How do I break in? What are the realities? Low GPA, Non-Target.

Hi Monkeys

I don't know if IB is the right forum but I had to start somewhere. Long story short I'm wondering my prospects and some guidance. I used to live in New York as a kid so I want to move back. Academically I'm not as strong as I wish I would be but I was dealt a rather tough hand prior to college but now am on track.

Wisconsin Non-Target | Accounting & Finance Major | GPA 3-Cum 3.3-3.6 Major - Probably will get Cumulative up to 3.1-2 | on 5th & Final Year

Operations/Administration Job at a small business (w/ big clients Apple, JCI, Phillips), PE "Internship" (Visited and was given run down, a family member is in it) ( I could possibly get more substantive work from there and spin it), and I have an accounting internship coming up (PWM, Tax, Financial Valuation & Reporting).

I have a teacher who I am good friends with who did the ringer in M&A (Lehman, NYC, became a CEO of a bank, etc), friends with a teacher who practiced law in M&A, Uncle is in Real Estate-PE used to work for GS, and dad is a President in a F500. Uncles are in a plethora of different financial positions.

I am currently reading a lot of literature about the topics, learning excel in depth, learning a program similar to VBA and potentially VBA and polishing appearances. Fighting hard to improve GPA. If I upkick in seriousness I will do extensive networking and drill technicals.

May also start an IB club as a sister school has it, and may with the help of a teacher get a business book published within the school.

Really I just want to what my chances are. What should I go for?

If I do commit how should I do it?

What are the realities and how do I work around them/with them?

Any help is appreciated, have a good day.

Comments (35)

Jun 26, 2019 - 5:52pm

So you don't go to Madison then? If you want to get into IB, go for it. It will be harder to break in to BB if you don't have an internship at the bank but is most definitely possible. Definitely network a ton and set reasonable goals for where you think you want to go. If you are unlucky and see IB as a long term thing, look into Baird in Milwaukee or Blair in Chicago get some experience and then head to NY after a couple years.

Just because your GPA isn't super good and you don't go to a target school does not mean you are doomed. Network like crazy because at the end of the day, its all about who and what you know

Jun 26, 2019 - 5:57pm

My Opinion:
Education: Oof - GPA a little low, 5th Year? (Why?), non-target You got to get that GPA up Especially in your Major.
Experience: Sounds Borderline Worthless, "PE Internship" - Get more work here if you can, but sounds like you didn't do anything, The accounting internship will be tough to break away from, but not impossible.
Contacts: This is you best chance in my opinion. Leverage these connections and us this as a spring board to land something.
Current Plan: VBA in my Opinion worthless for IB, Network Harder than you ever have before and Expand your horizons.

Overall: sounds like you need to actually figure out what you want to do. I think you are going to have a tough uphill battle if you want to work in PE/IB/VC.

Should have no Problem getting into Corp fin or Acct

Jun 26, 2019 - 6:27pm

Ok, thanks. Major GPA will go up, 5yrs because of life events leading to college.

I was thinking I could spin the Accounting job as there is coverage of mergers/acquisitions of companies but I don't know how relevant the accounting work is to actual M&A or the alikes.

I'll be honest I'm not entirely sure on what I want to do. But networking ok, Ill have to look more into that.

Jul 1, 2019 - 4:39am

My dude, you gotta Han Solo this shit or go home("Never tell me the odds"). Your situation isn't glamorous, so I'm going to share a bit about mine to help your mindset, which is what really matters.

I started in community college(also dealt a tough hand and was being practical with living expenses and core reqs). I took 6 years for undergrad(delayed for a finance minor since I was starting an MSF in the fall anyway). I was in music performance on a scholarship at a university and all of a sudden got a prohibitive injury. I pivoted to finance very late (end of 4th year). I had zero business connections of any kind. What I had was passion and a respectable level of intelligence.

I took out debt to buy a ton of books, bootlegged analyst training manuals, cold emailed, tested out of prereqs for finance courses, aced the courses, got into a local nontarget MSF, got a technical (not IB) internship, got a couple buyside internships, and now I'm on the buy side FT in my preferred asset class (Lev/Distressed debt).

I didn't ask for odds. I had a vision and tried to realize it. The unsolicited odds I received from people were not good. I didn't care. The next thing on my passion list after music performance was financial markets, so it wasn't about someone's odds. It was about the fact that in the next hundred years I'm certainly going to be six feet under, and dammit, this is what I want.

