Athletes in M&A?

I'm a D-1 football player majoring and finance at a big state school. We have no on campus recruiting whatsoever, although I have made some small connections to the finance world. I'm a sophomore with a 4.0 GPA here, and I'm wondering what my best bet for getting into investment banking would be?

I've always been interested in finance, but this past year M&A has been what's really caught my attention so ideally I would like to end up as an analyst after graduation. Does anyone have any advice, or any insight as to the likelihood of winning an IB internship / job from an unknown school? Thank a lot!

Comments (26)

Best Response
Mar 21, 2017 - 12:07pm

@Non-Target_Athlete", being an athlete is always a positive, especially if you also have 4.0 GPA. At the very least, it shows you can juggle a challenging schedule. More so, being an athlete gives you something unique to connect with interviewers and talk about when networking.

You should spend a few hours searching through WSO and Mergers & Inquisitions as your overall question has been answered hundreds of times before. Two good places to start would be WSO Hall of Fame: Investment Banking Forum thread and my networking overview. Both of those sources will probably answer 99% of the questions you have. After reading those, I would start networking immediately.

Mar 21, 2017 - 12:09pm

Non-target former athlete here.

-Keep on networking. Try second-degree connections (aka ask the connections you've made if there's anyone else they think would be useful for you meeting - this likely depends on how close to those connections you are). If you find other D1 football players from your conference in banking that is another way to make connections outside your schools alumni base - if you shoot them a cold email I'd say they're probably pretty likely to respond.

-Treat every phone-call, coffee, etc as an interview. You need to come across as polished/ready for the job anytime you interact with someone.

Remember, all it takes is landing one interview. You have the grades and the EC's that you should be able to land some first rounds if you can network enough.

Mar 21, 2017 - 1:33pm

Question on behalf of someone who is basically my younger brother - he will be walking on to a top D1 Basketball program. What is the ability to get internships like? Have you found yourself completely unavailable during summers? What do your coaches think of getting internship experience? Or is it all about the football?

Apr 4, 2017 - 9:08am

It is very difficult. You have to find a company that will be ok with accommodating your schedule. If you are on a competitive D-I team and you are a game day contributor you will need to be around for summer workouts and activities. The problem with football in particular is that preseason practices usually started before more internships ended... Not a lot of big name shops want to bring on an intern who can't even participate for the full summer stint, and if you have a scholarship for your sport you can't miss practice. It's tough situation and the key was finding other athletes who have gone through similar circumstances and were willing to work with you.

I was a D-I football player at a target school. No IBD summer analyst program would give me a real shot as I couldn't be there for the whole internship. I was able to network and find a guy who played in my program years earlier who got me an internship at the PE firm where he worked. It's not easy but you can make it work.

Mar 21, 2017 - 10:59pm

This may come across as a blanket statement, but whatever. We love athletes. They historically have been competitive, are mentally tough, have implied social skills and understand how to work on a team towards a goal.

Coming from someone who sees over 1,000 resumes a year, a D-1 athlete with a strong GPA is a major standout from the 975 others with a 3.9-4.0 and a hobbies section with the B.S. "enjoys the outdoors" statement (I love calling people out on this, btw).

Do we only hire athletes? Definitely not. We hire people from all backgrounds, but we will definitely take a look if we see the collegiate athletics on the resume.

Mar 28, 2017 - 2:45pm

Thanks for the insight.

I feel athletics would translate well to investment banking as far as one's attitude towards the workload, and ability to work towards a team goal.

Glad to hear college athletics is something that is valued in the IB world, now I just need to network around the non-target part of my resume.

Mar 28, 2017 - 3:32pm

Semi-related follow up question to you, Gotham. Would you recommend having a hobbies/non-finance extracurricular section on your resume? While I am not a student athlete, I have many ECs that stand out, but aren't necessarily related to my academics or finance, but that could impress interviewers and be able to have a good conversation about. Should I create a section to list these?

Apr 3, 2017 - 4:04pm

Yes, add them. You need all the differentiation that you can get. A 4.0 from a target school doesn't separate you from the pack - it actually makes us question your social skills, which is why you need to demonstrate that you have worked on a team, have overcome obstacles and have achieved goals.

