UCLA vs UC Berkeley recruitment for IB

In terms of recruiting, how prominent is UCLA among investment banks, including BB and boutiques, especially compared to UC Berkeley.

I've spent a lot of time researching and I've looked up literally every post with the tag UCLA but I can't get a clear answer.

I've heard some people say UCLA is a target, and others say its barely a semi-target. Some say that UC Berkeley beats it in terms of recruiting by a long shot and will give you access to NY and SF, while UCLA is limited to tiny LA offices that barely hire anyone.

I've looked on their career website, and there are plenty of banks that visit and have OCR there, but there is no way to get a number. From a career survey in 2011, Goldman, JP Morgan, Citi, BlackRock, are listed among the top 20 employers, and according to the data, each hired at least 5 students, but it doesn't give you any other data or the position they were hired for. Is it reasonable to assume that they were mostly analysts or could they have been back office positions?

Will choosing UCLA over Berkeley dramatically reduce your chances in the recruitment process down the line? I'm just confused because in various forums I've come across many people that said that you absolutely must go to UC Berkeley and get into the Haas undergraduate program if you want a decent chance because UCLA grads only get hired at a fraction of the amount and most will end up in Big 4 accounting jobs.

Does anyone have any other solid or anecdotal evidence about these claims?

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Comments (15)

Jan 15, 2014 - 11:40am

Berkeley will give you more chances to land a job with an Investment Bank but if you're a top student at UCLA, you should pretty much be able to compete for the same jobs. Although numbers of FT bankers every year is probably 80-100 vs 15-20.

Jan 15, 2014 - 1:03pm

I went to USC, but I am familiar with the west coast IB recruiting pipeline (having been through the process all the way back in 2007).

I am assuming a couple of things - (1) you have already been accepted both UCLA and Cal, and (2) you have already considered a number of better EC and Midwest alternatives, but have made the decision (based on a variety of good decisions, I am sure) to narrow your choices between UCLA and Cal. Now that that's out of the way...

Both UCLA and Cal (non-Haas) would be solid "semi-targets" - some WC and EC IB groups will recruit actively from one or both, some wont. It varies form group to group. Haas, in contrast, would be a solid target for all WC groups and some EC groups - of course, that assumes you get into Haas,

* Would Cal (non-Haas) give you a better chance at IB than UCLA? Probably not, and the difference would have to do more with location (Cal gets more norcal opportunities, UCLA gets more socal opportunities).
* Would Haas give you a better chance than UCLA? Yes.
* Should you be concerned about getting access to less opportunities at UCLA in contrast to Cal (non-Haas)? No.

Bottom line - if you were meant to be a part of the business, then you will find a way into it. At this point, it has more to with *you* than where you go, as both UCLA and Cal will give you the access to the IB recruitment pipeline.

As far as exact statistics go, you wont find anything more meaningful than what you have already seen. I know this is not the most satisfying explanation, but it is the best you are going to get on the net.

Man made money, money never made the man
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Jan 15, 2014 - 1:52pm

I don't know many people who went to Berkeley, but Haas is an incredible undergraduate business program so you really couldn't go wrong. I would think they place a few dozen students into investment banks each year.

I can speak to UCLA because I went there. This is how it works: 99% of the people who want to go into investment banking major in one of three things - business economics (ideal because it includes accounting courses), math/econ (you don't need all the math, but it helps. I will tell you now that if you go to ucla you should take through math 33B. That's more than enough to do anything in finance, unless you want to be a quant, and you don't because you want to be an IB analyst. Actually, I only did through 31B and I've never had a problem doing anything in finance.) or just plain economics. I also know one guy who majored in Mathematical Systems, I believe, and then worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in san francisco, so there are exceptions.

During your freshman and sophomore year it is very easy to get an internship in private wealth management by using the career center website, assuming your grades are good - GPA 3.6+. At those places you just cold call, pretty much. But once you put that on your resume you can set your sights higher for a better internship the summer after your sophomore year. A few people are able to get really good internships that summer, but not many. Just do something finance/investment related. Boutiques are absolutely fine.

