A non-target's failure

I'm at a non-target and the advice for non-targets on these forums is honestly absolute bullshit. Everyone says 'keep trying', 'keep your head up', 'good luck just keep at it!'...

It's such bullshit. Just because 1 guy from a non-target out of the 10000+ trying gets in, doesn't mean there is hope for all of us. I wish someone had just told me at the start of college that I was not going to make it because it's just too competitive, and I wouldn't have wasted so much fucking time trying for something that was never going to happen.

I messed up in high school and ended up at a non-target and I was angry at myself, but I decided to work incredibly hard to try and get something. I've lost count of the number of stupid, useless applications I have sent off. My college has a non-existent network with no alumni in the industry, so I have had to network all by myself. I have literally sent over 3000 emails since starting college and have worked tirelessly just to get someone to take a 5 minute call with me. I have contacted countless recruiters and many straight up told me they don't hire from my college. Despite the odds stacked against me, I was told 'keep at it', 'you are working really hard, you will get there in the end'. So I kept grinding. I taught myself financial modelling, asset pricing, LBO, DCF, I looked into each specific division and it's function for IBD, S&T, how banks raise liquidity, DCM, ECM, etc. I read every relevant resource available to me to ensure that I knew everything I possibly could about the roles I was applying for. Also, I should note that I study a quantitative/relevant subject, not that it matters anyway since I am at a non-target.

I got rejected every single time. I would always ask for feedback and re-assess to improve - it's not like I was just sending out the same applications again and again. One of my friends from high school studies at a target and got an internship so I asked him for help with my applications. I sent him one of my applications and he said he was surprised that I didn't get any internship offers. When I saw his application which was successful, I was fucking shocked. It was so basic and had nothing relevant to the role. This guy was an english major, he had no idea how to construct models and he thought investment bankers are day-traders LOL! I know that he got the internship and I didn't so I can't really talk, but I was genuinely shocked at how basic his application was. At first I didn't even believe that was his actual application and I thought he was just trolling me, but he told me that the firm had a campus day at his college and he spoke to the guy there and put his name down on some form, which he claims helped fast-track his application. My college has never had a campus day from firms in the industry.

After that I just felt so defeated. It's like nothing I try will work simply because I fucked up in high school and ended up at a non-target. It's like I am being punished for going to a non-target. I thought if I worked hard enough then it would still be possible to break in, and the posts on this forum from other non-targets who had made it gave me hope. But I'm fucking exhausted. 3 years of constant rejection eventually wears you down. I knew that I would have to work 10x as hard as a target student because I'm at a non-target. I accepted that because it is my fault that I am at a non-target. But I thought I would at least get one fucking offer after so much work.

I'm going into my final year and I don't know what to do anymore. All my hard work so far has been a waste because I can't get an offer. There was nothing more I wanted over the past 3 years than to get into my dream career. I just can't do something else because I will be forever resentful of the fact that I am not good enough. I have been breaking down crying randomly because I am coming to terms with the fact that it's not going to work out for me. I can't see a good future and I have considered killing myself.

I don't know why I made this post tbh. It was initially meant to be a rant to vent my frustrations, but I don't really talk to anyone about this since no one else in my college applies for these things.

I guess all I have to say for other non-targets out there is that despite the rare success stories you see, the reality is you are statistically not going to make it. You don't read about all the people like me who have worked really hard but don't get any offers. Just be prepared for the possibility of failure so you don't react adversely to it.

Comments (135)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 1:26pm

Based on your post must have been your attitude and probably inability to connect with others in your interviews.

Realistically if you're a solid candidate at a non-target who networks and can talk to people, you're going to break in somehow.

I suggest taking an inward look at yourself.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Aug 31, 2022 - 4:44pm

"inability to connect with others in your interview"

dude, did you forget the part of the post where he can't even get a call, let alone an interview?

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Aug 31, 2022 - 1:54pm
neeeedhelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not making excuses. I'm not entitled to anything at all. I am just talking about my experience and the fact that I have no offers. If a non-target has received offers then that's great for them! All I am saying is that it is extremely competitive and non-targets are statistically not going to make it.

Most Helpful
Aug 31, 2022 - 3:32pm
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

YEs, it is very competitive, especially if you are at a non-target.  Some questions...and points.  You mentioned 3,000 emails, but honestly that's not too many over 3 years (if that includes simple Linkedin connection requests which take ~10-15 seconds each).  Some other questions:

1.  How is your GPA? If it's not 3.5+ from a non-target it's even harder

2.  Did you pay for a resume review to make sure that is not holding you back?  If you want to join our weekly intern chat we host every Friday, happy to do one free of charge to see if I spot anything that may be reducing your conversions at each stage (email [email protected] a Word version of your resume and mention this post).  I'll be out this Friday but Sept 9 we'll have one.

3.  Online applications are a black hole...notice that your (objectively inferior) friend got fast-tracked to the job because of a simple campus fair?...if anything, that points to reducing the number of applications you send and increasing the more targeted approach of building real relationships 

4.  How many calls for info interviews? - no first round or phone interviews?  how many mock interviews have you done?  are you asking generic questions in these calls?

I realize that you are super frustrated and that it's depressing putting in so much work, but you are missing the bigger picture here:

1.  The skills you are developing from this journey are applicable to the skills you will need for the rest of your career.  Namely, selling yourself.  This includes connecting with people, making a good impression, putting together flawless documents and crafting a pitch that makes people want to take a chance on you.

I guarantee you have improved in all of those, just maybe not enough (yet) to land an elusive IB role. 

2.  IB is just 1 role and is fairly niche.  While you were applying for a junior IB internship, you shoudl have or should right now be applying to other related roles.  You do know that in all your research that Big 4 TAS groups is a steady feeder into IB roles, right?

3.  Your job (especially your job right out of school) does not reflect your potential or ultimate path if you are a hard worker and you continue to get better at all of the skills mentioned above.

Best of luck,


  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 2:06pm

Industry is run by mostly generational wealth: wealthy upbringing -> to semi/target school with top price -> family friends for internships -> on campus events and referrals = offer.

Not saying this is all, but unfortunately the industry is flooded from privileged kids from elite high schools and Greenwich residents.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2022 - 1:07am

this is the right answer. Life sucks and it's totally unfair . You can get immensely angry at the lies about "meritocracy", but what can your anger do? 

The "keep your head down bro" "just work at it bro" "practice your DCF and interview skills bro" "your personality bro, you need to be more chill" is total cope - more needs to be said that this is an insanely competitive field and chances of success are not guaranteed especially when the odds are against you (non-target, parents aren't well to do or well connected), take it or leave it. 

I didn't get into front office as an intern nor as my first job out of undergrad and now that i'm working at M&A, i've seen:

- intern quitting after 2 weeks

- shit work from interns (spelling mistakes, no formatting, no consistency in labels used) 

- interns who refuse to put in the hours (only 60+ hours a week is their utmost max and most other weeks is 50+)

- people doing little work and still getting the job because their daddy has a very senior relationship 

When i was in college, i was literally begging for an front office internship and i didn't even get an interview - which leaves me upset when these kids just waste their internships and learning experiences, despite me taking the time to go through the materials with them and doing some of the shit work for them so they can work 10 hours instead of 14.

Even for full time hiring, just looking at kids getting connects in by their dads or uncles etc., pretty girls getting a role in "markets" and "private banking", shit's tough and makes you rage - but then i asked myself, what's the point of the rage and what will come out from it? the answer - nothing. Let the rage fuel you. 

