Chances of breaking into IB from VERY non-target university in Aus?

About to start studying a Bachelor of Business (major in Finance, considering double major in accountancy as well) at a VERY non-target university (UOW)

The reason for this is that I didn't put enough effort into high school to get in anywhere better, and my position at the high school I went to pretty much guaranteed my entry into university, meaning I just cruised the whole way through without really thinking about it.

Now thinking about how this will affect my career prospects of breaking into investment banking in either M&A or ER.
My odds of breaking into a BB firm from this school are slim to none, I can see this through searching through hundreds of LinkedIn profiles and having a very small percentage of graduates working or having worked at IBs.
This also suggests that networking opportunities here aren't exactly ideal.

My question is, is there anything I can do to make myself more attractive and have a chance of getting recruited into IB?
Considering pursuing a master's at USYD or UNSW after finishing undergrad to bolster my resume and make myself more attractive...
Will this be necessary? What should I do at my current school to boost my chances (obviously get high grades, I'm going to be aiming for HD in all my classes)

Thoughts? Any experiences from anyone in a similar position?
Thanks in advance.

Comments (32)

Nov 16, 2022 - 1:14am
cwcaj, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Current sophomore at an absolute non-target in the US here. Not sure if you meant recruiting for the states/UK, and I'm not sure about the legal aspects of working in either. First enjoy your time before university begins, won't get another break like it again. But when it comes to recruitment aspect outside of the legal part, networking is going to be key. As you mentioned it's tough having a weak/no alumni base in banking. I've found that reaching out to people however you found their page is key, worst case scenario you reach out and they never respond/say no for any sort of call. In your Case I would recommend reaching out to people who went through a similar process where you would like to recruit for. (Out of country to wherever the bank is)

Nov 16, 2022 - 3:09am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry, should have specified. 
Looking to recruit in Australia (Sydney is where most of our financial things are based) and then potentially transfer overseas if the opportunity arises.

Networking here looks poor for sure, it will be tough. I'll start cold reaching out to people and see where it takes me (when I start studying or a bit further through my degree)

I have a few people I know personally that work in IB, but them being associates probably won't be the best for recruitment as I assume that VP+ is most effective.

Thanks for the advice.

Lukewarm IQ individual.
  • 1
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 16, 2022 - 7:19am

influence of network in Aus is nowhere near as important as US for recruiting - Id say its rather helpful for having something to speak to in interviews for why IB / this bank

I'd recommend reaching out to people on LinkedIn, targeting analysts/associates in Syd that attended Uni's in Perth, Adelaide, Bris, etc - these are the people that would have gone through a similar experience to you and are most likely to respond 

Nov 16, 2022 - 1:44am
Eventful, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Assuming you are still in your first year? You could look to transfer to a target GO8 Uni. If not try and get the highest WAM possible (try and dux) and go hard on getting internship experience anywhere you can (e.g. no-name boutiques, big 4 etc). At this point you can do masters at a target, try and dux again and you'll be in with a shot for BBs. This process is highly necessary because there are so many target applying with multiple internships, very high grades, etc. Unless they changed it you cannot even do the UBS Investment Banking Challenge from a non-target for example.

Nov 16, 2022 - 3:14am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not started the first year yet, will start in February / March.

Definitely going hard in the paint in terms of WAM and grades; I think I can do pretty well considering my academic background and the fact that UOW is not exactly renowned for academic achievement or very "sweaty" students per se. 

Going to be pursuing internships pretty aggressively. I have a friend who interned at NAB and got into ER at BNP straight out of uni (ANU)
Transferring to a GO8 may be an option, but I haven't looked into that yet. UOW seems the best for me because anything else is pretty much a 2-hour commute each way, and moving isn't an option I'd like to pursue. The master's route is more what I'm leaning towards.

Yeah, 100% understandable. The reason why they don't recruit at UOW is, why would they? Sure there might be capable people here, but there's enough people that can do the job coming out of GO8 unis that they don't need to bother. That's why I'll need to work harder to stand out.

Cheers for the message

Lukewarm IQ individual.
  • 2
Nov 16, 2022 - 4:27am
BeveragedFinance, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What even is ER at BNP…?

Really not a well established research desk in Aus. Is it credit research?

