by Brian DeChesare Comments (454)

How to Break Into Finance with a Low GPA, No Finance Experience, and Without Going to a Top School: 4 Mistakes to Avoid and 3 Strategies to Embrace

Man playing chess

It’s one of the most common questions/complaints I get…

“All your advice is focused on people at top schools! What about the rest of us!”

“You assume that we have 4.0 GPAs in finance programs!”

“What do I do if I’ve been a door-to-door insurance salesman for the past 10 years?”

Never mind that advice on topics like networking applies to everyone – and that we’ve addressed how to get in from different backgrounds several times before, with more coming up in the near future.

Today I’ll share a few stories from readers who work at banks and are responsible for interviewing potential new hires – and a story from one reader who recently did exactly what the title suggests:

He got into finance with poor grades, no finance experience, and did it coming from an unknown school.

Here’s how he did it…

What NOT to Do

Let’s start with a few stories from readers who are working in investment banking and interviewing potential intern and full-time hires.

Read each of these, and then do the exact opposite of what the person in the story did.

1. Potential New Hires at a Boutique: Back to the Basics

Here’s a portion of an email I received from an Associate at a boutique investment bank who has been interviewing potential interns recently:

“It seems unbelievable, but most of the resumes we got were poorly formatted and had typos. What are they thinking? Also, it was shocking to me how many people had no idea about basic business and accounting concepts like enterprise value and working capital. Even more shocking was how many students claimed their ignorance was understandable because their university did not have a business program.”

Lessons Learned: Go back to the basics. If your resume has typos and you can’t explain enterprise value, your chances are 0%. Investment banking is a hyper-competitive field that attracts Type-A personalities and overachiever workaholics.

But despite how competitive it is, it’s still worth remembering that the majority of applicants don’t even get the basics right… and at true regional boutiques, you run into even fewer interviewees who know their stuff 100%.

It goes back to one of my favorite points: don’t overestimate the competition.

2. The Guy Who Couldn’t Take No for an Answer: Avoid “Jack Bauer”-Style Networking

This story comes from a friend who works at a boutique outside the US. This was an in-person story, so I’ll quote my friend as accurately as possible:

“I had one guy who requested an informational meeting with me… so we met for coffee once. I could tell that he didn’t know that much, and during the meeting he was trying way too hard to impress me rather than just being himself. I told him we weren’t hiring anyone at the moment, but he kept pressing me for more meetings.

Within 2 weeks, he had emailed me about 5 times asking if I was free for more informational interviews. By the 5th email I basically stopped responding to him.”

Lessons Learned: Persistence is good… to a certain degree. You have to read your contacts and decide who likes you, who is open to further discussions, and who doesn’t want to have anything to do with you.

Remember, a networking ninja is stealthy – but emailing someone 5 times in 2 weeks is the complete opposite. Rather than subtly extracting information from your target, you’re more like Jack Bauer torturing a suspected terrorist to get information on the next attack.


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Subtlety comes with practice and there’s no quick-fix solution: the best advice is to get out there and start talking to people. If no one responds favorably, re-think your approach and ask your friends and anyone you’ve spoken with for honest feedback.

It’s probably too aggressive to contact someone more than once every few weeks unless you know him/her very well and have extremely specific questions.

A BIG part of going from networking newbie to networking ninja is determining your “most valuable” contacts and acting accordingly.

3. The “Finance Expert”: Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

It’s tempting to claim that you have a ton of finance experience to stand out – and that temptation is especially strong if you don’t have top grades, a banking internship, or an Ivy League name on your resume.

But bankers can detect that type of deception instantly, and will always call you out on it – as in this story from a friend who just interviewed one candidate:

“Had a guy who told me he has ‘built financial models and performed relative valuation such as trading comps and transaction comps.’

I asked him to walk me through how he spread those comps… and then he just stumbled and started going off on a tangent for 5 minutes without actually answering the question. Not knowing is one thing, but his biggest mistake was lying about it.”

Lessons Learned: Don’t lie, especially about something that the interviewer can easily determine is a lie – whether it’s “fluent in Mandarin” or “knowing how to spread trading comps.”

