Can't Find a Job in Investment Banking, Don't Know What To Do

hey guys,

I'll be completely honest, I'm feeling outmatched and like I'm going to get a shitty financial job and won't be able to accomplish my goal of becoming an Investment Banker. I really need some advice on what I should do. I truly feel as if I can't break into the IB industry because I'm underqualified. I recently graduated college from a decent college in MI because I had scholarship there, but it's not a very well ranked college. (Oakland University, MI)

I graduated with a 3.53 major GPA (Finance Major), Bachelor of Science in Finance

My work experience includes 1 year Financial Internship at an Automotive Engineering Firm.
7 Months as a Construction Project Manager for a Modular Exhibit Company.
4 Years as Project Controller for a small construction firm that my father owns.

Anyways, I have been applying for jobs and I don't think I'm landing anything that I truly want. I was offered a job as a Project Planner with a major utility company starting at $35 an hour which isn't bad, but I do not want to go into the energy industry. I want to become an Investment Banker and work my way up through wall street. I am applying to any IB internship I can find on the internet, but I'm simply not getting the calls for them wanting to interview me. I feel as if my experience is too strongly waved toward construction and not having nearly enough financial experience or the technical skills they want. Also, a 3.53 GPA isn't phenomenal, it's decent but I feel like they want people that graduated with 3.8's from Major Top Tier universities.

What kind of job should I take in the meantime to accrue decent experience that a major Wall Street Firm would pick up on and be interested in me as a candidate?

Should I pursue an MBA from U of M (I live in Michigan)?

Should I get my CFA?

I need to get into one of these firms somehow.......... I'd truly be willing to do anything become an investment banker. However, I need guidance on what to do based on where I'm at (broke living at home with my parents). What can I do right now to make this dream become a reality. I need to somehow start making money so what would be the best job for me to take in the meantime while I keep applying for internships with these big companies? Also, I am 23 years old, will they think I'm too old to do an internship with them??

Any criticism and feedback I truly need and would greatly appreciate it.

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Comments (35)

Jan 26, 2017

You have 4 Options:

  1. Accept that you won't become a banker
  2. Network, cold call, it's really not that hard for boutiques if you use LinkedIn
  3. Go to Ross, don't screw around with your grades like you did in college, and land a job as an associate
  4. Be Happy with a $35 per hour job
Jan 26, 2017

Accept that you won't become a banker. --- Is this 100% certain, couldn't I just make it in to a smaller firm? Don't they offer work for free internships at some of these places?

Do you think Ross will be a strong enough school for companies like Goldman Sachs to consider me as a candidate as an associate?

What are your thoughts on pursuing a CFA or a CMA? Is that of any value toward an investment bank? How high of a GPA is expected to land a job as an associate? I can defiantly get a 3.7 if I grind my heart out but I'm scared I couldn't get a 3.9.

Do you have any boutiques you specifically recommend?

The $35 an hour job is as a project cost controller for a energy utility company so I'd be responsible for budgeting and forecasting large scale electrical projects and hydraulic fracking projects. I feel my experience is wayyyyyyyyyyyy to swayed in the wrong direction and I need to go the financial analysis route instead.

Jan 26, 2017

agreed i would go for option 2 - boutiques are really not that hard.

Jan 26, 2017

What is your method for cold calling them? Do you have a specific strategy or do you just connect with whoever and ask about internship programs?

Jan 26, 2017

I did not cold call - I cold emailed.

You do this - go on linkedin or use your alumni database to figure out who shares the same background with you (same hometown, same school, same ethnicity, same club in college, same major, same interest ... etc u get the idea), and you reach out to them and say you are interested in learning how they made it into banking and their experience in banking and request "5-10 mins" coffee chats and you say you are happy to meet wherever is most convenient for them. You can subtly ask about internships towards the end of it when u feel like they like u or ask in the second email when u follow up to thank them. But always ask about "potential opportunities" when you are about to wave goodbye in person as you are conditioning them to think that you need help or they will think you just "want to be friends".

And if they don't respond, u follow up in 4-5 days and cast a wide net. And you don't give up until you get something.

That's basically it.

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Jan 26, 2017

OP, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Look at how many years you have ahead of you in life, don't get hung up on the idea that "I'm not in investment banking now, my life is going to turn to shit". I would avoid getting an internship for now and start building work experience in the banking industry (doesn't have to be specifically investment banking). Also, don't discredit your past experience, diversity in backgrounds is considered a good thing.

If I were in your position, I'd target the area I want to live in and look at the job market for banking careers (all of them). Then once you have them all gathered, look at each company/job and what the responsibilities are. They may not necessarily be investment banking but think about what kinds of job can contribute to investment banking (i.e. Analysis). Then just work your tail off applying to good opportunities. I would continue your studies in your leisure time with developing models and understanding the key fundamentals of analysis, evaluation, & dealing making. Once in your new position, I would take time to network around, attending local banking conferences, etc and near the 2 year mark after getting a better feel for the industry, look to move on towards an investment banking position. Despite how it may appear on this forum, not everyone nets a IB job right out of school. Stay focused and you'll get there.

