Failed to "Break In" at my MBA Program - Next Steps?

I'm currently a first year MBA student at a top finance MBA program (Booth, Wharton, CBS, etc.) and was unsuccessful during the recruiting season and did not land a summer associate internship. My goal is to break into IB, but I'm not sure what options are left.

I casted a wide net during recruiting process but got no love. Do any major banks come back to campus in the spring? Am I shit out of luck? Looking to see what the next best steps are here.

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Comments (85)

Funniest
Jan 13, 2019

Any feedback on why you were dinged? Also, guessing you go to CBS since it's definitely not the same as the other 2.

Edit: Lol looks like some butthurt CBS grads here - it's like saying "I work at GS / MS / DB"

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Jan 13, 2019

Unfortunately no feedback. I thought I did well and was expecting at least one offer.

Do you happen to have any insights on boutiques or banks in general that might recruit in the spring?

Jan 14, 2019

My guess is it'll be more one-off opps or pretty small shops looking so late in spring.

Jan 14, 2019

Could you be more specific about the difference between CBS and the other two? Thanks!

Jan 17, 2019

@NuclearPenguins

Can you explain why Columbia is worse than Booth? Aren't they both M7 and wouldn't the NY aspect make it on par or better than Booth? I always assumed the east coast schools and stanford were better than Kellogg and Booth.

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Jan 17, 2019

There is no meaningful difference. Columbia, Wharton and Booth are all fantastic schools.

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Jan 17, 2019

That's kind of what I thought but apparently the 12 SB @NuclearPenguins agree that CBS is like DB compared to the other schools. I'm curious to hear the haters perspective.

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Jan 17, 2019

Maybe he didn't get in? LOL. But seriously, haters gonna hate. Who knows where some of these weird biases come from?

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Jan 21, 2019

Nope never even applied to business school, let alone CBS. But have seriously considered it and talked to many friends who are now in their MBA programs while they thought through their decisions.

I just thought it was kinda funny how the OP was framed. My comment was really more tongue in cheek than anything - all 3 schools are peers when it comes to IBD and a top student will succeed regardless. However, it is generally regarded that the M7 "tiers" (IMO very arbitrary, but there for a reason, just like how w/in BB rankings there are tiers as well) are HS > WB > KCM. This has been talked about a bunch on WSO and elsewhere - here's one example though: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/booth-vs-co...

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Jan 22, 2019
NuclearPenguins:

Nope never even applied to business school, let alone CBS. But have seriously considered it and talked to many friends who are now in their MBA programs while they thought through their decisions.

I just thought it was kinda funny how the OP was framed. My comment was really more tongue in cheek than anything - all 3 schools are peers when it comes to IBD and a top student will succeed regardless. However, it is generally regarded that the M7 "tiers" (IMO very arbitrary, but there for a reason, just like how w/in BB rankings there are tiers as well) are HS > WB > KCM. This has been talked about a bunch on WSO and elsewhere - here's one example though: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/booth-vs-co...

If you read that thread closely, you'll notice that every response putting Booth on par with Wharton was written by a Booth grad.
The reality is that tiers are either H/S and W/K/C/M/B as peers or possibly H/S/W and K/C/M/B as peers. Would argue that H/S are the only two meaningfully more competitive than the rest of M7. There really isn't a meaningful difference in the student body across Columbia and Booth.

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Jan 22, 2019

Couldn't agree more

Jan 17, 2019

They aren't the same. It isn't a prestige thing, more a factor of how many students at each of these schools are recruiting for investment banking. Banks have an allotted number of spots they have for each school, so it will be more difficult the more people that are recruiting for banking. There will be roughly the same number of spots at Wharton, Booth, and CBS for students, but a larger percentage of the class will be fighting for those at CBS. Lesser schools will have fewer spots.

I know of at least 5 first years at CBS this year that completely struck out at investment banking. There was an unprecedented number of students recruiting for IB this year at CBS. Just comes down to a numbers game. These students were all fully capable.

You should really focus on how well a bank does at your respective school and how many others are also gunning after it. CBS being known for banking is not necessarily helpful if everyone else feels the same way.

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Jan 17, 2019

Any idea what the size of the banking class is at Wharton and Booth? I know CBS has about 100 people looking for banking.

