My Experience Recruiting as an Undergrad for Everything vs WSO Wisdom

This is kind of a rant and is prolly not very coherent but throughout my time recruiting in college (so far as a junior for SA) at a an ivy (not hyp) I found several things that were kind of contrary to wso wisdom. Here are some things I found out after junior year recruiting as a STEM international student and with literally 0 networking just applying on school job portals. I had like two dozen or more interviews from hfs to mbbs. 

1. It's Oftentimes Easier to Get Interviews From Top Buyside (HF/VC/PE) Versus IB if You Are a Good Candidate on Paper.

I got interviews from hfs like citadel/balyasny/millenium and great LO managers like think  Artisan/select equity group or whatever for both quant and fundamental roles with no networking. I also got interviews from top PE and VC like sixth street and lead edge. My hit rate at buyside was extremely high despite having 0 interest or prior experience in IB as a college junior/sophomore.I also got interviews at mbb with no networking at all and no consulting club experience literally just applying online through handshake while i didn't even get an interview at Mizuho through OCR(lol). 

On the other hand I never networked so never got many interviews from bbs or ebs. Got interviews from like mms like Macquarie lol. So i think ppl's conception of how difficult getting an interview for various kinds of jobs is kind of out of wack as it is very random. And this experience makes me highly question the value of IB if somebody like me is already getting interviews from top buyside/ quant/fundamental or otherwise. I just think you do not need to do IB at all if you know what you are talking about and is a strong candidate.

2. Firms Prioritize Very Different Things in Hiring.

I strongly feel that the blue-chip consulting/banks strongly emphasize your ability to schmooze/ work with ppl whereas some firms like citadel only cares about your ability to do math/stat fast.Srsly, you can not overstate how little of an overlap the type of ppl these firms are looking for even if they are in the same industry (trading). The difficulty of quant/trading/hf/buyside recruiting is way overstated and I know many ppl who couldn't get SA positions anywhere else FOR SEVERAL MONTHS get citadel trading/research roles (most likely cus not fitting the BB WASP profile or eq or soft skill or whatever). 

3. OCR at Target Is Very Useless

The firms that interview on campus nowadays are not the firms that you want to work for. I don't really on want to go into this. OCR is way way way overhyped. Lol firms that hire for ocr with this accelerated cycle is like fukin cornerstone research, capital one or some shit. 

4. Careers/Banks That Are Shat on This Forum Can Be Very Compelling for Certain Types of Ppl.

I ended up doing S&T over a top consulting offer cus I'm not afraid of automation mother fckers. I think if you have concrete CS/ quant skills just move somewhere else. Moreover, trading may not be growing at banks but they are growing somewhere else in crypto and whatever. and if you look at most of the ppl who are in crypto trading rn. 90% of them were fx, rates or whatever traders at IBs. What i'm saying is nothing is as black and white as anyone says. There are growth opportunities everywhere. I hate ppl that just shit on jobs that they just got. don't be a bitch and talk about how SnT is dying before they even begin. Moreoever, there are smart ppl everywhere on wallstreet. I signed my current offer cus i thought my interviewers treated me with the most respect and were bright and nice ppl. I feel the team matters more than brand tbh. 

5. Having Concrete Skills/knowledge Trump BS and High Gpa Even at a Target

I realized that by studying as much and interdisciplinary stuff as I could across tech/entrepreneurship/econ/watever instead of just one ez Bullshit major made me very attractive to employers in finance. I think this forum plays down too much on the skills you can gain in school in truly technical areas and a wide curriculum liks cs/eng/ entrepreneurship and deriding these things as impractical for higher gpa in softer majors to do well in recruiting. But ppl would be surprised at how few ppl on campus there are that 1. are good at data science/ in demand tech skills 2. have solid business sense 3. are passionate about finance/business 4. don't want to be a data scientists. These ppl are few and far in between in the current world cus it's too hard to fulfill all these criteria. And firms eat it up and pay top dollar. No one cares if you are a at a target with a 3.9 in poli sci. it's bullshit and limiting to only study one thing to game recruiting. And I frankly think it's a waste of time. 

6. Hiring/ Hrs Are Extremely Uncreative/Unimaginative.

I spoke with an alumni who is a head hunter. Bruh literally told me that for me to get a buyside job/interview i needed to be in this group and that group when in reality I had gotten interviews at these places. Just jesus man, careers are 20-30 years long lemme do my thing. At least give some sage advice not some WSO fantasy league table list. 

