by Brian DeChesare Comments (99)

How to Break Into Investment Banking as an Engineer With No Finance Background: Case Study

Vietnamese engineer with digital tablet inspecting boiling room

There’s no mystery why the article on How to Break Into Investment Banking as an Engineer is one of the most popular on this site, with over 100 comments: it struck a chord with many readers.

You’ve studied engineering or you’ve been an engineer for awhile, and now you want to make the move into investment banking… only you don’t have much business experience.

Here’s how one reader did exactly that and defied the odds to break into investment banking in a terrible market.


Q: You have an interesting story, so let’s go back to the beginning – tell us about how it all started.

A: I came to the US when I was 13, and I didn’t know a single word of English – I moved here from an East Asian country and had to learn everything from scratch in high school.

Despite that handicap, I was able to get into a good university in the US that a lot of banks recruited at.

The only problem was that I couldn’t get any interviews up until my junior year, because I was an engineer and my only internships up until then were technical or quasi-technical (e.g. IT consulting and the like).

Q: Ok, so you have this engineering background, you’re very accomplished quantitatively, but it’s the start of your junior year and you have no finance internships. You’re probably not going to get any interviews – what did you do?

A: I got a school-year internship at a local hedge fund. Since it was informal and since they were looking for someone with good quantitative skills, they were open to my background – at least a lot more so than large banks had been.

Q: Right. But that internship didn’t just fall into your lap – how did you find it, how did you put yourself in the running, and what was the process like?

A: I went through an organization at my school, which set up students interested in finance with local firms. I’ll admit that I did have an advantage going to a “target school” here – you could not pull this off as easily elsewhere.

There were 3 rounds of interviews, and the first few focused on the “why finance”-type questions, my story, and basic technical questions on the financial statements.

In the last round they actually gave me a financial modeling test, even though I was an engineer and had had no classes on the subject.

Q: I’m guessing you passed that one, since you got the internship. How did you do it?

A: I went online and looked at the simple models I could find – basic DCF, comps, and so on. I also asked professors for help.

M&I Note: Asking professors / teachers for help, either with anything technical or even with networking, is an effective and often-overlooked strategy.

About That Summer Internship…

Q: Ok, so you have this school-year hedge fund internship lined up and you at least have something to write on your resume by the time summer recruiting rolls around. How much did it help?

A: It was huge. I didn’t even do that much real modeling work in the internship, but I could write about financial statement analysis, investments, and include banker buzzwords like EBITDA on my resume now.

It probably wouldn’t have worked as well for full-time recruiting since they look for more substantial experience, but it got me a lot of 1st round interviews at bulge bracket banks.

Q: And how did that go for you?

A: The market was really, really bad. I had a decent success rate in terms of getting to Superday interviews, and I got to the final rounds with 2 bulge bracket banks – but it was all downhill from there.

The main problem was that I didn’t have a good answer to the “Walk me through your resume” question – I was fine with the technical and fit questions, but most interviewers listening to me had no idea why I wanted to do investment banking.

So I didn’t get any offers from banks that recruited on-campus – which meant that I had to find an internship at a very late stage, using whatever methods I could.

Q: You said that your “story” needed work initially. What was the refined version that you ended up using in later interviews?

A: Similar to what you recommended before, I said that I was interested in being an investor or doing venture capital in the long-term – which worked well for tech and TMT groups.

For other groups I just talked about my transition away from the purely technical side and into business, and how I saw that continuing into the future.

The key was to focus on long-term goals in addition to summarizing what I had already done – lots of people miss that in their stories.

Q: Ok, so it’s early spring and you still have no internships lined up. Did you hit the panic button?

A: I looked online and found a list of boutique banks in my area, and called around 120 banks to ask about summer internships. I spent hours just talking to people on the phone and then meeting with them in-person – I also realized that I should have started that way earlier.

Q: What was their reaction when you contacted them at such a late stage?

A: A lot of places just said, “Sorry, it’s too late,” while others said, “We just don’t accept interns” because of their small size.

Finally I found one that didn’t “officially” accept interns, but which seemed more open to the idea than other banks.

I called an Analyst, Associate, and MD there and made a strong impression on all of them – so they invited me into interview, and I went through 3 rounds to get the offer.

It was an unpaid position, but at this point I didn’t care because it would allow me to write “Investment Banking Summer Analyst” on my resume.

M&I Note: Often you can “wear people down” and get what you want simply by asking for it repeatedly – never underestimate the power of directly asking for what you want.

Q: Wow. So you cold-called your way to success – how did you get around “objections” that firms gave you when you were cold-calling, like “We’re not hiring” or “We don’t need anyone”?

