Incoming Freshman - Best Clubs for Investment Banking/PE at UPenn

I'm an incoming freshman at Wharton so I guess I'm a bit early, but I really want to go into investment banking in the future. I was wondering if anyone knew about what clubs I should join during my time at Penn, or what clubs have produced students that have gone onto firms like Goldman and J.P. Morgan.

I also heard that many of the clubs at Penn require applications, which shocked me. Anytime I talk to someone on campus, I feel like I'm being treated like a kid and everyone is sugarcoating the real process. Would appreciate any comments about groups or even where to find great mentors on campus!

Thank You!!!

Comments (41)

Aug 8, 2019

Can't personally speak on these, but I encountered a couple of students from WITG at stock pitch competitions. I heard they usually place well into top investment banks and mega funds, but I don't know if this is just board members or general body members. A quick google search led me to PE/VC club, which I assume means it's designed for people interested in PE. You can easily google and check the school's club directory.

I would recommend Global Platinum Securities - they have one at my school, Penn, and other top notch schools as well. Nonetheless, don't be surprised if people treat you like a kid because chances are you haven't learned much of anything. Can't remember the number of times I've had a freshman tell me they loved investing and knew a lot because they invest money, but they couldn't even tell me what COGS or any line item was besides revenue.

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Aug 9, 2019

thanks! WITG was the first link that popped up when I searched but I didn't see PE/VC. Do you know if these groups require applications or can anyone join?

Aug 23, 2019

Have friends in GPS and it's definitely the top club for exits - you can basically get any buyside or sellside shop you want given the amount of work you put in learning finance over your four years in the group (recent placements include WP, EVR RX, PJT RX). Would also recommend ICM - the amount of work the group does varies from year to year, but overall the group still places well so it's a solid network to be a part of.

WITG is all about the team - you'll want to join either Industrials, TMT, SSG, but it's fine to join a worse group and then move in your second semester - getting your foot in the door is the essential part, and then you can move around. Note that connections are a huge thing for all these clubs - you'll see at Wharton that a lot is driven by who you know. Happy to chat more over PM - enjoy your time there!

Aug 9, 2019

Definitely join WITG - feel free to PM if you want advice. Not as familiar with GPS but the mentorship/network you build in WITG is unmatched IMO. PMs tend to hold the more coveted jobs on-campus and serve as points of contact for the recruiting process. Also a great learning experience - would definitely recommend giving it a shot.

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Aug 9, 2019

Could you speak on the structure of the club, and if it's application only? Was wondering how many students they take.

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Aug 9, 2019

welcome to college buddy..any finance club worth joining will have apps and most likely a pretty competitive recruiting process. Not just at penn, but any good school

Aug 9, 2019

WITG is a must, especially when it comes to on-campus recruiting. Board Members and PMs are often times the main point of contact for both EB's (PJT RX/HL RX/EVR M&A/RX) and Hedge Funds (SPC/SLP). Can't speak for all the investment teams, but I know some of the juniors/seniors really go out of their way to make sure you understand the content. If you can, try to join the executive board and/or an investment team.

GPS is a great organization from what I've heard, but it's extremely selective. They recruit only in the spring, and it's a lot of investing fundamentals that are tested - not your standard memorization and regurgitation. WUFC is another club that has always had solid placement into firms like Evercore, Centerview, and Moelis. They have good mentorship as well, but it's less structured and arguably less accessible. PE/VC mentioned above is good as well, and they're sponsored by Ares PE. There's also a hedge fund club, but I'm not sure what they really do - know they hosted some recruiting events with GS and AQR. There are tons of clubs to pick from, and it's hard to go wrong with any of them.

That being said, recruiting for clubs on Penn's campus is brutal. Wharton actually has its own club fair without the rest of the school, and freshmen students are just trying to get to the front with the hope a board member remembering your name or face. There's not much "pulling" that can be done, and it's mostly merit based so that's why many of the students that make it in also make it later when it comes to OCR. Standard process for clubs is essays/resume -> first round interview -> possible second round interview -> results.