7. No One Knows (Basically) What They Are Doing and a Whole Universe of Finance Jobs Are Neglected.

Too many ppl sign up for ib not knowing what they are getting themselves into cus 90hrs is a foreign concept if you never experience it urself. My university has the best finance department in the world and fucking no one is going into anything else than IB VC or pe. I have a feeling that despite some ppl going into bbs/eb ib looking accomplished on paper, they are fuckin' sheep and will not be great investors. there should be more ppl looking into EM/Structured credit/fixed income and the other universe of asset classes.

Comments (48)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 14, 2022 - 2:34pm

My hit rate at buyside was extremely high despite having 0 interest or prior experience in IB as a college junior/sophomore.

I also got interviews at mbb with no networking at all and no consulting club experience

 i needed to be in this group and that group when in reality I had gotten interviews at these places

Do you think this might be due to the abnormally hot job market we had this past year?

Jan 14, 2022 - 3:10pm
chimpnotsimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your school has the best finance department in the world but you're not at Wharton? Don't add up 

Jan 14, 2022 - 3:26pm
rawbeef 69999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How does that not add up? I'm in engineering and arts and science.

Jan 14, 2022 - 9:18pm
DuckFold, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. Having concrete skills/knowledge trump BS and high gpa even at a target 
  1. Hiring/ HRs are extremely uncreative/unimaginative. 
  1. No one knows what they are doing and whole universe of finance jobs are neglected.


What’s past is past and can’t be undone. It has led to the circumstances we now face. All we can do is recognize our circumstances for what they are and make the best decisions we can, “given the givens.” - Howard Marks

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  • Prospect in RE - Comm
Jan 15, 2022 - 3:52pm


  • 2
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 14, 2022 - 10:32pm

wait, so networking is a requirement just to get interviews for BB/EB, even at top targets? I'm a freshman at HYPW with no connections; should i start reaching out to analysts/associates now?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 14, 2022 - 11:38pm

Yes, networking is a requirement. You should probably start summer after freshman year.

Jan 15, 2022 - 7:46am
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"I didn't get any ib interviews through ocr since I did penn engineering and not wharton, hence ib is stupid and for sheep. Also, wharton kids with high gpas are stupid and took easy courses, I have a bad gpa because I took hard courses.

In reality banking is for idiots but I am doing s&t because "I'm not afraid of automation". Even though I didn't get banking interviews, I didn't really want them anyway."

Sounds like you just hate wharton kids. That's a typical feeling when you're in one of the other schools and feel like the university treats you as a second class citizen.

Most Helpful
Jan 15, 2022 - 8:17am
rawbeef 69999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Op here. This is ur takeaway from reading this bruh? My gpa is 3.7+ and i got interviews at hfs like citadel that my wharton friends didnt. Im only pointing out that better finance jobs in the buyside than ib do not have a networking requirement. I dont want to do ib at all. Have a bit of money myself and dont see how it would be worth it. You prolly didnt go to penn but ocr is open to everyone. And the only exclusive ones are for dual degree programs not open to the typical wharton student like for example the healthcare team at eb/bb hiring 1-2 ppl from lsm. Also i appreciate having wharton as part of the university because it opens doors for everyone at penn by pulling certain employers and half my friends are business students. Idk man i feel like you have no idea how target recruiting works. If you did go to penn tho i have to say im ashamed to have u as an alum.

May 25, 2022 - 9:41pm
junius, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why is it surprising that an Engineering background contributed to your being a better fit for HF/ST than IB?

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Jan 16, 2022 - 4:17am

Wharton grad here - really unfortunate if this is actually how you think Penn works lmao. Literally anyone can do OCR and no firm genuinely cares what school you're in as long as you have a decent GPA and/or story. And yea i also felt like OCR at Penn was incredibly unhelpful, I got all my internships through cold emailing/applying and I currently work in IB

Jan 15, 2022 - 2:03pm
richelieusghost, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i'm also a current student and would testify that you're right about OCR, fucking rofl at the cornerstone and capital one name drops

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 15, 2022 - 2:12pm

OP here. lol srsly. On-campus interviews seem to be reserved exclusively for places like cornerstone, deloitte consulting, capital one and some miscellaneous boutique ibs and hfs. I did do ocr with AQR quant research and CITI snt and  IB as well but that's like the only decent ones. One thing to note tho is AQR and citi only interviewed like a dozen ppl on campus. 

