Q&A: Non-target to IB, led recruiting and training at BB

Hi everyone!

I wanted to introduce myself to the WSO community. Here's some quick background about myself:

  • Previously a senior associate at a Top 5 BB Bank, 5+ years experience in M&A and IPO work (focus on M&A)
  • Led various aspects of recruiting (spanning from resume screen, on-campus recruiting sessions, superday interviews, and offer decisions), and training programs for first-years in my group
  • Hosted career fairs at my bank and served as a mentor to undergraduate incoming analysts and analysts
  • Off-cycle lateral hire from a boutique, graduated from a non-US target/semi-target initially without a job, < 3.5 GPA
  • Worked on deals for clients in North America, LatAm, Europe, and Asia. After banking, I worked at a tech company doing Strategy & Operations and recently co-founded a startup (our recent intern landed a summer IB offer)

I am happy to answer all questions about the job or around recruiting. I've been part of all aspects of recruiting and have been able to see how things really work when you're on the other side of the table.

I am also available as a WSO mentor so please feel free to check out my WSO Mentor Profile

I also have a Discord channel where I hang out.

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Comments (33)

Sep 16, 2021 - 1:55pm

I'll try to focus on things that I feel are pretty important but are less obvious when you hear about them in networking guides or general networking advice

  • Start with people you directly know or can more easily establish a warm connection with. Think very deeply about this before going on LinkedIn and cold-emailing a bunch of people. You may have more warm connections than you initially think that can help (i.e., extended family, people you've met at parties, people you've worked with, friends, etc). These people are most likely to help you. Although these people may not directly be in finance / IB, they could know somebody else that is.
  • Follow up even if you don't get a response. I would follow up probably a max of 2 times. There were so many times when I was working where I just put down my Blackberry because somebody came by my desk or I got interrupted by something more important that was work related.
  • Don't treat every networking conversation like a template or with a cookie cutter approach - if you are treating the people you reach out with like this, then it is fair for them to treat you with a cookie cutter approach as well, which is not what you want. This means listening attentively during calls and being able to ask follow up questions that turn the meet into a conversation, rather than just following a question list
  • Set up your conversation properly depending on who you reach out to. If you are looking to learn more about the industry and set up your email this way, the person you're reaching out to will not be curve balled if you ask simple questions. Or, if you set up your email this way and then ask for an interview, it could come off as very strange. It's like a guy asking a girl out as a friend, but during the friend date, tries to turn it into a romantic date
  • 3
Sep 16, 2021 - 4:04pm

What made me do IB?

  • This is going to sound cheesy but all the reasons mentioned in the interview guides were why I wanted to do it.
  • I loved the fact that I was not married to one company, and got to work on deals and see a bunch of different scenarios
  • This is going to sound lame but initially I saw myself building models and PPTs, and doing a good job at it. I did not know if I was going to stay long so did not take a 10-year outlook on IB

Exit Opps I considered

  • Non-finance tech related roles
  • Private equity
  • Growth equity
  • 2
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Sep 16, 2021 - 9:56am

I am someone looking to lateral internally from Operations into an Investment Banking Public Finance role at a BB bank. I know the technicals cold and general fundamentals of what the role requires after taking various courses online. I have also been aggressively networking within my bank to learn more about the role and make good connections as well. My question is after being sponsored, would preemptively taking the SIE, Series 79, 63, 52 or even the 7 make me a more competitive candidate? 

Thanks in advance!

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 16, 2021 - 3:20pm

Hi! If you don't mind me asking, how much do first year analysts make in operations at a BB in NYC? 

Sep 16, 2021 - 3:30pm

Operations itself is fairly broad and certain roles have various comps and hours worked/week. However, at a top BB (Think GS, MS, JP) in NYC, as a first year associate you can expect between 85-100k with a 5-15K bonus. I cannot speak for a first year analyst from personal experience as I joined the BB as an associate but a good estimate is that as a first year analyst you can expect between 60-75K with a 1-10k bonus. Feel free to DM me! 

Sep 17, 2021 - 8:49am

I don't think pre-emptively taking those will help. Also your bank should be able to pay for those (don't pay for them OOP).

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 16, 2021 - 4:42pm

What are the most common mistakes new analysts make that shortchange their careers?

Sep 17, 2021 - 1:10pm

Below I have a few points on this in order from most important to least (least is still important, just not as much as the bullets preceding)

  • Poor attitude / unable to adapt to the group culture. Not being aware of group culture norms and coming across the wrong way
  • Not developing relationships with seniors or people of influence in the group
  • Unable to develop the technical skills, or developing them too slowly 
  • I've seen top bucket quality analysts become bottom bucket by the time ranking season comes along, and vice versa. Always continually improve and don't get too cocky
  • Being late for work and client calls (yes, people notice, especially with the open layout and glass walls). Not being presentable for work or client meetings (double check with your associate/VP if you're unsure)
  • 4
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Sep 16, 2021 - 9:27pm

Hey, first of all, thanks so much for doing this. I was wondering if you could speak to the aspects that make non-target/semi-target candidates stand out amongst their HYP/Ivy competition during the resume drop process. Does it ultimately come down to networking? Superior job experiences/tailored resumes? If it came down to networking, what are some qualities that those candidates had that secured them a first-round interview?

