AMA: I didn't get a return offer

My background:

At this time last year, I was an intern in a top group at my dream bank and was so excited my life was on-track and going according to plan. Two months later began a semester-long panic as I tried to secure a full-time job after not receiving a return offer. I learnt a lot about myself throughout this brutal process and thought I'd share so that others can more effectively figure out what to do if they find themselves in a similar situation.

Ask me anything:

Ask me about SA group selection at a BB, getting/not getting the return, the FT recruiting process (which for me was very broad, very long and ended somewhere I could not have predicted beforehand), life lessons etc.

(Throwaway because my other account would make me easily identifiable. Will PM replies if posting publicly makes my identity too obvious.)

Comments (48)

  • topboy
  •  Jul 12, 2019

When did things start going downhill and what do you think caused this? What kind of mistakes were you making? Why were you unable to recover from your mid-summer review?

Was this in IB or S&T? What was your group's return offer rate?

Mind telling us what you did afterwards for FT recruiting and where you ended up?

    • 2
Jul 12, 2019

I was unprepared for how to navigate politics and facetime and get genuine feedback. PM me for more specifics.

IB, varies year to year (not usually 100%). Can't talk in detail about FT, but I'm happy with where I ended up - it's a much better fit for my interests and where I think seniors are genuinely interested in my growth and career.

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Jul 14, 2019

It seems like a lot of your answers are very vague, I understand you want to stay anonymous, but for others to really benefit from your answers it'd be great to hear more specifics... plus there's literally hundreds of interns across the world interning in IB, nobody's asking where you went to school or the firm or exact group, it would be tough to drill down who you are.

The questions from Champagnepaki are perfect, specifically can you ellobarate on:

When you felt things were going downhill?

Specifics on what was said in the midterm review... did they hint towards you not receiving a full time offer or mention any massive red flags?

What was the typical return offer for your group?

Jul 12, 2019

Sorry to hear that, but glad to know that you were able to take what happened and grow from that personally.

How were you able to spin not getting a return offer during the FT recruiting process? Did you "lateral" over to a similar-level firm, or did you totally change mindsets/industries/etc.

In general, what firms did you look to for FT recruiting when you realized you wouldn't be receiving a return offer?

Thanks for your willingness to help, and best of luck in the future!

Jul 12, 2019

As many others have said here before, you have to be honest about not getting a return (your interviewer will know someone who knows someone in your group). The reasoning.... not so much. If the group gave offers to others and not you, it means you weren't at the top of the list, and people will ask why. Point out some issues you had to show that you are self-aware, but also point out how you've fixed them or what you do differently now. I think showing that there was a mutual lack of fit works well.

To be honest, if you didn't get an offer regardless of your performance there is a lack of fit, whether it's your strengths just not matching the work or the culture of the group. It's not a bad thing to find out either one. That was probably the biggest thing I learnt from all this.

I recruited 99% other finance for FT (IB, PE, AM/HF, etc). Consulting is open to ex-IB interns too. I can say that after a solid internship you'll get interviews/that initial conversation with pretty much anywhere you want.

    • 1
Jul 12, 2019

This is a really important AMA as many assume they are set once they have the internship locked down (not implying you assumed anything or that you didn't perform well). My guess is sometimes it's also a capacity issue - ie they only take so many interns for full time.

Think about it, if the overwhelming number of FT spots were given to SAs from that summer, you'd only realistically have a shot at FTing where you interned. There are tons of kids who intern somewhere and FT elsewhere (using that internship as leverage to get to a different firm, different role, different whatever).

    • 8
Jul 12, 2019

Glad you think it's necessary, there are so many things like capacity, history of giving offers, culture, office politics etc that are impossible to know ahead of time if you don't have a strong alumni network. I assume many people using WSO for information are here because they don't have existing connections to talk to.

IB internships are incredibly valuable regardless of outcome. Everyone should know that if you made it to the internship, you'll do well somewhere, you just need to figure out where.

    • 2
Jul 17, 2019
AMAthrowaway:

Everyone should know that if you made it to the internship, you'll do well somewhere, you just need to figure out where.

I disagree. Landing an impressive internship doesn't mean that you will be successful in work or life. There are a multitude of factors at play when it comes to securing an internship, one of which is luck. I think a better indicator of future success is how well an individual performs in the workplace. Particularly, the ability to perform well in adverse situations and challenging work environments. Adaptability, work ethic, and a "can do" attitude are the most important traits when everyone else is just as smart as you.

    • 1
Jul 12, 2019

Did you know towards the end of the summer that you weren't going to get a return offer, based on your performance/review? Or did it come as a surprise to you and was most likely a result of overcapacity as mentioned above?

EDIT: Also, how much does fitting in culturally actually matter in determining who gets a FT offer?

Jul 12, 2019

I did, but I had no idea that everyone else had been networking to lateral for FT since before mid-summer. A lot of FT recruitment in IB is word-of-mouth, since analysts and associates in your group will know someone's not getting a return and then reach out to interns from their school to see if anyone's interested in taking that spot.

My group was a very poor cultural fit for me but I didn't realize that wasn't just how all IB groups are until I talked to people after the summer lol.