A: I pitched myself as a good asset for the firm – if they said they didn’t hire interns or didn’t need anyone, I would proposed an unpaid internship and say, “You guys might need help during the summer, even if you’re not busy now – and I’ve done a hedge fund internship before, so I have some experience. It could be beneficial for you, so let’s give it a chance.”

Places were a lot more open to me when I pitched it as less of a long-term commitment and more of a “trial” for them.

Q: You mentioned finding the names of local boutiques online – did you use any other sources to find names and contact information?

A: I tried simple Google searches using “investment banking” and “partners” and similar words and the name of my region, and found some unlisted firms like that.

Q: What about the actual process when you were cold-calling? Who did you call, and what did you say to be put in touch with the right people?

A: I started by calling the main line of the office, saying I was a student at such-and-such university and that I was looking for a summer internship – I kept it very short and then asked them to connect me to the right people.

This actually worked in many cases – if you don’t have the names or contact information of specific bankers, just call the main line and ask for them.

If I couldn’t get through or didn’t hear back, I would follow-up within 2 days and repeat that until I heard something definitive.

Preparing for Full-Time Recruiting

Q: Ok, so you have this internship lined up and something even better to write on your resume now. But I’m assuming you went beyond the normal channels for full-time recruiting, even though you were at a well-known school. How did you continue networking over the summer?

A: Since my bank had never really had interns before, they didn’t always know what to do with me – which meant that I had a lot of free time.

I had a whole office to myself, so whenever I had downtime I would start emailing and calling alumni from my school – at both the undergraduate and business school levels.

I sent out around 300-400 emails and got responses from 80-90 bankers. Most people were pretty receptive, but some of them were difficult to track down.

I spent around 20 minutes speaking to each person on the phone, and got a lot of interviews like that.

Q: What about follow-up? How did you convert all these informational interviews into real interviews?

A: After the first phone conversation with someone, I would send a follow-up email 1-2 days later thanking them for their time and reminding them of what we spoke about.

Since it was already pretty close to full-time recruiting, I didn’t want to waste time on a “mating ritual” with each person – usually in the 2nd or 3rd follow-up email I would just ask them directly, “How can I increase my chances of getting an interview at your firm?”

A lot of bankers claimed they would “pass my resume along” but most of them didn’t mean it. Only around 10-20 actually sent my resume and put in a good word for me, so you need to be persistent and keep asking if you want results.

Q: You mentioned how many alumni didn’t actually pass along your resume or help you out much. Was there anything you did to boost the chances of them helping you out?

A: Part of it was persistence; if I didn’t get a response after 1-2 weeks I just emailed them again, and then again after that. If I sent 3 emails and got no response, I assumed they were not interested.

The other part of it was making a strong first impression – keeping the conversation focused on them rather than me helped a lot.

A lot of “informational interviews” were actually closer to real interviews – so when they ask you about your previous experience, keep in mind that that is an interview question and that you need to have your “story” down.

The Results, Please

Q: So how much did this massive networking effort pay off? How many interviews actually came from networking as opposed to on-campus recruiting?

A: I’d say about 30% of my interviews came from networking, even though I went to a “target school.” I got interviews at almost every major bank, and the offer I ended up with also came via networking.

I had spoken with a CFO of one company, and then he introduced me to an Associate a well-known boutique, who in turn then introduced me to an Analyst there who helped me get an interview.

Q: So how’d you end up with the offer?

A: The interviews themselves were pretty standard, but the competition was intense – for the New York office they only hired a few of the very top people from the best schools in the country.

Even though I didn’t get an offer there, I interviewed really well and my interviewers liked me, so they put in a good word about me to another regional office of the same bank.

Then when I interviewed there, I mentioned everyone I met in New York, which impressed them because most interviewees had not met people at other offices.

Q: That was a pretty cool move – they liked you, but you didn’t get an offer and you still used the opportunity to interview at another office of the same bank.

Obviously you were very successful with recruiting, starting from nothing and ending up with a full-time offer – is there anything you would have done differently?

A: I could give you a long list for that one, but here are the main areas that come to mind:

  • I would have changed my initial approach to finding the summer internship and I would have been a lot more aggressive with investment banking networking – a lot of banks only hire people they know already.
  • I would have figured out my “story” much earlier on and made it very clear why I was actually there interviewing.
  • I would have been less frustrated at the randomness of the Superday interview process – when you interview 25 people, 10 of them have investment banking internships, and you’re only taking 1-2, it’s no longer a rational process and you have to expect random outcomes.

Q: Awesome, thanks for your time.

A: No problem.

P.S. See the completely revamped article on how to break into investment banking as an engineer for even more on the topic.

