If I don't get a banking offer, what's the next best thing?

Emperorᅚ's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 651

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, I've done everything I can to position myself for IB recruiting. I'm a 3.9 at a target, worked in MM PE sophomore summer, networked my ass off, and have several interviews lined up already.

With all that said, there are literally hundreds of people just like me and there clearly aren't enough spots for all of us. There's a strong chance that I will get a good banking offer, but there is just as much of a chance that I don't. I want to be prepared for that scenario and start exploring alternatives for junior summer early to put myself in the best position for full-time recruiting.

So what's the next best thing? Is it really big 4 valuation? Independent valuation (ex. Duff & Phelps)? Corporate development? Perhaps some backdoor path that looks as impressive as banking on your resume, but not as much competition?

Would really appreciate any advice.

Comments (73)

Sep 5, 2017

Clearly an impressive resume - would focus more on winning these interviews for now. The opportunities you're thinking about beyond banking will generally begin after the IB recruiting cycle.

But to answer your question, I would certainly think that the options you listed are viable although you may also want to target boutiques which hire intermittently rather than at a set time.

Don't psych yourself out and good luck

    • 3
Sep 5, 2017

Kinda depends on what part of the work you're actually interested in. If you're more interested in the investing/markets side of it, then, valuation, Asset Management, etc. If you want to do M&A then TAS, etc.

If you have no clue then consulting or working for the most "prestigious" tech brand you can get.....not necessarily because your experience will be better, but because people actually are that dumb as to assume that you are smarter/more qualified because you worked at Google or somesuch company, even to

    • 1
Sep 5, 2017

unless you're a shitty interviewer you're gonna get a job. Focus more on prepping and doing mocks than a Plan B. There's always consulting shit in the Spring so you have time to worry about that if you somehow don't get in.

Unless you go to some easy af school (a 3.9 at my target is like top 5%)

    • 6
Sep 5, 2017

Yeah unfortunately at my school everyone has a 3.9, so I don't stand out that way. I don't think MBB consulting is really an option for me, I have no idea how those processes work and I think they barely recruit at my school. Unless you guys mean something else by consulting?

I'm focusing mainly on doing well in the interviews I have, but if there's something else going on now that I could easily secure an offer in case everything else doesn't work out, I wanna make sure I don't miss it.

Sep 6, 2017

If you're not opposed to going non-traditional: Booz Allen and Federal Consulting are good routes. Also, familiarize yourself with emerging financial technology platforms and start-ups. Those are still competitive, pay well, and have good exits. Often they intend to replace some aspect of a bank so it can even be relatable. Hope this helps.

-Steve

    • 1
Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Sep 14, 2017
TheEmperor:

Yeah unfortunately at my school everyone has a 3.9, so I don't stand out that way.

This just isn't true.

Sep 5, 2017

Bump. Would love to hear more. Will also be in OP's shoes

Best Response
Sep 6, 2017

Actually helped someone from WSO. Talked initially online via WSO and then did a few offline chats via phone call and facebook chat. *I agreed to help her offline because she knew my ex-gf, who went to the same school and grew up in the same area as her. Same problem as you. Target - Good GPA - great internship experience. I few things that I did for her that landed her a full time offer at both CS and Citi at their Capital Market teams. Thought this might be the secret sauce that you need to move ahead. Good luck.

  • Problem: Lack of self confidence; feeling that she is as same as everyone else. Solution: spent time to craft out a compelling story on how a series of her life events have led to this decision (wanting to be in banking).
  • Problem: Get interviews but no offers. Solution: Ask her to do more networking with both analysts and associates level to internally vouch for her after the interviews through her alum contacts. For a few positions, also assisted her to make calls to VP and MD levels to say the right things to tip the scale to her favor.
  • Problem: Understanding technical but not seeing the big picture. Solution: Went through typical IPO and M&A processes to explain what is needed to be done to close the deals rather than going through the motions.
    • 14
    • 1
Sep 6, 2017

Thanks - really helpful post. Your Third Point, I am aware of - people will study up on the 400 questions guide and know how to answer those exact questions, but get stumped when asked more high-level questions. This is something I'm working on.

