by Brian DeChesare Comments (226)

What If You Don’t Get a Return Offer From Your Investment Banking Summer Internship?

What If You Don't Get a Return Offer From Your Investment Banking Summer Internship?

So it wasn’t exactly a great year for return offers from summer internships.

At some banks, the conversion rate was under 50%.

At others, the rate was a little higher, but it was still far below the 80-90% you might see in “good years.”

So if you didn’t get a return offer, are you screwed?

Sort of.

It’s not the end of the world, but failing to get a return offer from an internship can make it a lot harder to start a career in finance.

And it’s incredibly frustrating because your return offer, or lack thereof, often relates more to office politics or deal activity than your performance.

But if you handle it correctly, “no return offer” just means you might have to delay your real career a bit – not give up on it entirely.

Here’s what you can do to get back on track ASAP and win a full-time role:

Why Does a Return Offer Matter So Much?

An “internship” is an 8-week or 10-week-long interview.

It gives bankers far more data than they could ever collect in normal interviews, assessment centers, or case studies, and it lets them make more informed decisions.

So all investment banks prefer to hire full-time Analysts and Associates exclusively from their summer intern classes – which means that you need an internship for the best chance of winning a full-time offer.

However, not all banks and groups can do this.

Some interns perform poorly; some groups don’t hire the right number of people; and some interns decide against banking and decline their return offers.

So certain groups recruit for full-time roles by “poaching” interns from other banks or by conducting real full-time interviews.

But in markets with poor or declining deal activity, banks rarely go far outside their summer intern classes.

Why “Network A Lot and Win an Offer Elsewhere” is Not the Real Answer

A long time ago, I used to recommend networking around and winning an offer elsewhere if you don’t get a return offer from your internship.

But if you didn’t get a return offer because of market conditions, few other banks will be hiring for full-time roles.

Also, while some banks use accelerated recruiting to lure in summer interns from other places, you typically find out about your offer status too late to participate in that process.

You might get lucky and find a group that has full-time hiring needs even after internships are over, but it’s not terribly likely.

If you want to do this, you have a better chance of finding open roles at regional/satellite offices (anything outside of New York in the U.S.) and also at smaller banks (anything outside the bulge brackets; even elite boutiques).

That’s because summer intern retention tends to be worse in those places, so if you’ve already know people there, by all means reach out and ask.

My Suggested Plan of Attack

…But like I said, your chances aren’t great in a market with declining deal activity, so here’s what I recommend instead.

First off, if you do get a full-time return offer, accept it immediately.

There’s almost no point in “shopping around” your offer right as internships are ending, especially when deal activity and hiring are down.

If you do not get a return offer, or you’re “on hold,” or you don’t know your status yet, you need to take an honest look at your situation and figure out why.

For example, did your group hire almost no one because deal activity fell dramatically?

Did you screw up by making loud and politically incorrect comments in the beginning?

Did poor accounting or Excel skills sink your chances?

Did other interns have more deal experience?

Once you know which category you fall into, you can prepare for the next steps:

  1. Figuring out where you’ll recruit next; and
  2. Figuring out how you’ll explain why you didn’t get a return offer.

Step 1: Select from Your Three Main Options: Go Smaller, Go Outside Investment Banking, or Delay Graduation and Try Again

If your inquiries about full-time openings elsewhere don’t result in any hits, you’re left with three main strategies:

  1. Go Smaller – By “smaller,” I mean regional boutiques. Specifically, pounding the pavement with cold calls and cold emails until you win an offer there.
  2. Go Outside Investment Banking – Aim for roles in a Big 4 valuation group or at an independent valuation firm. Potentially, you could also aim for buy-side roles if you’ve had previous buy-side internship experience.
  3. Delay Graduation, or do a Master’s Program, and Go for Summer Internships All Over Again – This scenario might be one of the few cases where it makes sense to delay your graduation.

The best option depends on why you didn’t receive the return offer.

EXAMPLE: If you performed well and have great references, but the group wasn’t hiring or hired only 1 / 20 interns because of poor market conditions, then options #1 and #2 might be better.

You’re taking a big risk if you delay your graduation because the market might get even worse next year.

On the other hand, if market conditions were fine and the bank hired a lot of interns, but something outside your control sunk your chances, then option #3 would make more sense.

Option #1 – cold calling and cold emailing hundreds of tiny firms – can work, but there are also some big drawbacks.

For one thing, the process is repetitive and soul-crushing.

Also, it’s very random and almost completely a numbers game.

Finally, these offers at very small firms sometimes “don’t work out”: the firm collapses, deal flow dries up, they force you out, and so on.

My Recommendation: In most cases, you’re better off going outside of pure IB roles (option #2).

Yes, there are many cold calling and cold emailing success stories on the site, but it’s far less painful to work in a related field for a year or two and then make a lateral move.

Examples: Valuation advisory to investment banking, and regional audit to business valuation to investment banking.

It’s 100% because of timing: people quit randomly all the time, and when that happens, banks need to fill those roles quickly.

By contrast, the end of summer internships might be the worst time to win offers at other firms because so many interns are trying to move around.

Step 2: Explain Why You Did Not Get a Return Offer

While interviews will be similar this time around, you need to prepare for one new question that will almost always come up:

“Did you get a return offer? / Why didn’t you get a return offer?”

There are only four good ways of answering it:

1) Say That You Don’t Know Whether or Not You’ve Received a Return Offer or That You’re On Hold

This is a legitimate answer because a lot of banks do like putting interns on hold or not giving definitive answers right away.

Of course, the follow-up question will then become: “So why didn’t you do well enough to get a return offer? Did any other interns receive return offers?”