It’s one thing if you’re exaggerating your role in a “company you founded” (with your friends in a backyard in high school) and the facts are harder to check, but when it’s something concrete you can’t afford fabrication.

Only bend the truth when you won’t get called on it and when it benefits you in some way.

4. The “Steep Learning Curve”: Wait, Why Did You Want to Do Investment Banking Again?

It’s amazing, but some interviewees have no idea why they’re actually applying to investment banking jobs. I get at least 1 email per month asking what the “best reason to say you want to do i-banking” is… and here’s the truth:

Think for yourself about why you actually want to do it and use that as your reason.

And make sure you have a good reason – unlike the guy below (another story from a friend at a boutique)

“Another guy told me he wanted to get into i-banking ‘because nowhere else would provide a steeper learning curve where he could learn the most in two years.’ He kept rambling on about learning… but I had no clue WHAT he wanted to learn – so I asked him if he wanted to learn i-banking, or learn how to learn… he was TONGUE TIED.”

Lessons Learned: Your “story” and answer to “why i-banking” (or “why PE,” “why consulting,” “why anything”) are the most important parts of any interview – and if you have bad answers, you’ll never make it past the first round.

Saying something generic like “I want to learn” can potentially work but you need to elaborate and say what it is you want to learn specifically – and then tie it into your background and what you’ve done before.

A tech consultant saying he wants to understand the big picture of the industry when applying for tech banking makes sense.

But if you limit your response to “I want to learn” without elaborating, the interviewer would rightfully turn around and say, “So enroll in a Ph.D. program – what are you doing here? Or go read a lot of books.”

From Failure to Success: Getting in With a Low GPA, No Background, and No Top School

No matter what your grades and education are like, you absolutely need to have your “story” together and have good answers to the basic questions.

But if you’re not coming from a “4.0 at Harvard” background, you may be tempted to exaggerate and be overly aggressive when networking, both of which can hurt you.

Here’s how one reader avoided all that and got into finance despite having a low GPA, no prior experience, AND after he had already been working full-time in another industry:

“I know that in one of your recent posts a reader had mentioned that they wanted to hear a story about someone who came from a non-target school, with a lower-than-average GPA, and no finance experience, who made their way into the industry.

Well, I am that person! I went to a small non-target college that no one has heard of, and got under a 3.0 there (though I got a 4.0 on the social scale!).

I’ve been working for the past few years as a tech consultant, though I also did some management consulting-type work.

I recently got an offer from a hybrid banking/consulting boutique, and did it by networking with an alum from my school who I cold-called. He was fairly high-up so it was a good decision to go to him directly.

During my interview process, rather than getting technical questions on accounting and finance, I was asked to provide sample work product showing my writing, presentation, and basic modeling abilities.

I know that’s not the norm at bulge brackets, but I think anyone applying to boutiques and hybrid firms should know that – especially if you have some full-time work experience, showing them what you can do (literally) plays a big role in getting offers.”

Lessons Learned:

1. Although he didn’t go to a target school with a strong network in finance, he used that to his advantage by cold-calling someone high-up and using the rare alumni card to get an “in.”

How many calls do you think someone like that gets?

Not many if he’s from a non-target school.

2. He leveraged his background by applying to a hybrid firm rather than a pure bank. By appropriately spinning his consulting experience, he made it sound like he was well-suited for the position.

And since it was a boutique, his chances were higher to begin with.

3. There’s more than one way to impress. Especially for anyone working full-time and applying to small firms, bringing in examples of your previous work is an effective and often-overlooked strategy.

You have a big advantage over anyone still in school, because you’ve already proven yourself in another field – and you need to use that to your advantage.

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. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your article. I really hope you could shed some advice with my situation since it’s been 2.5 years since I graduated (non-target) – 3.9 GPA – however with no solid work experience except for 3 months in wealth management and another short gig in accounting. It’s been over a year that I’ve been trying to break into IB and developed a big learning curve, however it is not getting easier. The problem is I’m not getting interviews (only had two companies so far), and networking hasn’t helped. I signed up for your course, learned it all, and developed a very thorough understanding of concepts. What do you recommend I do?


