by Brian DeChesare Comments (244)

You Didn’t Get Any Full-Time Investment Banking Offers. Now What Do You Do?

You Didn’t Get Any Full-Time Investment Banking Offers. Now What Do You Do?

“Don’t Panic.”

Or not.

If full-time recruiting season is over and you don’t have any offers, you should be panicking at least a little.

While summer interns who don’t get return offers have a few months to fix the situation, your options are more limited.

But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of getting full-time offers – so here’s what to do.

Worst-Case Scenario

You might think the worst case scenario is not getting a full-time job, but that’s not true – there are two scenarios that are worse:

  1. Putting yourself in a position where it’s nearly impossible to break into finance in the future.
  2. Moving into a job that’s difficult to leverage for business school or eventually breaking into finance.

#1 happens most often when you get the brilliant idea to go to business school straight out of undergrad… oops.

#2 is not the end of the world, but you still want to avoid it unless you absolutely, desperately need the income in the short-term.

If those are the 2 worst-case scenarios, then the best-case scenario is simple: whatever maximizes your chances of breaking in without limiting your options or wasting time on things that won’t help you in the long-term.

What Went Wrong?

The next question you need to ask: what went wrong?

There are only 2 reasons why you didn’t win any full-time offers:

1) You didn’t get any interviews / enough interviews.

Your problem was your resume, your networking efforts, or both.

If you’ve been submitting applications online, please stop immediately. It doesn’t work, and you’ll never get a critical mass of interviews like that.

You need to get on the phone ASAP and start talking to real people and then meeting them in-person – if you’re coming from a non-target school and you haven’t done that, you stand a 0.0000000000001% chance of breaking into investment banking.

If you’re at a better-known school, networking is still essential but your resume / lack of solid work experience is more likely the culprit.

Diagnosis: Make sure you’re using this investment banking resume template.

Then, take a look at your resume and your experiences – if you haven’t had impressive-looking internships then you need to get them if you want any chance of getting interviews.

Finally, take an honest look at your networking efforts – have you contacted at least 100 alumni? Cold-called 100 local boutiques? Talked to at least 20 people on the phone and hopefully met most of them in-person?

If not, then you need to put your nose to the grindstone and keep at it until your investment banking networking results in interviews.

2) You got a lot of interviews but didn’t do well or didn’t connect with the interviewers.

Winning offers from interviews is very, very random.

Yes, knowing the key fit and technical questions is essential, but a lot of people know those – especially in bulge bracket interviews.

You need a “hook” to actually win offers, and unless you’ve had dozens of interviews the “randomness” factor is too high for you to say anything concrete.

Diagnosis: If you didn’t have dozens of interviews, you need to get them (see above). If you did, and you still didn’t get any offers then you need to figure out what went wrong.

The best way to do this: go through a few mock interviews with friends in the industry.

90% of interview problems can be reduced to:

  1. Issues with your response to the “Walk me through your resume” question
  2. You don’t have a good answer for “why investment banking
  3. Your enthusiasm is low and you aren’t as polished as other interviewees

The good news is that “fixing” your interview skills takes less time than networking with hundreds of industry contacts and getting more impressive work experience.

But the bad news is that it’s very difficult to “teach” someone how to be more likable, which is what tips the scale in interviews.

How Much Time and Money Do You Have?

Next: how much time and money do you have to fix whatever mistakes you made?

If you didn’t win full-time offers, you need to fix your resume, interview skills, or networking skills, or maybe all of those… but how you do that depends on the resources at your disposal.

First, let’s go through a couple examples of what you shouldn’t do when you don’t have any full-time offers lined up, and then a couple examples of strategies that make more sense.

What NOT To Do

I thought about adding the CFA here just for fun, but I’ll resist the urge to do that – just this once.

1) Business School

It’s a big mistake to go to business school with minimal full-time work experience.

How much do you need?

At least 3-5 years. We basically threw out resumes of Associate candidates who had less experience.

Yes, there are plenty of good reasons to go to business school if you want to use it for something else, but going immediately after undergraduate is a recipe for disaster if you want to get into banking from your program.

And be careful that your work experience is actually “full-time” – a bunch of side projects or travel combined with teaching English and intermittent work won’t stack up to the guy who managed a $1 billion product line for 4 years.

The other big problem with going to business school right after undergrad is that if you don’t get into finance when you’re there, your future chances also drop dramatically.

2) Back Office

For the last time, back office to front office moves – at least for investment banking – are rare and very difficult to pull off.

Yes, it may work slightly better in other fields and some people pull it off successfully, but you need to think about the probability.

What will give you a higher probability of eventually moving to a large bank’s investment banking division – starting in the back office, or going to a boutique first and then making a lateral move?

Please, stop the insanity and go for front office roles at smaller firms rather than “taking what you can get” and making the back office your backup.

3) Normal Job

By “normal” I mean not related to finance at all – marketing, engineering, medicine, etc. Corporate development, wealth management, consulting, and the like don’t qualify.

I would only “settle” for this if you’ve been out of school for months, have networked extensively, are doing all the right things, but still have no offers and you really need income in the short-term.

4) Nothing At All

I’m not referring to whether or not you have something lined up by the time you graduate – I’m talking about what you DO between now and when you graduate.

I had a reader last year who only started her full-time job search 2 months before graduation. Whoops.

No matter what you’re “busy” with, figuring out what you’re doing afterward comes before everything else – so move grades, classes, and activities lower on your priority list.

Possible Plan B’s

Here are 5 viable options. They’re not mutually exclusive, and there’s no “best” option – everything depends on your own situation.

1) Delaying Graduation

“Help! I have no offers. Should I delay my graduation and go for summer internships again this year, then do full-time recruiting before I graduate in December next year?”

