Getting first job with no internships

I will be graduating from a non-target (George Mason) this coming spring with no internships. I have been working full time for an Allstate agency as a producer over the last several years which has allowed me to pay all of my tuition upfront. I am also 100% financially independent (rent, food, everything else) at just 22, so leaving my job to do an internship and then coming back to have no job was not a viable option for me the last two summers. I will be graduating with a 3.77 GPA with a B.S. Finance and will be sitting for the CFA level 1 this coming June.

I want to go into equity research/analysis/valuation but almost all opportunities I have looked at require some sort of experience such as prior internships or 1 -3 years of experience in the industry. With classes just winding down, I am also late to applying for a lot 2018 graduate positions as most BB and MM applications have already closed.

I am very motivated to succeed and feel I possess the necessary analytical and valuation (DFC, market comparables, etc.) skills, but I feel I am a step behind and I really don't even know where to look with most applications being closed already. Any advice as to what companies to look at that anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (86)

Dec 5, 2017

Yeah. I received a FT position without internships. Its possible.

I would recommend dropping CFA L1 in June though. You're going to be spending most of the Spring interviewing and you don't need to worry about that yet.

Your main focus needs to be on interviewing and getting the best job you can.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Dec 6, 2017

Being that I will probably not get into a top bank starting out, I was thinking having the CFA level 1 will help me land a job with a larger bank when looking to exit a year or two later. Would you disagree?

Dec 6, 2017
RGKessinger1019:

Being that I will probably not get into a top bank starting out, I was thinking having the CFA level 1 will help me land a job with a larger bank when looking to exit a year or two later. Would you disagree?

The CFA exams are more like icing on the cake than being a game changer like an MBA. Also, L2 is more of an accomplishment.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Best Response
Dec 5, 2017

I was in the same boat. Landed a gig as a Credit Analyst at a regional top 25 commercial bank. You're going to have a tough time getting any F500 back office jobs, let alone ER/research/Val. Networking will be key - you'll still have a hard time getting in at a small boutique for Val/ER... especially if you weren't at least President of the finance job etc...

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Dec 7, 2017

Time to get a MSF @ Nova. JK but seriously you need to network. Don't give up either because since you're so late to the game it might take 6-9+ months to find a solid job. Interviews for the 2018 ft spots you mentioned (or any solid f500, etc.) ran from this summer to like november for the non-fo finance stuff.

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Dec 7, 2017

Not expert advice here but I would say as you're 22 you have plenty of time to do stuff like the CFA, etc. Even if you land a job you don't want at for , definitely do stuff on the side that will distinguish you as strongly as possible. I'd be in favour of the CFA for that reason, I think otherwise you'd just look like any other candidate without relevant experience. Best of luck.

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Dec 7, 2017

This is what I was thinking. If I start off in a position that I don't necessarily want at a regional bank, I feel having the CFA level 1 and possibly 2 by the time I look to leave would help me stand out.

Dec 7, 2017

I came from a very non-target and I think just being a CFA candidate helped me get interviews. I agree that networking is the most important thing - but being able to talk about the CFA and showing you have the drive to study/take on a test like that speaks volumes - especially to other CFA candidates or charterholders.

Just my $.02

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Dec 7, 2017

look into commerical insurance brokerage...or also look into the investing arm of insurance companies.

Dec 7, 2017

I know a lot of people with Allstate corporate and have considered going that route, but with insurance companies the vast majority of funds are allocated in fixed income which is not my strong suit nor what I have a passion for. Something is better than nothing, obviously, so this is something that is on my radar.

Dec 7, 2017

Why didn't you just go to UVA could've transferred with that GPA (assuming you're from VA) now you're screwed good luck

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Dec 7, 2017

You might have to do an unpaid internship / paid internship / temp position for a little bit.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 7, 2017

What types of places offer those to graduates? I've talked to a few recruiters through my school who all said don't bother applying for an internship as a senior/graduate.

Hoping for hedge life.

Dec 7, 2017

Highly recommend this. I wanted to break into finance but couldn't get responses from any of the boutique/MM banks therefore I applied to a search fund. I worked my ass off (even though unpaid, most of the other interns were MBA candidates) and crushed a case study. I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to prove my industry knowledge (had modeling/pitchbook experience from an IB club at a semi). It is very tough but it is doable with the correct attitude.

