Unable to get an Investment Banking internship. Any tips/ help welcome.

A little bit of context -

International student, first year MBA at a non-target T25 bschool in the US.

Non-finance background (sales and marketing). Ex-entrepreneur, built a successful agency with USD 1M in annual revenues in India, also worked in directorial roles at prominent agencies in India.

Networked my ass off, couldn't land even a superday/ interview yet. Technicals/ behaviorals were on point, and all of my coffee chats were good till this point.

  1. Needed advice on how to crack an internship in investment banking at this point.
  2. Is recruiting full-time for investment banking not possible if I don't get an internship in investment banking?
  3. Any advice in terms of easier to get into investment banks I should network my way into?
  4. Feasibility of scoring an internship in Europe/ other parts of the world at this point.
  5. Off-cycle internships? Can they be useful - if yes, any tips on how to score one in an MBA program?
  6. Any non-investment banking internship roles I should pursue that might give me a chance at recruiting full time for investment banking?
  7. Should I take a "leave of absence" (for another chance at recruiting next year) or drop out of the MBA program to try to get into a better bschool?

Additional Info - One of the feedbacks I received was that not having a finance background hurt my chances at scoring an interview (advice from someone inside a prominent bank, who was involved in the recruitment process).

I really need some advice at this point. Mentally not doing good due to my current situation, and things are going downhill very fast for me.

 
Most Helpful

It's the combination of international + non-target + non-finance background I'd bet... that is a really hard mountain to climb even if you are incredible and I think a lot of people would have advised you against MBA in this situation. Unless you can get into HBS or another M7, I don't think another bschool or another chance at recruiting will make much of a difference. You may be able to recruit back home in India, but Europeans don't really recruit from US programs especially non-targets.

You should target smaller banks (MM and below) but given that it's getting late in recruiting season... I really would encourage you to also open up your recruitment to things that are still open. Consulting is very competitive but could try for those, corp jobs (strategy is a good role), startup (they'd like your experience), etc. You can try to network into those smaller banks for FT but truthfully FT is a very limited process and you're competing for 1 spot most times.

 

I'd suggest you look for other opportunities too. On paper, everything is stacked against you. Non-target MBA, no finance background, international, Indian male. It was destined to be difficult anyway. As an international (tho not mba), my first goal was to find a job in US, so I can stay, and there would be lateral opportunities at some point.

Also, if you weren't able to land a single interview after hard networking, there must be something you're doing wrong, which you have already done to all places you reached out to. I don't know how likely you'll land something here.

 

Similar situation here.

URM male at a semi/non-target T25, mostly positive network feedback, got a couple of first-rounds but didn't pass. The difference is that I got a short stint of pseudo-finance experience before b-school (like incubator/microfinance/etc).

The non-financial background part wouldn't be a problem as long as you know your stuff and can make a convincing pitch on why IB & finance, what your past role had prepared you for IB, and can ace the technicals. I know an ex-entrepreneur guy with no finance background in my cohort that has landed interviews from almost all bulge brackets he applied for.

My problem, in hindsight, is that the impostor syndrome had taken a toll on me, making my interview performance not as confident and convincing. In addition to that, I focused mostly on the group/location I'm interested in, but didn't realize the competition this year for an IB seat is extremely tough.

Sure, we didn't land our first and easiest shot, but there are still faint glimmers of hope if you truly want IB.

I'm continuing networking with a few shops where I'm still able to gain some traction. Also, some other things I'm trying right now if that could help you:

  • Cold reaching out to regional/industry-specific boutiques/LMMs, transaction/valuation/Rx advisory roles in consulting (admitted that it's kinda late for the latter as well) 
  • Looking for corporate FP&A/Corp Dev roles in my industry of interest, where I've seen a few people moving to MM/industry-specific shops after a few years of exp

I understand that it's quite stressful for OP right now as I felt the same for a few days ago. I'd suggest OP go buy a punching bag, get some jogging done, or find a close family/friend to vent out the distraught before moving forward.

