Help A High Schooler

Hey guys, I am a senior in high school who has been admitted to Stern '26. I am dead set on attending Stern because of the IB placement numbers on peakframeworks. Not to mention after the large amount of scholarship money I got, it's dirt cheap compared to my state school. I saw the past advice given to seniors about relaxing. I understand, but I have too much free time in my hands even after messing around with my friends, so I decided to scout out my action plan for the next few months and freshman year. I will list it out below, and I would love any insight from anyone. All input is welcomed! For context, I am looking to break into IB in the future.

1) Watch all the WSO Monkey to Millions series - I watched a good bit already. I learned some cool tricks to connect on Linkedin, and I have mainly watched the ones of Grace since she was a freshman.

2) Connect with alum - I plan on connecting with alum from my school who went to Stern and ask them some general school & career questions.

3) FINRA SIE - I noticed that many BB employees had this certification. Have a set plan to study. However, my father thinks I should push this to later in college, so I am not too sure this will go through.

4) Investment Banking Textbook by Pearl and Rosenbaum - I noticed that many posts referred to using this as a guide for recruiting interviews. I will try reading a chapter per 2 weeks.

5) Finance Internship over summer - I know it's impossible, but I will try to get an internship at my local firms. They definitely won't give an analyst internship, so I will see what others they are willing to offer.

7) Bloomberg Markets Certifications - I noticed this certification as well. I plan on doing this over the summer. It will be free for me with the NYU login.

6) Excel - I noticed the importance of this as well. I am currently doing a specialization on business excel in Coursera. Once that is done, I will probably purchase the WSO excel course on the diff models and whatnot. Finally, I hope to get the excel certification over the summer.

I want to set myself up for an internship sometime during my freshman year. Any help regarding that would also be much appreciated.

Any revisions or any other things I can do?

Grateful High School Kid

Comments (33)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 20, 2022 - 12:08am

1) Idk anything about this so can't comment

2) I mean I guess connecting with current students from your HS is fine, but I wouldn't contact anybody in IB until you actually start college/

3) Nobody gives a shit if you have FINRA SIE. Actually, you'd look a bit odd if you did. People would think you're a total hardo.

4) Lol assuming you don't actually have ANY finance background, like most high schoolers, you should probably study some accounting first. Just learn about the 3 statements and how they all think together. You should do that before reading R&B. 

5) While I think you should just relax your last summer of high school, it would actually put you in a really good position to have any finance related internship this summer. I wouldn't say its *impossible* to get an internship at a local investment bank. Just be open about the fact you don't have financial skills. Many, many IB internships pre the one that matters won't have you touch a live model with any significance. Any place would love a kid proofreading pitch decks for free. 

6) For now, just learning basic functions and formatting skills is fine. It's better to learn more advanced stuff when you actually understand what you'll be using it for. A certification would be good for you educationally. I kinda wish I took my high schools MS Office course. I laughed it off at the time, but it would have helped, especially for PPT. You can learn PPT more effectively rn than excel. 

7) Bloomberg Cert: this is actually a decent tool to learn early on. If your school pays, go for it, but learn basic accounting first. The 3 statements are the backbone of all things corporate finance

The best thing you can do is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. One very important skill you need in college is knowing how to prioritize which includes knowing when it's too early for somethings and that other things are totally unnecessary. The period after deciding on a college and waiting for it to start is the most relaxed I can remember myself being since school became important. You will not have a period of 6-7 months where absolutely fuck all matters again for a very, very long time. 

Jan 20, 2022 - 11:41am
PlzGiveInternship, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks a lot! I am going to use that advice. I do have a bit of financial knowledge. My high school has this program where we can take some courses in college while in high school, so I took some beginner to advanced level accounting courses at GSU and my high school. I will contact local shops about proofreading pitch decks as you suggested, and I will try to see if they let me peek at a few models.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 20, 2022 - 11:56am

I wouldn't explicitly say something like "hey can I proofread…." Just say you'd like to gain some initial exposure to the industry blah blah" They know what you'd be useful for. 

also don't say anything about working for free. It's just kinda implied. If they offer you money, then great. 

Jan 20, 2022 - 1:51pm
maestro_, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Take an accounting course before reading Rosenbaum as it is pretty inaccessible without baseline info. You could take a summer accounting course before school starts, or just take it your first year. 

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2022 - 3:25pm

You need to relax on the investment banking focus and go more broadly in terms of learning what industry makes the most sense for you and understanding people broadly here's why:

  • The reason most people don't move on in banking interview processes is because it's obvious they don't really have compelling reasons for wanting to do the job. If your reasoning is, "I want to make money" you need to explore other career paths to get an idea for why banking makes the most sense. Read about consulting to understand why IB is actually a better job for you.
  • The next most common reason is the people are weird. These interests make you sound really weird-and that is fine, most bankers are, what isn't fine is not having a normal college experience and interacting and knowing how to behave with different types of people. Ultimately, one of the most critical skills for an investment banker is dealing with people-at the senior level it literally is a sales job, at the junior level, it literally is also a sales job, but instead of clients outside the firm you are selling to your MD's and associates and managing their reactions and behavior. If you come across as odd and don't know how to behave with athletes, frat stars, women, music kids, and more, you are going to struggle in interviews because people won't like you.
  • On taking certifications and specifically the SIE, it makes 0 sense and might be a negative. I have used this analogy before, but the SIE exam is a regulatory exam taken for people that will operate in the industry. Taking it before securing a job is stupid for 2 reasons: 1) generally a firm will pay for you to take it, so you are paying out of pocket unnecessarily. They also will provide materials for you during training, so you are throwing away potentially ~$500 irrationally which shows poor judgement 2) you can't use the certification because you don't have a job in the industry yet. It would be like taking your drivers license test at 12. People would be like, "great that you did that maybe, but why? Seems pretty silly…"

