How to Switch Banks and Upgrade Your Full-Time Offer with Investment Banking Accelerated Interviews
So you made it through summer internship recruiting…
You submitted your resume 131 times….
You interviewed at 21 different banks…
And in the end, you got an internship offer.
It wasn’t exactly the bank you wanted to work at, but you outperformed many other students.
And now you’ve started your internship, you’ve been there a few weeks, and you’re already thinking about what’s next.
Specifically, you want to “upgrade” and move to a bigger and better-known bank with more prestige, better exit opportunities, and, uh, whatever else it offers.
So how do you do it?
First: Do You Really Want to Do This?
We’ve received an unprecedented number of questions about this topic, so I felt compelled to write something about it.
But I have to start with a “Surgeon General’s Warning” first: there’s a good chance you DON’T want to do this.
Many interns go into the job strictly aiming to get something better out of it.
As a result, they fail to focus on the most important task in any internship: winning a full-time return offer.
And if you don’t get that return offer, you are at a big disadvantage because the first question in any accelerated interview will be: “Did you get a return offer?”
Also, there is a chance that your current bank might find out about what you’re doing.
They may not rescind your offer, but if they haven’t made a decision yet, rumors about you interviewing elsewhere will not work in your favor.
Finally, the increase in prestige, deal flow, and exit opportunities may not be worth the time, effort, and risk.
It’s almost like a lower-risk version of reneging on an offer: yes, there’s upside in moving from a 2-person boutique to Goldman Sachs, but there’s far less upside in moving from Credit Suisse to Goldman Sachs.
Step 1: Understand That It’s Quite Difficult to Do
If you’ve read the warning and understand what you’re getting into, you also need to realize this is quite difficult to pull off.
Think about why banks offer internships: an internship is simply an 8-12 week interview.
You can’t “fake” your ability over that long a period, so it’s the best way to evaluate how you’ll perform in real life.
If banks could do so, they would recruit every single full-time analyst and associate from their intern classes each year.
In weaker markets, they do.
In stronger markets, more spots might be available – but it’s never a massive number.
If banks hire around 1,500 new investment banking analysts in the US each year, and summer internships convert to full-time offers at an 80-90% rate, you’re looking at maybe 150-300 openings.
I think that’s on the very high side, so a few dozen spots total in a place like New York City might be more accurate.
Oh, and there might be 100+ interns competing for those spots.
Also, luck plays an enormous factor in this process. Sometimes, banks don’t get a good “yield” from their interns; other times, they do.
It’s impossible to know in advance which firms/groups/locations have the most pressing hiring needs, so you’ll need a broad set of contacts to make this happen.
Step 2: Understand How the Process Works
It’s difficult to find information on this topic because most banks do not market their accelerated processes.
Occasionally, they will hold networking cocktails in the mid-summer period for anyone who’s “on their radar.”
But in most cases, you need to be proactive or you need to be contacted by them because of details they know about you.
The process starts in mid-to-late July and extends through late August, and the larger banks might hold 3-4 accelerated Superdays in that period.
To get “on their radar” and receive invites to these interviews, you generally need to be in one of the following categories:
- You interviewed with the bank for summer internships and received an offer, but declined it and accepted an offer elsewhere.
- You interviewed with the bank, did very well, but did not receive an offer because other candidates were slightly better – or maybe you dropped out of the process before they could make a decision.
- You’re working at a different bank, but you networked with this bank a fair amount and you have some “advocates” at the firm.
- You’ve done something closely related, like a private equity internship, and someone at your current firm referred you to the bank.
- You didn’t interview with the bank or go through their summer internship recruiting process, but you’ve networked extensively with people at the bank.
If you’re NOT in one of those categories, good luck.
I won’t say it’s impossible to take advantage of accelerated recruiting, but your efforts might be better spent elsewhere.
If you’re still on board, you need to decide on your networking strategy next.
Step 3: Determine How Much Networking / Interviewing You’ve Already Done
This check is easy: do you have contacts at the 5-10 banks (at least) you might consider moving to?
For example, if you’re doing a middle-market summer internship right now, could you email someone at each of the bulge-bracket banks and get a response?
If so, good. Your strategy will consist of emailing everyone you already know at those places.
If not, you’ll need to put in more effort and start reaching out to new people earlier on.
Here’s a simple “litmus test”: do you have at least 2-3 contacts at each of 5-7 other banks with whom you’ve spoken on the phone or met in real life?
If so, you can rely on those contacts.
If not, get back to pounding the pavement (but still contact anyone you do know at those firms).
Step 4: If You Already Have Good Contacts at Banks…
You should keep this outreach effort very simple and use an email template like the following:
SUBJECT: Full-Time [Analyst/Associate] Recruiting at [Firm Name]
I hope all is well. I just wanted to give you a quick update – I ended up accepting an internship offer at [Firm Name], which I’m currently completing.
I’ve enjoyed my time here and have done well, but I am still very interested in opportunities at your firm, so I wanted to check with you on the best way to participate in the accelerated recruiting process available for summer interns at other banks.
Normally, you should stay focused and go for one location, one firm type, and one industry group, especially if you’re an MBA-level candidate.
In this case, though, you have NO idea which groups will need additional full-time hires.