 

lol, I can't believe you doubled-down and name dropped your school again (like you did on Reddit). I'd be willing to bet that your second-years have seen this, figured out who you are, and are actively blackballing you for embarrassing the school like this.

 

Damn, sorry to hear that. Don’t give up yet though — there are plenty of banks that will have people renege on their offers and spots will open up. Do you have a target location? I know Charlotte banks are still taking applicants.

 
consultt

Switch to tech or consulting

I have been networking with consulting firms recruiting for a role in deals transformation, but I personally think it's too late now to score an interview.

Tech recruiting is almost non-existent at my university at this point, but have been applying to these roles as well diligently.

 

pilpiob

While I hope you get a break in IB, the odds are not in your favor. Since you have the visa clock ticking, it might be advisable to be open to non-IB options if you want to remain in the USA. But, if IB is the goal, you ought to consider options in India too.

For sure! I have been diligently applying to roles across the world now. IB is where I want to be, but if nothing materialises, I might recruit for a role in Corp Dev, and then try to lateral into IB at a later point in my career.

 

When you say that you coffee chats/other networking things are going good, what do you mean?

From my experience networking (I'm also from a non-target background) the networking calls that "went well" were when the person I talked to was connecting with what I was saying, and what I was saying had nothing to do with banking/finance in general. In addition to that, I'd get the ability to talk to their boss/supervisor when I asked at the end of the call. This led me to getting an internship where I'll be working this summer. 

With that said, are your calls going like this, or another way? 

 
seekinthealpha1

When you say that you coffee chats/other networking things are going good, what do you mean?

From my experience networking (I'm also from a non-target background) the networking calls that "went well" were when the person I talked to was connecting with what I was saying, and what I was saying had nothing to do with banking/finance in general. In addition to that, I'd get the ability to talk to their boss/supervisor when I asked at the end of the call. This led me to getting an internship where I'll be working this summer. 

With that said, are your calls going like this, or another way? 

It usually went like this - the interviewer seemed super interested in my profile - especially the part where I was able to successfully build an agency into approximately USD 1M annual revenues over the course of 4 years, and then subsequently trying to get it acquired. They would then mention introducing me with their peers during the call. However, in some cases, what really transpired after the call was them not doing so over the mail despite many follow-ups, or the person whom they connected me with over the mail not responding to my follow-ups.

I was able to get interview invites from Goldman Sachs (NY), and Jefferies (San Francisco), but either couldn't ultimately score a super-day invite, or get the internship offer.

The general feedback by and large that I received from some of the interviewers I was able to really build strong connections with was that my non-finance background ended up hurting me the most. I like to believe that I am a good interviewee myself, and have been leaving no stones unturned when it comes to my preparation.

I still have been making significant progress with some banks that have their interviews scheduled for the month of January, and so, there is still some hope left.

If nothing works out, I might try to find a role in Corp Dev, and then try to lateral into IB after a few years of experience. IB is where I want to be ultimately, and I will somehow find a way to earn my spot, either now, or somewhere down the line.

 

If you are at a top 25 MBA program and not getting interviews then you are the problem.

I think you need a reality check. There is some combination of 1. Your coffee chats are not as good as you think, 2. Your behaviorals / technicals are not as good as you think.

M7 is not some magic wand as many here like to make it out to be. T25 will get you a look at every bank on the street (that sponsors).

I think you are overly confident in your general abilities and as a result are blind to your areas of weakness to work on. Bankers are probably picking up on this too.

 

What is a non-target T25? I assumed all T25 MBAs were targets for IB. Maybe not GS/MS/EVR but BAML recruits at Georgetown which is ranked 24.   

 

What is a non-target T25? I assumed all T25 MBAs were targets for IB. Maybe not GS/MS/EVR but BAML recruits at Georgetown which is ranked 24.   

Not really, target schools have separate recruiting pipelines and intakes. The MBA program is not a target school, which was also confirmed by some of the bankers at BAML I spoke to. The undergrad program is. We have 2 folks who received an internship offer this year from BAML as far as I know.

 

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