Just grind for BIG4 M&A or big4 bank insto banking and then change to IB like 2 years post graduation. Pretty easy

Nov 16, 2022 - 6:12am
KangaRainmaker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At a US bank.

Transfer as soon as feasibly possible. 80% of Sydney recruiting is done from UNSW (has the co-op program too) / USyd (generally accepted as top target).

Check who/where UoW has placed in Sydney and speak to them, but cannot emphasise the first point enough

Nov 16, 2022 - 11:08pm
Izerrr91, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bro you are literally fine. Just aim for HD minimum for at least 1st year then transfer to UNSW/USYD. 

Outside of that, you can stay at UOW and maintain a high average (min 80+) and get some work exp in the big 4 corporate finance teams then lateral over. But I would encourage you to aim for HD and transfer out of UOW after 1 year. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Nov 16, 2022 - 6:34am

Hi mate,I went to a non-G08 school to do my bachelors (double major in accounting and finance also) and am now working as an analyst in a well respected boutique IB in Sydney.My advice would be if you can transfer to Usyd or UNSW after the first or second semester I would as unfortunately UOW doesn't really have a presence. If this isn't possible, I would just do Big4 corporate finance or similar for 12-18 months following graduation and then transfer into IB (this is what I did and is very common in Aus) note that these roles are extremely competitive in Australia as well so on top of good grades you'll need accounting/finance internships at Big4 firms to secure a graduate position.Good luck 👍

Nov 16, 2022 - 6:38am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey mate, 

Congrats on the achievements and love the username hahaha

Now that so many people have said this, I will definitely look into transferring. Seems to be the best bet. I knew that UOW didn't really have a presence but I never really imagined that it would be this dire lol. Probably still wouldn't stand much of a chance even if I dux all of my classes (or would I, I don't know)

How was the BIG4 recruiting process? What kind of role did you do, and how was it trying to get into IB from there? I'm honestly not tooooo fussed about getting into IB straight out of uni, I could cope with doing that for a year or two easy if it makes my life NOW significantly easier. If transferring is still the net better option though, I guess I'll have to go with that.

Can probably manage to get the good grades as mentioned, I'm a half decent student and a pretty average university, can't imagine it would be exceedingly difficult but I guess we'll see. 

Going to gun for maximum internships. Also thinking about doing a semester at a target or semi-target in the US on exchange like UMass, UNC or Emory. 

I guess we'll see.

Lukewarm IQ individual.
  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Nov 16, 2022 - 6:59am

Hiring process is very competitive as it's pretty much used by most to lateral into IB (or try to). I worked in corporate finance valuations, essentially valuing companies for IERs or PPAs when they went through M&A processes. Not very exciting but you learn valuation and basic modelling as well as rational behind M&A. The main issue is the comp. Living in a city like Sydney where cost of living is so high on a graduate salary from a Big4 or similar could almost be considered a breach of the Geneva Convention. Regardless, it's a tried and true pathway into IB and also a great brand on the resume.

Nov 18, 2022 - 3:49am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Interesting. I'm looking into it

Lukewarm IQ individual.
Most Helpful
Nov 17, 2022 - 11:33am
jackwestjr, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A few points I would make as a US-based Australian:

  1. Hiring in Australia is less formal and less structured than in the US. MBAs are largely (but not entirely) irrelevant. Graduate Programs are not the make or break in Australia that they are in the US. I graduated from a 2nd tier Australian University and had quite a few friends that lateralled into larger banks from Big 4 Accounting/TAS and/or smaller Boutiques a few years outside of Uni. 
  2. Pedigree matters to an extent, but experience matters far more. Americans are obsessed with where you went to college and attending a 3rd/4th/5th tier college can absolutely hinder your prospects. With that said, it generally isn't much of an issue in Australia. Experience is generally far more important than where you went to university (although grades matter a lot). With this said, UOW generally has a pretty solid reputation as far as I know? I don't think it's a huge issue. 

If you really want to be in IB, I wouldn't worry too much. Just make sure you get really good grades and do whatever you have to do to get into a bank and/or a firm that gives you relevant experience when you graduate. If you can get internships, all the better. 

Nov 18, 2022 - 3:56am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very helpful and insightful, thanks. 