Jul 12, 2019

Mind if I PM you?

Jul 12, 2019

Thanks for doing this AMA. Assuming you applied for FT positions, or in theory if you had applied for FT positions, would your firm vouch for you as to why you weren't taken on full time? Assuming it was something on their end like they didn't have enough FT slots etc.

Jul 12, 2019

The people I worked with most closely liked me, so I had that on my side. As long as you're not a complete disaster though I don't think your group (you usually have to list references at some point for FT) would throw you under the bus.

Jul 12, 2019

Thanks for doing this AMA. Really looking to gain some perspective on how you tackled FT recruiting. Kind of in a similar boat here and feel like I'm behind...

How did you keep your ear to the ground for available opportunities?

Jul 12, 2019

The hard part about FT is that openings are #1 often word of mouth and #2 there's no "recruiting cycle" so you might accept an offer in October and have a better opportunity that recruits in January. All the usual channels - alumni if you have them, OCR if possible, linkedin, general networking, etc.

Jul 12, 2019

After your SA experience, what advice would you give for finding a culture that fits? If you were to go back and time and fix all your mistakes, would you do it even if the culture isn't a 100% match? Mind if I PM as well? Thanks and wishing you all the best.

Jul 12, 2019

I don't think there's much you can do re: culture unless there are people you know reasonably well in that group unfortunately. I would definitely fix my mistakes, having an offer in hand (even one you don't want) is huge leverage in interviews. I know a lot of people who weren't in their dream group but signed FT because re-recruiting is so stressful.

Feel free to PM.

Jul 13, 2019

Sent a PM

Jul 12, 2019

What technical/soft skills do you think are most valuable to have going into the internship

Jul 14, 2019

All of them? There's nothing that would be explicitly "not valuable". There are lots of threads on what and what not to do as an intern.

    • 1
Jul 13, 2019

Was there something you would have done differently? or it was kind of doomed from the start and there was no chance of getting a return offer?

Jul 14, 2019

Things that I couldn't have done much (more) about: cultural mismatch and just having to work harder than others at things like attention to detail; having a lot of shit happen in the middle of the summer w my personal/family life

Things I could have done: been more proactive about getting feedback, getting coffee with more senior bankers to make sure people knew who I was (my group was large). On a higher level, really thinking about my natural strengths, weaknesses and interests (which I was kind of aware of in advance but ignored) and figuring out where in finance those would be an asset to me instead of jumping on the IB bandwagon (granted, coming from my school would have been very difficult to recruit for anything else).

Jul 14, 2019

This is podcast material

Jul 14, 2019

I feel like your answers are so vague. What were the reasons given why you didn't receive an offer? How do you respond to that in an interview.

Generally it was near an auto ding for me when I was reviewing and realized someone didn't get a return offer. It's kind of like I'd rather roll the dice on someone else who hasn't gotten the shot or someone looking to upgrade then someone who has their opportunity.

    • 1
Jul 14, 2019

I've already said top group at a BB, no return and not a target school - that's not a large group of people so I don't want to give too many details. FWIW the feedback I got from the group (and I did talk to a lot of people) was very vague as well. (Edit: I've outlined successful strategies for dealing with your lack of an offer in other replies.)

From my side I definitely understand the hesitancy on interviewing someone without an offer. Regardless, I think it's important for interns to understand that there are a lot of factors other than just your performance on your deal teams - I was naive about that and I think that impacted my outcome.

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Most Helpful
Jul 14, 2019

This is a garbage AMA which could otherwise be so helpful to others in your situation / could be in your situation. I'm not sure why you think you're some special snowflake that out of the dozens of SAs who don't get a return offer this year you'll get picked out of an anonymous line up, and then what...someone will go out of their way to blow up your new FT position based on an "I think I know who they are"?

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Funniest
Jul 15, 2019

To some degree, he/she may have helped us answer why they did not get an offer more in the lack of information than the actual information. Judgement sounds off, the thought was "oh, this will be a good AMA" ... nope, just a waste of everyone's time.

    • 15
Jul 15, 2019

This is why I'm always extremely skeptical of AMAs by current students or analysts. It takes time and experience to build enough credibility to warrant an AMA. Posts like this just come across as validation-seeking, rather than altruistic.

    • 4
Jul 15, 2019

could have been a great AMA.... could have been helpful for hundreds out there

Jul 15, 2019

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    • 1
Jul 15, 2019

You had a 2nd Superday at the end of your internship? What? Is this common?

Jul 15, 2019
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Jul 16, 2019

Never heard of this, interesting. Could be a numbers game as well? There's been times I've been in a room where we say we will hire X and we like X + 1 or 2 and all have gotten good reviews.

Jul 16, 2019

Very well could be this. However, I knew my performance was not up to the caliber it needed to be. Just one of those things you learn from and move on.

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Jul 18, 2019

Hey, Im currently in the FT recruiting process and am struggling with where to put most of my time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Jul 18, 2019

Can we get some specific eff up stories? Agree with the others this is a bit vague.

Did you drink too much at the summer outing? Sleep in a couple days? Hit on a VP?

    • 2
Jul 19, 2019

agreed

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Jul 19, 2019
Comment
Jul 19, 2019