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Aug 9, 2019

Tysm for typing this out! I heard about the fair and how some clubs get flooded with members. I assume WITG, GPS, and WUFC are pretty highly viewed both on-campus and for recruiting so I'll look into those. What investment teams would you recommend?

Aug 9, 2019

WITG and WUFC are usually the top two clubs. If I remember correctly, WITG booked out an entire auditorium for their information meeting prior to the opening of applications. GPS is a third-party investment club so they're not Wharton registered, and therefore not at the fair

For investment teams, it depends on interest. The Tech group is usually full of students in the M&T dual-degree program. Likewise, the Healthcare group is full of students in the LSM dual-degree program. I know SSG is difficult to get into, and they have the best placements into restructuring (doubt you even know what this is). They go through everything in detail at the meeting, and the board/PMs can explain everything much better than I can

Aug 9, 2019

@EBTT-99x is generally correct.

GPS, PIA, and WITG are the better investment clubs on campus. WITG is the only one with sector teams, but there's also a development team open to anyone. The best teams are traditionally SSG and Industrials, but it varies based on the particular Upperclassmen running the groups from year to year.

WUFC is essentially a networking club. They host events and are sponsored by various banks, but you don't learn anything by being a part of it. It's still valuable because of the people you meet, but it's a tier below the actual investment clubs

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Aug 9, 2019

I was in your same shoes a year ago, but I think it's also important to note that you shouldn't stress too much - it's still summer so enjoy it!. I heard the same horror stories about interviewing and the multi-step process at Wharton, but they weren't terrible. I interviewed at pretty much all of the clubs listed above except GPS (didn't even make it past the resume rounds). The biggest misconception I think was that these people are out to get you. I remember feeling crappy after getting rejected by clubs on my first attempt, but when I reached out for feedback, the interviewers were willing to get extensive feedback. I think clubs here really value mentorship if you really put in the work. The other misconception is that these clubs are only open to Wharton students; this is not true since I know STEM majors on these boards, but that being said, it's near impossible to reach P/VP positions without being in Wharton.

I would say WITG is the only club that's not a joke when it comes to actually teaching and learning - as mentioned, the Board/PMs are usually the direct contact to firms like HL RX and PJT RSSG, and the club held events for both firms last year. I joined 6 or so clubs in the first 2 months of school and dropped 4 of them before second semester started. The club has a development course that's open for everyone with no experience, and the teachers last year were the nicest people I've met. The course is usually taught by seniors going to top banks like Morgan Stanley, Evercore, etc. That being said, if you really want recruiting connections, then join an investment team. These are application based, and they take 6-7 students per semester. If you manage to get in, you'll usually have a direct point of contact to any top firm with personalized preparation. Can't speak personally on the executive board, but they work with a lot of logistics/recruiting/finances, and the board members tend to also be on investment teams as well. They take 9 or so people per school year so it's insanely competitive, but sophomores that are VPs tend to place into funds like Apollo or BB's. There's another process for VP to Pres with the PM's voting, so if someone becomes President, it means they're the real deal and have the respect of a lot of the top individuals on campus.

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Aug 9, 2019

WITG Exec Board and WUFC are good for networking with corporate sponsors and meeting people, but you won't learn much finance there. GPS is a great opportunity since they have a curriculum and supportive upperclassmen/alumni, but the interview process there is also fit based so more random. PIA also might be worth looking into, used to be the top club for investing but have fallen off the cliff a bit in terms of involvement with recent classes graduating. In terms of WITG teams, would recommend Tac Ops, Industrials and SSG. Tac Ops is focused pretty much on only distressed/restructuring, while the other two have that but also more generalist fundamental investing. In terms of interview process, Tac Ops is probably all hard skills technical interview, Industrials and SSG will probably test more qualitative thinking/how you think about businesses. Quality really depends how involved the PMs are each year so can vary.