2) Say the Group Sharply Reduced Its Hiring, or Didn’t Hire Anyone at All, and Offer References to Prove Yourself

This response will be your most likely answer to that follow-up question about how many interns received full-time offers.

But then you’ll face another follow-up question: “So the group didn’t hire anyone at all?”

If you can legitimately say, “Correct, they gave out no full-time offers” or “The group was shutting down” or “The firm was shutting down,” then those responses should end this line of questioning.

But if the group did, in fact, hire a few people, then you should NOT lie about it because you could be caught very easily.

You could respond with: “I believe a few interns did receive offers, but the percentage receiving offers was very low due to reduced deal activity.”

The interviewer will then follow up and ask why you did not get an offer.

You could say, “I’m not sure. I performed well, and I have references from several senior bankers I worked with if you’d like to speak with them. I think there were many qualified interns, and the group wanted people with more deal experience from past internships.”

If that is true, and you have real senior banker references, then that’s a legitimate answer.

If not, then there are only two responses left:

3) Say You Didn’t Fit in with the Culture, or That Banking Was Not for You

This one works best if you apply for roles outside of investment banking, such as Big 4 TAS or valuation ones.

You can say that you liked the work and performed well, but didn’t fit in with the culture of banking, and now you want to do similar work elsewhere.

Given the massive cultural differences between Big 4 firms and investment banks, they should understand.

This explanation doesn’t work if you apply for “high finance” roles, like private equity, so don’t even bother with it there.

And it really doesn’t work if you apply to other banks because most banks have very similar cultures.

I’ve seen interviewees say, “I didn’t fit in with the culture” and then get grilled on exactly what that means for 10-15 minutes.

So unless you have an exceptionally good reason (e.g., the bank you’re interviewing with has mostly non-traditional bankers), you should not use this response.

Instead, you might just have to tell them something close to the truth:

4) Tell Them Something Closer to the Truth

So if you’ve made it this far, and they’re not buying any of your other excuses, you might just admit that you screwed up in the beginning.

You realized your mistakes and fixed them, but it wasn’t enough.

For example, you could say something like: “Sure. In the first week or two, I made the mistake of asking senior bankers questions that should have gone to analysts. I fixed that quickly once I realized my mistake, but it wasn’t enough, and the senior bankers had a negative impression of me from the start.”

This isn’t the ideal response, but if nothing else above works, admitting your mistakes (partially) is still better than saying, “I don’t know. Really, I don’t know.”

Choose Your Own Adventure: So What Should You Say?

Ideally, you won’t get into an extended back-and-forth discussion over why you didn’t get a return offer.

It’s better to answer it simply and cleanly and avoid follow-up questions altogether.

To do this, you need to match your story to the types of roles you’re applying to.

If you’re focusing on non-IB opportunities, the “I didn’t fit in with the culture and decided against banking” story is the best one.

If you’re applying to other banks or you’re delaying graduation to apply to summer internships again, the “My group wasn’t hiring (much)” story is best (if it is true).

If it’s easy to disprove that claim, then some version of the truth might be best.

No Return Offer: Time to Panic?

The world won’t end if you fail to get a return offer, but yes, your life will be more difficult until you win a role somewhere else.

You need to figure out immediately what your recruiting strategy will be and how you’ll explain why you didn’t get a return offer.

You’ll still be at a disadvantage, but if you play your cards right, you can position yourself for another shot at banking in the future.

And amazingly, some version of the truth might help you get there.


Did you not receive a return offer from your internship?

Are you wondering what to do next or how to spin your story?

Are you confused about the best option?

Leave a comment below, and we’ll respond with our thoughts.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

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

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  1. Hi Brian,

    I’m a first-year student at a semi-target university in Europe.

    For the summer I didn’t get an IB internship however, I did manage to land a private banking internship.
    Assuming I will have quite a lot of free time left during summer what would be the wisest way to spend it (with the end goal of landing a job in IB)?

    I was already planning on doing quite a bit of networking, but I still feel like I will have quite a bit of free time.

    I really want to learn financial modeling so I was thinking about doing the Breaking Into Wallstreet course.
    Are there other things I can/should do, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about investment banking, so would it be useful to read certain books?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Network, learn the technical skills required in IB, and learn Excel and PowerPoint quite well. Books are not that useful because so much of the information about what bankers do is online – on this site, forums, and even news sites. Also, work on your story and start thinking about how to answer fit questions.

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the article; that really helped. I’m a first year student that did a spring week at a bulge bracket but didn’t get a summer internship offer (they conducted interviews on the last day of the program; whoever passed the interviews immediately received an offer). I asked if they’d fast track me, but they said they’re not sure yet and I might have to redo the whole process. Summer internships are competitive and not receiving one has me tense as I’m quite keen on working in this field. I’ve been trying to find out more about my options, but most students I’ve spoken to said that having completed a spring week won’t work in my favour when I apply to other banks (since I did get rejected) and not much info is available online regarding this (your article was the only relevant one I could find online). Any suggestions on what steps I can take and how I can perhaps secure a summer internship? How can I answer the question “why didn’t you secure a summer internship?”. A number of interns were selected, I received very positive feedback on my performance throughout the program and I interacted with a number of employees but my interview didn’t go as well compared to the other candidates. Thanks.

    1. All you can do is network at this stage. Do a search for some of the networking/cold-emailing/LinkedIn-related articles on this site to find more. Not receiving a return offer from a spring week won’t necessarily destroy your chances; just tell them you performed poorly in the final interview, despite doing well in the internship, and decisions were made solely on that single interview at the end.

