by Brian DeChesare Comments (73)

How to Break Into Finance in London Coming from an Unknown School in Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe Investment Banking

When this interview series started awhile back, I expected most submissions to come from Europe since the UK is the second biggest country in terms of readership.

But that didn’t happen – instead, we covered the Middle East (which is awesome) and parts of Asia instead.

This time around, though, we move back toward Europe with an interview from a reader in Eastern Europe (Poland specifically) who broke into the London finance scene.

Read on to learn all about Eastern Europe, why you might want to go to London anyway even if there are hot emerging markets out there, and how you can use ruined travel plans and flight delays to impress bankers.

Introductions & Eastern Europe Recruiting

Q: Can you tell us about your background and how you first got interested in finance?

A: Sure. At the time I was in my final year at a top university in Poland doing a Master’s in Finance and Accounting – a 5-year program, which is common in Europe. I had also done a combined investment banking and corporate banking internship at the Warsaw office of a French bank.

In my first 3 years at university I did a lot of volunteer work, had roles in a lot of student groups, and had lots of other activities and hobbies.

Even though I said “top university” above, it was not well-known outside the region and very few banks actually came there to recruit. You’re at a big disadvantage in Europe if you’re not at one of the top schools in the UK.

Q: So even though it was well-regarded in the country, not many banks came there. Does that mean the recruiting environment in Eastern Europe is not that good? Or is there not as much of a need for bankers there at the moment?

A: Overall the recruiting environment and the investment banking market here are completely different from what you see in the US/UK.

Most large companies in Eastern Europe are still state-owned, so most foreign investment banks that come here advise governments on how to take their holdings public and divest companies.

So, for example, when the Polish government announces plans to sell a large number of companies, the international banks come over here and start pitching themselves while increasing the number of Polish-speaking graduates they recruit (they do still recruit a few candidates each year regardless of the government, but you’re likely to get pigeonholed as the “Central / Eastern Europe banker”).

Since the market is dependent on government announcements, there’s less of a consistent recruiting cycle than in developed countries.

The banks that do come here recruit mostly for investment banking – specifically M&A and ECM – and not as much for other divisions like S&T, PWM, ER, and so on.

In terms of the market as a whole, Poland and Eastern Europe still felt the effects of the credit crunch and financial crisis and lots of banks with Warsaw offices had hiring freezes, with very few graduate opportunities available.

Q: Right, so that’s what motivated you to move to London rather than staying at home?

A: Yes – there just aren’t that many investment banking or even corporate banking opportunities in Eastern Europe. The main banks in the region are retail banks, and most of the big M&A and IPO deals are done in London instead.

Sometimes London-based banks have local partners (for example, a co-lead manager on an IPO) with more specialized expertise – so there are a few investment boutiques and investment/corporate arms of local banks here. But they work on smaller deals, there are no established internships or graduate programs, and the same opportunities don’t exist.

Salary is also important, and as a graduate you can earn up to 5x the local pay in London. And most of the successful senior guys who are doing deals in Poland right now have international experience, mostly in London.

Non-Target University to Internship

Q: So how did you get an internship in London if banks didn’t recruit at your school?

A: In Europe, you can still get interviews by applying online without doing any networking. It is not easy and your application really must be perfect for you to have a chance. And I don’t recommend doing this, especially if you’re in the US or another region where online applications go into a black hole.

To stand out, you need to have previous experience, have an interesting personality, and get lucky – I had the previous banking internship at the Warsaw branch of the French bank and a lot of activities, and all of that came across in my application.

One additional point is that since most people study for 5 years to get a Master’s degree here, they have more time to “build” an interesting CV by getting internships and by being more active in student groups.

Q: Right, so you had the previous experience and an interesting personality… but what about the luck factor?

A: The day I flew to London to attend an assessment center there, my plane had to make an emergency landing and so I was late by around 2 hours.

But that actually worked in my favor – everyone was impressed with how I stayed calm and how I was still able to complete all the numerical tests and group exercises as if nothing had happened.

HR also told everyone about my situation, so bankers heard my story before I even arrived at the office, and then when I arrived they were asking me about it. So that helped me stand out from everyone else there and showed how I could handle stress and deal with the unexpected.

Q: I can already predict that someone will take that story and post a comment below this interview saying, “But that’s ridiculous, that hardly ever happens and he just got really lucky. How can you possibly say that applies to me?” Any thoughts?

