AMA: Failed BB SA to Consulting

banana32's picture
Rank: Monkey | 44

Hey all. This site has helped me a lot through college so I thought I would return the favor. I was a SA at a top BB IB (GS/MS/JPM) and unfortunately did not receive a full time offer. I did not really enjoy my summer experience and then went through a pretty intensive consulting case interview preparation process and also interviewed at a couple small PE firms.

More than happy to answer any questions about the IB recruiting process, how to mess up as an SA (things I wish I knew), and the transition or overall consulting recruiting process.

Comments (27)

Dec 19, 2016

Thx for doing this

I was curious as to why you think you did not receive a return offer at your firm and if you could've done anything differently. Btw how come you didnt enjoy the internship? Was the work, culture, coworkers, etc.?

Best Response
Dec 19, 2016

No problem!

Why I Didn't Get an Offer: Main reason was simply my hard skills (Excel and Powerpoint). Unfortunately, all of my prior internship experience was non-modeling/excel or ppt work (law firms, non-profits, startups). Although most BBs will say they judge everyone from how much they progress over the summer (in order to level the playing field between the kid who was a lifeguard last summer and the kid who interned at a bank since freshman year), I found this not necessarily true, especially when most of the other SAs had previously done one, or multiple BB summer stints

Definitely not a culture fit issue, overall enjoyed the people I worked with and the group I was within.

What I Would Have Done Differently: Honestly, I worked my ass off all summer and would not do much differently. However, beforehand I would ABSOLUTELY brush up on Excel, modeling, and PPT skills. Coming into the summer knowing all helpful excel shortcuts will be hugely advantageous. The other note is that try to be perfect, seriously. If you convince the first 1 or 2 people you work with you don't make any typo mistakes or formatting, your reputation will get around in a good way and will help you get better projects and more interesting work

Why I Didn't Enjoy My summer: I just didnt like the routine work. My group and other SAs were pretty good people. Absolutely worked with a few unbearable people during my time, mainly associates which would constantly suck-up to whichever VP/MD we were working with. That only really annoyed me when an associate blamed a huge modeling error on me when in fact it was him. Didnt really know what to do, didnt want to accuse the associate and also didnt want to get blamed for his shit mistake, so I didnt do anything. I wish I spoke up but hey, hindsight is 20/20 and if I was better I could have caught the mistake prior

Work/Culture/Coworkers: I got into IB because I had really enjoyed my corporate finance classes and really just planned on getting into PE as soon as possible. I (very arrogantly) thought my summer would be filled with client meetings and discussing strategy, or intensive modeling. In reality, most of my summer included mind-numbing tasks (PIBs, book binding/editing, internal presentation ppt documents). There were some cool projects I worked on but the vast majority was just really monotonous stuff which takes hours, no one really cares about.

Sometimes there are interesting M&A deals to work on that are exciting and different on a day-to-day basis. However, most of my experience was much more of a grind and boring to be honest.

Happy to answer any more questions!

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Dec 19, 2016

Appreciate the response banana32!

To echo your sentiment on PIBs, book binding and editing, and ppt stuff, my friends and I who all did IBD internships all experienced the similar levels of busywork and non-technical work, albeit I was terrible at Excel going into the internship as well. Hope youll be enjoying consulting FT

In regards to brushing up on Excel, PPT, and modeling, what would you recommend? Do you think the lessons on BIWS is good enough or is there any resources you really found helpful?

Not sure if you think there are any other topics/skills one should brush up on before the summer stint, but any recommendation would be helpful going into this summer. Thanks!

Dec 19, 2016

Intern expectations are going to vary regarding group placement.

The coverage group I interned at had laughable expectations for modeling. I can say with reasonable certainty that even at the end of the internship all but 1-2 kids in the class could have connected a 3-statement operating model or not rely on the mouse in excel, and thus were much less efficient (read: slower) when it came to non-technical tasks like making charts and splicing data. I am also pretty sure one female intern still hadn't quite wrapped her head around the concepts underlying a pretty basic, watered-down dcf template (she got an offer b/c she aced the below point 3).