Dec 7, 2017

I'd say ignore the experience requirement and apply for as many places as possible. In many case, the requirements aren't hard and fast really - if they like a candidate enough they can be ignored. Just show that you can learn fast and well, and hopefully someone will give you a break. Easier said than done, I know.

Dec 7, 2017
BonsaiClouds:

I'd say ignore the experience requirement and apply for as many places as possible.

1-2 yrs requirement, fine, MAYBE can ignore
2-4 - nope, he will get rejected.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 7, 2017

I don't want to be a bubble burster, but I think FT hiring will be ridiculously competitive this year, given the fact that many banks overhired over the past few years and deal volume has slowed down for the most part in 2016 (although it seems to be picking up over the past few weeks). That said, most FT spots will be filled by SAs (and offer rated there might be even lower this summer), with MAYBE 1-2 total spots at each bank. It is definitely an uphill battle for anyone, but even more so for this upcoming cycle.

First, you should ask yourself why you even want to do IB. Is it for the paycheck? The exit ops? Or do you legitimately get a hard-on when you hear about a new deal in the WSJ? If it's one of the first two, don't do banking. If you genuinely enjoy learning about deals, reading through 10-Ks, and putting together PowerPoint presentations, then it shouldn't matter where (both geographically and firm size) you do IB, whether it is a BB, MM, or true boutique.

You should also take some time to do some serious personal reflection. What went wrong before? Why do you believe your networking skills sucked? What can you do to improve them?

If I were you, I wouldn't focus too much on getting a BB gig, due to the two points I made above: lower hiring rates, and if you want to do IB you shouldn't care where. That being said, I think you should spend your time reaching out to as many MM and boutique banks as possible. You will likely have better luck. Start networking immediately.

My best advice is to focus on selling the experiences that you do have. I'm sure that throughout your time in college you have done some interesting things and have gained some leadership experience. You need to craft these experiences in a way that is relevant to IB, both on paper and verbally (for when you network). Also, do not ever discount yourself. Don't ever say "Well, I may not have any relevant finance experience, but...". No, no no. You want to be confident and talk about the experiences you DO have and sell them by relating them to aspects of the job. How do you do this? Learn more and more about the job by networking with analysts, and then come interview time, you will be able to say "My experience as (generic leadership role here) provided me with great attention to detail skills because of (specific example). After speaking with (analyst at that firm), I know ATD is important in IB because of (reason), and my background will allow me to hit the ground running." Something to that effect, you get what I mean (hopefully).

Other than that, it sounds like you are checking the boxes for the most part. Make sure your technicals are good (coding doesn't matter at all for IB, so don't focus too much on that unless you're generally interested). CFA L1 won't matter because the process will likely be over by the time you take the test. However, behaviorals are more important, so do not underestimate them.

Best of luck and I hope this helps!

Dec 7, 2017

haha I was writing something similar so I'll just add to this. Thank you for sharing though. I can talk about the US FT recruiting scene (Canada might work differently).

I agree with the users who comment that FT recruitment has shrunk significantly in the past years: fewer, if any, banks are holding FT OCR. The overwhelming majority of IB FT positions are filled from the intern class, and then the few open positions by top SAs switching from peer banks.

I'll be harsh, but this is what I saw from the people in similar situations at my undergrad:
- Those who failed to get IB SA: ended up in Big 4 TS/FAS, boutique IB, or consulting. Experienced hiring in IB is a completely different animal, and quite a few of these people ended up transitioning to IB afterwards.
- Those who failed to convert IB SA: typically went shopping downstream (top BB -> lower-tier MM), oftentimes ended up finagling some IB FT offer.

Remember that IB hiring is severely risk-averse. If you do start networking and getting interviews, you'll have to answer a few questions:
- why hire you over an undergrad from a target?
- why weren't you able to get an IB SA position?
- why should we hire you if you have no IB experience?

Hope this helps. As a reminder, there are exceptions to every story, but this is my perspective.

