Despite being of the minority in that I am not from the US, I have been using this site for over a year and have taken great interest in others experiences, particularly those from the states. I thought I'd have a crack at an AMA for current Analysts and/or undergraduates in hope that I can contribute something in the same way those before me have, as it really has been helpful.
A bit about me:
I went to what Australians would consider a "non-target" school (the Australian equivalent of targets are called Group of Eight). For my first year out of HS, I studied Architecture in what I have described to a million HR recruiters as a panic move; I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise at 17 years old (other than playing professional sports). After a year of hating every minute of this, I made the switch to Economics and Finance.
Whilst at Uni, I represented my State in one of the biggest sports here. I would probably compare this to D1 sports at a major college in the US. I also played elite level (the level below pros) in another large sport. I missed out on being drafted in the first sport after tearing my rotator cuff playing the second mentioned sport, which was quite a low point in my life.
If I were to convert my WAM to GPA, I'd be about a 3.75, discounting my horrendous marks from Architecture.
Due to the tradeoff I'd made between sport and studying, I had not paid much attention to a career at the end of my degree (aka being a complete idiot). I missed the boat on internship recruiting and thus hit the panic button - I'd figured I wanted to work in IB but had no idea how to get there. After thousands of emails to different companies, I was lucky enough to intern in Corporate Banking at one of Australia's largest banks, which resulted in a graduate offer that I subsequently took.
Corporate Banking was good, however personally, it wasn't for me. I knew where my heart lied, so I read anything and everything to learn more about IB. This is where the beauty of sports comes in to play...
Through one of the sports that I played, I'd become very good friends with an Associate who was a few years older than me at a BB. After picking his brain on anything and everything - from recruiting questions to excel shortcuts to what stocks he held in his own portfolio, he offered to put my CV in front of one of his MDs. After a few pretty gruelling interviews where I was questioned on everything I'd ever encountered, from what I hated about Architecture to what part of my rotator cuff I had operated on, I was lucky enough to land a role as a first-year in a Generalist group at the Australian equivalent of a BB (Macquarie/UBS/JPM/GS).
I should probably mention as well that my Mum was a VP at 28 in M&A, at a large European IB and my Dad traded Commodities for the same Bank. Both have been out of the industry for >20yrs and didn't make any phone calls to help me because, as they've put it, there are no gimmes in life. At times I wish they'd helped just a little bit, but they got to where they are by themselves, and I am grateful that they made me do the same.
Happy to answer any question from any audience at all - from what I've gathered Australian IB seems very different from American IB in hundreds of different facets - from deal sizes to hours to pay, and I'd love to enlighten anyone who is curious on what the industry is like here.