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. Hello!
    I have done my Bachelors degree in Engineering and I am currently doing Masters in Management in France with a specialization in Project Management and Business Development from the 4th Best MIM program in France and I have had two years of work experience in Business Development but I have got an interest towards investment and I have begun taking online courses and eventually some certified courses like Foundation CFA and M&A and I hope to eventually get into PE as I have a strong background in Business Development which I believe will be helpful. How is the best way forward? Is this a good path that I have mentioned below?
    1. Getting an internship in restructuring, valuation, internal M&A, and TAS
    2. Getting an internship in research, due diligence, financial modeling, and report writing.
    3. Getting an internship in one of the Big 4
    4. Working in one of the Big 4 companies for 2-3 years
    5. Transition to PE directly or IB then PE?

    Or is this all too ambitious? I have understood well from all your articles that networking is my best bet but I would like to know what kind of courses or strategic internships will help. Thank you

    1. I mean, will you really have time to complete all those internships and then work in the Big 4 for 2-3 years? It seems like a better strategy would be to complete internships during your Master’s program and then move directly into IB, or to work at the Big 4 or an independent valuation firm or something similar for 1-2 years and then move into IB. Moving into PE directly from the Big 4 would be virtually impossible.

      1. Thank you for your reply, I hope to complete those internships during my Masters and then work in one of the Big 4 companies for 3-4 years (maybe, if possible, till a respectable position) and then move into PE?

        I read this is a bit possible in one of your articles if I reach a good post in a Big 4 company and work with common clients between the Big 4 and PE companies…..especially to work in France.

        I believe my Specialisation in Project Management and Business Development will set me apart from other candidates, depending on the PE firm I aim for……

        Do you have any suggestions for certifications I must do if I do not have a masters in Finance? I will be doing your course on Financial Modeling too.

        Thank you!

        1. Certifications really do not help for IB/PE roles, aside from maybe the CFA in some contexts (see:

          And, again, Big 4 directly to PE is incredibly difficult to do and sometimes impossible depending on the market. I’m not sure why you want to work at the Big 4 so badly when IB to PE is a much more proven and realistic route into the industry.

  2. Hi Brian! Im studying Mechanical Engineering in Greece and i found out that Engineering is not for me. So, i would like to join the financial world.

    – What are my chances of getting into an IB/HF/PE? I have heard things like 1% etc and i would like to know if it is that bad, so i choose a different path (business or consulting maybe). Im talking exclusively about EU countries, because i wont be able to find a job in USA/Canada/Australia without a visa. I can speak some french (France, Switzerland) and english (UK, Brexit though). Any suggestions (should i start learning german or something? idk…)? Will a master in finance (in the preferred country) help me or it will just raise my chances from 1% to 5%?

    1. If you’re close to graduating, yes, you basically need a Master’s degree and internship experience before/during the degree to have a good shot at getting in. Please see my response to your other comment on the separate post. Learning other languages is a waste of time at this stage. You need a more relevant degree and internship experience.

      1. Thanks for the reply!
        I agree that i need a relevant degree and an intership (im planning to do both actually).
        What i would like to know is, which is the best country in EU to study finance and get a job in the next few years. If i dont know the language of that country fluently who is going to even look my cv?

        1. The U.K./London is definitely your best bet, even post-Brexit, because it has the most jobs and finance firms. You can sometimes work in smaller European countries without knowing the language, but not in the bigger ones (e.g., France would be impossible without fluency in French).

  3. Hey,to break into investment banking right after undergraduate can I take bsc economics

  4. Hi Brian, I am doing my Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from IIT Delhi , India. Although I come for an Engineering background, but I have done certificate programs in Financial Modelling and Valuations, and also have attended summer schools abroad in subjects of banking and accounting. I am currently in my third year and determined to move into IB after my graduation, and preferably in a bigger market than India, Hong Kong or Singapore maybe. I assume the right next step for me to move forward with would be an internship with an IB in the summer of 2018, and which is what I have been trying for. But as of now, the progress with bulge brackets has not been good at all. Is there anything that you would recommend me to do that might increase my chances of breaking in ? Also what are my odds of making it to a top Business School in US right after graduation ?
    Thanks a lot !

    1. The problem is that there is very little IB recruiting in India outside of the top IIMs. Few students get in even from the top IITs. So you should probably consider internships in other places, such as the ones you mention, or think about a non-IB role at a bank, or a consulting role, and then move into investment banking afterward. You will not get into a top business school directly after graduation but you might be able to get in after working for several years.

  5. Hi, I’m a student from the UK who’s applying for university later this year. I’m thinking of applying to either UCL (for ‘Cancer Biomedicine’ or ‘Public Health’) or Warwick (for ‘Biomedicine’ or ‘Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development’ or ‘Psychology’). I know that these degrees are not the most quantitative, however they are both UK target unis so I’m hoping that it shouldn’t matter? I’m leaning more towards the Warwick degrees or the Public Health degree due to them requiring lower grades however, I know UCL is more prestigious (despite both being targets) and Cancer Biomedicine is more ‘sciency’ and has bit of a shock factor than say, population health. I was wondering if you could give some insight as to which degree I should choose out of the 5 I’ve stated? I would really appreciate it!