A: Obviously, you’re not going to make emergency landings and be late to the assessment center all the time. But you can always focus on what sets you apart from everyone else.

As you’ve mentioned before countless times, plenty of people are good at math and can work 24/7 cranking out pitch books – but hardly anyone has an interesting story to tell.

So if you don’t have anything that sounds cool – study abroad experience, an unusual activity or hobby, or a good set of student groups – then fix that right away.

Sure, that kind of story gave me a bigger advantage going into interviews, but even without that I still could have talked about all my activities and hobbies and made them remember me like that.

Q: Most people would also say that it’s impossible to go to London and get even an internship offer if you’re not from a well-known school and you’re not doing a lot of networking.

How many recruits from continental Europe get in each year, and do you have any tips on how to stand out?

A: Truthfully, it is extremely difficult to get into London full-time if you’re not at a top university in the UK (Oxbridge, LSE, Imperial College, Warwick, etc.). You need to get a summer internship first, as the conversion rate from summer interns into full-time hires is quite high.

To give you some numbers, there were around 115 interns at my bank across the front office, middle office, and back office, and only around 10 were studying in continental Europe.

In local offices in Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, etc.) they take almost 100% local people, but most people prefer to work in London because the largest deals are done there.

To actually get that all-important summer internship, it’s pretty much what I said above: get local finance experience in your own country, be interesting, and hope for some luck.

One other point: don’t try to compete directly against everyone else. There are lots of people who claim to be finance wizards or who say they’re smarter than everyone, but that’s a poor way to stand out because everyone else is saying the same thing.

Rather than doing that, I focused on my background and internship in Eastern Europe and how I could help the bank expand its business in that region – not many other interviewees were using that angle, so it worked well.

Internship Life

Q: Speaking of internships, what was yours like?

A: It was a rotational program, so throughout the summer I got to see different desks, from sales through trading and research. Each week we presented to bankers based on what we learned that week – for example, a new trading strategy, thoughts on a new bond issuance, or where interest rates were going.

I was never bored at work, and didn’t have to do (too many of) the “coffee-fetching” tasks that you hear horror stories about. Everyone also had their own individual projects, from developing complex spreadsheets to be used by traders to analyzing business opportunities to writing research notes.

Q: So it sounds like this was more of a capital markets / sales & trading-oriented internship, even if technically it was a rotational program.

What about the working environment, culture, and hours in London?

A: I’m not sure these are universally true, but my observations were:

  • Markets-based groups and European banks have a better work-life balance. I usually started at 7 AM and left by 6:30 PM, with the senior guys leaving even earlier. All weekends were free.
  • M&A / ECM had longer hours. But you still get at least one day off in a week, and you may only have to come in for a few hours on Saturday.
  • DCM Origination hours were somewhere in between – it’s still very client and relationship-driven but it’s not quite as intense as M&A.
  • American banks have much worse hours, with the exception of Sales & Trading. The culture is much different and free time isn’t valued as highly.

My social life during the internship was great: the bank organized once-a-week networking events with free drinks, the hours weren’t bad, and on Fridays we left earlier and hung out with the other interns.

People were friendly and helpful if you had a problem, though as you’ve mentioned before, you don’t want to ask the same question twice or take a simple question to someone who’s high-up on the ladder.

Internship to Full-Time Offer & Beyond

Q: So how did you make the move from internship to full-time offer? Was it at the same bank?

A: I stayed at the same bank but got an offer from a different group. Since it was a rotational internship, we moved through a number of desks in the first few weeks there – that actually worked out well because interns could decide whether or not they liked desks, and desks could say “no” to interns if there wasn’t a good fit.

If you have this type of internship, you need to work hard to impress the specific desk where you want to work – don’t spread your efforts too thin or try to become best friends with everyone at the bank, or no one on the desk will push for you to get hired.

I liked the people on a research desk the most, so I spent a lot of time analyzing a market for them and then wrote the industry section of a real equity research report that the bank issued. That was above and beyond what others did, so based on the quality of the work, their feedback, and everyone liking me, I got an offer to work for that desk.

Q: So do you think you’ll stay in London for the long-term, or will you move back to Eastern Europe or go elsewhere eventually?

A: During my internship, one of the senior bankers said that if you want to be really successful in the industry you should “go abroad” to gain experience. He suggested a rotation between New York, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, so I’m considering doing that and will try to get a placement in one of those locations.

