Stand Out as a Non-Target: Recruiting (Part 1 of 4)

Many of the questions that have come in surround recruiting for front office Wall Street careers from a non-target so we'll start with some ideas for recruiting, move on to interviewing, preparing for the job and finally long-term career management advice.

Before we begin, it has been beaten like a dead horse many times, but whatever you do, attempt to transfer to a target school if possible. Do anything and everything to get into a target school if you truly want to work in a FO Wall Street job as it is the best way to improve your chances. 1) Get a 4.0 and apply to a different major not offered at your current school, 2) get job experience, 3) write outstanding entrance letters. Everyone knows the basics laid out above and with the importance of attending a target school out of the way lets go ahead and run with the assumption that you are at a non-target and want to recruit.

Attend Wall Street Events:

Even if no banks recruit at your school one of your best options to at least speak with a bank is to go ahead and attend target school events. Many schools close these events off however, many firms also hold informational sessions and you can likely find the rooms and attend them. In fact when you recruit at target schools, you will likely see a few non-targets at the event floating around the room. So it is certainly a viable option, particularly if you have strong salesmanship.

Find Niche Banks: Notably, your best bet to obtain interviews is to gain access to a banker's time and attention. What this means is you likely have a much lower chance of making a strong impression at a GS or MS event as hundreds of people will be in attendance and you may get lost in the pile. Instead find small to mid cap banks as well where a minimal number of students will attend (think 10-20). Here you will have more time to make a positive impression, make sure every person in the room you speak to remembers you - in a positive light.

Making a Positive Impression: After the above remarks this is an obvious next question which can be summarized in five key items: 1) Job Experience, 2) Knowledge of the Job, 3) Knowledge of the sector, 4) knowledge of the bank and 5) Coursework/Academia. An example of a decent greeting would run something like this.

"Hi I'm [name] from [university] graduating in [date] and I am interested in working for [specific] group within [specific] sector because of [reason]. I think I'd be a good fit because of [reason - usually job experience related] and was wondering if you could provide more information on [specific question regarding the bank]."

By phrasing your intro in two quick sentences you can quickly convey that you know exactly what the bank does and why you want to work for them. If the Company is a boutique medical device M&A shop and you have a degree that is medical related and have worked in private wealth management, you could be a good fit for their internship program. Essentially your job is to shine the spotlight on your positive experiences, if you are asked why you did not go to a target school have a strong back story and do not apologize for it, good back stories include: 1) Financial reasons, 2) Family reasons, 3) Change of interest post college (example went into medical but then decided you wanted to do finance your junior year).

Cold Email: We already posted an email example of how to cold approach banks so use the template located below and tailor it for your personal experience internship/full time recruiting:

//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/laid-off-today-seek...

You should again find niche banks in your area and use the same pitch 1) Who you are, 2) Why they should hire you, 3) What you can bring and 4) Exactly what position you hope to obtain. Again keep this short, 3 sentences or so and send them out on a Friday.

Pitfalls: With the basics out of the way here are some key things to avoid when you are recruiting as a non-target (a lot of this can be applied to targets as well).

1) Do not ask questions that can be obtained via a simple internet search. As a simple example you should know at least 2-3 product groups or sectors within each firm for each city you are applying to so asking if a bank covers financials when you are speaking to a bulge bracket bank would be an immediate ding. Instead focus in on **specific** questions such as completed deals and offerings at the bank.

2) Do not have a single error on your resume, while verbage is debatable mis-spelling words and poor formatting is quite common, a simple example is using periods for bullet points on some line items and not including periods on other bullets (we recommend excluding all periods).

3) No bragging. This is the most common of all mistakes on resumes and during the recruiting process, achievements are vastly overstated. We already expect an exaggeration factor but writing down accomplishments that are over the top will prevent many interviews. Here are a few examples: 1) C-level of [insert] company, 2) CFA Level 1 Candidate, 3) Returned X% above market for X years straight (while still a college student).

The problem is if you are a true C-level executive you're not going to interview for an
investment banking analyst or associate position so it is better to stick with the duties such as "helped design a website for X company".

CFA level 1 candidate means you nothing was accomplished (yet) and anyone with a CFA charter is going to immediately ding you for placing that on your resume, CFA level 2 candidate is certainly acceptable.

Finally, the stock portfolio performance comes off as too confident so it is best to say "investing" and when you receive questions during the interview simply let them know you do invest in stocks and they will likely ask you to pitch one.

4) Veer on the side of professionalism/conservatism during any interaction. Better to give a correct response that can pass than an incorrect response that will ding you immediately. A good example would be your hobbies, unless you are certain you have made a friendly relationship with the person choose interests that won't get you dinged such as "played football for the college you are attending for the past 3 years".