So I would recommend a broader approach (i.e., contact anyone you spoke with if you would consider working at his/her firm).
You can do this via your Gmail account during non-work hours, or queue up the emails and set them to go out during the day.
You might want to contact 2-3 people, each at a different bank, each day. Start with the firms at the top of your list and move down from there.
You can start this in the mid-July timeframe and continue to the end of the month.
You don’t want to start too early (i.e., early June) because it will look a little odd to say, “I’ve done so well… after exactly one week of this internship!”
If you don’t get a response, wait a week and follow-up with the person, and perhaps shorten the follow-up to a few days if the end of July is approaching.
Step 5: If You Don’t Already Have Good Contacts at Banks…
In this case, you have more work cut out for you.
It’s also tricky because of the problem I mentioned above: it doesn’t sound credible to say, “I just started working here a week ago. You don’t know me. Oh, and how can I join your firm?”
So if you’re in this position, you might want to make it less direct and go for a short informational interview with something like:
SUBJECT: Introduction – Current Summer Intern at [Firm Name]
I’m currently working at [Firm Name] as an investment banking summer intern, and I’m interested in a long-term career in the industry. Given your background in [Describe their background], I’m sure you would have many insights into this field.
I know you’re extremely busy, but if you have any advice on working on [Describe whatever types of deals the bank does without directly saying you want to move to or work at the bank… or just ask for advice on winning full-time offers], I would greatly appreciate 5 minutes of your time.”
Reach out to alumni, anyone you can find on LinkedIn, and anyone else you can find using all the usual strategies as soon as possible.
In other words, don’t wait until mid-to-late July to do this; set up short informational interviews, or just a quick email exchange, in June.
And then in July, “make the ask” following a template similar to the one above in Step 4.
Modify the template to read that your internship has gone well at the halfway point, but you’re interested in opportunities at their firm and you would appreciate knowing the details of the accelerated recruiting process there.
Once again, follow-up emails are essential; if you don’t hear back within five days, send a follow-up message.
Step 6: Prepare for Recruiting and Interviews
Assuming you get good responses – where a good answer means “Send me your resume/CV” – you will need to prepare your resume/CV and also prepare for interviews.
You will probably have minimal real deal experience as a summer intern, so you have to spin what you have but avoid going overboard with bold claims.
This article on what to do when your summer internship sucks and you can’t make it better has some tips for spinning your experience.
Unlike in the normal recruiting process, in accelerated recruiting many banks conduct all rounds of interviews on a single day.
I have no idea what happens if that single day happens to be a weekday, but I guess you can come up with a medical emergency…
The large banks might hold a few of these accelerated interview days in August, and then make offer decisions quickly.
The first question in most interviews will be: “Did you get a return offer?”
As mentioned in the article on what to do if you don’t get a full-time return offer, it is almost always a bad idea to lie about this.
If you don’t know yet, that’s a legitimate answer, though they will almost certainly press you on it.
If you say, “No, I didn’t get a return offer,” you’re not necessarily doomed, but you are at a disadvantage against everyone who has an actual return offer.
Aside from that, interviewers will focus heavily on what you did in your internship.
I would not recommend BSing too heavily because interviewers are not stupid: they know that you do crap work in many internships, and that you probably didn’t learn that much in 8 weeks.
You can still frame “independent projects” and self-study as “potential deals,” but make it clear they were speculative and not close to closing.
Another area of focus will be why you’re making this move.
If you’re moving from a boutique or middle-market firm to a bulge bracket, “I want to work on bigger deals” is a not-so-great answer.
The best solution is to research deals the group has worked on, using Capital IQ or Bloomberg or Google searches, reference them and say you’re interested in those types of transactions, and that you also know [Persons X, Y, and Z] at the firm and have heard very positive things from them.
The “Future / Why You’re Here Today” segment in your story is arguably more important than your spark or growing interest in this type of interview.
Got Upgraded Offers?
If you make it through the entire process and upgrade your full-time offer, or you talk your way into a full-time offer when you didn’t have a return offer, great!
If not, it’s probably not the end of the world for all the reasons I stated at the beginning.
Even if you receive no full-time return offer at all, you still have other options (though you may have to “trade down” to find a full-time IB role).
Other Regions, Industries, and More
This article is very US-centric because I don’t know how the process works, or if it exists at all, in other regions.
If you’re reading this and you know how the process works in EMEA, Asia, Australia, or other places, feel free to leave a comment enlightening us.
This concept isn’t relevant for other industries such as private equity or hedge funds because “intern classes” and “analyst/associate classes” don’t exist in the same sense.
Accelerated interviews might exist in management consulting, but if they do, they would have to be even smaller and even less marketed.
While “upgrading” your offer always carries some appeal, the most important point is the one I stated in the beginning: above all else, win the full-time return offer.
If you don’t, hypothetically you might still be able to use accelerated recruiting to win an offer elsewhere….
…but it would be a little like upgrading your car’s exterior while failing to fix the broken engine: you might arrive in style, but you might also crash and burn along the way.
And that’s probably not an upgrade you’d want to accept.
For Further Reading
We have at least a dozen previous articles on summer internships, but here are a few of the most relevant ones:
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