You will need that because during the fall of your junior year there is a workshop that you will need to be in: the Investment Banking Workshop. It's run by seniors who did the program the prior year and got good internships and full time offers as a result. It's pretty competitive to get into, so you need good grades and a couple internships. There is a hard and fast rule that you need a 3.6 GPA to apply, and beyond that you are evaluated on the quality of your internships. In the workshop, they go over interview questions and prepare you for anything and everything that you might be asked. And, one night each week a couple analysts, and maybe a VP and MD, will come from an office in LA to give a quick presentation - for example, I remember that Barclay's was on how a leveraged buy-out works - and then you just network and talk to them for the rest of the hour. It's a great opportunity to network that hardly anyone gets. And these are great banks - Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JPM, CS, BAML - that come in and you get face time with. Each year about 20-25 juniors get in the program and 95% get internship offers from good places, including all the bulge brackets, Moelis, Jefferies, Houlihan Lokey, Guggenheim, etc. Do that workshop and you will get one of those internships, and you're set. It really is as simple as that, I just wish someone had told me all of this before I went to UCLA. I also just noticed your comment about, are the people working at GS, JPM etc. all analysts? I can tell you that yes, they are. There are many, many analyst positions posted to the ucla career center website (even right now, actually), and those firms don't recruit for anything other than analysts through ucla's career center.

The point is, if you want to work in investment banking and you are looking to work in either San Francisco or Los Angeles, you will be absolutely fine at UCLA. You will get a job if you know what you're doing, which is everything I just wrote.

But it is a little more difficult to find a job in New York. I'm not sure if it's more difficult than it would be for Haas students, but it is more difficult to work in NY than it is to work in LA. Some people have done it. If you are dead set on it then you are going to have to fly to New York to interview during winter break of your junior year. And you're going to have to get those interviews in the first place. It's not exactly as easy as submitting your resume and a cover letter through the UCLA career center website and then walking over two weeks later in 75 degree weather for the on-campus interview.

If you do the things I wrote, you won't be the kid who ends up at a Big Four. Those people were decent students (think 3.5 gpa) who didn't understand the importance of getting early internships and building on that, and who didn't really know what investment banking was and how that compared to consulting until sometime mid-junior year. I know some people who went into both. Those who were aware and driven got jobs at the bulge bracket investment banks. All you really need to make that happen is get internships and keep your GPA high (absolutely above 3.6, and you'll get interviews with every single bank if you have a 3.7+ at UCLA.

I graduated in the last couple years so I am very confident about everything I wrote. I know ucla and that's how the school works. It sucks that it doesn't have an undergraduate business program, but you can still do investment banking very easily if you do some sort of economics, take some math, do well, get some internships, do the workshop, and then just interview with the banks. It's a lot to do, but looking back on all of it, it was really a breeze and I enjoyed doing it. I felt so unsure about how to go about breaking into investment banking that I was constantly a little apprehensive about what my future plans had been. I am telling you now how lucky you are that I am writing this (not trying to be a d***, but this will be incredibly helpful if you go to UCLA. This is the guide to break into investment banking from UCLA. I am telling you now follow these steps and you will work at any bank you want. Sorry, just trying to get the point across that not many people know this stuff, and no one will tell you, but here it is, I promise you.

So UCLA isn't some juggernaut carefully cultivating legions of future rainmakers. But if you want to do investment banking and do the things you need to do make that happen, it will happen for you at UCLA.

And by the way, the people I know who interned in a New York office all decided not to work there because the bankers have absolutely no lives. They party with other bankers, go to clubs that bankers go to, and are consumed by work. On the west coast you work a little bit less (but still a lot), the weather's phenomenal, and you can look forward to going to pool parties at mansions in the hills overlooking LA with gorgeous girls. Or how about taking clients to Laker games? Or all the analysts raging at the Bellagio in Vegas for a weekend because they just finished a deal? Or how about the fact that the east coast just had a polar vortex and I surfed this morning? It's 85 degrees today for christ's sake. I don't understand why anyone would want to be a banker in New York over LA, or even San Francisco. Not to mention that people are just different on the east coast and you may or may not like the people there.

Jan 15, 2014 - 2:45pm

SB'ed for truth. I graduated from UCLA and got into boutique IB but had friends that got into BB in LA. This is pretty much the exact same path they took to get in, and I wish I knew the same thing (although I didnt know I wanted to do finance until junior year...still counting my lucky stars). There are a LOT of people that end up in Big 4, but I definitely see a bit of difference between them and the people that ended up in IB.