Part Two is Now Up: //www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/stand-out-as-a-non-...

Comments (41)

Best Response
Jun 17, 2013

I'm going to disagree with your cold e-mailing format. I go to a Non-Target as well, and I've spent my fair share of time learning what does and doesn't work with networking so far.

The problem with your format is two fold:

1) You reveal way too much information about yourself. If you list what group you want to work with and then your qualifications that make you a good fit, what reason does the person you're contacting have to even respond if they've already dinged you because they didn't like the quick snapshot of you that you provided them with?

2) The e-mail is focused around you getting a position with them and you want the e-mail to be focused around THEM. From the single mention of going after a position they've already started interviewing you. They key to networking is establishing a personal relationship with your contact. I don't know about you, but I would be WAY more interested in talking to some kid about myself then some obscure question about a particular function of a deal I did. Instead of asking your contact questions about the bank or group they're with, ask them about themselves.

Personally, my goal with my cold e-mails is to get that person on the phone with me. Just as you should never ask a question that you could Google for yourself, you should never format your e-mail so that once they respond it's done. Your goal should be to elevate that conversation to a phone call.

Here is a sample of my current cold e-mail format. It's adjusted to reflect that I'm currently working in a position because I've started to network already.

Mr. BSD,

My name is StryfeDSP. I am a rising Sophomore finance student currently studying at the University of Non-Targets with a very high interest in pursuing a career in investment management, with a particular focus on the equity market and research. I found your information while searching for Non-Target alumni in the investment industry, and I have since taken the time to familiarize myself more with [firm name].

Currently, I am an equity research summer analyst with [firm], and previously worked as an investment management intern at [city] based [firm] over my freshman winter and spring break.

I understand that you're a busy man, but I was hoping I could have 15 minutes of your time over the phone sometime within the next week to speak with you about your experience in the investment industry, as well as any advice you may have for someone hoping to succeed in this field. I am more than happy to accomodate whatever time works best with your schedule.

Thank you,

StryfeDSP
[phone number]
[e-mail]

Here's what I accomplished with this e-mail:

a) Brief introduction. Only the basics about who I am, and since I'm only going to be a sophomore I let him know that I have SOME experience.
b) Presented him with a request. In this case - an invitation to speak on the phone about HIM; not his bank, not his group, not some deal he worked on, but HIM!
c) Gave a timeline for when I'd like to speak with him. Instead of leaving it open ended he'll check his calendar and see what he has free. 9/10 times that someone has told me they couldn't do it within the week they've suggested a time to make it up.
d) I DON'T MENTION THAT I'M AFTER A JOB FROM THEM! Some people might disagree with this part, and state that it's best to make your intentions clear from the get go. But believe me, they already know what's up as soon as they read my e-mail.

[strong]No matter how well you mask your e-mail by inquiring about their group or bank, or even an attempt to "get to know them" they're all onto our secret agendas. So let's feign innocence and ignorance and pretend to be interested in them as a person.[/strong]

Once you have your contact on the phone all you need to do from there on out is close them, and in my opinion that's the easiest if you know what to do. But how to have a successful informational interview is for another post.

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Jul 5, 2013

Oh you're from Southern Florida? I'll be sure to talk real slow then.

You won't see PE before IB.

    • 1
Jun 18, 2013

So you are a rising sophomore (by the way I think most people hate that term), which means that you just finished your first year of undergrad, and you are telling a Wall Street professional that their view on cold emails, aka what they feel would be most likely to elicit a response from them is wrong?

In your language, "No thanks, Jeff."

You are over analyzing the whole situation and patting yourself on the back because in your mind your email accomplished a, b, c, and d. In reality, no one is likely reading through your entire email.

No finance professional puts nearly as much thought into inbound queries about "the investment management industry" as you think.

We all know that all these emails mean the exact thing. I will scan your email and see if you seem worth talking to. The shorter your email, the better.

I'm glad that your personal goal with every cold email is to get the other person on the phone with you, because that is the point of the cold email in the first place.

As an industry professional, I would prefer his email to yours. His is 3 sentences and doesn't beat around the bush.

Your email is a bit too long and doesn't accomplish any more than his does in 3 sentences.

"This is my name and what I did previously. Here is why I like your firm/group. I would love to chat with you about opportunities at your convenience." ----> That's a good story. I like that story. It's quick and doesn't make me read a lot of fluff.

You also may wish to revise your spelling of "accommodate."

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Jul 5, 2013

i'm not that far south I still have all my teeth, but there isn't much of an IB presence in south florida unless were talking miami, but even then not to much so I'm trying to figure out what to do for experience.

