but I would be surprised if it were a lot worse.

    2. Just as a side note to that, I spoke with a friend of a friend who worked at UBS San Francisco for three years as an analyst and he actually told me recruiting for summer interns is “WAY down” so I guess it depends on where you are. I’m not quite sure how much bigger UBS LA is than UBS SF but there you have it.

      1. Yeah, UBS LA is bigger than the SF office but at the same time I think the point remains: banks -rarely- institute a summer hiring freeze as they do with FT. So it might be down but it doesn’t go away completely.

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