I was wondering if any of the bankers out there who have come from non-target schools could drop a quick synopsis of the path that they took which led to working in banking.

Comments (22)


but i am certainly not from a target school. i double majored in accounting and finance from a public university, was active in extracurricular activities, had an internship as a credit analyst for a public debt fund, and after i graduated i worked for 2 years at an institutional investment consultant as an analyst. The consulting job helped me master my MS excel skills and MS word formatting skills which have been a huge help since signing on as an investment banking analyst. Also, the direct contact with clients i experienced was important. Lastly i took and passed Level 1 of the CFA exam while i was at the consultant. I was chosen over multiple MBA candidates for the highly sought after position in a region where investment banks are scarce.

Investment Banking Interview Course


not bad dongKong


I went to a public state university for my undergraduate to save money. I always planned on going to grad school, thus went to get a masters degree in the UK from a target. Now I have a full time job (sales derivatives equity) waiting for me in July at a BB.

An acquaintance of mine from my state school got a job in research at BofA in NY. Not the best bank, not the worst one either. He was a very driven kid, extremely arrogant though, might be the reason why he didn't get the M&A jobs he actually wanted.

An actual friend of mine from my state school got a job at JP Morgan in Trading. He was part of the hispanic business society, and their club had the best network on the street in my business school.

Another friend got a position in risk management at MS, she doesn't really like it, but is considering to get into M&A. Again she was part of the hispanic business society, and milked that network.

Some jackass from my undergrad, (That I dearly love none the less) got an internship at some boutique firm that ended up being bought out by blackstone... So thanks to cheer luck he has a full time offer at that bank.

Another guy busted his arse to get a job at HSBC in PWM, he got the job. He is an extremely brilliant individual from Venezuela, and I believe his father helped him get the internship that led him to his full time offer.

To sum it up: It is possible to make it into banking out of a non-target, and you don't have to be hispanic either. But if you notice the trend, most people who are in banking from my non-target were from the hispanic business society. It just means you have to look at the club that is the most connected with Wall Street. I am not hispanic but I went to a couple of their events. Look at EVERY opportunity there are on your campus.

Finally, I didn't do that because I didn't need to thanks to grad school. But you can always contact alumns that did end up on the street, there are very very few from my school, but if I understood correctly, they will bust their asses to get you some interviews if you are worth it.

(I just realized I didn't capitalize the H in Hispanic, please excuse me)

Remember, you will always be a salesman, no matter how fancy your title is.
- My ex girlfriend


not every major bank recruited from my school, but I used the alumni network at those other banks to get interviews and eventually a job. My advice to you would be to start e-mailing and calling alumni.


Thanks for the range of situations. Im from a non-target, graduated 6 months ago and am doing a consulting position at JPM through an agency. Im trying every possible avenue with minimal success. I've been told by many ppl that my res is strong(esp. work ethic, and leadership). And I've been bending over backwards trying every avenue with not even a nibble... Ive been networking, applying left, right, and center. I even dropped over $2k and a 7-10PM class after work on a 4wk IB Training seminar, which I think was really excellent. I even cold-call/cold-email bankers with no success(I know this is a glim prospect), model mock deals, etc... None of the technical stuff will help me until I land an interview though.

Can anyone offer some insight on the brick wall I seem to be hitting? Has anyone else overcome similar hurdles to secure a banking position?


I'm a currently not a banker, but am in the process of getting there. I'm looking for an internship now, and I think I might have some good leads with Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada. This is because I networked like crazy. Anyways, I know a guy who got a job with goldman sachs in their derivatives trading group. He managed to get a solid internship with a hedge fund though. He basically went about talking to professors to help him.

Investment Banking Interview Course


Part of the issue for you right now elan is that no one is hiring. I attend Yale and I am one of no more than probably 15 kids who got FT offers without a SA. Last year I think that number was closer to 40, so obviously non-targets are getting killed.