Array

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Aug 9, 2019

Just going to provide some more depth into what other people have said:

GPS is the best organization to join, and they have the strongest pipeline to banks and PE. They offer their own training curriculum, and recruitment is done through the members at each school. The interview process is resume screen, interview with current members at the school, and interview with a member from elsewhere. There's usually a stock pitch involved that tests fundamental understanding as opposed to how nicely formatted your model is. If I'm not mistaken, recent penn grads went on to Evercore RX, Warburg Pincus, and PJT RX. The Penn students here favor distressed/rx shops since it's more technical, and I believe every person has actually gone to either HL RX or PJT RX for a summer. It seems like you're just listing the two brand name firms everyone has heard, but those firms are a joke for people in GPS at Penn.

For "on-campus" clubs, WITG tops the list. The club is broken down into board and investment teams. Board gives you exposure and direct contact to all the firms, but there's not much learning unless you're doing education and have access to the development course notes (notes are not public and only available to VP for Education and the person under him/her). The presidents are juniors that have managed to demonstrate to PMs that they're both technically competent and good people - from what I heard, it's usually obvious who's getting elected. They haven't formally announced the presidents for this upcoming year, but for those who don't already know, they're both great people and knowledgeable - less hardo than in the past years, but they're more "work hard play hard". Investment Teams focus on teaching technicals, valuation, industry, etc, and they're run by PMs (usually seniors at top firm in respective group). As mentioned above, PMs vary drastically, with Tac Opps, SSG, and Industrials standing out as the best groups. Interview processes for both Board and Investment Teams are difficult. The club receives hundreds of applications every year, and they only take 5 or so students per team. Board is even harder since you only have 1 chance to make it, and they take even less. Your best bet is to come in with a legitimate reason for wanting to join the club besides "I heard it's a good club" or "XXX recommended me to join". If you had to pick, join an investment team, but if you're on both an investment team and board, you're in a great place.

I'm sure this all seems daunting, and there are so many acronyms and firms that you've never seen before. I wouldn't stress too much about club recruiting at Penn - upperclassmen want to help and mentor people, and they're open to talking to anyone. Talk to some of the people when you get to campus.

For all those not at Penn and are reading this thread, I honestly had a harder time getting into some of these clubs than landing at a EB. Preprofessional culture has taken over campus, but it also makes candidates prepared.

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Aug 9, 2019

This is also broadly accurate and helpful. PIA is still probably the best club on campus though, and certainly is based on recent classes (past 5 years).

Aug 9, 2019

My bad - I originally was going to separate this into clubs that actually invest money with AUM and then Wharton clubs, but I got off tracked in my typing. One thing to note is that Wharton clubs do not actually invest really money - I think it's against school policy, and it would place the clubs under intense scrutiny given all the drama already with ESG and stuff. Because of that, there are many of these off campus groups that actually do invest - GPS, PIA, and there's a new one called QFG as well I think. Those orgs are not under the Wharton name, but they're good.

PIA has definitely produced a lot of stellar classes, but I think they're less active on campus in recent years, or relative to 2-3 years ago. I know that it's possible to hold multiple membership/board positions among all these clubs, so I feel like some of the students that were in both WITG and PIA ended up spending less time on the latter. Regardless, they produce great candidates and is up there with GPS when it comes to learning legitimate material.

Aug 9, 2019

Any tips on how to get into PIA, GPS, or WITG. It seems to me these clubs are highly competitive, and if anything, they require a specialized interest. I've personally never heard of SSG, Tactical Opportunities, or anything related to distressed. Does it help to have invested money in high school? What can I do to prepare for when interviews start?

Also, why do so many students end up in RX (restructuring I think)? I've never even heard of the majority of the firms listed above. Ignorance of a hs student I guess...

Aug 9, 2019

This is pretty spot on for both GPS and WITG. I would add that you should join WITG's development team as a freshman, regardless if you had any previous investing experience. I thought I knew a lot going into undergrad, but it turned out I was a complete bucket head. Don't come in thinking you know everything or even a little because it will backfire when you get called out in an interview.

I actually just found out the presidents yesterday thanks to galoi, and I'm pleasantly surprised since both are good people, both in terms of personality and technical knowledge. Seems that HL RX has established a new pipeline, this time including regional locations. Nonetheless, club is in good hands, and it should still be top on campus.

