Non-Target who broke into BB

Hey WSO Community,

Been lurking on this website for little over half a year and just wanted to share my story since I finally have one to tell and hope to inspire other Non-targets like I was inspired when I started up on this site.


Public state school, not well known, with literally 0-5 alumni in the NYC area. Majoring in Finance only with no minors, etc. and achieving a 4.0 GPA as of current. 2 internships in corporate finance and none in banking. VP of Finance Club, working with the school's foundation to help manage their portfolio, and one of the analysts in the Student Managed Fund.


I knew the end of the junior year that I had wanted to get into banking but had no feasible connections and after doing some research, realized I missed the recruiting timeline for the SA positions. I also knew that without any internships in banking, the road to making it was going to be a lot harder since that would mean I would have to try for FT positions when recruiting for this year came about. To prepare myself, I made the best out of my last corporate finance internship by working with excel as much as possible, reaching out to as many alumni as possible, and working side by side with one of the senior execs at the company who had previous PE experience. Long story short, relatively small company which gave me a lot of facetime with higher-ups which allowed me to tap into their networks.

Fast forward to the Fall semester and I knew FT recruiting was about to begin. With that being said, I ended up sending over 30 applications one weekend, reaching out to as many alumni as possible, and cold-emailing a lot of firms. Of those 30, 10 got back. Of those 10, 2 gave me interviews. Of those 2 who gave me interviews, 1 allowed me to come back for a superday. I should mention that the 1 who allowed me to come back is the one with an alumni that was rooting for me since day 1.

Superday comes around and I am sitting in a room full of "targets" who look and sound phenomenal on paper. Feeling like I had a slim chance, I thought why not break the ice and get to know everyone? After making some jokes, getting to make the room feel a bit lighter, my interviews started and I thought to myself, just give it all you got and if you make it, awesome. If not, I'll have one hell of a story to tell back home.

The next day came and I got a phone call telling me that the job was mine if I wanted it. Ecstatic and nervous, of course I accepted, then proceeded to go back to my classes realizing I just broke into a NYC BB. As you can imagine, it was hard to focus.

I didn't share this story to gloat, but rather to hopefully inspire some other non-target candidate(s) that might think they have no chance of "breaking" in, just as I was inspired some time ago. It can be done. With a lot of elbow grease, constant networking, and making sure you are trying your best, something will come about. I wish everyone the best in their future endeavors and wanted to say thanks to the WSO community for the knowledgeable threads and thanks for all the reports, courses, and prep that you offer.


I've received some emails regarding the preparation I took along the way of getting from a non-target to Wall Street and here are some of the pieces of advice I can offer my fellow non-targets.

  1. I kept up to date almost every day or every other day on WSO. I read the IB WSO Hall of Fame Forum regarding everything from networking to the interview to the funny section (+1 for the funny section, gave me a laugh many times when I needed it the most.) All of the certified users on here plus a lot of the top 10 leaders on this website have posted insightful AMA's that can literally answer any question that might pop in that head of yours. Recommend reading CompBanker, NuckFuts, frgna, and TorontoMonkey1328. All have wonderful insights into the world of IB and everything related.
  2. Network, network, network. (Cliche I know) WSO has an awesome networking guide which literally gives you formats for emails, subject lines, cold call templates, you name it. Utilize it to your fullest and spread your net wide. If you have an alumni center at your school, go there and ask for a list of certain alumni in a region (I did NYC and Boston.) Use LinkedIn, use your school, use WSO, and use their networking guide.
  3. WSO Guides (IB technical and behavioral). Although I did not use this during my preparation, I kick myself for not doing so. To give you a brief summary, it literally walks you through common questions, complex questions, teasers, and allows you to prepare yourself for whatever may come your way. Above all though, the holy grail of the guide in my opinion comes at the bottom. The WSO team has compiled a company listing with rankings from previous interviewees, previous questions that arose (both hard and not hard), and gives an overview of what to expect. Literally worth its weight in GOLD!
  4. Lastly, be yourself. Most of the stuff is taught during your undergraduate years and a lot of the interview I felt was more of a test to see how one did under pressure or how one would be able to reach to legitimately oddball questions causing you to think quick on your feet. Talk about the banker across from you, maybe talk about the view or the city you're interviewing, do they have kids, where did they go to school?

Wish all the best for you monkeys out there, especially all my non-target monkeys. Go knock em' dead boys.

Comments (18)

Most Helpful
Dec 25, 2018

Very similar experience. Non-target who broke into a Big 5 Canadian bank at a top group.

Went into the superday (my first one) and introduced myself to the group of kids from Canadian Targets who all knew each other from prior superdays and got "Uh how did you get here" as a response when I told them where I was from.

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Dec 28, 2018

Awesome experience, thanks for sharing!

I definitely feel breaking the ice and understanding where you come from definitely shows in the interviews.

Dec 28, 2018


Dec 30, 2018


Dec 29, 2018

Good to see this. Love to see other non-targets who hustle their way in and aren't afraid to do the legwork of cold-emailing

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Dec 30, 2018

A lot of legwork, but worth it.

Dec 30, 2018

The hustle (the real hustle, not calling T. Boone Pickens 1,000 times!) will make you successful in the long run. Did not get a BB myself but the chip on my shoulder from being told all summer I was not good enough to be in IB drove me. Eventually secured a MM SA in the city in which I go to college which was one of my primary goals.

My soul is highly leveraged

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Dec 30, 2018

Awesome experience, that chip definitely drove you to bigger and better things.

MM is awesome and you should be proud!

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Dec 30, 2018

Lol shots fired

Dec 30, 2018

Congrats on this -- great example of hard work and hustle paying off. Always great to see other non target candidates who have made it into the industry. Had a similar experience with FT recruiting -- busted my ass over two years and after countless rejections, finally landed in my top choice group and city at a lower BB.

Jan 2, 2019

Congrats to you as well! Love hearing experiences like yours and awesome job getting in to your top choices.

Jan 2, 2019

Thanks man, likewise

Dec 30, 2018

great story, thanks for posting

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Dec 31, 2018

Great story. Thanks for sharing....I come form a target and cannot stand when I see kids at super days acting all pompous looking down on those from non-target schools. In my experience, many of these kids from non-targets are hungrier and bust their asses much harder than "Johnny Rich IV" whose daddy got the job for him.

Jan 2, 2019

Definitely understand where you're coming from. Only one of the target students treated me like I wasn't a disease haha, but I got the last laugh, so I am not too worried about it.

Glad to hear you aren't like that, cheers!

Jan 4, 2019


Great to hear the success story. Goes to show that the resume isn't everything and that anything is possible if you can differentiate yourself in the interview. This is a people business above all else.

Jan 5, 2019

Thanks for the kind words!

Quote that always stuck with me was, "Finance is 90% social and 10% technical." Not sure if that's entirely true, but it seemed to be that day.

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Jan 5, 2019