How to Get an Internship After Freshman or Sophomore Year

Like I promised, I'm back to give an explanation on how to get an internship after freshman or sophomore year. I'm not offering any guarantees, but I can tell you that it has worked for me, and it depends on the effort you put in. Want a job? Earn it. I'm writing this more as a recommendation for freshman, but it is generally applicable to sophomores as well. Sophomores have the benefit of having taken some relevant coursework.

How do I get an Internship
As a freshman you probably are thinking to yourself, "How can I get an internship if I don't have much to offer?" You might not have much to offer in regards to finance or accounting, but you do have something to offer as a helping hand. The number one thing that an employer will want from you is dependability and a go-getter attitude. Boss needs you to spread financial statements in Excel for the last 10 fiscal years? Get it done. Needs you to file some paperwork? Get it done. The key thing to remember is that you do not have much to offer. I would say most internships after freshman year are a service to you. Being able to work in a PE shop after freshman year, and get paid is a blessing. And before you ask me about unpaid internships, if you cast your net wide enough, you won't have to worry about that.

Strategy
If you are a freshman, you are going to want to slowly read and learn about everything out in the finance world. What does an investment banker do? What does a PE firm do? What does a HF do? Make sure you understand the differences. Once you do, start to reach out to alumni in the areas that interest you. (Try to do this in the fall or as soon as you read this) Have questions ready that don't yield answers via quick Google searches.
You might say, "But getting an internship at Goldman after freshman year (or sophomore year for that matter) is hard." That's true. But then again, you might as well start talking to BB bankers if that's where you want to be in a few years. Not only will this help you build relationships for your junior year and beyond, you will get comfortable talking with professionals and learn a lot.
However, since this article is about freshman and sophomore year, you are going to want to reach out to places that do hire underclassmen. These places will typically be PWM and PE shops. Both internships will be fine, however, if you want to do wealth management, aim for PWM. If you want to do banking or something on the buy side, go with PE. You will be able to see if that is the type of work you find interesting. If you aim for both, you'll have more chances at landing a gig for summer.
Now that you have a scope, it's time to snipe. And by snipe, I mean spray, because you are going to be blasting e-mails out to everyone in sight. MJ said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." This applies here as well. Go on Google and search for every firm in your area. Pop open excel and create a spreadsheet with the company name, email address, and phone number. You can also add a "Hit"/"Miss" heading and mess around with formatting to make it more organized. Essentially you want to lay out your targets and have them ready.
Before you start emailing, you have to make sure you don't sound like an idiot. Make sure you have someone look over your template. You are going to have to create something like this:

Dear X,
My name is _______. I attend ________. My major is _________. I would like to help out this summer and learn more about the ________ field.

Thanks,
_______
(Obviously make it more detailed)

The best time to email for these types of internships is January. Some places though, will either make their decisions earlier or later. That's why I would recommend to email in November, then follow up in January if you don't get a response.
The Interview
If you make it to an interview, congrats. These will not be very technical as an underclassmen. Nevertheless, make sure you understand the company you are applying to and what they do. Do they have a different strategy when compared to their competitors? They will ask you what you know about them and if you have any questions. If they see that you didn't take the thirty minutes to read their website, they will likely reject you if there are other applicants.

Summary
Since this was pretty long, here's a summary:
1. Learn about the various industries of finance
2. Reach out to alumni
3. Create a spreadsheet
4. Gather a list of companies
5. Create an email template
6. Reach out to PWM, PE, or other businesses around November or January
7. *Make sure you understand the company you are interviewing for

Best of luck, if you have any questions, feel free to comment.

Part 1: //www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/what-ive-done-in-my-pe-internship-so-far

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Comments (82)

Best Response
Nov 29, 2016 - 6:13pm

So I live in the middle of nowhere and the only finance offerings in my hometown are PWM. Do you think it would do me better to try and find opportunities in the nearest largest city (Philadelphia which is about 1.5hr away)?

I know there are PE firms in my collegetown, but I'm not sure if its worth it to pay for housing here if I'm staying for an unpaid internship.