  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
Jan 15, 2022 - 2:33pm

Hey dude I think you have some genuine nuggets of truth and genuine stuff in there. But some buy-side firms are even worse with the whole profiling thing.Overall your post isn't gonna be taken as seriously as It should because you ended up in S&T. If you were as smart as you say you are you'd be at a top quant fund or something (is what skeptical people would think).But I'll tell you something though. A decent number of people actually get those interviews because the interviewers aren't stupid- tons of INTELLIGENT people don't interview for IB for obvious reasons. There are smart people everywhere and definitely some who are smarter as engineering students than finance students, so you WANT some of them at your firm long term. However, depending on the place a very small proportion of people are chosen which is why it's competitive. I'm talking like 12 people at a superday for 1-2 spots and the 12 candidates are all top candidates. That's what my experience was like- so just them giving you a shot at a first round doesn't really mean much.The difference between the interview and getting the job is huge. As in, you need to have the skills to land the IB job to get a good amount of buyside jobs (interview well and be polished, soft skills, etc). This Is my personal experience at top buyside shops as I struck out of several SD's before I finally was successful. They offer first rounds to compelling candidates just like top colleges- the absolute best on paper will get interviews and likely convert if they tick boxes elsewhere, and then a smattering of random people will get invited also.

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  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 15, 2022 - 2:50pm

Thanks, man. Agreed. I wasn't able to convert my hf interviews and actually turned down an interview with citadel  and DE Shaw later after i had signed my snt offer. Also I'm a college junior so tbh i might try to join the buyside for ft. I think buyside interviews are definitely harder than anything else I had done with a heavy emphasis on technicals in terms of stats but also fundamental investment ideas. I think a lot of prospects starting out think that IB is a prerequisite to getting an interview at buyside and I don't think that's the case. I think the solution to not only getting but also converting these interviews means reading and learning more about markets and investing, which can be done anywhere, not just IB. Because not everyone is going to be or wants to be a fundamental public equities/private equity investor and it's not the only place where u can become one either.

There is also an inordinate amount of hate against snt lol. like there are clear advantages of being an sa or a junior snt rotational program at a bank where you get to be exposed to all the research, capital markets and auxiliary resources of a large bank and i think there are reasons why many successful investors, especially global macro or rly any investment style (David tepper, Dan Loeb, Steven cohen, stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros ( way more than i can name), and even some in vc like peter thiel or chamath palihapitiya had worked in SnT. Addressing ur point about why i didn't end up in buyside, in one of my buyside superdays with a super specialized credit fund, I realized that at 20 years old, this is probably not what i wanted to do with my life man so i just couldn't bring myself to commit to the interview. Like most hfs will not have the name recognition or training experience or network of a well-known bank for a junior. Also, I did not apply to any quant trading firms like imc,optiver, and jane street. TBH i see myself as an average student at least in engineering. 

And part of the takeaway from my experience is that high grades are not enough, in rly rly technical interviews you fundamentally need to know stats and market knowledge  well. You can't bs out of all the situations. 

I think there's way too heavy of an emphasis on "making it" on junior year recruiting with top funds/banks and it's myopic. Although i do think getting into front office finance is important. Ppl fail to account for being pigeonholed in their first job on the buyside doing only for example credit research or playing earnings and not being exposed to all the asset classes and building their career from there. They also underestimate the extremely high churn of high finance. Ppl don't even want to stay in jobs more than 2 years. If brands rly mattered this much, then i guess you are only as good as the last bank or fund you worked at. That's a very depressing way to spend 40 yrs of your working life. Worst yet. What if you start at goldman as an analyst/summer analyst and that's the peak" prestigious firm" you worked at your entire life lol as they move down market every few years or join a LMM/MM fund no one has heard of. I see that a lot on LinkedIn. Are these ppl ruined? No. They found somewhere else that fit their lifestyle/culture. 

ppl on this forum would prolly say I'm dumb or sth but i prefer to play the long game and do things my own pace. If there's anything i learned from talking to all these ppl/places through interviews is that i should optimize for a mentor/work environment/learning and most important longevity in this field because at least now I rly do love it. I believe I can only make significant wealth if i can stay in the industry for decade and compound knowledge and not just a few years as a burnt out analyst who has to leave for wlb. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 15, 2022 - 4:21pm

My experience at my Ivy (2nd tier after HW in that Y/P/C/D/P range and above B/C). 3.5 GPA, walk-on athlete, Economics, white male, etc

1. Agreed. Whenever I applied to Citadel, DES, SIG, Bain, Audax, etc, I genuinely had a 99% chance of at least a first round. Had a 80% hit rate for BBs/MMs and about 50% for boutiques. About 33% for MBB and 70% for T2 consulting like EYP and OW.