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Aug 10, 2019

Won't speak much on GPS, PIA, QFG because I'm not personally involved, but I've heard all are amazing clubs to join.

This is beating a dead horse now, but WITG is a great club to join. Their development team is a direct pipeline into an investment team, given you participate in the courses (As mentioned, the notes and slides aren't publicly available). They're the only club on campus under the Wharton name (excluding GPS, PIA, QFG, etc...) that gives a solid, instructional foundation to investing, and the classes are always taught by amazing guys. Board gives access to sponsors and a lot of corporate firms, but most of the learning is done through investment teams. As many people mentioned, SSG, Industrials, and Tac Opps are consistently strong teams to join. SSG has solid PMs next year, so that's the one I would target, especially if you're hoping to go to PE/HF. I got the chance to work alongside one of the Industrials PMs last year, and he was one of the most intimidating, intelligent guys I've met. Viewing him in such a good light, I can't imagine the PMs for Industrials this upcoming year being anything less than good. For board positions, it's true the process is highly selective, but board members also vary drastically in what they do. The presidents this past year did a killer job with the club; probably 2 of the smartest guys I'll ever meet when it comes to investing, but they were some of the harshest guys as well. They tell it straight to you if they think you're not prepared or suck, but that's what you want. Incoming presidents are also good guys - but agree, they're nowhere close to as hardo as the past years. Whoever said "work hard play hard" is somewhat accurate; the other person probably has only heard stuff and doesn't know them personally.

P.S. There isn't really a bad club when it's based on the people on boards and stuff because there's a lot of overlap at the top between WITG, GPS, PIA, WHFC, etc.

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Aug 11, 2019

Lol

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Most Helpful
Aug 11, 2019

Sounds like you got rejected from the actual investment teams... but you're right, it's not a student investment fund and doesn't claim to be. It's purely to tech and discuss basic investing principals.

PIA and GPS are better but more selective.

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Aug 12, 2019

Lmfao, someone clearly is butt hurt. "Give leadership positions to their board members," but I don't think anyone on the board is a PM? Not to mention I'm pretty sure the majority of board gets cut before junior year starts so those leadership positions are quite worthless unless you actually do stuff for the club long-term.

Whoever you're talking to either is on a worthless team or has PMs that don't care. Once again, it depends on the upperclassmen - I'm sure some of the teams like CR or Macro care more about other "fun" things than actually teaching stuff. I know a team that literally discusses news articles for the majority of the semester - if you care more about techs or modeling, then switch teams. But if you do have solid PMs, then your experience will be fine. Notice that everyone here has referenced 3 groups specifically. That's where most of the clubs good reputation comes from.

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Aug 12, 2019

They meet every Sunday in Huntsman, and investment teams meet once a week so I don't know where you get your information from. Also, WC has a rule where clubs must adhere and show up to room bookings, or else they lose the privilege to book rooms. I saw all of the club's bookings when I worked part-time, and they showed up every week.

Curious to see if you actually go to Penn because everyone knows Wharton doesn't have any student-run investment funds under the name. It's against council policy for any club to invest real money, so you're right that it's not a "real student-run investment fund." Instead, the club does pitches and stock pitch competitions with firms like SPC, SLP, D&C, FH, etc. It also happens that PMs from WITG also usually take 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd in those comps, and they even attend external comps as someone else mentioned. Investment teams provide the true learning and development, and they've clearly taught something just looking at the breakdown for SA2020 results. Most of the smart people do trickle into SSG, Tac Opps, Industrials, and I would even add on TMT.