Should I just stick with PWM or is that a waste of time?

Nov 30, 2016 - 2:21pm
And before you ask me about unpaid internships, if you cast your net wide enough, you won't have to worry about that.

I had the impression that paid internships as a freshman didn't exist, it's great to see I was wrong.

Is networking in Chicago viable even though it's not within driving distance of my college town? My hometown is nearby so commuting over the summer isn't an issue and I'd be able to make trips there/do interviews over breaks but going there during school for an interview/coffee is not possible.

Dec 5, 2016 - 3:38pm

It really depends on who you find. Some companies will pay, some won't. There are sophomores that go to boutique IBs and work for free. If you cast your net wide, like I mentioned, you'll be able to weight the differences between the paid options and the non-paid options.

Where you go to school is not a huge issue. If you go to school on the east coast, but live in San Diego, reach out to places near home and most likely they'll have you stop by the office during a break to meet you in person. Same thing applies for Chicago and other cities.

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Dec 5, 2016 - 3:43pm

I guess it comes down to what you want for the summer and what you are willing to put up with. Getting a solid PWM role with meaningful work experience is great. In interviews you can talk about how you didn't really have other options near home and now you understand that you do not want to do PWM. Or you might realize that you do want to do PWM.

Are you trying to do IB? Give me some more color and I can provide more advice.

Dec 5, 2016 - 10:45pm

Definitely trying to do IB. I go to UVa which is a target I think and I have found lots of alumni in PE in the Phili metro area (closest big city to my hometown). My responses have been limited so far- one said they don't really take freshmen, and I'm gonna be on the phone with another alumni, but I think the conversation is just going to turn more into a networking thing.

I'm just skeptical about your assessment that any freshmen w/o things like family connections can still get a PE/IB internship. Geography is just such a limiting factor when you consider a lot of people don't live in urban financial centers.

Dec 3, 2016 - 2:40pm

Especially agree with point 1: Do a thorough research on the job/industry that you want to get to. When you go out to coffee chats with alumni or someone working in that industry, they can definitely tell by the way you talk whether you've done your research. You don't want to sound like a obnoxious freshman/sophomore who's just there to ask for a job.

Dec 6, 2016 - 7:22pm

Great post! Underclassmen internships are a great way to get into a field and seem overlooked by many.

  • 1
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:06pm

Advice on Obtaining a Sophomore Year Internship (Originally Posted: 02/01/2015)

Hey guys, this is my first post on WSO, and I was hoping to get some insight.

I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois pursuing a degree in Finance. However, I had a bad semester the second semester of my freshman year which dropped my GPA. The following summer, on a whim, I decided to stay a business major but also pursue the pre-dentistry path. However, after the first semester of my sophomore year, I realized I wasn't as interested in my science classes as I thought I would be, even though I scored highly in them. I decided to try to apply for finance internships and dental internships at the same time and choose the best offer that came to me. What would you recommend I do to find a finance internship? I have a 3.82 GPA and a leadership position in my fraternity, as well as some leadership experience in a finance club I was part of last year. However, I haven't had any real finance work experience aside from a 1-day job shadowing experience at a consulting firm in Chicago. Specifically, I'm interested in investment banking or equity research, but I realize it will be very tough to find internship opportunities in these fields.

Thanks for everything!

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:07pm

As a fellow sophomore who is trying to get a internship posotion as well I can say this. 1) Networking.... this is your best bet. Talk to anybody and everybody you never know who knows who or where they worked before. I would say Linkedin is a must 2) Apply to every internship postion you find relative to field ......the worst that is going to happen is that you will get a no and be prepared for a lot of no's. 3) Apply to boutique banks they have less red tape in terms of recruiting and at times you can talk to the person directly if you figure out the email address...or apply to PWM firms not exaclty IB but it gets your foot through the door and you can meet people. There are more tips and I am sure sombody more quilaified with help you even more..pm if you want to talk a little bit more.

