Non-Target, Sub 3.5 GPA. FT BB IBD

This is an absolute must read if you're from a non-target! I will try to detail out as much of my journey as I can. This post is kind of long overdue; however, I feel like it's better late than never. (Even if it's really poorly written.)

I got an email around November of 2010 from JPM Houston's IBD (to my knowledge, this is the only time a bank has ever actively recruited on my campus; OCR is really sub-par due to the program and our location). They were going to be on campus to do an information session about investment banking. My entire background knowledge on banking was confined to, largely incorrect, tidbits I picked up from the original Wall Street movie. I thought it sounded cool and went to the session. The guys blew me away, and I talked to gents afterwards. This is when my journey to banking really began.

The guys and I hit it off pretty well and they helped me get a first round interview even though I had around a 3.2GPA at the time and irrelevant work experience. Long story short, I failed the first round interview miserably. I did so bad that the interview kind of stopped and we talked about what I needed to work on. It was a hefty list. In my Google searches, I eventually stumbled onto this website. I learned a lot about the fit aspects of banking and what goes on here. It isn't a very technical website, but it showed me how to play the game. I did a couple of searches, and it became pretty evident that my interview came from my people skills not my resume. I tried my hand at cold-calling; it was horrible. I didn't know what the hell I was doing, so I dropped my resume online at every bank I could find. No bites. In a total act of randomness, I crossed paths with an executive director at UBS NY, and I'm pretty sure he dug up my resume and had someone give me a first round for a SA position. By this time, I had been reading everything there was to get prepared for technicals and I got my girlfriend to quiz me on all the technical questions. The Pearl and Rosenbaum book, WSO guides, Vault (I wouldn't recommend Vault), finding Associate prep guides on business school (.edu) get the picture. I nailed the first round, was flown to NYC for a SA superday and in my first interview the first question I was asked was "[My school's name] has a business school?..." Followed by, "Oh...why would you go there?..." I felt defeated, and the interview didn't even really start. I navigated the questions and it came down to a person-to-person conversation about why I wouldn't get an offer. I had a good story; people liked it. I taught myself a lot, and it showed how bad I wanted it. But there were kids interviewing with 4.0s from Ivys, etc. I had no relevant experience; I was too late to the game. I made really good contacts that day. Some of my most trusted contacts are still there at UBS, and I talk to them every now and then. I am thankful for that experience because it was very humbling. I realized on the flight back that networking would be the only way I would have a shot to break in.

My networking strategy.
1) I emailed everyone from UBS and asked them for specific feedback. Some gave me generic answers, and some were very straightforward. I scheduled phone calls with the guys who gave generic answers and explained that I won't be upset; I really just needed to know how to improve my chances and strengthen my skills. They eventually came around. I had some work to do. I hit the books again and tried to balance confidence and humbleness.
2) I talked to our schools alumni network/career services. No help.
[I really needed to step things up. I didn't even have connections to connections.]
3) This is where I made a decision to go creeper status. I got on linked in. Typed my schools name in and then tried keywords like "Analyst", "Associate", "Vice President", "Director", "Managing Director", "Investment Banking", "Private Equity", etc.

This generated a lot of good results with names. Some of them showed up as First Name, First Letter of Last Name. With those I typed in FirstName FirstLetterofLastName and the Company Name into google to get their full name. I then typed the full name into LinkedIn to check if it was the correct person. Once I got a full list of every possible contact, I looked up each companies email structure and figured out every contacts email address. The recruiting season was basically over, so I only contacted boutiques. I ended up getting an SA position at a local boutique and got REALLY solid experience on my resume. At first I was upset about the pay to work ratio....but in retrospect this was probably the best internship I could of received. I am very grateful for it. It was a very humbling experience; it taught me how to take a beating on a daily basis. I was happy leaving the office at 7PM on a Saturday. At the end of the day, the internship showed me that I enjoyed the work and that I was capable of it. I slowly added to my list of contacts over the summer to get prepared for my FT email blasts. I spent my free time in the summer trying to find a part-time job to add some much needed finance experience to my resume. I managed to network into a fund with a large AUM and took it.

After my SA stint ended, I headed back to school with a $1,000 bonus check for "outstanding work" at the boutique I worked at. It could of been $5. It meant a lot to get good feedback. At this place, you really only got called into the office if you fucked something up.

School started. I started working at the fund. Life was looking pretttttyyy sweet. I send out around 100 emails to people I thought would email me back. I structured them as follows:

Subject: Current (University) Student

First Name,

I am currently a senior at (university), and I was wondering if you would be open to a brief phone call. I would really appreciate speaking about your current role and experiences in banking. I have attached my resume for your consideration.

My Name

This method had a huge response rate; I would estimate it at around 55% or 60%. I got a couple of NYC superdays, and it was the same old story as before. One alumni flat out asked me, "Why NYC? Why not Houston? It makes so much more sense given your schools rankings and geographic location." Then it hit me. Why NYC? I couldn't stand a lot of the aspects, the tax brackets, etc. I was actually interested in energy banking since that's what my internship was in. I put all my future effort into breaking into energy banking. It was so easy compared to NYC. I instantly gained traction. It felt so right. The deadlines were getting pretty close for a lot of the banks, so I planned random trips to Houston. I called my newly minted contacts and explained that "I was in town and remembered that we had been talking; could you think of an appropriate time when I could swing by the office and meet you face to face?" This led to a lot of good interactions. It counted as some first rounds, and it landed me some superdays. The most exciting aspect of my random Houston trips was sitting in the lobby of a financial building and just trying to get people to hear my story.

