Laughed at —> Top BB

Recruiting kicked my butt this year, so I want to share my story for all those who start recruiting late. I've got a decent GPA (3.7+) in finance/econ from a non-target that has enough kids aiming for banking to have a banking club on campus.

My background

Last November I heard about investment banking for the very first time, and near January I decided to shoot for it despite knowing that I had barely any internship experience + that it's one of the most competitive jobs to get in the world + that I was far behind most target kids who start college knowing they want to work in investment banking. I have ZERO family members in the finance world (they're all plumbers for the most part) so I had no connections previous to this year. I also had almost no internship experience at all, much less finance-related experience. I had never written a resume so even that was hard.

I joined the banking club right when recruiting season was kicking off and I didn't let anything stop me. I started answering technicals on day 1 despite not knowing how to answer them, and everyone laughed at me when I got them wrong. I started reading everything that I could, then less than a month later I paid to fly out to New York to network. I had no idea how to network - I didn't even have my "story" figured out. I barely knew how to describe investment banking + I was looking for an internship for summer 2020 ON TOP of recruiting for my junior year summer. It was a lot to balance, to say the least.

Networking paid off

I reached out to anyone and everyone, and I spoke with ~30 people on my trip just by using sheer willpower. I was unprepared and most of them brushed me off when we met. Even alumni were rude to me, which was something I didn't expect. I understand that your job isn't to help every unprepared kid who comes your way, but honestly, some people were ruthless for no reason. I found a couple of mentors on this trip who have stayed good friends despite all else though. I'm grateful for the few friends I made because I couldn't have done it without their help.

When I got home I landed a banking internship at a small boutique so I felt like I was on the right path at least. Since that trip to NY I've refined myself and my approach. I spent a couple of months practicing everything, coming up with solid answers, and doing whatever it took to succeed. After that I sent out hundreds of cold emails and got on the phone with whoever I could to get my name out there again.

Landed the offer from a top BB

I've been through the interview process with 15-20 firms, I had superdays with 9 of them, got 2 offers, and just accepted an internship with a top BB next summer. I finally made it, and it was all worth it.

Thank you WSO for your support + abundance of resources. If I didn't have access to this website then I'm positive I wouldn't have made it. Keep your heads up monkeys; the world can be ruthless but you'll break in if you keep pushing forward. 

Comments (46)

Sep 28, 2020 - 4:48pm

That was my thought too; takes a special kind of asshat to go out of your way to throw MS for "inaccurate" at some random kid who shared his recruiting experience and thanked the WSO community for their help. Somebody must've pissed in their Cheerios that morning 😂

"In order to be a really good investor, you need to be a little bit of a philosopher as well." -Dan Loeb


Sep 27, 2020 - 11:00pm

Dang those are good numbers with first rounds into SD invited also congrats. Tbh surprised at the 20 processes , I'm sure a bunch of random ass processes/ banks in there but that's still pretty crazy (cuz ppl can network and not get first rounds still) so u must have been doing things really well.

Wonder how you thought about ur networking / how you engaged senior ppl is it sheer numbers / keeping simple or prepping questions based on their backgrounds or trying to loop in random details etc. a combo of course probably. how'd you go about doing the best u could? I've had 2 hr convos with heads of global m&a or pe partners and then dead convos with runty analysts and associates there's natural variation but how'd u go about it would luv 2 kno

Most Helpful
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 28, 2020 - 12:00am

Thanks man! I did 2 interviews --> superdays with random places (top REPE/HF/VC shops) but the rest were major banks that you'd definitely recognize.


My first honest piece of advice would be to create a SICK resume. I got into 3-4 processes by just dropping my resume, but had a hard time converting to superdays because I didn't really have a personal "why XYZ bank?". Your resume will be one of the first things anyone forms their impression from, so it's important to have that locked down so you can be taken seriously. 


My second piece of advice would be to just be yourself. I never actually spoke with many senior people -- I can remember one or two directors I spoke with, but the majority of seniors I talked to were in superdays. It probably would've helped me get a job sooner if I had some BSD MD on my side but I knew the risk could outweigh the reward. If I were you then I would definitely make sure you keep the conversations SHORT though (


For networking, try to be relaxed. Ask about their job + their interests + insight on things, but come off as professional. I got into a top EB process by talking to one guy about basketball but with some other people I could only talk about banking and it was a dry conversation. You need to feel it out -- some people really just want to relax for the 15 minute call you have because they're getting slammed, whereas others just want to screen you to decide if you're worth their time. Sometimes they're really just having a bad day and you're annoying them by taking up time (which you typically can't help). 


I always had 5-6 thoughtful questions written down that I could fall back on, but then went with the flow of the conversation by just having a conversation. Started every conversation with small talk, then quickly told them I didn't want to take up too much of their time, said I'd love to share some background and hear about theirs, then asked if I could ask a couple of questions. I think it was really the small talk that decided how well the conversation went/if they felt confident referring me.

