3 Tips for Non-Targets

Smitty4526's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 171

Well I did it. I landed an offer to be a summer analyst at an investment bank. Breaking into I-banking from a non-target may be a more common occurrence these days, but it is certainly still a challenge. Here are three pieces of advice that definitely helped me in securing an offer.

It's not what you know, it's who you know

I know you've heard this a million times, but it is so crucial coming from a non-target. Reach out to alumni, friends, or friends of friends. Basically anyone willing to lend an ear and possibly help you out. I sent countless "cold" emails out and had 150 contacts by the end of the summer. Furthermore, always try and meet face to face with a contact either it be shadowing for a day or for quick coffee. Putting a name to a face will go really far when it comes around to recruitment season. HR scans through countless resumes every single day. When they get an email from a co-worker asking to check out your resume, it will definitely set you apart.

Internship Experience is vital

Once you establish some connections, be able to impress with your resume. I know it's really tough to find internships following freshman and sophomore year, but whatever you can find in finance, go for it. Coming from a non-target I saw it critical that I was majoring in finance and had a wealth of internship experience within the field. The three internships I had definitely helped me gain skills that are necessary in I-Banking. They were all unpaid, so I had to work odd jobs to support myself financially. In the end, however, it was well worth it. Work ethic is crucial in this pursuit.

Go the extra mile

The worst they can say is no. I told myself a lot this past summer. I sent out countless emails, had numerous informational calls over the phone, and had two self-funded networking trips. On numerous occasions, I was complimented on my persistence and willingness to go the extra mile. Again, it goes a long way in setting yourself apart from the crowd.

A lot of people told me I couldn't do it. I know this is cliche, but you can truly do anything you set your mind to. If you are non-target who wishes to break into I-banking, it is very possible. If you possess the work ethic necessary and stay focused, then go for it. Okay, now I'm starting to sounds like a motivational speaker. Anyways, I hope you find this advice helpful in the long run.

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Comments (39)

Jan 10, 2016

Congratulations on your offer and best of luck at your internship! I'm sure you'll crush it.

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Jan 10, 2016

Congrats on the offer. Could you talk a bit about your background, as well as what kind of firm (BB, MM, boutique) you took the offer from?

Mar 30, 2016

Thanks! I had an internships in wealth management and corporate finance. I also did the Wall Street Oasis blogging internship. The blogging internship is excellent and I highly recommend it. I took these internships to gain skills that are transferable to I-banking, and also to increase my overall financial knowledge. I am also involved with clubs on campus and have a solid GPA. I accepted my offer from a MM firm.

Jan 10, 2016

As someone that broke into a top BB GS/MS/JPM, I agree with this 100%. Start networking early and it'll become easier from there as long as you have a good resume. I think at this point, if you network, intern during the school year, and work hard, you'll be able to land internships from a BB/EB even if you are from a non-target.

Jan 10, 2016

Congrats. Do you mind commenting on what industries your previous internships were in?

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Mar 30, 2016

corporate finance and wealth management.

Jan 10, 2016

From a fellow non-target grad, great post. I would also add a leadership experience on campus is a huge plus whether it's in the investment club or philanthropy club. Great job running the network and best of luck going for the FT offer.

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Jan 11, 2016

Great post and congratulations!

Mar 30, 2016

Thanks!

Jan 11, 2016

Awesome story. Happy things worked out for you. Was your "non-target" in a big metro city?

    • 1
Mar 30, 2016

It was not. That created a larger challenge for me in terms of networking.

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Jan 11, 2016

I know this kinda goes without saying, but keeping grades up at a non-target is even more crucial. I come from a non-target myself but had a 3.8 and was able to secure a bunch of interviews through online apps alone.

Also important to distinguish what type of non-target you are at. Washington State? Or a top LAC that just doesn't have many finance-minded people?

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Jan 11, 2016

Congrats! +SB

    • 1
Jan 11, 2016

Good job man! Same boat as you and that first one couldn't be more true.

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Jan 11, 2016

I have a similar story (Non-target state school in PNW--> SA in IBD at BB bank--> received/accepted FT offer on last day of SA stint). One key addition I would make is that once you've built and successfully leveraged your network to land a superday (hopefully multiple superdays) you'd better be ready to crush it in your interviews.

Guides on this site as well as BIWS, M&I, and Vault are pretty comprehensive. Other things to think about...

-Don't let your network fade. Stay in touch with people, you never know when you will need to fall back on it.
-Depending on what sort of fuse they gave you to accept your offer (BB is notoriously short from my experience), leverage your offer to get offers from firms you might have interviewed at. Same mentality that got you here still applies... "Don't settle for anything less than the best"
-Now that you have your in, its your FT offer to lose and once you get the FT offer consider applying to your dream group/job/firm. You never know who will pull you across the table with an offer already in your back pocket

Jan 11, 2016

Ops or HR?

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Jan 12, 2016

Thanks for such a great article! Do you happen to have some tips or advices for sending out cold emails? Thanks again.