Jul 5, 2013
c8860:

i'm not that far south I still have all my teeth, but there isn't much of an IB presence in south florida unless were talking miami, but even then not to much so I'm trying to figure out what to do for experience.

You've got a sense of humor so that's a start.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

Jun 3, 2018

I couldn't agree more. While your message is somewhat long, I have definitely found that immediately asking for something the first time you make contact automatically turns them off. When I changed my cold-email messages to reflect the intention of learning about their background and experience, I saw far more responses in my inbox, even from professionals who, given my non-target status, I would have no business talking to. I also completely agree with the fact that they know exactly what you're after when they see that message. They were in your shoes too, and they did the same thing. If you end up getting on the phone with someone and it doesn't lead towards a meeting, interview, or hiring process, you still take away some valuable insight and a new connection that may be beneficial in the future.

Array

Jun 17, 2013

I want to add a couple of points while at the same time posing a question to anyone who knows better. I'm at a non target that gets a couple of banks for OCR for FO, but is no where near either a true semi target (like Michigan Ross, UVA) or a true Target (Princeton, Columbia). I tried the "transfer" approach as recommended by many users on this website, but ended up failing to get into a school such as a UC Berkeley Haas, Duke or Dartmouth. What I have also found is that the admissions rates at the top target schools are miserably low, impossibly low, and that most of the quality semi target schools have acceptance rates around 10%. These schools, though their acceptance rates for freshman admission is much higher, are experiencing a steep decline in the percentage of students they accept, and I can verify the difficulty and randomness of getting into one of these schools through statistics and personal anecdotes from friends and relatives who have tried.

Additionally to have a realistic shot of getting into a target or semi target school, one usually must already be at a strong school academically, or must at least posses a competitive high school record. Now, there are countless stories of students with sub par grades getting admission into these schools for transfer admission, but I doubt the types of students that are interested in finance and are reading WSO will be the types of students who can convey the unique qualities desired by the admissions counselors. These schools can sniff right away whether a student is interested in banking/finance because all of the work that is put into getting internships, getting club positions, etc will be reflected on the application. It's very well known that these undergrad schools hate finance candidates, simply because of supply/demand of the sheer number of students interested. One thing I noticed is that the students with the stranger, less profitable majors like animal science and sociology, were much more likely to be accepted as opposed to the business/economics candidates. However the students who did get accepted into the ivies either had great background stories, or conveyed their interest in their intended major in depth.

The targeted schools in the top 25 with the highest admissions rates are UVA Mcintire and Vanderbilt (barely a semi target, they only get BAML, and students face lots of difficulties). Outside of this are schools like USC, Wake Forest and NYU Economics (stern has a 2% acceptance rate, so I recommend NOT applying there). PM me for information on any other schools and I can get back to you, but essentially the schools where all of the conventional advice of getting a 4.0, joining clubs, etc can only help you gain admission is a school ranked in the very last part of the top 25 and then down the list until say Wisconsin or the University of Illinois, after that the non target list starting (based on usnews rankings).

So what I'm getting at is that there are lots of posts on this site from kids in my situation, at okay but not the best schools asking whether they should go through the transfer process. I also see many of the senior posters recommending this route, without realizing how extremely difficult the process has become, and that luck, circumstance (i.e. it's easier to get into UCB Haas from a california CC) and connections outweighs qualifications in many cases. I think it's definitely worth it to transfer if you're at a school outside of the top 100 into a school within the top 50, but if you're at a school like Texas A&M or Tulane, then transferring into a school like Lehigh or Villanova might not make a whole lot of sense either financially or from a recruiting standpoint. Banks are starting to realize the talent at other schools and are becoming more open minded. 5 years ago, my school didn't get any top banks recruiting, but now we have a few and I expect it to continue improving. So definitely apply to transfer if you want to, but don't feel like you HAVE to in order to breaking into banking because this type of mentality will take away from your college experience. Work hard in undergrad and aim for a top graduate school program if you're already at an okay school.

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Jul 5, 2013

Go where the finance guys are. If there is a conference, go. If there is a speaker, go. Get used to talking with these guys, learn the language, etc. You'll pick up some knowledge, lots of soft skills and maybe some contacts along the way.

If you keep hustling and putting yourself out there you will find a way. Just make sure to learn from your mistakes along the way.

Jun 18, 2013
WallStreetPlayboys:

Here are a few examples: 1) C-level of [insert] company, 2) CFA Level 1 Candidate, 3) Returned X% above market for X years straight (while still a college student).

The problem is if you are a true C-level executive you're not going to interview for an

investment banking analyst or associate position so it is better to stick with the duties such as "helped design a website for X company".

