Lateraling Guide for Investment Banking

I recently lateraled from a "no-name" boutique to a top MM and wanted to share some of the knowledge that I gathered and wished people had told me when I went through the process. I also have several friends who also went through this process. Hopefully this will help someone.

My background: I graduated from a non-target with a business degree. I had completed a few boutique IB internships while in school, but failed to close anything during FT recruiting. I ended up at a "no-name" boutique where I worked for as an analyst for a year before lateraling to the MM where I am at now.

Lateraling Overview

Banking is a very small world and the skills gathered at any bank are highly transferable. Because of this, even if you are at a "no-name" boutique, it is very possible to move between banks. After all, you are doing the same work that analysts at GS/MS are, just on a much smaller scale. So, if you graduate and have no MM or BB offer, it is not the end of the world.

Lateral positions tend to pop up all the time, but most will show up towards the end of June/beginning of July after bonuses have been paid out. I highly suggest checking Indeed.com (it is a job posting aggregator) every day for postings and signing up for email notifications. You can narrow it down by city, but I would just search "investment banking analyst", unless you absolutely have to work in one particular city.

The lateraling process is very unstructured. You will still have your typical phone interview followed by a superday, but the process may only take a week, it may take several months, you may be the only one at the superday, etc.

Applying

Your first step should be getting your resume in order. You really need to highlight your deal experience, or if you are not in banking, anything that is transferable. I used WSO's investment banking resume review service for this and highly recommend it. (//www.wallstreetoasis.com/wso-finance-resume-review)

Unlike with SA and FT recruiting job postings, lateral recruiting job postings are not black holes. Most of my interviews actually came from blindly applying online. For the offer that I ended up accepting, I had no contacts at the bank and just applied online. If you networked a lot in undergrad, definitely leverage that network. Not every bank will be looking for analysts, but if your network knows that you are looking, they will keep you in mind should anything pop up.

Another thing that I really found worked well was to apply to a position and then shoot out two to three emails to associates and senior bankers in that group the day after I applied asked to learn more about group culture. Some may say this is too aggressive, and I can respect that, but when many banks post a job, they need it filled ASAP, so it really separates you if you take the time to reach out. Make sure to prepare for the calls, though, because they are always interviews.

The Interview

I honestly found that lateral interviews were much easier than FT interviews and probably on par with SA interviews in terms of difficulty. Lateral interviews just seemed less predatory in nature, and it seemed more like banks wanted to learn more about your deal experience, as opposed to drilling you with technical in the hopes of whittling down their resume pile. You still need to be prepared, though. I found that the M&I interview guide and basic modeling course were more than enough. The boutique that I worked at did zero modeling, so I was behind from the get go, but M&I prepared me well.

The first step is the phone interview. Some banks do an initial HR screen that focuses on why you want to join that bank. You should obviously have some reasons why, but make sure to also mention what you can contribute. For example, if you are interviewing for GS FIG and have a lending background, mention how that knowledge can be used at GS FIG. The phone interviews with bankers all varied. I had a few that were highly technical, while others involved nothing more than talking about one of my interests on my resume.

Next up is the superday. These again vary by bank, as I had some that were very technical, while others involved no technical questions at all. At this stage, fit is more important. If you make it to the superday stage, you are qualified enough from a technical standpoint, but the bank still needs to see if you would make a good fit. Just be yourself, but try to be buttoned-up. I cannot believe this still happens, but I have seen everything from kids spitting food out during the superday dinner to kids bashing accounting careers when one the bankers is a CPA.

The most important thing about lateral interviews after fit is deal experience. Know your deals cold. Company revenue and EBITDA, selling price, reason for selling, deal complexities, buyer search process, your role on the deal, etc. are all things that you need to know like the back of your hand.

The Offer

Since the process is so unstructured, the general WSO rule of "if you do not hear back the next day" does not apply. The bank may call you as you are heading out of the building, while others may take a month. The bank whose offer I finally accepted took a month from the superday to extend me an offer. So, do not sweat it if you do not hear back right away. It is definitely nerve-wracking, though.