    1. It’s tough to say without more information (did you go to a target school? What types of internships did you have?), but at this stage, you are better off giving up on IB for now and getting another job at a Big 4 firm, in corporate finance at a normal company, or at an independent valuation firm. You do not want long gaps on your resume no matter what. It’s much better to get one of those other jobs first to get work experience somewhere, and then think about IB again or consider options like a Master’s program or MBA in the future.

      1. Thank you for your reply! Sorry, I went to a non-target school and majored in finance and economics. I had one accounting internship during school, and then worked in wealth mgmt, and after that temped in accounting for a little while. The thing is it truly is my dream career, and I have worked so hard to learn everything. I’m based in Northern Virginia. So you don’t think I have a good chance at LBS?

        1. If you’re asking about LBS as in London Business School, it is a bad idea to attend any MBA program without more substantial full-time work experience. So, as I said above (and as recent articles/stories on the site all indicate), your best option is to work in a related field first and then move into IB. A Master’s in Finance program might also make sense if you can gain work experience in a related field before attending.

  2. Hi Brian,

    My name is Raihan, and I’m from Indonesia. I am currently on my third-year (last semester) in Monash University Australia (no. 68 in the world), undertaking Bachelor’s degree in Banking and Finance, and Minoring in Economics Strategy and Business Management.

    I have a 3.38 GPA and 78.33 Weighted Average Mark. I’ve had an intern for 2 months in a small financial planning service, and a part-time work at a restaurant for 4 months. I’ve also joined several organisations which are voluntary.

    I am really interested in applying for either consulting, investment, or banking firms (finance). Would my resume be attractive enough? what would you suggest me do?

    1. It is extremely tough to win those roles in Australia because the market is so small, nepotism is prevalent, and much of the recruiting only takes place at the top few universities. So… first you need to focus on one specific area, and then you need to think about whether it makes sense to stay in Australia or not. There are some solid finance opportunities there outside of IB:

      1. Thanks!

        If I then decide to work in Indonesia, I would aim to work in PwC, E&Y or investment firms such as; JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. In your opinion, would it be possible? what should I do to improve my chances. Thank you.


        1. Potentially, yes, but I don’t know the size of the industry in Indonesia. Most deal activity in Asia is concentrated in HK and Singapore, and there’s also some in Japan, but Japan does everything differently and you pretty much need to be a native to work there.

  3. Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for the article. I am a final year student currently on a track for a 2:2 (roughly translates into 2.7~ ish on the US scale?) from a target school in UK majoring in economics. I’ve had a short off-cycle internship in management consulting in my first year, and a summer with a small fund in my second year. The cutoff grade for the banks in UK for most finance jobs seem to be 2:1(roughly 3.3+). Will it still be possible for me to enter the field of equity research?
    Thanks in advance,

    1. It’s possible, yes, but it’s always harder with a lower GPA. If you do a search for “low GPA” or “lower GPA” on this site, you can find interviews and examples from other readers who had the same problem and still won job offers.

  4. Hi Brian,

    I know this article is ancient, but it’s given me some hope. I’ve got a 3.5 at a target non-elite school with non-finance business experience, and I am trying to land an internship. At my school, people say the “cutoff” is a 3.7. I know if I get my foot in the door, I can show banks I’m smart/hardworking, even among the finance crowd.

    My plan is to network and learn a lot of finance before the interviews. Are there other things I can do to make sure I’m not screened out of the game other than getting my CL pitch down?

  5. Hi Brian,
    I’m from a target school, recently managed to raise my GPA to 3.2 and am currently recruiting for full-time. I summered in a MO role at a BB, and I have an opportunity with a MM IB. My goal is to hopefully get into IB at an “elite boutique”, or a good PE fund. Would you recommend continuing in the MO role at a big bank for more networking exposure, or is the actual investment banking experience at a small bank more useful for my long term plan? Or is there a completely different path you would suggest altogether?
    Thank you, I appreciate the advice.