If this is really what you want, you will do what you have to do to find a way. Yes, you will have to bust your ass and take more time. Yes, you will be an outlier. But if that was your concern, then you were toast before you started this thread. If you actually want to be in the industry for healthy, sane reasons, then I can definitely try to help with any specifics you may have.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.
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Jul 8, 2019 - 3:41pm

Oh trust me that the mindset, and I like the pep talk, thanks. Any tips on what books to buy/programs to torrent?

Also importantly any advice on the cold calling/emailing? This is the biggest for me, I can turn on the charm but I just need to know how to present it.

Also great name, made me laugh.

Jul 14, 2019 - 1:25am

I didn't get a sense of your preferences (product groups, asset classes, strategies, buy side versus sell side, deals versus markets, etc), so I'd need a basic idea on that before giving helpful suggestions on resources. If you don't already know your preferences (which can certainly change once you get experience), then I would strongly suggest reading all the articles on Mergers & Inquisitions. That will give a lot of basic context.

For networking I'd suggest doing the above first so you can target people in certain areas and be able to articulate why you think you would prefer their area over others. Be genuine and try to build a relationship.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.
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Sep 25, 2019 - 10:39pm

Wtf obviously Front office. The amount of bullshit you had to have assumed I'm spewing by even asking that question is straight up offensive. So yes, I'm front office, and no, your gotcha question didn't land. My bad if I'm taking this the wrong way, but consider what you're implying by asking that after everything I've already said. You may as well have asked if I'm a complete fucking fraud and am just talking out of my ass.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.
Jul 1, 2019 - 9:12am

On your resume list your major GPA as 3.6, ignore all of the other GPAs, you want the 3.6 on there since it is the highest. VBA, Excel, whatever skills you'e thinking of learnign are useless. Right now you need to network your ass off. Speak to hundreds of analysts and as many VPs as possible. When recruiting starts up email them and ask them to include you in the process. The only thing you have going for you is your ability to hustle and that manifests in networking.

Jul 1, 2019 - 9:38am

I attended a non-target and graduated late also due to extenuating circumstances that occurred during HS, so I feel your pain. It sucks and I wish you the best.

The Good: If you hustle, anything is possible and you can break into IB.

The Bad: I do not think you can expect to graduate and go directly into IB (certainly not VC/PE), unless you have a very strong connection that opens doors for you. I think you will have a hard time cold emailing and getting responses, andso it will be exceedingly difficult to gain traction at most decent shops.

The ugly: You should (to an extent) know what you want to do by now. You are graduating late, and have a very rough sketch of a plan. This is not the mindset for IB. I was certain by my sophomore year and it was still an extremely uphill battle. However, you are not out of the running. You are competing against students who go to better schools, with better GPAs, and some have known what they wanted to do since HS. Then again, so was I, and I got FT IB offers. I never would have asked anyone on this site if I had a chance, as my situation was incredibly unlikely. My friends told me I was fucked, and the odds were stacked heavily against me.

Moving forward: I think a MSF would be the best way into IB. You may not want to do this directly, but to work for a year or two prior to beginning the program. With an average GPA from a non target, the good work experience may help you get into more competitive programs. Then you could also recruit for IB and come on as a summer associate. However, you need to start to learn about what IB is all about ASAP if you think its the route to take. Talk to as many bankers as you can, practice modeling, and try to determine whether or not this is something you're interested in. You need to be 100% committed, because while some of the work sounds appealing and cool, it is brutal and mind numbing at times. Also, it is not a terrible idea to try and recruit FT for IB, anything is possible. Target small boutique firms, 5-10 guys, all across the country, There is a firm out there that would consider you, you just have to find it. When looking at tiny boutiques, remember that some firms are so bad it would be better to work in literally any other field than IB (have some friends who worked at some brutal ones in CHI). TheDarkLordBigChungus is 100% right, don't ask if you have a chance, believe in yourself and make it happen.

Jul 8, 2019 - 3:37pm

Oh I got belief trust me, Ive played myself through some rough situations but sometimes you do have to ask what are the realities. If your 4'8" professional basketballs not in the cards. And I don't know about an MSF, that would put me at 6-7years of school. I'm 22 turning 23 I don't need to spend more time here. I need to start my life.

Why hesitation on the direct break-in? Just that much of a battle?

As for breaking in and doing the massive coldcall/email how would you suggest doing that? I have looked at some guides but its nice hearing more advice.