You will most likely not have the opportunity to select between multiple offers since the process is so unstructured and since banks generally need analysts ASAP. Unless you are lateralling from a top MM or BB, chances are that you will lose a year in the process (e.g. I lateraled in as a first-year, even though I already had worked for a year). This can actually be beneficial if you are looking to get involved more early in PE recruiting.

I hope this is helpful, but I am sure that I am forgetting something, so feel free to ask any questions. Please try avoiding PMing me questions, so that everyone can benefit from them.

Mod Note (Andy) - as the year comes to an end we're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #28 and was originally posted 6/21/2015.

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Comments (119)

Jun 11, 2015 - 1:56pm

just one question
you said you did zero modeling. what was your role in deals then?

Everything but the modeling, so creating marketing materials (CIMs, teasers), reviewing NDAs with senior bankers, managing prospect tracking lists, interacting with the client to manage the data room, evaluating due diligence requests, etc. Since there was no modeling, I would stay a bit late in the office and just create DCFs and LBOs myself with client data (obviously never taking any of that outside of work). The models were never used, but it gave me some practice.

Mar 18, 2019 - 7:56pm

you'd be surprised how great how much more work is done by analysts than just modelling

Array
Jun 11, 2015 - 3:40pm

What advice would you give for auditors looking to lateral into IB over the summer? Given that firms need analysts ASAP do you think this is the best time to go for those roles? I would assume so, given full time recruiting happens in the fall and bankers are leaving jobs now. Would like to hear your take on the situation, based on what you've seen and your industry knowledge.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers
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Jun 11, 2015 - 4:17pm
OttoReadmore:

What advice would you give for auditors looking to lateral into IB over the summer? Given that firms need analysts ASAP do you think this is the best time to go for those roles? I would assume so, given full time recruiting happens in the fall and bankers are leaving jobs now. Would like to hear your take on the situation, based on what you've seen and your industry knowledge.

I do not know any auditor who lateraled DIRECTLY into IB, so unfortunately, I cannot give much advice regarding that, but I would suspect that it is very difficult because your skill set is not the same as that of someone in banking.

If you are at one of the Big Four, my suggestion would be to get into your M&A group (if at Deloitte) or into anything related to transactions. I know a guy who went from auditing to transaction services to IB. He said that it is pretty easy to move to transaction services, so take that for what it is.

I hope that helps. Feel free to ask any more questions.

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Jun 12, 2015 - 8:28pm

Can I PM you? Also, you might want to consider starting a thread

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers
Jun 11, 2015 - 6:34pm

Great insight. Was going to comment when you first posted this, but didn't want to log in on my work PC, so just coming back to say thanks.

Jun 11, 2015 - 10:47pm
Communist:

I'm a rising senior summering at a top BB but in a MO function. How do I lateral to a MM IBD for full time?

It will be tough because your skillset will not match with those competing for the same spot. Banks want FT employees to have some commitment to banking and know that those employees can handle the hours, which is why having SA experience is so important. Without that, it will be tough making the case come FT recruiting. My advice would be to network heavily now, but to also take a look at boutiques. You might have to start at one and then lateral after six months to a year, like I did.

Jun 11, 2015 - 11:44pm

I have been getting a lot PMs and posts here about moving from a non-IB position to IB. Unfortunately, I just do not have that experience, so I can only offer limited suggestions. My advice would be to get into any M&A-related section of your company, whether it is internal M&A, corporate development, FAS, valuation, etc. and then go from there. If your company does not have that, my suggestion would be to reach out to boutiques and possibly spend some time there before lateraling to MM or BB banks.

What you have to understand is that MM and BB banks receive many applicants for lateral positions. Think about it. Say JPM posts a job for their healthcare group. Every BB healthcare banker (except maybe GS or MS) that is looking to move will apply, along with every healthcare banker from top MMs that is looking to move, not to mention that non-healthcare BB and MM bankers will apply if they are looking to move. Then, you still have people from "no-name" boutiques applying. JPM would be hard pressed to justify giving an interview spot over someone from a non-IB or non-transactional role when they have piles of resume from applicants with relevant experience.

I am not saying that it is impossible, but I do not have deeper knowledge, and the knowledge that I do have says that lateraling from a non-IB or non-transactional role to IB is fighting an uphill battle. You may need to "rebrand" yourself with an MBA. I hope that helps at least somewhat.

