Can a Non Target land a IB SA? With hard work and persistence it definitely is

Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 2/20/14 and ranks #21 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

I just received an IB SA offer this morning from the number 1 firm on my list and I just wanted to share my story on how I got there. I come from an extreme non-target, my school is in the country and I knew that I had absolutely no chance if I applied cold online. I knew that there were schools near me who are target schools. So I searched on every BB firm's website and was able to discover dates that the firms were having information session. I also search these targets schools for the dates of their career fair. By the end of last summer I had a spreadsheet with all the dates of each firms and school specific events.

Sneaking in to the career fairs was not an easy task since you had to provide ID upon your entrance. I noticed as soon as I arrived that the only bathroom in the entire facility was located inside the career fair, so I went to guard and frantically told him I had to use the restroom and I didn't come back out until the career fair was over. I spoke with a variety of firms not just IB to keep my options open. During the fallI was able to land interviews at the following firms: Deloitte, IBM, Union Pacific, Dell, Wells Fargo, PwC, Caterpillar, GE and I was able to make it to the second rounds for the vast majority of these firms, and I ended with 0 offers. My back up plans ended up blowing up in my face, so I only faced a small chance of getting an offer with a BB firm.

My luck changed when I attended information for a top middle market firms. I met a trader, talked to him and made sure to follow up with him. I was able to convince him to do a mock interview with me. He grilled me on the markets, we talked about IPO's, M&A transactions, Fed tapering, debt ceiling and etc… I was able to impress him and he told me that "I never do this, but I will recommend you to our recruiter and a friend of mine at a top BB think BAML/GS/JPM". I followed up and spoke to the recruiters, however he informed that their analyst class is significantly smaller than the BB who are able to bring hundreds during the summer, and that they rarely deviate from the core schools. He informed me that I was behind in the game since he already had people that were reaching out to him since they were freshman/sophomores. Not to mention that my competition were Harvard, Princeton, UPenn , Yale who had 4.0, captain of their rugby teams, interned at a PE shop the year prior. He asked why should they pick you over them. I told him my pitch, and he seemed a little hesitant, and quickly ended the conversation. What I didn't know what that he was previously a head recruiter and former banker for a BB firm. As soon as I got home, I noticed that he had personally recommended me to all the BB, and a few middle market firms, got me an interview with the head of Corporate and Investment Banking at his firm. I was the very first person he interviewed. I made sure to keep in contact with everyone he introduced me to and followed up. I received interview invitations from the top 3 BB firms, got invited to all three superdays , and ended up with one offer.

It was definitely a tough journey and there were times where I thought I wasn't going to make it, but I'm glad I didn't give up. I made a vision board two years ago and the firm that I placed on that vision board is the firm that I ended up getting an offer at. If you haven't I was recommend watching "The Secret".

Along the way I learned a few things:

1. Know your story : I cannot tell you how many times I rehearsed my story. I followed this format: Background, Past experience, why Banking , why you are here today interviewing at the firm, thank you for the opportunity to interview with me. I learned along the way that interviewers want to connect with you, try to make it personal.

2. Know your technicals
Coming from a non target the bar is set even higher. So you gotta know your stuff.

3. Be humble

4. Know the firms recent deals in depth and be able to articulate it
I cannot stress how important it is to know not only what is going in the markets but also what deals the banks are specifically doing. Also, be sure that you have an opinion on the deal, know the markets reactions I used the following site to help me prep.

5. Know everything on your resume - Know every single line, verbatim point blank.

6. The interviewer knows more than you
The interviewer will likely try to trap you, if you do not know anything let them know, and make sure to follow up afterwards You do not want to start rambling on about something you do not know. They smell blood and they will go after you.

7. Even if you don't get an offer from their firm you can still use them as contacts
I made a lot of contacts along the way from a variety of firms. The person who interviewed you had to recommend that you go to their finals rounds, so they must like you. Keep in touch with them, you never what 's going to happen.

8. Stay calm under pressure
The interviewer will likely ask you some obscene question to see how you react under pressure be sure to stay calm and answer the question as clear and concise as you can.

