What is the best way for someone to gain good finance-related work experience while in college?

Smitherson1's picture
Rank: Baboon | 130

What is the best way to gain impressive finance-related work experience while completing an undergraduate degree at an Ivy League university? I know most students take time off during summer to do internships, but what can someone do during fall and spring semesters to prepare for an investment banking internship or job upon graduation? Are there any part-time internships or finance/business-related activities that a college student can get involved in that will look good when they apply for an investment banking internship?

Comments (72)

Best Response
Aug 25, 2017

Try looking around in your area for local PWM firms, smaller boutiques, MM PE firms, HF's, etc. You want to leave your options open, don't limit yourself just to IB imo. Chances are that the internship would be unpaid. And look around especially at places where alums from you school work. They should be more than happy to help you out and put in a good word for you if you are in good academic standing.

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Aug 25, 2017

This is the right answer.

Some might even pay you, but if you contact ~10 local firms, you'll be able to lock down an unpaid internship, and since unpaid, generally pretty flexible on time commitment.

This is a good way to differentiate yourself from the horde of other eager beaver econ majors with ~3.70 GPA from good schools

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Aug 26, 2017

@Intern4ever if it is unpaid, what is considered flexible on time commitment, five to ten hours a week? My friend is taking four classes a semester.

Aug 26, 2017

How should I structure the email to imply that I'm willing to work unpaid and not too many hours per week? (10-12 would be great)

Aug 25, 2017

How the fuck am I getting MS for this? This is an extremely valid idea.

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Aug 26, 2017

Not sure why you got so much MS for this. This is the right idea

Aug 26, 2017

Probably because I'm just an incoming undergraduate. Like this is stuff that I've heard is a good idea from people that I know who have done this and fellow undergrads. Was just sharing what I know lol.

Aug 26, 2017

How should I structure the email to imply that I'm willing to work unpaid and not too many hours per week? (10-12 would be great)

Sep 5, 2017

You don't mention either in the email.

"I'm interested in gaining finance experience and I'd love to hear more about your background and how you broke into the industry" is how you structure the email (that's the barebones, with a few details about yourself and a personal note if possible).

Then, on the call, mention why you want to work in finance (tailor it to the firm you're speaking with) and ask if there might be an opportunity for you to help out at their office. Unpaid will be assumed in this conversation. If they ask, you can tell them you are more interested in the experience than the salary.

In terms of hours, do not ask until they make it clear that they are open to your working with them. Then ask what their expectations are for hours worked. Hopefully they align with what you expect. If you don't ask if they'd be amenable to a more part time arrangement.

Why do you want to tell them about hours? If you put constraints up front, people mentally want to fight those constraints. If you wait until you have an 'offer', then they're already mentally invested in getting you to help out.

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Aug 25, 2017

Start a small business like a lemonade stand. Or, you could help start a club on campus and be the finance person. Help raise funds and create balance sheets for the spend.

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Aug 25, 2017

Check his other thread, he recently graduated apparently. Non-Wharton Penn.

Aug 25, 2017

Oh well. For the next kid then!

Sep 1, 2017

I fucking hate that I got trolled now. These assholes and their "friends" that need help. They need to have some guts.

Sep 1, 2017

Non-wharton Penn still places a ton of people in IB. You'd be surprised at the amount of deplorables who have no experience except bullshit clubs and research for their econ/history dept and get BB IB.

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Aug 25, 2017

@iBankedUp, I really like this idea. I have a friend who is trying to prepare for ib. Could I suggest a strawberry milk stand?

Aug 25, 2017

I meant lemonade stand as in simple, small, and easy. Not necessarily a literal lemonade stand. But if you have a business plan for a small juisce stand than, sure...

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Aug 26, 2017

@iBankedUp" Just curious. Could you explain how starting a simple, small, and easy lemonade stand on campus is going to assist my friend in getting into investment banking?

Aug 26, 2017

Demonstrates that they are commercially savvy, entrepreneurial and especially if it can be expanded shows leadership. All about developing a coherent story in answering the why finance question. It's way more interesting to tell and here than a light bulb moment in Econ 101

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Aug 26, 2017

I'm running a food sales store in my dorm next semester, just something to do one day a week and have a balance sheet and some leadership opportunities. It's obviously not as good as an actual internship, but if you have nothing to do then give it a go.

