A Letter To All Top 10 University Kids Complaining About Recruiting
I’ve seen too many posts complaining about the difficulty of networking from an elite university, or a target kid complaining that diversity recruiting is why they aren’t getting an offer and it’s just ridiculous. An adult needs to finally come in and give some of you a big fat dose of reality. So here’s my rant:
You have a massive advantage
You guys really just don't understand how competitive these positions are and how little the academic institution you attend matters in the scheme of life. Your lack of getting hired has nothing to do with not being in an undergrad b school or diversity programs taking your spot. Ask anyone who does hiring or has gone through the process, you have a massive advantage coming from a top 10 university.
Also, to the Stanford kid posting everywhere, someone needs to tell you to get a grip-you go to Stanford, your alumni network isn't weak. Virtually everyone is your alumni network and will take your call with that brand on your resume. I basically can't remember a time my old bank didn't give an interview to a Stanford kid if they acted normal, talked to enough people, and had a reasonable GPA (this also applies to you Princeton or Harvard complainers as well) Generally alumni networks matter because most kids can't even get someone to respond to their email-that's how detached from reality you all are. Most kids from non-targets literally send hundreds of emails praying for like 10 responses. For you, basically everyone will respond and be willing to set up a call. This really applies to anyone in a top 10 university.
People complaining that places like duke lacking a large alumni network in IB being the reason they aren't getting an offer are so far off it is unreal. If you come from a highly ranked undergrad and have a strong resume (GPA, test scores, activities, internships) people will likely take your call. If you aren't getting into a bank's process it isn't because you lack alumni at that institution, it's likely because you didn't contact enough people, your resume is weak, or you came across poorly. Or it's just that that firm is very competitive. Either way, a top 10 university allows you to get into basically any process. Everyone knows Duke, or Cal-tech, or MIT, or Harvard, Or Princeton, or Yale, or JHU or Northwestern are great schools. It's not like a firm will immediately throw your resume in the garbage because they only want U Chicago grads, come on!
For the first time, your natural talent just isn't cutting it
My guess is many of you elite university kids are encountering the first time in your life where you aren't succeeding. Previously, you got great grades and your test scores were excellent so you all went to some of the best universities in the country and you know it--so you each believe you are special. This special belief comes with a sense of entitlement that is getting rocked. Honestly, my personal take is many of you might have never actually really needed to try hard at something, even if you think you did, because school came easy and you were likely great at the activities you did. This is the first time where your natural talent just isn't cutting it and it's jarring. Welcome to the real world.
There are countless students at non-targets that are equally as intelligent as your elite institution peers
Goldman Sachs this last year had 236,00 applications for 3,500 intern spots. This isn't even narrowing for just IB specifically which is likely an even more whacked figure. That 236,000 number essentially represents / business major in the country, all going for the same job. Many of you seem to be incredibly entitled thinking that because you attend a highly ranked academic institution you are somehow better than all other applicants and firms should be dying to hire you. I personally went to a top 10 university and I'm telling you there are a ton of kids out there at non-targets or lower ranked schools that are equally as intelligent as your elite institution peers. You realize this once you get into the working world and the kid from ASU becomes the office hotshot and that Princeton kid becomes the office crayon eater. These jobs are looking for the smartest x% of kids at every institution, that’s a larger pool than just your university and they are looking for the top % at every university.
Also, from my experience, many top-10 university kids take the pedal off the gas because once they get into an elite university they feel they have succeeded. Contrast this with coworkers I have where maybe they even got admission to places like Princeton or Stanford, but due to financial or personal reasons needed to attend their local state school instead. These kids then went through all of college with a chip on their shoulder knowing they needed to claw their way out of their shitty state school brand in order to reach a high paying role and change the status of their family so their kids won't have the same problem they did. Talent might be concentrated at elite institutions, but there are hardworking sharp people everywhere, you kids need to learn this. Also, talent matters and how smart you are naturally is important, but a kid whose life mission is to work in IB can outwork whatever intellect advantage you might have. Persistence can outpace natural talent.