While I don't know your ex gf, do you mind if I PM you my story? It's short, and I'd really appreciate one or two sentences on whether it's good or sucks. thanks.

Sep 11, 2017

What kind of questions would you ask to a VP/MD vs an Analyst/Associate? I find that it's easier to be open/relatable to analysts/associates because of their age and what not.

Sep 11, 2017

I think a good VP who really want a good candidate (you) would actually can do most of the talking and asking. But then there are times even the most happiest VP/MD can have a shitty day at work (assuming that a happy VP/MD exist). Personally, I think I would like the candidates to ask a few questions along the line of:

  • How long have you been in banking and what have you seen throughout the years in terms of the trends? How has the market changes - the industry, the investors, the clients?
  • What are the key things that you look for in an associate and what is the main reason why they are not moving up to middle management (VP)? What are the soft skills that you need to develop to move up?
  • What have kept you in investment banking? Why you have not moved to buy side or family office roles?
  • You must have traveled a lot. What is your favorite city and why?
  • Where do you see the next opportunity coming in term of regionally? (i.e. OBOR, FinTech, ICO)
  • Were you on the standard track (Ivy Undergraduate - BB M&A - HBS MBA - PE)? Are there anything that you wish you would have done differently?
    • 2
Sep 6, 2017

Start off by losing the self doubt. If you want to stand out gain some interesting extra curricular experience and network your ass off. See if there are any opportunities to job shadow during the semester. Keep the GPA high and that alone will help you to stand out..

Sep 6, 2017

Seppuku.

Sep 12, 2017

Tried but the sword got stuck when it went halfway through. Currently clutching the blade with one hand, thinking about your advice. What is step 2?

Sep 6, 2017

You've got interviews already lined up. You are way ahead of the curve given your stats/school and the fact that you've already had relevant experience. Most kids don't have it so good. You just need to focus 100% on getting ready for interviews. Practice with your friends. Get ready to nail the technicals. Don't worry about what's next...just take the opportunity in front of you.

Sep 6, 2017

Obviously, the interviewer would like to see you display confidence in your answers without being too cocky. Everyone above is saying not to focus on a Plan B, but in my opinion I don't think it would hurt. I couldn't secure a traditional IB role out of college so I graduated unemployed and started my networking over in equity research, sales, Asset Management, etc. and finally ended up in public finance. Not near as sexy, but as an analyst I have my own office, assistant, and hardly ever stay past 6 pm. I personally wouldn't go Big 4 unless you just loved accounting.

    • 3
Sep 8, 2017

I would suggest checking out corporate finance roles at large tech companies. A lot of them want a couple years of work experience, but assuming your resume is stacked, there are maybe some 1-2 experience roles you could get into. Also, companies like Uber or Dropbox (for example) have roles with titles like "operations analyst" that are actually much more data/research focused. Don't let the stigma of banking "operations" roles dissuade you from checking out these positions. I have friends in these types of jobs that make great money and work at "fun" companies. angel.co is a good resource for finding these jobs. Good luck!

    • 2
Sep 10, 2017

I know 2 ppl from GS TMT who exited into the ops role at Uber - definitely agree that it's not comparable to our "traditional" definition of ops at BB

Sep 8, 2017

I'd suggest working in any kind of structuring/acquisition/execution position that really hones your Excel skills, and your ability to drive deals to closing. There are plenty of firms other than investment banking that create financial instruments. I worked at a company that securitized trade receivables for large corporates. It was not standard experience, but it helped me get a job in Private Equity after 1.5 years.

    • 1
Sep 8, 2017

I hope that some of these one track mind robots don't get IB offers so that they are forced to actually think critically for the first time in their lives.

Sep 8, 2017

I think you need a bit more self-confidence man. If you think you can or can't, then you're right, and if you think you'll need a plan B, then you will. You're taking yourself out of the game while you're still in the locker room with that attitude.