  3. Hi, so I did a summer internship in a top IB, I didn’t have an offer right away, one day during the last semester before my graduation I got a call from the bank giving me an offer for a part time position in the IBD, obviously I accepted, but then they call me again saying that the head of my division (I never worked with him, because they are located in another city) didn’t want a part time analyst, so now I’m interviewing with other banks and they always ask me if I did get an offer or why I didn’t stay In that bank. I tell this full story, but it seems that they don’t believe it 100%, what can I say instead? Or do you have a recommendation?

    The senior bankers who I worked with right before I left told me to stay in contact and if I needed a recommendation I could ask for one.

    1. I would just tell them that you did receive a return offer, but then the bank changed its hiring plans and decided to reduce headcount, so your offer was taken away. If they have doubts about the story, offer to refer them to the senior bankers you worked with.

  4. TrustTheProcess


    Thanks for the article! I can’t express how useful BIWS is as it helps me to land multiple dream jobs. I have a question though. I recently got an intern offer to work at the Advisory group at BlackRock in the coming summer. It is not my first choice and I’m sure that I’ll like to switch group (to Investments) in fulltime. Here comes my dilemma – when should I start to network with ppl in other groups? How should I approach the groups that I’m interested in without risking my fulltime offer? I understand it might be a bit early to ask, but I will still like to know your thoughts on it.


  5. Hi Brian,

    This summer I interned at McKinsey but didn’t get a return offer. I made some mistakes at the beginning of the internship but I genuinely felt I didn’t fit with the culture and I wanted something else. I didn’t enjoy working with people there and that was the main reason for me not getting the offer. Now I’m starting to interview for IB in BBs in London, and they have been consistently asking me why I didn’t get an offer. I’ve been telling them I didn’t fit into the culture, but I’d like to know if you think there’s a better way to answer. Also, the other 6 interns got offers, so I’ve just been saying that I’m not sure how many people got offers.

    1. I don’t think that’s a good answer. It’s better to say that you decided against consulting a few weeks into it, so you mutually agreed that you would not return. Make it sound like it was mostly your decision not to go back.

  6. Hi Brian –

    I interned at GS in NY in IBD on the product group (financing) side and did not get an offer due to headcount issues, was told by my manager I did a great job and even have references. However, I go to a non target in the mid west and have been struggling in the past week in terms of networking and getting interviews. As of today I have nothing coming down the pipeline in banking – what do you think is the best strategy in the next few weeks?

    Thank you very much for your advice

    1. Aim for smaller banks first if you have not already done so… even a middle-market or boutique bank is better than doing something outside of IB. If you’ve already done that or nothing there has worked out, either, think about valuation/TS groups at Big 4 firms or independent valuation firms.

  7. Hi Brian,

    I interned at the same investment bank for two summers running in IBD. The first time I was too inexperienced and this time I think the networking aspect wasn’t there, even though the quality of work was.

    Would it be impossible to get a job now in the buy-side – HF or PE?

    1. Not necessarily, but you’ll need a really good answer to why you didn’t get a return offer twice. You might stand a higher chance if you go to some role outside of IB first and then move to a buy-side role, e.g. something like equity research to hedge funds.

  8. Hi Brian,

    I am currently interning at a BB for its Trade Finance/MO position. I am expecting no offer because I didn’t enjoy the work and don’t see myself doing it, and it showed through. I wonder any advice you could give for the recruiting this year. I am planning on delaying graduation but also looking into FT at the same time.

    1. Well… what do you want to do? Something trading-related? Something more in corporate finance or deals? You need to decide on that first. Delaying graduation sometimes makes sense, but you need specific goals first.

  9. Hi Brian,
    I am a final year undergraduate student studying engineering (finishing my course in 3 months). I completed a summer internship within Sales and Trading at Citi last summer, but didn’t get a return offer (London Office). This summer I have an internship lined up at Morgan Stanley (also Sales and Trading, London), and hope to convert to a full time offer. My question is, if I fail to convert my internship this summer, what do you think would be the best course of action?

    At the moment I am considering doing an Masters to delay gradation to September 2018, but most MSc courses in the UK are a full 12 months, therefore, I wouldn’t be able to do a third internship (although at that point maybe I should start looking at something other than sales and trading ).

    My other option is to apply to full time positions immediately after completing the summer internship this year, although it is very hard to get a full-time offer in S&T unless you have interned at that specif firm. What do you think are the chances of getting a full-time at smaller trading houses/ asset management firms?

    In the case where I do a Masters, what courses do you recommend for S&T? I have been advised that Finance / Computational Finance / Business Data Analytics.

    1. I would say your best option is to apply to S&T roles at smaller firms… they’re easier to get, and you already have 2 internships at top banks, so a 3rd one won’t help that much. I’m not sure how a Master’s degree would help, either, but if you do it, yes, the areas you mentioned are solid.

  10. Hi Brian,

    I am a junior who took a summer ER offer from a bank, only to hear from informal sources that they typically don’t give return offers (although there are rare exceptions). What would your plan of attack be in this situation?

    1. Start networking for roles at other banks even before you arrive on the job, and consider roles like asset management as well, since the recruiting process is sometimes a bit less structured there.

  11. Brian,

    The conversion rate for IB interns at BB was pretty low for the summer of 2016 given the market and quite a few banks overhiring (about 30% conversion rate from what I’ve heard). Do you think the same trend will continue into summer 2017? Presumably, if the market is still bad but the recruiters learned from last summer and didn’t over hire this time, the rate will look slightly better?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. It comes down to deal activity, which I can’t predict. Conversion rates may be a bit better, but given all the uncertainty with regulations, political systems, the possible break-up of the EU, etc., I don’t think they will be significantly better.