Jan 17, 2019

Booth has 70-80-ish IIRC but I don't go there so I could be wrong

Jan 18, 2019

My bank does not have "quotas" for each school (grad or undergrad) - and we are not the only ones who don't.

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Jan 18, 2019

This is kind of misinformation. CBS had around 75-80 applications (which is normal/trending down, certainly not 'unprecedented') put in for most of the top banks, and where some students may have struck out as I'm sure is the case at all of the top schools every year for at least SOME students for a myriad of reasons, the majority of students recruiting wound up with multiple offers from top banks.

Anecdotally, when it comes to school quotas, I think this is largely true, but I'm not sure Booth and Wharton have meaningfully different quota numbers from CBS here - for instance, I know at a couple of EB's the numbers for CBS and Wharton differed by 1 (7 vs 8 offers, 5 vs 6, etc). The biggest difference IMO is CBS's NYC location, which can be a gift and a curse. Do you want to leverage your networking acumen and personal skills by being in NYC and meeting a TON of people from the banks on numerous occasions, or do you want to fly in on Fridays and meet with a bunch of banks in one day maybe once or twice throughout the semester?

I'd guess that a student of equal caliber at CBS, Booth, or Wharton will have a nearly identical outcome in IB recruiting.

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Jan 18, 2019

Thanks for the insight! So would you say the same applies for post-MBA PE recruiting (assuming you had a BB NYC gig and a 2-3 years MM-UMM PE gig pre-MBA)? Like do you think the smaller schools do better for that as well?

Jan 17, 2019
NuclearPenguins:

Any feedback on why you were dinged? Also, guessing you go to CBS since it's definitely not the same as the other 2.

Edit: Lol looks like some butthurt CBS grads here - it's like saying "I work at GS / MS / DB"

HEY! MS IS A GREAT BANK FOOL

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Jan 17, 2019

Dude...he was clearly talking about Goldman

Prost

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Jan 13, 2019

Are you international / have visa issues?

Jan 13, 2019

Nope. I'm a US citizen and did well throughout the process but idk what happened at the end. I left the interviews feeling pretty good about myself.

Jan 14, 2019

Probably could be something as simple as other candidates relying on their connections in BBs they interviewed at.

Jan 14, 2019

That sucks. I was in your shoes a few years ago. What helped was

  • find something as close to ib as possible for the summer/ full time
  • keep networking. If you have to work a non in job after graduation still network.

It's not easy to get into ib if you get cut out of the traditional process but it is possible. Pm me if you have additional questions.

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Jan 14, 2019

Major banks should be done by end of January. Random middle market / regional might post or set up coffee chats for people who didn't get an offer during January OCR.

Other than asking for feedback with the firms, I think it's helpful to ask your peers whom you trust (not the dickheads who try to fuck you to get that offer - you and me both know plenty of those "finance bro" types in bschool, especially a top one like yours) what they think of you as an IB candidate - do you have the qualities they are looking for. And tell your peers to be brutally honest about their view of your candidacy.

While IB is a numbers game, if you didn't get a single offer with any of the banks, you really should reassess your FIT (notice I say fit, not brain) for the profession.

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Jan 14, 2019

Any advice you can share on the 'fit' aspect? I am international starting at a Top 20 MBA in the fall and will be recruiting for IB. Thanks.

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Jan 15, 2019

Sell side, sell side, it's about the selling. IB is a sales job. How do you get people to buy your stuff? You have to make them like you first. That's the "fit" part. IB is like a fraternity (anyone thinks IB is diverse is just delusional), the candidates whom the bankers like get offers.

You are international. You are at a natural disadvantage: 1. first of all, if you are not white, you don't look like them - it's not racism, it's just human nature for people to PREFER to interact with ppl who are like them 2. when they talk about the World Series MVP or how Alshon Jeffrey dropped that crucial pass, you are immediately in that "out" group when your peers start talking about those sports games they watched last night. I think language is never a challenge for international students, but understanding American culture is not something that can be learned very quickly. It's hard and unfair because you grew up in another country, but the bar is still the same because you want to work in the United States - nobody cares that English is your second language, if you cannot add comparable value, why should you be compensated the same as that associate who is American-born.

