No Return Offer - What Next?

I just finished up my 2021 SA internship at a BB. I unfortunately did not receive a return offer due to some questionable comments I made at a social work function at the end of the summer.

The quality of my work throughout the summer was high per the feedback I received and I have a strong GPA / relevant work experience at a target school. Would love any advice as to how I should proceed.

I would still ideally like to work in banking, but obviously know that not receiving a return offer is a red flag. Is banking still a possibility? All advice and anecdotes are welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help.

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Comments (70)

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 3:50pm

Called my good friend (fellow SA) an inappropriate name in front of two analysts with whom I was very close throughout the internship. Was suprised they escalated the situation but here we are.

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Aug 12, 2021 - 7:56pm

Gotta watch what you say in a corporate setting but damn that's soft

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 9:25pm

That's rough. Surprised it was escalated as far as it was, but an important lesson about working in a corporate environment I guess. What you said is pretty inappropriate to be honest. Being LGBT, I would be pretty put off if an intern said what you said though. However, I probably would've just pulled the intern aside and addressed the comment if the intern seemed otherwise like a good person and was doing good work. If not, this would be a pretty easy reason to nix someone. There's pretty literal tolerance for interns. It's always shocking the dumb stuff interns do / say that costs them the return offer. 
Anyway, I would start really networking at boutiques. Don't lie when interviewing, but it's probably best to omit what you said when explaining no return offer because. IB is a small world and there's a good chance that the person you're interviewing with will know someone at the group you didn't get return offer from. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 10:08pm

Analyst 2 in IB - Ind

That's rough. Surprised it was escalated as far as it was, but an important lesson about working in a corporate environment I guess. What you said is pretty inappropriate to be honest. Being LGBT, I would be pretty put off if an intern said what you said though. However, I probably would've just pulled the intern aside and addressed the comment if the intern seemed otherwise like a good person and was doing good work. If not, this would be a pretty easy reason to nix someone. There's pretty literal tolerance for interns. It's always shocking the dumb stuff interns do / say that costs them the return offer. 

Anyway, I would start really networking at boutiques. Don't lie when interviewing, but it's probably best to omit what you said when explaining no return offer because. IB is a small world and there's a good chance that the person you're interviewing with will know someone at the group you didn't get return offer from. 

Wuss

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Aug 14, 2021 - 5:26pm

On the other hand, I'm LGBT and I really wouldn't give a fuck. Having finished up my SA, yes I would be surprised to hear f** at a work function as an analyst because its a work function, but who cares. I surely wouldn't give it more than 15 seconds of thought. Really, it's not even worth talking to you about because you're an intern saying something stupid, not the first time that has happened and you grow out of it. Not going to take away a hard-earned FT offer over it.

Aug 13, 2021 - 11:16am

I thought you said "fuck" at first and was thinking that's not bad at all..but bro, oh man. 

"Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

  • 9
Aug 13, 2021 - 6:19pm

i'd think less of everyone involved frankly. Your judgment seems awful, even for a kid in college. you should know that word is verbotten within earshot of people you don't know. Were you raised by wolves?

The guys who snitched on you seem insufferably sensitive and ultimately dangerous. Speech in general is a flimsy basis for trying to wreck someone's career. Who knows what else may set them off? 

You'd all be gone if it were up to me.

Anyway sorry you didn't get an offer. Finding an associate or vp to support you during recruiting will be key. Make sure they don't actually disclose what you said or you won't find work as a janitor. 

Aug 15, 2021 - 4:53am

I am a Non-target and haven't even sniffed your lvl of opportunity. That being said, you're a fucking idiot; read the room, much less America. Doesn't matter if it's weak shit, which it is; you should no better. Terrible judgement.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 4:15pm

Sorry to hear that this happened. I think that a stern warning would've sufficed since it wasn't done maliciously - assuming there wasn't a pattern of behavior. If I were you I'd network hard for FT roles and if asked about your internship I'd say you weren't interested in rejoining the group for some other reason. Would advise you not to tell them it was because of a behavioral matter.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 4:17pm

Thank you for this advice. I feel like the first question I will get though is "did you receive a return offer?" Obviously cannot lie about this. Any ideas for a good response to this question?

Aug 13, 2021 - 5:04pm

I didn't get a return offer from my summer internship during my MBA and the line I used when walking through my resume was "It was a good experience and I learned a lot but ultimately I wanted to be in a different area of real estate" (my internship was in consulting, I'm working now in development), just sidestepped the entire question of if I even got a return offer by pre-empting the question. If they do ask point-blank if you got an offer just be honest and reiterate how you're looking for something different and think that you would be a good fit at XYZ firm. The best response is to acknowledge it, but quickly move on to the relevant portion, aka you're applying there and will be a good employee there. It worked for me because it shows a more rounded knowledge of the market and industry, but I don't know if it's applicable in finance. Could you discuss coverage or industry as a transitional point (i.e. I was covering tech and want to switch to CPG, or some bs like that)?