I'm curious on point 1. If you actually did start your own company and it was marginally successful (i.e. 100-150K a year revenue with little profit and just getting by. also has stagnant growth prospects), would you leave it off the resume or dumb it down?

In such a case, the company isn't really successful enough/going anywhere for you to turn down a good job opportunity. But you've spent enough time on it and run it well enough that it could potentially be a feather in your cap.

Jun 18, 2013

I would just put "XYZ Business - Founder" - then just describe your business. That way I know when I review it that you founded it and likely did the majority of the work but I agree with WSP that it can sound a little pompous when a 20 year old kid is telling me about how he is the CEO of a campus supplement delivery service he started 6 months ago. I would just say you founded a business and then explain what the business does.

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Jun 18, 2013

Thanks for the cold emailing tips Stryfe! Silver Banana awarded and I'll definitely be trying out your tactics this coming school year.

Prospective Banker. Gentleman. Bodybuilder.

    • 1
Jun 18, 2013

Great post, excited for the rest of the series

Jun 18, 2013

@stryfe solid post and your email template is legitimate. Your approach is just a bit different as you are slow boiling the lead and have strong salesmanship on the phone as implied by your post.

If you have strong previous experience you can also do a quick sale (in a 3 sentence structure - similar to our networking post) that will catch a person's eye. As you mentioned in there *we already know why you are emailing* so if you have something to offer immediately, you don't need to be as verbose in each case.

Different strokes.

Regarding CEO commentary, yes if you started a legitimate company it becomes useful... But then again why would you interview for an analyst role if you're already at that level alone. So basically the point is try to be more humble, then when they interview you can exceed the expectations upon hello. You are waking a right rope. So to speak.

Certainly don't leave it off, spin it to relate to finance and mess with the title. The spin is relative to the job you did. Chief executive officer or something similar is going to net you a lot of questions.

Jun 18, 2013

I'm curious as to why it isn't wise to include CFA Level 1 candidate on your resume? Is it just because for this specific role, it doesn't hold any weight? The only reason I ask is because a charterholder at my undergrad program mentioned that you could put it on there. Interested to hear your input.

Jun 18, 2013
Jbanker26:

I'm curious as to why it isn't wise to include CFA Level 1 candidate on your resume? Is it just because for this specific role, it doesn't hold any weight? The only reason I ask is because a charterholder at my undergrad program mentioned that you could put it on there. Interested to hear your input.

Because to be a "CFA Level 1 Candidate" you simply need to register and be qualified to take the L1 exam. There's hardly any prestige in that.

You might think that it would highlight your intentions of getting the CFA and that you're super interested in finance, but being a "CFA Level 2/3 Candidate" will show that a lot more than L1 since that proves that you've already dedicated a significant amount of time to studying the material and are passing.

Jun 18, 2013

This is a no brainer not to include it.

What does CFA level 1 candidate mean? It means you signed up for a test. You did not pass the exam. You did not even take the test yet.

Since nothing was accomplished it makes you look bad. Once you pass level one, now you can place level two candidate on your resume because you did in fact pass at least one exam. This applies to all front office roles.

As another example:

Would you put "signed up for a marathon" on your resume? Versus "completed marathon X". Unlikely.

If you write "signed up for xxx", again you never completed anything, instead during the interview you can tell them you signed up for the exam if they ask. This way you get points for not trying to beef up your resume with fake accomplishments.

If you did not complete anything do not include it

With all that said, yes passing level one would look favorable to banks if you are at a non-target. Why? They know for sure you understand basic finance.

We also mentioned it before but taking all the way to level 3 would be completely unnecessary to break in.

TL;DR: was anything accomplished? If not better not include it because we will go through a resume with a fine tooth comb. Unlike a cover letter where 99% of it is in the trash can.

@rufio entirely agree with you but don't feel like being mean about it. People can try both templates and we would bet a bonus check a 3 sentence email would get more interviews. The truth is this... Why is your email longer than the biography of a managing director? That's when you know you've written too much. No one cares about entry level employees, so quickly try to tell them why they should hire you and move along. They will love the fact you did not waste their time. Also agree that it is complete nonsense "no thanks jeff" as you said to take advice from someone who doesn't actually work in the industry. If an email that long hit an inbox more likely than not you're clicking delete. The guys who respond to elongated emails are few and far between.

This is another reason why the most common email in the industry is this:

"Will do"

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Jun 18, 2013

@WSP: I guess tone may have been a tad harsh, but I also feel like it's important to let some of the younger audience of the site know that their approach might convey a lot more arrogance than they realize. Social calibration and EQ are everything in this business as you obviously know given your title and background. My intent was to be critical and perhaps I was overly so, but it's better to realize on an internet forum that maybe your overconfidence isn't doing you any favors than to perpetuate that behavior in correspondence during the future, when it actually matters.