Most Helpful
Sep 17, 2021 - 10:03pm

If I had two identical resumes but one was from a target, unfortunately the target would be chosen over the non-target. 

In general, the targets are way more prepared because they have the network and resources. Because of this pattern, people generally stereotype to favor the targets. 

Also, the targets are pretty aggressive in networking as well, which makes it even more imperative for non-targets to network.

Superior job experiences / tailored resumes from a non-target will win over a target that has experience that isn't as relevant or as credible. 

In terms of qualities that made candidates stick out, I would say:

  • Really go-getter mentality / attitude. Some non-target kids really tried to get in front of MDs, and their MDs ended up bringing them around in the office
  • Some of the non-targets were very smart at asking questions and getting more insight into the interview process. I really liked this hustler mentality
  • You can also tell that some of the non-targets really went out of their way to get the relevant EC experience that could make them stand out, especially those that went to school in a state or college town that did not have a lot of financial firms they could intern at
  • 5
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 21, 2021 - 11:27am

How should prospects tailor/frame their questions about interviews and recruiting? I've always heard from upperclassmen and mentors who broke into banking from my school that this comes off as transactional and will probably turn people off since you're making it too obvious you only care about the networking call for the purposes of getting an interview.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 17, 2021 - 10:16am

How long did you work at your boutique before lateraling to a BB. I'm in that current situation. What was the interview process like? Was it similar to other IB interviews or did they focus on more behaviorals as you've already put x years into banking?

Sep 20, 2021 - 10:58am

I worked there for a year, but started looking 4-6 months in, anticipating the recruiting journey would take about 6 months.

The interview process I think was pretty standard, except instead of a superday, I went in twice to talk to 3-4 individuals.

It was just like any other IB interview. The only difference is they really dug into my deals to see if I knew my work well.

  • 1
Sep 18, 2021 - 4:00pm

A non-target PhD chemistry student here (UK). I really want to get into IB/ER. I'll stay my course soon and will graduate in 4 years.  Do you guys just throw CV of PhDs straight to the bin? I have some working experience but not in the field, what should I do to break in?

Sep 20, 2021 - 10:59am

I don't imagine we would but also very rare to see that in the US.

Sep 21, 2021 - 8:41am

Hey William, corp dev has pretty translatable skills to IB. Depending on the experience you're getting and to a certain extent, the name of your company, I think you have a fair shot.

Your team probably comprises of ex-bankers as well. I would focus on networking and also applying laterally.

Did you have other extraordinary circumstances?

  • 1
Sep 21, 2021 - 8:42am

If the experience is valuable and relevant, and you have no other way of breaking in, take it. 

The relationships you gain at the bank and experience can't be purchased by money, and will pay itself when you get your full time IB / PE job.

  • 1
  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Sep 21, 2021 - 11:29am

This might be a slightly different question but how do I become a part of my group's recruiting team? Will be starting next year and have generally loved being part of the recruiting efforts of different orgs that I have been a part of. 

Sep 22, 2021 - 10:17am

Good question, you have a few options

  • Find out if anyone in your group is involved in recruiting. If they are, they can pull you onto the recruiting team for that school
  • Ask HR, they need people to attend infosessions, etc. You could ask them to join a specific school team (or not) if you'd like
  • If it's hard to join the team from the beginning, you can build a relationship by offering to volunteer at first. I volunteered to do resume screens at first (people aren't always the first to volunteer for these because you have to go through thousands of resumes which you'll leave until the middle of the night - but I did it anyway). From there, I got to know the people on the school team and gradually offered to help out more
  • 4
Sep 21, 2021 - 9:49pm


I'm a high school Junior in California and my interest in IB has only been expanding. But I know I'm going to be attending a non-target school, so could you please give me some insight on recruiters look for on a resume, and what I can be doing now to set myself up for success in the future? Thank you.



Sep 24, 2021 - 2:59pm

Hi Anthony, I suggest you get a hold of an IB resume guide if possible. I have some other suggestions

  • There are a lot of online resources, read about IB and know why IB specifically (or explore other verticals if you haven't yet)
  • Consider lateralling to a semi or target after
  • Recruiters look for relevant experience. Make sure to try your best to get it, either through an internship or some school investment / finance club
  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 22, 2021 - 1:40am

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