Culture is nebulous enough that people won't probe too deep, although it's always useful to have one or two vague anecdotes if they ask a follow-up. Just don't name names or actually tell a damning story, the industry is small and you don't want people asking too many questions. Definitely prep for this question and have good follow-up responses.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Aug 12, 2021 - 4:21pm

They might've been looking for a reason to not give you a return and you offered it up on a silver platter. Tough to talk out of it- but i'd say that you didn't mesh well with the product or industry and that you wanted to get a seat in something that closer aligns to your interests.

Aug 12, 2021 - 4:23pm

Telling the truth isn't really an option here bc you'll be dead in the water. I'd say something like:

"I wasn't that interested in the sector (if it's a coverage group) and towards the end of my internship I candidly told an analyst that while I like [sector/product you covered] I see myself doing [different sector/product] down the line. This was brought up during the end of summer review and I was told that while I did a good job the team would prefer the seat go to someone passionate about [internship group sector]."

Edit: sorry, meant to respond to "thanks for your advice" comment above

Aug 19, 2021 - 3:56am

I would not say that you mentioned to the team that you're not passionate about the coverage group. This is a flagrant lie because everyone's goal is to convert their offer. The next question may be - did you network with other groups? No, why not? Couldn't your team vouch for you had you networked with other groups? How big was your SA class and how many got return offers/ are returning? No matter the reason you provide banks will ask whether you got a return offer or not. Doesn't matter if you want to change from BB to EB, from coverage to product or to another coverage group. Do not flat out lie and do not tell the whole truth either because honestly, you don't actually know the truth you just think you do. Don't shoot yourself in the foot.

You also forget that banking is small and I guarantee that someone wherever you'll interview will know someone else at your BB, and within the same group is not unlikely. They will for fish for more info to sniff out your BS. If there are any doubts just say that you only received great feedback and this came as a such but that were offered a recommendation on your behalf and would be happy to provide references.

In the future I hope you think twice about the shit that comes of your mouth. It's not about being soft or PC in a corporate setting. Its incredibly disrespectful and decades use of this kind of language manifests into very real social repercussions for minority groups and it's the reason why diversity programs at these places need to exist.

Aug 12, 2021 - 4:52pm

That sucks bro. I'm in my thirties and growing up we called each other gay all the time if someone did something lame, but right now the corporate culture is very PC.

That being said, what you did in itself is not grounds for no offer. You might not have done as awesome work as you thought. I tell every summer their work was great even if it wasn't, and then I tell the truth to the hiring manager.

I would recommend you not tell the truth in other interviews about why you didn't get the offer. Mention that you were honest and said you told your group you loved the banking experience but were passionate about another sector or product. Or say you're group had lots of mds leave and you were collateral damage. Or that the group had a headcount freeze.

See if you can score a rec letter from an associate who likes you and feels bad you got screwed by a sensitive wussy analyst.

Also, how do you know that was the reason? The hiring manager told you that you had the offer but he pulled it after anti-gay complaints?

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 5:13pm

Definitely possible, but I am 90% sure it was due to my language. I had met with a director earlier in the week who was complementary of my work and encouraged me to reach out to him / other Ds and MDs once "it was official" in case I was considering lateralling somewhere else. 

Also, I had my final review with HR as opposed to the hiring manager like all the other summers.

Aug 13, 2021 - 8:56am

Corporate culture is PC... in certain companies. Currently working for a regional office of a MM in the south and I can guarantee that it is definitely not as PC as some NY firms would presumably be. Likely due to the geography of where the office is from but nonetheless, not all are super PC. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 8:32pm

Was the fellow SA a female or male? Had something similar happening in my group over the summer, and it ended up being a royal screw up. Did your bank inform your school about why your didn't get a return offer? 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 12, 2021 - 8:42pm

Look, maybe in the context of all of America it wasn't a big deal, but you real dumb for thinking that corporates would be okay with slurs at a company function, you gotta know the context of your convos -- xx, a gay banker who wouldn't have escalated this to HR/hiring, but if it your return offer was 50-50, I almost certainly wouldn't have gone to bat for you

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 12, 2021 - 9:41pm

These replies are ridiculous lmao, using a homophobic slur at any point in a corporate setting is absolutely something that justifies this response, this type of faux pas could literally burn a deal with a client these days it is not about being PC but rather being cognizant and respectful of those around you, and not using a literal slur that is harmful to tons of people who work in finance. "Shooting the shit with the bros" doesn't excuse using a slur in a work environment, kinda ridiculous that this is even a question.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Aug 12, 2021 - 10:15pm

I completely agree with you. I know I messed up badly, but to be fair the "work environment" was a small group waiting around for Ubers at the end of the night.