It’s most helpful if:

  1. You got some interviews but had trouble convincing them you could do the work since you didn’t have substantial internships.
  2. You go to a well-known school that banks recruit at – otherwise it’s a huge gamble to bet on summer internships.
  3. Your problem was your resume or interview skills, as opposed to your networking efforts.

The main problem: if you’ve had impressive internships, done a lot of interviewing, but simply didn’t make it through any final rounds, then it will come across as an obvious Plan B to anyone interviewing you – and they’ll ask the questions you don’t want to answer.

2) Master’s Program

Another common plan, and also not a bad move. It’s good if:

  1. You’re using it to move to a better-known school where banks recruit.
  2. You didn’t do enough networking and need more time and better access to recruiters.
  3. You could also use some more impressive-looking internships.

This is not the best plan if the main issue was your interview skills – it’s a big commitment just to have another shot at recruiting.

The focus of your program is almost irrelevant beyond being related to finance/business/economics in some way – if you’re trying to re-brand yourself, don’t go for a Master’s Degree in English Literature.

3) Keep At It

This one gets overlooked, probably because it’s not as “exciting” as the other options.

If you keep cold-calling and networking, you’ll eventually get something – the only way to fail is if you give up first. Even if you graduate without a firm plan in place, that’s still better than taking the wrong job.

You should think about this option if:

  1. You don’t have the resources to delay graduation or to stay in school even longer.
  2. You have a decent amount of work experience but you lack a good network and need time to build it.
  3. You don’t mind going for smaller banks at first and then making a lateral move.

If you’re at a non-target school and cannot move elsewhere or stay in school longer, this is your best option: set a target of making 10 calls per day, sending 10 emails per day, and so on, and never take “no” for an answer.

4) Mini-Retirement

I’m referring to my suggestions on what to do with time off before you start working full-time: moving to another country for a few months and doing something interesting.

This one can work but it’s more risky than the others since it puts you out of the game for quite awhile – if you do this for an entire year after graduation, for example, it’s tough to jump back into recruiting.

It’s more viable if you combine this with the other options above – so maybe you apply to grad school, but take 1-2 months in between to go on an adventure.

That way you get a big boost to your networking and interview skills because you appear more interesting, plus you might get some solid leads if you go to a country with a major financial center.

5) Something Leverageable

If all else fails, none of these options is viable, and you can’t afford to spend more time recruiting, then you might have to take what you can get.

But still think about something that can be spun into sounding relevant to finance – corporate finance at a large company, helping governments manage all the financial services companies they now own, or even an economics/business-related fellowship.

Your Plan of Attack

If full-time recruiting season is over and you don’t have any offers, your plan of attack is simple: figure out what went wrong, decide what you’ll do after graduation to give yourself another shot at recruiting, and then spend your time between now and then fixing the mistakes you made.

Now, get to it.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hi, I would really appreciate if you could give me advice.

    I am a junior studying an irrelevant major at a target school in NYC. I found out I wanted to work in IB late, so I will be graduating late (so I am technically a sophomore) However, I have no work experience, effectively making my resume barren, and I have nothing lined up for spring and summer. What should I be doing? It also seems more dire given that it is now January and applications for the summer are past due. I was thinking about cold-calling boutiques and seeing if they have positions.

    1. Your best bet at this point is to aim for internships at local PE/VC firms and banks and see if you can get something lined up during the school year or for the summer. I don’t think you have a great chance at the on-cycle recruiting process for 2021 because it will start in a few months. But if you can win one of those internships first, maybe you can get lucky and leverage it into a full-time role later, or you can start out at a valuation or Big 4 firm or something similar and lateral over to IB.

  2. How bad are your chances for IBD London if you’ve been rejected at a bank the previous year? Should I re-apply with a new email and see what happens?

    1. As long as you can point to how you’ve changed/improved since then, an initial rejection should not be a big obstacle. So, yes, re-apply.

      1. Right, I made it to an initial Hirevue after attending an event so will someone from HR remember me and ding my application?

        1. Unlikely because banks are generally disorganized and HR tends not to be competent…

  3. Hi, what do you think is the better move for me going forward, with a view of getting in to IB – M&A @ Big 4 or Valuation Advisory?

    1. M&A at Big 4 due to the brand name + skill set relevancy.

  4. HI there,

    I have 2 internships in venture capital, good grades, and some tech jobs at top tech companies. I graduated a few months ago but since I’m off-cycle I haven’t found too many IB opportunities. I got a corp-dev offer for a private PE backed company that focuses on tech and is acquisitive. It could be a good experience, but I would rather do IB first. With my background, is it better to take this opportunity and try to lateral. Or could it be a good idea to do my best in a few months when more jobs open up?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. I would take the corp dev offer if you’re not close to winning anything else because it is always easier to find another job when you’re employed. And it’s not great to have a gap on your resume, especially if you’ve already graduated.

  5. Hi Brian, I live in the UK and I’m going to study A-level Maths, Further Maths and Economics. I’m unsure of which degree, out of Economics, Mathematics, Finance or Business, is most useful in gaining internships and a position at an investment bank. Or does the type of degree not matter significantly, and is there more importance in attending a top university?

  6. Hey Brian. I interned at an elite HF last summer (big name fund that runs internships), enjoyed the work, and received a return offer. I chose the HF over a banking offer (non top 3 BB bank) back then as I thought it would be interesting but I also may have been naive in making my decision based on general “prestige”.

    In fear that I would not get a return offer, I went into this upcoming recruitment cycle applying for IB Summers (since full-time graduate roles are really scarce anyway). I received a banking offer from a top bank for summer and so now I’m in a bit of a dilemma.

