Advice on Breaking In (Non-Target, Near Perfect GPA, No Experience)

Starting off, I understand that IB is an extremely difficult discipline to get into. I am not so conceited to think that even with a relatively great GPA, I am anywhere near the perfect candidate as compared to those at ivy leagues/target schools, people who have prepped since freshman year, etc. However, I don't simply want to give up on my dreams, and investment banking is something I'd love to do, at least for a few years before considering an exit into other opportunities such as buy side or tech. I've done some scouring of the internet in regard to people in positions similar to mine and would like some input from those in the industry.

My Story

  • Wasn't the best student in high school, not because I was incapable, but because I was going through some personal problems
  • Graduated high school 2 years early through a GED, then graduated from a community college while a part of Phi Theta Kappa honor society
  • Because of this I graduated at Rutgers University earlier this year with a 3.98 GPA, instead of in 2024
  • (Not sure if beneficial, perhaps some starting points with connections/introductory emails, or at least prove I'm not socially incompetent) Brother at a fraternity, and member of Beta Gamma Sigma honor society
  • COVID struck during what people would say are crucial years for internships, sophomore and junior year, leading me to have no internships/work experience (I understand this may seem like a copout; however, I was extremely scared of putting my parents, who are "at risk" of severe complications from getting COVID, not to mention I was struggling to adjust to the situation as a whole)
  • Terrible position, but I still have a drive to succeed and pursue finance

My Current Plan 

  • Network like crazy, with everyone, but with a focus on higher ups like VPs and MDs if possible
  • Get some experience somehow, though I doubt many banks will take a chance on me, so perhaps through an unpaid internship at a search fund
  • Show I care about the industry, through certifications like a CFA, or maybe starting a blog with stock pitches, valuations, etc.
  • Take a course to prepare for technicals, whether that is WSO or other options
  • Get a job at a regional/MM bank/boutique in a finance hub (NYC, Boston, Chicago) before lateraling to a more prestigious situation, whether that is a MM or Bulge Bracket/Elite Boutique (if MM, then lateral again later on)

Alternative Plans
- (Short Term) Since it's too late to "go to school" again this year, get a job for this year, then apply for a master's degree program at top target schools
- (Long Term) Try to get into a job that is somewhat related to IB, such as valuation, corporate banking, corporate development, or corporate finance, then after a few years go for an MBA at a top school

I would appreciate any tips that you can spare, and I would absolutely love some mentors, please don't hesitate to reach out and don't pull any punches, I promise I can take it. 
 

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