Jul 14, 2019 - 10:19am

Basic guide for cold emailing (never directly cold call, always set up phone calls through email):
Find person on linkedin by using search for people option. Ideally, you can find someone who is an alumni of your school. Figure out the email format, and then email them something along these lines .
Hi John,

Good morning, hope all is well. My name is John Johnson and I am a (Senior?) at Generic Wisconsin University majoring in finance. I am very interested in (firm), particularly in the (group the person is in). I noticed from your linkedin you had (something) and I would love to learn more about this. Was wondering if you would be available to hop on the phone sometime to chat about...

I have attached my resume for your reference,
Have a great rest of your day.


Obviously, this is just a generic idea of what you will be emailing, but main point is keep it short (bankers are busy don't want to be bothered by long emails). Most importantly, don't mess up name or firm name, you're going to be sending a lot of these so it's best to type it out not copy paste to avoid this error. In this case, the connection with the person is that you both went to the same school, if not try to find some similarity and work off that (maybe they also previously worked in accounting? Idk). Also, don't spam every member of a firm the same day, try to space out the emails. And don't send them in the middle of the night, use Boomerang to schedule them so you can type them whenever and send in morning

After sending, if no response in 5-10 days, send followup, always be respectful though don't get angry or pushy. Some people genuinely wanted to respond but just forgot, so followups were very helpful for me.

So yeah, just do this to pretty much to a ton of different firms and you can break through. Once you get a phone call, message me and I can give you some general tips to ace that as well. Best of luck man

Jul 14, 2019 - 7:40pm

Sounds like we might be from the same school. I know you want to take a quick route to where you want to be but I personally think it will be extremely difficult unless you move to New York and start to apply for very tiny boutiques and start from there. I wouldn't recommend Masters of Finance right now because no BB will probably hire people from Masters of Finance for their associate positions (prefers MBA) unless they are from top top programs and no way they will hire them if you are only 24 or so when you graduate (even from MBA). For associate positions, having work experience is very very important. I know MBA route associates are often mocked in this forum but maturity levels cannot be simply ignored easily. So, long story short, if it doesn't work out well right now, think about applying to a decent MBA program after getting 4 years or experience or so then head to IB. It's honestly not that late to start as an associate at a BB at the age of 29 or so then becoming a VP at 32.

Jul 14, 2019 - 10:38pm

Agreed on what you said regarding MSF in the context of Associate recruiting. I went directly to MSF, which is generally the only way to go if you aren't chasing CF. Also summer intern recruiting in MSF is batshit, but FT is a different story.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.
Jul 15, 2019 - 5:09pm

Yeah, I have seen some cases where people really struggled through recruiting because they are coming out of MBA (or masters) but dont have work experience. Most of them ended up going for boutiques (or offered analysts roles). So it is possible but just not easy at BB.

Jul 16, 2019 - 1:52am

Starting at 29 while only accumulating more debt really isn't ideal. Not only that but I would still be behind and have to work much more comparative to people my age, making a family then would be much harder. The opportunity cost of the MBA would be huge as well. My Uncle in PE told me get out of school now.

So back to the wind on this one and I gotta shoot for what I can get, I appreciate the input though.

Most Helpful
Jul 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

My route (Wouldn't recommend it)
- Respected school in the state but little known outside the Midwest.
- Similar GPA in Undergrad. Worked a shitty job out of school (2009 Grad)
- Acquired MBA & CFA and finally got in at 29 (Associate)

If you can't get a good internship or break in through networking, find a gig that will pay for your grad school or a good portion of it that has a similar skill set role (corp dev at a small company, CorpFin, Treasury, ETC.) mainly emphasizing your spreadsheet/modeling skills and improving your powerpoint & writing skills. Cant hurt to get CFA/CPA depending on your education/work. From there its just getting in front of people. At some point someone will see a skill set that is worth bringing in.

My two cents anyways as someone who got in late.

Jul 25, 2019 - 11:17am

As early and as often as you can would be my opinion. Networking is an inexact science with no certain returns. You are hoping that by talking with people that you are able to get an in, but most people trying to break in just end up annoying the people they are talking to by talking with them just to talk. Time is pretty valuable to anyone that is going to hire you so make sure that you have something to talk about (good questions, deals you read about, market environment, etc.) It is the dicey game of staying relevant but not wasting anyone's time in the hope they will remember you when the time comes.

Sep 24, 2019 - 4:10pm

Honestly, unless you are looking at tiny no-name boutiques, your chances are next to 0 unless you get an MBA in a few years from a respected school. Non-target with a bad GPA and no real story to go with it in an easy major. Even kids with great connections in a bank would struggle to get a gig with that background. Do well, get a corp fin or accounting gig, work on stuff outside of work, ace the GMAT, and try to get into the best b-school you can and go from there.

Sep 25, 2019 - 6:06pm

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