Jun 12, 2015 - 1:05am

Anyone have thoughts on how attempting to lateral could get you in trouble at your current job, assuming you are at another MM or BB?

As OP mentioned "banking is a very small world". What are the chances of it getting back to your current firm that you are looking to move? Could be horrible for your career if you end up NOT leaving that firm, no?

Jun 12, 2015 - 6:35am
LBOsontheslopes:

Anyone have thoughts on how attempting to lateral could get you in trouble at your current job, assuming you are at another MM or BB?

As OP mentioned "banking is a very small world". What are the chances of it getting back to your current firm that you are looking to move? Could be horrible for your career if you end up NOT leaving that firm, no?

I was worried about this at the beginning, but it will never happen unless you make a complete fool of yourself at another firm. Why would the firm that you are interviewing at try to screw you over? If they did that, word would get out, and they would have a tough time hiring lateral analysts going forward. Plus, letting your current firm know that you are looking to move is highly unethical. When you turn in your two weeks notice, you surely will burn some bridges, but it is not like anyone will have it out for you. Moving between firms is an every day occurrence at all levels in banking. I interviewed over a period of six months, and my firm never found out.

Jun 25, 2015 - 10:31pm

I looked down the path (1st year at a BB speaking). There is an internal lateral recruiting team at all the banks, start there (contact current HR to get introduced). They mentioned the importance of gaining your group's blessing before starting discussions with other groups, i.e. tell staffer or head of group.

My experience: Other groups i was talking to said it could be done, HR had a problem with the 1st year lateral - said i needed to stick out the two year program (didn't want groups sniping from each other) or lay an offer from another bank on the table.

Although the 'internal mobility' is touted, seems like a very risky political move and could make a lot of people (who determine workload and bonuses) angry. Could be different at other banks

Hope that's helpful

Jun 12, 2015 - 11:11am
valdude:

Thanks a lot for the post. What advice would you have for someone coming in from Business Valuations at an accounting firm?

Practice your modeling skills. I am not a fan of TTS, but BIWS and WSP are pretty good. I am not sure what your group does (it seems like valuation means something different at every firm), but make sure to get any transactional experience possible and be able to speak about it and your role in it. Leverage your undergraduate network.

Jun 14, 2015 - 12:30pm

Great post! I just wanted to confirm the timing of your lateral. So you said you interviewed for 6 months, so did you start looking around January and close sometime in June or July? And regarding your emails to the bankers in the groups, did you find them through LinkedIn? I assume the postings specified the group you were applying for.

Jun 14, 2015 - 8:15pm
applesandbananas:

Great post! I just wanted to confirm the timing of your lateral. So you said you interviewed for 6 months, so did you start looking around January and close sometime in June or July? And regarding your emails to the bankers in the groups, did you find them through LinkedIn? I assume the postings specified the group you were applying for.

I started looking in December and got an offer in June. Here is an example of what I did:

-GS industrials posts a job
-I apply on Monday and then look up GS industrial bankers on LinkedIn
-On Tuesday, I email two GS industrial VPs and and associate (never an analyst)
-Hopefully they email me back the same day or the next

All jobs that I applied to were group-specific. A few did not mention the group, but they cleared that up during the interview.

Jun 19, 2015 - 9:32am

When you e-mailed employees at the firm you were looking at, did you mention that you had applied to the job posting? Or did you just say that you wanted to learn more about their particular group?

Best Response
Jun 19, 2015 - 10:34am
NonTarget15:

When you e-mailed employees at the firm you were looking at, did you mention that you had applied to the job posting? Or did you just say that you wanted to learn more about their particular group?

Below is my template. Please make sure to change it up a bit.

"Hi [banker's name],

I am an analyst at an [industry/product]-focused M&A boutique located in City. I recently applied to a position in your [industry/product] group and was wondering if you would have some time to share some insight into group culture. Should only take 10 minutes.

Thanks,

[your name]"

I got a similar template from another guy on WSO. I cannot remember his name, unfortunately. I never attached my resume.

Jun 16, 2015 - 9:08am
NYCslick:

Great piece. I'm currently at a MM and am wondering if you have any advice for lateraling over to a BB. Did you interview at any BBs ? and if so how would you recommend approaching the networking/interviewing process ? Thanks in advance !

