How I Broke Into Goldman IBD From a Non-Target

Hello Everyone,

I am a senior at a non-target school in the northeast and have recently accepted a FT offer in IBD at GS. For background, I have a 3.75+ GPA, no experience in investment banking, and no familial ties to wall street. I wanted to share my story of how I made it to GS coming from a non-target even though many on this site feel as though it is impossible. My intention is to shed some light on the topic for current juniors and seniors who are currently applying to banks for internships/jobs to help alleviate some of the stress.

Internships

I have had two internships during college: one in financial planning during my sophomore year and one in corporate finance my junior year. As a junior, I applied to all of the BB banks and many other smaller banks and had some interviews along the way. Rejection after rejection I started to realize that I was not going to intern at a bank, nor in IBD and started to look elsewhere. An alum had advised me that if I still wanted a chance at IB for FT that I should look for roles in FP&A/corporate finance for internships.

I interviewed at a small industrial firm for an internship in FP&A and got the position. The company may not have been on wall street, the job may not have been IB, but what made this experience special is what I did with it. I didn't just go day-to-day and do the work they gave me and go home. I networked with many people at the firm, took on extra projects on the side to improve my skills and my team's efficiency, and reached out to the CFO multiple times to chat (the firm is really small and I was lucky enough to actually meet the CFO and speak with them multiple times). In the end, my interviewers for FT didn't care that I didn't have IB experience because what I had was still unique and offered a different skill set.

Networking

This may be the most important reason why I got an offer from GS (shout out to the WSO networking/IB course - ton of helpful tips and templates). I always knew I wanted to work at GS one day and spent every day from freshman year thinking about it.

Since freshman year, I had been tapping into the small alumni base that my university has at the firm and had been using them to my full advantage. I was lucky to know a few guys personally that went into the program that were very key to getting my superday and offer. All-in-all, I had been networking with alumni/cold emailing people on LinkedIn all throughout college but always networked more with people from GS. You never know the people that you are going to meet and who they know and how they can help you out. My junior year I met an alum that was a VP in IB at GS and without them, I don't think I would've had a shot at getting the job.

Passion

The process of getting an interview was very hard, but once I actually got there it was all on me to close the deal. I have wanted to work at GS all throughout college and am very excited about working in IB. If I had interviewed at any other firm for any other position, I know I would just put on a smile and tell them how much I wanted to work at their firm because I know it would be a good opportunity, but it wasn't like that at this interview. I was genuinely excited about the position and passionate about the firm and it showed. There are many students who want to work in IB because they think the money is great and it will help them afterwards. For me, I don't think about the exit ops and the money (although it is a great benefit) because I am about excited about the role. At the end of the day the interviewers can easily see who really wants the job and who is just there because it's GS.

My advice for seniors is that you find what you really passionate about and go for it. You may not get the job of your dreams right away but that doesn't mean it's over. Take every experience and learn from it. Don't just stand on the sidelines waiting for something to come to you because you think you deserve it. Guess what, NO ONE DESERVES ANYTHING. If you want something you have to work hard for it and realize that it may not be your time right now, but everything will work out in the future.

My advice for juniors is that you should shoot for the stars and go after those internships at BB banks, but don't feel like it's over if you don't get one. There are many roles in finance that can set you up for a career in IB. I promise that if you take advantage of internships, network with everyone you can, and find what you're truly passionate about, you will get an offer that you will be really excited about.

If there is anyone else that has broke into IB from a non-target I would love to hear what you think helped you the most in the comments.

Comments (49)

Nov 30, 2018

I love to read these stories. Congrats

I also have my own one that I wrote about somewhere in this forum. Also broke from a nontarget into IB and completely agree with you, networking and passion is absolutely key, because these two things give non-target students the kind of credibility that we need to break into IB, well done

Dec 1, 2018

NY or SLC?

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Dec 1, 2018

SLC

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Dec 4, 2018

lol

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Funniest
Dec 2, 2018

Gotteemmm

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Dec 20, 2018

Ruthless.

Dec 1, 2018

Great story and congratulations. A question I have though is how do you portray passion and admiration for the firm because the process is a bit similar to college (they know why their great so they don't want you to tell them how nice they are they want you to tell them why you should be there). I feel like most people that are somewhat intelligent aren't gonna come across as someone who just wants to make money and wants to be at GS.

Dec 1, 2018

It's hard to show passion during the process if you're not actually sitting in front of someone but there are ways to get around that. If you are constantly networking with people at the firm our alumni and asking them about their position and the firm. That shows that you are really interested in the position and the firm alone. Once you are at a superday and sitting in front of VPs and Associates it is very easy to see how much someone wants the job. Passion can't be faked because they can sniff that out from a mile away.

Dec 2, 2018

great story, very motivational!

Dec 3, 2018

Great story and congratulations. I love these posts.

Per the last line of your post, I am also a non-target who broke in. When I say non-target, I don't mean we had some alumni spread out across banks but weren't an Ivy - I mean we had absolutely zero alumni who had ever worked at a full-service investment bank. My story is very similar to yours: it was a lot of hard work, self-study, and ultimately just one stroke of luck to provide me an opportunity that I took full advantage of. When you work hard and are passionate, good things come to you; the trick is to be ready for opportunity when it presents itself. I couldn't agree more with your post.