Few ways to influence (per Robert Cialdini): appearance - if you look like George Clooney, then thank god for that gift, otherwise, definitely dress very well (focus on fit, not brand) - tailored solid navy suits, solid tie with white shirt, nice shoes, get a good haircut, get a decent leather briefcase; similarity - try to relate to your interviewer about anything at all you guys have in common and bring that up in the interview.

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Jan 15, 2019

Thank you so much for the solid advice. Will be great if you can answer few more questions.

  1. Given I have lot of time between now and fall, what can I do to to put myself in a strong position? Which sports should I follow?
  2. What aspects of American culture should I immerse myself in?
    I want to do whatever it takes to get to my goal. Thanks.
Jan 15, 2019

I don't know, this is not math - it just takes time man.

  1. Football, basketball, baseball (the last a little harder to understand for foreigners), maybe hockey (if like you end up in Chicago or Boston?)
  2. I say: 1) Be proactive about making friends with American-born and do activities with them 2) Just watch Netflix, follow a few currently-hot American TV shows and go to movies sometimes (when I was an intern at this bank, everyone was talking about Game of Thrones and I never watched, I missed out a lot of "in" group moments.

Bschool does a very poor job on helping international students navigate American culture and etiquette. I have seen so many small things with international students at networking circles that cost them offers (they definitely smarter than most students on campus): dressing poorly, body odor, talking excessively about Chinese drama or how awesome cricket is, the list goes on.

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Jan 15, 2019

Thanks man-really appreciate it. I am going to a school in the Southeast and this is the first time I am traveling to the US-so really excited but anxious at the same time. I want to make sure that I do everything possible to land that internship.

Jan 15, 2019

Sure, good luck.

Be open-minded about other career paths. If you bend yourself so much and relinquish almost all your personal principles just to get into IB, one, you won't do well in the business, two, you will be miserable. Life is much more than that.

I always encourage recent undergraduate to go for a prestigious job like IB or consulting, because it fast tracks their early career. However, MBA students are quite different, what you can get into post-MBA is highly dependent on what you have accomplished pre-MBA. Fact that we don't go to H/S/W or other M7s means there is pretty much 0 chance you will end up in a mega PE if that's what you are going for. I just want to demystify that because you have no idea how delusional MBA students are going into the program, especially for the international students.

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Jan 15, 2019

Sure-Thank you for your perspective. I am certain I want to do IB post MBA but will keep my mind open. I know PE is not something I want to do or can do . I am going to attend one of the Southeast schools(Top 20) that has a strong record of placing people in IB. Pre MBA I have around 8 years in Big 4 Consulting+ IB Ops(GS/MS)+ Little bit in family business.

Jan 17, 2019

Some solid advice for International students here.

Jan 21, 2019

haha nice jab at the Indian people with the cricket comment.

Yeah I don't get what the relevance of cricket once you start working in America. Indians limit their growth big-time in the West with that cricket shit. Won't help in the land of NBA, NFL, MLB, Nascar.

Jan 26, 2019

If recruiting is fall through Jan I'd suggest prioritizing football (and then hockey if going for the mentioned cities). Baseball doesn't start til spring and basketball is still the first half of the season. All assuming you have zero preference.

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Jan 18, 2019

Just like IB is a fraternity b school is a fraternity as well. Spend the majority of your time around american bros and do your best to fit.
It is very common that internationals hang with internationals at b school. It's not a bad thing but def not helpful if you want to break into IB.

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Jan 16, 2019

Only thing I have to add to this, is not to make the same mistake I see many non-western internationals make, and that's limiting your friend group to students from your region/country, almost to the point of de-facto segregating yourself. Make a concerted effort to hang out w/ the locals even if you feel out of place-you'll pick things up (references, mannerisms, jokes, sports news, etc) much faster without coming off too rehearsed as well as just being more comfortable around the type you'll need to click with during recruiting.

Jan 17, 2019

Absolutely-Thanks for that! I have heard about this repeatedly as well and will make sure I don't make the same mistake! Have a great weekend!

Jan 17, 2019

All good stuff but:

first of all, if you are not white, you don't look like them - it's not racism, it's just human nature for people to PREFER to interact with ppl who are like them

This is literal racism.

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Jan 17, 2019

Yes, it is. Thank you for saying that.

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Jan 17, 2019

.