Jan 12, 2016

Great post, fellow non target incoming BB SA. I would also add that it helps a lot getting internships at brand name companies to make up for the fact than your school isn't brand name, especially if you can't land boutique IB internships. Passing resume screens is so much easier if people actually know the companies you worked at. I did corporate finance at a F10 and wealth management at a large international bank, both very unrelated to IB more than you would think. Paired with a good GPA and extracricuulars, I had no trouble getting interviews, literally interviewed at every BB. Even got interviews at BBs just from online applications with no networking. A friend of mine at my school was pretty much a glorified paper boy at a F50, and is interning at a top group at GS after interning there as a sophomore all through an online app with no networking.

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Jan 12, 2016

Congrats on the SA offer!

Another benefit that non-targets might not realize in my opinion is the connection between other non targets. When I first stated networking I would see "Harvard, Managing Director" in the LinkedIn and think to myself "I need to email this guy". But through my personal experiences with networking, the conversations that started with "I grabbed any job I could and worked hard to get to xyz bank" or "I started as a mutual fund services rep making shit pay before breaking in to xyz bank" ultimately have been some of the best and most helpful people I have networked with to date. Hands down 90% my my emails and LinkedIn direct messages that get ignored are one's to people with elite/target backgrounds.

All the above three points I couldn't agree more with. But something I would add is to "Network Smarter Not Harder". Obviously alumni from your Alma Mater is your first target networking crowd but beyond that focus your time on people that are more likely to go out of their way to generate value for you. If your from a non target, spend time searching for guys that also come from non-targets, look for a gap on their LinkedIn between their undergrad graduation date and their first job. Sometimes people that took less than glorious jobs to break-in will not even list these on their LinkedIn which will create these "gaps". In my opinion these are the guys that will be the most responsive and most helpful to us non-targets. Are these people harder to find than the common breed on the street? Yes they are. But let's remember that it's extremely easy to find bad stocks and with that easiness comes shitty returns.

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Best Response
Jan 13, 2016

congrats man ... now focus on doing a good job and getting a FT offer. aint over till it's over.

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Jan 13, 2016

Hey man congrats on the offer!!
One question though, did you primarily use linkedin to find alumni in the industry or were there other platforms as well?

+SB congrats again!

Jan 11, 2016

Not OP but alumni directory was most useful for me given that it provides contact info as well.

Jan 14, 2016

congrats. I spent countless hours emailing, calling, applying - finally landed an internship as ER associate. It is something but, from a non-target I will take it and leverage it.

Jan 14, 2016

Investment Banking recruiting is a zero sum game. If you are a non-target, make sure you stay very well connected to your entire class as to not lose your position to a close mate.

Jan 15, 2016

Congrats! The advice is super helpful plus you just give hope that the rest of us can do it!

Jan 15, 2016

Excellent post. I would recommend not sending out email blasts to all one's prospective networking sources, it's better to have a gradual outreach process wherein you learn from every interaction and improve your strategy.

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Jan 17, 2016

This man speaks the truth. You will get nothing from blasting out hundreds of emails at once. In my experience, if you personalize each email / follow-up when they don't get answered, you're literally looking at a 90%+ response rate vs 10% when blasting a generic e-mail. Not exaggerating either, people who would've otherwise just deleted the e-mail will often reach back out and say: sorry kind of busy right now try me again in 2 weeks.

You speak in in varying levels of verbosity.You often adopt the typing quirks of others as you find it boring to settle on styles.

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Jan 19, 2016

Amen. I had a few guys that told me they don't email back until you've followed up at least once!

Jan 15, 2016

Alumni directory + Linkedin + Google search + knowing the firm's email convention, are all methods that will get you substantially closer to your goal of making a connection. A standalone approach is not recommended.

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Jan 16, 2016

My hat's off to you. Congrats accomplishing your goal. One quick question would you say unpaid internships are not as good on your resume or it dosen't matter.

Mar 30, 2016

I got nothing but positive feedback from them. It showed my willingness to learn and gain experience.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jan 17, 2016

Good job. Keep going that way.

Jan 18, 2016

Great post. Way I see it, people who look at networking/cold emailing like a chore don't usually stick with it and are let down by the results and never find it too interesting to connect with other people (possibly future colleagues)

Jan 30, 2016

Congrats on your SA offer and thanks for the solid advice!

Jan 30, 2016

PMed you

Feb 15, 2016

I got an offer to be an SA at a big MM bank (Piper, RJ, Jefferies, William Blair). I'm from a non-target with a non Econ/finance related major, but I networked with alumni and studied almost everyday on my own. I was an athletic coach my freshman summer and worked in the accounting department, for free, at a small company my sophomore summer. Just be persistent and personable, and make sure to always follow up with your contacts.

Mar 30, 2016

I used to go to a non-target, but transferred to a target and landed BB IB in NYC. It surprises me to see very few transfers on this site, but then again I messed up in HS and in the back of my mind believed it was possible to switch schools after freshman year. It could be that many people don't understand the benefits until sophomore year when it's too late to transfer...

Mar 30, 2016
Apr 22, 2016

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