London is definitely the best place in Europe to learn finance, so I do want to spend most of my time here over the next few years.

Q: What about a Master’s in Finance or MBA program? You already completed the Master’s degree in Poland, but do you think there’s any value in going to a better-known school?

A: Given that finance is prestige-driven, I do want to try for a part-time Master’s in Finance program at LSE or LBS after working for 2 years. An MBA might be interesting but at the moment I think a Master’s degree from a better-known school would have more leverage.

I don’t think I would learn much about finance in those programs; it would be solely for networking and a prestige boost.

A lot of high-level bankers and CFOs in Poland followed this exact path: they worked for a few years in a large financial center, got a well-respected degree, and then went home. At the senior banker level, the salary difference is much smaller and when you take into account lower taxes and the lower cost of living, you might actually come out ahead.

Q: Awesome, thanks for your time. Good luck!

A: Sure thing, I enjoyed speaking with you.

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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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Dear Brian,

    I am a high school student from Poland (17 years old) planning to have a career in IB. My passion for finance is pretty huge. Anyway, I plan to study at University of Bath or Cass Business School (both semi-targets for London IB). I’ve already contacted 2 bankers from London through LinkedIn and asked some questions about the industry etc. I might be able to get an insight day of some sort in a retail bank where I live though that’s still nothing compared to the best applicants from the UK who have done several pre-university insight days at actual Investment Banks. Are there any other ways in which I could improve my profile?


  2. Dear Brian,
    I am a Polish First Year student at the University of Manchester. This year I applied to many investment banks but got offer only from Goldman Sachs Finance Division. Recruiter said that if I perform well I might be offered summer internship in their office in Warsaw. Do you think that this is a good idea? I am not from a target school and I thought that even when doing back office job in a new market for Goldman Sachs I might be able to move to IB then. What do you think?
    Thanks for your answer

    1. If it’s your first year, that internship is fine. You can always use it to move into a front-office role later on. At this point, the brand name of the firm and gaining *some* work experience matter more than exactly what that experience is.

  3. Hello. Good article. I am also from Poland, studying at top university – but unfortunately only well-known here. I did apply for summer internships and also wrote direct e-mails to people from PE/VC etc and was offering them my person without any salary – as it would be Erasmus internship. And no answer. Is this that hard? I have pretty good CV (at least for Polish conditions), I was an active member in student union (in financial area), did an internship at Corporate Banking department in the largest Polish bank and now – I’m working as Investment Fund Accountant in Polish SSC of State Street Investment Bank.

    What’s wrong? Why no answer?

    1. Hard to say without seeing what you wrote to them and what your CV looks like, but part of the problem might have been that you were emailing rather than calling…. calling tends to get better results if you can get their phone numbers. Also, targeting PE/VC is generally tougher than IB unless you have previous IB experience. Finally, you shouldn’t offer to work for free immediately… it sounds too desperate. Only offer that if they object by saying that they can’t afford to hire someone.

      1. Thanks for a quick answer. Can I pass you somehow my CV so you can just throw an eye? I tried to use a model from this website. Alright, calling should do better, thanks for the notice. But what about IB summer internships? I applied to many bulge brackets and the answer was always the same – thank you for your time or no answer at all. What’s more, I applied for a job in Bloomberg – as Mutual Funds Analyst – Polish Speaker Job. It was an entry level, position was like just made for me, I have experience with funds, with BBG Terminal, and I am a goddamn Polish speaker. No thank you. Not even an interview. I have to make a mistake at some point.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I haven’t seen your application so it will be hard to comment. Breaking in is challenging because you are competing against people who have had industry experience and come from target schools. Keep at it and don’t give up. This article should shed some light

          Thank you for your support of our site. We don’t review readers’ resumes given our schedules, though you can always check out our resume editing page if that is of interest to you.

  4. Avatar
    George Santino

    I’m a first year Master’s student at what I think is a target university (HSG in Switzerland, St. Gallen). Does this really stand out so much when I do the online application? I’m from the U.S. so I thought networking was so important in Europe, but right now I’m confused and lost about what to do to set me apart from other internships.