    1. Get the actual IB experience at a small bank.

  6. Two middle-market firms will be conducting on-campus interviews at my school for full-time analyst positions this fall. Both of them state that the minimum GPA is a 3.2, and unfortunately I have a 3.01, although my major GPA is significantly higher and I think I’d be able to explain my circumstances in an interview. Fortunately I’ve been networking with alumni at both firms, and I’m pretty sure I know which analysts will be screening resumes and deciding who gets interviews. What’s the best way for me to essentially ask them to do me a favor and grant me the interview despite my GPA being below the cutoff?

    I appreciate the help.

    1. Just ask them directly what to do given that you’re below the cutoff GPA. Nothing special other than directness and persistent follow-up.

  7. Hello
    I am doing ba honours in accounting and finance in a uk based univiresity in dubai. I have jusy completed my first year in the university and got distinction in all my subjects. I want to get into investment banking. So what kind of finance intership i should do for in the summer break. How should i proceed. Can i get into invesrment banking after my graduation or for geting into investment banking a masters degree is a must. One more thing can i go for cfa in order to get into an invesrment bank or MBA. Could you please sugest me a proper plan.

  8. Mackenzie

    Hi! Thank you for all your advice! I read through your other posts and the comments and there are some similar to my situation but I just wanted your advice. I just graduated from a top school but I was an engineering major and have a low GPA, and also have no relevant experience. My main goal is to combine my renewable energy passion & experience, and my quantitative skills from engineering, with (limited/future) finance experience so that I can advise companies in the RE industry / be a great influence on this industry. I like the fast paced environment, the challenges, hard work and the learning experiences that comes from IB, and the potential to be a part of investing in REnergy. After speaking with some people I was told IB is the route to my success/end goal and I’m excited to possibly get into IB. But I know it will be tough, do you have any advice for me?
    Should I put my GPA on my resume if its a 2.6 but i can show an improvement to a 3.2 my 3rd year? should I put an objective on my resume if I’m just networking passing it along and not specifically applying to a job ad? (I have it now as “An analyst position in Investment Banking, utilizing my quantitative skills and education.” OR AS “An entry-level position in investment analysis within the energy sector, utilizing my quantitative skills and education.”)
    Also, should I continue to network in IB and hope for an opening there or should I move elsewhere? (either completely get away from IB or go somewhere else that would help me in the future to get into IB?) I’m open to any and all suggestions.
    I value your opinion and expertise and THANK YOU in advance!!

    1. To be blunt, you don’t have much of a chance at IB in the recruiting environment of 2017 if you have a 2.6 GPA and no relevant experience and you have already graduated. You’re better off going for a Master’s in Finance degree, getting a much higher GPA from that, and gaining finance-related experience during/before the program so you can eventually leverage it into a front-office role.

      This article is *ancient* – 2009 – and we should probably just delete it. Please see:

      1. Hi Brian,

        I am in a similar situation, do you think if I had gained experience in other fields rather than finance (e.g. consulting) it would be somehow easier to transition to IB without needing to take Master’s in finance degree? The reason is I am currently unable to afford to go to school for Master’s (especially that I’m an international student so funding is limited).

        1. Yes, maybe, but a GPA that low will still make it extremely difficult to win interviews.

  9. Hi. I am a rising senior at Baruch College and I have no internship for this summer. I have no relevant work experience in finance and I’m struggling to come up with an approach for full time recruiting in the fall. I am planning to network as much as possible from now till when school starts. My goal to end is to be a buy-side analyst at an A/M arm of a BB. I know this is a reach for me because people will think I am fake when I network with them and they will think “Why now?”. I am planning to find an internship during the fall to bolster my resume. What are some options I have post grad if I can’t land anything in A/M?

    1. You are probably not going to get a front-office role at a bank or asset management firm at this stage if you have no relevant work experience. This article is really old (2009), and you wouldn’t necessarily be able to use strategies like this anymore.

      I would recommend going for something like an audit role at a Big 4 firm or some type of valuation role at an independent firm, and then eventually moving into asset management or banking from there. Corporate finance at a normal company in a rotational program might also work.