    1. It doesn’t matter that much, and I don’t know the degrees, so I can’t comment on the specifics. The school reputation matters far more than your degree. And make sure you complete some accounting/finance coursework on the side so you know the basics…

  6. Avatar
    Philip Stubbings

    Hey Brian, so I just finished my Bachelor of Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering (Honours) at Sydney Uni. I have 5 years of experience as an Insurance Consultant Executive and have helped the company attained national insurance industry awards. I’m currently based in Sydney and I’m finding it extremely difficult to make the switch over to IB or anything related to finance to be honest. I am thinking of taking multiple internships (hopefully) and then entering a graduate program or straight into a role.Do you have any tips or recommendation that is specific to the Sydney financial market? Also what are the chances of me switching over and which departments should I focus on that capitalise on engineering skills. Thanks for your time.

    1. It is almost impossible to do this in Australia because the market is so small and banks want undergrads with finance experience from the top ~5 universities there… please see our previous coverage of Australia. Your best bet for making a career change is to get an MBA in the US or Europe and get into banking there (assuming you’ve worked full time for 5 years already… not sure I understand that part).

  7. Avatar

    I am a civil engineering graduate from India’s best engineering college. I have 2 years of work experience with an asset manager in portfolio risk profile (more towards alternative assets, and work is related to implementation/coding of models). I want to switch to IB/PE/HF. What are the chances? And how should I sell my story while networking? I don’t want to go for further studies, like MBA. I don’t have any CFA certifications.

    1. It’s very tough in India… see our previous coverage on the site. You can do it with a ton of networking (, but otherwise, you’re better off leaving the country and going for a top MBA elsewhere if you really want to move in. The odds are against you since the industry there is so small (though going to a top IIT helps your odds somewhat).

  8. Hi Brian, I’m a semiconductor engineer in my early 30s now, I have a masters in electrical engineering from Arizona state and while working, recently completed my Masters in Finance from Harvard extension school. I recently quit my engineering job to look for a finance position as I felt it needed my full extension if I was serious about making the switch. I’m looking to move into analyst/associate roles in equity research or investment management. I’m also open to roles in insurance companies – ALM, portfolio analytics. I’ve been applying online and sending messages to people on Linkedin but no luck yet. Do you have any advice on how I could break into the finance (Private equity/investment management) or insurance company roles? It would be best to get into a position where I can already leverage off my existing engineering experience where quantitative and analytical skills are used extensively.

    1. Also, is it easier for an engineer with experience to move into a financial consulting firm then into PE? Or is it the same either way?

      1. It is much easier to get into financial consulting. PE is nearly impossible, even for Ivy League undergraduates with perfect grades who worked at Goldman Sachs right out of school.

    2. First, you need to narrow down what you’re applying for because you can’t apply to so many positions at once and get good results. Second, you need some type of demonstrable finance/investment-related work experience, which might mean finding an internship or temporary role somewhere first. It will be very difficult to move into ER directly from your background unless you have finance work experience in between.

      1. Thanks Brian. Do firms take people who have 6 years of experience as interns? I am looking to narrow my applications. But from the people I’ve networked with, most say IB is not possible for me as they are either looking for young people just out of college or experienced people. I do say I’m willing to take a paycut to start off,but nothing has worked out so far. I was actually most interested in AM equity research positions, but most of the AM companies are under going reorganizations because money is moving out of actively managed funds. So thats why I’ve started to broaden out my search with insurance investment and portfolio analytics. Do you have any advice for me in terms of other finance career options where I could leverage off my engineering skills.

  9. Hi there, I want to apply for summer internships, but I was wondering whether anyone on the M&I team could give their honest assessment on my chances of securing an interview.

    I’m a final year physics student in London, about to start a Maters’ next year, and am on track for a 1:1. I did have an internship at the back office of a bank back home in Malaysia (the largest bank in the country, and one of the largest in the region) in the summer of 2015. Having failed to secure consulting internships (without applying to anything else unfortunately) or research placements, I went to summer school at a business school in Spain.

    Therefore, I was wondering what you guys think the chances would be for getting an IBD internship interview? If not IBD, how about something like equity research, with the aim of transitioning to IBD for graduate entry? Presumably the chances of the transition is smaller, but my chances of securing an equity research interview might be more realistic.

    Thanks for the feedback and for the incredible resources on this site.

    1. You might be able to do it, but it really depends on the school you’re at (i.e., one of the top ones for IB recruiting in the UK?). The lack of internships will hurt you, so you might have to go for off-cycle roles at smaller PE/IB firms before applying tot he large banks.