    I have no internships before and I’m looking for my first summer intership.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not really but then it depends on the reviewer and the bank. Perhaps readers have better suggestions

      1. Avatar
        George Santino

        Thanks for the quick reply. I just want to say then I’m not understanding then if it doesn’t matter why people compare non-target to target schools when talking about Europe…what benefit do I gain, if any, from going to a ‘target’ school then?

        Thanks for your time and response.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          The network and credibility.

  5. Avatar

    I need some help please,

    I got admitted to a Msc in Economics at UCL (University College London) and a Master of Finance at Cambridge. Both 1 year long.
    I hold a Bachelor of Finance (overseas) plus 3 years of experience in trading roles and I would like to continue my career path after graduation in London.
    The thing is that I’m struggling with which one to accept. I know that the MFin will give me practical tools for my career, but I think that I already have the basis from my undergraduate and my professional experience. On the other side, I’ve always believed that a Master in Economics is very more rigorous both from a mathematical and from an analytical point of view.
    What I’m trying to decipher is the impact of my choice on recruiters eyes given my pre-master qualifications and experience.

    Best regards and I will be glad to hear your opinions.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congrats! I can’t make a decision for you. A Masters of Finance may be more useful for quant-related roles like structured finance. I believe both are target schools so I don’t think you would go wrong either way. I’d suggest you to speak with career counselors at both schools to gain a better understanding of what the schools have to offer in terms of network w various banks

      1. Avatar

        Thanks Nicole!!…On one hand, UCL has a perfect location and is one of the target school for IBs, plus the programme is well respected due to its technical, quantitative and analytical level among Msc in Economics. Needless to say that I truly enjoy economic theory, otherwise I wouldn’t bother in such a rigorous subject.
        On the other side we have Cambridge…nice name to have on a CV, but I reviewed the curriculum of the programme and due to my undergraduate and experience, I think that what I could learn there, would be less than I would in an economics programme.
        I am leaning to UCL since a Msc in Econ + (Bsc Finance + experience) would rounded me more. Don’t you think so?, or am I missing something :o.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          You should follow your gut. You know more about yourself & your situation than I do.

  6. I think its a rare scenario but I havn’t seen this covered on the internet. I’m a European studying in the US at a top, but internationally unknown Liberal Arts College in the US. My school is fairly known in the US, but i’m an international student here. In the UK on the other hand, I have the legal right to work, but I’m scared they wouldnt know my school there. Should I apply for an internship in the UK or in the US? Would the guys in the UK just throw out my CV when they see that I’m from a Liberal Arts College they havn’t heard of?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you’d probably have a better chance in a US school

  7. Avatar

    Hi, I am an American who is going abroad to London next year to do a Masters in Management at London Business School. What do you think is the perception of the program in London i.e. is it a top target? Would there be any bias against the US guy working in Europe? Any other advice? Thanks and enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      That’s great. LBS is a good school. Banks recruit there.

      I am not sure re the bias part, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it!

  8. Superbly iullimntaing data here, thanks!

  9. Hi Brian,
    I am from one of the best economic universities in Ukraine, where I have obtained my MSc in Economics and Entrepreneurship. This year I will start a double degree Master Program in Germany (1 year in a TOP3 economic University in Germany studying Business Administration: Finance) and in Belgium (top20 b-school according to Financial Times 2010 world`s ranking for Masters in Management Master programs studying Management). I also have a part-time work experience in accounting, IT- and Management-Consulting(obtained during my study in Ukraine), however, there are all small companies.
    I would like to start my full-time career in investment banking and as a first step I hope to make in internship in one of bulge brackets. I think about London, Frankfurt and Zürich. In my opinion, opportunities after an internship in one of the biggest investment banks in London are better, however, the competition will be higher. One of the pro`s is that my professional English is much better than German. I speak German fluently, but my proficiency in professional language is not so good.
    Can you advise me, whether there are good career opportunities in investment banking in Frankfurt or Zürich? Is a competition less rigorous there? Would a relocation for an internship be a serious disadvantage for landing a place in London? I will study at Cologne.
    P.S. Maybe you know approximate starting dates, when banks begin to select candidates for internships in London, Frankfurt and Zürich? I think of applying to all 3 locations if its possible.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’m sure there are good career opportunities in IB in Frankfurt/Zurich. Deustche Bank’s HQ is in Frankfurt; UBS HQ based in Zurich. Not sure if competitition is less rigorous there.
      As long as you have the visa to work in London, I don’t think relocation is an issue.
      The approx dates banks start to recruit are usually in fall. I’d suggest you to call the banks directly (they have an HR department-campus recruitment which handles selection of candidates) and ask them for the exact details. Since you aren’t in a target school, calling the banks is probably your best bet to get your required info. You can look up their numbers online.