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Jan 18, 2019
themightysanta:

All good stuff but:

first of all, if you are not white, you don't look like them - it's not racism, it's just human nature for people to PREFER to interact with ppl who are like them

This is literal racism.

I came to the US from Asia, and I don't get "triggered" by this or think of it as racism. Same thing would happen back home.

It is racism if you are a brain dead liberal.

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Jan 18, 2019

Wow. You sound nice.

Jan 22, 2019

I'm also an Asian immigrant - what's your point?

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Jan 17, 2019
vanillathunder:

Major banks should be done by end of January. Random middle market / regional might post or set up coffee chats for people who didn't get an offer during January OCR.

Other than asking for feedback with the firms, I think it's helpful to ask your peers whom you trust (not the dickheads who try to fuck you to get that offer - you and me both know plenty of those "finance bro" types in bschool, especially a top one like yours) what they think of you as an IB candidate - do you have the qualities they are looking for. And tell your peers to be brutally honest about their view of your candidacy.

While IB is a numbers game, if you didn't get a single offer with any of the banks, you really should reassess your FIT (notice I say fit, not brain) for the profession.

At the MBA level, there is a lot of networking required just to get the first round. The amount of interaction prior to interviews for most banks far exceeds the amount of interaction during superdays.
If they made it to final rounds with 6 banks, it's hard to believe it's a fit issue.

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Jan 14, 2019

What is your background? Do you have any relevant experience in finance, or are you trying to pivot careers in a major way? How many final rounds did you get with different banks?

Jan 14, 2019

Background in MC and looking to pivot careers. I had 6 final rounds at 4 BBs and 2 EBs and throughout the informational interview process and closed list recruitment events I seemed to fit in well with most of the bankers and got along with them. I'm probably going to continue to assess how I interviewed and see what I can do to improve my chances to break in.

Jan 16, 2019

I'm a second year MBA and just spent the last two weeks coaching the first years during superweek (almost entirely at a specific non-NYC IB hub - Chicago/Houston/SF/Charlotte/etc). Occasionally, there's one or two guys that have the grades, background, are fairly normal, and seem like they should be fine....but they aren't and wind up offerless. It's happens. It's less of a function of them being poor candidates and more of a function of life taking a shitty random walk and that person having poor luck. I think this is probably the category you fall into seeing as how you landed 6 superdays. I know for the guys that interned in NYC last year at in my program (ranked 15-20 range; semi-to-non target) found their internships late in the process (February-ish), so keep on hustling. Echoing other posters who are encouraging your to go after whatever boutique internship you can get (even if it's some shit-tier, no-name shop), land a FT offer, and re-recruit in the spring. It's much easier doing it this way than choosing some non-IB gig and having to explain why you couldn't land a first year internship offer (usually a big red flag, although not as big of a red flag as interning, not receiving a FT offer, and rerecruiting during your second year).

Jan 17, 2019

You had 6 final rounds without an offer? Those are tough odds--I'm sorry to hear.

How did you answer the Are we your #1? question because some banks don't want to risk an offer on someone who dances around the question.

Jan 17, 2019

Honestly, I think it was because I danced around that question. I realized there was some game theory involved with answering that and I really think beating around the bush with that question really fucked me. Lesson learned

Jan 23, 2019

What city are you recruiting for?

I sent you a DM.

Jan 23, 2019

NYC

Jan 14, 2019

have you looked into tech firms internship programs (amazon, google, facebook, etc...)

just google it...you're welcome

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Jan 14, 2019

A lot of the major tech firms come pretty early on so I will have to wait to see if they come back in the spring.

Jan 21, 2019
faceslappingcompilation:

have you looked into tech firms internship programs (amazon, google, facebook, etc...)

Honestly can't imagine any career that's less relevant to IB.
It's like asking someone who didn't get a return offer in high yield credit sales if they considered working at the zoo.

Most Helpful
Jan 14, 2019

Word to the wise, careers rarely go the direction we envision them. Shit happens along the way. It's not the end of the world. The trick is to keep your mind open to any other possibilities.

Limiting yourself solely to IB, especially pure-play on-campus recruitment is suicide. Got my MBA at HBS. Top brand hands down. Had a stellar GPA, solid recommendations. Problem was, everybody in the pool had an identical profile. It's just not mathematically possible to stand out on pure merit and a 60 second impression. Long story short, 80% of placements went out to the "in" crowd, 20% to the "asslickers", while the rest got effed.