I understand your point though, and to Stryfe, I'm merely trying to provide a bit of advice. You may prefer your style of email and if it's working for you then keep doing what works. Just note that there is a world of difference between, "Thanks WSP, I appreciate your insights. This is a template that I also found to be helpful" and "I'm going to disagree with your template."

We're in agreement re: length, and your point about being longer than an MD bio is probably the perfect comparison.

I just view this site as a means to convey tough love when warranted. I get that the advice may have seemed harsh, but I get yelled at by my bosses all the time and I suspect that if junior associates on your team make mistakes you probably reprimand them accordingly. That's how mistakes are handled, but overconfidence and lack of social awareness have the tendency to turn into behavioral issues which only magnify if they go unchecked...

Jun 18, 2013

One thing to note, you can only put 'level two CFA candidate' if you have passed level one AND are currently registered to take level 2 - just passing level 1 means you can put 'passed level one CFA' but not the level two candidate verbiage

"I am not sure who this 'Anonymous' person is - one thing is for certain, they have been one hell of a prolific writer" - Anonymous

Jun 18, 2013

WSP and rufiolove--

Appreciate the input. I was merely posing a hypothetical situation and not one that necessarily pertained to me. I'm well removed from undergrad.

Jun 18, 2013

@Ipso - I know you are out in the work force. Just providing my thoughts on how "someone" might want to phrase the experience on their resume.

Jun 18, 2013

Thanks for your help, WallStreetPlayboys. One other question though, which may seem stupid so you can just tell me straight up if it is. Although it hasn't accomplished anything by putting CFA Level 1 Candidate, since the test isnt til December and interviews for a couple of investment firms in my area would be prior to that, would putting it on there hold more weight and potentially get me into an interview compared to another candidate?

Jun 18, 2013
rufiolove:

So you are a rising sophomore (by the way I think most people hate that term), which means that you just finished your first year of undergrad, and you are telling a Wall Street professional that their view on cold emails, aka what they feel would be most likely to elicit a response from them is wrong?

Did I say it was wrong? No, I said I disagreed with it, and the last time I checked there's nothing wrong with having a different opinion - EVEN if the person you're disagreeing is many times your senior.

Unless I'm mistaken this is a site where people who generally have no idea what they're doing when it comes to networking look to learn from the ground up. When I made my post it's not in my mind that senior posters will read it and give me their $0.02 on it, what's on my mind is that people who haven't had much success with networking, especially coming from Non-Targets, will be reading my post, and I know that if I were to read a post I would want as much detailed information in it as possible. So no, I'm not trying to pat myself on the back by listing a, b, and c after my e-mail I'm explaining why I include each part and what its purpose is.

I've read too many posts on this website from people explaining how they've sent out a dozen or so cold e-mails and are lucky if they get 2 or 3 replies from them. I've never gotten less than 7 replies for every 10 e-mails I've sent out using the above format, so I'm going to make fucking sure that people are aware that there may be an alternative method that yield better results. I'm sorry you don't like my e-mail, you must be in the 30% I don't hear back from.

So, if you're really that interested in picking a fight with me then take it to my PM because I'm not interested in having this conversation in a thread that people are going to be looking through for advice.

    • 1
Jun 18, 2013
StryfeDSP:
rufiolove:

So you are a rising sophomore (by the way I think most people hate that term), which means that you just finished your first year of undergrad, and you are telling a Wall Street professional that their view on cold emails, aka what they feel would be most likely to elicit a response from them is wrong?

Did I say it was wrong? No, I said I disagreed with it, and the last time I checked there's nothing wrong with having a different opinion - EVEN if the person you're disagreeing is many times your senior.

Unless I'm mistaken this is a site where people who generally have no idea what they're doing when it comes to networking look to learn from the ground up. When I made my post it's not in my mind that senior posters will read it and give me their $0.02 on it, what's on my mind is that people who haven't had much success with networking, especially coming from Non-Targets, will be reading my post, and I know that if I were to read a post I would want as much detailed information in it as possible. So no, I'm not trying to pat myself on the back by listing a, b, and c after my e-mail I'm explaining why I include each part and what its purpose is.

I've read too many posts on this website from people explaining how they've sent out a dozen or so cold e-mails and are lucky if they get 2 or 3 replies from them. I've never gotten less than 7 replies for every 10 e-mails I've sent out using the above format, so I'm going to make fucking sure that people are aware that there may be an alternative method that yield better results. I'm sorry you don't like my e-mail, you must be in the 30% I don't hear back from.