  10. Hi, i hold a BSc in Economics with a modest GPA and strong quantitative backround . I got accepted at target b-school in London for a masters in Corporate Finance. I am REALLY interested in finance and i have a strong technical backround in various areas of financial economics (from fixed income securities and stocks to corporate finance and macroeconomics). However , i do not have ANY work experience whatsoever. I intend to pursue a career in the financial services industry (hopefully IB but i am willing to take my chances with anything from consulting and the Big 4 to research roles and corporate finance) , mainly through summer and off-cycle internships and graduate programs.I am a competitive person who values knowledge and appreciates any opportunity to learn.How do see my chances of landing an internship or a place at a graduate program at a big bank and how tough will it be for me to persuade the employers to believe in me and give me a chance to prove what i can do. PS. I’m not from UK and i’m 22 years old.

    1. It depends on how much effort you put into winning internships at smaller places first… please see:

  11. Hello Brian

    I recently graduated from a non-target school in Canada with LOW GPA(below 3.0). I major in Economics and minor in Math.

    I’ve been running my own tutoring business for a year and half now, supporting the growth of a student base from 10 to over 100 students; managing the growth of a tutor pool from 3 to 15 tutors. Prior to the tutoring business, I was the manager of a cafeteria on my school campus for one year. Also I have gained some basic knowledge in fundamental and technical analysis from forex trading, my live trading account is over 5 years old now.

    I’ve been thinking about my future career path these days, landing a financial analyst job is my dream, but super low GPA and lack of banking related internships will be a road block to this. Could you please give me advice on how to break into finance/IB based on my situation, does the experience of running a growing and profitable small business help at all?

    Also I’m very interested in your resume / CV editing service, but thought would hear what you say first before sign up. Thank you very much!

    1. At this point, you would probably need a Master’s degree combined with some type of finance internship to have a good shot at getting into the industry, at least if you want to do IB. You might be able to get a corporate finance role at a normal company if you network aggressively. Otherwise, your GPA and non-target school and lack of internships are too much to overcome. The tutoring experience might help for some jobs, but it could hurt you for IB since they’ll wonder how committed you are to finance or if you’ll go back to start your own company in the near future.

  12. Hey Brian, I recently graduated from a non-target big state school, and work in finance. I have no investment banking experience to speak of, but would like to “break in”. I plan on enrolling in some of your courses, but I’m wondering what my strategy should be…should I work on getting an Analyst position at a Boutique bank, or shoot for an internship? Does an analyst position/internship at a no-name boutique actually help my case or hurt it? I’m limited in my city to only a few banks and wonder what my best route should be. Thanks!

    1. It really depends on what your experience consists of. If it’s a front-office finance role, you should focus on moving closer to banking first (e.g., independent valuation firm, Big 4 advisory) and then network your way into banking from there. Banks won’t hire you for internships if you’re already working full-time. Front-office roles can only help you, even if they’re at no-name firms. But past a certain point, you may have to consider another degree to get in (past 2-3 years, usually you will need an MBA).

  13. Hi,

    You once mentioned 3.5 was the “cutoff.” Is it worth it to take 2 extra classes to raise my GPA to a 3.5? I only need 4 classes to graduate. I will have to get all As. This wouldn’t be too hard to do since I’m a liberal arts major. I’m also applying to MMS programs so I don’t know if I need to raise my GPA to a 3.5 for banking.


    1. It depends on what your GPA is now… if it’s a 3.4, no, but if it’s a 3.2, yes.

  14. I’ve read similar posts to this and it seems like all of these types of guys end up at boutiques or specialized banks. Is getting into bulge brackets or how should I say it, some of the more prestigious roles in finance just impossible with the kind of background like the guy in this post had?

  15. Hi Brian,

    I am currently working in a technology company with 10+ yrs experience. I am also a MBA student with the focus right now on Finance related courses.. I wanted to get into Corporate/Technology finance. I dont have work-experience in Finance, most of the knowledge is academic. Can you guide how to proceed – in-terms of interview preparation etc?


