People who didn't make it into IB: What are you doing now?

I am currently in the process of applying for IB related internships and I have a feeling I'm not going to make the cut. You know how sometimes you dance with the hottest girl in the club but you KNOW she's not going home with you? That's how I feel about IB and it got me thinking- What if I don't make it?

We all know the success stories but no one shares their failures.

So, people who did their best to get those internships/FT roles in IB but didn't get there... What are you doing now? What do you have to say the younger you?

Most Helpful

You don't give up.

Just because you can't land IB straight out of school doesn't mean you aren't fit for it. Plenty of my co-workers who have climbed the IB ladder aren't the smartest, best dressed, or coolest people in the room; they are hustlers. Refuse no for an answer.

It took me 3 extra years working some BS analysis job before breaking in as a first year analyst at a BS boutique. I got denied over 12 times prior to receiving an offer. When I failed a financial modeling test, I took the time to master that shit. When I was told my confidence wasn't there, I went to random networking events to improve my ability to speak to people.

When people asked why they should choose me - i had a very well rehearsed answer on how nothing in life came easy for me.

Fast forward 7 years - I'm now a VP in the IBD for a BBB. I now make hiring decisions on behalf of my group.

Now get the fuck off of WSO and do whatever needs to be done to take that hot girl home.


Awesome story and true facts. Damn I'm hyped up and already in banking; it's like watching Rocky and wanting to go box.

As an Associate there are tons of people like me from non-traditional backgrounds -> business school -> IBD as well. Sometimes it takes a multiple-year strategy and a lot of hard work to climb the ladder.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.

You managed to move from accounting to IB? Mind if I ask if its one of the boutiques or BB? But regardless, respect for managing to make the shift in the end!


I didn't get an IB internship from a BB or recognized boutique so interned at a FAANG instead of focusing on something more related and now working here full-time. IB is not a given even if you are coming from a target and have decent grades. Future plans include exploring tech industry and working abroad since there'd be less opportunities to do that starting out in IB. After a few years get an MBA an try to do IB again lol


Agree with all the comments about keeping after it. I went to an SEC school that had a great accounting program but there was no finance (decent) program to speak of and no IB recruiting. I realized quickly IB was the best starting point for where I wanted to get, but that just wasn't an option. I went the Big 4 route and taught myself financial modeling and became an excel expert and have moved around various PE back start ups and have done very well for myself. All my colleagues (above and below) have banking backgrounds, but at the end of the day the experience I have through working on deals with our PE sponsor and just being in a BD / finance environment put me ahead of a lot of the younger bankers who came in after two years of updating power point presentations. It's a battle I have to fight everyday when I'm competing against guys with BB --> PE --> Corp Dev. backgrounds, but the vast majority of people look past the 'weaker' background and focus on the experience I have and as I get further into my career it seems to matter less and less. I would encourage you to hustle toward IB if you can, but it's not the end of the world if you can't break in - teach yourself what they learn on the job and bust your ass to get into a BD / finance role in the industry you're interested in.


Didn't manage to secure any internship offers for my last critical summer despite final rounds at multiple BBs.

Picked myself up and decided to pursue an entirely different route. First started by remaining for a second summer stint at the major insurance brokerage I was already at. As the final year of uni started, networked my ass off and secured a spot on a global reinsurer's grad scheme.

Had the time of my life on that scheme, met great people, got opportunities to travel and work abroad.

Ultimately, through grit and luck, knowing I still had an interest for finance, transitioned out of that company, from a traditional reinsurance role into the insurance linked securities space, essentially where IB/CM and insurance converge. Best of both worlds really!

Lesson here is you never know where an opportunity might take you. Keep your goals clear but your mind open. There's always more than one path to something, make your own, you've got plenty of time.

"A guy gets on the MTA here in L.A. and dies. Think anybody'll notice?" - Vincent

Got into a HF internship after being rejected by bulge bracket IB role. Moved to a smaller shop after that and leveraged that into a permanent role at a top HF. Not gonna lie, still regret not trying harder at IB, I realised how little I knew straight out of Undergrad and would be tempted to do an MBA just to try banking again if only for a couple of years


First of all, the obvious: get an internship in corp fin, asset management or some other related field and then recruit for FT.

But if you can't land a FT role in banking, go do one of those related fields for a year or two and apply to join banks as a first year analyst even though you're 1-2 yrs out of school. I've seen so many people do this successfully and they're happy they did.

And I've seen so many 23-25 year olds in asset management or corp fin jobs refuse to come into IBD as a 1st year because they want 'credit for time served' in their non-IB job. This never goes well. First they try to lateral into banks as a 2nd year or 3rd year or even associate, and they bomb the interviews because no amount of prep matches the 100 hour weeks of experience that IB analysts pick up.

Then after bombing interviews for a few months, they move to Plan B which is hoping some other job will be a substitute for IB in terms of getting them wherever they want to ultimately be. "Maybe I can do Mckinsey and then PE" or some idea like that. Of course this could be a good idea depending on one's goals, but usually IBD leads to places that IBD is uniquely good at preparing people for, and other roles won't prepare you as well.

Meanwhile I've seen a lot of first-year analysts who are a few years older, and they have a great 2 years and do whatever is next (PE etc) and I doubt any of them regret the late start. I remember one class with two 26 year old 1st years. One went to PE 2 years later and the other stayed at the bank and is a VP now. They might've felt a little old when they started, but that fades quickly and now they're actually young compared to other folks who needed an MBA to arrive at the same place.


Got a few final round interviews in IB but didn’t make the cut while finishing my degree. I ended up in M&A at a Big4 for about a year before getting into PE at a $5-10B AUM fund as an associate.

Network hard, prepare adequately, wow headhunters and kill interviews. Take yourself seriously and others will too.


Totally fine - not the end of the world. Statistically speaking, very few make the cut fresh out of school. I recently came across a LinkedIn page of somebody from my alma mater (in Australia). He did internships in mid-tier accounting firms before landing an audit role with Big 4 - from here, he eventually lateraled into the corporate finance team and is currently a VP at a BB in NY. If he can make it from Big 4 audit, so can you!


I am an international that barely got interviews at very few IB firms out of college because they don't "sponsor". After my 10th or so rejection without even getting an interview because I ticked "Will need sponsorship in the future" on applications, I said f*** it. I went for a tech master degree at CMU and now I am a data scientist at one of the Big 4 (no, not the accounting firms). I work 10-5 and earn around 180k a year. I guess there is something else other than IB that pays as much without as much stress.


If you want it bad enough it can happen. I went to a target, top MSF, MBB, then EMBA. Unconventional route to college but I landed at MBB and did everything I could to get into PE. Took the first bite I got and landed at a 4th tier PE shop for 6 months and hated it.

Ended up networking into a Mega for 7 years before leaving to go to a family office. I wanted to leave the city and move back home. I had my fill.

In my experience if you want it you will prep non stop. Eat breathe and sleep it. The taste is that much better when it happen. I did great in my interviews and when I got that offer it was just that much better so much so I just flat out quit the job I was at and took a month. If you want it you will fight for it. A conventional way is just that a way most people take but I met guys at MF I was at from all backgrounds.


It took me 4 years to break into a big bank (not in the US).

First became aware of IB in the last semester of college. Did off-cycle ER internship, got an MSF, then took a job at an accounting firm's FAS department, got laid off, took a role as a finance product manager at a BS crypto firm, and then finally, I'm in as an investment banker.

Don't give up. The process could be longer than what you have fathomed. 

Persistency is Key

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