Dec 7, 2017

@Thomas Pynchon Thanks for the reply - I appreciate how up front it is. I've heard ramblings from more involved peers that there has been a slow down in recruitment over the years. I didn't know to quite that effect, though. Whether or not I think I'm capable of selling myself well enough to be considered one of the two best candidates, including transfers from other banks, is definitely something I'll be seriously considering over the next little while.

My main concern with joining a smaller firm is the deal flow and amount of work. My past experiences have all technically been 9-5 type setups, but never had more than 3.5-4 hours of work a day. I hated that aspect of it. I genuinely want to be worked. Although having some free time on my hands this summer isn't all bad as I have some extra time to cold-call, study, etc., I worry that I won't have anything to really show of my experience at the end of the summer. Being able to point to a X million/billion dollar deal and think to myself, 'I worked relentlessly to help make that happen' is what really attracted me to BBs. If I'm being honest, I suppose at least a bit of why I want this is for exit opportunities, but it has much more to do with my own satisfaction - I get a strong sense of pride when I do something difficult, that actually matters, well. The more often I can get that sense, the better. Going the MM or boutique route (like you mentioned) probably is the best route, though, and I'm (somewhat) sure with a little research, I'll find a MM I'd be equally excited to work at.

Anyways, I've taken up too much of your time as it is so I'll stop there. Thanks again for the guidance!

Dec 7, 2017

You're only screwed if you make yourself screwed. If you don't have any relevant experience, keep a large and diverse set of companies that you are targeting for employment come fall. Someone with no experience won't get into GS (barring any special connections) or any other BB. Your career is not a sprint its a marathon so any relevant experience in your field will help out. Just cast a wide net.

Dec 7, 2017

Bulge brackets, top boutiques, and most established middle-market firms have structured recruiting processes. Internships at these banks are reserved almost exclusively for current university students. Graduates will be funneled into their "experienced hire" pool.

You will, however, see at small boutiques (sub-50 people) that they will in fact offer 3 or 6 month internships on occasion to serve as a trial period before bringing you on as a full-time analyst.

Dec 7, 2017

it will make it harder for you, but you can definitely pull it off if you network your ass off at a bunch of banks

Dec 7, 2017

Also, try an unconventional internship to add something to your resume. This could be a part time gig, winter internship, etc. And yeah, per above......NETWORK like your life depended on it

Dec 7, 2017

It is only January. Plenty of boutiques/middle market firms haven't even thought about recruiting for the summer yet. Start networking and sending out some emails to smaller firms.

"Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America."

Dec 7, 2017

Agree with the networking and going for boutique/MM firms, but make sure you do some massive work on your story.

From reading the original post, it sounds like you got interested in banking only because you got rejected by the consulting firms...need to explain that happened or it'll be hard for anyone to believe you're sincere. I'm not saying that's the case, but that's how it might come across if you don't somehow explain why finance/IB and why now.

Dec 7, 2017

Get an internship at places that don't recruit for your school or are big names

Dec 7, 2017

Hi guys:

thanks for the reply! I guess I should've given more background info:

Originally, i didn't think banking would be for me because it seemed to me that consulting offered better hour/more traveling, but i've recently realized that i don't want consutlling that much--i don't like how firms use templates to address questions and you never work with anyone deeply. As a result, i'm thinking about banking/finance now....

does that make sense? maybe i should do a transitional consulting/banking internship this summer to smooth out the story and reapply next year for fall recruit? does that make sense?

thanks!

Dec 7, 2017

[x]

Dec 7, 2017

I go to one of the HYPs and my gpa is close to 3.7 (quantitative major, not BS ones like political science). I had one interview from Bain but didn't go further than 1st round. Omoba De Jonz O, what would you say my chance is?

Dec 7, 2017

That's not a very good answer. If there is anything that uses templates and not work with clients deeply at the analyst level, it's banking.

Dec 7, 2017

how didn't you get ANY internship offers going to HYP with a 3.7 in a quant major? your interview skills are obviously not up to par.

yes you still have a shot for FT recruiting, but you also need to diagnose and understand what went wrong this time.

Dec 7, 2017

Make sure to check out the BIWS stuff and WSO's guides. Also, are you sure you want to jump back to banking? You will not be meeting with client companies much at all making that switch.

Dec 7, 2017

It depends on where your mba is from. Start networking yesterday.