There are a couple of threads on here that discuss what can separate you from the pack when it comes to interviewing for these roles, and I also recommend checking out Mergers & Inquisitions (M&I).

A couple things that will separate you:

  • The ability to coherently and concisely discuss your summer internship experiences (look for the "Deal Card" article on M&I)
  • Knowing about the bank itself via informational interviews that you set up yourself (for instance: knowing that BAML has an M&A group while GS does M&A in-house )
  • Actually understanding finance, accounting, modeling, and valuation concepts (yes, we add back depreciation because it is a non-cash expense, but what do we mean by "non-cash"? Anyone can memorize how to calculate free cash flow, but why is it that we use FCF for our projections when modeling?)

But, to answer your questions, Big Four Transaction Services, Valuation Services, or a boutique bank will all provide you with a viable platform to break in when you graduate.

Even if you don't end up getting a banking offer, despite what your classmates or college sophomores with no work experience on this website may tell you, it is not end of the world.

Life goes on and there are plenty of people who have broken into investment banking with backgrounds a lot less impressive than yours.

Good luck, you got it!

    • 4
Sep 8, 2017

Had a 3.7 at non-target, investment club president, started and ran a profitable business through uni and had passed CFA L1. Made final rounds at 2 large canadian banks but no offers there. Next best thing for me was to get into Big 4 M&A (CF), which is turning out to be a great school. Expecting to leverage an early promotion to jump by the end of 2018.

At this point I'd highly suggest Big 4 M&A: 50M- 500M deal size, same for capital raises, lots of deal flow, great hours (8-7 or 8ish) during week days and few hours here and there during weekends, decent pay, etc. Better then your average small-time boutique if you ask me.

Sep 8, 2017

Hi CorneliusLux, I am looking to make a career move that is similar to yours. I am a 3.8 at a non-target as well, passed cfa 1, and some advising experience. What position did you start off as? Did you do a internship first?

Sep 11, 2017

Started off as an analyst. Had a few internships in similar fields but nothing fancy. Big 4 M&A, both TS and CF, seems to like hiring internally from their auditing divisions and not so much straight out of undergrad unless you'll be adding value to the team right away (modeling experience, solid ppt knowledge, knowing your way around typical deal-related documents, etc.), but given your advising experience this may be less of an issue.

    • 1
Sep 10, 2017

What does comp look like? I heard it's a lot less without the bonuses that IB would bring. Did not know lifestyle was so much better though.

Sep 11, 2017

You heard right. A 1st year analyst straight out of undergrad typically looks at 55-65 base. Bonuses are also lower than IB. The range is very complicated to gauge given that M&A doesn't seem to operate under the same comp rules from HR as other Big 4 divisions do (ie the bonus cap written on my contract was far below what I actually received). Based on what I've been hearing, analysts will receive between 5-25% based on team performance, group-wide performance and, of course, your overall work ethic.

Benefits are solid, if that means anything to you, and hours are typically somewhere around 50-60h when things are slow/normal vs. 60-80h when things are busy/very busy. Culture is far more relaxed as well, as in no ties, talking to the MD without fearing for your life, no face-time (explains the relatively low hours vs. typical IB), and no one gives a fuck what watch you wear.

In general, as far as lifestyle goes, being able to eat with your girlfriend most nights and being able to make plans without always cancelling them at the last second all while still gaining some serious M&A experience at a name brand firm isn't bad at all.

    • 1
Sep 10, 2017

Japanese honor suicide is the only alternative

    • 1
Sep 11, 2017

Valuation, consulting, or AM. I knew I never had a chance with IB for summer analyst/FT post grad position. I go to a non-target, and while my GPA is good, it is not great (above a 3.5 but below a 4.0). So, I've been networking the hell out of AM and valuation groups in my city hard this summer (their recruiting starts much later than IB), and I've been having great success with this (the amount of people I've been getting coffee with has been off the charts, and I mean that literally, because I made a fucking chart).

My plan is two years of valuations or AM, grad school, and then into IB.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
    • 2
Sep 12, 2017

You'll never achieve your full potential if you start making backup plans...

