Tips and Advice to land an SA internship next summer?

Hey WSO,

I've received a lot of good advice from good people on here before and I'm really grateful for all of them. Now I have to ask the most important question of all that will probably make or break my future career: as a undergrad entering Junior year how can I maximize a chance at a SA position at an investment bank?

This summer I landed a internship at a private equity firm doing some research and VC work (actually I'm typing this from the office right now). I also enrolled in that IBI program several months ago and went to all their classes and got their DVDs on modeling, DCF, etc.

I'm hoping to land a internship this Fall at a tiny boutique M&A bank and in January I'm going to spend Spring Semester in London thru program my undergrad business school has interning at something Finance related.

I really want to make it in ibanking but I attend a non-target and have a lowish GPA (though my major GPA is high). I know I have to network my ass off and I've been trying to make new IB related connections on LinkedIn everyday and I'm planning to cal several alumni @ Oppenheimer and Nomura in the next week, etc but what suggestions do you guys have? I read Mergers and Inquisitions religiously.

This is make or break time for me, and I really hope to get into a SA program take it seriously and land a FT offer from a firm like Nomura. I would really appreciate any critique of my plan and any suggestions from people who got an SA offer and those who made it in IBD.

Comments (6)

Aug 23, 2011

I think you have the right intention and you are in a very good position. You are yards ahead of me in terms of internship experience that you currently have and may potentially have with regards to the boutique bank than when I was doing SA recruiting. Things to focus on / keep doing:

  1. Raise your GPA. In addition to just taking a normal course load you can take 1-2 extra classes that will help you raise your GPA quicker. I don't / didn't have a bad GPA, but had to take extra classes every semester for multiple majors and I think its very doable, just be willing to work hard an extra 1-2 A's can certainly help.
  2. Continue to network both w/ alumni and with your previous and potential internships. Stop planning on calling those alumni and get out there and do it, OPCO and Nomura are both solid shops. That PE fund should be able to put you into contact with some banks, just make sure you represent them well and can explain in detail your experiences there.
  3. Continue to learn as much as possible and put those modeling skills to the test, there's nothing quite like making a full fledged operating model for the first time and trying to figure out for hours why your BS won't balance and realizing you're making the simplest of errors. Reading / studying technicals is one thing, but as I've posted before I think its clear to interviewers people that have experience doing them and those that just memorize and spit it out. I think it can help make you stand out in a group of prospective in a positive way. Oh and as much as you learn, someone else knows more than you...
  4. Be ready for disappointment and rejection, whether it happens during interviews or your contacts don't work out as you hope. Be ready for lots of no's and rejections, if they don't happen then great, but being mentally prepared to work around what seems like crushing defeats is probably going to be you're greatest asset when trying to break in. Stay agile and don't get beat down.

I'm sure I didn't cover everything, but I think that is what important... GL and keep us updated through the SA recruiting process

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'

Aug 23, 2011

The above is great advice, thank you.

But No. 1 is not that simple. To be frank, my past semester I had a 3.9 average semester GPA and the one before that a 3.5 but when you messed up your freshman/soph year big time in a shit major I was unhappy with and decided to completely changed your major to make it in banking my graduation GPA will be still be below a 3.4/3.3 max despite me pulling mostly As. This is why my major GPA is much much higher than my overall. [But banks don't care about the details]

I know I have to make it with connections + make it with a SA offer. I've just spoke to my boss since today is my last day at the PE firm he said he will refer me to some boutique M&A firms for the Fall in the area.

Is there anything wrong with my overall plan? Something I've missed? I appreciate all the feedback. If I ever make it in IBD, WSO saved my life and I know it.

Off-topic: I'm assuming smaller firms like Piper Jeffray's, Jefferies SAs are slightly easier to get into than prestigious banks like Nomura or Lazard. Are there any other ones out there I should look at? I know I'm worthless bottom of the barrel but I'll do whatever it takes and take anything with a possibility of a FT offer in IB M&A.

Aug 23, 2011

PJC gets a lot of shit on here, but its a good solid middle-market player, not a star, but a good place to start and get good experience and Jefferies much more so. Despite what WSO will have you think if you get good experience there is quite a bit of mobility and the banking world is rather small and much less prestige focused. To go along with those comments, don't underestimate the competition at these banks either, they'll be just as good as other places and don't worry about others just control what you can. Don't waste time picking banks for perceived weak SA classes just spread your net wide.

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'

Aug 29, 2011

How competitive are the SA positions and what do you need to do to make yourself stand out to get one?

Sep 6, 2011

Thank you fj2012.

I will read college baller. About models, do I need to know merger models or just the basic valuation models?

I feel with my average GPA @ a non-target my only shot is to network my way into one. Network like my life depended on it. I've been basically stalking on LinkedIn bumming off all the connections that my friend who's older than me who works at Citi M&A.

Important question: Do VPs and Associates matter in getting a SA spot? or only MDs? I want to network with VPs and Associates but I want to know if they can do anything to actually help my chances at their firm (Greenhill, Credit Suisse, Oppenheimer, etc)

When you guys apply to SA positions did you apply EVERYWHERE? like 25 - 40 places? or just 5-10?

Sep 20, 2011
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