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Jan 15, 2014 - 10:23pm

Wow Bruin31, that was some great advice. I've really been obsessing over this for a while. Everything about breaking in from UCLA seems a lot more clear now. I was really confused for a while because some people would tell me that I could get any job from UCLA, while other people told me UCLA finance recruiting was horrendous and that Berkeley was infinitely better. It now seems like you just have to be willing to put in the extra effort

I actually did see that IB workshop online on the undergraduate business society website before and it did look very helpful.

Also from your experience, were the people that got BB offers involved in business frats such as DSP and AKPsi. I just found their websites and both Berkeley and UCLA chapters have job and internship data on their website and the UCLA data looks paltry compared to Berkeley where everyone got offers at BB banks. Was it mainly limited to people who did the workshop?

Jan 23, 2017 - 3:47pm

Yeah, no problem. That's right, you just have to put in some extra effort. Actually, the reason that the Investment Banking Workshop was first started is that the school didn't offer any guidance for investment banking recruiting. That program will give you everything you need.

But, you really don't even need that workshop. It is helpful to network, but it's not absolutely necessary, and you also could just submit your resume and cover letter to the bank through UCLA's career center, and if they like it they will interview you regardless of whether they are already familiar with you. So I wouldn't even worry too much about getting in the workshop for that purpose. But I will tell you that to prepare you they just teach everything from the Mergers & Inquisitions investment banking interview guide, which has a very thorough list of questions and answers, and suggestions for how to craft your 'story'. That's really all you need to prepare for the interview because that guide covers absolutely every question that you might get. Believe it or not, many bankers ask questions verbatim out of that book, even the brain teasers. So learn the M&I guide and you'll be able to answer every question, and you'll answer them well.

From my experience those were not necessarily the people who got BB offers. If you have good grades and internship experience they will interview you. From that point on it is all up to you, regardless of how you landed the interview. But no, being in a business fraternity is completely unnecessary. The analysts who show up to interview you are simply looking to work with people who are smart, hard working, and also enjoyable to be around. It's that simple. Ultimately there are two questions the banker will answer himself before deciding to invite you to super day: Can you do the job well? Do I like you? So plenty of guys from regular fraternities get offers from BB's too. I would actually say that those people tend to excel in some ways over people in business fraternities because they tend to be more type A.

I would say that yes, people who did the workshop primarily were the ones who landed BB offers. But that is not necessarily because of how much the workshop helps. I think it's because people who do the workshop are also the ones who tend to work hard, who are proactive, who are the most driven to go into investment banking, etc. But if you don't do the workshop, and you still review and learn that ib interview guide front to back, you have just as good a chance of working at a BB bank. It just depends on how your interviews go, but you will get them.

I'll also give you a few more words of advice. First, if you go to ucla and do not major in business economics, then you will still need to take accounting classes outside your major because without that you won't understand a lot of what you need to know to be successful in the interviews. For someone who is 110% committed to going into investment banking, I would recommend majoring in Business Economics and taking some math courses. You'll be very well prepared to go into IB. Also, Bus Econ students have an advantage in that they are able to sign up earlier for many of the classes that you're going to have to take. Even over regular Econ students. And certain upper division Econ classes, some of the best ones, are limited to only Bus Econ students.

I would also recommend that you read the Vault Guide to Investment Banking. I read it as a freshman and learned a ton of useful information. It's pretty short anyway.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

Jan 15, 2014 - 2:33pm

BAML recruits a ton of people from UCLA

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Jan 15, 2014 - 11:02pm

Everything Bruin31 said is true. If you do the workshop at UCLA, you will not only get a job in investment banking, but as long as you pay attention and do everything the workshop asks of you, it will be a great job.

And I second the comment about working in LA vs. NY - if NY analysts knew even half of how good we have it, things would be a lot more competitive out here.

Jan 17, 2014 - 1:28pm

I will harp on this again about Berkeley vs UCLA: If you think you have a legit shot at Haas, I would definitely go for it. I do know people that got turned down for Haas then went Econ that still somehow ended up in consulting but it's just way more difficult to recruit because you are competing against your Haas people on top of everyone else.

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Jan 20, 2014 - 7:43am

Obviously Haas is the best option, but would you say that UCLA Biz Econ is better than UCB regular Econ?

Berkeley's Econ is ranked higher, but at UCLA you don't have to compete with Haas. And you can do an accounting minor at UCLA.

Assuming someone gets rejected from Haas, would it be a bad idea to apply for transfer to UCLA?

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