The thing is that the top most candidate in a non target has as much a chance as an absolutely average candidate at a target. i have come to see this from my experience.


Let me preface this by saying that I'm not a banker (yet...) though I think that I can still shed some light on this topic:

I'm a current senior at a non-target though very well respected private school. My friends who have gotten internships and full time offers in banking made it in through networking--e-mailing alums and other people that they know. Luckily, my school has a critical mass of people living in NY who work in banking.

Last summer I managed to line up a REALLY great internship (everyone I worked with had BB experience, directly related to IB/corp. finance) through nearly dumb luck--submitted my resume through an internship listing database, was one of a handful of people they interviewed out of hundreds of resumes, and managed to get an offer (and get paid quite well). At that point, I wasn't dead set on banking, it was just one of a few things I was looking at. Ironically, I sent resumes to countless places that were less selective and far less interesting and never heard from them.

This fall I landed interviews at 2 local/boutique banks; one of which is quite well respected in its niche. I simply submitted my resume online and got calls from them. Also had another interview at a very prestigious boutique (think Lazard, Evercore, Greenhill) that I got through a helpful alum who had access to my (and other) resumes through my school.

My path (so far) has been pretty unusual in that I never e-mailed or networked with anyone, though I've started to do that now. My advice to you would just be to talk to as many people as possible. However, spamming your resume never hurt also; it certainly paid off in my case.

Keep plugging away buddy. Keep your eyes and ears open for every possible opportunity.


EDIT: Dunno why this is showing up new - it was posted last year while I was still in school.

I'm currently a senior at a southern, private, non-target. The only BBs that came to campus were Citi, Bear, JPM, Wachovia and BofA, but many MM firms like KBW and Jefferies come to campus, as well as many boutiques.

My junior year I was late to the game for summer positions, and found that deadlines had passed for most banks. I was still able to beat the deadlines for a few of the MM firms. My resume was strong, and I nailed the interviews. Afterward, through a stroke of networking luck, I got connected to an upper executive of one of the banks I interviewed at. He made a phone call, and I got the summer position (although afterward, I learned that I was at the top of the post-interview rankings anyway).

I spent the summer at the MM firm and worked my butt off to impress the guys I worked with. After my summer, I received at FT offer, but decided that I wanted to look around a bit. I spent the entire fall of my senior year speaking with family friends, my summer colleagues, and recruiters as they came to campus. I ended up scoring a ton of interviews (and making it to superdays) at firms of every size.

I ended up taking a position with a prestigious M&A boutique, primarily because I enjoyed the people (which, if you ask me, is the most important thing).

In summary - I think the most critical thing in landing interviews, and being prepared to excel once I got there, was having the junior summer internship under my belt. For all you younger guys out there - work your butt off networking to get that internship junior year. It doesn't have to be at a BB in NYC. It just has to be in investment banking. I can't stress how much this helped me. The BB firms didn't care that it was a MM internship - purely having it put me head and shoulders above a lot of other applicants.

Good luck to everyone out there at non-targets - it can be done!

- Capt K -
"Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, bait the hook with prestige." - Paul Graham


I went to a new school, with no alumni, obviously not a target by a mile. Graduated six months ago, started applying for analyst positions for the fall and then found out how early you have to apply. I was pretty clueless back then, not that I'm a genius now. Talked my way into an interview with Greenhill after showing up and knocking on their door, but not good enough for them to open up a spot.

Things that didn't work for me:

  • Personal connections
  • Cold-calling
  • Alumni (none to speak of)
  • Friends in finance

What I did:

  • Figured out I was clueless and proceeded to read everything I could to get an idea of what was going on, then zeroed in on the regular interview stuff (Damodaran is a hero for putting his stuff online)
  • Applied online everywhere, even though numerous people told me it was useless
  • Got a few interviews (all from online apps), one second round with a BB
  • Rocked that, did a superday and rocked that, got an offer for 2008

I look decent on paper (previous independent consulting experience, top of my graduating class, etc.), but I had no MBB/BB internships and moved towards finance very late (last year of school). I really hadn't done myself any favors.

