Been a long-time admirer on this forum. I wanted to share my journey from a nontarget to one of (if not the) best elite boutique bank in NYC. I am a junior at a nontarget with a 3.5+ GPA, had a two internships at regional banks, but knew I wanted to go into IB at a BB or EB since I was in high school. My intention is to shed light on the process and help others in a similar position.
My internships helped improve my skills, but more than anything they served as opportunities to gain experience communicating with senior people and build out my network. The companies I worked for may not have been my end goal, but they were terrific jumping points from which to build a career.
Networking was of the upmost importance for me. Coming from a nontarget, we're inherently at a sever disadvantage to the entitled target school kids whose fathers' paid their entrance into HYPS. But do not let that discourage you. Keep grinding day in and day out. I reached out to anyone from a nontarget, and I was surprised how many of them were willing/ready to help a random nontarget kid. I suppose they recognized what it was like to be in a similar position as they were back in college. All this would not have been possible without the networking help at these firms, the network I generated was/is tremendous and I encourage any other nontargets in a similar position next year to do the same as I did.
Through this emense nontarget network, I was able to secure interviews at all the top firms, BBs (GS, MS) and EBs (EVR, CVP, MOE, PJT). Once in these interviews, my superior grind, grit, and intellect compared to the entitled target kids manifested itself and securing an offer was quite simple: just know your technicals cold and be personable. talk about being president (or a least senior boar member) of your IB club, mention your strong GPA, and how hard you worked to end you where you are. These traits are the most important for any potential IB candidate. But more than anything, I attribute my success to my passion. If there is one thing you cannot fake, it is passion. I exhibit an unhampered, specific passion for each firm and IB in general that I really don't think target kids could. The top EBs and top BBs loved this (best advice I was ever given).
I ended up receiving offers at 5/6 of the firms I listed above (including GS). Ultimately however, for other nontargets, due to the importance of group placement, I would recommend an EB offer over a BB offer. Targets have a huge advantage with group placement due to the plethora of alumni in those groups. Therefore, take the EB with placement into M&A at EVR, CVP, or RX at PJT. It's a better option than going through placement at GS or MS and praying for TMT/FIG or M&A respectively.
Hope my story can inspire other nontargets to achieve the same result, and looking forward to hearing your comments and stories below.