Dec 7, 2017

attracted to ib for the wrong reason it appears

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

Dec 7, 2017
ostrich:

attracted to ib for the wrong reason it appears

This.

FT recruiting will be impossible without prior experience. Bankers are going to see your resume and instantly think "This kid had no clue what he wanted to do going into his MBA, but then realized that he has massive student loans to pay off, so now he wants to do IB because of the money."

Dec 7, 2017

To be honest, that is partially true.

Not that I had no clue why I wanted a MBA (I did not come to become a banker initially, that is obviously true) or that I realized now that I will have quite some debt, but that I did not have clear idea of what banking was like because I had had little to none exposure to it and never thought it was a posibility for me.

It probably is be just as bad, and rise an equally red flag, and that is why I asked.

Thanks for your answers!

Dec 7, 2017

What did you say that would make it awkward if you met them again?

Dec 7, 2017

well its not what i said that would make it awkward..

its just that they'll see that I didnt land any summer internships durin the time that i was interviewing with them..its hard to spin it off..

if they didnt meet me be4, i could at least say "i decided to take summer school instead of summer searching"

Dec 7, 2017

why don't you use it as a weakness that you overcame, or something of that sort. You could kind of turn it around and say that although I wasn't able to get a SA position, I really took a look at the whole interview process and realized where I could have done better, because I didn't get the position, I did the following things this summer to help make myself into a better candidate (assuming you are doing things).

Turn it into something good instead of dwelling on what you screwed up on in the past.

Dec 7, 2017

"OK, though I was able to find a year-round internship (PE/VC), I was shafted for SA positions for all the banks."

So why not just continue on the year-round internship, which will be on your resume. The people interviewing you in the Spring 2010 probably will not be the same. But if there are a few of the same, your resume will not show a gap and if they remember you, and that's a big if, you will spin it as clearly an indication of your persistence and desire to be part of their bank.

Dec 7, 2017

what if you got an SA somewhere, but weren't successful with the other second rounds you had, still a chance for FT with those firms??

Dec 7, 2017

I hear the analyst exchange is taking apps for 2 people... oh wait you prob already burned that bridge.. GL dude

Dec 7, 2017

sorry i'm not interested to pay 5000US, NYC living expenses, plane ticket, and work for free at some no-name boutique for 4 weeks

thanks

Dec 7, 2017

Don't work at all.. have fun during FT recruiting without a summer internship

Dec 7, 2017

i am sort of in a similar position,,

i had final round with BB S+T as well as with the premier ID broking firm,,,,they both didnt pan out

you can still apply again in the fall...
the firm obviously thought that for some reason, u weren't qualified enough to land the position at that time
my recommendation is to do at least something this summer, the worst is if you just sulk and dont do anything..
do the internship,,,even if u have to drop money living in nyc or whatevs,
im doing an unpaid stint at a mid-level hedge fund in order to build my resume in hopes of reapplying,,although I know my chances of getting into BB for full-time are slim, u need to at least try..plus, even if u dont land BB full-time, the summer stint will help ur chances at other firms...

"Don't work at all.. have fun during FT recruiting without a summer internship"----this kind of gap is the worst thing u can have for potential employers

IVY for Life

Dec 7, 2017

if you are interning this summer, when do you begin to apply to banks for full time? Should you work on networking/landing interviews during the summer?

Dec 7, 2017

you should try to network over the summer if you can,,,that way these people will push for you when full time 1rst round interviews begin.....you apply in the fall after the the school year begins.....

IVY for Life

Dec 7, 2017

It's possible, but extremely hard, as in nearly impossible. You really should do at least one internship before you go into FT.

Timing Is Everything.

Dec 7, 2017

The hedgefund stuff you did should help but still try to get an internship.

Timing Is Everything.

Dec 7, 2017

You might be able to get an FT position, but it will be a lot harder than if you had an internship. I would get an internship at a bank, that will greatly improve your chances. Also, here is an article I came across yesterday:

https://www.cnbc.com/id/48246113
It does not specifically speak to your situation, but it still has great advice that will help you greatly in interviews. Read it.

Timing Is Everything.