  12. Hi, I interned at a BB last summer and although I put in a lot of effort it turns out I didn’t do what was expected and didn’t receive very positive feedback during my two rotations. I have an offer from another bank for this summer but now I am worried when they do background checks and I’ll have to provide references (I think). I didn’t keep in contact with any of the the senior bankers as I thought it was a bit uncomfortable since I didn’t get the sense that they liked me. How do I go about it if I need a reference from them given that I don’t think they would write a very good reference…

    1. Maybe get someone more junior at the other bank to provide a reference? Sometimes they’re more willing to say positive things than senior bankers are.

  13. Hi Brian,

    Just a quick question. I have an internship coming up this summer and will be hoping to get a return offer at the end of it. The only issue is, between accepting the internship and starting it, i have failed a subject at college. i will still graduate on time and all will be fine, but will this be a hindrance to my recruitment for a full time offer? Do firms ask for transcripts before giving return offers? or if i perform well in the internship and get a full time offer i am basically set?


    1. I wouldn’t worry about it, normally background checks are only conducted before you start the internship.

  14. Hi Brian,

    I am a senior from a target school and interned at an EB this past summer but didn’t receive a return offer for political reasons. I was really surprised when I didn’t get a return offer because I only got positive comments in my mid-review and as a result, I didn’t recruit elsewhere. I realized there aren’t many full-time positions in banks and have been trying out for consulting but haven’t had much luck through the recruiting cycle and now am terrified of what I’m going to do for the future. Do you have any advice of what I should do from this point? Ideally, I would like to stay in banking, but I am okay with something that’s comparable.

    I am also willing to delay graduation if that’s the best route, but I am not sure what I would say as my reason for that because I feel like they would ask me why I’m graduating late. I would have to take next semester off and would have to explain why I would be taking time off in the future; what would be the best approach for that?

    Thank you.

    1. That is a tough one. If you’ve already reached out to all the banks you can, your best option is to apply to something relevant that’s also easier to get into, such as a Big 4 firm or an independent valuation firm, and then move back into banking from there.

      I would not recommend delaying graduation in this case because you’re taking a big risk (What if the market gets worse next year?) and it would be tough to explain in this scenario.

  15. Hi Brian,
    I interned at a BB think MS/GS/JPM/BAML in London but did not get an offer.
    I also did an internship with MBB and was thinking of leaving my BB internship completely off my CV when applying to another summer internship in banking.

    I think I would get easier technical questions and still get invited to
    Also I am not confident about my BB internship experience, since I did not do any modelling or “real” work during the internship – mostly only formatting ppt slides and research.

    Do you think that would be fine?

    Many Thanks!

    1. If you have the MBB experience, yes, you could potentially leave off the IB internship and still have a decent shot at winning another banking internship. However, your chances would still be better with an IB internship on your resume, even if you didn’t do much real work.

  16. Hi,

    I am a junior investment banker and completed recently a 9-month internship at a boutique investment bank.

    Unfortunately, I did not get a full-time offer after the end of the internship. I live in London, but I am a foreigner and I have to fully support myself. This means I must find a way to get a source of income a soon as possible.

    Due to my background in sales (3 years, I am 26), it is relatively easy to find a sales role. However, I am concerned that by doing that I might reduce the chances of securing a position in investment banking in the future.

    I am particularly interested in capital markets and equities as I trade stocks with my retail trading account.

    Should I get a different type of role? How should I position myself to secure a position at an investment bank?

    1. Maybe aim for smaller private equity firms and try to win a role there (sales skills matter more because of the sourcing aspect). I wouldn’t recommend taking a sales role because, as you said, it will reduce your chances of finding another finance role.

      Another option might be to find something trading-related, but I think you would stand a higher chance with a small PE/VC firm at this point:

      1. Thanks a lot Brian, will get right into it.

  17. Hi,

    I am a junior and this past summer I interned at a GS/JPM product group did not receive a return offer. My end goal was always to pursue a coverage role somewhere, and so I always planned on going through recruiting again if I wasnt allowed to change groups. How should I spin this during interviews when asked I got a return offer?

    1. I would just say you didn’t get a return offer, but you pretty much knew from the start that you wanted to move to another group anyway since you realized early on it didn’t fit your goals. If the bank didn’t give out many return offers, it would also help to quote that in the beginning.

  18. Hi Brian,

    I’m a senior at a target school that spent last summer at a mid-tier industry group at GS/MS. Over the summer I had received essentially only positive feedback and was given no indication that I would have any potential reason to not receive and offer, so I didn’t not bother recruiting elsewhere. However, I was told late in August my offer decision was delayed as I was being put on hold due to market conditions. Most boutiques had already finished their process by this time, and it was unclear if I would end up with an offer off hold even though I did receive positive indications despite the circumstances. However, now 3 weeks later I’ve been told that my chances are very unlikely and everywhere I’ve seemed to reach out is already done recruiting. Given the summer experience, my resume seems to be good enough to get interviews, but there just aren’t any positions to interview for. Any suggestions for my next move? Ideally I would like to work in banking, but I’m considering the buy-side and consulting now under the circumstances.

    1. I would say small buy-side firms are your best bet at this point, and possibly Big 4 firms in their TAS/TS or internal investment banking groups. Possibly also independent valuation firms.

  19. Hi Brian,

    I wanted to ask if this front office-back office dynamic is still the case today i.e. is it still tough to go from the back to the front office?