Aug 31, 2022 - 2:08pm
Miracle1111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can't see a good future and I have considered killing myself.

Whoa, calm down. It's never that serious. I'd recommend all the people leaving these hard-ass tough love comments to tone it down a bit. You never know who is sitting behind the computer and how serious they are after a post like this. If this is your mental state, then get some therapy and seriously find someone to talk to.

With that said, if you taught yourself everything you say, your time wasn't wasted. You can pivot and utilize that knowledge in some other way. You can also get an MBA in a couple of years and try to break into banking as an Associate if it means that much to you. It's not the end of the world or your life just because you didn't get into banking straight out of undergrad.

Aug 31, 2022 - 2:22pm
Gordon.Ghetto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's all about your mindset. Went to a non-target, with literally 1 alumni in IB. I never doubted myself and just took on solid experiences. Beginning of college started out at a small RE shop and now in IB. The problem is most people aren't strategic with their approach to recruiting. You don't need to apply everywhere and you don't need to cold email the entire division. It's eat or be eaten out here, we all can't make it.

Sep 6, 2022 - 2:47pm
ROCKYBALBOA83, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Same here, non-target & only landed 1 SuperDay, but I capitalized on my opportunity. All you need is 1 chance. Also, if you are a non-target I suggest looking middle market or easier firms to break into as opposed to BB or Boutiques. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2022 - 2:32pm

The good thing aiming for IB/ER/S&T from a non-target, if you actually grind, is that even if we fail it still makes us competitive enough for great starting roles like valuations/TAS, commercial banking, and MO risk type roles. You won't make 150k out of undergrad but it's still a lot better than starting off in audit or something. Then after a year, lateralling is a very real possibility or you can do an MBA

You clearly didn't prepare for the very real possibility of not breaking in and should've casted a much wider net. There's even targets who do everything right and still fail and have to end up taking Big 4 M&A or something. 

Aug 31, 2022 - 2:35pm
iggs99988, what's your opinion? Comment below:

3000 emails and a few years later, it must have struck you to transfer to at least a marginally better school where banks have some sort of on campus recruiting presence. Given the level of effort you expended, I am assuming you have a 4.0 GPA at your non-target.

It's really not that complicated, the likelihood of getting a front office offer out of school is pretty binary, 0 or 1. Success is pretty much a function of being in front of decision makers in a formal and structured recruiting process.

Long shot 1% success stories aside, if you're not in front of those people, you're probably not going to get a job. 

Aug 31, 2022 - 2:39pm
Pepperoni Toni, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What do you classify as "making it?" Is it specifically working at a top BB bank? Or just getting into IB at all? If all you're trying for is top BB, then yes its extremely difficult to get in, and if you keep getting rejected, I'm not sure why you keep pursuing that. It seems like you have to change your mindset. If you go more downstream to a MM bank, don't you still think that's "making it?" Comparing yourself to >90%, you're still going to make more right out of college, have a great knowledge base, and offered the chance to establish a good work ethic with exit opportunities. I feel like that's making it to me...

Aug 31, 2022 - 3:19pm
neeeedhelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For me it was just getting into IB. BB or boutique I didn't mind. However, after several rejections, I expanded my options and I would be extremely happy with any role in 'high finance' - MBB, ER etc. Unfortunately even those fields are fiercely competitive. I remember reading somewhere that the majority of students from a really prestigious target-school chose to go into consulting over IB.

It seems that most high-finance fields are unavailable to me due to my non-target background. I completely understand why. There is more than enough interest in these fields from students attending far better colleges and any serious applicant will already have relevant experience, ECs and good grades. I'm not annoyed at the way recruitment works in the industry, or at target-schools. I'm just angry at myself for not being good enough.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 4:08pm

If you really think going to a non target is why you could t land any role, why don't you go to a top masters program? MSF at any target school like Vanderbilt, UT austin, etc will give you the on campus recruiting that you want, and they take tons of people from non targets.

Aug 31, 2022 - 5:04pm
Pepperoni Toni, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you're getting bent around the axle on the whole "non-target" thing... it's truly about how you position yourself, frame your story, show your networking efforts, keep grades up, and be a overall decent person to be around. Honestly if you position yourself right your school has nothing to do with getting a job. I come from a non-target and work at a solid MM shop, and I don't attribute much to my school from me landing the job. Sure, an ivy or target school diploma helps, but there's so many college kids who come from non-targets that land both top BBs, reputable MM, and regional boutique offers. My advice would be to change your mindset on the whole "non-target" thing and do what you can more easily control (good grades, networking, technical knowledge, behavioral interview prep, etc.) 

Edit: I hope this is not a troll, if so, you got me but the advice still applies 

  • Intern in CB
Aug 31, 2022 - 2:49pm
[Comment removed by mod team]
  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Aug 31, 2022 - 3:33pm

Network your ass off with firms that have mostly non-target analyst classes. See Quadriga Partners in Denver. They are actively hiring as we speak. Message Analysts on LinkedIn and try to make a connection with them. Dont focus on listing off your modeling capabilities, but learn about the firm beforehand and express interest on your call. Best of luck to you. 

I was one of the many non-targets from a no-name school who made it. 

If you have no IBD experience and aren't targeting firms that are <50 IBD employees, you're doing it wrong

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2022 - 3:35pm

If you sent 3000 emails and didn't get a single offer, you are getting rejected for fit or attitude issues.

Sounds like you're great on paper, a bit hardo (whose application is THAT detailed?) and getting dinged in coffee chats or interviews. Yeah, targets have it easier, but that's the way of the world. There was zero pathway for non-targets 20 years ago and it gets easier every year with more and more non-target alums on the street.

I have kept track of a handful of impressive non-target kids who've reached out, even if they weren't a fit for my bank. Every single one of them got an offer somewhere. If you grind, start early, and have the right GPA (those 3 things do eliminate a lot of non-targets, to be fair) the pathway is 1000% clear. 

IMO I would get someone to give you an honest behavioral interview / feedback - not a friend, but some upperclassman or pay for 30 minutes of a WSO mentor's time. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 4:05pm

I go to a target but have many friends at complete non targets because my entire high school went to non targets. Yes IB May be hard to get from a non target, but why did you never consider casting a wider net? All my friends at non targets got great roles (many making more than me with way better WLB) in tech, SWE, consulting, asset management, S&T, corporate banking and 2 of my non target friends got into top grad schools. IB is not the end all be all - it literally represents like 1% of finance jobs or less.Even at my top target, many people strike out on IB/MBB/PE. However, unlike you, they casted a wider net and ended up with other, still good, roles. My advice to you is to delay graduation, reapply, and cast a wider net. There are tons of great roles out there that non target students are obtaining besides the IB/MBB/PE (which probably represent less than 1% of finance/business roles), and I have complete faith that you can as well.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2022 - 4:07pm

I was in a similar position to you-couldn't land a role while in college and took the long route by entering a tangential field and building a story that said "I'm committed to entering banking, I understand and am capable of the workload required, and I've built qualities relevant to banking through my non-banking role."

Temper your expectations. Focus on MM's and Boutiques because they typically weigh cultural fit more heavily. Most importantly, accept that it may take time, potentially multiple years, and don't sacrifice growing your skillset and career in the meantime.