As long as I am doing better then I am feeling and I do it to prove them wrong.
  • 1
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:08pm

Thanks for the reply. I also feel like I shouldn't split my energy and efforts into two different career paths (finance vs dentistry), so I was also wondering what would be the best path for me in this situation? I think I could be equally happy either way.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:10pm

thanks @"takenotes08"08 and @"Lazara" I look at it this way...whatever I want to do in life I want to be the best at it so think it through carefully. Research both fields and figure it out........I love finance specially IB the work to me seems fun, you are payed on your performance, and it's competitive. With that being said people like myself are devoting all their time and efforts to break into this industry you half ass it ....you are not going to make it. As a 2nd year student you are still on time to make it junior and senior year is the crunch time and will be much more competitive. i dont know much about dentistry (I brush my teeth every day twice) but I have a friend who is a senior got a signing deal with a top IB bank for a full time position the day after he graduates and is now relaxing taking 2 classes for the rest of the year and is eating the fruits of his labor while other kids are going to start looking for jobs. Think it through you might not get a internship this year so take on leadership roles with your school and network. Instead of going away for the summer or spring break read up on the industry educate yourself. I am hopfully applying for a PE firm that might give me a chance if that doesnt work out I will be a manger for new student orientation at my school get to meet partents and kids (who might be involved in the field) and put leadership roles or somthing on my resume. Time used properly will be your greatest asset. Keep asking questions...like do you know which field in ib you want to work in m&a, advisory, sales/trading, research all fall under ib but are different? Like I said im a sophmore as well but I can answer your question best to my ability.

*pardon an spelling/grammer mistakes wrote this fairly quickly

As long as I am doing better then I am feeling and I do it to prove them wrong.
  • 2
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:11pm

Undergrad/Freshman Internship landing tips. (Originally Posted: 11/11/2011)

Hey all,

I have have recently been getting PM's asking how I landed a VC internship in San Francisco considering the odds against me (I am a freshman, I go to a Midwest program, non-target, family is not in industry), and I just wanted to answer the question so everyone can see.

I will rank factors that helped me (1 being most effective, 5 being least)

1) Networking: This was THE KEY to my door in landing the gig,
So I volunteered a lot for my city (won community champion award), and got into a program in my city where I would help make some minor decisions in our government council, recieved an opp to volunteer in my city council and other prestigous programs around my city. The head of the program found out my interest in Banking/Business and suggested that I speak with the head of the incubator in our city (which is in the top 10 incubators in the nation), and try to convince him to embrace me (land me the gig) at the incubator. I was also speaking with local VC's/PE's in my city and lots of them said this would be great for me to experience.

So I took it. Also the fact that I started a Mobile Marketing Company with my friend helped, but that didnt work out ...... partner left to play a sport at Emory.

Well from the incubator, I had the chance to meet entepreneurs, angel investors and some Venture Capitalists. I would help the head of the incubator set up events, meetings and random shit (lots of networking) I even helped him with sorting his business cards.

Well one day we set a huge event entailing a VC guy from San Fran coming over and speaking about the US and Global economies etc. I was told to keep the VC guy occupied and there he told me to go to another event in SF to learn more about the VC world..... Well I went there.... and met with a very very very old family friend out of nowhere. I gave him my "elevator pitch" and he told that he would love someone ambitious, young, and motivated to be an investment intern.

2) Get your name out in you college: Well I am in a selective consulting club, and there I am raising capital for a start up NPO. Also I am in our Finance club, where I am on the leadership board.I am networking with all the Goldman alum at my school now ( i want the sophmore rotational internship) I am meeting with 3 of them in NYC soon. I am BF's with the 3 kids that have internships at BB's and know the facility really well. I know all the people that run the IBD club at our school, and the members as well. Also I am starting a club that involves uniting the Alum with current freshman (career mentors).

3) Ambition: You can have all the connections in the world but I feel like if you dont have any drive then you wont get anywhere.

4) Going to events (like the WSO conference :D, this is amazing and I would like to thank Monty, Patrick and anybody else I am forgeting that was involved in setting up this brillant event.)
5) Luck: Got to have some of that too :D

I am Freshman so I am expecting some shit, but honestly this is how I have landed whatever I have, and this is just my opinion on how some of the process works.