My advice to you: 

  1. you need to understand people so try and join clubs and developers hobbies outside of just finance. The best candidates in IB are always the ones that have some other unique element to their life that makes people interested in them. There are hundreds of kids that I personally have gotten emails from that have great act/sats, grades, and finance clubs. The ones that stick out are the ones that have things like, "created a software for helping blind people that generates 50k or rev a year" or "nationally ranked ping pong player". Or even, "plays on a rock band" 
  2. Read books on famous individuals in finance. Ignore banking. Think of interesting people to learn about: Warren Buffet, Ray Dalio, Jamie Dimon, etc. If you want, read some books about life as a consultant, or investment banker, or private equity investor etc. From there you should make a more informed decision. 
  3. If you really want to learn hard skills: focus on learning the fundamentals of accounting. Look up books on the financial statements-this will apply for almost any job you do, so it can be helpful to learn. Coding also is an unbelievably helpful skill no matter the field.
  4. Call professionals not asking them for a job, but to explain their career path and why they made the decisions they did. Don't state, "I want to be an investment banker" instead say you want to learn more about the career path and how it compares to others. Also, be aware for some of these calls you may only get 1 shot. Calling a very busy investment banker and acting immature might hurt you if you actually try to recruit 2 years later. 
Jan 20, 2022 - 4:02pm
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is all great advice - I'll add on to the non finance parts:

If you aren't currently lifting weights, start. You are filled with testosterone and have little to no responsibility- get fucking YOKED bro.

College will be fun - drink alcohol, try drugs if you want but be smart. Drugs and alcohol are not good for you, but damnit they're fun as fuck. I grew up in a sheltered environment and did not party until junior year college because I was an athlete who was 100% determined to go pro. Honestly don't know how I would've reacted as an 18 year old freshman with no responsibilities outside of class.

You got into a great school with scholarship money - this is a great accomplishment, but this is not the end. What you do over the next 4 years will be a strong determinant in how your career begins.

Read books, think about why you exist, and get in shape. You won't have all the answers or an 8-pack of abs overnight. That's ok - when you're older you will realize that the journey is just as, if not even more so, important than the destination.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2022 - 4:13pm

How to Get Girls by Charles Sledge would be a great start! Seriously, chill tf out. $500 on the fact that ur a virgin

Jan 20, 2022 - 5:13pm
PlzGiveInternship, what's your opinion? Comment below:

my bad bruh I didn't know that was a pre req of being 17. I will do better trust

  • 1
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 21, 2022 - 12:43pm

dude ur a senior in HS, Dequavious from ur class probably lost his v card at 13. the fact that ur so offended proves my point. no one wants to employ an antisocial weirdo like u so I'd seriously consider being more social if I were u

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 20, 2022 - 6:07pm

Are you fully committed as in you sent an enrollment deposit and everything?

If you sent some application into the Ivies, why not wait to see if you got into any of those first before 100% committing to this? Going to one of those would set you up better. Based on how prepared you are, I think you'd have a decent shot at going straight to the buy-side instead from an Ivy. Keep that attitude up.

Jan 20, 2022 - 8:36pm
PlzGiveInternship, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ye, I am 100% committed. Initially, I didn't think I had a shot at Wharton so I did ED to Stern. In hindsight, prob should have ED to Wharton and then ED2 to Stern. It is what it is tho. Thanks for the kind words! 

Jan 20, 2022 - 10:04pm
Zenith_0_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Echo learn to code but see if you can get an internship at a local startup. Even if it's just bitch work, you'll learn how companies are built, ez professional references, and you'll be able to interview effectively for the finance clubs in NYU.

Jan 21, 2022 - 10:41am
bobmiller123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Most of the things you need to know/do have been covered already by other comments but I'll add something else.  

Not sure if you want to exit into hedge fund after IB or you are just planning for IB for now and plan to decide later.  Whatever the case, you should start now to build your "investment acumen."   Investment acumen isn't just knowing how to build models but also knowing how to think a bit differently and being able to comprehend your sector well.  So when you do have free time that you otherwise wouldn't have used wisely, read up on sector/industry reports, presentations, earnings call transcripts, etc. 

Also just want to add that don't pigeon hole yourself to the sector you started researching now (for example if you began researching tech industry now don't condition yourself to only analyze tech stocks as you go on in your investment journey).  

The reason I'm suggesting this is because many grads go into IB thinking they will become a top investment analyst on the job but this isn't neccessarily true. Try to "develop" a passion for the markets but if you introspect yourself and find out you're not a huge fan of doing this type of work then that's fine!  

Now I want to be clear that do not go extreme on this as even hedge funds (tradtionally seen as one of the most meritocratic places in "high finance") want an a sharp and chill analyst.  People suggest you to get hobbies outside of finance not just for your mental health but also cuz funds would rather hire people they would like to work with and not just a robot.  

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Jan 21, 2022 - 11:47pm

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