While I was trying to break into banking, I worked in some very cool finance but non-banking roles where higher-than-average effort and commitment allowed me to gain a wide scope, work directly with senior executives, and learn valuable tools. Career progression will be helpful if you end up having to obtain an MBA to transition to banking.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2022 - 6:02pm

This. Number 1 thing is nobody cares about your excuses or how hard shit is for you. People only care about results. Once you hammer that in your head, you stop feeling sorry for yourself and continue to take action. I landed BB from non target (non div too) and everyone I spoke with said I had good resume with solid gpa, experiences, and test scores. It's easy to make excuses, but those excuses won't pay your bills or help you sleep at night. Gotta be willing to do anything given how competitive these roles are

Aug 31, 2022 - 4:32pm
2rigged2fail, what's your opinion? Comment below:

this is hilarious. why do people buy in to the WSO dogma that you need to have X, Y, and Z to "make it" (formatting PPTs etc)?

I didnt have anything lined up. about 50% of the PMs and analysts I know didnt have anything lined up. 

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2022 - 4:56pm

I was in the same shoes, honestly what fixed it for me was a crappy internship at a 3 man boutique IB. Once I threw that "summer analyst" on my resume / LinkedIn I got so much more traction. I literally got it by calling their front desk and asking if they need an intern and that I would work for free. Sometimes the conventional method of outreach and networking just doesn't work.

After that internship it was pretty easy to convert to MM for FT. Another route is a MSF degree at Vandy. Buddy of mine did that after coming from an absolute non-target. Basically gives you an extra year to recruit with a target name on your resume. IMO better than going big4 and working your way up as you only lose 1 year and some earnings + cost but then you are in IB.

  • Associate 3 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 5:15pm

There has to be more to the story here - GPA?

I work in a top group at a lower BB and there are a lot of non-targets on my team. Not to mention I helped with the 2023 SA interviews and I was honestly a bit taken aback at how many non-target candidates HR pushed through for us to interview. All smart and driven candidates, it's just very different from 5-6 years ago.

I'd also add that MM banks have tons of non-target folks. WF, RBC, BNP, BMO, etc. 

Your best bet is the corporate banking -> lev fin route. What was once pretty rare, seems fairly common these days.

Good luck, but definitely fix your attitude and outlook. There are so many better jobs out there than IB but I'm well aware that this one pays the most with the least amount of schooling at a young age (vs doctors, lawyers, etc.) 

Sep 6, 2022 - 4:16pm
NuclearPenguins, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agreed, OP should post a blinded resume or at least provide what school they're at + GPA. Huge difference between going to say, University of Washington vs. Washington State.

That or 3k emails w/o any traction really speaks more to OP's attitude / personality potentially - this is coming as somebody from a non-target too who has helped many non-targets break in. Looking at your prior post here I can't help but get a sense of you feeling like you "deserved" something better in college too. 

OP - IB out of college isn't an end all, be all. Plenty of people do a Big 4 job first, or valuations, or something else, and break in later on in their 20s. Could also try to get an MSF as some others have suggested. Feel free to DM me a blinded version of your resume if you don't want to post here.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2022 - 5:22pm

I already commented but think to yourself if you really want IB I went to a non target and my gpa was shit. I also come from a very poor background and my mentality was that I have to make this happen because I was done being poor and living in the hood with my parents ( imnt diversity either) that allowed me to grind, I failed so many interviews got so many rejections but finally I was able to get a BB SA and get that return. If you really want something so bad you will find ways to

make it happen. It might not happen immediately but it will eventually happen… all about how you approach things.

Aug 31, 2022 - 5:36pm
AssociateBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Some of these comments are just......I get why as an industry we are stereotyped as sociopathic douchebags. As to real advice for OP, I have a few thoughts:

First, be a little kinder to yourself. This world is hard enough as is without having your worst enemy living inside your head. 

Second, we're talking about a job. It's not going to determine the relationships you have with family, friends, and partners, determine your or self worth. It's nothing more than something we have to do so that eventually we won't have to do anything. Manage your expectations and understand that we are the only species that has built a system that requires us to do labor and pay to exist. Fuck work, don't let it consume your every waking moment, regardless the job you end up doing.

Finally, if you are really determined to get into banking, the first move is to get a job. Accounting, corporate finance, consulting, whatever. Do it for 3-5 years, and do it better than anyone else you work with. Find a mentor, build relationships, do some volunteering, and continue to follow markets and prepping for banking. then, at 26 or 27, apply to the best MBA programs that you can and enter the banking world as (hopefully competent and not utterly useless) MBA Associate. 

You may find with a few years perspective that you were a little in your own head about this, or you may take that chip on your shoulder and leverage into being the smartest, hardest working, most competent banker to ever hit the desk, it's totally up to you. Either way you go, via con dios and best of luck.

Sep 1, 2022 - 8:16am
neeeedhelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for this. I guess the reason why I am so upset is because the work I have put in over the past 3 years has been a waste since I haven't received any internship offers. I should mention that I have applied for a range of roles including consulting, S&T, global markets and big 4 advisory - I haven't exclusively been applying for IB

But I have been rejected from everywhere. I have been told that it is unlikely for non-targets to get any role in high finance, let alone IB

I have a few questions about going down the MBA route - don't the best MBA schools only select applicants who are already working in competitive fields i.e. consulting, PWM etc? If I don't get into a competitive field after graduation, surely I don't have a chance of getting into an M7 MBA? Aren't the MBA associates who have broken into IB later on all from the prestigious MBA schools?

If I still don't manage to get into IB after an MBA, would it have been a complete waste of money? Are there other good fields that I can pivot into if I have to give up on high finance roles?

Sep 1, 2022 - 11:35am
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you been strictly focused on NYC or applying in the regional cities close to where you live?


Sep 2, 2022 - 10:40am
AssociateBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Casting a wide net is good. There are a ton of opportunities out there even beyond the additional roles that you mentioned. Knowing nothing else about how you're doing this, I would say continue to reach out for informal conversations with junior staff at the places you are interested in and use every bit of your personal network that you can.

Re: MBA programs, there are bankers from every reputable program (top 30 or so), and MBA candidates come from every background. I was an accountant before stating my MBA, and I had classmates that were engineers, political staffers, teachers, professional athletes, consultants, bankers, other accountants, business owners, military officers, etc etc etc. If you had good undergrad grades, do well on the GMAT, and can show 3-5 years of solid work experience, you will get into a good program. 

I am not of the opinion that education is ever a "waste of money", but that said MBA programs are really just fancy trade schools, and if you are borrowing a lot of money to go, you'll want to make sure that you get a good ROI. There are always opportunities for MBAs, and those good programs (not just the M7) have relationships with every industry and it is in their interest to make sure you have a good gig once you graduate.

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Aug 31, 2022 - 5:59pm

There are definitely going to be people who won't make it. But if we go by the odds on any difficult task, then no one should do anything aspirational. No one should start companies and the Googles and Amazons of the world shouldn't exist. Going by the odds is a defeatist mindset. The odds don't capture perseverance, creativity, intelligence, and finesse. You are trying to break into an industry where there are tons of precedents of people with a similar profile as yours. Knock it off with your BS. You need to do some introspection. If you've sent 3000 emails and have not gotten an offer, you need to figure out what you did wrong. You probably don't want to hear it but you probably sound desperate and unlikeable, so fix that. Another thing you failed to mention is your GPA. A 3.5 GPA is the lowest you can generally have if you are a target student and you should have a 3.7+ if you want to be competitive as a nontarget. Not that this will completely prevent you from recruiting but it will make things much harder if you don't have a 3.7+. 

Lastly, people do make the move into banking as experienced hires all the time. It's not over for you if you don't make it from undergrad.

  • Associate 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 31, 2022 - 6:37pm

OP - if you have run any sales process (selling a car or something smaller like a 2nd hand video game console), you quickly realize desperate sellers always underperform. I have seen many processes where the seller gives away too much to accommodate random requests from large buyers who are not even that interested which led to nowhere.

