I've been lurking for a long time and found this site extremely helpful from a job hunt perspective - not just for ibanking, mbb, etc. All of advice I've read on this site also obviously translates across all industries and I'm very thankful for this community. Hope this can be encouraging to some who also have the odds stacked against them!
Hard work, passion, sincerity, networking, and of course perseverance pay off!
Background: I'm currently a fourth year student in an accelerated professional degree in the hard sciences at a local state school with two(one commercial, one technical) in two different top-10 by revenue firms in the pharmaceutical industry.
Last year I was at pharma company in a very technical role and while there networked a lot, did a good job, and really impressed senior management with a stellar end of year presentation to the CEO. This year, I decided that the technical route wasn't something I wanted to try again and reached out to an HR contact to apply for a more commercial-oriented internship and she agrees to float my name.
The next day, she calls me back and asks me if I'm available the following Friday for awith 6 vp's. By now, I'm pretty pumped and things are looking up - I accept of course, and fast forward to that friday morning ... I'm in the lobby and I see some relatively older looking people in the lobby. He asks the security guard for my HR contact so I knew that he was also applying for a job here.
He introduces himself and gives me his business card - PhD, Wharton MBA-Candidate and introduces me to some of his buddies that he carpooled with. Needless to say, my heart sank and I knew that this would be a long shot (and thats understating it) - I almost felt foolish introducing myself, "Hi my name is XYZ from Podunk Uni." Nonetheless, I did my best during the interviews and really connected with 4/6 of the interviewers and had average interviews with the other two.
2-3 weeks pass, and I've accepted the fact that I didn't get it. At that point, I remember looking back and thinking that even though I didn't get the position, that the interview process was a great learning experience for me - the interviewers were more intense than my previous ones (MBA-level, I suppose .. though I have nothing to compare it to) and it taught me that there would always be someone more qualified than I was, both technically and experience wise.
And then out of the blue, yesterday I received a call from one of the people I connected well with apologizing for the delay and offering me a position on their Global Product Strategy team specifically working on the company's biggest revenue driver!
Long story short - be passionate about what you are interested in, be sincere when interviewing, and networking definitely pays off!