  10. Hi! I was wondering, how easy or difficult would it be for me to switch to investment banking full time if I have a corporate lending/banking summer internship at a bulge bracket as a junior?

    1. The problem is that it’s tough to win full-time IB roles without previous IB internships these days. It might be possible if you get lucky and find a group that still has full-time hiring needs, but otherwise it might be better to start out in corporate banking and then move over once you’re working full-time there.

  11. Can a 40 year old with an accounting background but with no banking experience break into Investment Banking?

    Love your work!!!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It can be challenging, but you can explore TAS departments within an accounting firm.

  12. Avatar

    Hi greetings ..
    My son is doing his final year Engineering in Systems and Control Engineering at UK.He is asking me about this Investment Banking sector and for Summer Internship ..What is your suggestion and advise for him in this proposal..Does he have any career prospects in this sector..Your advise is solicited

  13. I notice that a lot of the ‘engineering to banking’ articles here are concerned with underclassmen engineering majors that are able to incorporate finance related internships. What would you suggest for a computer engineering major with internships at top defense contracting firms dealing with bits of finance, but no valuation experience? If I am going into my senior year and would like to get involved with technology based venture capital eventually, but feel that I should start in investment banking? Any advice, thanks.

  14. Avatar
    Yash Kankaria

    Hey I’m a Mechanical Engineering Student at Michigan State. I am a sophomore.
    I have always been interested in Wall Street and want to start planning for it from right now.
    So here is my case:
    I already have an internship experience as an ME intern (TATA Motors) from my freshmen year. To further my business interest apart from my engineering, I have applied to a summer school program at Chicago booth.
    I am also planning to take a financial math class in my junior year to land an internship as a quant.
    Would anyone from the good financial institutions give me an internship after Junior year or even sophomore year? What year is the ideal year(considering my case) for me to try for these institutions?
    Also I am an international student. If I intern on Dalal street(counterpart of Wall Street in India) would I be considered for a job after my engineering graduation?Would that internship experience come handy?And should I think of pursuing two financial internships or just one?
    I would also like to pursue investment banking for a post graduate degree from an elite school. How do I guide my way after graduation in order to achieve this objective? I feel the need to lay the foundation to this right now.
    Also an alternative choice. Should I apply for an investment banking certification program (10 months) after my graduation since I am an engineer and then find a job at one of these institutions and then apply to elite schools or just apply for a job at the financial institutions and then apply to an elite school.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Most firms take juniors as interns though you can try at smaller firms as a sophomore. I presume the internship on Dalal will be useful; of course two internships maybe better though it depends on the quality of the internship. Make sure you get into an elite school for your masters – I’d suggest you to seek help from admissions consultants

      An IB certification program may help though I’d just apply directly to the schools if you can do so, even if it is just a Masters degree vs. an MBA. Getting a target degree can help you break in quite significantly

  15. Hi,
    i have just completed by Engineering in Electronics and Communication and looking to the job market I feel that its better to get into a finance sector. Can you please suggest something how to get into an investment banking and from where should I do the banking course. I feel that i am good in maths and stats.

    thanks and regards

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This article should help you:

      You may want to check out for the sample videos. If you sign up on our mailing list, you’ll also get free tips on how to break into banking.

  16. Big fan of the website. Quick question, I was a liberal arts graduate from a non-target state school with no relevant internships. I want to work in investment banking. I had an interview for a client service associate position at a BB bank in a commercial bank group. Should I take this and network my way in or pursue a masters in (finance, management etc.) from a target school and try to crack the front office this way. Thanks, look forward to your response.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Great Brandon, glad to have you in our community. I’d take this role if you don’t have other offers on hand and not confident that you can land a better offer. I’d try to transfer internally if you were to take this offer, though you may encounter challenges in the process. Otherwise, you can go back and pursue your MBA at a target after 2 years at the role and your chances of getting into PE/IB will increase.

  17. This is kind of tangential, but is there an article on this website for how to break into banking with a Liberal Arts degree (e.g. Philosophy, English, History, Gender Studies, etc)? This would be assuming, of course, that the student has not taken any business/finance/math/engineering/science courses and does not have any significant relevant experience.

    Should a Liberal Arts graduate of this sort opt to acquire a professional post-graduate degree or certification before trying to land a banking internship? Would self-study be enough?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      That may help though not necessary. You just have to have the relevant finance experience (internship, investment club experience) and right network to break in. Self-study would help, but not sufficient.

      1. Thanks for the advice. Thankfully, I’ve landed an intership at a bank this summer, but not sure if that is enough (since that’s really the only relevant experience I have). I guess I’ll have to network like crazy..