In any job applications, you are fundamentally trying to sell yourself to a firm. If you reek of desperation it makes people uncomfortable and people are much less likely to give you good reviews post interview if they were uncomfortable. If you want to break in you need to adjust this attitude and start telling yourself that you are too good for GS/MS/EVR/CVP and it is their loss not hiring you. Understand this might not be the reassurance / comfort you are looking for here, but if you were to go on any future job search (with any company, banking or else) - this attitude will only hold you back. 

  • Associate 2 in IB - Restr
Aug 31, 2022 - 6:50pm

I've been where you are and I remember feeling like I wanted to die when final rounds at a MM shop went poorly (I actually got the offer). I also remember feeling like the success stories were annoying cause they just highlighted that I couldn't do it.

If you really want it then keep at it. I went big 4, then MM and now I'm at an EB.

Good luck and if you're feeling unsafe consider getting help (I have a therapist now).

Aug 31, 2022 - 7:00pm
Purple_Rain, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey man. I feel your frustrations, have been in the same boat before. Went to a non-target that no one's heard of that's and never sent anyone to IB. Literally sent 1300+ cold emails and was taking the bus several hours into NYC just to grab 15 min coffee chats with folks before ultimately getting my IB summer analyst stint. Also had a low GPA and plenty of people I reached out to told me it was a losing battle. At some points, you start wondering if you're crazy or just stupid so I totally get it.

Feel free to PM me, would be happy to share any insights / inspiration that might help.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 31, 2022 - 7:19pm

Hey man, sorry that you've been having a tough battle with recruiting. Please, don't think of committing suicide, it's not worth it, and you'll be harming those around you, and you won't be able to see the badass I have a strong feeling you will become. I understand you're passionate about this industry/breaking in, but please realize there's much more to life.

If EB/BB/MMs aren't working out for you, have you tried reaching out to regional boutiques? No matter how non-target you are, I'm sure you have alumni at smaller shops that would love to get on the phone w/ you. I know people who didn't start recruiting for IB until senior year and ended up with offers at boutiques. They may not be prestigious/have the Best Buy-side exit opps but we all start somewhere, and you can ALWAYS pivot elsewhere. I've seen people pivot to a top MM and BB after doing some time at a boutique.

As cliche as it may sound - keep your head up and keep at it! I believe in you, brother. Stay safe

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  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Aug 31, 2022 - 7:50pm

Been in your shoes and can def relate. FYI, I go to a target school but still struggle with recruiting because I didn't join the pipeline clubs when I was a freshman. I got numerous rejections for SA and ended up doing a non-IB summer internship. Nevertheless, I did not give up. I decided I would try recruiting one last time and eventually landed an EB offer. 

If you need more feedback/mocks, spend some money on mentors that can help you (like WSO mentors) or other IB prep programs. Best of luck, you can do it.

Aug 31, 2022 - 8:38pm
Kobemerion, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I commend your effort. Given a longer time-horizon, a lot of this work will pay off, you just can't see the light yet cause you're in the middle of the forest. Couple points:

  1. It really depends on what kind of non-target you're at. Lot of schools get lumped into non-target. Does your school have like any brand recognition at all? For instance, UPenn is definitely a target. Temple would be considered a non-target by most people on this website, however, Temple is a large state-school with brand recognition. A handful of their top kids will place in finance. Alvernia University is some random college in PA that I've never heard of and just looked up (sorry if you go there, it might be nice, who knows), I doubt anyone from there makes it to Wall Street, this would still be a non-target tho. At some non-targets, you have a shot, at some you have no chance, important to figure out this part of the equation. To quote meek mill, "there are levels to this shit."
  1. You need to develop some perspective, or at least listen to someone that's on the other side of it all. We all tie a lot of our self-worth and image into our jobs and placements, but it really doesn't matter at the end of the day. It's not something anyone expects you to understand know, but as you get older you will understand. After being in IB myself for a bit, I've realized how most people don't care what I do, especially the people I care about the most. Looking into my future, I definitely plan on leaving the industry soon so I can spend more time with friends and family. I still want to work hard and be successful, but there are other ways to do that. IB has some of the most skewed perceptions of working hard. An average week in this job would make you look like a workaholic in most other industries.
  1. Broaden your time horizon (this is a little pet theory of mine). On an infinite time horizon anything is possible. If you really want to do IB, you can achieve it given a long enough time horizon. The opportunities are there, it just might not be out of college. A lot of my friends at targets and semi-targets still had to contingency plan in terms of not making it into IB, and plenty had to go down that path. There are ways to make it to IB without an MBA, but an MBA is also another great path to get there. You don't even have to be in M7 or whatever. I don't have the best knowledge in this space, but just through running into people in the industry, plenty of MBA associates come from non-M7 programs, still has to be a decent program id imagine.
  1. If you legitimately have had really bad thoughts during this process, best to try and get some help. Whether that be therapy or whatever treatment a therapist would recommend. And have an open-mind, you'd be surprised the number of people in the Corp world that have gone to therapy and taken the recommended steps to get better (I'd imagine half of nyc 18-35yrs old are on prozac)
  1. Try and enjoy life by doing things that you actually enjoy. We were all in your shoes before (different levels of such) where we had so much of our dreams and aspirations tied up into getting into IB, but it really is fools gold. Only once you obtain it will you realize how insignificant it is in the grand scheme of things. This is like a maturity and wisdom part of life, and I'm just rounding the corner in terms of having a better perspective.
  1. Most level-headed and nice people on this forum understand where you're coming from, don't listen to surface-level comments. Maybe you need to change your attitude, but more than likely if you can from a really shit school, it's just gonna be a much longer journey.


Sep 1, 2022 - 1:31am
Ironuts, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree that "never give up" isn't good advice for everyone, as candidly, maybe you're just not cut out for what you're aiming for… but also use your brain… "never give up" doesn't mean doing exactly the same thing again and again with the expectation of a different result. Find an alternative path.

I couldn't get into IB/AM after uni… grades were mediocre, university wasn't a target, no relevant work experience. Instead of repeatedly bashing my head against the wall, I took a corporate development job in a tier 2 city (less competition) at a smallish company (by headcount, not value) and developed much of the same experience I'd have gotten at an IB.

Moved into sell side ER focusing on the same industry I'd been in previously, again at a tier 2 city. 

These roles added a lot of credibility to my CV and I then moved abroad to one of (the?) top firms in the industry, in their M&A and PF team.

Leveraged that experience to get a position sitting on the other side of the table. (Don't want to explain what I mean by other side of the table in detail as it will give too much away, but the meaning is broadly clear hopefully.) I'm now sitting in a Director position, +300k after tax, working less than 9-5. I hire advisors for all the heavy lifting.

My advice to you is to give up or adjust your approach given it's evidently not working. The "never give up" advice is for people who can find a way to make things happen rather than leave themselves to the mercy of the HR machine. 

Sep 1, 2022 - 3:29am
chumpchimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Consider tech - you said you study a STEM degree. The tech industry is waaaaaay more meritocratic and your non-target background will not hold you back anywhere near as much even when applying to FAANG. The work life balance is better, the pay is competitive (its actually better than finance on an hourly basis), the work is generally more stimulating, etc. Roles include software engineer, data scientist, data engineer, data analyst. Just take a look.

Sep 1, 2022 - 8:28am
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Going to a non-target sucks, but no need for self harm. You would only be hurting your parents, siblings and other close relations.

