10 Commandments of IB Recruiting
As a student who recently finished SA recruiting at a semi-target school and got multiple offers (both/EB), and 10 first rounders, I'd love to try to provide some brutally honest advice for the IB recruiting process. To preface, I am non-diversity, by no means a genius, have no family in finance, and am not a business/finance major. WSO helped me learn a ton about the industry but there's a lot of nonsense out there that can detract your focus and energy on what actually matters when trying to secure that offer. Here is what I found to be some founding principles for me. Take it as you will.
1. Actually Understand The Job
Fairly obvious but so many kids go into recruiting not understanding what investment bankers actually do, how they actually generate revenue, coverage vs product groups ect. This is the first thing you should do before anything else. Spend a few hours and really soak it in. Ironically, the final question I got in aat a bank was "explain IB to a 6 year old" and I was able to hit it on the head, whereas other people rambled on about synergies, pitches, and other ridiculous stuff.
2. Have a Lights-Out "Why IB?" Answer
Everyone says that it's important, but few actually excel at this answer. It's not enough to say that you're "interested in seeing how data and numbers can tell a story" or you "like the blend of quantitative and qualitative skills." These are OK starting points, but tie it to something that directly relates to banking and nothing else. For example: being "interested in having a tangible impact in helping companies reach their strategic needs while having the ability to learn how different companies operate" is IMO, a better answer.
3. GPA Matters.
Everyone has that story of their friend's cousin's sister's goldfish who got an offer at Goldman with a 3.2, but its objectively not the norm. Shoot for a 3.75 at a Bulge Bracket, 3.85 at a boutique. The truth of the matter is this: grades don't show intelligence, but they indicate effort. You don't need to be a genius to be in IB, but you need to work your tail off. Thus, when choosing between a kid with a 3.56 and a 3.92, you can be damn sure the latter is getting that first rounder. I'd suggest loading up on light classes freshman/soph year to boost your gpa since recruiting takes place early.
Alright the stuff above was pretty cookie cutter, now time for some slight nuance.
4. Tunnel Vision
It's easy to get caught up comparing yourself to other candidates/classmates. Don't do it, its a waste of energy and just causes anxiety.
5. Focusing on Actions Rather than the Outcome
Rather than thinking about the end goal, set a few small "action goals" every month. This stuff quickly builds on itself. For instance, set a goal to send 8 emails a week, spend 20 mins a day on technicals, ect. This has a snowballing effect that tangibly improves your odds of getting an offer compared to sitting up at night tweaking. Better to spend 30 mins a day on productive stuff than an hour of stressing without any action.
This one is HUGE. You essentially need to convince yourself that you're the man/woman–even if it's slightly delusional. However, you don't want to convey to other people these feelings, and want to come across as grateful and appreciative of their time. You're going to have bad calls and awkward interactions, but it's how you respond to it. I know a ton of kids who were flying through recruiting and had one badwere called out for being "underprepared" and they simply decided to stop recruiting out of embarrassment. Heck, I made 8 phone calls with people a top BB that finally led to a convo with a Managing Director and was expecting it to be a causal introduction. Instead, he started grilling me on market technicals and I choked. I got off the phone call, hit chest day at the gym, grabbed lunch with the boys, and continued on with my life. Once you lose confidence, you're done for.
However, I want to reiterate that when you're on calls, don't come across as cocky, but rather confident. Strive for a blend of confident in your own skin yet humble and appreciative.
7. Early College Internships Are Mostly a Joke
I was never asked about my freshman/incoming sophomore summer work experiences in any interviews. Banks know that most of these are just shadowing family friends and instead, they asked more questions about investment clubs/projects/sports team/extracurriculars.
8. Junior Bankers Are the Club Bouncers, Senior Bankers Are the Mafia
Everyone is so wrapped up on talking to graduating seniors, analyst and associates. Yes, they are usually in charge of giving out first round interviews but at the end of the day, the MD's can get you through the door. Be the first person to reach out to the MD's from your college as they usually only speak to 3-5 students before they get tired of it. Once you reach the MD's and they like you, they may even refer you to their friends. Once you reach that level, its game over and you're well on your way to getting an interview + support at nearly any bank.
9. Simple Answers are Best
A skill in banking is being able to explain complex deals/financial instruments to clients who may not have the same level of expertise. Thus, when getting interviewed, keep everything as simple as possible. Short and concise always is best. Don't mention formulas,, and finance buzz words when not needed. There's no need to try and show the interviewer how smart you are by rambling on about a topic that they know much better than you. Rather, try to find a way to give the clearest answer with the least words. Trust me, they'll ask you follow ups if they want to hear more in which you can elaborate then. If you tell them all you know at first, they will ask a follow up that you can't answer.
10. Develop a Send-It Mentality
Similar to #6, but in this process, the bold always win. Approach incoming full time seniors in the dining hall and introduce yourself, fire off emails to MD's telling them about your progress (sometimes send 6am emails to show dedication), search alumni on LinkedIn and ask to "hear more about their career". People love talking about themselves, heck, I'm spending time right now doing the same thing lol. I know it's uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, I'd rather get hung up on a few times than work at Taco Bell.
Best of luck.