      1. Thanks for a good advice.
        I`ve crafted a CV using your articles, but I have faced an unexpected problem.
        I will start my study at the Double Degree Master Program (1st Year in Germany, 2nd Year in another EU-member country) from October 2011. Should I include the 2nd Year`s Program in my CV with probable courses taken? Or it will be better to write down only the 1st Program and include courses taken (they are relevant, since there are Investment Banking and others)?

        I can`t only write down my BA degree in CV, because, despite the fact that my GPA is very high, it`s from an unknown school in Eastern Europe

        Thanks for your answers.

        1. You can list the 2nd program as well but you have to clearly indicate that it hasn’t begun yet and it’s set to start in the future.

  10. Dear Brian,

    I have a question regarding investment banking outside of the US and the UK. I am currently studying at a very new, small and relatively unknown university in The Netherlands, after quitting the “best” and most well known business university here, because I felt I wasn’t learning much and they could not offer me the challenges that I wanted. Nevertheless, my current university is ranked number 2 of The Netherlands, very close to the number 1. But, because it is so new, there is virtually no recruiting around here. I didn’t notice any recruiting at my previous university either.

    So how does one get a summer internship in Holland? It seems like the typical summer internships don’t exist around here. Is doing a master at a well known university like LSE really the only way for me to get into investment banking? Are there any other investment banking related internships that I could do in the meantime until I have finished said master?

    Your website has been a great help and I’d like to thank you for sharing your extensive knowlowdge on investment banking, I’ve certainly enjoyed reading everything!

    1. Really don’t know as I’m not familiar with finance in Holland, but yes, in general in Europe a Master’s program from a top university is the way to go for internships.

  11. Hi Brian,

    I wanted to ask you for advice.

    I have been offered a place in BNP Paribas Internship Programme (1 year -> Young Bank Forces Generation) in Eastern Europe.

    The programme itself sound OK, but the pay is horrendous (even after you take into account the fact that it is Eastern Europe after all). Is it normal for banks to pay small salaries during a 12 month programme like that? Is it worth sticking with the job and hoping that it will improve once they hire me ‘for real’? I’m really puzzled :(

    Thank you!


    1. I believe in Europe it is more common to earn very small salaries, yes. If that’s your best option I would take it – but it might be difficult to transition into a full-time role depending on the bank (sometimes they keep you “stuck” at the intern level).

      1. Thank you Brian!
        I declined the offer after all. Hopefully something better will come along soon! :)

        Just wanted to take a moment here to say that your website is absolutely great and I enjoy reading your newsletters and articles.

  12. That’s not generally true. It may be true in your particular team and maybe some other teams you know, but I don’t think the assertion that, once in the final round, your school plays no factor is justified.

    From my experience, as well as what I know from others, whether you are Cam/Ox or from somewhere else plays a big part from start to finish. That’s not to say that being from Cambridge or Oxford will secure you anything, it’s more of a pre-requisite (not as a hard rule, though!) for the very top banks. Obviously not for most places, since they won’t have enough applicants from the 2 universities that they could actually do that with they normal throw-away rate.

    Anyway, it partially makes sense, because of the massively higher difficulty (esp. in sciences) at Oxford/Cambridge compared to other places.

  13. I am currently an analyst in NY and my firm is having me work out of our office in Europe for a month. Will this be impressive to add to the resume and show that I had more responsibility than a typical analyst? How could I spin this to help me later?

    1. Sure, just say you learned more about different cultures, communicating between different countries etc.

  14. My current firm wants me to give them 2 weeks advance notice if I decide to leave elsewhere and I would like to do this to avoid burning bridges completely. I am thinking about lateraling. If I get an offer somewhere, will I have 2 weeks to before I start? If not, will I be able to negotiate that?

    1. Maybe, maybe not, just try to negotiate it upfront.

  15. Hi, M&I
    This article is really inspiring and helpful. I am facing the situation a bit similar to the interviewer once had. I am in the central part of Europe. I try to get more contact and network with the financial practitioners, however, after I’ve checked the agenda of my b-school and many well-known b-schools in my country and around, I am sad to find that the agenda full of academic seminars excluding the chances. Is there some tips on the occasions of networking with the practitioners in Europe?
    Thank you.