There are many paths to banking, not just an easy summer junior internship to a ft offer with a relaxed senior year.

You can always get into some crappy tier 3 bank in a crappy tier 3 city and lateral. You can get into a good bank but in some crappy group like ops or credit and lateral.

You could work in consulting or the treasury team at a company and lateral.

And if all that fails, you can always try for an early mba and re-recruit.

My point is that there are many paths to getting into banking. There are many good reasons to hurt yourself, but not getting directly into banking from college is not a good reason.

I have worked under many people in banking, and most of them went to way crappier schools than me. Your college only helps you get your first job, and after that it doesn't matter at all dude.

The only thing my college pedigree got my was my first job and the chance to break in. That's it. The only people who ever cared about my college degrees after that were my parents and a few girls I dated. The real world doesn't care.

So remember, you can always lateral using the examples I gave above and an mba in a few years can be your ultimate back up plan.

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 1, 2022 - 8:41am

Understand the frustration. Coming from a non-target myself with low GPA due to personal circumstances. Wasn't socially very good when I was younger.

These days getting into banking as a non-target guy is very tough, in my bank majority of new hires are women / minorities

I did numerous internships, started with internships that were not IB to begin with, took me a long time of working almost free to get my first FT role.

Assuming you're from the US (or even EU) this is what I would recommend as you're dead set on IB - Conscious it is a long journey:

1. Apply for whatever internship there is available in a non IB role (can be FMCG, fintechs, etc) this will help you build up a story of whatever industry group you will join.

2. If you are not graduating soon, then try again to apply the year after for IB and now you have an experience you can talk about, and have a reason as to "why this industry group" compared to your peers

3. If you already graduated and didn't get into IB, well I hope you did well in the internship to get a FT role there - would work 2/3 years there and get a top tier MBA

Understand this is not the ideal path and most likely the last advice you wanted to hear but if I could go back I would have done this myself.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 1, 2022 - 10:17am

Hey, I'm an A2 at a mid tier BB from a mid Atlantic non target. My first time recruiting was pretty shot: I had one superday and blew it lmao. What I ended up doing was turning my minor at the time into a second major so I could technically extend graduation and get another shot on goal. Going through the process a second time was seamless and I ended up securing an offer. If you don't succeed at first, and have the means to do so, consider trying again.

Sep 1, 2022 - 10:46am
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This would make sense if becoming an IB analyst was a final destination.  But it's only a first step to some longer-term accomplishment.  So it actually doesn't make sense to talk about it in terms of "hope is lost" etc.  Think of life as a series of entry ramps, you miss the first one and you try and catch the next one.

Sep 1, 2022 - 2:57pm
rickle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Tone, ability to market oneself, and quality of communication (both written and verbal) are all things you need to explore. As an older person at the later stages of a long career, I can tell you with absolute certainty that being the top technician is not that important. Putting all your time in learning many of the things they would teach you is a waste of your time. They don't expect you to know much more than the very basics. You can learnt he three financial statements in a weekend if you're sharp and motivated. So, you don't have to be the best, just good enough. However, you do have to be likeable, well spoken, interesting, and possess strong writing and communication skills.

What you kids need to learn is the technical side is totally table stakes. A monkey can learn that and it is not all that impressive. Think of it this way, the vast majority of you leave every yr or two yrs so they have to replace your "skill" with a newbie constantly. Therefore that skill couldn't be that burdensome or they would never be able to replace with scale. What they ARE looking for is future leaders. People they can envision in front of clients, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars of fees. That's their business and the only they they care about. Fees. Plain and simple. If you're not the kind that they want to sit down and grab coffee with, have a cool dinner at a high end restaurant with, spend the afternoon at a ballgame with, etc., then they have no use for you.

Look in the mirror. Who are you. I suggest you be brutally honest with yourself and see where you need to improve in the people skills area. 3000 emails with no interviews means you don't know how to close (including moving a conversation along or generating interest with an email). This is a very important skill to learn in business. Any business.

  • Analyst 2 in AM - FI
Sep 1, 2022 - 3:17pm

There is more to finance or the corporate world than IB/S&T or high finance. Okay, you studied hard but why did you put all your eggs in one basket even when you were getting constantly rejected? Did it never occur to you that you should start applying to anything else given all your rejections? (B4 Consulting, ops, corp fin, etc) Did you have any experience in finance when you were applying, even BO/MO, corporate finance, accounting, anything? Or was it just courses, projects and extracurriculars which tbh, anyone could BS?

I was at a nontarget too. But I knew high finance was a long shot so I didn't limit myself to just that. I worked in back office roles like fund accounting, tech startups, operations at a bank, data analysis anything I could get my hands on that was remotely interesting to me. I grinded and did my best work every opportunity I got and learned a lot. I still tried for high finance, but that's not all I focused on because I was realistic with myself. I knew that the only way to set myself apart was to have experience (compared to the target kids) and talk myself up whenever I got my foot in the door. And I am thankful I did that because eventually I landed in high finance. Sometimes breadth of experience beats relevance.

Pick yourself up and rethink your strategy. You tried your way and it failed so you need to adjust. It sucks that these target kids like your friend who are clueless beat you everytime but the world won't morph to fit you into it. You are more than your career don't forget that. Don't let these toxic fuckers on here make you feel less than because you didn't get a stupid internship. These fuckers go to the best institutions in the world and strive to be middle management at a bank or fund which I find absolutely pathetic that that is all they strive for. They crowdsource their self-esteem from the prestige of a company they have no equity in. Don't fall into that trap and feed into their prestige circle jerk. Apply for every opportunity you are remotely interested and try to find a winter or spring internship somewhere leverage that into an offer at said place or somewhere else. If you study a quantitative major, don't sleep on tech as this target school shit matters less and it is much more of a meritocracy.

Sep 1, 2022 - 3:29pm
The_Finance_Flunky, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just putting this out there. I am from a non-target (and when I say non-target, I mean not even a state school), and while I certainly can't argue with your personal experience, I do think your premise is off-base. Breaking in from a non-target is certainly harder, and requires more legwork and effort, but is by no means impossible. I work at an EB (one that people on this forum regularly reference as a top-performing shop), and can tell you that the analyst class we brought in last year is ~25% non-target. 

My point in posting this is to tell you that it certainly is possible, and if you are really committed to this line of work, there are still paths that get you here. Maybe you end up taking a job in corporate banking and then lateraling over later or maybe you change your outreach strategy to include smaller shops (if you haven't already). Also, please keep in mind that there are many career paths out there, and that defining your life based on your career most often leads to severe disappointment. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 1, 2022 - 4:59pm

It's not bullshit - Ask yourself this OP.

Do you truly believe you put in 100% effort into recruiting and succeeding in breaking in and still land with absolutely nothing? Meaning that do you believe that you reasonably worked at 100% capacity to get a job and not one of the hundreds of banks with thousands of positions offered you a spot? If your answer is yes, that's fine man maybe IB isn't for you. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs in this world and if you're not able to break in, NBD. 

But the answer is more likely no - and if that's the case then the issue is with you. 

Sorry for being blunt but I came from a non-target of nontargets and we placed 4 kids in IB and 1 in MF PE last year out of ~40,000. And all 4 of those kids who placed IB are some of my best friends. We grinded together and all broke in. Almost everyone I ever hopped on a call with didn't really know what school I went to and even then, I was able to land referrals and interviews. The hardest part was securing the call and to do that, you got to be persistent and organized, but after that happens it's light work if you have decent social skills and know your technicals.