I interviewed at a few BBs, but wanted this particular MM because it was a better cultural fit for me personally. The only real difference that I noticed were that the BB interviews focused more so on technical knowledge and deal experience, whereas the MM interviews focused more so on fit. I would approach the networking process the same way. I actually had better luck getting guys at BBs to respond.

Jun 15, 2015 - 11:21pm

I see a lot of people on this thread commenting about how to make a lateral move to IB from a non-IB role. I recently did this to a top MM bank. If anyone is interested in an AMA or something... I can do that. Idk if I should start my own thread or what... or people could just PM me, I don't care. Just created this throwaway.

Jun 21, 2015 - 9:14pm

Thanks for the post. I am looking to lateral in my first year (starting at a lower MM in July) but I am concerned that firms might view me as someone who is just going to jump ship at the drop of a hat for another job. Did you have any issues with that? How did you respond?

Jun 22, 2015 - 10:34am
freecashflow:

This is a helpful post, thank you. Did you interview at any elite boutiques like Lazard or Evercore? Also, what are some examples of questions you got about your deals (particularly the more difficult questions)?

I was in contact with some EBs, but none of them were currently looking. Some deal-related questions included the following (this is not an exhaustive list- my memory is not the best, sorry):
-Why did the seller want to sell?
-How did you create your buyer's universe, how many buyers did you approach, etc.?
-What models did you run, how much were you involved, etc.?
-Product/service pricing questions that only someone who was really involved could know.
-How does the selling multiple compare to the industry? You better know this because if you say that a TMT company sold for 3X revenue, but they usually only sell for 2X (just an arbitrary example), you will get dinged if you cannot explain that.

Expect all of your answers to be responded to by follow up questions. Do not lie because even if you are in FIG and are interviewing with industrials, the banker may have some FIG knowledge (again, just an arbitrary example). I hope that helps.

modelsandbottles69:

Thanks for the post. I am looking to lateral in my first year (starting at a lower MM in July) but I am concerned that firms might view me as someone who is just going to jump ship at the drop of a hat for another job. Did you have any issues with that? How did you respond?

You need to stay at this lower MM for at least six months. If you start trying to lateral within a month or two of joining the firm, interviewers will not take you seriously, even if you are making an obvious "upgrade". I would argue that you might even want to stay a year at the lower MM (just going by what some interviewers and colleagues told me). Your excuse for why you lateral should always include some reason about how you want to move to a larger platform, gain more deal experience, etc. and, if you are lateraling to a non-NY city something about why you want to be there. Many people try getting jobs in non-NY cities as backups, and banks are completely aware of this and dislike it very much. For me, it was easy because my boutique did nothing but M&A, so saying that I wanted to gain experience with non-M&A products made sense. Let me know if you need anything else.

Sep 10, 2015 - 2:08pm

Hey, thank you for the awesome post. I have similar background and is trying to make a lateral move. My current firm is extremely small with limited deal flow and modeling. The transactions are small (EBITDA 500K to 1.5MM). Just curious about the deal size of your previous firm. Can I ask how much it would hurt? I have practiced modeling on my own like you so I am comfortable with it.

Jun 28, 2016 - 10:27am

@srj62", it really depends on your experience. If you have solid transaction experience (e.g. you closed a transaction), solid modeling experience, and can speak highly to what you have accomplished at your job, you could start at the six month mark. Just be aware that some banks may push back and ask you to reach back out after a year of employment. I started at the eight month mark, so I was somewhere in the middle.

Jun 28, 2016 - 11:09am

Sil so when you received interviews, you were essentially competing against kids coming out of undergrad for a 1st year analyst role correct? doesn't that recruiting cycle start now (June, July, August 2016) for the FT analyst class of 2017? Or does it start around 6 months from now? Speaking mostly about middle markets here.

Thanks.

Aug 10, 2016 - 8:07pm

BBDreamin, if you took the Series 79 & 63, your employment history at registered firms is public knowledge. If not, I assume the background check firm will simply call. It really isn't something that I'd worry about.

I probably worked 50 hours a week at most at this boutique. Even at my current MM as I'm looking at long-term career options, I regularly take calls. Just excuse yourself for a few minutes and don't bring attention to it. Obviously, don't try to take calls at times where you know you'll be needed.