2. Also agreed, but as long as you have a solid GPA and a solid major at a target, you're more likely than not to at least get a look. Up to you from there to convert/mold your profile.

3. I actually disagree with this. We had some specific processes / programs with firms like BX, APO, PJT, MoCo, etc through OCR with only our school or a small handful of schools. That being said, it's the alumni network that helped the most coming from a target.

4. Agreed. Prospects need to learn not everything is black or white.

5. Yup. I obviously was not in Phi Beta Kappa or what have you, but being able to talk about my interest, work experience, etc made the biggest difference.

6/7. (You skipped 7.) Yup. That being said, from an HR perspective, why would they stick their necks out for a non-target when they would get absolved of any blame if a target student flamed out?

7/8. Yup. It's the blind leading the blind on this forum. Also, since you came from Penn, were you still able to take Wharton classes and use their resources?

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 15, 2022 - 4:28pm

Thanks dude. Yeah anyone can take Wharton courses but you can't take too many cus they don't really count for graduation requirements. For mba courses u need a permit. Maybe should have gone a bit more nuanced with the ocr point but obviously we have all the banks doing info sessions but it's not a formal like on campus interview organized through the school. This might be due to COVID tho. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 15, 2022 - 6:50pm

really good read. agree with you that S&T gets way too much shit on this forum. It's a really good job straight out of undergrad. Most people on this site pigeonhole themselves into IB or nothing and it's pretty toxic IMO. 

  • Intern in PE - Other
Jan 16, 2022 - 1:10pm

Great thread. It's nice to have a direct perspective of someone who went through the process recently instead of an echo chamber of people repeating the same advice they heard from someone else.

Like you I'm not interested in IB, and I'll try to land something in AM/ST/Strategy/Corp Dev, so really helpful to hear about your experience.

Jan 16, 2022 - 1:12pm
Peaky_Blinders, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I concur with most of this post because I went to a target as well and my experience is very similar.

1. Totally agree. I did an internship at a no-name LMM PE firm and suddenly got interviews from Carlyle, KKR, and Ares, just by applying on Handshake. No networking at all. I also found a lot of success recruiting for VC. Banking on the other hand was a complete shitshow. I don't know whether it was because my resume was very buyside heavy or something else, but I really struggled to get looks from BB/EBs

2. I found blue-chip consulting/banks to be very cookie-cutter in their interviews. Basically, if you memorize the guides, you should be good. Whereas with buyside firms, they tend to be more unexpected, such as brainteasers. If you're someone who thinks fast on their feet and can improvise on the fly, you'll excel in buyside recruiting. On the other hand, if you enjoy meticulously preparing and have a great memory, you'll excel at sell-side recruiting. 

3. This is the best point in the whole post. OCR has to be one of the most overrated things talked about on this forum. Nowadays, recruiting is so accelerated that by the time OCR is available, most processes have long started with some already finished. This leaves the firms that most people at a target school aren't interested in. The vast majority of my classmates got internships/offers through clubs and connections (whether personal or networking). I'm not even sure what target schools can do about the situation, but I don't see OCR ever being as important as it used to be in the past. 

4. Agree again. Not everyone is obsessed with exit opps. If you're not, then choosing a bank that has a good work culture and pleasant coworkers over prestige and rankings is completely sensible. Contrary to popular belief, some people want to be lifetime bankers, not spend two years in abject misery and then bounce. 

5. This is the one point that I would slightly disagree with. Once your GPA is past the cutoff, then it's not really important. However, I would say that connections trump concrete skills/knowledge for certain firms and industries. You'll be surprised by the number of morons who break into elite fields. I would say in terms of ranking from most important to least: network, skills, GPA (assuming that it's over the cutoff point). 

6. No argument here. Recruiters and HR are absolutely useless. If you want to almost guarantee an offer from any firm, you'll have to network your way in, regardless of credentials. Solely relying on headhunters isn't wise. 