      1. Thanks Brian for sharing the links. Was very useful.


  16. My wife got a Business Degree from a good school and had an internship with a defense contractor. She has wanted to break into Finance but has had no luck. I would like to help her out. She needs to shore up her resume. Are there programs you would recommend?

    1. That’s a really broad question; you have to define which specific area of finance first because the best options depend on that.

  17. Hello. I graduated with a BA in Actuarial Science from Baruch College and recently got interested in finance. I have a 3.55 GPA and no internship experience. I passed exam FM/2 so finance coursework is not difficult for me. I was thinking if I should get a second Bachelors degree from Baruch in Finance so I would qualify for internships as a student, or go for the Masters in Finance at Baruch. I am unsure if a Masters would make me more competitive or overqualified as a candidate. If IB doesn`t work out, I would be happy to have a gig in other divisions of a bank like JP, MS, or GS. Can you give me some advice?

    1. A Master’s in Finance is probably a better idea at this point. You wouldn’t be overqualified. Plenty of Master’s students also win internships at banks.

      1. Miss Jersey

        Do investment banks favor the MBA or any Master’s degree? I have one in Leadership. Does an Analytics degree win any points?

  18. Hello,
    I am Canadian and work for a major bank in Toronto. My job title is Senior Financial Services manager which is equivalent of senior personal banker in USA. My total professional experience is 16 years.

    I am pursuing US CMA part 1 and want to work as financial analyst in companies like Unilever or P&G. In the past I have worked for a major distributor for Unilever in Saudi Arabia as a financial analyst.

    I also did my MBA in finance from UK.

    What are my chances and how do I get into the career I want.


    1. If you had a similar role before, you should be able to get it again… it just takes networking and possibly some outreach to headhunters.

  19. Hello,

    Thanks for the solid tips in this write-up. I’m currently a senior at a target school. I transferred from a non-target university where I had a 3.9 GPA and at my current school I have a 3.0 GPA (from just two semesters).

    I completed an internship during my junior summer at a boutique investment bank in the city where I’m from. I’ve been to several information sessions held by bank recruiters so far this semester and they basically told me I don’t have a shot at landing an offer with my GPA.

    The career advisor on campus told me that with my GPA, I should go into corporate finance instead, do an MBA, then switch to banking.

    I’m still committed to trying to land an offer. Should I rely on cold emailing alumni from my school at smaller banks to attempt to get a few interviews?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. At this stage, yes, cold-emailing alumni and random people at smaller banks is your best shot at winning an IB offer. However, I would tend to agree with your adviser that it’s better to work in another role (CF, Big 4, valuation, etc.) first and then move into IB… and you don’t necessarily need an MBA if you do it quickly enough.

  20. ebolamonkey

    Engineering background and veteran (Officer) with four years of active duty. Low undergrad GPA and average (3.4) Masters gpa. Didn’t want to do the MBA to rebrand route. Tired of school and having an artificial environment for networking.

    Currently doing CFA and working at a Fortune 5 company. Targeting transaction advisory services type jobs at Big 4 audit firms to get exposure to M&A.

    Of all the options, cold calling and networking is the best and most interesting. It fits well with my personality and I love talking to people and being an extrovert with a purpose. Leadership experience in the military plays an invaluable part for boosting your confidence and having discipline to do everything necessary to succeed.

    Only targeting boutique firms and playing smart to find a workplace that accepts me and good fit for my personality.

    For those who are stuck, you might want to try a veteran rebrand. Big banks soak up veterans to get your foot in the door.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  21. Hi,

    I am currently a rising Junior in Economics with Math minor from a U.S. Top 30 University. I’m an international student from China and have some finance/consulting related internship experience outside of U.S. Would it still be possible to break into finance with a poor GPA (3.39) while the recruiting season for BB/IB starts in September/October and most BB’s GPA requirements is 3.4+ or 3.5+? During networking, shall I mention my concerns on GPA? Thanks!

    1. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s more difficult and you need to spread a wide net to have a shot. If you focus only on large banks, you could easily end up with no offers. So I would focus on smaller firms as well.