    1. Not sure I understand your question but you will have to travel to major financial centers if you can’t find networking opportunities close to home.

  16. Avatar
    The Deal Maker

    Hi Everyone. First of all, just want to say that I have been following the postings on M&I for a while and it’s a great site, keep up the good work ! Now, back to my question. Background: I (non-quant science graduate in Y2K with GPA 3.4 from one of the Top 3 Canadian U, worked in a BIG4 in HK for a couple of years mostly in audit but was involved in an IPO and due diligence a few times, and a CPA), am working in a FI back office role in HK but I actually oversee the Asia-Pacific region with a lot of China interaction. My company, a Fortune Global 500, has established a PE in China and I would be involved in overseeing that firm as well in about one year’s time. I hope to leverage on the back office role to build connections with people working in the PE in China while studying for a part-time MBA in HKU/HKUST/CUHK, then try to move to investment side or at least finance structuring for the PE. [1] Do you think this plan will work (or with a 75% probability that it would just a waste of time)? And [2] Do you think a part-time MBA from HKU/HKUST/CUHK gives enough prestige in the long run in the PE industry and to move to other well-known PE firms in China such as KKR, Carlyle, Goldman, etc. (that is if I can get a couple of years of PE experience as planned)? Finally, I cannot do a Top MBA in US/Eur because of personal obligations in HK thus HKU/HKUST/CUHK are the only choices available. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. 1) It might work, only because you’re going for China and there’s little logic to how PE or recruiting there work.
      2) No. You need an MBA from a top university in the US or Europe, Asia is way lower in terms of prestige and will be for some time despite the rise of China. I would not even bother with any HK-based school.

      1. Avatar
        The Deal Maker

        Thanks for the quick reply and concise summary. Just to make my targeting complete: Focusing on the China PE industry again, do you think that just having experience through [1] (i.e. not considering about doing an MBA or not in Asia), can help me move to more well-known PE firms operating in China (well, may be not the “first tier” ranks of KKR/Carlyle/Goldman – that’s for those who went to Top 10 MBAs, but perhaps those firms that are still foreign and “second tier”)?

        I am just trying to create a realistic picture, thanks again for your opinion.

        1. It may but I am not an expert on PE in China. It is more random than developed countries so anything could happen.

  17. Hi,

    During Superday, when there are 4 or more back-to-back interviews, is it appropriate to use the same story over again to all interviewers? Also, do we need to give different examples to “fit” questions to different interviewers – can we repeat the same example/mini-story? (If asked on many competencies, that would be something like 8-10 mini-stories – abit crazy I would say)


    1. You can use the same story and mini-stories, it doesn’t matter as interviewers won’t discuss you in that level of detail

  18. @Neil – plenty of people leverage back office internships into front office ones then convert. My mate had the best justification in the sense that when asked about it he said

    ‘I wanted to work in front office but I was only able to secure back office temping and an internship at a Euro Ibank. I’ve learnt alot in terms of modelling and excel work and I feel that I’d be able to hit the ground running compared to a student coming in totally new to the working world. I feel that the excel work as an SA or FT analyst is critical to suceed in this industry and its something I’ve mastered. This demonstrates my total suitability to this role.’

    He ended up at a euro bank and leveraged it into a position at a top US bank

    1. @miran – ok i get it, that’s really good.

  19. Hi Brian, thanks for all of M&I, it’s been truly educational. I have an impt qn: If you have a technology or operations internship at a major investment bank, does that mean your chances of getting a job in the front office positions are dismal? I remember reading your article on how difficult it is to transit from the middle/back offices, would you still hold the same view today?

    1. Yes it is still difficult. Much easier to get into S&T from the back/middle office.

  20. LSE Summer School = do not do it. Not worth it at ALL!

    I met several summer school kids over the past 3-4 years it doesn’t add any value b/c employers will look directly at your undergrad and they’ll see on your c.v that the summer school was for 1-2 months which is barely anything.

    These are just cash cows for universities to milk international students

  21. Hi,
    Does summer school at LSE or Harvard have any value on your resume when applying for internships?
    I am considering applying for those, I have heard that LSE have better student than Harvard, which would the better choice.
    Thank you for a great blog?