    1. Start at the HF full time? The work’s interesting, lots of responsibility and little grunt work. But like you mentioned countless of times, its unstructured and niche – so opportunities to lateral in the future might be relatively low
    2. Do the banking summer and hope I convert it? But then I’ll be giving up a job at a top HF and I may not even be able to land a comparable role after doing 2 years banking because of how competitive recruitment is post-banking(so either way you can’t be picky when looking for exit-opps)

    General feedback I’ve got from my friends in college is that I would be foolish to give up a “coveted” spot at this fund. But on the other hand, I feel like a broad-based structured analyst programme could also be useful for my development?

    Am I thinking about this completely wrong? What would you advise?

    1. I think it depends on how certain you are that you want to stay in the hedge fund industry for the long term. If you are not really sure what you want to do, or you could consider other options such as IB/PE/VC/Corporate Development in future years, then it probably makes more sense to accept the IB offer and aim to convert it into a full-time role.

      On the other hand, if investing is your passion and you have no interest in working on deals or moving into other industries, then it makes more sense to accept the HF offer because it will be harder to win an equivalent offer later on out of an IB program, even one at a top bank.

  7. Hey
    I just finished up at IU but unfortunately finished with a 3.0 gpa and only one internship in wealth management. Is there any hope using an MSF program to get into IB. thanks

    1. Potentially, but only if you’re willing to network like a madman and win some internships before/during the program (oh, and get into a top program).

  8. Hi!
    Love the article, and your insights in all of them are great.
    I had a quick question. Given my grades aren’t great, and I have internships from a mid tier consulting firm, I suppose its going to be impossible to break into IB immediately. I was thinking of working in consulting a while, maybe get a few M&A deals if possible; then do my MBA and get into IB/PE via that route.
    Do you think tis a good idea?

    1. Yes, most likely. Mid-tier consulting to IB is very difficult, so it might be better to do something like a Big 4 firm or valuation firm first. Or even corporate finance at a normal company.

  9. Avatar

    Hi Nicole,Brian,

    Thank you for another very useful article, and giving us constructive feedback on our career moves!

    I graduated from a target school and did an MM IB internship prior to starting in a real estate corporate M&A role at a fortune 500 firm. I stayed there for a year and a half (added a $15bn+ transaction to my dealsheet), and then left the company on mutual accord. It has been almost 4 months since I’m looking for a new opportunity, sent out 100+ applications, interviewed at 12 places [o/w 3 final rounds], but received no offer. My point of focus so far was generalist/real estate IB and MM RE PE.

    How would you advise me to position myself next? Should I continue networking/applying or perhaps consider alternative finance roles? Any ideas would be more than welcome.

    1. That is a tough one. If you made it to 3 final round interviews, you must be doing something right, but you might be making some type of mistake near the end that is hurting your chances (could be your story, your deal walk-throughs, performance on case studies, or almost anything, really). You definitely have a higher chance of winning offers if you keep focusing on real estate groups and firms, so assuming you want to stay in the industry, you should continue to do that. You may want to consider real estate lending roles since there’s often more of a supply/demand imbalance there. I would also strongly recommend reaching out to your interviewers to see if you can get feedback on how you can improve.

  10. Avatar
    Aniruddha K

    I have been selected for the round 2 of Credit Suisse Holt Valuation Challenge where I have to prepare Investment Pitch.I can’t understand what to do now since I am from a small University in India I have no one to give guidance.Can you please help me?
    Thank You

  11. I major in International Business. My school is top 4 in the US in International Business major. However, I am a fully online student and my school is in another state. I am graduating in 2 month. I never have any internship but I do have job experience in payroll and account payable. I really don’t know what I want to do with my major. I know I want to work in Finance field. I just accepted a part time job as Life Insurance & Investment sales but I don’t like walking door to door selling life insurance. I do like selling the investment part of it since I feel like I’m helping my client with their money for the future. However, if I can’t sell then I lose money for the membership fee. I don’t want to do payroll or AP or selling insurance anymore after I graduated. Money is also my problem. I cannot delay my graduation or quit my current job. My ultimate goal is Investment Banking. What else can I do with my major? I applied to so many internships and recent grad opportunity but no one has contact me back. I really want a Master Degree in Finance but I cannot afford that at the moment. What should I do?

    1. If you haven’t had several internships, you won’t be able to win the types of opportunities you want (IB or anything deal/investment-related). Your best bet is to work in life insurance, move to the investment side, and then leverage that to move into something like valuation, Big 4 advisory, etc. And then think about investment banking, maybe going through business school in the process.

  12. Hi, I have taken a masters and was wondering if I can get interviews for SA positions with the following stats + networking and how do I increase my chance? What about opportunities in SG/HK?

    UG GPA (in SEA country): 3.4 (Major GPA : 3.8) in Computer Engineering
    Master GPA: 3.9 in MS in Management Science and Engineering at a target Ivy League School
    1 year exp as project coordinator in Renewable Energy Industry
    1 IB internship at top tier bank at my home country

    1. Yes, I think you can. Only networking or a higher GPA would increase your chances at this point, but you can’t do much about the undergrad GPA now.

  13. Hi,

    I’m going through a pretty tough time and I need advice. It’s been almost 2 years since I graduated from an average school with a 3.9 GPA. I had a wealth management job for 3 months a year ago, and I went through some personal struggles that further delayed my return to work. I’ve always wanted investment banking, but never found jobs close to where I live so I applied online to every finance job I could find, and didn’t get any interview offers back in October. This made me think and I decided to ramp up my efforts for investment banking, so I’ve started networking in the DC area with no avail. The question is after I now sadly figured out the nature of this industry, what is the best course of action for me? Do I get a master’s degree, do I give up on my dream, or do you suggest something else? Please help me with some advice. Thank you.

    1. A Master’s in Finance degree combined with an internship before/during the program is your best option at this point. Or, you could work in another industry for a few years, go for a top MBA program, and get into IB like that. But it will be tough to break in directly if you’ve already been out of school for 2 years.