  22. Hello,

    I am hearing disability Student. I graduated Bachelor of Science in Economics Honours from University of Calcutta, India on 30 June 2015. It is non-target school for investment banking recruitment. My GPA is 43% and qualified Second Class Honours and GRE Score is 335 (Math 170, Verbal 165) Can I eligible to apply Entry Level Position at top 5 Investment Banking such as J P Morgan, Blackstone etc with my college low GPA? and I want to work at J P Morgan and Blackstone in Mumbai, India. What will I do?

    My University grades are given below:
    60%-100%: First Class Honours.
    40%-59%: Second Class Honours.
    30%-39%: Pass Class.
    Below 30%: Fail.

    Kindly give me information.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I think you can still apply and see how that goes.

  23. How do i get a job having poor grades degree from unknown college and not an MBA also? i don’t have option to do MBA from top b schools also because of poor grades is there any possible way to get into IB?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure of your situation, but this article should give you more tips on how to do so:

  24. Is it possible to get into a Bulge Bracket Banks in US having poor grades with that if i did CA (India), CFA, GMAT, TOEFL?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say work experience matters a lot more than CFA, and other test exams (GMAT/TOEFL aren’t terribly important for BBs).

  25. My GPA for Ms in Finance(from a UK based university) has been less than 3, but I completed my masters in 2008!! I have substantial work experience in Finance in India. When I moved to the states, I did voluntary work in order to avoid gaps on my resume and recently completed a Certificate in Financial Accounting with an A grade. How should I deal with interviewers when they ask me for GPA for my Masters which is very low? Also would it be ok to tell them I do not know the exact GPA at this point!!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It is hard to go around it, best is to explain why you have such a low GPA

  26. Hello! I’m in the same boat as many. I’m a rising senior from a top liberal arts school (though non-target for IB), have an average GPA (rounds up to 3.5), no internships, and not a huge network in finance.

    I went into college with the intent of pursuing medicine (grew lukewarm on the career at didn’t like the idea of being broke till 35 and being several hundred thousands dollars in debt at high interest) switched to economics (though still had no clue career-wise), and didn’t decide to pursue IB until the latter half of junior year. That means, of course, I missed junior year recruiting and having no finance-related internships on my resume.

    I do, however, have a website/e-business related to finance, trading, and data analytics, have been profitably trading the financial markets using my own fund base for four years, and have done freelance work on trading the financial markets. I also have a perfect SAT score that I placed on my resume but I’m unsure if that helps much at this point (I have heard that some banks, like Lazard, may request SAT scores).

    So needless to say, I’m behind. But I’m well versed in financial modeling, would pass the technical interview pretty easily if given the opportunity to interview, and otherwise show that I have the ability and motivation with what I say, but the lack of internship experience is sinking my ship. I would hate to have my career delayed (or ruined entirely) merely because I didn’t know what to pursue in life until I was 21 instead of the those that have put themselves in the IB pipeline since 18, 19, 20.

    What chance if any do you believe I have at landing a full-time analyst offer with those credentials? Would mid-market boutiques take interest in this type of non-traditional candidate? I’d even do an internship at minimum wage for a few months if they need me to prove myself first.

    Thanks for any insight!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say 50/50. I’d focus on networking via LinkedIn and approach mid-market to boutique/smaller firms and offer to do pro bono work first.

      1. Many thanks for the reply, Nicole. Is pursuing fall internships worth it? I don’t want to spread myself too thin, but it may seem like a necessity to get in with a firm before application submissions.

        How are unpaid internships viewed? I’ve heard of people failing background checks as non-paid employees due to the lack of W-2’s.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yes it can potentially increase your chances. If you’re on an unpaid internship I don’t think its a big deal because it opens a lot of doors especially if you don’t have any experience. I wouldn’t worry about W-2s. If you don’t have any experience having some experience, even as an unpaid intern, is probably view more favourably.

          1. Thanks, Nicole. One more question… I know you are busy.

            I have heard that summer analyst positions are off limits to those who are about to graduate (i.e., they interview people in their penultimate year of study and practically no one else). Is there any particular reason for this other than that’s simply the natural chain of progression that they’d like adhere to?