So, if you're really that interested in picking a fight with me then take it to my PM because I'm not interested in having this conversation in a thread that people are going to be looking through for advice.

Guess I was off base about the potential for overconfidence / lack of awareness.

Jun 18, 2013

@rufio 100 bucks says he was recruiting to niche shops (small teams). An elongated email may work better on smaller shops because the emails actually come through. If you go for bigger firms they tend to miss many emails so you're better off with the short template and sending it once every few months.

Long templates do work, but it's usually unnecessary. Would never advise people to go down the long template route but it can work.

Again. Different strokes. Every time a long email hits the usual inclination is to delete unless you're doing a very good job of selling yourself.

Jun 18, 2013

Agreed

Jun 18, 2013

Another brilliant post. SB'd.

Jun 18, 2013

I once bragged to a MD at a networking event in college, my level of bragging was so over the top and ridic when I emailed the MD a few days later to thank him for his time he actually made a joke about it and told me the send him a CV.

Not suggesting you do this by any means but it goes to show that everyone is different and if you make a memorable impression with someone you are likely to get a positive response in return. As much as you can brag about perfect SAT scores and 4.0 GPAs this is a human interaction business. If people like you they will go to bat for you even if your educational achievements are sub-par compared to your fellow applicants. At the end of the day someone still makes the decision on hiring, not a computer.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

    • 2
Jun 18, 2013

Thanks another great post very informative!

Jun 19, 2013
tkid3400:

I want to add a couple of points while at the same time posing a question to anyone who knows better. I'm at a non target that gets a couple of banks for OCR for FO, but is no where near either a true semi target (like Michigan Ross, UVA) or a true Target (Princeton, Columbia). I tried the "transfer" approach as recommended by many users on this website, but ended up failing to get into a school such as a UC Berkeley Haas, Duke or Dartmouth. What I have also found is that the admissions rates at the top target schools are miserably low, impossibly low, and that most of the quality semi target schools have acceptance rates around 10%. These schools, though their acceptance rates for freshman admission is much higher, are experiencing a steep decline in the percentage of students they accept, and I can verify the difficulty and randomness of getting into one of these schools through statistics and personal anecdotes from friends and relatives who have tried.

Additionally to have a realistic shot of getting into a target or semi target school, one usually must already be at a strong school academically, or must at least posses a competitive high school record. Now, there are countless stories of students with sub par grades getting admission into these schools for transfer admission, but I doubt the types of students that are interested in finance and are reading WSO will be the types of students who can convey the unique qualities desired by the admissions counselors. These schools can sniff right away whether a student is interested in banking/finance because all of the work that is put into getting internships, getting club positions, etc will be reflected on the application. It's very well known that these undergrad schools hate finance candidates, simply because of supply/demand of the sheer number of students interested. One thing I noticed is that the students with the stranger, less profitable majors like animal science and sociology, were much more likely to be accepted as opposed to the business/economics candidates. However the students who did get accepted into the ivies either had great background stories, or conveyed their interest in their intended major in depth.

The targeted schools in the top 25 with the highest admissions rates are UVA Mcintire and Vanderbilt (barely a semi target, they only get BAML, and students face lots of difficulties). Outside of this are schools like USC, Wake Forest and NYU Economics (stern has a 2% acceptance rate, so I recommend NOT applying there). PM me for information on any other schools and I can get back to you, but essentially the schools where all of the conventional advice of getting a 4.0, joining clubs, etc can only help you gain admission is a school ranked in the very last part of the top 25 and then down the list until say Wisconsin or the University of Illinois, after that the non target list starting (based on usnews rankings).

So what I'm getting at is that there are lots of posts on this site from kids in my situation, at okay but not the best schools asking whether they should go through the transfer process. I also see many of the senior posters recommending this route, without realizing how extremely difficult the process has become, and that luck, circumstance (i.e. it's easier to get into UCB Haas from a california CC) and connections outweighs qualifications in many cases. I think it's definitely worth it to transfer if you're at a school outside of the top 100 into a school within the top 50, but if you're at a school like Texas A&M or Tulane, then transferring into a school like Lehigh or Villanova might not make a whole lot of sense either financially or from a recruiting standpoint. Banks are starting to realize the talent at other schools and are becoming more open minded. 5 years ago, my school didn't get any top banks recruiting, but now we have a few and I expect it to continue improving. So definitely apply to transfer if you want to, but don't feel like you HAVE to in order to breaking into banking because this type of mentality will take away from your college experience. Work hard in undergrad and aim for a top graduate school program if you're already at an okay school.

Hey tkid3400! What is your view on ucla?

We get decent recruitment in la. But that is pretty much it. Compared to other semi and targets, there is not a lot of options in finance.