Note: expectations were probably lower since I was not at a top BB and the quality of kids were not comparable to a class with several SAs with previous BB internship experiences.

Point is: YMMV.

What did matter was 1) attention to detail, 2) communication and displaying positive vibes when communicating, and especially all the 3) soft stuff you mentioned in your above post.

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Dec 19, 2016

During your consulting interviews, how did you explain not receiving the offer? I went through a similar process myself this season, and I'm curious to hear how you handled it.

    • 1
Dec 19, 2016

Great question, I actually lost a ton of sleep trying to figure out how to respond to this question. Funny enough, I was literally never asked during consulting interviews. The fact is consulting firms just want someone who is smart and can crush cases.

Unfortunately, all the PE firms I interviewed at did ask about the summer. In that situation I was honest and just explained my lack of hard skills going into the summer but discussed how much I learned in just one summer. Needless to say, PE firms aren't going to be too thrilled about a kid who couldn't land a full time IB gig (rightfully so).

Overall, don't worry about not getting a FT offer during consulting recruiting, but definitely have a plan and a story if you're planning on going through finance recruiting

Dec 19, 2016

I find it interesting that you were never asked about your return offer in interviews. I summered at a MM bank before going through the consulting recruitment process, and I was asked about my return offer in 90% of my interviews. I could chalk that up to coming from a non-target/less prestigious bank, so that my interviewers wanted to verify that I could handle the hours and intensity. I actually think "received return offer to MM bank" was the most important line on my resume during consulting recruitment.

Dec 19, 2016

Had you failed junior year- SA recruitment, what would you have done? Lets say you're at a top school and don't have an internship right now.

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Dec 19, 2016

If you're dead set on IB I would say it's 100% vital you work at an investment bank, boutique regional or otherwise, or at the very least a corporate finance position. It is not impossible just an absolutely tough uphill battle to break into banking without at least a summer under your belt

Dec 19, 2016

Given how tough FT recruiting is right now, did you ever consider delaying graduation and going through another round of SA recruiting if you wanted to stay in IB?

Dec 19, 2016

Not really, I thought about it for a minute and I have some friends that are doing that but I thought it would make more sense to try consulting. Hopefully I find it more engaging or enjoyable and if not I can always lateral back into finance through either banking again (highly unlikely) or possibly a less heavily financial engineering PE firm

Dec 19, 2016

sdcsds

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Dec 19, 2016

I did the exact same. Failed BB summer > MBB. I'm enjoying it a lot more. I didn't get my offer due to cultural fit (hated the people I was working with) and was totally turned off from banking because of it. Really enjoying consulting now - it sounds cheesy during recruitment, but the culture at my firm is truly amazing.

Edit: I'm not @kkrrjrnabisco's friend, but good to hear that there are more stories like my own.

Edit 2: I also went through some small PE firm recruitments and also (obviously) through consulting. Received the "why no FT offer" during PE, but never during consulting.

Dec 28, 2017

..................

Dec 19, 2016

Don't have any PE VP friends last I checked

Dec 19, 2016

As someone who will be in your position this coming summer, how would you brush up on your excel / powerpoint skills?

Jan 13, 2017

..

Dec 19, 2016

How does that help with B-school admissions, out of curiosity?

Jan 13, 2017

..

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Dec 20, 2016

So how would you handle an associate who constantly shifted blame? Speak up, or just find the mistakes before the MD does and deal with it?

Array

Dec 21, 2016

Could you go through your consulting interview preparation? How much time did you spend / what materials did you use / any other tips?

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Mar 3, 2017

Hey guys sorry I was not as active as I intended to be on this forum. However during consulting recruiting I would go through case studies constantly with my consulting friends, it is really the best way to improve. Additionally, I recently check out the WSO Consulting Case interview guide which included several super helpful pieces of advice and valuable example cases, wish I used it during recruiting would have made life easier than 4am case interview sessions

Dec 31, 2016
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Dec 31, 2016