            I feel I’d be better suited for an internship in the banks eyes due to a lack of IB experience. It gives candidates a ten-week trial period, instead of a two-year stint. Of course, after the ten weeks is up I’d be unemployed, but could maybe temporarily move to a different division in the bank or hop into a full-time role should a first-year analyst quit or take a leave of absence.

            Is there any chance they’d be willing to accept a 2016 graduate as a 2016 summer analyst or should I scrap that idea entirely and continue to focus on full-time recruiting only? Thanks!

          2. M&I - Nicole

            Yes probably, it is hard to say. I think they want to limit their pool of candidates.

            I’d focus on full time recruiting (perhaps you can look at off cycle hires).

  27. Hi, I already successfully broke in investment banking (here in the Philippines) with a 2.2GPA (economics background). I currently work for one of the big banks here and I was just wondering what my chances are in getting in a bulge bracket bank like UBS or Credit Suisse here? Would they still look at my GPA or will they just focus on deal experience? Let’s say I have 1-2 years of investment banking experience at the analyst level.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I believe they’ll focus on deal experience; I wouldn’t worry too much about your GPA.

      1. So basically since I broke in investment banking I’m good to go and apply to a bulge bracket without having to worry on my GPA? Despite only having 1-2 years experience? Sorry, I just wanted to clarify as this would definitely make me so happy as my GPA is horrible.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Yes, assuming you’ve got decent relevant work and deal experience.

    2. Could you share some of your experience on how did you get employed and overall situation with IBs and PEs in South-east Asia? What should I aim for in order to break into? Did you graduate from target school and do you have any professional certifications? I’m basically more interested in buy side.

      1. I can’t speak for Southeast Asia as a whole but in the Philippines I can list down some ways on how to break in IB:

        1. Graduating from a top 3 university here would definitely help.
        2. They aren’t that strict with GPAs here as compared in the US. Although, having a GPA like mine (2.2) did require me to network and cold-call/email A LOT. As long as you have at least a 3.0+ GPA, I’d think you’d have a chance at cracking the industry.

        For PEs here, it’s a totally different story. I haven’t heard of anyone that’s gotten in the industry straight out of university. PEs here tend to prefer people with IB experience. Hope this answers your questions.

        P.S. No certifications, just pure cold-calling/email and networking

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Thanks for your input!

  28. hello. I am a mba graduate from south korea. graduated in february from new business school (since 2007 only) aacsb accredited, but not well known though. courses, but mostly self studying gave me basic level of depth in practically every subject of finance, nothing special or extraordinary but still I know stuff. now wanna proceed in IB or buy side, and all i have by the moment is bundle of rejections from more or less solid firms. it’s hard to get full time i see – no experience or anything that could make me to be distinguished to some extent. internships usually require last year students, so here is a problem too even I keep applying. im thinking of cfa, even it’s time consuming but still might be useful, especially here, but anyway I don’t want to waste my time working in business development ( as i do now) when I would be better off if could get a relevant internship at least. does it make sense for me to apply online for offered programs ( as internships or student programs) even i don’t meet basic requirements, or should I consider something else? thank you

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say studying at a target school in the States may increase your chances quite a lot. Yes you can apply online though it may not be too useful. Networking and cold emailing people may help you a lot!

  29. Hi, I am an undergrad from a non-target school currently pursuing a double major in economics and finance. I am averaging 3.6-3.8 GPA right now. As I know that getting a job or internship will be difficult due to my school being a non-target, do you think my chances will improve if I get into a reputable Grad school? I will be applying to some good school ins Europe also like the Stockholm School of Economics and HEC Paris, while unis like John Hopkins U here at home. Stockholm ranks in the top 10 in the world for their finance program while the JHU is relatively new and unaccredited. If I had to choose which one should I do? Also since I will be pursuing a MS in Finance anyways, should I make the extra effort for CFA?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes your chances can potentially increase if you attend a target school. Perhaps HEC Paris? I believe readers maybe able to provide better suggestions. Yes if you have time, having the CFA can potentially help you if you are interested in the buy-side.

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