    • 1
Sep 12, 2017

If you don't get a banking offer, you should start a MARIJUANA PLANTATION located in MIDTOWN.

    • 1
Sep 15, 2017

Look into fldps.

Sep 15, 2017

no the BB name is always better, unless its operations

Sep 15, 2017
gimmearedbull:

no the BB name is always better, unless its operations

Absolute bullshit. MM IBD experience is better than ER or PWM at a BB. Yes, having a BB name on your resume can help you land interviews, but relevant work experience is by far more important.

Sep 15, 2017

I'd disagree; I think IB internship at a MM > ER internship at a BB for getting a FT interview in BB IBD.

Sep 15, 2017

The guy did say it was a no name MM. We're not talking about places like Piper or Thomas Weisel, we're talking places liek Alexander Maifa & Co. and Radiant Sunshine Partners. If its absolutely a no-name, it won't get you interviews.

Sep 15, 2017

The OP said no-name MM. Depends on who he means by no name. I think ER at a BB bank can be as beneficial if not more than a run of the mill MM. If you get the FT offer and are able to explain why you wish to jump from research to banking and come from a target school with a decent GPA you should fine. Also, you can't count out the advantage of living in New York for the summer and attending all the networking events for summers (helps alot). Personally, I have not been impressed by MM experience (boutique however is a different story).

I don't think the "star system" has done anything for the credibility of WSO.

Sep 15, 2017

Maybe so, regarding the no-name IB vs BB ER but I would say case by case.

And you're the only person to say that so far about the star system.

Sep 15, 2017

what if the no name MM or boutique investment banking internship still provided good expeirence. Wouldn't that be better then even BB ER internship?

Sep 15, 2017

I would say that MM IB experience would be better than BB ER experience, GRANTED THAT the MM firm places within the top 10 of the MM league tables (check thomson, think Jefferies, Piper, TWP, Harris Williams). Just knowing how to do comps and how deals work would be invaluable knowledge for full time interviews. However, if you get an offer from BB ER at a firm that you really like, taking the ER offer might not be a bad idea. If you do well, there will be opportunities for internal moves. I have a couple of friends who got to interview at the end of their internships with other groups within the bank, which is advantageous because you have all the spots available before fall recuiting kicks off (plus you can get your boss to vouch for you, if you did well). I know kids from Credit Risk who moved over to IB after their internships. If you aren't able to pull off the internal move, then the name and experience itself will get you far in interviews with other firms. The key is, wherever you go, get that offer.

Sep 15, 2017
bullshark:

I'm in third year and trying to secure an internship at an IB boutique shop, I was wondering if that doesn't work out, then what other possible alternatives do I have to get experience so that i can secure an banking job next summer?

You could engage in garage sales and increase ur entrepreneurial skills!!!

Sep 15, 2017

get an unpaid internship at a hedge fund or something

Sep 15, 2017

Dude.

You can't handle analyst --> you can't handle associate --> you can't handle VP... et cetera

You think you can screw around post-mba for a few years and then land an associate role in an ibank or even boutique?

You can screw around post-college, get a few decent jobs, have some progression...but post b-school you've got to get down to business.

I think that you've probably been unable to secure big 4 or a BB internship, are stuck without ideas interning at a random place in your year 1 summer. Am I right?

Best of luck, you need it.

Sep 15, 2017

ok. your right. But, I know what I want to do at this point and I'm unsure the best route to take to get there.

I am finishing my final year with my MBA. I don't like what I currently do. I don't want to waste this MBA even if it's not the best school. From what I can tell I can't work as an analyst and take a couple classes per semester.
I believe I will have to work as an analyst for a couple years even with this mba.

I really just need some advice on what to do.

Sep 15, 2017
powerhog:

ok. your right. But, I know what I want to do at this point and I'm unsure the best route to take to get there.

I am finishing my final year with my MBA. I don't like what I currently do. I don't want to waste this MBA even if it's not the best school. From what I can tell I can't work as an analyst and take a couple classes per semester.
I believe I will have to work as an analyst for a couple years even with this mba.

