Accepted an Offer! - How non-targets can "make it"

Hey everyone,

(Edit: Got a number of PMs here - Added my responses below the rest of the post)

I recently accepted a BB offer, am from a non-target, and thought I should contribute something here on WSO given the help and advice I have received from others. However, I did not want to do the typical success story - I tend to see those posts as less altruistic than they may actually be. So, I thought I would compile a short list of non-targets I know that "made it" into IB.

Hope this shows the "secrets" to breaking in from a non-target. Not all are from my school and some are from previous years.


*Started networking one year ago; crashed and burned in banking internship recruiting
*Found a spot at a small, regional PE shop through that networking
*400+ Emails; 100+ phone calls/meetings
*Two self-financed networking trips
*Accepted a BB FT offer
*Connection that got me the first interview where I accepted the offer
-o-Three times rescheduled phone call that turned into a coffee because I flew into his city -> office visit -> superday -> offer

Another Non-Target Guy

*Networked for over a year; had a rough time in internship recruiting
*Also found a spot at a smaller PE shop by leveraging a previous "less glamorous" internship
*Hundreds of emails/phone calls/meetings
*Single self-financed networking trip
*Accepted a BB FT offer; had 6+ MM & BB offers
*Connection that got him the first interview where he accepted the offer
-o-Wife of an alumni was an MD at BB

Another Non-Target Guy

*Networked for a while; got a BB internship offer
*Took return FT offer
*Single self-financed networking trip prior to internship recruiting
*Connection that got him the first interview where he accepted the offer
-o-Ironically, alumni's wife was also high up in a BB

Another Non-Target Guy

*Networked with alumni and landed BB SA interview; did not get offer
*Asked to interview for less-prestigious group at the same BB; took interview & got offer
*Took return FT offer
*Single self-financed networking trip prior to internship recruiting
*Connection that got him the first interview where he accepted the offer
-o-Same native language as another guy in the group

Another Non-Target Guy

*Networked with alumni and landed BB SA interview and offer in less-than-ideal group; took offer
*Leveraged summer to network; applied to other banks
*Currently has MM IB offer
*Single self-financed networking trip prior to internship recruiting
*Connection that got him the first interview where he got the offer
-o-From networking while in the SA position

Another Non-Target Guy

*Networked with alumni and landed BB SA offer; took FT offer; blew up in 08-09
*Took AM job for a short period; leveraged that + BB SA internship into FT BB position
*Currently in PE
*Two self-financed networking trips prior to internship recruiting
*Connection that got him the first interview where he accepted the offer
-o-MD he met the day after Christmas when he flew himself to NY

There are lots of other stories - guys who got in easier and guy who struggled longer - but overall, based on what I have learned in the last year or so, this set is fairly representative of how non-targets get into banking.

Hope that shows it is both difficult and possible - Best of luck and get after it!


In response to a number of PMs~

-How I started networking/preparing for interviews:

1) Spoke to career services and said "Who do we know at Goldman/MS/UBS/DB/PJ/ etc"
2) LinkedIn "Find Alumni" feature - Find everyone in banking and email them a short message asking to talk on the phone (WSO has email formats in old posts)
3) Cold emails to non-alumni - Find people on LinkedIn/Websites and email them with "I saw that you returned to MS after doing a summer there. I would be interested in learning why..." - or "I noticed that you also majored in Biology and found a way into banking - as a Bio major I would be very interested in hearing any advice you might have for someone like myself"
4) ALWAYS ask them if they know anyone else that might be willing to talk to you
5) WSO/Vault/Whatever guides you can find. I was targeting a specific industry, so I also focused my news reading there.

-What if I can find no alumni in banking?

90% of the people I reached out to were not alumni. Just shoot them an email or Linkedin and you will get like a 15% response rate. Keep it to 4-5 sentence max.

-What kind of questions do you ask? I run out of ideas.

Ask them the standard stuff. Why that bank? What group are they in? Why? Why did they stay in banking? Did they like getting an MBA? What is the interaction like between that industry group and the M&A/Lev/Capital Market groups. And then be more personable as well. I saw you played basketball at XXX - do you find time for that still? You speak Chinese - do you use that in business?

Also, I used to always end like this: "What would your advice be for a non-target guy like myself looking to get a shot at interviews when the resume drop isn't really an option? You know, how should I go about getting that first interviews?" 9 times out of 10 they say they will pass along your resume.

Comments (20)

Sep 19, 2014

Great post.

Congrats on the gig.

Sep 20, 2014


Sep 27, 2014

did you have a gap period when you were unemployed?

Sep 28, 2014

Similar spot, non target to FT offer. I used the gap without an internship or work to network, remain current with the WSJ/FT/Bloomberg/etc., and network some more.

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Sep 28, 2014

great story congrats!

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Sep 29, 2014

As a non-target (top 20 b-school) grad who has also made the jump, I can echo the sentiment that it often takes an extra step to make it into IB for us. Congrats on the offer OP, and best wishes for continued success.

Sep 29, 2014

congrats bro!

Sep 29, 2014

Congrats on the good work! Keep it up!

Sep 29, 2014

Run Forrest, run!

Congrats OP!

Sep 30, 2014

Congrats man.

Sep 30, 2014

This makes it sounds easy...

Oct 1, 2014

Congrats man, could you share some good cold email templates for reaching non-alumni contacts? Thank you!

Oct 2, 2014

Congratz! and thanks for the write up.

Oct 5, 2014

Congrats! Nice story!

Oct 6, 2014

Good stuff. Thanks.

Oct 15, 2014

Thanks for the write up!

Oct 15, 2014


Oct 20, 2014

Your point about contacting people outside the alumni network is valid. My response rate among alumni (including one who I was connected with through a mentorship program he specifically volunteered for) was zero! My response rate among a roughly equal number of non-alums was > zero.

    • 1
Oct 26, 2014

This is inspirational, congratulations

Feb 6, 2015

Bitch please, I love bananas! If you found my advice useful, hit me up with one.