I've been a long-time browser on WSO and it's definitely helped me out as Iout of college. I just landed my FT offer at a NY boutique - yes, I'm not even a lowly analyst yet - but my route into banking was pretty unique, and I hope I can be helpful to some of you monkeys recruiting off-campus :)
Here's my story: humanities major at a liberal arts college (with absolutely no idea what finance was) -> junior year internship at a small PE firm -> FT recruiting ending with a BB FT offer -> offer retracted three months before the job started due to "visa issues" (humanities major wasn't related enough to the IB offer for a visa to be approved) -> stuck back home halfway across the world racking my brains and trying to get back to the NYC IB path -> last-minute GMAT tests and applications to MS Finance programs -> trying to squeeze the 2-yr program into 1-yr (taking twice the credits) so I could recruit again for 2015 -> FT recruiting with the Class of 2015 -> signing with a top boutique in NY that I'm completely happy with.
I know this is an AMA, but wanted to throw in some TL;DR FT/non-target're not following the whole thread. Especially relevant to cases where on-campus info sessions are not an option:
- Face-to-face meetings are infinitely more useful than chatting over the phone. Skip classes (if you can) and invest in networking trips to New York or to whichever city you are recruiting for. Line up coffee chats to fill your day. People remember you much better when you've met them in person.
- FT hiring is mostly ad hoc, and HR can be very opaque. Banks need to hear back from their Summer interns before doing any hiring, so nobody really knows how many kids they're hiring. This means one bank could conduct multiple superdays on a rolling basis, even for the same group. There is often no formal "process" where you attend an info session, drop your resume, and wait a couple of weeks - spots open and close from day to day.
- Most BBs tend to hire group-specific. Because most of the class is recruited from interns, headcount for each group is different. This means you should be in touch with not just HR but also analysts within all the groups you would be interested in.
- Some places have accelerated recruiting.These are for kids with exploding offers elsewhere, and happens around August/early September. Even if you don't have an exploding offer, try to get into this pool.
- Ping constantly. Don't harass your contacts, but given the opaque FT timeline you need the latest intel from the right people. Does your contact know which analysts/associates are most involved in recruiting? Which staffer is in charge this year? Has anyone heard internally of any spots opening up?
- Don't give up. Pep talk time guys - if you want to do the college-to-analyst route for sure, FT is your last shot. Yes, the odds are against you. Yes, recruiting sucks and it can be very, very taxing, but banks do recruit ad hoc all the way until May/June before their analyst class starts.
Happy to answer any questions, fire away guys.