High school student networking and university advice for IBD/Corp Finance

Hey, I'm a senior in high school ( Asia) looking to pursue a career in finance and IBD has interested me the most. I have done quite a bit of reading on WSO and other forums about corp finance careers, so I do have a decent idea of what goes on.

My main question is about target schools in the UK. From what I can make out, LSE, Oxbridge, Warwick ,and UCL are the main ones and at-least 2-3 of those are on my targets as my IB predicted scores will likely be around 42/45. If any alumni from said colleges who have gone into a finance career in general could share their experiences and what type of networking/internships they did, I would really appreciate it. I would also really like to know how people from non-targets transitioned into these careers and beat the odds.

Secondly, what advice would you give to a high school senior, and eventually university student, to network and connect with people in the industry. While it's still quite early for me to be dead set on IBD, I would really like getting to know students and people in the industry ( That's why I'm on WSO also) and shaping my interests/career path in that way. Mainly because I believe that you can't solely be successful off of hard work, you have to know people, work smart, and know how to socialise/have fun. As a person I would say I am a 'work hard, play hard' type and maybe that is way I am inclined to this career outlook( alongside the obvious fact that I enjoy the subjects of finance/business/economics).

I apologise if my post is sort of vague, but I'm just looking for general advice/ experiences on these topics. Thanks to anyone who goes through the time to read this. 

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Comments (8)

Jun 20, 2021 - 10:31am

You don't need to be networking as high school senior - wait until you're a freshman, then hit up alumni from your university. No one's gonna take a high school senior seriously to network with.

Also, really not sure if banking is the best route for a "work hard, play hard" type of person. When are you going to be "playing hard", at 3 am? Banking, at least at the early level, entails trading time for money. If you want to "work hard, play hard", you may be better served by a riskier position where you traded risk for money (these roles are obviously a lot more stressful though - there's no such thing as a free lunch). Specifically, something like S&T or hedge funds may interest you more.

Jun 20, 2021 - 10:17pm

Thanks a lot, that's definitely something to consider. I think my phrased my message incorrectly, I meant it more in the sense of my current school experience and that I feel having a social life in uni/school will help my character and develop my social skills. As for the networking part, your point makes sense, but maybe I can talk to a few uni students in some of the schools I'm targeting.

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Jun 20, 2021 - 12:53pm

1) Read this: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1n1vLYhVzGB_g7_eJKCebn21C8dyb7x5r/view. Its a list of how many FO analysts currently work in IB from each school (ignore the consulting and gross total as it skews Oxbridge which is the main target for MBB consulting). Mainly look at BB and EB, maybe MM. Worth noting Imperial is a strong target but only offers STEM courses so not many people are interested in finance, but a larger proportion of imperial students who apply are successful than even LSE

Really hope work hard play hard isn't coming from Wolf of Wall Street since finance is nothing like that - nor is it like shows like billions either. If you want to do IBD, you're basically going to be working 80+ hour weeks editing excel and powerpoint slides for the first 2 years. Most people leave to more interesting and/or lucrative fields and a minority will stay on. FO positions aren't just IBD, there's S&T and ER which all have slightly different exit opportunities and favour different lifestyles.

2) You can study anything in the UK at a target (or semi-target) as long as you join relevant societies. Networking is hit or miss here since we don't use OCR unlike the USA; the application procedure is very standardised for spring weeks and summer internships where you pretty much make a CV, Cover letter and do some online tests. Then you do interviews and assessment centers. This is quite different to recruitment in the US.

3) If you like to "play hard" then maybe avoid imperial college london and LSE (hell cambridge too if its that important to you) , but I feel like its something you just said rather than being a major aspect of your lifestyle that could impact your university choice. Not that you can't play hard at these unis but there's easier targets to do so at.

Jun 20, 2021 - 10:24pm

Thanks for taking the time to reply! I don't think I phrased it correctly when I said " work hard, play hard" ( Although Wolf Of Wall Street is a banger). I was intending to say it in the sense that I like to socialize and have a personality outside of studies/work, rather than the type of lifestyle I want to live in the future ( too early for that). I have heard about S&T definitely sounds interesting. As for universities, my current preference is Warwick, it's strong academically/reputation-wise and also has a nice vibe/culture. Plus, I've lived in big cities all my life, so a campus experience is also intriguing.

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Jun 21, 2021 - 3:50pm

Oxbridge, Warwick and Durham might feel like natural picks for you in that case. UCL has a great social scene but can feel disconnected because of how huge it is and all london unis have something of a disconnected feeling with them. LSE doesn't really have a campus feel I've been told and whilst imperial is better for this, there aren't many girls, most are international students (either a pro/con depending on who u ask) and everyone is a stem nerd.

Jun 21, 2021 - 10:02pm

Thanks that makes sense, Oxford and Warwick were my top 2 preferences anyways, I'll look into Durham also. I've heard the same about Imperial, sounds a bit dull and it's more inclined towards med school and physics/cs. Definitely feel like Warwick/Oxford would be fun + culturally diverse while also being academically challenging. Are you a student/alumni at any of the targets?

Jun 22, 2021 - 5:15am

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