I only had a limited amount of superdays. I rarely took days off, so I would just take a day or two off for interviews. You might want to keep track of the excuses you use just because it'll sound a bit odd if you have a dentist appointment once a month.

Hopefully that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Sep 20, 2016 - 7:57pm

Saw some discussions on switch from auditing to ib. Just curious: in China it is so easy for professionals with accounting/auditing background to get into ib (the ib jobs there usually require accounting/law background, instead of finance). I just intervewed an investment analyst role in Beijing two months ago. The position focuses on cross-border M&A and requires candidates have accounting/auditing background (not requires transactional experience at all). Why is it so different in two countries

Nov 14, 2016 - 4:57pm

Just saw your comment on the life/work thread. Cool story bruh.
Just curious on what is meant by "Lateral Positions" are these just positions at smaller banks that nobody knows about?

Also, you are the second person I read that mentioned the apply & network strategy. I am trying to implement it right now (not IB). Any tips? Would you say Senior analysts and VP type roles and analysts with2+ years are good targets?

**How is my grammar? Drop me a note with any errors you see!**
Nov 14, 2016 - 9:52pm

Doing a SA program this summer at a regional boutique (Evercore, Lazard, Moelis), and I want to lateral to NYC in a different industry. I am hesitant to start networking now, because it seems that would be perceived as being very flaky. Unfortunately the connections I have in NYC are in the same bank, so that would be tricky from what I've gathered. Would you be willing to give me some advice on this? Thanks

Nov 23, 2016 - 5:53pm

What do you mean by "business valuation"? That term gets thrown around a lot and can mean anything from IB on a smaller scale to valuing a very specific group of assets.

I would choose whichever role is more transactionally-focused. Whichever role gets you more deals to put on your resume and gives you real and relevant experience on those deals with be the role that makes lateraling the easiest.

Nov 23, 2016 - 4:24pm

Sil, another question on the direct approach to networking. When you reach out did you mention in the e-mail that you applied or did you casually mention this during the conversation?

My intuition tells me some may ignore the e-mail if I write it and some would be put off if I ask them to share their experiences then mention I applied to their bank. Trying to figure out which way is more tactful.

**How is my grammar? Drop me a note with any errors you see!**
Nov 23, 2016 - 5:58pm

I would say something like:

"Hi Mark the MD,

My name is The_Regulator, and I'm currently a first-year analyst at Bob's Boutique Bank. I recently applied to the experienced analyst position that you posted on your careers website and was wondering if you had a few minutes to hop on the phone and give me some insight into your group'ss culture. Thanks for the time- I appreciate it.

Best,

The_Regulator"

Apr 28, 2017 - 1:06pm

@Sil great post. currently undergoing this process myself. did you always include a cover letter when applying to the lateral job postings online? I have developed the bad habit of leaving it out, but am considering beginning to include one in my applications submitted via company job portal.

Jul 25, 2017 - 4:52pm

cafbuzz, sorry for the extremely late reply. Tag me next time so that I see your reply. I started a bit earlier (February) at my job, so October was around when I started reaching out for the lateral process. If you are starting in July or August like most analysts do, start the lateraling process in March or April.

yessir1, sorry for the late reply. WSO changed its tagging system a while back. You need to include an quotation mark after the username. I never included a cover letter unless the application specifically stated it was required. There is no upside to providing one, but there is plenty downside.

@ChinaBankingMonkey", unfortunately, I have no experience with this, so rather than lead you astray, I will have to politely decline to answer. I would definitely make sure to highlight your transactions that you worked on (if applicable) similar to the WSO private equity resume temple. Good luck!

Dec 1, 2017 - 2:27am

Great post! Not sure if still active but I wanted to follow your instructions and ask for the benefit of other users. I'll follow up with a PM as well.

If you are attempting to lateral from a broker-dealer without IBD, (ER,S&T exclusive) I am assuming it would be wise to take advantage of the FINRA sponsor and get Series 79 certified? Especially if it is on the firms dime - but the real question is, how much value does this add?