If you want, some clubs that actually fit the description above are WUFC and WHFC. WUFC doesn't even have educational content, and I've asked both the VPs of Case to actually teach case. I've been a part of the club for 3 years now, and the only reason I continue to stay is for the mailing list and resume lol. I've talked to tons of the people that are on board in my grade, and a good amount of them haven't even received super days with any firm; they didn't even bother networking even though the network is handed to them on a silver platter. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't let my siblings/friends/underclassmen join a club where the upperclassmen don't have their life together. Don't even get me started on WHFC...1 "meeting" a month, brings in a random prof as a keynote speaker, and they literally copy/paste from WITG and WUFC listserv lol

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Aug 12, 2019

Lol this thread is actually blowing up... next thing you know people will be listing out exits from each group and debating which one sends more to SPC/SLP/PJT/HL/MoCo LA etc. Wharton culture in a nutshell. @OP, if you can join one or more of those forefront mentioned groups as a freshman just do it, no harm in dropping some later on. You essentially just need to find some upperclassmen who are happy to point you in the right direction and the rest is up to you to learn by yourself. Nobody is going to sit you down to spoon feed you everything you need to know nor is having any of those names on resume going to give you enough "clout" to get a top buyside/banking job (also a lot to do with networking rather than hard skills anyway). At the end of the day it's about how much effort you want to put in and how much you actually enjoy doing investing. Would also add that there's not much point debating the quality of past classes in each groups, as only the current juniors/seniors are going to have a tangible impact on your learning at school (aside from GPS with alumni network I guess) so just go meet the PMs/upperclassmen in each group and see who you respect/like the most. You will also discover that outside of a small group of finance hardos nobody cares whether you're in PIA or whatever. Just find a nice group of people you vibe with, do the pitch comps and enjoy college.

Array

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Aug 12, 2019

Ty for the advice! I didn't expect so many people to respond, both on here and in the private messages. It seems a lot of this stuff depends on the people running the club and the individual groups. i.e. WITG SSG, Industrials, Tac Opps have people that are at the very minimum competent, and they have had some good people in the past. Other WITG groups may be a bit more iffy. In the end, I'm going to see if I can talk to as many people as I can at the fair to see these people for myself.

Just a side question - do you think the majority of people at Wharton or people studying finance care a lot about reputation and such. The other vibe I got off of this is that there's even a sort of ranking for clubs. Stuff like "GPS and PIA" are the best. But even internally with all these groups, it seems there's so much competition that really shouldn't be competition.

Thanks again!!

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Aug 12, 2019

Why shouldn't there be competition?

Aug 12, 2019

Saw this thread earlier but didn't expect this to still be at the top of WSO. I graduated kind of recently so these are my thoughts from both my own experience and a campus recruiting POV.

I did WITG during undergrad, but I had three completely different experiences with three different teams. One of the teams actually cared about our learning experience and pushed us to enter the multitude of pitch competitions, but another team had people similar to what @rubicon367 described though I will say the PMs favored certain students and didn't care about the rest of us. The last team provided supplementary content, but it was a great learning experience for everyone. In the end, people will have both positive and negative experiences with clubs. WITG has been one of the only clubs that hasn't received much criticism on the preprofessional front since they have some of the smartest people and the best job placements, but they've gotten some negativity due to the tight recruiting process and cold treatment to people that couldn't make it in. Rather than "WITG" as just a name on your resume, it's what you do with the club that matters a lot more. When I was recruiting, I was interviewed by many WITG alumni, and they always asked for details about what I was doing, whether it be pitches or who was PM of my group. Similarly, I've always asked prospective candidates about what they do in the club. If they're just planning events, then it doesn't mean much to me since it's not relevant to learning actual material. But, if they listed they pitched at the meetings or competed in competitions, then it leads to an interesting discussion. Like so many people have mentioned, it's the upperclassmen that run the group that make the difference. I personally loved it when PMs talked about their junior year summer experience; I recommend anyone that's not a senior to ask the current seniors about their summer experiences because some of the guys and gals at the boutiques did a lot of cool work.

I would also agree to the point GPS and PIA were insanely difficult to make it into, even if you had a semester's worth of experience. GPS was primarily fit based where they pick your brains to see how you think when it comes to investing, which also means there's not really a way to prepare. PIA had a lot more technical questions in the interview process, which I think means you can at least prepare a bit if you read up on any of the IB guides out there. Take this with a grain of salt since I'm not on campus anymore, and it changes a lot every year.