One thing I will add is extreme self-criticism - maybe even to a fault. Throughout the recruiting processes, while my general happiness suffered, I was able to make quick adjustments, sometimes even between networking calls throughout the day, to become better every single time and produce better outcomes and ultimately more opportunities. The ability to be self-reflective was paramount to getting up to speed and being lights-out on game day.

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Dec 6, 2018

My school literally has 1 employee (according to LinkedIn) at GS and thankfully she's been a great help but I can definitely relate the lacklustre alumni base.

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Dec 3, 2018

By 'I was lucky to know a few guys personally that went into the program that were very key to getting my superday and offer' do you mean that you had known them before you started undergrad? Or was this all through networking?

Dec 1, 2018

I knew them because they were at my university while I was. They were in the same organizations as I so I was able to meet them and develop personal relationships before they graduated and started working.

Dec 3, 2018

thank you for posting!

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Dec 4, 2018

lol - keeping it short you knew something who was VP otherwhise you wouldnt have got the offer (you even said that yourself). not that motivational it shows again that even with a quality internship and the passion that you always wanted to work at GS you would have got turned down.

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Dec 1, 2018

I mean in my case my connections got me in the door but what happened once I got to the interview was all on me. The VP I knew was influential in getting me there but I wouldn't have met them if I hadn't been working towards that goal since freshman year. Everything I was involved in was to get me a job in IB one day and I was just fortunate to meet a VP at GS along the way.

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Dec 19, 2018

I'd say @JD665511 worked hard to establish a good network. Whether you work hard to get into a target school that has that network already established for you, or work hard to establish that network yourself doesn't matter. The VP can't go through the interview process for the person they helped get to that point.

Nothing laughable about determination and follow-through.

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Dec 4, 2018

I have a question on how did you network with the VP that you mentioned. I'm a newbie so pls excuse if my question might be obvious to you. Apart from asking him about his job, industry and such, were they any other things that you do to connect with him at a deeper sense and how long did you keep in touch w him before asking for a referral?

Dec 1, 2018

They actually reached out to me as my resume landed on their desk. One of my professors knew I wanted to work at GS and had applied and sent my resume to them as a recommendation. Then I met them in-person randomly at an event at my university, where I was serving as a student ambassador, and got to talk to them for a bit.

Dec 4, 2018

"Someone from GS going to an event at your university" doesn't really seem like a true non-target... inspirational story nonetheless. Congratulations on landing the job you were looking for!

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Dec 4, 2018

Thanks for the insight!

Dec 4, 2018

Um, you literally had a connection. Also, are you by chance an under-represented minority? I noted you didn't disclose you weren't.

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Dec 1, 2018

Nope - I'm a white male buddy.

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Dec 4, 2018

Great post +1SB

Most Helpful
Dec 4, 2018

I will most likely get a storm of monkey shits for this but thought I would chime in.
Why does everyone have to hate on the guy? He clearly hustled hard and got the GS offer with some solid networking! Why do people on this site always have to belittle other's achievements?

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Dec 5, 2018

I was just about to say the same thing! Of course networking is one aspect of getting this kind of offer. It isn't like his uncle is the VP, he had to meet the person and connect with them enough to get pulled in. That is part of the process.

This is why you network. You get the resume pulled, get the interview, and then it is up to you to nail that and then nail the super day. It all matters.

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Dec 4, 2018

Amen to that.

Dec 5, 2018

because they're insecure about their own achievements

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Dec 3, 2018

You're right. Very sad. This is supposed to be a community of support for others who share similar goals and aspirations.

Dec 4, 2018

Agreed! Hustling and leveraging your network is all part of doing the actual job. There's a reason that's a soft requirement for getting it in the first place.

Dec 5, 2018

.

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Dec 1, 2018

Not sure what you mean - I am a white male. No affirmative action here.

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Dec 9, 2018

Gay?

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Dec 5, 2018

Nice story man, it's even harder as a Community College Junior Transfer like myself, that's like the lowest of the lowe in terms of "target" schools. Glad to see you made it out my man.

Dec 5, 2018

Great story! Thanks for sharing this!

Dec 9, 2018

Inspiring story! I hope I can replicate your success too! All the best!

Array

Dec 9, 2018

For everyone talking shit about SLC and the hustle, know a girl was BO for 2 yrs at GS in SLC, 2 yrs MO in NYC, and just last month got VP at Morgan Stanley in New York..

Hustle to get in, hustle to move up. Hard work to get there, but OP now the real hard work starts.

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Dec 9, 2018

VP of what at MS? MO again? Back office?

Risk?

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Dec 9, 2018
high hopes:

VP of what at MS? MO again? Back office?

Risk?

Of Trading. She's a VP, and she's trading. You know what trading is? Front office shit.

Dec 9, 2018
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"Be persistent and you will get, be consistent and you will keep it, be grateful and you will get more"

phuckQuotes

Dec 10, 2018
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Dec 11, 2018
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