    1. Yes they help. Harvard has a better name worldwide LSE might be about the same or slightly better in the UK

  22. Hey just wanted to say thanks for all of the information Brian and all of M&I.

    I was convinced finance and more specifically banking was exactly what I wanted to do… Even though I knew nothing about the industry!

    I’m very much a risk taker, I’m anything but pedigree, and I couldn’t care less about prestige. Finance is definitely not for me.

    With a little bit of imagination, I might be able to make more money and have more fun running my own business…

    1. Glad to hear it (wait, should I be saying this? Hmm…)

  23. Insurance is not looked upon favorably in London. To paraphrase a CEO I met ‘go into insurance if you want to sell shit people do not want’ pretty ironic since this is all stockbrokers do. Sell shit no one wants.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

  24. Hi Dear M&I,
    Is internship experience in financial service counted as “within the industry”? I have a part-time internship pending on my decision and I’m confused whether I should go or not. The job is manager assistant for a large local insurance/stock broker/dealer company. I basically help managing stuff while my boss try to recruit a team of insurance advisors.
    I know this sounds tedious, that I’m just helping the recruitment of new salespersons. I wonder if this would look at least relevant on my resume. If it’s not valid at all, I probly shouldn’t waste my time.
    Thanks and regards,

    1. As Miran said below insurance is not viewed favorably by bankers but it’s better than nothing finance-related at all.

  25. Strictly speaking grades are not asked about unless you’ve put them on the c.v i.e GPA, % score or position in the year against your classmates. This is in London.

    My friend quite hilariously got pulled up for one module being a 3rd out of 20 odd 2.1’s which turned into a running joke for his entire interview. He still got the job. Can possibly turn bad grades into a humorous point.

  26. Hey,
    Can you write an article on PE/Investment Banking in California for those who like living somewhere nice and sunny!

    1. I’ve thought about it but it would be a little redundant since there is not much different in California – main difference is the industries and geographies covered but it’s much less different than, say, Eastern Europe.

  27. New to the blog – I’m loving what I’m reading so far! I suppose the burning question for many readers out there is – would you recommend investment banking as a career? The vibe I get from many of the sites out there is that it’s just one (small) step on the road to something greater…

    Do you see I-banking as a long-term thing, or more a means to an end?

  28. Thanks for the article!

    Don’t mean to sound negative, but now that I’ve spent around a year researching this field, networking, applying to internships in the U.K. (from a non-target but good school in the Nordics) with so-so results, I’m just starting to doubt whether it’s worth it…what I put *this much* effort into say learning how to create value for others, learning internet marketing etc. and then utilizing my finance background to build assets and wealth?

    1. Everyone’s different so I can’t answer that one universally. There are trade-offs to everything.

  29. I am not from Eastern Europe, but i found this article very interesting. thanks
    I also agree that once you get invited to interviews (or AC) school doesn’t matter anymore. A determining factor might also be English level.

    1. Could be – language ability in general is definitely more important in Europe.

  30. In London, once in the final round, and perhaps even first round, your school plays no factor as you are assumed to be smart enough if you are where you are.

    I’ve yet to hear that about the US, which even at the last point seems to be target-oriented.

    1. Yeah the issue of school/grades can still come up even in later rounds in the US, that has been an ongoing issue for some readers. Interesting to hear about the differences in the UK.

      1. I got to the final round of a respected research house and I was questioned rather aggressively about my grades.

        This is asia-pac.

        1. What was the aggressive questioning process like?

    2. That’s not generally true. It may be true in your particular team and maybe some other teams you know, but I don’t think the assertion that, once in the final round, your school plays no factor is justified.

      From my experience, as well as what I know from others, whether you are Cam/Ox or from somewhere else plays a big part from start to finish. That’s not to say that being from Cambridge or Oxford will secure you anything, it’s more of a pre-requisite (not as a hard rule, though!) for the very top banks. Obviously not for most places, since they won’t have enough applicants from the 2 universities that they could actually do that with they normal throw-away rate.

      Anyway, it partially makes sense, because of the massively higher difficulty (esp. in sciences) at Oxford/Cambridge compared to other places.

  31. Thx for the interview.

    Could you tell us what kind of bank this guy is working for (or did I overread it)?

    BB/MM/Boutique? European/American?

    1. Not sure on the second point as I only ask for information they feel comfortable sharing and try to limit the specifics, but it was a bulge bracket bank.

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