Dec 7, 2017

change location and email address :D

contact only those who were supporting you before, to support you again

Dec 7, 2017

You're probably not going to want to hear this, but I'm going to say it anyways:

YOU NEED TO GET AN INTERNSHIP.

Assuming that Finance is your chosen field, just get an internship in finance! Get any one that will have you. It will probably be low level but that's ok. Just cruise and milk it for 2-3 months, get some letters of rec, and apply to a new internship (this time at a higher level).

The only way you're going to progress is to get the ball rolling. Trust me, I know it sucks starting from the bottom, but we don't all have our shit together at the same time. What matters is that you're trying, and that you're succeeding at something.

Once you have an internship you can start thinking about your next move.

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

Dec 7, 2017

Are you referring to an internship not related to my field? I've sent out my resume to many different places and I still have not heard back from any of them or was rejected to my 2.9 GPA. Do you think I might have to do an internship after I graduate with my masters and then find a job?

Dec 7, 2017

Just my thoughts: don't bring it up unless they specifically ask about it. What you should be doing when they ask you to walk through your resume and talk about your experiences, is spin your experiences so that they are bank-like. That is, remember that though an IBD internship does teach you some things, you don't usually get the chance to extensively model (comps does not count! Haha), but you do work late supporting the other team members, deal with multiple deadlines at once, etc. So you've got to cut down to the core of what a banking interview gives you and highlight these things when you talk about your own experiences. For instance, working as the editor for the school paper might grant you some artistic license: talk about last minute deadlines, staying up late, motivating others to produce great work, juggling countless things at once, and having to demonstrate a super-human attention to detail. That's an exaggerated example, but you get the point. I hope that helps, it would be beneficial if you gave us some more on your background: what are your ECs, talking points, etc.?

Dec 7, 2017

I agree with Alphaholic. You are fine if you spin it to your advantage. Relate each of your past experiences to something you would be doing in banking. Don't say "this is like banking because..." but just rattle off your experiences and the kinds of things you did that are relevant. Also, whatever you do dont apologize for not having a banking internship, be confident in your decisions to do what you did.

NEVER lose your BlackBerry
www.conveniencesoftware.com

Dec 7, 2017

at my target school, the people getting all the offers did investment banking. all the people from s/t and Asset Management are having a tough season.

Dec 7, 2017

and thats for consulting and ibanking

Dec 7, 2017

I believe almost all firms hire from their intern class these dayss...

Dec 7, 2017
couchy:

I believe almost all firms hire from their intern class these dayss...

This is true, but not to the extent of banking. IBD typically hires 90%+ of their full time class from interns, whereas consulting I would guess (based on experience) that this number is closer to ~50%. For my firm (Tier 2 - Deloitte S&O/ATK/OW) and West Coast office, each "full time" incoming class is 3-4 analysts, of which 1-2 were interns the previous summer.

Dec 7, 2017

Yeah, the stats for the bigger offices, at the bigger firms (MBB), are even more disparate. 5-6 interns, 30-35 FT hires. I wonder how many of those spots go to people that already have MC internships at lower-tier firms, but I think that's probably correlation more than causation if anything. MC has a very formulaic way they hire undergraduates, based largely on performance in the case, and then secondarily on whether you show the type of skills and characteristics that they're looking for (leadership, communication skills, etc etc), regardless of in what context you showed it.

Dec 7, 2017

i was rejected final round from gs/ms for sa and ended up getting a ft offer from them

on the other hand, i absolutely bombed one of my final round interviews at an semi-elite boutique (moelis, pwp, centerview, etc) for sa and didnt even get an interview invite for fulltime.

so in all i think it depends on just why you didnt actually get the offer the first time around and if they think theres a chance you improved on whatever that was

Dec 7, 2017
twilightgirl:

i was rejected final round from gs/ms for sa and ended up getting a ft offer from them

on the other hand, i absolutely bombed one of my final round interviews at an semi-elite boutique (moelis, pwp, centerview, etc) for sa and didnt even get an interview invite for fulltime.

so in all i think it depends on just why you didnt actually get the offer the first time around and if they think theres a chance you improved on whatever that was

Thanks for the reply. How did you approach FT recruiting then? I mean, did you apply again online or tried to just go through the HR or MD you were in touch with?

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