    I also wanted to ask about a finance positions – the ones titled “finance analyst” – which are probably in a finance department of a firm/bank/finance company. Would these be considered as front or back office roles?


    1. Sorry, a point I forgot to add:

      What you’ve said in the article, does this apply more so to M&A than it does to other departments like Sales and Trading or Equity Research? Are those departments affected in the same way too?
      The reason I ask is because I reckon other people would try to break into those departments if M&A becomes too tough due to the decline of deal activity.

      1. ??? Not sure I understand your question. Everything is in decline at large banks, though. And there have always been fewer positions in S&T and ER.

    2. Yes, it is still tough to go from the back office to the front office, at least if you have a full-time role in the back office.

      “Finance Analyst” roles depend on what you actually do. If it’s something like corporate finance (budgeting, forecasting, etc.), technically they are back office, but they’re viewed more like front-office roles and sometimes people can move around.

      1. The finance analyst roles are closer to more accounting roles.

        With those roles is it more relevant roles, then worst come to worst jump into a target masters programme if I’m in a back office role for more than 3-5 years?

        1. Sorry about that, I realised how poorly worded the second part was!

          What I meant was if you find yourself in a scenario where:
          – you land an offer in analyst roles which seem to have a more back office component (like being more accounting than corporate finance)
          – or get a role which isn’t remotely relevant to what you’d do in the front office, or has no progression a FO role

          And you say in those sort of roles for more than 3-5 years, then is the only real shot you have doing a masters programme somewhere top-tier to rebrand yourself?

          1. Yes, pretty much, but at that point it would probably have to be an MBA instead.

          2. Thank you for the reply.

            Though would a MSc or MiF programme suffice in place of an MBA in this scenario if, say, it is more financially feasible to fund them than an MBA after that time period?

            Especially if there’s a debate about how a non target undergraduate helps with getting a target MBA.

          3. Unlikely. Also, as I mentioned in my previous email, you don’t have to leave hundreds of comments all over this site on different articles – collect all your questions and submit them at once and we can answer them.

            (All comments here record your address so we can see if it’s the same person or not…)

  20. Brian, I have a slightly better situation this summer – I interned at a boutique MM bank with a pretty good brand name as a summer associate this summer. Although I did not end up getting a return offer in the office I interned in (which is their HQ), they liked my work enough to refer me to their New York office for a Superday in early September. I was surprised about how low their return offer rate this year (25%), as they were talking about an expanding strategy. But in any event, the reality seems to be that I need to start the whole full-time networking/application process all over again. As I realized that now is probably a little bit late in the game , your advice would be very valuable in my situation. Here are two questions I’m particularly interested in for the process:

    1). I have been upgrading my resume, emailing/calling my old contacts and seeking advice from people in the office I interned (as I’m assuming they might have some intel about the New York office recruiting process). Is there anything else I could do here to increase my winning chance?

    2). My hypothesis is that my work during the summer was mostly associated with a smaller industry group in their HQ office, and this group is twice as big (in terms of # of MDs) in their New York office. They seem to have an overcapacity issue, but they apparently liked me enough to refer me to other offices. Since I do not have an official source to confirm this hypothesis, when I’m telling the story of whether I get a return offer from them and why, would it be too presumptuous to spin my story with this hypothesis? If so, how would you recommend to spin my story?

    I really appreciate your help, Brian. The contents you have at M&I are so useful, so thank you for doing all of these for us!

    1. 1) Not really. If it’s the last minute, the only other thing you could do would be to get a really strong recommendation from someone in the office you interned at, but it sounds like you already have that.

      2) I’m not sure I would say that upfront. Maybe you can give that explanation if they press you on your story and repeatedly ask why you didn’t get the offer. But otherwise, it’s best to just go with, “They didn’t have many spots and didn’t give out many offers in my office this summer” as your first explanation.

  21. Brian hey,

    What do you think people in 8 masters which take around 8-9 months should do(such as LBS mim program)?

    Is banking nearly impossible if you don’t have much pre-experience and you cannot be a penultime student to get summer internships?

    1. That is a tough one. Banking is really tough without some kind of experience before or during the program. Your best bet would be to get a school-year, off-cycle internship, and then turn that into an off-cycle offer at a bank.

      I don’t think it’s impossible to get in if you’re something other than a penultimate student, but it’s harder and takes more effort if you go with off-cycle internships instead.

  22. Hello,

    I was fortunate enough to receive a full-time offer from a BB this summer, and I have a question about the issue of “shopping around”. You said that I should accept the offer immediately since there is no point in shopping around, but here is the issue.

    I had 1 month to accept the offer, and two weeks have already passed. The only reason I did not accept the offer yet is because I have a friend who is a staffer at another bb (with slightly more prestige) and he told me to wait since there might be a spot left for me to interview for.

    My only concern is if I end up not doing the interview (or do the interview and not get it), I am worried of how the bb that I worked for this summer will view me for accepting the offer so late. It appears that I will have to accept the offer almost towards the end of the deadline. I really liked my summer experience so I do not want them to think that I shopped around and then accepted the offer hesitantly.

    Hope you can share your insight, thank you.

    1. Personally, I think you’re taking a big risk for very little gain. A bulge bracket to another bulge bracket just isn’t a big enough gain to justify that risk.

      Sure, maybe one is more prestigious or has a slightly better reputation, but is it worth the risk of losing your return offer?

      I would say no.

      Your bank won’t necessarily rescind your offer, but they may start getting suspicious if you wait too long to accept it.

      So unless you *really* want the other bank for some reason, and you’re very certain about being able to interview there, I’d probably just accept the return offer.