So I have been looking into transfer for some while. But I was distracted, took some hardcore ge classes, and got slaughtered (Freshman gpa 3.15).

Lets say if I work hard, get straight A's throughout sophomore year, and raise my gpa to 3.6 before applying, would that make up for the poor performance in year one?

Would like your insights. I am looking into Hass, Cornel aem, Northwestern, and Columbia

I know that diamonds mean money for this art, but that's not the shape of my heart.

    • 1
Jun 19, 2013

Hey tkid3400! What is your view on ucla?

We get decent recruitment in la. But that is pretty much it. Compared to other semi and targets, there is not a lot of options in finance.

So I have been looking into transfer for some while. But I was distracted, took some hardcore ge classes, and got slaughtered (Freshman gpa 3.15).

Lets say if I work hard, get straight A's throughout sophomore year, and raise my gpa to 3.6 before applying, would that make up for the poor performance in year one?

Would like your insights. I am looking into Hass, Cornel aem, Northwestern, and Columbia

[/quote]

PM me if you want a followup, but yes I know about how competitive the UCs are and they (Berk/LA) are generally very well respected by the ivies. Your gpa is definitely a bit lower than ideal for transfer into these schools, but that isn't the biggest concern actually. The biggest hurdle you will face is how much these top schools are cracking down on junior transfers. Look through college confidential, and even wall street oasis, and what you will notice is that the majority of successful transfers into top schools are sophomore transfers. There are reasons for this, including colleges receiving more transfer apps each year, and the fact that you're competing for a spot in YOUR class as a junior (i.e. class of 2016, which would already have enrolled some sophomore transfers by the time when you're applying, thereby leaving you to compete for less spots). This is why I recommend to always go for sophomore transfer or at least as a spring transfer in your sophomore year (though many schools do not offer this).

Out of the schools you mentioned, Haas would appear to be your best bet if you have done the pre requisites. I am not sure of how UC transfers work, because I don't attend a UC, but they treat california state colleges/universities with much more priority than they do out of state colleges. I personally wouldn't apply to Northwestern in any regard, since UCLA is cheaper, since Northwestern wouldn't be that much of an upgrade, and northwestern doesn't offer business either (if you were going for that angle).

Cornell AEM is extremely difficult to get into for a variety of reasons. It used to be much easier to get into, so a lot of people on this site still recommend applying there, but things have changed dramatically. Admissions at Cornell's state colleges give preference to NY residents, community college students and then kids attending a NY college/university. You'll notice that a lot of kids from NY community colleges, either through the guaranteed transfer program, or by indicating residency on their app, will have a much better shot of getting in given that they complete the pre - requisites. This brings me to the next point, COMPLETE THE PRE REQS, and I mean all of them including the biology courses and apply as a sophomore. They explicitly ask you to do this, and they clearly mention that sophomore transfers will get priority. So getting into AEM has a very clear "formula" of sorts, and it requires a great deal of effort that I personally wouldn't expend if I was already at an "okay" school.

Columbia is going to be very difficult to get into as a junior transfer. They will likely get 2400 apps, primarily from 4.0 GPA/2100 SAT kids for only 140-150 spots. You can easily tell how competitive the applicant pool is by glancing at the common data set and looking through stats like 4 year apps vs 2 year apps. Hardly any tom, dick and harry with a 3.0 gpa at big state U will be applying to a school like Columbia, it will be very difficult to stand out. The key to getting in will be how much your application stands out among the piles of others, and how creative and unique your life experiences have been that will set you apart. Assuming your building up a resume for finance, for a generic I banking job, it may be difficult to do unique, or creative things in your spare time. It's also hard to present an interest in economics/finance (relatively boring subjects) in such a way that will allow your app to stand out (these schools don't have to show their accepted students gpa/sat scores, so it's not like freshman admissions where stats will drive you in, the schools will want to pick unique students). So in essence, it's a long shot.....

So given your background, then I would concentrate on applying to Haas. I don't discourage anyone from applying to any schools, but I'm just being realistic regarding the whole admissions process, which is there to benefit the University, it's agenda and it's mission as opposed to being a completely meritocratic affair where the best of the best are chosen for admission. Transferring used to be a loophole into getting into a good school, but now it's much much harder to get in this way as opposed to freshman admission. Which is why I recommend just making the most of your experience, networking, etc if you're already at a decent school (UCLA is much better than decent, you can get into GS from there, and a quick search through linkedin verifies this) then just stay there and aim to build up your record there for SA recruiting and top grad school opportunities.