  14. Hi there,

    After college, I joined a large life insurance company as an actuary and am realizing how narrow a field I am in. I was a math and economics major at a target school, GPA just above a 3.5. I am half a year into the job and am in NYC. I want to move into IB and would be willing to start at an entry level come next summer. What is the best way to go about this, given that I do not have the platform of true campus recruiting, and have largely missed the season?

    1. You will probably need something closer to IB first, such as work at an independent valuation firm or at a Big 4 firm doing valuation/advisory work… so focus on getting one of those and then making the move into IB.

  15. Hi,

    I just finished an investment banking internship at a boutique firm. I am a rising senior at a top 15 non-target with a 3.8, tough double major, solid internship experience, and strong extracurriculars. I wasn’t able to land the SA position I wanted this summer primarily due to lack of networking in the fall. Now, I am applying to places full-time and it doesn’t seem as if I am getting any leads. I received a return offer from my bank this summer, but I have worked so hard to get to where I am and I know my resume is top tier caliber, so settling for an unknown boutique is extremely difficult for me. I would be more than happy to intern again next summer and am wondering what you think the best plan of attack is. Should I delay graduation until next December? Should I say I am doing a Masters? Programs don’t let you know until spring so I am not sure how that would work. When asked about my graduation, what should I say? Should I play it off to interviewers as if I’m graduating early in December or will that get back to me? The fact that I have such a strong resume but people won’t even take a look at me now because of my subpar SA stint and non-target school is depressing and disheartening. I am in a really tough place right now and would welcome any advice. Thanks a lot.

    1. I would recommend taking the return offer from the boutique. Yes, it sucks to have to accept that after so much work, but sometimes the market just does not go in your favor. For what it’s worth, tons of other interns didn’t even receive full-time return offers.

      If you delay graduation or do a Master’s, the market might be even worse when you get out.

      It’s almost always better to take an offer at a smaller firm and then move to a bigger one than it is to roll the dice with full-time recruiting or summer recruiting, especially in a market where deal activity is falling and banks are reducing their hiring.

      1. If I were to apply to a few SA roles just to see, which approach do you think would be better? Delaying or Master’s? How would the Master’s look on my resume since I wouldn’t know what program I’m accepted to yet? And what would be a good answer for those questions I don’t want to be asked for either my graduation date or master’s?

        Thank you very much for all of your help.

        1. Delaying your graduation is probably a better approach because your bank *might* be OK with you starting a bit later if you do that (i.e., you delay graduation but then don’t win an offer elsewhere, so you have to go back to the original one)… or maybe you can apply to SA roles first, claim that you’re graduating at a later date, but then only delay graduation if you win an SA role at a bigger bank. It would be harder to do that with a Master’s degree because of the timing.

          For the questions you’ll get, I would just answer them directly and say that you felt you could win an offer at a larger bank if you recruited for summer internship roles after your IB experience, and so you decided to stay in school so you’d have the opportunity to do that again.

  16. Hi there,

    I am a corporate banking summer intern in NYC. I am mostly working on the credit memos and Enterprise value model. I think the most relevent task relevant to IB is the EV model because I have to do DCF and comps.

    However, this EV model is considered to be unncessary for corporate banking because it is required by the regulators. And the model is not as complicated and accurate as the real models in IB.

    My question is: should I put down my EV experiecence in my resume to break into IB? IB people may think my EV models aren’t as good as theirs

    1. ??? What is an “Enterprise Value model”? Enterprise Value is typically part of other analyses. I would not list something like that – maybe just say that you valued companies, calculated credit stats and ratios, and so on.

  17. Hi!

    I am a banking and finance student who recently graduated. I was unable to get any full-time investment banking positions and I believe the main reason was the lack of interview experiences during the time I applied.

    However, I was offered a full-time position in product management for a mortgage investment firm, so I was wondering whether this will affect my chances?

    (I interned at a bank, doing Financial Markets.)

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I’d take this internship as a start and see how this goes. You can then transition internally, lateral externally, or pursue your advanced degrees to improve your chances of breaking into IB if this is what you desire.

  18. Hey,

    I am a student at BIWS and have a question concerning this. I’m graduating in a few months (this May), and I don’t have a job yet. The BIWS Courses have been incredible but I simply started too late. I am working with a recruiter who has connections with the bulge brackets, and he said he can get me in the door for short-term full-time investment banking positions. It will be around 3-6 months at an hourly wage. I’m guessing that based on performance and need it is likely I can be offered a full-time permanent offer, but I’m not sure. What are your thoughts? I haven’t been able to find any information on this topic.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      In this case, I’d try out the offer and gain some experience first. I am not 100% sure if you’ll be offered a full-time role, but I’d do very well and list such experience on your resume.

  19. I planned on taking an extra semester to be eligible to apply to S&T internships again since my GPA was too low last year. I’ve received an offer, but am no longer able to pay for an extra semester. Is this a big enough deal that I should notify HR of my current situation?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d notify HR of your current situation, and see what they say. If your internship is depending on certain criteria this maybe an issue but I wouldn’t worry too much about it

  20. Hiya,

    First off, I just want to say that I love your articles and really appreciate your insights. I also have a question about my situation. I’m a Biology/Econ double major senior at a target, but could never make up my mind on whether I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacology or in finance. I thought I’d spend the summer doing research to decide for sure. Ended up really becoming discouraged by the slow and disinteresting aspects of the experimental design process.

    For the past few weeks I’ve participated in OCR and got about 12 interviews at various asset management, PE FoF, and consulting firms but it always seems like the interviewers sort of dismiss me. My story is probably partially at fault but it’s clear I don’t have the skills or experience – I interned at a boutique public finance shop and did some economic research.

    Given my experience and the fact that I’m at a target, would you recommend delaying graduation to try for a summer internship? My gpa sits at 3.5 so I believe I’m okay in that regard. I’d start networking hard ASAP.