From what I've gathered, if your technicals are as advanced as you say they are, then the problem lies in your ability to make conversation. I did research on the people I was talking to - Looked at their social media, LinkedIn, the location they were based in, etc. And from there I would sort of direct conversations like that. For example, I was networking with a guy whose alma matter was Miami University and I directed the convo towards that and then spent time asking questions about the city, nightlife, university, etc. It's not that hard to do - people love to talk about themselves and if you have a conversation with them where they like you, they'll push you forward 

This shit isn't physics or computer science - I don't know why so many people struggle with it unless they just don't ever talk to people outside their close circle. Most people are friendly and if you show interest, they'll reciprocate. That doesn't mean fake it - there's plenty of conversations I had where I didn't vibe with the person and you just move on from it. Don't dwell and keep moving forward.

I post once in a blue moon but the self-pity is suffocating. And I normally wouldn't even care for the self-pity if you didn't call the entire process and advice that people give on this forum "bullshit". I was once a college kid and I spent plenty of time frequenting this forum and it's that very advice that you're shitting on that helped me land a phenomenal job.

Have some accountability OP and hey - maybe I'm being way too harsh on you. If you truly did put your 100% and weren't able to break in, then sorry man. But don't come on here dashing the hopes of other people because it didn't work out for you.


Sep 1, 2022 - 10:20pm
LofiAviator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is exactly it.  Because of the internet, people have been able to hide behind a screen and verbal conversation skills have subsequently suffered. While I'm not in IB, I work in an industry that also prizes relationship over *just* technical know-how.  Whenever someone asks advice to enter into my industry, I tell them to make conversations daily with people they may not know well over the phone or in-person.  It's relatively easy to get a grasp over technical, many people can do that, but the people that can combine relationships along with technical knowledge will win.

Sep 1, 2022 - 10:05pm
jimmycrickets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One of our interns just dropped out of our fall internship that started this week. They got connections to a lot of places if you work hard a semester. While I don't think it's appropriate how you have complained on this forum, I understand that you may have been dealt a bad hand and need an in. Ping me if you are interested and we can hop on a call.

Sep 2, 2022 - 1:35am
Unitranche Terry, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dude is an absolute zero. If I wanted to hear about a sob story, I would have turned on lifetime TV.

Sep 2, 2022 - 1:44am
johnny-mnemonic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Trust the process man. You haven't failed yet. I broke in from a non target and will agree it's harder to get interviews. That said, I can name 15+ kids who were able to start full time in IB in the last few years. It's a lot less than target schools, but we all followed the same strategy so it must work right? Your only disadvantage is the difficulty to get an interview. After that it's up to you to execute and seal the deal. I would suggest mock interviews before you do any more full time recruiting. And create a new email address to hit up all your contacts who didn't respond with a fresh outreach email. Your email might have been complete garbage so check that with your peers. Make sure you're getting advice from people who will be honest with you about your performance. Better to get slightly negative feedback from an older mentor who's been in your shoes than "yeah man that's great" from a peer in your grade.I'm writing this in an uber so apologies the formatting is probably off

  • Intern in Research - Other
Sep 2, 2022 - 4:19am

You make good points OP. There's a mentality here that anyone can make it if they just work hard enough, but the truth is that the majority won't make it, statistically. And it's not about hard work, but mostly luck

Sep 2, 2022 - 6:58am
TheBuellerBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone here who got into the industry from a non-target, I'll say this to you:

- I messed up in high school too big time (and a big part of my college time) so you're not alone on that

- If you have actually sent 3000 emails with no success at this point, look inward and ask yourself if there's a reason you haven't been able to close with those who you talked to. A lot of the advice I give to the people I speak to who reach out now is to improve their actual speech and diction so it sounds like it belongs and isn't rough around the edges (this is a superficial industry and this kind of thing matters)

- Stop contacting recruiters - your best bets are with actual front-office folks such as the bankers or S&T professionals: they are the ones who will plug you into the HR process

- Bit of cliché advice here but don't get down on your luck. Continue to emulate positivity in the face of all your rejection because I promise something will eventually bite 

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Sep 2, 2022 - 9:39am
Top Bucket, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's not about your inability to connect with others. Coming from a extreme non-target like OP, breaking into banking is always going to be a uphill battle for non-targets. I have get on calls with tons of guys even after having BB name on my resume and people at MM literally just told me that they wouldn't be able to vouch for me because they're not from my school or ask me to do a MBA to break in. The only chance you get to break into IB is if you're a diversity, I was the few lucky one to break into corporate banking and lateral into IB. Either way, life is a uphill battle if you don't have connections or money.

That's why if someone send me a linkedin email and can hold a conversation properly, I will always try to push their resume along if they follow up with me when recruiting starts. It's also amazing how some people send me an email straight to my work email that's a fucking essay and then send invite request on linkedin telling me to connect. Just ranting about the lack of basic social skills among a lot of people.

Sep 2, 2022 - 10:14am
DeltaDecay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All I'll say is keep you chin up and keep working. It is extremely difficult to get in from a non target and what a lot of people fail to realize is that luck plays an important role. It is frustrating but remember this: You just need to get your foot it through the door. May be you don't get into T1 banks but keep that does not mean there are not other shops. you fail there go for the smaller ones. I know of people who went to target schools and failed to get into good places. However, they joined a T2/T3 bank and worked their way up from there.

Given that you are from a non target your path is not going to be straight forward. Trust me I know the hypocrisy involved in target vs non target. But you fucked up before in life and now you need to work harder than any one else. Your path to where you want to go is circular. Its complete BS where the stamp matters more than what you know but welcome to the real world.

If you keep trying you will land somewhere. May not be the ideal place but you will land somewhere. And then you need to work hard to get to where you want to be. Now it might look like a big task. But in 10 years time if you are willing to work hard I do not think it will matter that much.

All the best mate.

Sep 2, 2022 - 11:30am
rep_your_way_to_success, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here's an idea, how about you stop feeling sorry for yourself and get the hell back out there. I think you're aiming to high out of the gate nobody is going to care about you especially at BB just aim for local MM firms and work your way up from there. Additionally, it sounds to me like you're not networking enough with these firms because a incoming senior should have no problem getting a internship at a boutique during the busy season especially one with much self study as yourself.

  • someone from a non-target
  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2022 - 11:33am

I flunked out of college and broke in lol. DM me, I'll see if I can help.

Sep 2, 2022 - 11:51am
Nholmes508, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm also from a non-target, (University of Rhode Island - which has 75% acceptance rate). I majored in supply chain and had a minor in Econ. Graduated with a 3.1 GPA, only boost was that I played football there. As you can already tell that resume with NO relevant internships isn't screaming IB.. So I ended up doing sales for two years, passed the CAIA, then went back to get my MBA concentrated in finance (4.0 during MBA, graduated with 3.97), got two internships one at a very respected PE firm, and at a VERY small IB shop. Also, I also have ZERO family connections to the finance world other than the networking I have done for myself - and from your post you've done more already than I ever have. Post MBA I worked in Corp Dev for a little under 2 years. Now I'm at the smaller MM IB shop and I love it. I get to work on a ton of interesting deals with a lot of responsibilities. Moral of the story is you're still young, and just because you don't have a secured offer before leaving school does not mean you can never break in… lighten up, you will be fine.

Sep 2, 2022 - 11:55am
Non-Target_Survivor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Going to be honest with you here, you're in your non-target situation, and no amount of wishing you weren't is going to get you out of it, you have to deal with the crappy cards you are dealt.