Absolutely does not excuse what I said, but I appreciate the insight.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Aug 12, 2021 - 11:26pm

For sure man, carry this introspection forward and nothing like this will happen again. Truly wish you the best of luck, you shouldn't get permanently burnt even if it was a big mistake, just grow from here.

Aug 13, 2021 - 9:00am

The language was certainly inappropriate but shooting the shit with the bros, especially two full-time analysts who you think have your back, should stay between the group. A reprimand/warning would've been plenty, as the intern was doing good work. Not receiving a return offer is a bit too steep of a punishment for a single inappropriate comment.  

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 21, 2021 - 1:25pm

This is it, but cancel culture has gone crazy. It it was a summer An or Aso that I liked and who did a good job, I wouldn't burn his potential career for an initial transgression. I'd pull him aside the next day and use it as an early career teaching moment, and then expect to never see such an incident again (even if I didn't really care, in general).

  • Analyst 2 in CorpStrat
Aug 13, 2021 - 10:18am

You don't call retarded people retards. It's bad taste. You call your friends retards, when they're being retarded.

Aug 13, 2021 - 2:20pm

This is the situation I faced last year.  The bank I was working at was making cuts companywide and approximately 30% of my class ended up returning full time (I believe the actual return offer rate was higher though). 

Here's what you should do right now:

1. Have a conversation with your Associates/Analysts/Staffers on How They Believe You Did And Where You May Want To Make Changes.

I know you mentioned that you believed your work product was very strong but it is good to know where you are making mistakes and need to improve. Everyone in their internship makes mistakes, including the very best, and I think this would be a good non-confrontational way to begin a dialogue for the following steps.   

2. Ask Some People You Have Been Working With For A Reference. 

It could be someone as junior as a fellow analyst or as senior as a managing director. Having someone who can reliably vouch for you during any upcoming recruiting processes will not completely erase the fact that you did not get a return offer, but it will help you significantly in navigating the recruiting process. More senior is better, but make sure whoever is giving a reference is pretty much entirely positive. 

I can additionally see that your situation is a bit dubious, so I will caution you to ensure that the references you receive you can be sure will be exclusively positive and not mention your comments. Be careful with this part in your situation. Furthermore, due to your comments, this step may not be possible, as bankers may be unwilling to support you due to your comments. I don't believe it would hurt to ask for a reference, even if the people you ask say no. 

3. Reach Out To Other Investment Banks Now To See If They Have Openings.

Send out some feelers. Give three reasons why you like your current bank, and three reasons why you don't. Send your resume. Don't make it seem like you're close to not getting a return offer. If you manage to get an interview treat it seriously. 

============================

OK. You're done with your current bank now and don't want to worry about any of the people there who screwed you. Here's what you want to do. 

1. Take Note Of All Possible Options On Your Plate.

Figure out what your next year is going to look like. Is another semester college an option or an MSF program? Are there other jobs you might want to consider? Are you certain you want to continue on the IB pathway? Assess and decide.

2. Start Applying To Everything. Cast A Wide Net. 

Throw out as many applications as possible. If there are any that require more than a resume, then take some consideration to applying, but the number of people demanding more than a resume should not be many. Reach out to your friends and colleagues for some assistance in recruiting here. 

Now I'll caveat this by saying that if you're sure you want to do IB, then only apply to investment banks. Don't start applying to consulting firms and software engineering companies too. Furthermore, prepare for interviews where necessary. I'll also be clear in saying that banking is still a possibility so long as you have a high GPA and a decent resume. Lack of a return offer is a hurdle to overcome, but not the end of the world. 

Additionally, if you want to do something else specifically, focus on that other thing, like trying to get into an MSF program. 

3. Decide How You Are Going To Tell Potential Employers How You Did Not Get A Return Offer. 

If someone asks if you got a return offer, just say no. Don't try to sugar coat it or make it sound like you did. And especially don't lie (even the associate who I worked under told me to lie; still didn't do it). 

Of course, you don't want to just say that you were a horrible employee or you said some idiotic comments at a social function. This will most likely hurt your chances of getting a full time offer. 