Just knowing all of these clubs and names means you're ahead of the pack. Like others have said, you shouldn't stress too much about these. Just be yourself and make an effort to talk to the juniors and seniors. You never know who's going to be interviewing you come junior year, or sophomore year given how absurd this new timeline is.

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Aug 12, 2019

Do you want to detail which teams you recommend/not recommend since I would think OP would want to join a club with good experience? Would also be helpful if you could talk about your firm/and how much clubs actually matter when it comes to recruiting since some people thing that clubs are bs

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Aug 12, 2019

I saw "best clubs" in the title and clicked immediately but oh well

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Aug 12, 2019

This post is literally the embodiment of Wharton culture Lol. Everyone here has made some good points, but there are important things to mention:

  1. A big reason why certain clubs and groups are "good" is because of accountability.

Let's be real here, Wharton Council doesn't hold anyone accountable and that's why you have at least 20 Wharton clubs that end up on someone's resume, but nobody knows what the club is. Even within clubs, accountability matters. Just using WITG as an example, the PMs that hold the underclassmen accountable for learning material and working are the ones that are good. Sure, meetings are held every week, but not everyone shows up. When I was in WITG, PMs had attendance requirements and deadlines - you were given 1 freebie and then you were booted, and it meant that everyone in my group worked and learned a lot. I know Industrials was constantly asked to pitch in the GBMs, which meant that some of my friends were constantly up working since Q&A in the GBMs were rough. Also, the reason that only 1-2 people make President and everyone else disappears is because those 2 people were held accountable - they had a track record of doing their work and meeting deadlines; they showed interest in investing and finance; they proved to both the PMs and old Presidents that they were genuinely likable people. On the other hand, I heard from people in the Healthcare group that they do absolutely nothing when it comes to legitimate technicals and learning. All they do is just sit around and discuss what's "hot" in the industry, which is something you could just do on your own and doesn't require any guidance or mentorship. This applies to all clubs and not just WITG. Some of the clubs without good reputation lack accountability, which means the work produced and the people produced are terrible. Those are the bs clubs that end up on the resume for no reason. I'm not going to list clubs, but you'll be able to figure it out when you step on campus.

  1. Wharton students determine self-worth and credibility based on superficial metrics like job placement

Most Wharton students are guilty for this, and even OP is. Imagine not even stepping a foot on campus and just asking what group sends the most students to GS and MS...Scrolling through this thread, everyone talks about what clubs or groups sends the most people to these prestigious firms. As much as people say it doesn't matter, it matters a lot for image and reputation, especially to freshman. All these underclassmen pick clubs based on how "smart" or what firm the other club members are going to. If I was 18, of course I would sign up for the club that sent 15 kids to GS as opposed to the one that sent 3. As a result, what you see is that "good" and "smart" literally means that they placed well with recruiting. A guy can be a complete idiot and get GS TMT, and he's all of a sudden one of the smartest people on campus. I'm surprised no one called rubicon out for not taking recruiting seriously and now he's scrambling to find a FT job - that's a low-blow many Wharton kids would use since people in his scenario are usually looked down upon; it would also explain why he's had such a bad experience. It's just culture here, and it's never going to change. The exception is that some people are genuinely smart and passionate about investing - those tend to be the ones that go direct to buy side and some top RX shops.

  1. Just because an upperclassmen or PM is smart doesn't mean he/she is a good mentor/teacher

There are tons of people that land solid jobs and are smart people, but they simply can't teach. This is often the case for WITG - clearly every PM works at a T1 BB or EB, but the members can't always produce the same result. Sure, some of the investment teams like SSG and Industrials have good mentors, but it's impossible for each and every group to be the same. Your best bet is to just make it into multiple investment teams and clubs, and then determine for yourself whether it's worth it or not. At the end of the day, most of this stuff is self-driven. If you care about going to the firms you listed, you'll make an effort to learn from even the worst groups. You're too young to be throwing around names like GS and MS, and everyone else in this thread is too elitist to not throw around firms like HL RX and PJT RX. Wharton in a nutshell Lol

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Aug 12, 2019

You Penn kids are crazy

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Aug 12, 2019

I guess this is what I signed up for xD

Aug 17, 2019
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