Thanks, and ask if you guys have anymore questions

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
  • 2
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:13pm

Thanks SDeep24, if any of you guys have any questions about how to break in as a youngin you can ask on the site and I will try my best to answer the question if I can't answer it right away then ill find out and give u the answer. :D

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:14pm

congrats

i'm also a freshman grinding for an internship. if everything goes well i should have a UBS PWM intrnship under my belt this summer, no VC but still pretty good.

but congrats bro, keep doing what you're doing.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:15pm

Thanks, UBS PWM is great! Are u doing it in NYC?

Well regardless network hard, show your manager that you are the shit and go to the WSO conference in NYC this summer!

I have to still see if I can go. ( Ill be in SF)

GL bro I hope to see you on the street someday!

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:17pm

Ok man gl boston is a great city, and yea July 21 2012

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:18pm

u gonna buy tickets :D?

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:20pm

Yes sir its on wso

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:22pm

not on WSO for sure come on man! haha

It seems great you should turn that interest into a certainity :D

I want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed, Go Bucks!!
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:24pm

how to get internship sophomore year (Originally Posted: 11/28/2016)

I've been emailing my school's alumni who work at investment firms, but most respond saying their firm is too small to have an internship program. Any advice on what I should be doing?

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:26pm

How to get an Internship as an incoming Freshman (Originally Posted: 12/18/2016)

So I am looking for an internship going into my Freshman year. My goal is eventually IB. Before you say "Go travel in Europe for three months" or something along those lines, unfortunately for me, this isn't viable (I will be selling my soul to the retail overlords anyway). I know that it is challenging to get a finance internship with little to know knowledge of technical information, but I would be fine filing papers or plugging numbers into excel. Any ideas on how to go about getting an internship or where to look?

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:27pm

Are you a minority student / have any disabilities. There are places that help network you into top firms. Otherwise do discovery programmes (aimed at freshmen students). This will help you get the interview in your second year when you're eligible for interview.

Otherwise, I know Google takes on first year interns. See if you can get into their finance internship (through the business intern programme). Very hard to get into but its worth a shot. Brand names NEVER hurt.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:28pm

Start cold emailing people. Use LinkedIn and try to find people online that work at places you want to intern at. As a freshman with little technical knowledge and no internship experience, you will not get an offer without networking.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:31pm

Is it possible for a rising sophomore to get a BB IB internship? (Originally Posted: 08/02/2017)

Should a sophomore submit a SA application to a BB? Is it possible for a sophomore to get an IB internship at a BB without networking his ass off?

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:33pm

Yes, it is possible to get an internship at a BB as a rising sophomore, although it is quite rare. Typically students who get such internships summer after freshman yr. get in through programs targeting URM's or women, or have incredible connections. A girl at my school interned at Goldman after her freshman summer in the IBD so it's absolutely possible.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:36pm

Internships - Currently sophmore at a non-target (Originally Posted: 05/26/2013)

Hey all,

I am currently sophomore at a non-target and new to the real estate forum.

I'm interested in BX Real Estate Debt Strategies Summer Analyst internship for next summer (i have an ER internship at a top firm in nyc this summer, have 2 other finance internships before the ER, and i am making appropriate contacts in the company that can help me out via networking-but thats not nearly enough, it doesn't matter, and its still going to be tough/close to impossible).

Can anyone point me in any specific types of internships to look for DURING the fall. I want to know your guys' opinion

i want to get more real estate experience this fall while going to school.

Currently I've made a list of firms nearby and used the company research tab but I want your guys' opinions on what firm/type of experience would help me best going forward.