9. Thank everyone along the way
This is key you did not get there by yourself and make sure to thank the people for their time and their decision to help you. They are not obligated to do so.

Here are the resources I used along the way

Very important, know everything in that book -

Wall Street Prep YouTube Channel -0

interviews about what big swinging dick on wall streets about how they made it and what they look for in candidates -

Itunes, corporate finance taught by Asawath Damadaran- This is gold, if you only decide to look at one thing I posted I would recommend this one.

and of course WallStreet Oasis. This website has been a crucial to my current success, especially the interviews questions

Link of everything I used to prepare

Best of luck to everyone still in the recruiting process.

Comments (45)

Feb 20, 2014 - 8:28pm
broadstbully, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story, inspiring. Congrats.


Feb 20, 2014 - 8:43pm
Accrual King, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Respect. The bathroom trick to get into the career fair was awesome. What was your pitch that you gave to the recruiter?

"You lose money chasing women, never lose women chasing money" -Nas
Feb 20, 2014 - 9:02pm
upod01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The recruiters were surprised that I was able to get in since even people who go to the school couldn't get in without their ID's. I was honest up front, and told them I snuck in.

When luck shuts the door you gotta come in through the window - Doyle Brunson
Feb 21, 2014 - 11:03am
upod01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It doesn't matter what my GPA and experiences were. Just use whatever you have to your advantage.

When luck shuts the door you gotta come in through the window - Doyle Brunson
Feb 21, 2014 - 4:09pm
Ataraxy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Having below a 3.6 probably wouldn't have opened as many doors as you had. Yes it doesn't matter in the bigger context of things, but a kid with a 3.2 and 0 experiences doing what you had would probably have a harder time.

Feb 21, 2014 - 6:37am
superhiro, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Awesome post and congrats!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Feb 21, 2014 - 7:43am
Insider Trading, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think this is an amazing post, and certainly it is an inspiration for a fellow non-target such as myself to step up their game.

However, I've inquired about the sneaking into local target school's career fairs/info sessions and got a very mixed response. Some people feel this is rude and disrespectful ie: recruiters who are alum of the school in question. Did you ever have to deal with this personally, and if so, how did you try to get around it? I saw you say that you were honest and upfront about sneaking in. How was this received? Were people more impressed about how badly you wanted it, or did they kind of look down their noses at you for it?

Feb 21, 2014 - 4:18pm
upod01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I didn't receive any negative feedbacks, if anything I stood out and recruiters actually remembered my name.

When luck shuts the door you gotta come in through the window - Doyle Brunson
Feb 22, 2014 - 1:52am
honolulu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

*With hard work and persistence he/she definitely can.
Enjoy banking!

Feb 24, 2014 - 10:44am
Mohi-Entangled, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Persistence and "Make lemonade out of lemon you got from life now and then" , should be the best valued traits some one posses, even you fall short of a bit in other attributes,imo. If I were an employer I would have chosen that over traditional pedigree any time. Congratulation, and keep it up and going..

Thanks for dropbox, that will help many procrastinator !

May 15, 2014 - 12:03pm
VCPEORIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for the tips, helps the rest of us stay focused

It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation. -Gordon Gekko
Jun 24, 2014 - 12:33pm
Clipses, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This post is fantastic. Thank you very much for sharing your story of creativity and perseverance.

"Hope, the quintessential human delusion. Simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness."
Dec 17, 2014 - 9:09pm
spydermonky, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Excellent story. Thanks for the links and dropbox mats!

Dec 18, 2014 - 10:01am
alessioto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fantastic post !!! Very good and thank you for the Dropbox link!!
But the links that you put and the materials in the dropbox are your whole blackground and so all the things that a person needs t break in IB? you work in Europe or Us?

Jan 12, 2015 - 9:46pm
Outlooker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You must be charismatic and have excellent communication skills. Am I wrong? Reading your post you seem to be good at influencing people. Man I wish I had those skills haha

Jan 19, 2015 - 10:50pm
BillieJean, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jul 17, 2015 - 11:10am
Max Heiliger, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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"There's no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can't do business from there." - Colonel Sanders
Jun 22, 2017 - 11:15pm
wso2017, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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