Sep 1, 2017

Yeah, these guys below have the right idea. I just think starting something students know you by shows initiative and leadership. I would suggest, try to get mentioned by the dean or get featured by the school paper/news outlet. It would help to be able to put the link of an interview or headline of yourself on your LinkedIn. I know there is some concern about visibility, as it might not be very prestigious to work to start-up at no-name school.

But, everyone likes a BSD, and you will definitely still need to network hard. I don't think the WM internship is that impressive. Number one, you literally don't do shit that relates to IB, except maybe get a chance to correspond with clients. And, every kid has this interest to get one of these unimportant internships, hard to standout when you're very much the same as everyone else.

As well, when networking, it's more important to have things to talk about that are interesting and show your personality. Instead of just reading off a list of things you did, it's better to always be able to tell a story about how things that relate with the added bonus to have the chance to throw in every now and then just how great you are (BSD) with your leadership. Hard to do that in PWM as "intern" when all you really did was check stuff and get coffee.

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Sep 1, 2017

Big 4 is the way to go

You find plenty of opportunities as they have many offices and many different roles. They are a great learning opportunity and in contrast to other small local shops they are known around the world. Don't underestimate having known companies on you CV.

Sep 1, 2017

While in school? I don't know if that would really work out unless you secured an internship, which at that point you might as well just try to find one with a bank or some sort of other finance role. If you're unable to land a gig out of school or perhaps unable to land a SA spot, then most definitely would be a pretty solid decision, but just know that you won't develop any of your technical skills for IB in a lot of Big 4 situations.

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Sep 1, 2017

This question is one that is easily answered by geographic location. Ideally, if you live in a finance hub city and are a freshman I would recommend getting anything at like a HF, IB, PE, etc. shop even if you probably won't be doing as substantial work. 2nd thing to do would be to buy the WSO resume review service. They can spin the experience to make you look really competitive. Honestly, if you get a freshman internship or during the summer before school starts you can beat the shit out of a lot of people.

Sep 1, 2017

Another idea is to look at local nonprofit/churches/etc. and volunteer to help them out with their financial planning. Not as good as a real internship for recruiting but it kills two birds with one stone.

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Sep 1, 2017

My strategy recommendation is partly to do with looking up any financial firms in your area. But instead of sending an email, either 1. Pick up the phone and call the senior most person you can get on the phone. Or even better, show up at their office. You have to talk your way into it. It's easy to do when you can tell them you'll work for free just to get expsoure to their business which is your dream etc. Essentially, show some motivation and some balls and it will not fail you.
Example. Good friend of mine wanted to be a lawyer. Had no law school. Never worked in a law office and had no attorney contacts in our city but had done business in M&A. So she identified her top firms in our town, did a bit of research and picked up the phone to 5 senior partners. Based on how she spoke (confidence and balls), two of them actually thought she was a client until she gave the ask. By the end of the week she had a job with Akin Gump.

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Sep 3, 2017

@thefamilyofficesdb @finbrah @BillBelichick37 @BillBelichick37 I like your ideas and suggestions. If a student is taken 4 classes a semester, though, how should I convey that to the senior most person I can get on the phone or get in front of? Should I just explain that I can't go over 15 hours a week because I do not want my GPA to get slayed by long hours? I don't want to lose an opportunity because I can't give them 20 hours a week, but I need the experience. What are your thoughts? How should a student such as myself go about that? Thank you

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Sep 4, 2017

Get the offer first then worry

Sep 6, 2017

I just hired a high school kid for an internship after he showed up in person with his resume at my office. But I'm calling BS on your lawyer story. In several states, it is indeed possible to take the bar exam without law school, but no Biglaw firm like Akin Gump hires ppl without a J.D.

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Sep 6, 2017

I just hired a high school kid for an internship after he showed up in person with his resume at my office. But I'm calling BS on your lawyer story. In several states, it is indeed possible to take the bar exam without law school, but no Biglaw firm like Akin Gump hires ppl without a J.D.

This was not for a position as an attorney! It was paralegal (on the way to becoming an attorney and getting foot in the door, working with good people and learning was the priority etc.) Should have clarified that. That should be easier to believe ;)

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Sep 7, 2017

Depends on what you mean by "impressive". If IB is your final goal, there is plenty of great advice here... But if it's buyside that you're ultimately after, I think the best way to get ahead is to demonstrate that you're very good at... well, investing. And a good way to do that is putting together stock pitches. The benefits are 1) you actually learn a skill that funds are looking for, 2) you learn soon enough whether or not you like doing it, 3) by publishing your ideas on SeekingAlpha, Sumzero or someplace like that, you build a track record and cred of sorts, 4) you have something interesting to talk about with prospective employers (for example by sending out your pitches and then setting up coffee chats/calls asking for feedback/advice). At some point, if you're good at this, it will show and people will want to hire you, and not the other way around.