Was a non target myself. Virtually no people from my undergrad are in banking unless they pursued an MBA first. Our college career fair literally consists of one regional bank.

Without having an internship with any major firm, just a regional bank, the same one regional bank that visits our school laughably, my senior year I landed three super day interviews with BBs which were all for full-time roles via networking like hell to land them. I went 1/3 in my interviews but all that matters is I'm now at a top 3 BB in a non-IB front office role.

Going to sound like a broken record here, but if you want this you can get it. I think the best thing to do now is seriously introspect regarding what you want out of an employer, and what you can do to bring value to that specific firm and division. It sounds like your difficulties have been with being recognized, do you know why that is? Maybe try for other front office roles instead of S&T and IB like AM or PB? For me again it was all about finding individuals on LinkedIn with non-target backgrounds that I could interview and ultimately try and secure a reference from.

I am telling you my story as I was in a similar spot to you and got three interviews all at top 3 banks and landed one of them. Being in the city and meeting the individuals who had it demonstrably easier by going to any target school you could think of, by virtue of you having to work 10x harder then them to have the same opportunity, you'll likely be better and more prepared than them day 1. The effort pays off.

I promise you if you take a step back and seriously evaluate what you are doing wrong, you'll get bites and then all you need is one to say yes. You can pm me if you like.

Sep 2, 2022 - 12:15pm
cheesybanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey man, I too am a non-target pleb. Fucked around in highschool and ended up and the trash university etc etc. I had the same aspirations as you, I wanted to get into IB and was also getting no attention from any bank. I even have uncles etc that worked in boutique investment banks in my city and still couldn't even land an internship. My GPA is 3.7 and it seemed that it didn't matter. My resume would just get thrown in the trash wherever I went, no matter my intellect. It didn't matter how smart I was or how many people I knew, I went to the wrong uni and that looked bad on them. I also figured out that I didn't want to do IB because I thought the work would be enjoyable, I wanted to do it because I couldn't. That's when I realised, banking is ALL a show. It is complete BS and after taking a step back and really looking at it for what it is, I don't even want a career in it. The work itself as an analyst/associate is so mundane, you're basically an excel monkey working day in and day out staring at useless figures that probably aren't going to make any meaningful difference and if you have an opinion on a company, too bad, they're a client and you cannot speak ill of them. Then, once your a VP/MD all you really are is a glorified salesman. Not to mention the banking industry is more or less in structural decline. It's definitely not a good long-term career option nowadays. Anyways, after this realisation, I decided to make a pivot. You mentioned that you are studying a quantitative degree so I think this may suit you too. I decided that quantitative finance, specifically quantitative trading, was a much more realistic place to attempt a career at. They are much more results focused and if you can prove to them that you are capable, they WILL give you a job, no matter your university. Admittedly the recruitment process is very intense, although I personally appreciate the straight to the point style. None of the stupid questions you get in IB, all they care about is if you are capable of doing the job or not. You may not have the same prestige as IB and you may work with a bunch of nerds but you will be paid double, work half the hours and not have to spend your entire career smoking cock. The industry is also definitely future-proof. Personally I have found much more success in this sector too, I have had multiple interviews and am being flown out next week to a large quant trading firm for a final round interview. I haven't had to network or anything, just prove that I am capable of the job. If you want to get an idea of the industry I would recommend watching coding jesus and dimitri bianco. IB is propped up on this fake sense of prestige and we are all suckers for it. Let it go and look at it for what it really is.

Sep 2, 2022 - 12:47pm
Nontargetmonkey_132, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as someone who has been in your shoes, I'll recommend a few options 1.) MSF- if your GPA is solid (3.5+ which it should be, or stop complaining) go attend a Top 5 MSF program for a year. I recommend going to either Vanderbilt or UT Austin if you can get in. This will open a lot of doors for you, and from what I've seen is 100% worth the 1 year opportunity cost2.) Valuation- It seems like you have a solid understanding of valuation, so I don't think getting a valuation gig should be that hard for you (the interviews are a cake walk compared to IB interviews, I had offers from 3 of the B4 + HL/AM). To be honest, it does not even need to be at a B4 in order to have amazing lateral opportunities to front office IB. I have honestly seen this work countless times for non target grads.3.) Accounting- Again, if you have a solid GPA (3.5+) I would recommend applying to some top Macc programs. If you are able to break into a T10 public accounting firm, you should be able to lateral over to IB within 1-3 years, higher side if in audit or tax, lower side if you are able to break into m&a FDD4.) fuck it, law school

Sep 5, 2022 - 2:20am
NeedSomeHelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

These are some of the few concrete actionable insights in this thread. People telling you to "trust the process" are full of shit because your process is so clearly and demonstrably fucked. Blah blah blah the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Dumb cliché but holy fuck 3000 emails and nothing to show for it? Time to quit bashing your head against the wall.

You clearly believe your intrinsic potential far outstrips your current station. How have you demonstrated that to your peers beyond regurgitating the 400 IB technical questions?

If you truly believe that your non-target education is an insurmountable roadblock preventing you from realizing your high finance destiny, then fucking go to grad school. Get an MSF at Vanderbilt. They feed into IB programs and that would solve your branding issue in one fell swoop. The only way this wouldn't be a no-brainer would be if in the course of sending 3000 emails trying to get that IB job you let your GPA slip at your Mickey Mouse university below a level acceptable for a cash grab Matera program. If that's the case, you might have bigger issues.

Sep 2, 2022 - 2:30pm
Waterfalldown, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are a lot of different roles in finance than IB. Consulting, wealth management, asset management..etc. tech sales you can make a killing in. Life is full of trial and errors. I'm in corporate banking and that's a really fun job with a good WLB. You can always leverage that into IB or a lot of different things. Don't put these jobs on a pedestal. Not everyone who does IB is happy and a lot of people had much easier entries coming from great schools. MBA is always an option so don't get so down on yourself. Most things are possible and will work out as long as you keep an open mind. 

Sep 2, 2022 - 5:40pm
timeout.prop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as someone who broke in nearly 4 years later than everyone else, its truly possible. you just need to have a good head on your shoulders, which seems to be the crux of the issue here. IB is not the end all to be all. use whatever experience you get in the interim to supplement your knowledge for when you do break in, so you can zig when others zag.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Event
Sep 7, 2022 - 2:39pm

Honest question, not trying to come off as rude, but do you believe that 4 years breaking in was well spent?

I understand we pursue finance because there's a low skill set barrier, but 4 years is a lot of time… could have learned to code in 1 year and been a SWE. Or just work from startup to startup earning 100-200k progressively.

Or screw coding, at that point, you could have moved into sales. No degree needed. In 4 years you'd get a LOT of reps in and probably be a master salesman by now.

Point is, sure, anything is possible given enough time. But it's just not worth it after a point.

Sep 2, 2022 - 7:20pm
BackofficeGrindGuy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Did you even try landing an internship first at IB small boutique or lower middle market? If you really grinded and knew your technical, there is no way you couldn't land an internship at those places. If you were just strictly focused on prestige firms, then yes, nobody will take you seriously if you don't have something like I mentioned above in your resume. 

Sep 3, 2022 - 12:32pm
Ealfano114, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey man I went to a non target as well and was able to break into a BB do I've been in your shoes. That's an absurd amount of work you've done. PM me a link to your resume I'll take a look, willing to help out. 

Sep 4, 2022 - 6:59pm
zlmzney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

my email address: [email protected]

I also need you help. please email me ,I will send you my resume. 