7. I always felt like this stems from fear. IB/consulting are relatively safe, well-trodden paths. Yes, the work itself may suck balls, but there are low risks involved. Working at a fintech startup is exciting, but there's a chance that it might blow up. I understand the risk-averse mindset, but if you truly want to be successful, at some point, you'll have to veer off the path and take a shot in the dark. Otherwise, you're ceiling is limited. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 16, 2022 - 1:20pm

honest question, do people actually like going to penn? the alum network is insane, opportunities and name brand are top notch, but I couldn't imagine anyone at my UG who thought like this. Not to say OP is wrong - they definitely aren't - but my friends and I just spent our time getting drunk 

the pressure on you penn kids must be insane

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 16, 2022 - 2:34pm

I'm kinda ambivalent abt my experience at penn. It opens a lot of doors obviously but it's not a particularily enjoyable undergrad experience cus philly sux and ppl all want the same thing. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 16, 2022 - 9:07pm

Philly sucks? I thought going to school there would be awesome. you have Drexel and temple girls around you + can go to Sixers games + can explore philly

maybe the grass is always greener, I went to school in bumfuck

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Jan 16, 2022 - 6:58pm

You studied a technical major and got interviews at top quant / hedge funds and consulting firms. That's absolutely not out of the ordinary - there are far fewer technical majors applying to business roles than business majors. Quant firms / hedge funds and consulting firms also know that networking is almost non-existent in tech so they don't expect that. 

It sounds like your experience mostly only applies to people with technical majors. You said you didn't get interviews at BB/EBs - that's because your technical skillset didn't mean much to them like it did to consulting and buy-side firms. So I don't think chalking things up to buy-side / consulting roles being better and more realistic to land makes sense here.

  • Prospect in S&T - Other
Jan 16, 2022 - 7:24pm

Good points. I should not say that ib is not as desirable. I think that being a senior in banking is prolly one of the better jobs in finance but to get there it's rly quite bad.

Jan 20, 2022 - 5:13pm
wsobets112, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Top quant shops like AQR or 2sigma divide employees/recruits into 'front office' and 'back office' roles, and PHDs dominate front office recruits. No undergrad 'breezes' through investment-research or portfolio-construction processes at 'top quant shops', which have 'front offices' dominated by PHDs. Business development or investor relations work is not considered 'front office.'

Jan 17, 2022 - 3:00pm
ninjiompeipakoa, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey OP, definitely agree with your points. S&T is so underrated in this forum. I'm going to S&T as well (Structuring FT return offer) and my team told me that the job will be a solid 8-8 and we'll be earning the same salary as those overhyped IBD kids. Glad to connect more with you (I'm from a lower target and would be happy to share perspectives).

For all the monkeys out there, S&T won't be dead. New crypto desks will open up. HFT and more electronic desk will expand, especially on the equity and FX side. S&T is way less demanded than IBD so recruiting wise you'll have a higher chance.

  • Prospect in CorpFin
Jan 20, 2022 - 10:53pm

lol I knew you are from Penn from the first sentence of the paragraph. Agree that OCR is not that helpful. People find opportunities more often through upperclassmen or clubs. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jan 20, 2022 - 11:13pm

IB recruiting is indeed stupid and cookie-cutter due to volume + overburdened interviewers. But they prioritize networking / soft skills because they DO matter (and the 'technical' aspect is pretty light) in the industry. So your getting buyside, quant, etc. looks isn't really an indictment of banking, even though those opps are a bit more in-demand in aggregate - you simply didn't give them a chance to assess a key trait, so they cut bait. 

  • Analyst 1 in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 31, 2022 - 11:24pm

This is a pretty accurate post - I'm not at an ivy but a semi-target, and can echo the sentiment expressed here.

1: Totally true - got more first round interviews from places like GSO, Accel, Bain Cap, Citadel, P72 and Abdiel compared to EBs/BBs. Did resume drop MBBs and got first round interviews at the two I applied to and one final round interview (but they took the people who networked the hardest).

2: Agree. Most people who are going into IB would not be a great cultural fit for an investment role. Somewhat tired of the schmooze-y culture at this point.

3: Also agree - although it was different before COVID apparently.

4: I also agree - trading exotic products at a BB is a career that should be considered by more people. I also wish that I recruited at more LOs, I feel like that option wasn't really encouraged at my school. Very much banking or bust, and now I am essentially the only one going to an asset manager.

5: Somewhat agree, may be different at semi target vs target.

6: I agree lol.

7: Also wholeheartedly agree, even the biggest finance hardos I talk with don't know wth they are doing.

Feb 3, 2022 - 2:17am
housespring9, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Mar 8, 2022 - 11:27am
pparkes111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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