    Have you seen anyone break into IBD from this scenario?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Avatar
      Nicole Lee

      I’d reach out to the interviewers and figure out how you can improve: And if you really can’t find anything promising, yes you can delay graduation but you’ll have to speak with HR re. whether you are eligible for summer internships or not. I’d also network with alum and boutique banks to see if there are other opportunities out there.

  21. I graduated from university this past May and got most final rounds, but no offer. Am i able to do full-time, on campus recruiting in september again? or is there another period of full-time recruiting? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you have already graduated I think you maybe be considered out of the campus recruitment cycle. I’d keep in touch with your interviewers and see if any other opportunities come up. I’d focus on networking and looking at off-cycle opportunities at this point.

  22. Thank you for the reply. Just a question:

    In this article under “What Not To Do” it states that it would be a bad idea to go to business school immediately after an undergrad (which I agree). In the same sense, the article states under possible b options, that it may be an idea to seek an MBA, isn’t this a contradiction?



    1. I believe the recommendation there is to think about a longer-term MBA, so maybe work somewhere else for a few years and think about an MBA as an option to get into IB in the future.

  23. Here is my situation: I just recently graduated in May 2015 from a small private instituion in Illinois as a finance major. My school is small and has really no name in investment banking I cant find 1 alumni who is in investment banking.. Currently I have 2 internships under my belt one as a summer analyst which was more of a corporate in house financials analyst. I also had a financial compensation consulting part time summer opportunity. Unfortuantley you learn things later in life and by the time I graduated I did not have any investment banking interns. I see all my friends in the entry level analyst programs at JP Morgan and BMO. Logic would run that I should apply for the program yet I did not know of the hierarchy of hoe this works until I graduated.. The program opens back up for entry in Spetember but Apparently it is only open to 2016 “rising seniors.” As you can see I am in a pickle. HR recommended that I just apply for the regular main line direct positions but they require experience and often the program is the bridge to these full time analyst jobs. I am now not sure how I can break into the door. One positive thing is that I (unlike the worst situation) have my background in financs at least. Should I try to target smaller investment banks or what plan of action would you suggest? I would say try to intern but as a graduate they usually want students who are still pursuing their degree.. I know one recruiter suggested that I try to find a temp/contract position and get my foot in that way but it will still be hard to even get that position. I have an oportunity and a connection to be a trader down town with a professor as he liked my performance, should I try to get in there and transcend, look for small private equity firms, or focus on boutiques ? Any advice and feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes a temp/contract position can potentially help you so I’d focus on networking to obtain such roles. If the trader you have connected with like you, I’d focus on staying in touch with him and see if he can offer you an opportunity/referrals. Without IB experience, I wouldn’t focus on PE firms unless you have built a connecting with GPs there.

  24. Hi M&I,

    I got an offer from a boutique M&A shop. The offer itself is a bit murky. Basically, they called me and told me come in and work for 3 months and lets see how things go. If things go well they’d extend this to a full time offer. There was no mention of compensation or anything else.
    I have no prior IB experience and i come from a product-oriented middle office position. And i am a fresh MBA-grad.
    Do i go back to them and inquire about compensation? would that be appropriate in this situation?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d ask them re. the compensation for this role. If this is an unpaid role, and you don’t have other offers on hand, this may not be a bad way to gain some sort of experience to prepare for recruiting.

  25. Avatar


    I have a summer internship offer for a back office role working with the derivatives team, but I am planning on doing a masters and I am in my third year. Will this internship help me get a front office internship next summer before I start my master’s, or should I pursue other options?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I may pursue other options but take this role if nothing comes up.

      1. Avatar


        Thanks for the reply. I have been pursuing other avenues like you suggested and an interview for a position in the M & A team of a supply chain company has come up, which deals mainly with commodities. Although this isn’t a bank, do you think this is a better opportunity than the one previously mentioned?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes this can be a better opportunity depending on the role and the team you’ll be working with.

  26. Avatar
    Concerned Senior


    Did an IB internship last summer and have lots of work experience but there wasn’t really any potential for a full time offer at the end of the day(i networked with the MD there quite a bit who offered to me to join his team for the summer, but the bank doesn’t really have a traditional recruiting process so no FT offer). It’s better than MM bank but not usually considered BB despite their size.
    How should I spin the fact that I didn’t get any FT offer in an interview ? also if I can’t get a FT offer, does it make sense to try and get more internship experience in IB and then re-apply to FT programs in the fall despite the fact that I would have already graduated ? I’ve gotten mixed sentiment for that path since some campus recruiters I spoke too said they don’t like to recruit if you will spend a year essentially doing nothing.

    Thank you in advance for all advice.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can just say that the bank did not have a traditional recruiting process and did not hire full time employees from summer intern pool, but you did very well and are happy to provide recommendations from your previous employer. Yes you can try that but it maybe more difficult to get in after FT recruitment – yes it can be more challenging if you spend a year idle.

  27. Hello,

    I am currently a senior at a non-target UC school and am really behind on the hunt. I hadn’t officially decided what type of finance job I wanted and really lagged on applying. It is now March and I have yet to even begin applying. My (obviously reach) goal is to work at a bulge bracket firm in NYC but I know now that recruiting is mostly done and the fact that I am not even graduating with a strong brand school is not beneficial. I will have 3.5-3.6 at graduation and have 5 years of accounting experience but I am wondering what my best steps are for somehow breaking into IB still at a top firm. Should I start applying now to boutique firms in hopes of securing a job and eventually making a lateral move? I do have 5-10 front office contacts through people I know but I’m wondering if it will seem very unprofessional and unprepared of me to try to reach out to them this late in the season. Please help as I am so anxious about my situation.