  18. Hi, I’m a first year studens in Economics. I’m in a bit of a dilemma, here in my country there isn’t really a full fledged BB like IB, although there’s a few local IB. Regarding internships, should I accept one in these local banks or go for corporate finance/ tax in the Big 4 firms?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Good question. It depends, if you want a more international experience (especially going forward), I might choose the big 4 role because there’s a higher probability that you can transfer to another location. Otherwise, you might need to go back to business school (target) abroad and rebrand yourself if you want to work abroad.

      1. Alright due to almost every firms I applied to prioritise second year students, I only received offer from one of the Big 4 for an IT auditing internship. Is it wise to go ahead for the name and work experience, or go for commercial banks in finance?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          If you have another offer with another FI, I may choose that one. Working for IT at a big 4 is not necessarily useful if you want to break into IB, and the work itself may not necessarily be interesting (in my opinion), unless you are pretty sure you like this sort of work

  19. Hi,
    I am a student of engineering in my third year and I have grown a passion for finance so I started studying principles of finance and accounting and landed an internship last summer at a local investing company .. my problem is that I can`t always explain to others why I have shifted my interest to finance while studying engineering .. mainly it`s because finance to me have better opportunities and might better fulfill my personal goals .. any suggestions on how to reply when asked ” why finance while studying engineering ? ” or ” why not just change major ? ”

    1. Say that you want to combine your technical skills with business and advise/invest in engineering companies.

  20. Avatar
    Khaled Qayum

    I worked in USA as an Industrial Engineer for 12 years. My last position was Senior Project Manager for Advance Manufacturing with a fortune 500 company. Then I went back to the country of my origin and became an Investment Banker, experience in Project Finance, IPOs, Green field technologies, Asset Finance, Trade Finance etc. My current position is Senior Vice President in Loans Reviews for a large bank in Pakistan. I want to move back to US. I have MBA, MSIE and Operations Research from one of the better Universities of USA. I am wondering how to go about it.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      How about transferring internally to the US office? That might be the easier path

  21. Hi M&I,

    I always have problem in asking questions in the 2nd and 3nd follow up emails. I was wondering if you could give me some advice on what else to ask the alumni.
    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just ask him/her out for coffee because you really want to understand the industry

  22. M&I,
    Since graduating two years ago as a political science major, I’ve been working in commercial banking and have been trying to move into M&A. I’ve followed the site for over a year now and have purchased your interview and modeling guides. I just finished my first super day with a well-known MM bank but didn’t receive an offer. Their feedback indicated I tripped up on a couple technical questions including ‘Warren Buffets’ like “What potential buyers would you approach for a water bottle company looking to sell?” (Really not sure what they wanted here). Basically, they said I didn’t bomb it, but I couldn’t stack up to my competition (finance seniors at target schools). They recommended picking up some accounting coursework. Honestly I’m not sure this or the MBA/CFA route is the best idea right now, but what do you think my realistic options are for landing something full-time in the next 12 months… additional undergrad coursework, unpaid internships, networking/casting a wider net?

    Thanks for all the help so far.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for being our customer! I’m sorry that you didn’t receive an offer. I can understand how frustrating the process is. I’d suggest you to network and cast a wider net. Continue to interview w other banks. If they suggested you to pick up some accounting classes, I would take their advice and do so –Accounting is useful wherever you go. If you really want the MBA/CFA experience, I would go for it. However, I would not get an MBA or take the CFA with the expectation that I will get a job right after. You will still have to network – remember networking & pitching your story & making people like you are key

  23. Hi,
    I emailed a recruiter I knew in a networking event,asking for his help, and he copied my email to another recruiter who is currently responsible for the campus recruiting of my region,what should I do?Shoul I email this new recruiter and say something?
    Thanks very much

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. Email the recruiter and introduce yourself. Tell him/her you are interested in working for his/her company’s [ ] division (do your research before emailing him/her)

  24. Hello,

    I’m a senior engineering major without finance experience. If I don’t land a full-time offer, I plan to stay at my school to complete a masters in finance and try to get a summer analyst position after my undergrad. Would it look bad to apply for a full-time role and then for a summer analyst job afterwards?


    1. Not necessarily, just don’t mention the FT apps unless they ask specifically why. Make up another story.

  25. Thanks! Great insights! Very encouraging
    I just got a couple of mroe questions.
    I’m from a non-finance background with engineering degree and currently doing General/project management at a pharma company. I’ve just finished my 1st year part time MBA at a target school. The recruiting event for summer intern (2012) will start this coming fall. This summer I found an intern at a early stage VC. The duties are performing due diligence, sourcing, and attending screen meetings, & some fast pitching meetings. I was wondering if this intern experience will be a plus? If yes, how can I relate this experience to i-bank skill set. Thanks!

