Background: I went to a non-target, had a 2.7 GPA, and didn't study finance in college. Ended up landing a job in ER.
I apologize in advance that I have failed to contribute as much as I should to these forums. WSO was one of the main tools I used and find myself looking at boards plenty often.
Throughout college I never knew what I wanted to do. I was a curious kid who liked figuring out how things work. I liked investing and always had wall st. (specifically ER) in the back of my mind.
It wasn't until late in my collegiate career that I wanted to get into ER. In fact, with 4 weeks until graduation, I decided to decline pervious job offers to pursue a career in ER.
If anyone would like to know my entire story as to how I did it, I will post in detail my full background. For now, I will tell you the most important tips that I have for anyone to break in,
#1 - Networking and how not to do it
You've heard it a million times that you should network. In my opinion, I think the term networking is overused and has been misconstrued ever since LinkedIn came about. Most people think networking is establishing some sort of business connection (which it really is). But in my opinion, a business connection can only go so far.
I set up a "networking" meeting about 3x a week for 4 months. The people that helped me the most were the people in which I developed friendships with rather than a "connection".
Moral of the story, don't network. Develop some sort of relationship and don't be a some kid just trying to get the hook up on a job. Express genuine interest in their careers and lives. Be a genuine human being. It's pretty simple.
I knew nobody in finance. I cold called people and expressed genuine interest in not a job, but learning about their job and what suggestions they had for me.
#2 - Don't apply to jobs, you're wasting your time
I interviewed at about 6 shops (1 for IB, 5 for ER) ended up getting 2 offers (one buy side and one sell side) and made it to the final round at multiple MM shops.
One guy told me that at his old shop (MM) that they never hired a guy that they somehow didn't know. Don't just apply to a bunch of banks cause you are truly wasting your time. And no, don't go through HR.
Out of all of the places I interviewed, only two places had the job posted some where (yes that is illegal) but that is just how the game is played.
#3 - "Walk me through your resume"
On this forum, people stress technical questions and how to answer them. Stop focusing on how to walk somebody thru a DCF and get them to engage and buy into you.
This is the most important part of the interview hands down. Get your story down and practice it. Everybody has a story. Tell it. I really think the WSO IB Interview Prep Course helps you shape your story, especially the fit module, so I highly recommend you check it out.
Nobody cares if you know the technicals. You know why? Because learning how to connect the three financial statements, model, and do a DCF is easy. They want to know if you're the type of guy they can work with for 12-15 hours a day and not want to kill. It's all about the Fit. It was apparent that I didn't fit in at some shops and I was fine with that.
#4 - If you are from a non-target, embrace it
The best shop that I interviewed at really liked the fact that I wasn't from a target school. In fact, only one guy had actually heard of my school. I ended up making it to the final two and all of the interviewers really appreciated it even though they were all from targets.
I apologize in advance for the poor writing.