Fannie Mae type deal vs. private firm vs. commerical real estate lending vs. boutique ibd vs. boutique PE shop

Thanks.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:37pm

I would recommend doing a non-paid internship at a real estate investment shop where you have a contact. Pick a shop where you agree with their investment strategy. Maybe they do MF acquisitions or value-add retail. Anywhere where you could get a good learning experience will allow you to speak intelligently about the industry when you apply for Blackstone.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:38pm

what type of internship should I try to get for the summer after my sophomore year? (Originally Posted: 01/14/2018)

im a Econ major at a non target (UMD) who is a freshman right now. I wanted to know what type of internships do undergraduate students get during the summer after sophomore year? I heard getting a investment banking internship is hard as a sophomore, should I look more at corp finance,PWM or asset management? what GPA is required usually for a sophomore internship?

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:39pm

Hi Killua1234, no, I never sleep and so I can respond to any lonely threads (like this one) at all hours of the night. Impressive, I know ;-)

No promises, but thought I'd mention a few relevant users that work in the industry: threatlevelmidnight drudow Lingcasper

I hope those threads give you a bit more insight.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:40pm

Sophomore searching for SA POSITION (Originally Posted: 03/27/2010)

Hey all,

I am a first time poster but long time lurker. I am in a special situation:

I am a sophomore transferring from a top 20 school to a non-target. I will be doing engineering management but am not matriculating at the new school until summer. In the meantime, I am taking classes as a non-matric at a non target.

The reason for my transfer to non-target are largely because of a legal issue (abuse was involved) that caused me to leave the school and attend somewhere closer to home.

Im not sure how I would even begin to explain my situation during an interview. Its a highly sensitive topic.
any thoughts?

MY RESUME:

http://www.razume.com/documents/14405

I have a heavy science/research background but have interest in finance and want to use summer sophomore year to find out more about the field and better understand what i want for future summers/ft positions etc.

be nice!..or not

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:43pm

Resumes should be one page, you waste a lot of space in that non-matriculated area. None of your "relevant studies" have any bearing on finance from what I can see.

EDUCATION

X University Place, Somewhere
BS in Engineering Expected 2012
• Major GPA: x/4.0; Cumlative GPA x/4.0

You have enough experience to not put any hgih school achievements on your resume, that is your work experience mainly. You need to quantify some results and make it easier to understand for some people. Don;'t just laundry list engineering applications like MatLab, describe how they were used in conjunction with quantified results.

Your work experience is not in chronological order either.

Your EMS experience isn't formatted

You can find SA positions now, just not at BBs and elite boutiques (which probably wouldn't take sophomores anyways). Just hunt out the regional boutiques.

Reality hits you hard, bro...
  • 2
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:46pm

If it was a forced change of academic institution, it may come up in a background check for FT. FERPA isn't nearly as protective as it should be. For other interviews, you better have an amazing reason for transferring, because it probably will come up.

  • Tons of white space; make an "interests and skills" section to fill some of it up. Remove the computer coursework and put it in that, if anywhere.

  • Have you been accepted to the new school? If it's just a formality to start (and assuming they already know your situation), you could just use the expected graduation format. Be forewarned if they check enrollment though.

  • If you're going to use the word "black" to describe an ethnicity, it should be capitalized. I would recommend changing the word to "minority".

Overall, you need to fix the formatting to make it more presentable.

  • Why is your name ladymonkey when your profile says you're male?
Dec 10, 2016 - 7:49pm

Since it is so late in the game, anything in IBD will do. I have multiple internship offers in non-finance- related fields but I want to try something new this summer. If it is something I see myself doing FT, I will proceed to find a junior SA internship...

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:50pm

Sophomore Year Internship - Current sophmore at a non-target majoring in finance/math (Originally Posted: 10/03/2012)

I'm currently a sophomore at a non-target and majoring in finance/math. I'm hoping to secure a trading related internship (BB, prop shop) post junior year summer. Right now I can't really figure out what I should do this coming summer. The only OCR I get here is for corp fin analyst positions at places like Honeywell and Target. I'm sure that's not a good option, but I have met people from my school who were able to get internships at local hedge funds and PE firms. When networking with alumni or connections, what type of position should I be aiming for this summer to best help me get the trading internship junior year?