Frankly, I was lucky my resume ended up in the interview pile in the first place. After that though, I had worked pretty hard to know everything I could and more. Ironically the finance stuff wasn't that impressive to them, they said "well done" and that was that, but the strategic knowledge and ability to lead a group under pressure was apparently what impressed the hell out of them according to the guy who called me with the offer.

I suppose the takeaway is (1) do all you can to get the resume in the interview pile (really, probably be more aggressive than I was and call them up); (2) work hard in the meantime to know your finance, and if possible expand that to some of what a typical MBA curriculum may include...it seems to score points.

I do well in social situations, but if that's a weakness definitely do what you can to work on it. I imagine it counts more than anything else, both in terms of working with people and in terms of being able to make a lasting impression.


To all non-target prospective monkeys out there:

Don't ever be bothered or get discouraged by the fact that you did not go to a target school. If you want it enough, you'll get there.

I'm from a very non-target with no IB recruiting at all (only one recent alum who made it into IB at Piper, another one into S&T at GS). Majored in computer science then switched to econ at a state school. Not-so-good GPA and OK in extracurricular activities. Did a PWM internship at a BB. After graduation I did a year and a half of valuation for technology firms at a economic consulting firm. I leveraged that and landed a tech IB internship at a boutique, which I'll be finishing up next week. Had a superday this week at a top MM bank and got the offer for tech IBD, a top group on the street.

Conclusion? Anything can happen if you work for it and do it the right way. I'm an example of a non-target with non-exceptional credentials who made into a top bank and group during the WORST job market. The best thing to have is an unconventional mindset. Even if you didn't go through recruiting while you were at school, the process just gets harder but more satisfying in the end. There are still opportunities out there and you just have to find them in anyway you can. The 4 things that got me here was:

1) Finding a job or a niche that can be very transferrable to an IB role later on. I did lots of modeling for tech companies in my first job and that turned out to be very useful for the group that I was targeting.
2) Cold calling/emailing alums, friends, friends of colleagues etc. More ADVICE from them, you're likely to do better at interviews. More opportunities arise, more chances you'll land something.
3) Research, study and practice. Be very very prepared for an interview. I can't stress enough how important it is to understand the interview process and know what's going to come at you. Being able to deliver a background that makes sense is upmost important (since much of the time during the interview is focused on that). Know your finance, acct and niche cold, if you had lots of background in them. The superday I had this week was the first superday I've ever had (and hopefully the last, for an analyst role at least). I just kept my head down and prepared it day and night, on the train, in the shower (while working as a SA). It's your chance to shine and don't let it blow by you.
4) Luck. Lots of luck. Unfortunately this is a factor we can't control, but do put yourself in the position where your chances are the greatest. I had good background in tech and that's exactly what I went for.

That being said, I wish everyone good luck, especially in this shitty market. Feel free to PM me anytime if you need help because I was once in your shoes and understand how challenging and frustrating the process can be.


I've posted this a couple times but I'll go again.

Went to a small definite nontarget (but well respected) liberal arts school in New England. Passed on some target schools like UVA and the like because of a scholarship offer at the school I chose (if you follow college basketball, you can probably tell where I went). Nobody at my school, except for 3-4 kids who work their a$$ off, end up in IBD/S&T. I had no idea what I wanted to do until my sophomore year, when one of my roommates transferred to an Ivy League school to have better odds of getting into a banking job.

After my sophomore year I figured I'd check out some finance/accounting, since I was an econ major and knew I didn't want to go into research, so finance was the only other option I knew econ was useful for. Through a family contact, I got an internship in finance/budgeting in my home city. The job was pretty boring, but I learned a ton about debits/credits and financial accounting, which became really helpful when trying to understand financial statement analysis.