Good news is that consulting firms were parked on capus like vultures, hoping to snatch the scraps. Good to check with your career office if any are shopping around. Another option is to grab a coffee with a professor you have a rapport with, and ask about any opportunities at his firm, or simply ask for advice.

In my case, thanks to the efforts of my brilliant girlfriend (now wife) I dropped the IB aspirations altogether, and instead headed to the Valley to take advantage of VC/PE culture out there. The VC's by IB standards, run an erratic, informal recruitment and are fairly easy to crack with right recommendations and a few meet-and-greets. Money isn't IB fabulous, but it's a far more laid back, more interesting atmosphere. We took couple of trips out to San Fran for a few network sessions, and ended up hitting the right people. Keep your mind open to the Valley. We've got tons of good shops out here.

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Jan 15, 2019

OP you can definitely keep pursuing boutique and MM options in IB, as well as Big 4 Corporate Finance (their IB arm) and other corporate finance, FAS and related management consulting roles (e.g. LEK, Bain). If you don't fix what you did wrong in IB recruiting, however, you are very much at risk for those processes. It's probably more about your story and fit than you would think.

Also, you will potentially have an opportunity to recruit toward the end of your summer internship at banks who may have a slot open up due to not hiring the full intern class. Make sure you get a return offer wherever you summer.

Jan 17, 2019

You sound awesome and I am very glad it worked out for you (and your wife!)

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Jan 18, 2019

Thanks. Appreciate it.

Jan 17, 2019

when did it go from asskisser to asslicker. wtf?

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Jan 22, 2019

It is 2019; who doesn't eat ass? HaHa

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Jan 26, 2019

Anecdotal, but I've noticed asslicker being most commonly used by Europeans.

Jan 17, 2019

Well put, bro. Kudos to your wife.

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Jan 18, 2019

Thanks, man. I'll pass it on.

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Jan 17, 2019
gweiss101:

Word to the wise, careers rarely go the direction we envision them. Shit happens along the way. It's not the end of the world. The trick is to keep your mind open to any other possibilities.

Limiting yourself solely to IB, especially pure-play on-campus recruitment is suicide. Got my MBA at HBS. Top brand hands down. Had a stellar GPA, solid recommendations. Problem was, everybody in the pool had an identical profile. It's just not mathematically possible to stand out on pure merit and a 60 second impression. Long story short, 80% of placements went out to the "in" crowd, 20% to the "asslickers", while the rest got effed.

Good news is that consulting firms were parked on capus like vultures, hoping to snatch the scraps. Good to check with your career office if any are shopping around. Another option is to grab a coffee with a professor you have a rapport with, and ask about any opportunities at his firm, or simply ask for advice.

In my case, thanks to the efforts of my brilliant girlfriend (now wife) I dropped the IB aspirations altogether, and instead headed to the Valley to take advantage of VC/PE culture out there. The VC's by IB standards, run an erratic, informal recruitment and are fairly easy to crack with right recommendations and a few meet-and-greets. Money isn't IB fabulous, but it's a far more laid back, more interesting atmosphere. We took couple of trips out to San Fran for a few network sessions, and ended up hitting the right people. Keep your mind open to the Valley. We've got tons of good shops out here.

Damn everyone should be lucky enough to find the dream wife like you did. Was she a HBS staff or a fellow student?

Jan 18, 2019

She was an RA (Research Associate) in our Entrepreneurship Department. We have an 8-year age gap, so she was only 2-3 years out of undergrad at the time. Highly recommend catching one young like that.

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Jan 17, 2019

Wow. Awesome girl. I'm curious though, how did she come up with the VC idea? Talk about fringe. Was she of the background?

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Jan 18, 2019

Great question. Yes, she did a stint at Sequoia few years back, so she was well-versed.

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Jan 18, 2019

Nice. Impressive that even the RA's at HBS are well-pedigreed.

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Jan 18, 2019

Solid post, man. Your wife 's awesome. Respect her for sticking it out with you when a lesser woman would have left for a banking guy.

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Jan 21, 2019

I will caveat this post for @gweiss101 . Networking your way into cozy VC jobs is 10x easier when you're HBS or GSB (or other M7) than for nearly everyone else.