    1. I’ll also add that I was a transfer student but have a good amount leadership experience at my current university. My major is hybrid of Economics and Business Finance so I have the analytical knowledge and have taken and done well in several different finance/investment courses. I would also consider an internship to gain the knowledge and experience from a BB bank with hopes of getting an offer because my accounting experience was from a boutique firm (managed clients with 10mil+ assets).

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Yes, I am not sure if an internship is the best idea, though you can always make an offer to firms and tell them you’d be happy to do contract work for them / help out with various projects and see how that goes.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Marco, yes I’d probably start with boutique/2nd/3rd tier firms first and lateral from a BB. I think you can still network with the front office contacts, and no I don’t think it’s unprofessional if you present yourself well. While you maybe a bit late, I believe you can still try connecting with people to establish the relationships first.

  28. Avatar
    Julien aponte

    My name is Julien Aponte and I am currently obtaining my bachelor’s degree in finance. I currently work at a wealth management firm that has AUM of about 100 million and obtaining my 2-15 for insurance and annuities. I have a keen desire to go into investment banking (considering there’s a raymond james IB 30 minutes away). Will this experience help push me closer to a full-time IB offer? I have a 3.9 GPA and study stock analysis and work in a sales position.
    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This experience may potentially help. I’d apply and see how it goes especially since you’ve got some finance experience (even though not deal experience) and a solid GPA.

      1. Avatar
        julien aponte

        Appreciate the quick feedback!
        Thanks for the help

  29. Hi Brian,

    I just recently finished my final round interviews for a full-time position with an elite boutique IB firm and I’m waiting to hear back. Do you think I should ask for switching to their summer internship candidate pool if I do not get the FT offer? Even though I’m graduating this year. Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can try, but I don’t think this is feasible since most banks only take juniors for their summer internship. You can speak with HR and ask, after you’ve heard back. In the meantime, I’d wait and perhaps network with other firms to increase your chances.

  30. If you don’t have an impressive internship on your resume and don’t get a full time offer by senior year, is it possible to apply for a post-graduation summer internship with the rest of the junior class and hope that post grad internship turns into a full time offer by the end of summer? Basically a smooth transition from intern to full-time analyst? Does anybody try that? Are banks even open to that?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is possible but unlikely because HR limits those who apply for summer internships. Usually only juniors are allowed to apply for summer internships. Some boutique banks maybe open to that though you’ll have to contact them individually and go through the off-cycle recruiting route I believe. Using LinkedIn to reach out to such potential firms may actually help in your case

      1. Thanks for responding! I was asking because I’m a junior at a target school, but I’ve only recently become interested in finance, and all of my internship experience so far, including the internship I’ve already lined up for this summer, has been in non-finance fields like publishing, non-profit work, and film production. I just assumed you had to have a finance internship on your resume before a bulge-bracket bank would even consider hiring you as a full-time analyst after graduation. What are my chances of getting full-time banking offers next year if I emphasize in interviews how my non-finance internships were even tangentially related to finance or how they peaked my interest in business in general? If I took a financial modeling course like BIWS and put that on my resume, would that help?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, your assumption is mostly correct though there are exceptions. Your chances are around 50/50 and you can increase them by gaining relevant finance experience in the meantime if possible, networking a lot, demonstrating your passion in the industry. If, by around May you don’t get traction you may want to consider a target MBA/Masters. Our courses can most definitely improve your valuation skills and help you in interviews, however, the certification alone wouldn’t be able to land you an internship. You’ll need to have relevant work experience, solid presentation skills, etc to break in. should help you.

  31. Hello M&I Team,

    I’m currently a senior at a fringe semi target. I got lucky and was able to intern this summer at one of the top elite boutiques in a regional office. Didn’t get an offer due to low headcount and I was not interested in location. After my sophomore year I interned at a large PE shop managing over $3bn. I spent september and october doing full time recruiting but came out empty handed. The no offer status, along with my GPA in a difficult and irrelevant major, which is approx. 3.3, definitely hurt me.

    I am dead set on banking. After getting rejected after 5 FT super days, I decided early october to potentially delay graduation and try pursuing summer analyst opportunities. I have had some success recruiting thus far but keep getting dinged because of my GPA, despite name brand experience (including a closed M&A deal involving a blue chip company). My school network is pretty small and I feel like I’ve exhausted it. I’m still not getting interviews at a lot of places. I talk to as many bankers who will reply to my emails but everything is over once my resume gets forwarded to HR and I get filtered out due to my GPA.

    It is still early. Recruiting season is far from over. It is plausible that I could end up with a solid offer for the summer that I can convert to a full time offer. Having said that – my end goal is PE. If I do get a banking offer for the summer and the subsequent FT offer, how much will my mediocre GPA hold me back when I eventually try to go for buyside recruiting?

    Would it make more sense at this point to focus my energy on applying to MSF programs at a more well-regarded school so I can build an alternate transcript? Is it too much of a risk to try and go for internships again on an undergrad campus where there isn’t a ton of recruiting? How hard is it to get into banking out of MSF programs vs. out of undergrad? Applying to graduate school seems like such a commitment. Those who are willing to overlook my mediocre GPA are impressed with my resume.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      George, to break into PE, I’d suggest Its best to gain some deal experience in IB before breaking into PE, and at that point no I don’t think your GPA would matter too much if you have solid experience to compensate for it

      Yes you can apply to MSF programs and see how that goes. If something comes up in the meantime you can take the role. If you get into a top tier MSF program this may increase your chances quite a bit, though there’s no guarantee so I’d treat MSF as a backup option.