I'm not super concerned about being one of those that get into IB right out of university. I feel like that would eat away a lot of my earlier-ish years that I could have enjoyed more if I were to take a couple of years to "ease myself in" to the workforce per se, and not jump right into the deep end of the massive commitment that I know IB is (long hours etc.) 

I knew that university standing wasn't AS MUCH of an issue as it is in the States, where going to a "non-target" will be a significant hindering factor in your ability to find placement in internships and then eventually in a full-time role in a lot of IB firms. That being said, UOW is a solid school, and it is respected as giving a good education, but it just doesn't have that "prestige" that comes with attending or graduating with a GO8 degree from the likes of, say UNSW or USYD. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but it's a factor nonetheless.

I'll be making sure to keep my grades as high as possible regardless of what school I attend and whether or not I end up transferring. Hopefully, I will land a few different internships at either BIG4 or accounting firms that can help build up my resume. Lateralling seems to be a pretty tried and true method in Australia so I don't see why, with a bit of hard work, I couldn't achieve the same or better in my career than many others that went to GO8 unis (besides, it'll be easier to rank first in subjects here LOL)

Cheers again for the message

Lukewarm IQ individual.
  • 2
Nov 19, 2022 - 9:40am
sydlasagne, what's your opinion? Comment below:

UPDATED - I was trigger happy on the post button, oops.

It's in your best interest to transfer to UNSW/USyd, not just because they're targets - more on this later. BG: STEM undergrad at UNSW (no comm) starting as a SA soon, and PT Uni commute is 1hr 45 min each way (you can get a lot done on the train). I know from friends that you can squeeze commerce classes into 2 days, or 3 if you want more social time on campus. To be blunt, you should just deal with the commute because later on you'll regret rejecting UNSW/USyd because of it.

Aim for HDs at UoW (ideally 90+) because you'll need it either way to make your life easier. Additionally, UNSW/USyd commerce assessments are harder than elsewhere (friends compared theirs to MQU/UTS/UoW/WSU), so you'll be well-positioned to DN/HD at UNSW/USyd by working hard from the outset. From speaking to BB/IB HR at events, they want HD WAM (85+) from straight commerce students (can't confirm if true or scare tactic). If you decide to transfer, you will almost certainly receive credit toward your degree program at UNSW/USyd for the courses you completed at UoW, so it won't be back to square 1.

TIP: IB loves STEM from my experience, so if you do Commerce/Science (with a mathsy science major), it's 1 year longer, but you'll have 2 opportunities to apply for SA jobs (2nd and 3rd year), and it sets you apart from the 1000s of applicants with "B. Commerce (Accounting and Finance)".

Regarding 2 more years (master's) at Uni: I thought I wouldn't make IB without adding commerce to my degree (+2y), but was told by many that 2 yrs in Big 4 would be infinitely more valuable. I know this may seem to contradict what I said above re: comm/science, but a master's for you wouldn't be worth it just for Go8. Ultimately, relevant professional experience is king, though networking is invaluable and can play an integral part in your success too.

Finally, about why it's in your best interests to transfer, it has a lot to do with the exposure you receive and the Uni experience. In NSW, only UNSW and USyd have FMAA societies (look up FMAA and go through past events), which was instrumental to me landing my SA role, thanks to an FMAA-exclusive event during which I tried to make a good impression. Fortunately I did, and it was brought up throughout the interview process. FMAA also have guides and newsletters that handily show you networking events that are coming up (not all of them though, you need to look too). It is also worth mentioning that some IBs will only hold networking events for USyd and UNSW students, and this makes sense considering the origin of most Sydney IB Juniors' degrees. Additionally, no other Unis in NSW have Clubs & Societies systems that are as generously supported, varied (gaming/politics/cars/sports/professional/faculty-specific/cultural/food/drink/etc.), and active as those at UNSW and USyd. It reads like an ad, but I promise it's not, and I was not part of the FMAA team either, just sharing my experience as someone who found out they wanted to do IB 2 years into the wrong (technically) degree.

At the end of the day, you've not even started uni yet and you're thinking about how you're going to get into IB, which puts you ahead of 99% of your competition if I had to guess. You'll get there, it's a matter of when not if!

Nov 20, 2022 - 8:30am
OneHecticTurtle, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Lukewarm IQ individual.
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