  • Associate 1 in Other
Sep 28, 2020 - 3:45am

Am i the only one that draws parallels to the UK and realises this is impossible here?

Took you less than a year to get a job on Wall Street and change the course of your life together.

US WSO is ridiculous

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
Sep 28, 2020 - 4:14pm

I find it so weird how rigid recruiting for banking is in the UK and Canada. There are way fewer opportunities for non-traditional candidates and everything from the interviews to actual firm/group culture is so rigid and old school. Its a much more brutal path to get the job and succeed, and yet the jobs themselves are objectively worse from a pay/deal experience/post-banking opportunities perspective relative to the US. I would say it's a market size thing, where 90% of European and Canadian deals would be considered MM in the US context, but even MM firms in the US seem way more liberal both in recruiting and culture relative to international peers.


Going to footnote this by saying this is the perspective of someone who had come in on a TN. I definitely think there is a higher hurdle for non-domestic applicants applying to the US that may make the standards more comparable to UK/Canada domestic recruiting but the actual job outcomes still make US banking way more attractive.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 28, 2020 - 6:45pm

Networking does not work, so if you are not in the right schools (targets or semi-targets) you are shit out of luck since you can't clutch it with networking. And I mean like you can be the valedictorian at a top tier school in your country, if it is not on the HR list you will not pass the first screening (exaggerating a bit but you get the point). Also HR is heavily involved in the process which obviously leads to chaos and shit outcomes for everybody involved because when do they ever add value?

I get the point to try to make it meritocratic and less nepotic with no networking policies, online tests, automatic hireviews, and so on, but people just create burner accounts to cheat on tests and get hireview questions and in the end the rich kids with connections still make it, it just jacks up the volatility for all other candidates (lower correlation between placement and drive/ability) by making you unable to steer the outcome.

Overall it is one giant luckfest for a worse pay and worse exit opportunities. I can't wait to get the fuck out of here (MBA or internal mobility) or die trying.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 28, 2020 - 1:20pm

I only flew out to one city before the shutdown, and had 2 two-day trips planned that I had to cancel because of COVID. If I were you, I'd ask a few close contacts what the best move would be because many people will likely be unwilling to meet with you. If you decide it's a good idea, then when you're around 2 weeks from flying out I'd let you contacts know that you'll be in NYC and tell them you'd love to meet up for some coffee if they're comfortable with it.


For those who are still comfortable with meeting, I'd reach out the day before you're in town and ask them if they have any time on X, Y, or Z day between XX:XXam-XX:XXpm. Take whatever you can get and be prepared to travel A TON to get the job done. For me, I targeted specific firms during specific days/sections of the day. For example if I went to Goldman then I spoke with multiple Goldman bankers by telling all of my contacts that I was going to be in lower Manhattan on Wednesday from 9-11Am + asked if they had time then, and whoever was able to meet came into the lobby at their own will. They also introduced me to good friends if they liked me enough.


Then I picked another bank that was in Lower Manhattan (like Citi) and told them I would be in the area from 12-4pm on Wednesday and asked if they had any time that day. That way I spoke with ~30 bankers at 5-6 different banks over 3-4 days. The rest of the time I was doing homework or exploring/eating. If I had more time to build up contacts than just a couple of weeks, I probably would've spoken with way more people at way more banks. I didn't even really know which banks I wanted to target at that point tbh, I was just ready to grind to meet whoever I could.

Sep 28, 2020 - 4:57pm

Congrats, i'm actually in the same process but i'm having an hard time connecting with people in ib because there are basically no alumni of my university to connect with . How did you manage to connect with the people you talked to in your trip in nyc? Cold email,linkedin,etc?

Congratulations again

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 28, 2020 - 5:41pm

Thanks! I'd reach out to anyone you have something in common with and hope for the best. I reached out to the small amount of alumni we had in banks, people who played a sport I played in high school, people that were in niche clubs that were similar to what I liked, etc. At one point I even reached out to people who went to college/high school near my hometown, figuring that we'd have something in common. It was VERY hit or miss, but if you send out 100 requests and have a 10% hit rate then that's 10 people who you get on the phone with. 


I typically reached out through linkedin because it was just much easier to me. Many bankers say to not do this but honestly I had like a 50% hit rate for people who gladly accepted my messages and let me call them. Even if you only have a 10% chance, that's 10 people out of 100 that you can get on the phone. Given that each Linkedin message is ~300 characters from a "personal note" you learn to be brief, and you can easily send out 20+ messages in an hour after you've selected people to contact. 

Sep 30, 2020 - 5:36pm

How, how, how do you find people to "network" with? The way you described it, you were meeting an endless supply of potentially useful people. Sure, most of them brushed you off or were even rude, but the first step is finding them. How do I do that?

Oct 1, 2020 - 12:06pm

Love stories of nontarget people breaking in. Congratulations, OP! It may not mean much from an internet stranger named Thundershlong Alpha but I am proud of you.

Superior returns guaranteed
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 3, 2020 - 2:12pm
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