Sep 8, 2017

Try reaching out to your respective University endowments. Went to a semi-target and had a great non-paid semester internship experience. I had the opportunity to see how some of the greatest absolute return managers in the world invest and think. The team was pretty tight knit as well.

Sep 8, 2017

McDonalds. This is not a joke. Working at McDonalds will teach you a hell of a lot about human nature in a customer service relationship.

Just make sure its a front office role (ie cashier), not back office in the kitchen. You need to be interacting with the customers directly and learning how to upsell them fries.

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Sep 8, 2017

Yeah it's called being a student. Heard learning is the order of the day there.

Sep 8, 2017

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Sep 8, 2017

I know Merrill ops will pay for mba, not sure about undergrad other than usual tuition reimbursement.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

Sep 8, 2017

Thanks for your reply. Sorry but what do you mean by Merrill ops? Back office? I am trying to switch out of my current field (because it sucks). I just don't know what kind of companies/careers that will hire me before I get my degrees.

Sep 8, 2017

Well you need the Bachelors first before you can get the job. If you are talking about your MBA, most F500 companies have a continuing education program but you will only be eligible after you have worked for them for X number of years.

Sep 8, 2017

True. I actually work for one of those companies (one of the biggest) but they actually pay very little towards school. That's the reason why I would like to just get my foot in the door with a company now, so when the MBA comes, there won't be any time restraints. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks for the response.

Sep 8, 2017

You could probably swing it if you work really hard, but realistically, your grades would suffer a bit (if you want to transfer to a target you have little to no margin of error) and you'd have a nonexistent social life.

Sep 8, 2017

Doable. I worked banking-lite hours (60-70/week) for a year in college and only tanked by 0.1 GPA-wise.

Sep 8, 2017

Having the intention to transfer from a socal private to a target is already a bad start. If you didn't get into a target, you didn't put in the work. Add on a full-time job and you'll be shit out of luck because I don't expect you to starting putting in the work now. Your only chance at transferring is perfect grades and you won't have that if you're working full-time. Decide whether you want to work in your family's business or do your own thing in banking. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

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Sep 8, 2017

Thanks for the monkey shit. Good luck finding one of those "night internships."

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Sep 8, 2017

I totally understand your skepticism regarding my lack of effort in high school. The issue with my high school GPA is that I did not exert any effort during my freshman year of high school (I ended the year with a 2.67 GPA). That being said, I've since matured. I've managed to hold a 3.9 unweighted GPA for the past three semesters. I know on paper I look like a lazy POS, but I'm attempting to prove to myself that a number will not determine the outcome of my future. I fucked up, there is no question about that, but I hope to prove that I do have work ethic. I'll keep you updated on my progress throughout my entire transfer process. Thanks for your input.

Sep 8, 2017

I don't think anyone could say yes/no without knowing what hours you're expected to work for the job and the availability of classes at your school. I know a ton of kids that have swung a LOT of work during school (like ~50/week), but it all depends on your schedule. If this job required you to be in the office from 9-5, you can only take classes during the day that don't have mandatory attendance (or pseudo-mandatory attendance through quizzes or BS), but if the hours that you need to work are flexible, you'll definitely be able to do it.

Sep 8, 2017

It's possible - there are certainly people who have to work FT during college because of their financial situations. I don't know that I would recommend it though, and I certainly wouldn't do it as a freshman.

If your dad can pay you 60k/yr, I assume your family is pretty well off. That gives you the privilege to just enjoy college if you want.

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Sep 8, 2017

We're doing alright, but I'm preparing for the worse and am trying to set myself up to pay for my dad's retirement in the future. The benefit of this job would be that I could pay my dad back immediately for sending me to college. That being said, I would rather pay him back later if taking a full time job in college would hurt my future career prospects.

Sep 8, 2017

Throwing monkey shit at people giving you advice isn't the way to break into IB. You're in high school. If you want to make it in IB, it's time to grow up kid.

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Sep 8, 2017
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Sep 8, 2017
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Sep 8, 2017