    1. Yes it will be a plus, focus on the due diligence and pitching aspect and any valuation work you did

      1. Very helpful! Thanks a lot!

  26. I just want to say (thank you)^ n times for the brilliant ideas how to put in words for “unpaid internship offer”.

    You work change my life (and many other young unguided students). When you have a kid, tell him/her that.

    1. Cool glad to hear it

  27. I’m in a similar situation with the guy in this article. I started interning at a boutique a few weeks ago, and since it’s a small boutique and the workload has been a bit slow, I find myself having a lot of free time. I haven’t done anything important like building models yet (though I’m learning ’bout it on my own). So, my question is can I really spin the experience on my resume? My friend who got a SA offer at BB told me during interviews, they’re gonna grill you on everything on your resume, So, how can I really bank-ify resume in this situation? Is it all about wording?

    1. Don’t make up deal / modeling experience. I would just describe what you did and say that you helped with researching new markets / potential clients. If you exaggerate and list modeling skills etc. they will quickly discover that it was a lie. Just by having an IB internship you will still get interviews.

  28. Great article. Reading this has encouraged me a little bit.
    I come from a non-target school in the Midwest, and I decided to do ibanking a little bit late, at the beginning of this semester (junior year). I have no finance-related experience, so I have been cold calling and emailing hundreds of boutiques and small firms in NY, Boston for the past two months, but it still hasn’t led to anything (I choose NYC n Boston ’cause it’ll be easier to network with alums during the summer). The best response I got is like “you call at the perfect time and we will be reviewing” by MDs. I tried to follow up in a couple of days, but sometimes I couldn’t get through receptionist or was transferred to voicemail. The only times when I caught MDs, they told me the positions were filled. These problems come up most of the time, so I feel like I am not able to reach out to the right person because it feels right only when MDs tell me no. It’s been very frustrating, but like you n everyone said in all the articles, we need to be damn persistent, since all it takes is just one hit. I’ll try to be so, but just wondering if there is a point I should stop doing this? I already read your article on this, but this can’t go on forever, rite?
    What do you think? Thanks a ton.

    1. Honestly, sometimes it takes a year to find anything – I would say if you haven’t even gotten through to anyone by the end of month 6, though, you need to change your approach.

  29. Hey M&I
    If alum say there is no opening this summer, should I ask them how about unpaid position? I don’t know if doing so would come off as being too desperate, rude or watever.
    Thx in advance.

    1. I would say, “Well, you might get more work in the summer / You always have work that needs to get done” first and only after that propose an unpaid internship if you’re an undergrad student / recent graduate.

  30. Hey M&I,

    I got a question about networking with alumni. The alumni that I emailed said she would be happy to talk over things (questions about finances career, internship opportunities…) when I’m in the city. However, I’m at school now, which is in another state (and I’m not going to that city anytime soon unless I can work there in the summer). So, you have any idea on how to respond to this? Cuz I was emailing to inquire about summer opportunities at the firm.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Either make a weekend trip to the city (yes, it’s more important than school/activities all that crap is useless in a few years time) or say that you can’t travel right now and ask for a call instead. I would strongly recommend setting up other meetings and going for a 2-3 day weekend trip.

  31. Hi M&I,

    I graduated last year. There is a job posting for IB for a regional boutique at my school’s career centre website. So I guess this is an “official” means of recruiting. But my gpa is pathetic(but my resume and cover letter are pretty good, got them reviewed by a banker friend).

    The job posting mentions the phone number of the VP who is hiring. I also found out the phone number of the MD of the group. Should I just submit my application and then call of the VP if I don’t get any responses? Or should I call up the VP and talk to him and then submit my application?

    Appreciate your response!!

    1. Call first and then submit, then check back with him again after submitting

      1. Hey M&I,

        So should I just call them up and say “hey, I saw your job posting on my university career site. I am so and so. I am interested in the job because of x and x. Do you have any tips for me?”

        Does that sound good?


        1. I would just say you wanted to find out more about it first from him rather than asking for tips.

  32. if i’m interested in risk management area, what sort of experience do u suggest would be most appropriate to increase my chances for a penultimate position?

    1. Anything related to credit/market risk… trading, working in a debt rating agency like Moody’s, startup fund, possibly other roles in the middle/back-office.

  33. I have tried cold emailing people, I have emailed almost 500 people. but I often get angry and threatening messages from HR telling me to stop emailing the business. What should I do? Should I just ignore them?

    1. I would try cold calling rather than emailing, first off… calls tend to be more effective anyway, and you won’t come across as a spammer as you would when you email people too much. If you’ve emailed a lot of those people repeatedly, I would cut back if you’re actually getting angry messages in response.