I really just need some advice on what to do.

what's your current job? current school? past experience? UG degree? personality?

Give me an inventory, you're horribly vague in what you've said thus far.

Sep 15, 2017

Current job is Mortgage consultant. (ie Sales)
I make great money even in the tough market but it is not challenging. Graduated from the University of Georgia, Econ major 3.5 gpa.
Going to Ga state MBA - not a top school. I've started a small company that was relatively successful and had some general business experience.

I work better under pressure and love having a lot to do. I work really well with all types of people and make friends easily.

don't know if thats what you were asking but here it is!

Sep 15, 2017
powerhog:

Current job is Mortgage consultant. (ie Sales)
I make great money even in the tough market but it is not challenging. Graduated from the University of Georgia, Econ major 3.5 gpa.
Going to Ga state MBA - not a top school. I've started a small company that was relatively successful and had some general business experience.

I work better under pressure and love having a lot to do. I work really well with all types of people and make friends easily.

don't know if thats what you were asking but here it is!

My advice is too avoid the IB route, keep kicking ass, making money, and taking names. Get rich anotha' way.

"Smoking on dat doja', 3 negron in the back screaming "No Limit Soldier"... Master P "I thought I tolda ya"

Sep 15, 2017

Get another front office internship as close as you can to IB and network. Avoid back office.

Sep 15, 2017

your in a though spot, consider doing something competative, maybe try TFA and then shoot for MBA or IBD afterwards, however, its a big commitment...
strategy consulting also works, many are able to transition into IBD
corporate finance is another way, try to get into the M&A group
nonprofits are also good, espcially something related to economics (i.e. international development, microfinance)

basically, there are other ways but they are def long shots, best bet would be to get into a good MBA program

hope that helps, good luck!

Sep 15, 2017

Get as a relevant an internship as possible and network like crazy.

Sep 15, 2017

? its not that hard - i didn't work in IBD ... i still got a full time at a top 3 - just network and prepare

Sep 15, 2017

How does a regional boutique SA look on a resume when interviewing for FT? Is it that big of a disadvantage compared to BB or elite boutique SA or is it something I can reasonably overcome?

Sep 15, 2017
noway:

How does a regional boutique SA look on a resume when interviewing for FT? Is it that big of a disadvantage compared to BB or elite boutique SA or is it something I can reasonably overcome?

You're probably not going to be equal weight, but if you up your GPA and network hard, you can ultimately interview for similar opportunities.

Sep 15, 2017

Is commercial/corp banking at a BB a way of getting in? Be honest.. I got two offers.

--
"Those who say don't know, and those who know don't say."

Sep 15, 2017

LOL

Sep 15, 2017

HAHA if you're this insecure and worry that much about what people think, don't bother working in this industry.

    • 1
Sep 15, 2017

While I agree the OP is being a bit silly, there is some validity to asking about how to craft your resume if your 'best' internship is not your most recent. I'm assuming most would simply suggest sticking to chronological order regardless?

Sep 15, 2017

bump? I seriously do not know if moving backwards in experience is looked down upon...

Sep 15, 2017

I'm in the same boat, but I do have relevant finance experience.

Take anything you can get right now; it's been a few months since you graduated, correct?

Sep 15, 2017

I graduated last summer actually, had the IT job for 6 months in between.

Sep 15, 2017

Why not consider equity research at sell-side? If you are interested in tech industry I think you can work in a tech company at first. Later you may also switch to finance with your relevant industry experience, though I don't know if that would be hard to make the switch.

Sep 15, 2017

I'll look into this.

Sep 15, 2017

I've met a guy, or two in my day that started in the industry. If you look at biotech/pharma research is littered with MD's. The clinical trials are just too damn difficult to decipher for the average person.

Anyways, yeah. Industry is a viable first option, particularly investor relations.

Sep 15, 2017
Comment
    • 2
Sep 15, 2017
Comment
    • 1
Sep 15, 2017
Comment