Look you guys can complain about diversity, or alumni networks, or a liberal arts education, but the fact of the matter is it is significantly easier to get a role coming from a top 10 ranked university than not, full stop.
If you aren't getting offers there are a few reasons:
1. You socially don't come off well.
Yeah, sorry to break it to you, but in business being likeable can actually be almost more important than your grades or knowing technicals. The working world doesn't operate like school, that's why many C/B students end up being very successful. You might actually not have the ability to come across as likeable enough. Much in the way some kids couldn't get a 34+ on their ACT, you might not be socially likeable enough to work in IB. That said, you also might just need practice interviewing, while other kids are more natural at it and this is something you aren't used to. Finally you have found an area where naturally you aren’t the 99th percentile.
2. You didn't study technicals hard enough
Yeah, I came from a liberal arts background where there was like 2 finance courses I could take, so I get how it's unnerving when finance majors are going for the same roles. The difference is I spent like 1 week over winter break studying like 6 hours a day finance terms and material rather than complaining about my disadvantage. Also, let me be very clear--this shit just isn't that hard. It's hard to know what to study and the process is opaque and shady, but if you know the important things to learn and do, I've had mentees I've coached in a weekend to get offers. The technical material for IB isn't even close to as difficult as an entry level Econ class at an elite university. It also is significantly easier now because you have websites like WSO that give access to mentors and breakdowns of different fields. Seriously use this website for something other than the forums and ranking your dream firm—as an experienced professional I’ve been shocked at how good some of the non-forum content is on this website. Log on the website on a computer, go to resources, and look at. They are really good. Then do a , a , a practice accretion delusion model, and play with an accounting spreadsheet that teaches you how the statements are linked. That should get you through what many . I hear about many kids memorizing guide questions and your goal should be to understand finance concepts not memorize the question answers they could ask you.
3. You aren't trying hard enough/ networking hard enough/ understanding the right way to approach this process
I do know people who came across well, knew technicals, and who didn't get offers. These people just didn't network properly or understand how the game is played. Many firms view navigating the networking process as the first round interview. So, you need to call/ contact people and have a good conversation with them in order to get a role. Some don't get this until it's too late. Life works out fine for them and if they are motivated these people lateral fromor something, but it happens.
4. You got really unlucky
Yeah, even with the above, some people just get unlucky and there is an element of luck in the whole thing. What I will say is usually if you have enough shots on goal, you can end up somewhere if the above are alright. In truth, the unlucky people I know from my highly ranked school ended up less well known banks and lateraled. So, even really unlucky people at targets/ top universities still seem to land great roles. The truth is most people just screw up one of the other bullets above. Also, for some perspective as well, getting a job in banking at all is an exceptional entry level job—no matter the firm.
In short, a few of you guys/girls are feeling sorry for yourself because the process is difficult. Yeah, it is difficult, welcome to life and trying to get a job where they will pay you 200k+ out of college, while also giving you a resume stamp that gives you job security forever.
Edit: Adding an additional bullet.
5. Your Story Sucks
If your reason for going into IB is you want a fast paced environment to learn analytical skills and finance, your story sucks. I interviewed for summer analysts and full-time and the reason most people were knocked from a process was because they had weak stories and it was clear they were going for this job just because everyone else was. The candidates that impressed were always the ones who had very confident solid reasons and answers for the following:
- What Does An Investment Bank Do?
- Why This Specific Bank?
Undergrads consistently attribute lack of success or success to technicals, when most the time successful candidates succeed just because they do good enough on technicals, but come across as confident and researched on their reasons for entering the field and that bank. The kid who gives an honest straightforward research answer for the above and does alright on technicals will get the offer almost every time over the kid who gives generic boring answers to the above who gets every technical question. Hell, many banks care a lot about candidates picking their own bank over others for ego or perception reasons, so even great candidates might get cut if their answer for why that specific bank indicates that that bank is their second choice. My bank would even term candidates a "" if it was clear the person had no good reason for an EB over a and was really just interviewing for the firm because they heard it was "good".