Advise For A Non-Target School Student

Hello everyone, 

I am a 4th semester sophomore at a public state school of around 8,000 students. I currently have a 4.0 GPA and am triple majoring in Finance, Accounting, and Personal Financial Planning. I am very involved on campus as I am part of the honors program, president of 2 clubs, co-founded a club, etc. I am a, if not the, top student in the Finance department and College of Business at my University. 

I am interested in a career in IB, and have been worried about getting my foot in the door for a while now. It is far and few between when my University sends a student to Wall Street, and it is usually due to them having connections there before they even attend college. A year before entering college I lost my parents, and I have been independent in every way since then. At the age of 17 I decided I would attend this state school to make college affordable for myself, and I am truly worried about getting my foot in the door as my University is not recognizable by many who don't live within a 60 mile radius of it. 

This summer, I have an internship in audit with a small accounting firm. I interviewed with a few other firms, one of them being for an IB internship at a small sized firm. I made it to the final round of the interview and was beat out by a junior from a target school due to him having more experience in the private side of finance. I was devastated, but realized a change had to be made at my University. 

After this, I spent weeks conducting research, planning, speaking with every finance professor, and talking to alumni, and I developed a program to fill the gaps in our curriculum and make our students finance knowledge more well-rounded. This banking program will teach students more about the private side of finance and what opportunities are available in banking, the functions of Investment Banks (M&A, LBO's, DCF's, etc.), and how to prepare for future interviews. While my school already has an invite-only class where they manage a $900k+ portfolio, knowledge in equity research and the public markets is nowhere near enough of a background to put out students on Wall Street. With this being the basis of my business plan and proposal, and having the backing of professors and alumni, my idea was approved for funding to launch this program in the Fall and use WSO courses to better prepare our students for their future interviews with Investment Banks. 

Although I don't go to a target school, I truly am trying my best to put myself in a position to succeed and gain as much experience as possible over these next 2 years to set myself up for a successful career. Even with all I have done so far though, I still am not satisfied and don't feel like it is enough to compete with those of a target school, and that my resume will get thrown away as soon as they see the University I attended. 

I would really appreciate any advise you would have for someone in my shoes who is an "underdog" due to the University I attend, and what you think I could do to really stand out and land interviews in the future. I plan on taking the CFA post-graduation, but have also considered getting an MBA from a more established school with a well known finance program. 

I have attached my resume to this post, keep in mind it needs three minor tweaks that are:

  • I will be the president of the Financial Management Association starting this fall and no longer VP 

  • I need to add "incoming intern" for my internship this summer

  • I need to add a section about the program I developed at the University

Again, any advise helps, and I want nothing more than to have a career in IB

Thank you so much for reading, have a great weekend everybody! Resume

Comments (3)

Most Helpful
Mar 26, 2022 - 4:02pm
WooBaccBaby, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I go to a small extreme non-target school that sends 0 people per year to front office finance. Big 4 accounting and wealth management are considered the top tier exits from my school. Total of 2 alumni are now MDs at lower tier banks (think Mizuho/Nomura/HSBC/RBC) Just went through the IB recruiting cycle last summer and signed a BB SA NYC offer for this summer. This is the blueprint:

  1. get an IB/PE internship from any small regional boutique shops this summer. sophomore summer finance internship on resume is the key. dont feel entitled to compensation.
  1. send hundreds of customized cold emails to all An1-MD at every single BB/EB/MM in the meantime. ur gonna need to buy LinkedIn premium. send follow up emails to every email that does not garner a response on the first try one/two weeks after. Prioritize MDs because their support more often than not tremendously outweighs the analyst in terms of referrals/notes to HR.
  1. whoever you get on the phone with, ask questions that show intrigue in the person on the other line. people like to talk about themselves. but most importantly, ask them to connect you with one of their colleagues. build out your network at each of the firms this way.
  1. gauge each firm's recruiting timeline and stay on top of deadlines. the online application will get you nowhere on its own but can singlehandedly ding you off rip if not done properly.
  1. if you did number 4 youll know when each firm's interview process is about to kick off. few weeks before the interview process is set to kick off, reach back out to every person you got on the phone with and express continued interest in taking part in the firm's recruiting process.

all of this is just to get your foot in the door into a first round interview. from there its up to you to execute.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Mar 26, 2022 - 7:01pm

excellent post. i must add that OP's resume is not up to standards and (imho as a SA) would get dinged. so much white space and emptiness. poor formatting. descriptions are surface level and are horribly formatted in terms of spacing and length needed.  just not up to the quality of individual OP describes him/herself as in the posts' description. WSO, many university career sites, and even some LinkedIn hardo's have excellent templates to model off of. OP – work on the resume ASAP.

Mar 29, 2022 - 9:04am
Big Banker Brand, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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