Dec 1, 2017 - 2:28am

Advice to Lateral into Investment Banking? (Originally Posted: 11/05/2016)

Hey guys,

I'm a senior at a non-target state school and tried my luck at FT IB recruiting this semester. Although I wasn't a summer analyst, I've had a number of internships and built a reasonably strong resume (solid [not stellar] GPA, 5 internships, strong campus leadership, valuation experience).

Through networking, I was able to land 5 ib interviews, 2 of which led to Super Days, but I fear that I might not land an analyst spot in IB directly upon graduation (still have an opportunity at one firm, so keeping my fingers crossed).

Call me crazy, but I'm not giving up yet - if I can't land something immediately upon graduation, I'm looking to find a way to hurdle into IB after 1-2 years in a FT role elsewhere.

Just curious of the perspective of the WSO community - if I can't land IB, what careers do you think are best for a lateral move into an IB role after a couple years?

Any advice is appreciated.

Dec 1, 2017 - 2:29am

Don't think about a plan B until you have to - keep focusing on your superdays and practicing for your interviews and think about a plan B when/if you need one.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers
Dec 1, 2017 - 2:39am

IBD Lateral Recruiting Scenario (Originally Posted: 01/26/2013)

I've noticed a fair share of banks filling lateral 1st yr IBD analyst roles with way too experienced people (ie 3rd yr analysts all the way to associate 2s). For those with recruiting experience, why do you think banks would take someone with 4+ yrs experience over a candidate that is equally qualified but with the right amount of yrs experience? Wouldn't it be odd someone is willing to demote themself couple tiers yet I know couple instances of this happening even at BBs upper MMs. Thoughts?

Dec 1, 2017 - 2:40am

More experienced employees, less hastle, +/- same pay.

Why? Because they can. Employers have all the power at this point.

/endthread

Get busy living
Sep 23, 2018 - 11:13pm

Sil first off just wanna say thanks for the post - very insightful and most of the things you say are on point.

Now, I'm currently an Analyst @ a no-name and have a question: is it really ok to disclose Revenue/EBITDA/Selling Price figures if this info was never disclosed when the deal was closed? I'm sure you're familiar with how many boutique deals never disclose the amounts, and I'm worried this could be a breach of confidentiality and perhaps an opportunity for the interviewer to gain competitive advantages on my current bank.

Oct 14, 2018 - 5:09pm

Sil

This post/thread is a huge help; thank you.

I graduated from a non-target into a bush league investment firm. Spent one year there before transitioning into my current Analyst role at a lower-MM no-name investment bank. My work is similar to your previous work (writing teasers/CIMs, making calls marketing the client, managing large data rooms 40+ contacts 100+ documents, but modeling on my downtime).

I'm now 25 (26 mid-2019) and am worried that I'm too old to lateral into an Analyst role at a BB, EB or reputable MM. What are your thoughts on this? I look a little older too; maybe 28-30.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Dec 15, 2018 - 4:51pm

I'm 25 and just lateraled to another boutique bank (much higher pay and stronger deal flow) from another small boutique but received interviews from 5 other banks (boutiques and MMs) for senior analyst positions. I also have a friend who is 26 and is also in this process for senior analyst positions (think Baird, RayJay, HL, etc.). I'd say once you hit 30 it might be too old but at 26 you are totally fine.

Nov 24, 2018 - 1:52pm

Sil any insight into relevance of undergrad GPA in lateral process? Is it still crucial in getting interviews or does it matter less?

Getting great experience that I can talk to at a no-name boutique, and wondering if I would get looks at lower-tier BBs or if I would be written off and should focus the majority of my efforts on MMs. Graduated from a non-target but well regarded lib arts school with a 3.3.

Jul 17, 2019 - 5:27pm

Any advice on lateraling from credit risk to a BB or EB IBD?

Contra omnes dissident
Apr 8, 2020 - 4:50pm

How would the process differ for a SA with return offer recruiting FT to other banks. Have offer to a MM and want to try my hand at EB's I had superdays at for SA recruiting.

Also, is it true that BB's don't usually have large FT processes or nothing at all because of so many internal hires from other middle/back office positions?

Array
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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 4, 2021 - 6:35pm

how do you schedule the interviews (phone/video + superdays) when you have full-time work? Do you go home for an hour, take a vacation day?

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