My thoughts as a Non-Target
I've seen countless posts similar to what I am about to share, but throughout this experience, all I can think about is how many individuals helped me in order to secure an offer. Due to this, I feel some type of obligation to share my story in the hopes that maybe one individual who is in a similar situation can learn from my mistakes/success. The main points I have come to find throughout this experience are as followed:
1- The odds are completely stacked against you, stop bitching about it.
The number of times I used this excuse is sickening. It's very easy to blame your school after you receive your 13th, "We regret to inform you" email. Get used to it. There are some firms that are simply out of reach unless you know a guy who knows a guy. Due to this, control what you can control such as- GPA, networking, interviewing skills, etc
2. Don't wait for an interview to start studying technical
One of the biggest mistakes I made throughout this process. I probably applied to every single firm across the United States. Take initiative and anticipate getting an interview. I can tell you from experience that it really fucking sucks staying up for 2 days straight trying to understand technical concepts when you had 3 months prior to the interview. If you want to break into this industry, you should be excited to learn about these essential concepts.
3. Find a mentor
This one can be rather difficult but having someone who you can talk to is paramount. My school has quite literally never had an alumnus break into Investment Banking. I was extremely fortunate to have an individual who took interest in trying to prepare me as best as possible. Side note- a mentor is NOT someone who makes calls for you and gets you interviews/vouches for you etc. People see right through this, and it's a bad look when an undergrad is hounding individuals to make calls on their behalf. In my opinion, a mentor is someone who can best prepare you, keep you on track, and help you make the best possible decision for your professional career based on what is reasonable for you.
4. Experience is everything
I was fortunate enough to secure an internship my sophomore year. While completely unrelated to investment banking, it definitely speaks to your work ethic if you can provide the interviewer with some type of financial/professional experience. It a lot easier when you can talk about an experience in a professional setting, rather than your eagle scout project you did when you were 17 (sorry no offense to anybody in Boy Scouts)
This is a highly competitive field. If you expect to send one cold message on LinkedIn and magically secure an offer, you're delusional. If you're a non-target kid, you need to be working twice as hard, it's really that simple. Through my time in University, I have found that non-target kids simply don't understand how much effort it takes to break into a competitive industry. Do everything to build your Resume into a story that defines you and makes someone want to take a chance on you. At the end of the day, you are going to need someone in the "draft room" who is pulling for you to work on the desk for them. While there are several other things that can be helpful, these aspects helped me secure an offer, and maybe they can for you as well. Cheers.