Is I-banking a possibility for me?

Hi, I am a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a lurker on this forum since August. I just switched my major from Civil Engineering to Finance and Accountancy. I enjoy reading news about M&A's (like the one about Kroger and Marianos), love numbers, and economics so I thought this would be a fit career choice. Also, there are great exit opportunities that I can use to support my family.

Problem:
I have a strong resume but it does not have anything that relates to Finance and I am at a non-target. The OCR is fairly weak at UIUC and coming from a lower class first generation family I have ZERO connections to people working in finance. My biggest concern is I do not know anyone. This is a business that revolves heavily around networking and I have less than 4 connections on LinkedIn. So is I-Banking still a possibility?

Furthermore, I feel that I am late to the game. Many of my peers have summer leadership programs and are heavily involved in the campus finance organizations/biz fraternities that usually only allow freshmen to join. I am a transfer student in the college of Business so I will not have a lot of connections and opportunities for leadership positions.

Quick Resume:
3.82
Worked in fast food for the last four years (last one as supervisor)
Currently working at the campus catering department
Executive Board on Accounting Club
Voting member on the Student Senate
Hall Chair
Study Abroad Program

Thanks for reading my first post.

Also, I have recently started reaching out to alums (VP's, analysts and MD's) from my high school that has a strong Alumni Association and plan to do the same with UIUC (especially the ones on this forum). I live in Chicago and started sending emails to boutiques and smaller firms for BO positions and PWE summer opportunities but had no luck, any tips?.

Comments (32)

Dec 6, 2015

Keep doing what you're doing in terms of networking and reaching out to alums. Getting into IB is not something that you can just figure out your odds for overnight, it's a matter of developing a broad network of connections who will help put you in touch with the right people to get an interview from. There is nothing about your resume or background that would put IB out of reach for you. It is most certainly within reach, and it's just up to you to grab it. And it's good that you're starting early, since you're in a prime position to leverage the time you have between now and your junior year summer to network and eventually land an SA position.

Dec 6, 2015

Do not just reach out to alums. Reach out to anyone and everyone you can find.

You speak in in varying levels of verbosity.You often adopt the typing quirks of others as you find it boring to settle on styles.

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Dec 6, 2015
Dec 6, 2015

dude UIUC alums are doing big things on the street. just research, reach out via email, and make some friends/contacts. maybe go save up and make a visit to NY, but also try to touch base with alums working in the local PE shops.

there is absolutely no doubt you can make it to banking post grad...you're starting early enough and I have faith you'll work smart and make it happen. cheers

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Dec 6, 2015

Thanks for all the positive replies and advice.

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Dec 6, 2015

My UIUC friends got their first jobs at top firms.
Try harder.

Dec 6, 2015

To answer your question OP: IBD is still a possibility. Go on linkedin and find some alumni who are in FO who you can pitch your story to. Go to your career services and ask if they can refer you to someone in IBD. Also, buy the WSO guides for networking, behavior, and technical ibd guides. They're pretty cheap and have great content. The simple fact is that as a non-target you're going to have to have more confidence and be relentless. Call these places up that you emailed. Usually boutiques are more welcoming and a call is 100x times more likely to get a response than a cold-email to whom you have no connection with.

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Best Response
Dec 6, 2015

Reach out man. It's not too late and you seem like a really awesome guy. I like your focus on family. PM me if you need any help, I had no connections whatsoever too when I started a few months ago, and I go to a non-target school.

Yeah, you don't have super applicable experience but the fact that you've grinded it out for 4 years at a shitty fast food place means that you're:
a) fucking focused
b) willing to make sacrifices
c) good at taking shit

That > everything else you have (no one really gives a shit about Accounting Club, sorry to be blunt. Anyone and everyone can do that, especially unsocial nerds who no one likes to hang around). I would use THAT as your pull in any emails/pitches you make, I genuinely think people will respect that. Just gotta position it in the right way.

Array

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Dec 6, 2015

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Dec 6, 2015

I am not sure why I got mentioned in this thread. I am not an investment banker and have proven myself to be rather inept at speaking to that line of work. But I can speak to my experiences as a UIUC engineering student who took a number of business classes and knew business majors at the upper end of the distribution.

I've seen people land at a William Blair or RW Baird straight out of undergrad. But the most likely route for a UIUC Accy major is Big Four audit. I was at a birthday party for two roommates who happened to share a birthday within a week, and the other lady was a former Deloitte audit lady from Wharton. And I met like 30 Wharton classmates who also came from Deloitte (mostly the accounting side.)

For people with strong programming backgrounds (we are talking a major in ECE/CS/ maaybe another quantitative major if you at least take CS 473), doors also open to proprietary trading and quantitative development at banks. That was how I broke in.

About 10-15 UIUC undergrads will make it into IBD in the BB banks this year. It helps to have something special on your resume (undergraduate research, CHP, Business Honors, Bronze Tablet candidate).

So I think there are four potential outcomes here:

1.) BB IBD out of undergrad: Very unlikely and extremely difficult but is not impossible if you consistently network like hell. As in, you are probably going to need to crash recruiting fairs at UChicago and Northwestern, and buy plane tickets out to NYC to go to finance networking events and the like.
2.) MM IBD out of undergrad: Difficult but possible. There are kids with 3.95 GPAs that would kill for a job at RW Baird. Network like hell. Focus on RW Baird, William Blair, maybe Piper Jaffray.
3.) Prop trading/HFT/ quantitative development: Not unreasonable but you will have to switch majors and engineers do not have as much fun as business majors.
4.) Big Four: Path of least resistance. If you set your mind to it you'll be an IBD associate at a BB before age 30.

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Dec 6, 2015

I tagged you because you went to the same school and figured you could speak more on it's exposure to FO. Anyways, solid advice as usual. Isn't that school close to the BBs in Chicago too? Do UChicago and Northwestern just take all of the FO spots?

Dec 6, 2015

I plan on putting all my energy for the next three semester on plan 1 and 4. If I am unable to secure an internship for junior year I might go into consulting or BIG 4 advising and see if putting any more effort in I-Banking is reasonable.

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Dec 6, 2015

Definitely try to get a small boutique investment banking internship your sophomore summer. This experience can be critical to help you in the recruiting process as a junior.

Dec 6, 2015

Any specific boutiques that I should call? I have a pretty good list (92) but it will take forever to contact all of them with a thoughtful phone call or email.

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Dec 6, 2015

Current UIUC student here and am heading into full time IBD when I graduate. There are a good amount of people who are heading into investment banking from our school, and I think we're moving towards being a semi-target, if we aren't already. A lot of banks are recruiting on campus thanks to IBA, and I know people who have had superdays all over. So don't think that it's UIUC that's holding you back.

My advice to you is to, of course, network, but also get involved with the reputable organizations on campus, such as IBA, IBC, IMA, OTCR, or Prime. Participate in IBA case competitions and try to take our investment banking class (the teacher is awesome and was an MD at Blair for like 15 years). Btw the business fraternities do not just take freshman; my business fraternity has taken up to Juniors.

Dec 6, 2015

Also, OP should try to join diversity groups if he is Hispanic, Native American, African American, etc.

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Dec 6, 2015

I'm from South Asia, not Indian but pretty close.

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Dec 6, 2015

Just bear in mind there are some synergies between plans 1 and plans 2. I think you should pursue 1,2, and 4, unless you really enjoy math and projects and would rather spend Friday night working on a machine problem than going out drinking... Then you should pursue #3 exclusively. (You will not have any time to pursue 1, 2, and 4)

3.8 is not a bad GPA in the scheme of things but when banks are turning away Big Ten grads with 4.0s, it's important to think about what a bank doesn't have that it needs or wants, and what you bring to the table that they can't find at Harvard or Princeton and can't find in a Bronze Tablet guy.

The sign that you're close to an offer is when some quant tells you he's interviewing a Harvard Math PhD next, and asks you why he should hire you over him. That's your chance to close the sale. My answer was that I was a Algorithms/CS Theory TA in one of the toughest classes of its kind, and that I at least had some of the basics of bond math worked out given I'd taken Fin 300. If they already had a framework in mind, I'd just be a better fit for building pricing models with fast execution in mind. They bought it and I got the job.

You may face a variant of that question/opportunity in IBD. Know what makes you more unique than a kid from Harvard or a Bronze Tablet, and why a bank needs that in a hire.

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Dec 6, 2015

https://business.illinois.edu/iba/current-students/
UIUC definitely is not holding anyone back as evidenced by the above website. Students are placing at top BBs and EBs. Reach out to members in IBA.

Dec 6, 2015

That is nice to hear, however I am more concerned of my lack of connections. I have zero family members the industry. I am the first person in my family to go to high school therefore most of my friends/family members/neighbors work in blue collar jobs. Also I am not part of any business organization on campus (IBA, PGN, PCT, AKP or BC),.

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Dec 6, 2015

Is there a way to tell if these people landed in IBD and not internal audit or municipal debt issuance?

I try not to be skeptical about UIUC, and the school is underrated for business when we have a better pass rate on the CPA out of test takers than Wharton does, and when more people pursuing Big Four out of UIUC get it than Accy majors out of Wharton. But I am also skeptical of placements. When a major business fraternity advertises that students have been placed in Citi's "investment banking arm" and the dude works in risk, under the investment bank separate from commercial and retail banking, I do take placements absent groups with a grain of salt.

It would be nice if UIUC gets the respect it deserves, but I am not holding my breath.

If I were an IBD recruiter I would hit both the business career fair and the engineering career fair. I feel like there's a fat upper tail in both colleges, and back in the day about five of ten or fifteen BB IBD placements (out of a class of 8000) would go to engineering students. Illinois is a first choice school for most IL residents who want to study business or engineering and can't or won't spend $23,000/semester for tuition. It should hardly be a surprise that the top end of the distribution at UIUC converges to the top end at schools like Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton. (Indeed by some measures UIUC outranks those schools at Engineering and might outrank them in business if they had business programs)

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Dec 7, 2015

I know most of those kids on there and they're all working front office IBD.

Dec 6, 2015

I will reiterate some of the advice already stated.

Like someone said earlier - UIUC has the Investment Banking Academy - you should try to join that. Its selective but they place well. IF you look at their website you'll see that most of the 30ish kids there end up at top places. Evercore etc. (https://business.illinois.edu/iba/)
OCR on the UIUC campus is also getting big but mostly in the Chicago offices and not NYC. That being said, I've seen plenty of alums at top shops (GS/Lazard/Moelis) + Citi, JPM and MM firms like HL, Baird, Lincoln etc.
From someone who's gotten multiple IB interviews without any family members in the industry (just one old friend), its not all dependent on WHO you know and the connections you have but rather how proactive you are about using the tools that are available to you. Also if you're a girl, you can go to diversity session, winning women, etc etc. IMO, the issue i see is that you don't have solid work/internship experience. Get anything semi-professional even if its working as a student worker for the college of business some other office. and make sure you close out well on a good internship for the summer.

get a solid summer internship in some corporation/professional area related to business. Luckily, you have time before Junior summer. Even if all you get is Big 4 or something like that for the summer, take it because it will only help not hinder you.

Do a linkedin search. I'd start reaching out to alums RIGHT NOW and doing informational interviews and getting your name out there, learning more about the industry etc. Even if it someone in a totally different part of the bank, chances are they know someone in IB who they can connect you with and when application time comes they can forward your resume. (happened to me and I got an interview that way) I'd also do informational interviews with some of the current students who have done IB or are going into IB. Take advantage of everything offered in the BIF - do a bloomberg certification etc. Also as illiniprogrammer said, you should be going to both of these career fairs and connecting with recruiters + building your personal network which is what will matter most. Go out and get the connections if you don't have them.

PM me if you have any q's and best of luck.

"The only thing history teaches us, a wise man once said, is that history doesn't teach us anything."

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Dec 7, 2015

Speaking from personal experience, it's absolutely possible to secure an IB internship from UIUC as a business student. I agree with most of the points above: Try your hardest to get into the IBA by networking with current members and the director. In addition, reach out to anybody in the banking industry by cold-emailing or going through the alumni database. Try to schedule a couple calls per week. It's not a requirement to be in one of the business fraternities either. Just make sure you land a solid summer internship (aim for a small PE or IB firm) and keep your GPA high and you should be good to go.

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Dec 10, 2015

1.) By the looks of it he went to high school at roughly Chicago's equivalent of the Peter Stuyvesant School. Elite without the elitism. There may be a bigger network there than diversity/racial identity networks.
2.) I don't know if the "Where on the Indian subcontinent are you from" questions are in reference to your ancestry or birth, but if you went to highschool in Chicago, by the time you graduate college, you'll have spent at least half of your life since age six in Illinois. You also have the right (but not the obligation) to simply identify as a Midwesterner. One bonus point if you're Christian; two bonus points if you can avoid screaming about fire and brimstone; five bonus points if you can identify healthy corn. We're provincial but we don't discriminate.

Dec 11, 2015

In response to 2.

I always identify myself as a Chicagoan (it's my birth right) , however conversations usually end up like

So, where are you from?

Me: Chicago

No, I wanted to know where you were born?

Me: Chicago

Oh so where are your parents born?

Me: ......

At one point I realized it was just easier to just say countryinndiansubcontinent.

Dec 11, 2015

South Asian is usually code for Pakistani, lol. I would know

Dec 11, 2015
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