Jun 21, 2013

thanks for sharing

Jun 28, 2013
WallStreetPlayboys:

4) Veer on the side of professionalism/conservatism during any interaction. Better to give a correct response that can pass than an incorrect response that will ding you immediately. A good example would be your hobbies, unless you are certain you have made a friendly relationship with the person choose interests that won't get you dinged such as "played football for the college you are attending for the past 3 years".

Do you mean "played football for the college you are attending for the past 3 years" is conservative and won't get your dinged or did you mean that those kind of hobbies WILL get you dinged?

Jun 28, 2013
aethereal:
WallStreetPlayboys:

4) Veer on the side of professionalism/conservatism during any interaction. Better to give a correct response that can pass than an incorrect response that will ding you immediately. A good example would be your hobbies, unless you are certain you have made a friendly relationship with the person choose interests that won't get you dinged such as "played football for the college you are attending for the past 3 years".

Do you mean "played football for the college you are attending for the past 3 years" is conservative and won't get your dinged or did you mean that those kind of hobbies WILL get you dinged?

I'm not denying the existence of interests that would make me afraid of someone (e.g. pumpkin carving, farmer's market, public masturbation) but I would probably put my true interests even if they're kind of strange/unique... *especially* if they're strange/unique. At my last fund we interviewed a guy from a semi-target with a mediocre GPA over a top-tier candidate [on paper] solely based on the fact he had "professional juggling" in his interests. And I'd imagine that falls under the category of shit that might intuitively be scary to include.

Jun 28, 2013

Yeah that can happen from time to time a "unique" interest.

End of the day if you can put something impressive on there you'll get more net interviews. The word "professional" implied legitimacy and accomplishment. Similarly would wager that if he wrote "2008 Olympics in badmitton" it would also get snagged.

Unless you really wanted a professional juggler, did he pitch his juggling skills as being an amazing "multi-tasker"? Ha.

Also yes playing college football would be a legit and good accomplishment.

Jun 30, 2013

Thanks WallStreetPlayboys,
I am a non-target and will be year 2 the coming year.
I love the post and definitely will read the other three of the series.
One thing, is it appropriate to state that my hobbies are 'solo travel and gym', does it 'pass'? not saying whether marks are added.

Jul 5, 2013
StryfeDSP:

Here is a sample of my current cold e-mail format. It's adjusted to reflect that I'm currently working in a position because I've started to network already.

Mr. BSD,

My name is StryfeDSP. I am a rising Sophomore finance student currently studying at the University of Non-Targets with a very high interest in pursuing a career in investment management, with a particular focus on the equity market and research. I found your information while searching for Non-Target alumni in the investment industry, and I have since taken the time to familiarize myself more with [firm name].

Currently, I am an equity research summer analyst with [firm], and previously worked as an investment management intern at [city] based [firm] over my freshman winter and spring break.

I understand that you're a busy man, but I was hoping I could have 15 minutes of your time over the phone sometime within the next week to speak with you about your experience in the investment industry, as well as any advice you may have for someone hoping to succeed in this field. I am more than happy to accomodate whatever time works best with your schedule.

Thank you,

StryfeDSP

[phone number]

[e-mail]

I like this format. However, is it really necessary to ask them to call you? Why not make it short and sweet? That way if they are too busy to call and (or) they don't need someone to work with them, they can just email the resume to other people at their company.

Example:

Mr. XYZ:

(Opening Paragraph Describing How I Heard About the Person/Company)

(Closing Paragraph Explaining What I Can Bring to The Company & Why They Should Hire Me)

Thank You,

(Signature)

(Phone Number)

(Email)

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Jul 5, 2013
Director of Monkey Around:
StryfeDSP:

<

Here is a sample of my current cold e-mail format. It's adjusted to reflect that I'm currently working in a position because I've started to network already.

Mr. BSD,

My name is StryfeDSP. I am a rising Sophomore finance student currently studying at the University of Non-Targets with a very high interest in pursuing a career in investment management, with a particular focus on the equity market and research. I found your information while searching for Non-Target alumni in the investment industry, and I have since taken the time to familiarize myself more with [firm name].

Currently, I am an equity research summer analyst with [firm], and previously worked as an investment management intern at [city] based [firm] over my freshman winter and spring break.

I understand that you're a busy man, but I was hoping I could have 15 minutes of your time over the phone sometime within the next week to speak with you about your experience in the investment industry, as well as any advice you may have for someone hoping to succeed in this field. I am more than happy to accomodate whatever time works best with your schedule.

Thank you,

StryfeDSP

[phone number]

[e-mail]

Alternatively, This would be a great format if ones sole or primary goal is to gain perspective by networking with an Alumni.

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Jul 5, 2013
Comment

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Jul 5, 2013
Comment

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." -- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing