I haven't gotten into any diversity programs. What am I doing wrong?

I've applied to 20+ IB diversity programs and haven't gotten into a single one. I have a 3.95+ GPA, go to a target school, and am studying finance. I have had my cover letters and resumes edited by upperclassmen going into banking and haven't gotten negative feedback. I see people who have the same background as me getting into these programs without networking. I haven't even gotten first-round interviews and feel like I must be doing something wrong, but can't figure out what it is. Does anyone have any advice?

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Comments (144)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 12:04am

Yeah, East Asian female here so I can only apply to women's programs. Love seeing my rich White Hispanic peers who went to elite private schools landing those sophomore gigs at Morgan Stanley though. Hope they feel less oppressed.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 9, 2021 - 11:36pm

Plenty of rich East Asian females in these programs too. I'd say try to be one of the top candidates in your demographic. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 10, 2021 - 3:19pm

Absolute horse shit. This "blame the black guy" bull shit is getting old. Not sure what part of the country you're talking about but I live in Queens, NY. There's a fuck ton of Asians and Blacks in Queens (probably more Asians in Queens than any other borough in NYC). I'm black and I constantly ask all my asian friends if they or anyone they knew have ever faced any "anti-asian" attack. Constantly, they've said no. This media propaganda is fake news that was created to further vilify Trump who rightfully coined the term, "chinese virus" during his presidency by the liberals and democrats. There's no "anti-asian" racism in the states, at least in NYC, and most of the individuals complaining about it have been white - specifically those on the right, in order to further their divisive rhetoric painting blacks as the villain. They dont give a rat ass about asians but will use them to further their agenda. The individual above mentioned linking your statistics study/research with data backing up your claim. You're not a victim and the cherry picked incidents in the media does not make you one. That's domestically here in the states. If we're talking internationally, most of the racism I've faced in my life time have been from Asians in places like China and Japan, as opposed to the United States. Sling the MS.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 14, 2021 - 10:17pm

I have heard of blogs and kind of know what they are. My question is what do you write on a blog, like stuff thats on your mind or just whatever? And what websites can i logon to to start blogs?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mar 9, 2021 - 7:46am

Have a similar experience to you. I've realized that these programs are more random (male vs female sometimes plays into this) than meritocratic. Don't know why people are assuming you're white but would just go ahead and focus on the normal recruiting process. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 10:55am

More about class than race. Shout out to all the East Asian girls and POC from Connecticut or wherever the fuck who went to top private schools getting into these diversity programs. Networking as a poor person from a target school fucking sucks and the only people making it through are the same rich idiots who can't answer basic finance questions in my classes. How am I supposed to relate to Chad and Ashley who were in Alpha Sigma Ligma or the Koreans who only push other Koreans at these banks?  

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 10, 2021 - 9:38pm

Lmaoo thats too funny @Koreans who push other koreans. Totally a thing from my target

  • Managing Director in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 8:40am

1. Use your English name (if you use your Asian name high chance you get dinged just to avoid international headache).

2. Are you nerdy? I'm not trying to be offensive but objectively, your interviewers/HR screens are white female sorority girls so play the part

3. Did you network? I don't mean like reaching out to people from your school but like did you talk to that associate / VP gal in xyz group leading female recruiting efforts at the junior level. Diversity programs are competitive, you gotta get in front of the right people 

Mar 9, 2021 - 7:08pm

No joke I was just speaking at a networking event, and the 4 individuals on the HR team coordinating the event all fit the bill as the previous poster described. It actually stuck out to me how little diversity there was with the HR team.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 9:57am

Serious question.

If I look very white, but am actually Hispanic/Latino, would that lessen my chances of getting into a diversity program?

Mar 9, 2021 - 10:01am

A number of these diversity programs don't even have interviews for acceptance. It can be just a phone call to say hello and an email providing event details. Unlikely they will see you prior to the event itself (although this of course varies from bank to bank, program to program). 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 9, 2021 - 1:35pm

Literally in the same boat. East Asian female getting rejected from all women's programs I've applied to thus far (around 5-6) also with 3.95+ GPA at target. Have networked with analysts, should I be trying to talk with higher ups? Anyone please drop your tips.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 3:26pm

I've heard that some programs take women who haven't had any banking experience to expose them to the industry. If you have experience in IB (like an internship or something), maybe that's the reason

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 9, 2021 - 7:58pm

that's fucking retarded, imagine rejecting female candidates that go out of their way to get experience so that their resume is stronger than the 99% of the female application pool but they get rejected bc they worked too hard and come off as privileged

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 10, 2021 - 9:39pm

Hey! Same thing happened to me.. i applied to 20+ diversity programs soph year and I ended up getting an offer through non-diversity recruiting at a BB :)

Don't worry!!

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Mar 15, 2021 - 12:41pm

Cap, I'm east asian (only saying this bc I'm afraid you'd assume I'm black and ignore my entire message) and I've met a lot of people from HBCU's much smarter or charming than I am. Does that mean that they're ALL worthy of analyst roles at prestigious firms? No, but that same holds true for people from all schools. HBCU's lowkey are kinda militaristic in how hard they drill knowledge into their students 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 10, 2021 - 2:15pm

How ironic that we live in an era where your skin colour, appearance or how your name sounds determine whether you get into certain programmes

Mar 10, 2021 - 3:37pm

How ironic that we live in an era where your skin colour, appearance or how your name sounds determine whether you get into certain programmes

Ahh yes... Because the previous eras excluded skin colours, appearances, and name sounds from decision making. Oh the good ol' days when men where only judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. You're clearly out of touch with reality or you have your head so far shoved up your ass.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 10, 2021 - 4:06pm


How ironic that we live in an era where your skin colour, appearance or how your name sounds determine whether you get into certain programmes

Ahh yes... Because the previous eras excluded skin colours, appearances, and name sounds from decision making. Oh the good ol' days when men where only judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. You're clearly out of touch with reality or you have your head so far shoved up your ass.

There was definitely a period in American history after racism/sexism became largely socially unacceptable but before the rise of critital theory derived Woke-ism where this was much, much closer to true than it is today. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 11, 2021 - 4:23am

Lol, given how woke we all are and how we hear the mantra that 'diversity is our greatest strength' from all major news (especially after the country burning down and looted by certain groups and millions spent on diversity/racism related court cases/officers at major companies); one would think that name spelling or colour of the skin no longer plays a role in selecting best candidates

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 10, 2021 - 9:39pm

Hey OP! Same thing happened to me.. i applied to 20+ diversity programs soph year and I ended up getting an offer through non-diversity recruiting at a BB :)

Don't worry!! Lmk if you want to DM And talk about this more cuz I was also so stressed about this last year (not getting into anything lol)

Mar 11, 2021 - 8:15am

There was a half Chilean girl in my HS. Mother came to US as a kid, and she passes as any other white girl, has a very WASPy F/L name and doesn't speak Spanish (or any non-English language) fluently. Parents very well off. 

She still applied and got admitted to diversity programs and is at a top target now. Otherwise quite unremarkable tbh. Cases like this are why so many people dislike affirmative action.

Huge difference from some kid from a low income family attending an HBCU, or an immigrant from Mexico living in East LA.

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Mar 11, 2021 - 1:21pm

yea dude i would say in terms of diversity hiring, you are probably not their top preferecne. They probabyl look to go attract people that go to HBCU like howard or low income diversity groups...idk thats just my guess

but overall it does suck cause ur ridicously  overly qualified 

Mar 12, 2021 - 10:29am

I've done quite a few of those diversity programs. In fact, I got my current FTO through a program I went to my sophomore year. I've never really seen people get denied from those programs unless their resume doesn't reflect an interest in banking or some one-off thing. Without knowing a lot of details about you, it'd be hard to figure out the issue. Be sure you're filling the applications out correctly, and that you actually qualify (ie. the correct year in school, from a certain region, etc). Finally, are you sure you're being denied or have you just not heard back? It seems early in the year still, and they may still being trying to figure out numbers, in-person/virtual things.