Jan 26, 2017

Thank you sir, this really motivated me.

    • 2
Jan 26, 2017

Last advice from me:

If you can't get into IB, many of the IB rejected tend to go to Corp banking and PWM. Worst case scenario, investment analysis. If none of this works for you, use $35 per hour job to get into mba school after 2-5 years. If this won't work, work through the ranks and finish your career as an outside hire CFO

Best Response
Jan 26, 2017

PM me. I can help you out possibly... I used to live 15min from OU and have some connections at the local boutiques.

    • 3
Jan 26, 2017

Better yet, I PM'd you my cell #. Text me if you'd like... I never check
My PM

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Jan 26, 2017

You could try asking for a spring analyst internship first since you have no IB-related experience.
Leverage that internship experience into full time.

Jan 26, 2017

Great post! - Silver Banana

WallStreetOasis Contributing Author - Intern

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Jan 26, 2017

always appreciated about this time of the year :)

    • 1
Jan 26, 2017

Great post- very inspiring!

Jan 26, 2017

Love this story. Graduating in May and no offers yet...

Jan 26, 2017

Thanks for this - timing was just right.

Jan 26, 2017

Great stuff! SB

It's hip to be square!

Jan 26, 2017

Having that trouble now securing a 1st year MBA internship. I have had to aggressively network to find two part-time jobs in PE and real estate investment banking to pad my resume. Great story!

Jan 26, 2017

Great story, how did you friend get approached for the start up position?

Jan 26, 2017

He had a friend working at the start up who set it up. K and the CEO went for coffee a bunch of times and hit it off.

Jan 26, 2017

I am a senior in college who is still looking for a job. It is very reassuring to hear stories like this one.

Jan 26, 2017

Thank you for this, it was a great read.

I got involved with things related to M&A because it seemed like a highly challenging path - and I had none ideas of a business to start or knowledge that would help someone with one.

I guess that maybe I should network more with small firms and start-ups rather than big firms since I am fairly assertive (that is an euphemism) with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and low regards for laid rules. Ahahah.

Jan 26, 2017

Thanks for the encouragement.

Jan 26, 2017

A good read indeed !

unexamined life doesn't worth living

Jan 26, 2017

It's a tough job market and we've all been there. Last year I got really nervous when undergrads started lining up jobs before I could even line up interviews.

It's good to keep an open mind. You don't have to work for Google or take a safe first job. In the US it's ok to take risks; it's even OK to fail, so long as you pick yourself up and try again.

One comment for the freshmen and sophomores reading this and getting nervous is that the STEM, Accy, and Finance majors aren't sweating quite as much as the humanities majors. If you know how to design an engine, or if you know how to build circuits, or if you can run stats, you have more options. Nobody owes you a job, but having technical skills opens a few more doors.

Jan 26, 2017

Was in a similar situation. I graduated without a job, and after a while I picked up a retail financial advisor gig and a local PWM firm. Over time I was able to prove myself with some projects and became an analyst over there (picking out mutual funds, designing asset allocations, stuff like that) which I'm hoping can segue to equity research (original goal) or to a top MBA program. It's not where you start but where you're going.

Jan 26, 2017

Good story and great that it has worked out for your friend.

However, the reality remains, start-ups are tough. You have no safety if your company fails. The same way self-employed people can't really go back to the corporate world. The key is to ask for salary when signing up with a start-up. Never work for free. If you are getting some salary, at the end of the day, you can say it was a good experience and I got some money out of it. Also ask for a senior position if you can.

There is this guy, really smart, straight out of the university. he went with a renewable start-up company. He was fired after 30 days not because of his performance, but the company was run by morons who went overboard and hired so many people that they couldn't even make the salary payments. They have had zero-income so far (after 2.5 years!). The company now lists a few projects that failed as their past successful projects and the founders are still trying to save the company. The person who was fired now works at a M&A boutique.

A good thing was that he was really smart so he understood immediately that there were no chances that he could get promoted or the company became successful. He started to apply for other jobs 1 week after he started at this renewable. There was no much to do in the office, he told me.

Pay close attention to the management when working for a start-up. You have to meet them a few times before accepting the offer. If they are morons, just say no.

Jan 26, 2017

Why was his GPA low if he had the drive and smarts? It just doesn't seem smart to slack on grades.

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

Jan 26, 2017
sevensevens:

Why was his GPA low if he had the drive and smarts? It just doesn't seem smart to slack on grades.

Because shit happens and your GPA falls before realizing you need to get your shit straight.

Most kids on here are driven and will be successful no matter where they go.

Jan 26, 2017

Great post! All of us who had to shed blood, sweat, and tears in search of an summer internship could use the motivation right about now.

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Jan 26, 2017

great post

Jan 26, 2017

As a senior in college with only a few interviews and one internship offer this is very encouraging. Thanks for the great post.

-- reaper