I too, was a D-1 football player, and I can promise you that it makes a difference.

Mar 29, 2017 - 11:08pm

Current D-I student athlete here, at a medium sized non-target private university. I was recently offered a summer analyst position at a MM firm for the summer, and getting there was a grind. As a sophomore, you should definitely be networking with all the investment bankers you can find that attended your university, and are willing to speak with you. Prior to this offer, I had some great conversations with some alumni from my school that managed to break into the industry, which helped incredibly when it came to real interviews.

Further, during the interviews, it was mentioned more than a few times on how impressed they were that I played a division one sport, while managing to maintain a great GPA (3.98), and participating in different activities at school (a few clubs, and some volunteer work). So, as long as you keep up doing well in school, keep networking, manage to get some interviews, and of course prepare well for them, you should be alright as the D-I athlete portion really sets you apart from other candidates. Best of luck man!

Mar 30, 2017 - 12:14am

Good story, glad to hear there are others similar to myself that have pulled off breaking into the industry. As far as I know we have very few alumni in banking, and more than likely no investment bankers. Thanks!

Mar 30, 2017 - 9:15pm

I keep hearing about this guy, I want to see that post. Anyone have it?

26 Broadway where's your sense of humor?
Mar 30, 2017 - 11:45pm

You play football for a D-I State School. Your school has an alumni network. Reach out to the alumni network and start networking with them, other D-I football players across all conferences who are in finance (because they know what you went through), and talk to your coaches. The last one seems out of place, but tell them that you want to get into finance and ask if they either know people or can put you in contact with students they coached who have gone on to work in M&A. I can't stress that one enough - as long as your coach has a good relationship with his previous players and coaching staff, use that to your advantage. You never know where you will find connections to help you. The D-I Football player aspect sells itself (Work Ethic, Managing Stress, Etc.), so it's more important to get yourself in front of people.

Without knowing what D-I school you're attending and whether its D-I FBS or D-I FCS, I can't say anything about the reputation, but if it doesn't have a recruiting presence on campus, start reaching out to the regional banks. If you play for a school in the MAC, for example, look at the banks in Minnesota and Chicago. If you're at a school in the PAC-12 (ex. Washington State, U. Washington, UC-Boulder) reach out to the banks in California. Or look at who your school has a history of Non-Conference rivalries with and look at banks in those areas.

Just as a word of advice and concern for any organized program and internship that runs the length of the summer, I would be forward about the summer practice. I don't know what others here would suggest you do, but that is a huge commitment, and depending on your school, can start anywhere from late July to early August. That may be an issue but I don't know for certain.

  • 2
Apr 4, 2017 - 7:33pm

We are a D-1 FBS school, and played in bowl games the past two years. So @Attack_Chihuaha" may have a point as far as a "brag effect", but having that to talk about in meetings / interviews is a great perk.

As far as summer practice we get one month off, but then back to practice and such. I did just accept a ER internship that is nearby enough that I can at least work for the majority of the summer before practice kicks back up.

Apr 4, 2017 - 11:12pm

D-1 FBS makes this so much easier because you have a name brand conference backing you up. Most people don't know FCS conferences or D-II/D-III schools. If you're Power Five, you should have no problem with some degree of national scope because everyone knows the Power Five. That works well for recruiting in general. If you're Group of Five, you will have the best luck targeting banks that cover your region where your conference has the best coverage. If you're not already, please include the conference you play in when you mention you're a D-I FBS school. This way if people don't know the school but they know D-I FBS, they will at least recognize the conference.

  • 2
Apr 3, 2017 - 4:58pm

It's extremely easy. There's a guy I'm friends with in my class who was an NFL player prior to attending my program. He landed a gig at a top IB, out of a non M7 program, with relatively little effort.

Here's one thing you need to keep in mind if you're a D1 athlete: most of the people you will talk to in banking fit the preppy white person mold, which means most of them LOVE talking about and watching sports. If you are a D1 athlete they will already think you're cool because of that which is half the battle.

Apr 4, 2017 - 6:38pm
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