  34. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for all your articles – been reading M&I since start of sophmore yr. I got an offer for a SA position in S&T! Your article on telling “your story” was invaluable and I think it was the “edge” for me (big thanks for that one!). Just some background info: I was applying with 2 buy-side trading internships under my belt already so I had to get over the hurdle of “why sellside from buyside- are you nuts?” Your article was golden for helping explain that! Thanks again!

    P. S. Any chance of a case study about moving from buyside to sellside? (Not sure if this was covered yet)

    1. I’ll add that one to the list, hard to find people in that situation though.

  35. Avatar
    Asset Management?

    Hello, I am found an asset management internship with local firm, but im not sure if this will help with investment banking.

    some ppl said that do as many asset management internships as i can, if i cant find any investment banking internship.

    others are like, asset management internships are not second-best after investment banking and i should broaden my option.

    what do you suggest?

    1. Asset management will help, and are a decent choice if you can’t do an IB/PE internship.

  36. Hi M&I,

    Wanted to give you a big thanks for all your articles. I just got a SA offer from a BB for this summer. For better or worse, your articles were my first taste of what IBanking is like; also liked how you stressed the importance of networking. Strangely enough, I networked a ton with my top choice bank, but ended up not receiving an offer, but got an offer from a bank that I had networked with at all. Just goes to show that networking can only help you land interviews as opposed to getting offers. Anyways, thanks a lot and I’ll be sure to reread your article on how to kill my summer internship.

    1. Congrats on your offer!

  37. Hey M&I,

    This is off topic but I was hoping you’d be able to help. I have an offer from a decent second tier bank and I start in July. However I have just got an interview for a 10 week spring internship programme at a prestigious but small boutique. I may get a full time offer at the end of this internship. From looking into the firm I reckon I would prefer working there than at the bank I’ve got an offer from (it’s more prestigious and they have a stronger presence in my region with great deal flow and top notch clients). Should I bother with this?


    1. You might as well do the spring program just to see what happens – you can always renege on your offer at the other bank at the last-minute, though obviously you would never be able to work there again.

  38. Hi M&I,

    I know this might be a little off topic but I have always wanted to know. Why do traders need to have a strong math background in order to be successful for the job? I dont really understand. Thanks

    1. It’s more relevant if you’re doing derivatives / options trading, but you need to be able to think about things like, “I have a straddle at these strikes prices, here’s how much I’ll make if the stock goes up this much or goes down this much” and make quick calculations like that on the spot.

  39. Hi M&I,

    Thanks for the great work!

    Just a quick question, I have been working as an analyst in a boutique for more than a year after graduation and am looking to transfer to a BB.

    Any thoughts on how best to do this? Should I cold call MDs or should I just drop them my resume via e-mail?

    1. There’s an article on the topic here:

      Friends at other banks are your best route in.

  40. Slightly off-topic but I am cold-emailing some boutique and MM investment banks for any available summer internships opportunities. If I am emailing a MD or anyone higher up, do you think it is best to attach a resume on the initial email(where I ask for any available internships)? I was thinking I could either say:
    1) I have attached a resume for any consideration.
    2) If it is appropriate, I would be more than happy to send a resume.

    Thank you!

    1. If you’re emailing to directly ask about internships I would attach your resume on the first email.

      1. I’m a currently a sophomore looking for summer internships. Do you think it is too late to cold-email bankers to set up an informational interviews–> get them to like you–> have them push your resume to management to help you land a summer internship? Or should I stick to cold-emailing bankers directly asking for summer internships? I am just wondering if there is enough time to develop a meaningful relationship and network the right way, given the time-frame.

        1. At this point (February) its probably too late to go for relationships – I would just cold-call / cold-email and ask directly.

  41. I had engineering background as well (computer science) plus a half PhD which made my life extra difficult (lost 3 years) so when I started interviewing I always had this “one chance one shot” feeling.

    I didn’t know anything about finance or anything about banking or the City. But finally I got an interview at an HF which was in high frequency quantitative trading just what I wanted. I put some effort into learning everything about them, which wasnt too much as these companies are very secretive.

    The pay wasnt too good but you can gain experience what otherwise completely unavailable to anyone else, the hours are comfortable as well.

    From that company (later I learnt that they are well known) the next job was easy.

    Conclusion: If you are strange look for strangers, value your chance while you might not have another one and do your homework.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story!

  42. When you cold-call especially MDs VPs, it’s always hard to reach – they are always in a meeting/on another call. Do you just leave voicemail and call again if don’t hear back? You can’t just keeping calling several times a day to try to talk in person particularly when there’s a secretary pick up the phone right?

    1. I wouldn’t even bother with voicemail – just try back in a few days. Also try early evening after the gatekeepers have gone home, or early morning before they get there. I would not call multiple times in the same day.

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