I recently received a message replying to a comment I made how I was able to break into IB as an intern and would like to provide a nice update to where I am in my career.
Original Story from April 2012:
When I started the fall semester 2011, I was coming off a BB MO role and about to start a VC internship, so I thought I would be well positioned to land interviews while also working on building an event for my business school. Started applying late August for IB FO roles, confident I would land interviews because my resume looked good to that point and I added accounting as a major. I applied to a few places and......nothing (well beside 1 or 2 firms).
I started to compile a list of firms to call after being rejected from a IB FO superday and seriously considered graduating a semester late (already late due to double major) for a Intern role in IB. I sat down with my fund partner at the VC and discussed how my IB recruiting was going. I told him about my desire to stay within the region for banking and he told me to gather a list of firms in the region to see if he knew people I could reach out to. I did and I contacted one firm at a IB (IB #1) where they told me that they recently filled the full time role, but could be open to bringing on an intern.
Rejections and graduating late
I followed up a few weeks later with the VP, which turned into a phone screen, and he said to keep in touch to see if they could bring someone on for the summer. I continued to cold email and cold call more firms getting better as I went along, but still heard the same thing in terms of rejection. I was able to finish the semester with a 4.0, but no FO offer, which meant I was looking at an Intern role for the upcoming summer.
Next semester, I focused more on aggressively cold calling with creating an excel file for contacts at firms and so forth. Same rejections for the most part, but I was fortunate to land like 4-5 interviews. Fast forward to April 2012, no offer in hand and I was dejected after being rejected from 3 places in a 24 hour span. Reached an ultimatum with myself, either I was working in IB or I was not working this summer. Settled on graduating a semester late and realized what I was doing wrong in previous interview (especially when I was cutoff telling my story (went on too long)).
I fixed my story, followed up to cold email I sent to a IB (IB #2) with a call (more people need to do this) and landed an interview for an IB Intern role. I also kept in contact with IB #1 and I did a mini-superday interview with them after a in person interview with the VP a few months prior. I also interviewed for a small PE fund during this time to try to cover my bases and I like to work in PE in the future.
I received an IB internship offer...
I was just concerned with landing an IB offer and did not care about money, or what type of work I would be given, as I just wanted the opportunity. In third week in April (a week after I did the mini-superday with IB#1 and two weeks after I did the interview with IB #1), I got an email from PE on Sunday for a offer. Tuesday that week, I was called while working with the VC that IB #2 wanted to offer me the IB role. I was so excited that I finally was able to make something of my path. Quick mention that the PE and IB #2 offer were non-paid, but who cares cause I landed an IB offer. Followed up with IB#1 that day to inform the VP of my offer and he told me team liked me and he was drafting my offer letter and waiting for approval from Partners.
He told me to look out for something in my email in next few days. I checked my email frantically next day and saw nothing, so I began focusing on studying for a test and interview I had the next day for a valuation role, when at 10 in the night a I receive an email from IB#1 with a offer including a good pay package and mentioning the exposure I would get to IB and PE (since the firm does both). I am jumping up and down with excitement and quickly respond with the next day with a yes, then went to do an interview I had that afternoon (which turned out to be fun since I had no pressure going into it).
I did the IB role and did exactly what I wanted to do in IB (Modeling, valuation, Building Management Presentations). While it was only an intern role, I learned from early mistakes of not networking and have been doing that through mixture of references and cold calls. I currently work in Real Estate, but actively pursue IB opportunities when they come along. I am not sure what the future holds, but I remain confident that as I long as I put forth my best effort each day, that I will be fine.
Updated Story (2013):
I graduated without a job this past December, but was fortunate to land a role in Real Estate (financing) a month after graduating. While I found some topics fascinating, I realized within a few weeks I wanted to go back into IB. So, I began the process of cold-emailing and online applications to network and see what opportunities were out there. I was able to land interviews here and there (Corp Dev. Role and a possible IB Analyst role were the two most prominent), but they did not pan out. I did my best to remain optimistic about the future and was able to network a good deal.
Success - The FT IB Offer
A few weeks ago, I applied online for IB role with a strong MM and I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Superday (no first rounds, interestingly). I studied like crazy the week of the Superday. The Superday was pretty relaxed in that I really felt like I connected with my interviewers and the bank is in a city I used to work. I remember checking my phone like crazy on Friday and Saturday, thinking by Monday I did not land the role. I was sitting at work this past Monday, when I received a call from a VP I interviewed with and he offered me the FT IB opportunity with the bank, which I am so extremely grateful for.
I write this message for all the people who are looking to break into the industry and I say: keep pushing. All it takes is one place to say yes. Do not ever lose hope and confidence in yourself and your future.
Keys for you:
1. Dealing with rejection
Expect an overwhelming majority of firms to respond with a rejection and learn how to deal with it (I did it by first stating an interest in a FT role and then modifying the pitch to a intern role with a value add I could provide)
2. Keep your networking organized
Make an excel spreadsheet of firms you contact to stay organized
3. Stay positive
Do not get too down. I did at times, but I truly believed, damnit, I know I can be an Investment Banker and put every effort possible to realize that thought.
4. Email before cold calling
For cold calling, email first and then call after a week. Really got a lot of success doing this and creates a good introduction for you as person searches for your email as you go through your story
5. Be prepared for the interview
Always be ready to interview, no matter who you speak to (except gate keeper, then that is different type of interview (if that)).
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK as it will make recruiting process a lot more easier in the future. I did this last summer and was able to line up interviews here and there.
Never lose sight of the people who love you and care for you. This is what helped as I even questioned myself at times.
To all who read: It will work out in the end as long you continue to make necessary steps that it will and never lose faith in your capabilities and what you have to offer as a person.
I also want to provide a great shoutout to the WSO IB Prep Pack (http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/investment-banking-interview-prep-questions) which should you leave you prepared for all the stages from networking through interviewing for the IB (and other FO roles if under consideration). Patrick and the team did an incredible job to compile a expansive material that can do wonders for anyone looking to break into the industry.
Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted May 2013