  32. Hi M&I Team,

    I interned at GS IBD during the summer 2013 and got no full-time offer. I have just finished my BSc in a finance unrelated field (non-target school) and I am now going for a one-year MSc in Management at a top UK university. I am starting to apply for IB jobs in order to start working in 2015. Assuming I get any interviews, how should I go about explaining why I did not get a full-time offer at GS? The truth is, my first rotation was not great as I clashed with the team a lot. The second one (M&A) was good but apparently the feedback from the first one dragged me down and thus no offer. Quite a few interns did not get full-time offers, and a VP I know said the number of people sent away was quite high. Should I just use the ‘headcount’ as an explanation (how believable is it?) or mention in some diplomatic way that I did not fit in with the first team and their culture while also emphasising that during the second rotation I became sure M&A was a better fit for me? Any alternative ideas would also be really appreciated!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d just say that there’s a headcount issue and try not to elaborate on it unless they ask

      1. Ok, thank you Nicole!

  33. Hi, I received my first degree in political science in 2013 from a top UK university and went straight into pursuing a masters in finance from a good European business school.

    About to graduate soon but no internship or job offers. Obviously no prior experience in finance before, mostly just startups/public policy/journalism. Admittedly, I had no idea how it worked and mostly only applied for jobs which is really stupid of me in hindsight.

    I have networked a little bit but since I do not have the right to work in Europe or the US, it has been quite futile. I am honestly not sure where to go from here. Any advice is much appreciated.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d approach alums and see if they have any opportunities for you, especially those who were in your similar situation (i.e. they needed a visa). I’d also approach your school’s career centre and see if they have any opportunities for you – as long as you can extend your stay in Europe you can use the time to look for a job that can sponsor you. You just need to buy time.

  34. Avatar

    Hi Brian,

    Love your website. I find myself in the situation that you mentioned in this article. I will be graduating in May and have no full time offers. This makes sense since I have no banking internship experience. I have done internships related to finance but not banking directly.

    I did managed\ to land a summer internship at a boutique investment bank. The problem is that it is unpaid (although they will give me a bonus in the end based on my performance) and the hiring manager said that I should not have the expectation that I would be hired when I finished the internship. He said that they are a small and that their hiring depends on their needs. I know this situation sucks but I prefer this than taking a random, low-paying job.

    My question for you is how do I make the most out of this situation? Is it possible to make this internship into a full time position? Can you please give some advice. I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it is. Ace your internship and demonstrate your value

  35. I think I know what your answer is going to be, but just to reiterate. I have an offer from a tiny (500mm) PE shop in Baltimore for an investment analyst position and a back office offer from a top 3 bulge bracket bank in NY.

    Based on this, I am certain you are going to say go with the PE offer. My biggest issues with the offer are that it is in Baltimore, which I feel will make it really hard to network with a bigger bank to transition into. Additionally, even if I stick with the PE position for lets say 2 to 3 years, do I even stand a chance at a top 20 B school? It’s not at all a well known firm. Wouldn’t it be easier to network and go from a top 3 bulge bracket back office position in NY to a front office position or top 20 B school?

    Please let me know what you think.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can say that, especially if you want to hang out in NY and are confident that you can network and transition into a front office role. I think the PE offer can potentially be attractive though its location as well as reputation can be a minus, and the BB’s name and location may make up for the fact that it is a back office role. So if you want to go back to b-school, maybe the BB is a better option, especially since you can leverage your b-school network and get into PE, and the key now is to focus on getting into a top b-school maybe useful

  36. Hello M&I,
    Amazing article !
    I have a question on normal job. Currently, I am in my senior year and simultanously working as an analyst in journalism, economic newspaper. At my job, I cover almost all economic fields and events, do DCFs and things alike, prepare rankings and research, interview brokers, etc.
    Will this count as a normal job ? Finance related ? Or maybe semi-finance related?
    Thank you so much!
    I really appreciate what M&I is doing for prospective bankers like me.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is somewhat related to finance and gives you the opportunity to network with bankers

      1. Should I list this job on my CV ?
        Will bankers see it as something positive and will it give me more advantage ?
        Or is this job for networking only ?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          If you don’t have other work experience, yes you should list it on your resume.

  37. Hey M&A Team,

    Great topic, again, that fits a lot of my concerns.

    Still I don’t get that kind of link between career paths in finance that seems critical to plan one’s career and Plan B options. ie, assuming there’s a pyramidal hierarchy of financial careers in terms of responsibilities/salary/interest, working one’s way through the top career should leverage one’s chances to land in all the lower jobs in the “pyramidal hierarchy”. (The same way two correlated assets of the same portfolio will increase when one of them increase)
    I know you don’t like to rank, for many relevant reasons, but this is not the main point.

    So here’s my concern: Does a basic IB career path fits with financial jobs less important (responsibilities/salary/interest) in this hierarchy?
    1)If I work my way and follow a step-by-step career path aiming IB,will it be easier then to exit toward a good job in finance?
    2) And above all, if I have to use my Plan B options BEFORE starting in IB because I failed, will it be easier to consider other GOOD banking jobs or even corporate finance ones? Or does those activities imply career paths too much different?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Please go to
      2) I don’t think executing your Plan B option first is the best idea.

  38. Hey,

    I am a Senior, applying to full time positions in IB and Equity Research. I am realizing that I have missed most of the deadlines for online applications. I have done some solid networking and have gotten my resume in the hands of several people in both areas, who said they would be happy to push it through to HR. So, my issue becomes that HR won’t have an application to go along with that resume and I won’t be in their system. Any advice?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If HR and the team like you, I don’t think its a big problem. As long as you’re not too far behind the process, you can submit your application separately via email I believe though I am not 100% sure

  39. Hi,
    I am a senior pursuing a BS in Business Admin at a school that is heavily recruited for many finance positions.

    I only entered the business school as a junior, and have not had internship experience in investment banking (and so I do not feel sufficiently prepared to apply for full time analyst positions). I am planning to apply for and complete a Master of Finance program following my graduation year to better prepare me for an analyst position.