In fact, getting into VC is primarily a networking game, so his HBS networking path wasn't "sneaking in the back door", it was the standard.

Also, I'm surprised by the implication here that a standard path IB job is more desirable than VC in the valley, especially in 2018.

Jan 16, 2019

I don't buy the notion that profiles are identical. There are always ways to stand out, whether its telling your story just a little better than the next guy or having completely different life experiences.

While others suggested alternative career paths (although consulting at MBB is a really good path, way more interesting than IB), and its hard to not agree but if you really, like fucking really want IB, do not have a plan B.

I suspect it's not your profile that's holding you back but maybe your style/approach. I never advertise for free but in this case, I really recommend you set up a few mock interview sessions with qualified post MBA WSO mentors so they can give you the unbias cold hard truth on why you may not be getting offers.

Good luck!!

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Jan 17, 2019

MBA recruiting for IB is based on slots. Schools usually have a set number of slots or proportion of slots. You're basically competing with your own peers for those spots. Could have been a relative comparison situation.

That said if you are at one of those said schools, you can still rely on a very strong alumni network to break in for FT recruiting or even as a lateral afterwards. Try to get a decent finance focused internship and make the case that you've gained some tangible valuation or industry skills. You could aim for an industry coverage group related to your internship. Networking the hell out of your alumni base works. Trust in it. Good luck.

KC

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Jan 17, 2019

How many people in your class are in the same situation? It's probably naive from me, but I thought you had a shoe in just going to CBS and being in the city for IB.

Jan 17, 2019

It's not over yet! I would recommend reaching out to recruiters at banks you might not have targeted. Good luck...

Jan 17, 2019

Having literally just gone through this process myself, and being successful in garnering offer(s), I found it really helpful personally to reflect on each and one of my subsequent interactions with members of that particular bank - leading up to the super day. It really helped to jot down crucial notes/tips that you've accumulated from each coffee chat. you can then use all those "golden nuggets" of info moving forward to the next coffee chat, and ultimately the super. So for me, each meeting with someone of a particular bank built on top of one another, and in the end, the superday felt somewhat even comfortable. At that point, you'll know what to say in terms of fit, etc as you would've had a lot more data points on the bank.

Perhaps network a bit more is my advice.

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  • Gaurav-Mittal
  •  Jan 17, 2019

I went to a non-target school and made my way in into a MM shop for internship and did not end up getting an offer there. I still wanted to do IB and networked my entire second year and got an offer after I graduated with a solid MM shop in Chicago.

Based on my experiences hustling for 2 years, my advice would be to try to get some IB internship somewhere. There are a lot of small shops around which may be looking for interns in spring. Additionally, look to really small boutiques that run a business model of having free interns over the summer (Bentley and Bois are 2 I know). In my view having the IB internship on the resume is mush stronger than having a corp fin or any other internship. It is much harder to recruit for full time roles in the second year. Hopefully your school is able to bring some OCR for a few spots. Network your ass off. The internship will also hopefully help you understand what IBs really want from an associate.

Hopefully that helps.

Jan 21, 2019

Was being desi a hindrance or did it not matter ?

Jan 18, 2019

Don't give up. Continue to network, I know a lot of people who did Corp fin/bus dev and then went banking FT after mba

Jan 21, 2019

are you a minority, it may have had something to do with it whites are clubby and except for the real professional ones, people will still love hiring another white. If your name isn't Steve and it's like Ahmakirkian and you have an accent I think that just cost you.

Jan 22, 2019

I have a same question as above. I missed my chance to break in during the MBA process. Non-target MBA program with no prior Finance experience, bombed interviews first year and ended up taking an internship with the University's Endowment ($8 billion AUM) stayed on as a full year intern and leveraged it to get interviews with local boutique advisory & PE firms but ended up getting a well paid role in Commercial/Consumer banking that I reasonably couldn't/shouldn't turn down (married with first child on the way at the time) due to timing of offer. Thinking of switching internally to a Corp Fin role and utilizing that experience to prove my worth. I'm open to any advice on how to appear more attractive in the recruitment process, thank you

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Jan 22, 2019
Jan 22, 2019
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Jan 23, 2019
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Feb 9, 2019