UK Non-Target to FT Analyst at Top Tier M&A Firm


Hi everyone,

This website has been incredibly useful to me, and I owe a lot of career success to it. It’s given me a lot of excellent insight into IBD and has been a great source of motivation. Therefore, I’d like to give back by sharing my experience here.

For some context I'm a foreign student at top 10 UK non-target university.

Rejected everywhere...

In my second year of University I found myself having landed NO spring internships during first year – I got flat out rejected EVERYWHERE I applied. Coming from a non-target I received ZERO interviews which was very discouraging but motivating at the same time. I knew I had to step my game up and create a long term plan to get into a top IB position. Finding myself in that position the positive takeaway was that I learned how competitive the industry is and learned to be realistic with myself: it’s important to realise that, however smart you are, you only are what your CV shows. Nothing less, nothing more. So I decided to take a year abroad at a top univeristy to accumulate experience through spring weeks and internships and to find myself in a position to compete with other candidates and start landing interviews. The “easy route” for me would have been to do a master’s degree, which was not an option for me financially. I took the “hard” route, knowing the chances of me breaking into IB would be very slim.

Landed a MM IB internship offer

After doing a spring week at a tier 4 firm in my second year of uni, I spent my third year studying abroad. I applied to IBs during that period and only got 1 ib interview: made it to the final round of a top EB in London and got dinged at the last step. I was heartbroken, to put it mildly. The only interview I had, though, confirmed I was smart/good enough to break into the industry, but my prospects as a UK non-target school in penultimate year without a top IBD internship were looking very poor (especially in post-Brexit Britain – something I discovered later). Instead, I received an offer at a 2nd/3rd tier consulting firm but I knew I desperately needed IB experience going into my final year or my dream would have been crushed. Therefore, I cold emailed more than 30 boutiques, and ended up getting 5 offers. So I interned in a 2nd/3rd tier consultancy and at a MM IB firm.

Importance of networking

In my final year I applied to a mix of FT positions and SA positions. Instead of simply applying online, I realised the crucial importance of networking. In the UK, networking is not as important as it is in the U.S (based on what I understand from reading WSO posts), but it’s crucial if you’re from a non-target. I reached out to complete strangers for a chat and showed my hunger and passion for IB. Every call I had with alumni but mostly random people (due to lack of alumni in IB) ended up with me being referred to HR. I got interviews at 7 firms (EBS and BBs), compared to 1 the previous year and NONE in the two years before. I started to understand that IB is simply a game of people. I was naïve and believed online screening is fair/efficient – that my application would actually be read. Don’t make my same mistake. As soon as you enter your non target school name in your online application, there’s a solid chance you’ll get cut. I couldn’t stress the importance of networking more!

Landed FT M&A Analyst Job

After networking my ass off and landing multiple recommendations, I prepared diligently, practiced lots of mock interviews, read the FT obsessively and studied the WSO Investment Banking guide like the bible. I highly recommend this resource as it covers the vast majority of questions you'll get - here is the link:…. I got a few offers and got to final rounds of other BBs and EBs. I received and accepted a full time position at a top tier independent advisory firm/ EB, where I’ll be starting work as a full time analyst in M&A.

Years of hard work, frustration and stress ended up paying off. I’ll admit that at times I thought of quitting, to stop trying and give up on my IB dream, but don’t let those rejections put you off. Put your head down, prepare and – I couldn’t stress this more – NETWORK! However many rejections you get, do not give up. I tallied up all the IB rejections I received in the past few years: 126! If you really want it, work hard and smart for it, you can get into top BBs and EBs regardless of your school.

Good luck to everyone!

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted Sept 2017

Comments (16)

Feb 18, 2017 - 11:05am

Edit your title with an "AMA" at the end. Congratz

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.
Sep 10, 2017 - 3:31pm

Congratulations! Being in a position in which you were before pulling this off I can only say hats off to you. I really need to start stepping up my networking game because coming from a really non target here in the UK, networking is the only way you can get a chance I see. Are you based in London by any chance?

Oct 17, 2017 - 11:17am

Thank you ZeTerminator!

I have read your post with great interest and realized that I am in a similar situation. I attend a non-target MSc Finance in the UK, with some alumni presence in the industry (about 4-5 guys a year land IB jobs).

Some questions about networking and things I find confusing:

  1. When you network with bankers, do you still go through the online application process?
  2. Can I apply to the SA and FT progs (deadlines approaching) and still try to get something through networking if I get rejected?
  3. Do you approach junior or more senior bankers?

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us!

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