A lot of comments here are from much older people speculating on what the issue may be. Take it with a  grain of salt.

Mar 13, 2021 - 8:48am

having talked to seniors and currently analysts, diversity programs were much easier to get in two or three years ago. they are very competitive now - just sending in applications cold would not make it. you now have to network a lot to get invited. this is from my own experience and talking with analysts 

Mar 16, 2021 - 6:56pm

I wouldn't be surprised if they became more competitive, but I do think it depends on the program. First one I went to at my current firm was 400-500 students. Second one I went to for the same firm was invite-only and had about 30-40. Like I said, without knowing a lot about the OP, it's just a lot of speculating.

Mar 13, 2021 - 1:59am

Hi OP, I feel like I might have a pretty good response. Have same situation as you except I come from a non-target. I identify as lgbtq+ and hispanic. I was accepted to some diversity events ONLY because I am apart of organizations. Think like (MLT, ALPFA, SEO, HSF). Having these down, I know that I had weird things happen that don't generally for non-targets. I have had a super day with a BB, and was turned down in the resume round of some diversity programs. Since you are a target, only thing I see lacking is not being in enough organizations for diverse students.

No more fortnite

  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 14, 2021 - 11:13am

Wow this thread was a shit show. Maybe some food for thought. A lot of people complaining about being a non-white person at a target with a very high GPA not getting into diversity program for whatever reason. Have any of you all stop to think you maybe aren't as special as you think and that hiring managers are maybe not just looking for a diverse candidate in terms of skin color but as diverse in terms of background. If they just selected all the 3.9+ GPA non-white people for these programs then it wouldn't be very diverse correct? Shouldn't this be about getting people with different backgrounds and perspectives who wouldn't normally have a shot at banking because of the college they go to or situation a chance at the job. If you go to a target with a 3.9+ you'll have all the opportunities in the world to interview and get the job in normal recruiting so I imagine that goes through the heads of whoever selects kids for these programs. Just feel a lot of entitlement that because I'm non-white and go to a gather that I HAVE to be selected for these programs and not doing so is unfair. Guess what kids, life is unfair and even though you may deserve that job or promotion or whatever it may not be given to you. There's thousands and thousands of kids applying to these and they have to select only a few so lots of you will have to rejected even though you fit the bill as a diversity candidate. Life is full of rejection, so you better get use to it and keep it moving. But what do I know

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 14, 2021 - 12:55pm

People aren't entitled, they're frustrated. Frustrated that the criteria being used to select candidates for diversity programs are so opaque, and that someone who seems to be doing everything this industry and this forum tells them to do is failing miserably.

Maybe people are angry that their rich, privileged peers have this leg up over them even in programs designed to help those who don't come from privileged backgrounds. You say that they want diverse backgrounds, so why are they taking my wealthy peers who had private equity internships in high school? The only diversity I see is when they take a wealthy non-finance major who has typos in their resume and cover letter who had a private equity internship in high school.

So we, the middle class kids whose parents went to shit universities in some buttfuck nowhere country, try and work hard to close this gap, right? We go to a public school and somehow are lucky enough with our unweighted 4.0s, 1550+ SATs, hundreds of hours of volunteering, and dozens and medals and plaques and leadership positions to get into a target. We work hard for our 3.95 GPAs, reach out to upperclassmen for advice, and iterate on our resumes and cover letters. We go to info session and conferences and reach out to analysts, but we don't connect because we're so different. Because I don't belong to the same fraternity or sorority, because I didn't go to the same boarding school, because maybe my mannerisms reveal that I come from a different background.

Don't feel entitled to a referral from them, but it's a problem when networking starts to be a bigger part of diversity recruiting. They're just pulling in more of the same rich or well-connected kids. The frustration and anger comes from seeing no progress and from the fact that the regular cycle is so contingent on networking and connections as well.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 15, 2021 - 1:31am

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Mar 14, 2021 - 10:09pm

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Mar 15, 2021 - 12:45pm

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 15, 2021 - 1:34pm

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