    I want to apply for a summer internship with a bulge bracket for next summer before the program begins, but most of the banks say that they want students that are “undergraduates” or “juniors” to apply for their internships. Can I still apply as a summer analyst even though I will not be an undergraduate? How should I go about doing this?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on the firm but I think for some of the bulge brackets they only want juniors and that is their requirement. You may want to speak with the HR/recruiters of each bank and let them know of your situation. They maybe able to make an exception. Some firms have roles for “pre-master” students so I’d be applying to such roles.

      1. Thanks Nicole.
        Do you think that doing a one year masters program and trying to get an IB internship over next summer is the best way to pursue an IB analyst position? Or would you suggest just trying to network and study this year in the hopes of securing a position without previous experience and skipping the masters program

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes getting into a top tier masters program may potentially increase your chances though I’d suggest you to network this year first and see if you get in. I’d also apply to masters program as a backup

  40. I am William Liu currently having more than 6 years of experience in banking , insurance , food and beverages and print media industry with a MBA in finance from ITM Business School Kharghar tier 2 B-schools India and graduate in accountancy from St Xavier’s college.

    My areas of expertise has been in business development and marketing and entrepreneurial venture.

    I want to start my career rather build my career in IB ,, can you please suggest me How to get into one….I am ready for any courses too.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You may find this article useful:

      Yes if you want to brush up on your fundamentals and valuation skills, you may want to check out When you scroll down to the bottom, you should be able to watch a few sample videos which maybe useful to you.

  41. Would someone who went to a prestigious school, but not an ivy league (Duke, UVA, Middlebury, Amherst, etc.), and got a high gpa studying economics or finance struggle at finding a “normal”job if banking didn’t work out immediately?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No I don’t think you’d “struggle”. It really depends on your interviewing and networking skills, pitch as well as your drive. I don’t think you need to have an Ivy League degree to thrive. While the interviewees below didn’t go Ivy League schools, they got offers in banks. If they can get offers in banks, I think they are capable of getting “normal” jobs.

  42. I interned in capital markets at a top tier IB and was not made a return offer. I went through full time recruiting and was not able to close any interviews as I didn’t have more relevant IBD experience ie M&A, coverage.
    It is worth mentioning that the IB community is extremely small in my city where everyone works in the same building and everyone knows each other. My former employer is unlikely to take me back as an intern again. Now that these banks have seen me come through recruiting, do you think it would be wise to try and intern in IB again? I figure that if I am not made a return offer again, it would shatter my chances of full time hiring next year. And although recruiting was think for the banks this year, the bankers will all know that I couldn’t close any interviews and think I’m inadequate.
    What would you advise me to do?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Applying for an internship again may help you in your situation. Re. you not having a return offer, you’ll just have to have a solid pitch and good explanation as to why you didn’t get the return offer (i.e. little/no headcount). I’d also look for roles at smaller/less established banks in your city if this option is available.

  43. Hi,
    Im a junior and majoring in Economics and Statistics. I have applied to around 70 summer internships but didnot get a return call from even one of them. Its making me anxious and scared. What should I do to land an internship even in a small firm.Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am sorry to hear. I can understand your frustration, though rather than panicking I’d spend your energy on more constructive actions such as reevaluating your application. Perhaps you can ask your contacts in the industry/friends in finance for some feedback on your application and resume. Can your grades/ work experience be improved? If you don’t have relevant work experience, it may be useful for you to gain some before you apply again. Can you structure your resume better? Please refer to the articles below.

  44. Dear Nicole:

    I have an summer internship offer in Hong Kong this summer. I am doing the internship in Hong Kong due to some family reasons, but I really want to work in New York for full time. Do you know if I could leverage my re-offer (if i get one) and apply to BAML or another firm in NY?

    Thank you very much!!

    Best Regards,

    1. You could, but sometimes it’s difficult logistically to do that because accelerated recruiting takes place right as internships are finishing up… so you’d have to convince them to let you do the interviews remotely, which can sometimes work, but it’s more difficult than if you were in NY.

  45. My application has been put on hold after the final round interviews. I am really keen on this job and didn’t hedge by applying to other firms as well… so I am anxious now. What should I do? I had some really good conversations with some of my interviewers, should I email them updating them of my status? what else should I say? this is for S&T if that matters.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, you can follow up with your interviewers expressing to them how much you want this role and how you can help them. Maybe you can let them know of any recent developments you have in your career/work.

  46. Hey Brian,

    I’m currently completing my degree in broadcasting (took an extra year) and was recently offered a spring internship position at CNBC as an analyst.

    Should I accept the offer at CNBC for the Spring and start networking and requesting informational interviews with firms in New York for a possible summer investment banking internship? I personally thought working at CNBC would make a great story during my interviews. What is your thought on that? Is this just another “normal” job. And if I start networking intensively from February, will it be possible to find an internship position for the summer?

    My plan is to transfer to a second-level entry target business school (another undergrad which I’d be entering as a 3rd year student) and network with bulge bracket banks that recruit from that school. Do you think 5 years of broadcasting and another 2 years of business will be disadvantageous?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes unless you have a better offer I’d go with CNBC.

      I don’t think it would “put you at a disadvantage” but I don’t quite understand why you’d want to get into banking after 5 years of broadcasting?

      1. I’m career changing. But instead of working full-time and going to top tier MBA to rebrand myself, I am choosing to goto a second-entry level program top-tier undergrad business program for 2 years. (Think Wharton).

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Interesting – do you mean doing another bachelor degree in business?

  47. Hi, I was at GS IBD – liability management and didnt get a return offer. I reapplied for another country (HK) and got an interview there again with GS IBD. For the interview, should I just tell them that I didn’t want to work in liability management and so I told off everyone I didnt want it and wanted IBD product groups instead? If they ask why I didnt get an offer, do you have any better suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can say so.

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