      If you were going from a middle-market or boutique to a bulge bracket, maybe this would make more sense.

  23. I didn’t get an offer at my BB internship last summer. At that time I used your 2009 advice to network like a ninja. I found that that did help – and also that almost all BB and boutique banks did in fact have some sort of hiring process ongoing. This may have mainly been due to the fact that I got a move on right away, and banks may have also been waiting to hear if the offers they did give out got accepted.

    I agree with Brian’s advice for the most part, but my 2 cents added would be to not discount networking like a ninja immediately (i.e. in August the day you find out your offer). Especially if you made good connections during internship recruiting – reach out to them, bankers told me there are spots available because they were unsure whether offers they gave out were going to fill.

    I ended up having 4 interviews at BBs, got an offer, accepted, and now I’m in FT training.

    Brian, your site is the best! Has helped me a lot during recruiting.

    Best of luck to all.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Like I said, networking around for full-time roles can certainly work sometimes, but it depends heavily on market conditions.

      My impression this year (2016) is that there aren’t too many full-time roles, so it may not be a great use of time to network aggressively. The market has changed a lot in just the past 1-2 years, which is why it might have been a bit easier last year or the year before.

  24. Hi, I got an internship this summer as a Finance Intern for Johnson & Johnson. I did not get a return offer and I was really taken by surprise by that because I thought I was doing beyond what was required. I really don’t know why I was not given an offer when I even received an award and lots of accolades for helping out on another departments project. The only thing I can think of that might have doomed me is that during an interview at the end of my internship before decisions where made, I asked if I could work in treasury (closest thing to investment banking) as opposed to consumer products (the department I was in). The interviewer commented on how my face lit up when we started talking about investment banking. So its possible that the interviewer realized I was definitely more interested in IB than Corporate Finance and that’s why I was past over but I really don’t know as they did not tell me the reason nor did I ask.
    What do you think I should do? I graduate this December 2016 and I can’t afford to go and do a Masters at this time.

    1. That is a strange one. My guess is that you’re probably correct, that the interviewer realized you were more interested in IB than in corporate finance. You could also reach out to them again and ask definitively what happened.

      If you’re going for corporate finance roles, you can just apply to other companies and make up a story about how you liked CF, but wanted to work in a different industry, or at a smaller company. Only investment banking works on a hyper-accelerated recruiting timeline.

      So if your ultimate goal is IB, I would recommend applying to other corporate finance roles or something related, like Big 4/valuation roles, and then thinking about making a lateral move into banking.

      If you can’t delay graduation or do a Master’s, those are your best options for getting into IB in the long term.

  25. Jonathan W.

    Hi – I’m currently interning at BB within commercial banking. However I applied for mobility within the firm to interview for IB and Im worried that that’ll cause me to not receive a full-time offer from my manager in commercial banking (even though my mid-summer review said I’m on track – prior to me applying for the mobility program), which is going to be a hard sell when I’m talking to other banks about their IB program and they ask me did I get the return offer. On top of that I have low gpa (above 3.1, below 3.5). However I am technically sound because I’ve taught myself how to do DCFs and LBOs and various other modeling skills. How can I spin this to get a full time offer at another bank?

    1. I wouldn’t worry about that because it hasn’t happened yet. If it does come up, just say that you didn’t get a return offer because you expressed interest in moving to IB, and your bank didn’t like that. However, you have solid references from senior bankers if they would like to speak with anyone you worked with.

  26. Hi,

    If I decide to recruit for consulting full-time, will the fact that I did not get return offer from bulge bracket severely damage my chances?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily, as long as you can explain why you did not get a return offer. Perhaps there’s a headcount issue? Or perhaps you told your staffer you are interested in pursuing consulting and mutually decided that IB isn’t the best fit for you (I actually think this is a better answer.)

  27. Hey Brian,

    I worked at a boutique as an intern following graduation for ~10 months and made a FT analyst move. I’m a second year analyst now looking to make another lateral move to a BB – what’s the best way to “spin” why I was interning at this boutique for 10 months? What’s the best way to explain my time / story at this boutique without sounding bad when they ask to clarify my time there?

    The truth: The boutique wasnt hiring and not giving FT offers; I came from a non-target and wanted banking so had to keep working at the boutique to get relevant experience; had great feedback among team but the bank just wasnt hiring / boutique has interns year round; was constantly pursuing a FT role but took an entire 10 months to land one

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d just say that you got great feedback, but there was no headcount, so you moved on to the next role after 10-months. You can say that you interned there for 10-months because you were working on such and such exciting projects, and you wanted to make sure you finish your responsibilities (or see the projects to fruition if this is the case) before you leave the firm.

  28. Hi,

    Thanks for providing some feedback on this issue. Could you speak to not getting a return offer as a *sophomore* ?

    I go to a “target” school and was lucky enough to land a sophomore internship at a BB. I didn’t get invited back because the VP on my deal team didn’t like me. Happy to elaborate but that’s the short version.

    I tried to go into my junior year and get recruited for at different firms. Unfortunately, I told everyone the truth and that I wasn’t invited back. Did several super days but ultimately didn’t land anything. Turns out sophomore internships are feast or famine once you get back to campus.

    Working at a tech start up this summer and wondering what the best approach would be to spin this and also land full-time interviews for the fall.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I would not tell people what you told them. I’d just say that there wasn’t headcount/fit and you decided not to return to the firm. I actually think working at the tech start up may give you better opportunities. If you still want to go back to finance after the startup, you can then talk about the role made you realise that you wanted to go back to finance because of [XYZ] reason.

