URM status and breaking into IBD from a non-target

I'm a high school senior wondering about careers in finance, specifically trading (although this is an extremely uninformed decision) and which college to attend next year. I am half mexican so I have been checking that box on my college apps.

I have been accepted into both Northwestern and University of Wisconsin. I think I would be happier at Wisconsin and its 20k less per year, but I'm afraid choosing Wisc over NU will disadvantage me significantly in getting internships and jobs. I'm wondering if my URM status will be able to offset coming from a non-target if I maintain a high (3.8+) gpa.

Also, do I actually have to demonstrate how my heritage has made me more diverse in interviews and such, or does simply checking a box give me these benefits? Because the truth is, I'm probably whitest mexican person I know and I come from an upper middle class family.

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Comments (14)

Apr 16, 2008 - 9:38pm

The toughest thing, especially coming from a non-target, is getting in (for anyone). Having a URM status doesn't really have an impact from non-targets INITIALLY because HR is sorting through tons of really qualified applicants for maybe one or two spots.

Although Wisconsin is not a target at my bank, they have a pretty strong alum base (i.e. they are active in trying to help out their own kids but are not officially part of the targeted recruiting program). The most "URM" status they give to an applicant is if it is a girl. One of my good friends is on the 'team' for Wisconsin and I"ve seen him review resumes - most of the kids they choose are from the Investment Banking club; race is irrelevant and HR does not say much because it's such a small representation of that non-target.

From my own experience on a school recruiting team, HR seems to be much more aware of the URM status when considering targets.

You could always look into the SEO program too if you are worried. But seriously, don't ride on the fact that you are 'half-mexican' to get you through. There are plenty of hispanic/black kids who are from really poor areas who have phenomenal stories of triumph and will outshine you in that respect.

Apr 16, 2008 - 10:24pm

b2's hassling you because he's an insufferable prick. He was "B", but enough people gave him shit about always being so condescending to people (because he's an awesome SA who knows everything about the interviewing process), so he deleted his account and "cleverly" came back as b2.

I could be wrong, and it could be someone completely different (or he could've changed his account for other reasons). But by the way b2's posts have been going lately, something tells me i'm right...


Apr 16, 2008 - 10:32pm

To answer your question though, go where you are most comfortable. While it's possibly easier to break in from Northwestern, if you are more comfortable (and thus able thrive) at Wisconsin, your resume will most likely be stronger by enrolling there...and with a little hard work, it's definitely possible to land in IB (and this I'm positive about, as one of my fellow SAs this summer is from Madison).

As an aside, have you seen that serial killer stuff going on there? Messed up!


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Apr 16, 2008 - 11:13pm

there is something to be said for wisconson being an exponentially more fun school. i would consider going there, getting a 3.9 while otherwise partying like a rockstar, and ultimately getting in with SEO (they don't care much about the non-target/target distinction).

just a thought.

Jun 1, 2008 - 2:59pm

I go to wisconsin and I'm going to be an SA for BB this summer... Wisco is really fun. Double major in economics (we have a top 10 econ program)and finance and you should be good to go for banking. I know a bunch of kids who have gotten SA/FT offers w/ GS, JPM, Lehman ect...

Apr 17, 2008 - 10:35pm

Wisconsin has a pretty strong alum base. Most of the kids I met coming out from there are pretty smart and well-equipped. The kids I saw my buddy choose were mostly 3.5-3.7 well rounded students; one was even in the training league (is that what they call it?) for Real Madrid.

In the end, I would go to Northwestern. As snyyj said, pedigree is invaluable.

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