After my internship I knew the technical questions. I didn't study them or try to remember the correct answers. They just made sense and flowed pretty well. I think the internship I had was integral to my path working out. I finally got an interview with the BB I was gunning for. Nailed the first round. Got invited for a superday. Loved the culture. It was very collegiate. I told my story, answered the questions and got a lot of good feedback and conversation out of the bankers there then got on a plane to head back to school. I had a missed call and voicemail when I got off the plane. I went to check it. My phone dies. I waited for my ride to get to the airport; I didn't even have battery to let them know I came in early. They got there; we sped to my apartment. I plugged in my phone and listened to the voicemail. They wanted me to call back. I did, and man am I glad that I did. They offered me a FT IBD analyst position! I took a few minutes, accepted and then went out to celebrate. Over the next few days I politely declined other superdays at BBs. It was weird going from fretting about not getting an offer to feeling disgruntled, "Did I make my decision too soon?" Feeling totally unwanted to being "the man". At the end of the day I am very fortunate to receive the offer that I did. I am convinced I made the right choice because at the end of the day...banking is banking. I like the team I'll be working with and the deal flow will keep me learning. I'll try to help out on the board and keep you posted once I start actually working. I hope I don't become jaded.

I know I couldn't of done it without this board; thanks WSO.


Comments (38)

Dec 22, 2011 - 9:19pm
Flake, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're welcome.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
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Best Response
Dec 23, 2011 - 1:20pm
GoW, what's your opinion? Comment below:
You're welcome.

Actually, you're right. Thanks for dealing with my questions and late night "What if..." questions.

So you had two internships? one over the summer and one in the fall during recruiting season?

My position now is really confusing. Not really sure how it's classified. We can call it an internship.

Great story and I can attest to your hard work. You deserve it bud, good luck.

Thanks. We should really catch up.

To everyone else: Thank for the positive feedback, I'll try to comb through my post and update it. I kind of just went at it when I had five minutes. It kind of looks like throw up, imo. If it helps one person, it was worth it. I'll try to answer PMs as I have the time. Keep em coming.

Dec 23, 2011 - 1:18am
rc23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I love it man!! Congrats on the offer, I wish I had an extra silver banana laying around. This is honestly great inspiration for me because I'm in a similar boat I come from a complete non target and I'm starting to look at internships.

Dec 23, 2011 - 5:57am
OSahead, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is AMAZING. Congrats man, these are the kinda stories I love to hear. +1 bro and I wish you all the best with your future endeavors.

Always be improving
Dec 23, 2011 - 1:29pm
Flake, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Haha I was kidding pal. You know me.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
Dec 28, 2011 - 4:26pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Exceptional post and story. It's great hearing that you broke in, it'd be awesome if you stuck around and passed on even more knowledge to us once you start working!

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Mar 5, 2012 - 8:56pm
TexasTim, what's your opinion? Comment below:


There is life and death. I'm going to bust my ass to make an impact 'til the latter comes.
Apr 29, 2013 - 5:09pm
emmie, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story, so I know I still have hope. CONGRATS!!!

Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work. – Jay Z
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May 8, 2013 - 12:53am
Ambani, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Good job, man! Congratulations!

"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."

May 28, 2013 - 11:08am
Ambani, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is a very inspiring story. Thank you for posting this!

"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."

Nov 19, 2013 - 12:17am
PeterMullersKeyboard, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just saw this now. Great story, very encouraging. I love seeing stories like this.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
Sep 1, 2014 - 10:56pm
skw910824, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great story. Very Inspirational. Thank you!

Everyone has a plan until he got punched in the mouth.
Oct 4, 2015 - 5:46pm
CSgtgAdv, what's your opinion? Comment below:

congrats man! you are seriously amazing.

Jan 8, 2016 - 2:34pm
iggs99988, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Are you looking for someone to tell you, "no, there's no point in trying"? Is that really what you want? Or do you want someone to rub your back and tell you it will all be alright. I never understand the point of "is it worth trying" BS. No one gives a sh!t that you messed up or that you're working hard to fix it...make it happen or don't make it happen

Jan 8, 2016 - 2:36pm
Cratorex, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Get your gpa up (and keep raising it through senior year), network as best as you can, and get a good internship. If not IBD, something else in finance.

Then try for FT.

If you cant get IBD even then, get a full time job in a financial role at a well-respected company.

Then kill the GMAT and get into a top MBA program. From there you can break into IBD.

You'll be fine.

Jan 8, 2016 - 2:37pm
wanttobreakin111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Probably no point in trying for IBD, at least not through online applications alone (but maybe if you get connections by networking). But hey, I was in your shoes. I sucked it up and applied to a bunch of shit tier internships and worked unpaid nonlegit bitchwork internships. Now, I've managed to land a boutique spring internship as well as a big 4 valuation internship for next summer just by grinding ass, and should be looking at a 3.5 GPA by this semester's end (I started off with sub 3 a few sems back). Now, things are looking brighter for me, even if I don't make IBD immediately, I have a good shot at post MBA if I keep things up.

Your advantage is time. You realized your fuckedness before you graduated. If you were a graduate senior, then you'd probably be fucked.

Jan 8, 2016 - 2:40pm
Pelli, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jun 13, 2020 - 12:23pm
smooth_monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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