      1. Well, I didn’t put it like that in my in interviews I was just trying to be brief with my comment.

        I think I’ll tell them that I had a great opportunity at the start up, but ultimately enjoyed the nature of my work from the previous summer more.


        1. M&I - Nicole

          You’re welcome.

  29. Hi M&I,

    Thanks for the tip. I interned at top tier bank (JPM/MS/GS) front office during summer 2014 and didn’t get return offer. The actual reason was somewhat lame as I was going through real bad time dealing with personal issues. I had not recovered from it till much later and couldn’t manage the full time interviews that followed (consulting/hedge fund). I graduated offcyle in Dec 2014 with no stellar GPA and have not landed a full time offer yet. I have considered the master option but realized it is already too late to make an application…

    I guess my advantages are 1) am still technically sound, after one long term internship with a proper hedge fund and summer training with the bank…(I got to the final round interviews with all BBs last year) 2) know a few D-level people in the industry, who have kindly extended help and offered advice…

    So my questions are,

    1) What are my chances of getting a proper fulltime finance job this year, considering that e.g. some fund houses are still in the process of recruiting? What would most people do at this point in time?
    2) Take a gap year versus start settle with a mid/low-tier financial instituion…which one is a better option?
    3) Does it matter at all if I explain my circumstances to my former colleagues…?

    Much appreciated if you could help me with this please…thank you so much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      1) Assuming you do well in interviews, you still stand a decent chance. You just need to spin why you didn’t get a return offer well. I would continue speaking with various funds and look for opportunities in the next few months.
      2) I’d probably go with a FI even if it is not your first choice to gain some work experience. Otherwise it can be challenging with a gap year as the longer you have graduated without a job the harder it is to land a role.
      3) If you are close to them, maybe. Otherwise I’m not quite sure how useful that is.

  30. Hi,

    I did a spring internship at GS but couldnt receive an offer. I want to apply again for summer. What do you suggest? Should I apply for different division or is it okay to apply to same division?


    1. It’s better to apply to a different division in this case.

  31. Hi M&I,

    I actually did a markets internship in an investment bank last summer and probably won’t get return offer (it has been nearly 2 months since the end of internship). I want to move to IB. I happened to know 2 bankers in that investment bank and met some other bankers during recruitment talks of other BBs.
    1. Should I approach the bankers I met during my internship and ask for referral within the same bank? Or should I ask them to refer me to other BBs?
    2. The BB bankers I know probably are just for information, and I don’t think they will help me to accelerate the process either (as I just met them for 3-4 weeks). So how should I leverage that?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      1. Yes I may ask for referrals within the same bank first.
      2. I’d ask them about the bank’s background info for potential interviews and see if they can introduce you to more contacts

  32. NoOfferAndSad

    The summer after my sophomore year, I had an internship at a 2nd-tier BB (UBS/Citi/Credit Suisee) and did not receive an offer. They said my technical skills (i.e. Attention to Detail) improved but not enough, but I think it’s because of a more political reason. I have since been invited to two accelerated interviews for top-tier BBs, but haven’t gotten offers. Was it because I didn’t get a return offer from my sophomore internship? How should I spin this in further interviews? I go to a target school and am good at networking, but don’t know how to get over this hurdle. Any ideas?

    1. NoOfferAndSad

      Also, I did not like the culture in my group…at all. No one was impressive and most people were lateral hires meaning that most people who could get out, did.

      1. M&I - Nicole

        Of course, though you may not want to be too blatant about the culture or you may attract too many questions

    2. M&I - Nicole

      No, I don’t think so, otherwise they wouldn’t have given you the interviews.

      I may focus on honing your pitch and presentation skills, and I’d just say that there was a headcount issue which is why you didn’t get an offer. May or may not be true…

      1. NoOfferAndSad

        Hi Nicole. Thanks for the response. The problem with that is a headcount issue isn’t really a possibility because even in the worst years, banks hire summer analysts (which is what my return offer would be for). When I said there wasn’t a cultural fit, I got too many follow-ups. Is it better to say that I needed to work on my accounting and valuation skills and then encourage the interviewers to “test” me?


        1. M&I - Nicole

          No, not the best idea. I’d say cultural fit and be able to spin the answer really well.

          1. NoOfferAndSad


  33. If I don’t get a re-offer from a MM bank, is it almost impossible to get an FT offer from a BB? Should I focus only on boutiques? Rising Senior from a top lib arts school semi-target (?).

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, not necessarily, you just need to have a good explanation.

      Boutiques may give you better chance but I’d still apply to BBs if you can

  34. I am currently interning at a BB and am worried I might not get an offer and even if I did would most likely want to recruit. Is it too early to start reaching out to other banks recrtuiting teams now? When should I start? I am about to start my 4th week.

    1. Also is it helpful to reach out to analyst/associate alumni at different banks or just go straight to HR?

      1. Focus on analysts and associates as HR tends to have limited power.

    2. I would start reaching out in mid-July so you get on their radar before accelerated recruiting begins at banks (usually in August).

  35. I interned at a BB bank, didn’t get an offer, and ended up at a MM bank. I got a good mid-summer review at the BB bank and VPs helped me reach out to other banks after I didn’t get offered, but I think most banks during full time recruiting dinged me for not getting the offer despite that. For PE interviews, would you try to avoid the fact that I interned at a bank because it’ll raise red flags about why I didn’t get an offer and just focus on my full time experience/other internships?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily I think it depends on how you spin you not getting an offer. If you said something along the lines of “yes VP loved me, he made solid recommendations but there weren’t enough headcount.” I think that’s fine.