Steve Baughman

Steve Baughman
  • 3
Sep 3, 2022 - 7:09pm
djent68, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Totally agree with you. For every second, I regret not going to UCLA for my bachelor's, and instead went to a non-target school. I feel like I am also punished for going to a non-target school instead of a semi-target school, like UCLA. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 4, 2022 - 12:49am

Don't give up man! I too went to a non-target with almost 0 presence on the street, have a severe stutter (speech impediment), and just got a return offer from this summers internship at a BB. Man… i went through plenty of rejections but I knew my shit and showed my perseverance.

Anything is possible - keep at it!

  • 1
Sep 4, 2022 - 11:58pm
booboo24, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Non-target student here that just broke in heading into my senior year. I can sympathize with how you are feeling. I interned at a PE firm this past summer, which made me more attractive for FT IB analyst positions. Had to fight tooth and nail to get my ft analyst role, and it was solely through networking with anyone I could. None of my online applications ever received a response. It may be a different route than you plan or take longer than you wish, but a door will open for you!

Sep 5, 2022 - 1:58am
NeedSomeHelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The problem is not the prestige of your university or the lack of connections you have. The problem is yourself. The fact that after such a grueling process you have chosen to ascribe blame to your perceived "less than" education rather than looking inward and doing some self-reflection and fine-tuning your approach tells me all I need to know. This board, the internet, and the real world are beyond replete with examples and anecdotes upon examples and anecdotes of scrappy kids from underprivileged backgrounds breaking through to land jobs previously inaccessible to the lower castes. I can almost guarantee that you would never hear those kids - the success stories - ever once blame their inherent disadvantages as reasons why they aren't "more than" - aka more successful, more prestigious, more whatever the fuck.

And that would be what separates a person like you from the successful cohort. The fact that your undergraduate degree comes from an institution from which bulge bracket banks do not actively recruit has very little to do with your inability to procure a front office finance position. But you seem content to pack it up and feel psychologically comforted by this delusion. Which is fine, I guess, but it smacks of that 40 year old divorcee at your hometown bar who will tell anyone who asks how "if only I had gone Ivy League, I'd be a director at Goldman right now." But guess what, no one fucking cares.

You mentioned you're going into your senior year. Jesus Christ you have your whole life ahead of you. I understand the temptation of cynicism at that age is strong, but by God is it detrimental to a long term goal of a happy life and successful career. There's a quote out there about how holding grudges is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy dies. That is essentially what you're doing with this mindset. If you managed to put your emotions to the side and assess your situation logically you would see that your current modus operandi is entirely unproductive, self-serving, and frankly masturbatory.

if you've sent 3000 emails and have yet to mine any actionable insights or leads, you must be coming across like a fucking clown in these emails. I mean my lord, did you ever stop to consider that possibility?

I've already written more than I should l, but just for some context: I graduated from a non-target in every sense of the phrase. Not a single graduate from my Alma mater that I'm aware of has ever held a front office position (IB/AM/VC/PE/S&T/consulting) at any organization of national repute. Before me, that is. And as many emails as you sent, I probably sent more. I had countless doors slammed in my face. Countless "I'd love to help you, you seem like you have your head on straight but we don't hire from your school." But each of those interactions was immeasurably invaluable to my process in that they provided a harsh but fair assessment of my weaknesses and allowed me to craft my story in a way that would eventually become palatable to a prospective employer. 
Let me ask you something: you bemoan the inferiority of the institution you've chosen to attend - that much is clear. But what have you done to elevate your school to the level of worthiness/legitimacy you so desperately desire? I founded the investment club at my non-target and spent a lot of my free time courting donors to provide seed money for a fund because the stewards of the endowment were reluctant to support us. I drafted a constitution outlining asset allocation policies and a repeatable fundamental research process that was simple to learn and easy to adopt for undergraduate finance students - with guidance from faculty, of course. Have you ever even thought about anything like that? Because that's an example of something that made "stodgy" prestige-focused old-guard finance folks' ears perk up.

If it sounds like I'm being harsh, well I am. Because at a certain point I felt the same exact way you did. Life was unfair, I was smarter than my situation, and I deserved and was entitled to more. It's an intoxicating mentality. It was only when I broke myself of those comforting delusions that I actually managed to attain the goals for which I strived.

Sep 5, 2022 - 2:13pm
neeeedhelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How did you manage to 'break yourself of those delusions'? That is the part that I am finding the most difficult - to just move on from what I cannot change.

Sep 5, 2022 - 6:57pm
NeedSomeHelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I realized that no one was going to accomplish my dreams for me, I wasn't going to get "discovered" by sitting around whining and bemoaning my lot in life. I went to therapy which gave me the tools to perform real self-reflection and dug deep down inside myself to try to learn who I really was and who I wanted to be. Do I really like finance or do I want people to be impressed at parties when I tell them my job title and the bank at which I work? Am I driven in my pursuit of these goals by money and material goods or intellectual curiosity, my competitive nature, and a passion for knowledge? Do I really believe if this is what I want that I have the intellectual horsepower and work ethic to summit the mountain? Am I good enough, can I become good enough, and will being good at this discipline and making it my livelihood truly make me happy? 

After the long, arduous, and sometimes painful process of answering some of those questions for myself, the mindset shift began to happen. It became clear that all my childish wailing and moaning about how the unfairness of my circumstances was entirely unproductive. Having made the decision that high finance was really what I wanted, and having determined that I did in fact want to achieve that lofty goal for the right reasons, I began to see things much more clearly and gained the ability to accept those as aspects of my life I cannot change and work twice as hard to apply maximum leverage to what I can influence. 

It takes the courage to take a hard, HARD look in the mirror and to truly understand yourself, which I think is rare because it's a deeply uncomfortable process. In the end though, it will lead to a much happier, more enlightened way of being. Self-awareness is one of the most underrated qualities of character in my opinion. A healthy dose will do the body wonders.

Sep 5, 2022 - 12:05pm
wsomaster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Grad school can be the great equalizer don't give up if it is your dream.

Take any finance job with a big name. Bust your ass for 3/4 years and build a complete profile.

Get into a top MBA program and do exactly what you have been doing the last 3 years and you will have every option available to you.

I would add be willing to do unpaid internships in the financial services space to expand your network.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Other
Sep 5, 2022 - 7:20pm

I'm in S&T. Graduated undergrad from a Non Target. If you've done this much and still have gotten nothing back from anywhere you've applied, I highly suggest you go to a Semi-Target to Target grad school.

Just having a recognizable school name alone on your resume does wonders. Worked for me and I believe it can have similar success for you as well.

Sep 5, 2022 - 11:31pm
derivativeCo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sep 5, 2022 - 11:30pm
derivativeCo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sep 9, 2022 - 2:47pm
BbyBank, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Itaque fugit sed minus. Esse ut fugit aperiam deleniti id. Distinctio qui recusandae non doloremque. Molestiae laboriosam provident quis excepturi eligendi quod. Est inventore quis odio quidem est.

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Sep 11, 2022 - 6:34pm
ibdchopper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Dignissimos accusamus cupiditate voluptatem delectus. Aperiam saepe sapiente unde quasi facere. Deleniti omnis porro est aut. Modi est magni porro. Quod fugit minima molestiae nobis magnam quisquam quis.

Dicta debitis tempore nulla deleniti mollitia. Sit aliquid ut est consequuntur. Amet qui eum sit. Aut qui aliquam aut et. Laboriosam consequatur veritatis nihil sapiente placeat.

Sep 27, 2022 - 12:08pm
Mr.Robot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Intern in IB - DCM
Nov 26, 2022 - 6:22am

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