Here's what I did: I said that I received both positive and negative feedback during my internship, explained that feedback, explained how I made changes to ensure those mistakes don't happen, and then gave over my references. My references vouched for me and made it clear I was a value-additive employee and good worker who interned at a difficult time. 

I am uncertain how to put your situation in a dialogue box, but if you are able to secure good references (this may be very challenging in your situation though), you should not be super worried. 

=====================

I think that the above should help you in case you did not get a return offer and help you navigate your next steps. Try not to be too down on yourself, as everyone does make mistakes. Do not make a mistake like this in the future, and always try to be nice to people. You are definitely in the wrong for thinking you could make the kind of comment that would lead to you not getting a return offer. I repeat, do not make this mistake again. Do not let this mistake define you. I wish you the best and hope you get the offer!

  • VP in IB - Gen
Aug 13, 2021 - 3:44pm

Lol some of you all are ridiculous..."omg weak sauce" "back in my day...man corporate America is so soft now"

No company has tolerance for the use of slurs.  If you must, save the locker room talk for outside the office when you're around people you really trust.

At least you own up to knowing you fucked up. My recommendation is coming up with a good story because telling the truth will have you dead in the water

  • Associate 2 in IB - CB
Aug 13, 2021 - 5:30pm

I learned a similar lesson at my second internship, where I also did not receive a return offer. One of the bosses in the group I was interning at required all new interns to share their most embarrassing story, so I picked what I believed was a fairly safe one, the time I spilled hot coffee all over my lap in a 500 person class.

This was early in the internship and I got into telling the story and quoted myself word for word, saying that I stood up and yelled "fuck" and mentioned how I spilled coffee all over my "junk", aka my genitals. In normal conversation, this shouldn't really be a problem, as I did not actually harass anybody and I just used a little profanity and mentioned that I scalded my balls. However, turns out that the executive assistant was really socially conservative, and so was one of the quant ladies in the group.

Program manager wound up bringing me in for a meeting to discuss the event and he himself thought that it was a little ridiculous the way these people freaked out about this innocuous (but a little uncouth) situation but needless to say I did not receive a return offer.

Nonetheless, it all turned out well anyway because I wound up dodging the potential bullet of working at an insurance company and ended up working at a bulge bracket bank instead full time the next year (after stressing for 6 months about getting a full time offer and interviewing 2+ times a week fall semester, then finally getting lucky because the BB had roles they wanted to fill thanks to unaccepted offers and were coming up on deadlines)

  • Prospect in Consulting
Aug 13, 2021 - 6:00pm

I was in a similar boat after my summer internship. There's some pretty good advice in here already, so I won't retread all of that. 
 

I ended up switching to consulting full time so I can give some perspective from that POV. This is the advice I'd go back and give myself:

1. Take this moment to really think about whether you really like banking or not

It's pretty easy to switch to another career at this point. Certain industries have a lot of full time spots and don't really ask or care whether you had a banking full time return. I'm thinking about consulting in particular here, but I imagine other industries fit this mold. By contrast, recruiting for banking full time is difficult because a) there aren't that many full time spots usually and b) not having a return offer makes most recruiting conversations difficult. Its definitely not impossible to recruit by any means, but if you were on the fence about banking before your internship, now is definitely the time to consider some other options. 
 

I ended up in banking for my internship because it 'seemed like the best option.' In hindsight, banking wasn't really something that interested me personally or professionally. Not getting a return offer allowed me to realize that and pivot. Whereas if I had an offer in hand, I probably would have done the easy thing and signed it. 

2. Pick one industry to recruit for

Seconding what a commenter above said, pick one industry to recruit for. I started off recruiting for both banking and consulting full time and it wasn't a good idea at all. You can maybe pull off recruiting for two different industries if you have an easy time getting banking interviews and don't have to spend much time re-learning technicals, but in general, I wouldn't recommend it

3. Try to remember this isn't the end of the world

I had a tough time dealing with stress and self doubt after not getting a return offer. Maybe your not in that boat, but I definitely was. Once I switched industries and realized I was happier with the switch, those negative emotions were replaced with gratitude. Now that some time has passed, both mindsets actually seem a bit silly to me. I can't seem to remember why I cared so much. It's your first job out of college, and one you were probably planning on leaving in two years anyways. The stakes aren't as high as they feel, or at least as high as they felt to me. You'll probably end up in a job just as good if not better than the one you would have had if you got a return offer, and even if you don't, the impact on your future is less than you imagine. 

  • Intern in Consulting
Aug 16, 2021 - 6:01pm

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  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Aug 21, 2021 - 1:17pm

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  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Aug 21, 2021 - 1:26pm

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