  36. Where to go from here – an unusual circumstance:

    1. Went to top law school
    2. Internship at BB IBD instead of law firm
    3. No Offer
    4. 1 year later: in Compliance / Audit

    Is it pretty much done at this point? Is there any real chance of moving forward or would you just work on getting into law firms / throwing yourself off a bridge at this point.

    Also relevant: I am 30.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      There’s chance though it maybe easier to move into corporate law at a top law firm and transition from there to IB, versus going directly to IB,

  37. I interned at an elite boutique this summer, but didn’t get a return offer for political reasons. Went through full time recruiting and got an offer at a top middle market boutique in NYC. Can I still go to a good HF/PE fund afterwards? Will I be asked in HF/PE interviews why I didn’t go back to the elite boutique / if I got a return offer from the summer?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can. Yes you may get that question, and you can always spin that there were headcount issues. Focus on your current role. As long as you do well and get good references, I don’t think you need to worry too much!

  38. Hi M&I, thank you so much for posting this encouraging article! I interned at a BB’s regional office for an industry group I wasn’t too interested in and wasn’t given a return offer. I was told that they loved my personality but preferred someone with a more technical background (I am a social sciences major since my school does not offer finance or business majors for undergraduates). I’ve always wanted to work in a BB’s IBD in NY, but as someone from a non-target school (but top 20 in the nation) and didn’t get a return offer from a regional office, I’m not really sure where to start. Other than asking my former bosses for NY referrals and studying finance on my own, do you have any suggestions?

    1. The main options would be to reach out to other bankers you’ve networked with, aim for smaller firms, or go for roles outside of IB, such as Big 4/valuation ones.

  39. Hi, I was at a bulge bracket investment bank. My group was the derivatives group and I didn’t get a return offer. I did however interview with the bank’s IBD and I got rejected there as well. I have a final round coming up in a week. If they ask if I got a return offer, can I say that I talked with the group and wanted to lateral, and so that is why they didnt give me an offer?

    1. It’s better to say that you and the group mutually decided you wouldn’t be coming back since you were more interested in other areas.

      1. Dodd Blair

        what if you interned junior summer in S&T at a bank that wasn’t a BB or even well known, but didn’t get a return offer. How would they even check this for FT? Firm is way too small for anyone to have mutual friends.

        1. If it’s so small that they can’t check, sure, you can take your chances and say what you want.

  40. Hi, I was at GS IBD – liability management and didnt get a return offer. I reapplied for another country and got an interview there. 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. Sorry, I meant to say that I applied to another country for GS as well. Meaning, I somehow got through the gates and got another interview :)

    2. You can say something like that, but maybe don’t say explicitly that you “told” everyone you didn’t want to work in liability management. Just say it was clear on both sides that you didn’t want to continue there and you were more interested in IBD instead.

  41. Hi Nicole,
    I just interned at ST at a BB over the summer and it was a rotational program. I only liked 1 of the desk out of 4 desks I rotated at, 2 others were more operational, and 1 is a misfit. THe desk that I really like and I think people there like me too, they weren’t hiring.
    How should I spin this? should I just say the truth about how 2 out of 4 weren’t trading, 1 was misfit and 1 wasn’t hiring? Does this sound too muh like an excuse, but it actually exactly what happened.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If people ask you why you didn’t get a return offer, just say that the desks you really wanted weren’t hiring.

      1. Hi Nicole,
        Thanks for the quick reply. So I shouldn’t mention the misfit? I was thinking that if I didn’t fit in with one desk, I might have same problems at the firm I am interviewing with.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          You can if you want to but I’d just keep it simple. Interviewers may ask you why you didn’t fit in and probe. As long as you are comfortable handling their questions, feel free to tell mention that. If you think you might have fit problems with the firm you’re interviewing with, I’d suggest you to ask interviewers from that firm a lot of questions on their culture, their way of doing things and what they expect from newcomers

  42. Hi,

    I interned this summer at a BB and did not get offer. I am studying abroad next semester (senior Fall) in London but would like to find a BB or Mid tier job in NYC. I am studying in London from mid Sep thru mid Dec, and my home school is a non target, top 3 biz school.

    What’s the best way to find a job in NYC? Can I ask for accelerated process in aug or early sep, or should I just do my phone interview in London and fly into NYC for super days?

    Thanks very much in advance!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’m not quite sure because I haven’t studied abroad. But I’d speak to HR at banks re your situation. I presume you’ll go through the standard recruiting procedure though I may be wrong

  43. Hi,
    Thanks for uploading it, It helps tremendously. I have a question though. I am doing my 1 year program MBA and this summer Im interning for finance department but it’s a media company so basically what I did was paperwork (more accounting related). I m looking for getting into M&A,PEI,IB,etc but I dont really have much of experience in real financial world. Do you recommend anything?

    Even IB internship is looking for previous experienced intern.


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps you can work in corp development for a corporation. You try to break in IB after

    2. Rainbow CHANG

      Thanks for the article! Very helpful and calm me down a bit coz i just received the reject letter today. I interned at the BB and still want to intern/work for BB. I indeed made several mistakes and other interns are just perfect. So i could not think of a good reason to justify myself. Do you have recommendations?

      1. I would just say the bank didn’t hire many people (if you can somehow spin that as being true) and you also made a few mistakes in the beginning that cost you the offer. You fixed them, but you couldn’t overcome that poor initial impression.

  44. I’m confused.

    In this article I read “internships that might turn into full-time offers.
    Look outside banking and consider trading, consulting, and other fields that could get you into business school.”

    1. M&I - Nicole

      What are you confused about?

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