The more I looked into finance jobs, the more I realized that banking seemed like the most interesting and lucrative option out there. Because I was a bit late into the game of interest in banking (relative to kids at target schools), I could not get a banking internship, but was able to cold call my way into some contacts at MMs during spring of junior year. These became helpful in the near future, since I was able to get a CorpDev job at a F250 tech company, doing M&A. I worked on two live deals and got some great deal experience. I honestly thought hard about staying, but I would've had to do a rotational program and I did not want 1 year of M&A and 2 other years of treasury/op's.

I knew I wanted to do banking, and the guys in CorpDev were unbelievably helpful. Through a high school connection, I met up with the head of our CorpDev group, had coffee with him a few times, and apparently he took a big liking to me, because he personally called 5 BB MDs he dealt with in the past and got me connected with them. 4 of those later turned into offers. Additionally, the banks that I kept calling spring of junior year finally took interest in me after the M&A experience, and I got another pair of MM/boutique offers. I think it also helped that I managed to get a boutique IB internship for the fall secured that summer, which I was sure to note in my resume and in interviews.

Furthermore, after scrounging through my school alumni network and searching through Google for more banking alumni, I got in touch with a few other boutiques and MMs. By this time, I had gotten my BB offers, so I did not pursue the MMs further. However, I've kept in contact with the alumni for advice and in the future I expect those contacts will become helpful.

My main advice is the following. Kick a$$ in school- 3.7+ GPA, preferably over 3.8. Sounds intimidating, but if you crack down you can do it. Find a few internships during the school year. I think as a NT you need to prove you are harder-working than the rest. To help pay for my rent at school, I had a workstudy, job, and an internship each semester from sophomore year on. Only a couple were finance-related, but all helped me. I learned PowerPoint skills through my workstudy (creating PPTs for professor presentations). I learned time management at an operations/mgmt gig. Picked up people/phone skills in a marketing internship (important for interviewing). You don't have to go this heavy into it, but it wouldn't hurt.

In addition to GPA/internships, look for an extracurricular that you can participate in and play a real role in. And pursue EVERY angle. Alumni, HS alumni, friends, family, friends of friends, cold-calling, whatever. If you are smart and persistent, as well as friendly, SOMEONE will eventually give you an offer. And it seems like when it rains it pours- when one place offers it seems like 2-3 do soon after, so don't get frustrated.

Nontargets are at a disadvantage getting into the door, but not one bit once you start interviewing. The interviewers don't care where you went (unless of course you were from the same school as they went to). In fact, as an econ major at a liberal arts school, I felt like I got a lot more softball questions than someone from a Wharton or Ivey or UT-Austin BHP. Be confident. And understand that right now, the markets are brutal. You won't be the only one to not get an offer if you come up short. Look into CorpDev, CorpFin, or Big4 transactions services/M&A advisory. They are all really good experience and better work-life balance, but with lesser pay and exit opps. I met a ton of guys in banking who started off in accounting or corporate finance, went to get their MBA, and eventually got into banking.


You guys who went to state schools - there are state schools and then there are state schools... may be good to specify.


what would you guys consider middle range UC's (UCD, UCI, UCSB)?


Do you mean the distinction between a UVA, Michigan and a Western Dakota Tech, etc..?

"I'm not sure what the four 9's do, but the ace, I think, is pretty high."




Some state schools are heavily recruited ... UMich, UVA, UTaustin, Cal ... huge difference between these schools and places like ASU, Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska


I'm currently a senior at a southern, private, non-target. The only BBs that came to campus were Citi, Bear, JPM, Wachovia and BofA, but many MM firms like KBW and Jefferies come to campus, as well as many boutiques.

How is that a non-target? I went to a private non-target in the greater NY area, and the only recruiting on campus was a few BB for operations.


The sad thing about my school is that there wasn't even recruiting for operations...

Add a Comment