Although I'm not as interesting as the Tibetan monk who realized his true passion is staring at [email protected]18 hours a day, hopefully I can help a few monkeys find the golden/Goldman banana of internships. For advice, you can find me at
I began college at a large public university, with bright eyes, dreams of riches, and no on-campus recruiting. Several older students had worked their butts off and were investment banking bound, and they taught me the fundamentals of finance and networking. Using WSO search, I contacted 400 IB firms my freshman year, focusing on boutiques. A financial recruiting firm liked me enough to want me to fly to NYC for a final interview, but I only had enough cash for a one-way flight. So, I packed up my dorm and hopped on a plane. When I showed up to the office with a suit and three suitcases, they laughed and hired me.
Once there, I spoke with everyone possible, from the secretaries to the owners, grabbed coffee, and learned everything I could about the finance and sales industries. Outworking and outlearning everyone became an obsession, and I left with strong recommendations.
The next summer, I interned for a local hedge fund. Although I enjoyed working for them, I was constantly analyzing the structure of deals and decided I was more interested in pursuing M&A than staying at a hedge fund.
Falling leaves signaled the beginning of the mad rush we call interview season. I interviewed with several banks, and participated inin November. At the airport heading home, I received a call offering me a position in their summer class. After three years of dedication, I was bound for a NYC MM investment bank. I worked hard, drank gallons of coffee, learned a ton, and look forward to returning for a productive two years upon graduation.
I've aggregated the advice that's helped me succeed. I hope it will serve you as well.
- Start yesterday. There's a kid in middle school reading WSO, and he wants your job.
Start researching positions the summer after high school, and start networking freshman
- Know your story. Every. Single. Call. starts with a line like "Tell me about yourself." If
you're mumbling about high school sports or Uncle Jimmy who sells bonds, you've made a bad first impression and potentially lost a valuable contact. Before you send an email, practice your story with your family, your friends, and your dog. WSO and M&I both have great articles on story development.
- LinkedIn: Use It. Begin with connecting with students, professors, and family. Then reach out to alums, people with common interests, or similar ethnic backgrounds. Use every possible connection and write a custom message.
- Talk to everyone. Just because someone isn't in banking, doesn't mean they don't know someone who is. People like helping other people, and if you put in the effort they are often happy to open doors.
- Get personal. If possible, ask about their family, hobbies, background. It's not an interrogation; enjoy yourself and have a conversation. Most people are interesting, even bankers.
- Always say thank you. Thank them for their time, their help, their advice, their dashing good looks. Ungrateful monkeys aren't helped for long.
- Always be learning. Every person knows something you don't. Find out what that is. Read the WSJ and part of a book every day. Remember what Charlie Munger says: "I've never known a wise person who wasn't reading constantly."
- Keep a contact spreadsheet. Track each person, their firm and position, industry, background, and personal facts. Take notes after each call. Pro tip: If you conditionally color the date you last spoke, it's much easier to schedule follow up calls.
- Follow up. It's how relationships are built.
- Choose your focus early. You don't have to stick with one direction for life, but people
are better equipped to help if they know what you want. Understand the differences between IB, , and S&T, and don't be afraid to tell a research analyst you want to be a banker, but keep an open mind in early years.
- Don't burn bridges.
- Outwork your competition. "You emailed 400 firms? Somewhere in Jersey, there's a
kid emailing 400 firms a week. Step it up." -One of my mentors.
- Just Be Cool (JBC). If you're overeager, arrogant, nerdy, or just weird, people don't want to talk to you, let alone help you. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a classic if you struggle in this area.
- Tell everyone about your plans. Reach back out to your contacts and tell them what your plans for the summer are, and do they have any advice for you? Many times, this leads to other assistance.
- Focus on key contacts. Ask them if they'll help you through the recruitment process. Ask them for their thoughts on different banks and groups. It's time to turn contacts into mentors.
- Build a network at your top banks. It's easier to land an interview with seven people going to bat for you than one. If you try to build a network at every EB and , you'll burn out. Focus on banks where you enjoy speaking with the analysts because you'll see them 100 hours a week.
- Emphasize your uniqueness. During recruiting, every banker is getting contacted by dozens of students. Find an attribute that sets you apart, and make sure the banker remembers it. My attribute is hard work; I pay for my own education waiting tables. I'll tell a couple funny anecdotes to make sure waiting (and its association with hustle) sticks.
- JBC. Don't be weird.
- Talk to the other interviewees. That a-hole who won't talk to anyone? Trust me,
- Prepare a more tailored story. Your story should lead to why XYZ bank is the perfect fit for you. This means for six interviews, you should have six stories.
- Know your technicals cold. Like unfriendly dogs, bankers smell weakness and will attack if you trip. Zero excuses for a lack of preparation.
- Have a conversation. I was drawn to my bank because every interview turned into a conversation. Topics included NYC apartments, tennis, and college football. This is what separates the weird from the chill.
- Network after an offer. You've worked hard, why stop now? The kids who continue to network receive offers to their top groups.
During the Internship
- Be the first in and last out. People notice. The summer after my freshman year, I showed up to work 30 minutes early and stayed two hours past closing. I even got locked into the office and had to call my boss to let me out--he didn't mind because I was working hard.
- Learn keyboard shortcuts. They'll save you time and earn respect from analysts.
- Always look and act professional. Even at 1am, the intern without a tie looks less
enthusiastic than the one still cranking. Exception: after the first week, you can leave
your jacket at your desk.
- Work out as much as possible. 2am pushups with other interns are a bonding
experience and provide a break from spreadsheets.
- Look for a unique capability that makes you invaluable. One intern knew oil, another knew statistics. I stayed until the job was done, and helped other interns finish their work.
- Find a few people to go to bat for you.
entrepreneurship with another. Guess who they wanted back? every day with one associate and
- Network across the bank. Most groups encourage this. Maybe your group isn't right for
you. If it is, you'll have a valuable network in place when starting full time.
- Understand the offer situation as early as possible. If you're not going to get an offer,
you should be talking to other banks.
- Enjoy what you're doing. Remember that this is not just a time for the bank to assess
you, it's your time to assess the bank. Make sure this is the path you want to take, and ask the right questions to make certain. If your heart isn't in it, you won't make it.