I did a PWM internship this past summer, if that helps

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:56pm

Bad form in finding freshman summer internship? (Originally Posted: 11/15/2014)

Whats up WSO,

I'm currently a freshman at a semi target university looking for an internship this summer. I'm going to tap current connections as well as try out traditional networking (i.e.- cold email -> call/informational interview -> relationship fostered) but I think I might also try out something else- I found a list of 500 boutique banks in new york city, and I want to email them ALL directly asking for an unpaid position at their firm over summer.

I plan to phrase it somewhat eloquently, attach my resume, include a couple specific facts about the firm (as to make it not totally seem like a copy-pasted template) to make them think I'm emailing them specifically, and then let it rip. I understand that this is a direct and unorthodox way of going about searching for an internship, but prospects are grim and I'm planning on doing it with the hope that someone respects my ballsiness and takes me on. If I end up doing it, and I'm almost definitely going to, I'll let everyone know how it goes.

One of my concerns is that I will likely be of no fucking help to the firm, but as Richard Branson said:
"If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!"

What do you guys think? Any thoughts on how to phrase the email? How to start? How to end? etc. All thoughts and critiques are appreciated.
ballhard223

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:57pm

I think you should scrap that idea entirely and focus on finding something small, but relevant enough to demonstrate an interest in finance. Or really anything at all that isn't laying around at home all summer with your thumb up your ass. That includes staying on campus and drinking all summer too. You really shouldn't worry too much about getting something your freshman summer - it's nice to have that if you can land it, but its also far from the end of the world if you just did nothing all summer either.

Dec 10, 2016 - 7:58pm

I recognize your point and have decided I want to pursue the best internship opportunity I can this summer. Coming from a semi/non-target disadvantages me a bit when it comes to getting a job after college, competing with ivies, you know how it goes. This isn't completely hopeless, I have some good intern experience from a small HF last summer that I am hoping to leverage. I want to try and be unique here though and get a boutique internship freshman summer. Regardless, it would probably last for only a part of the summer so the rest I have to kill time like you're supposed to during summer. Thanks for your input, Stryfe.

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:02pm

Is it possible to get a sophomore internship at a BB through connections and not through the diversity programs? (Originally Posted: 03/02/2016)

Hi fellow monkeys,

I was wondering if someone can get an internship at a BB through connections if he/she is not a diversity candidate (and therefore, cannot apply to the sophomore diversity programs). Would it be possible considering that they have a structured diversity program for sophomores as well as a structured recruiting process for juniors?

Thanks!

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:04pm

It's near the realm of impossibility unless you have extremely strong, probably familial connections. I think it might actually be easier at an EB if you are incredibly talented academically/well versed in corporate finance. I know one non-diversity sophomore who had an EB spot but none with a BB spot.

Note when I say "talented academically" I mean you have a 4.0 flat at a top target and when I say "well versed in corporate finance", you can run through complicated questions (paper LBOs/mergers come to mind) without blinking. It's really, really difficult.

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:05pm

Internships - Anyone get a internship freshman summer? (Originally Posted: 01/10/2007)

Do you know anyone who ACTUALLY got internships during their undergraduate freshman summer?

It would be nice if you don't post when your answer is simply "no" lol, since it would save a lot of space.

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:07pm

My freshman I did Goldman although it was operations but it was still great b/c I got to put Goldman on my resume and in addition to that I worked really hard and so was able to work the internal mobility route a bit. Any way if you get a chance do it, even if it means a lesser role at a great place or a good role at a lesser place better than blowing your summer at the pool or beach or at least its better on your resume.

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:10pm

Sophomore Internship - Sophmores looking to get into IB? (Originally Posted: 01/19/2011)

What are some good internships for sophomores looking to get IB/ HF as a career? How does pwm look on a resume? Is BO at a BB worth taking even it if is just operations and data related stuff, could you use that internship as a stepping stone to FO? What would be the best possible internship, regardless of difficulty of getting it if you have barely taken any finance classes?

Dec 10, 2016 - 8:11pm

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Dec 10, 2016 - 8:14pm

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Total Avg Compensation

October 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
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