What's recruiting like at a Target vs. a Non-Target?

Seachrome's picture
Rank: Monkey | 62

I'm in the process of finishing up some essays for R2 applications to the top Master's in Finance programs -not exactly the best Christmas I've ever had- and could use a little kick of motivation/realism.

As an undergrad at a non-target, I've learned that it's pretty damn hard to get even an interview at one of these firms without a crazy GPA or connections. The thing is, I'm not sure how much easier it is at a target school. Career services at my school regarding IBD are entirely non-existent and the few professors who have worked in the field either retired a long time ago or are pretty reticent about their experiences/connections.

Due to this lack of information, throughout this process I've pictured the top schools as golden tickets to a great career in finance. However, I've realized recently that people from these schools are competing with each other, and not even necessarily with people in their major. I mean, if you're competing with everyone from Poli Sci Harvard Undergrads to Sloan MSF students to Stanford CS majors... my perspective seems a little too rosy.

So how is it really? Is trying to break into IBD from a target still swimming in shark-infested waters or is it basically all smooth sailing?

Comments (15)

Dec 25, 2017

I mean IBD recruiting for undergrad at a target vs non-target is night and day - at one you have banks coming to campus to recruit with resume drops, meaning with a solid experience/resume and some networking, as well as proper interview prep, you should receive multiple first rounds, superdays, and eventual offers. At a non-target, you need to have a great connection/really impress someone networking to get your resume even looked at. Obviously nothing is guaranteed with the competitiveness of the IBD recruitment process but, just do a quick LinkedIn search of wall street alumni from a target vs a non-target - the vast differences in representation on the street could not be explained just by varying degrees of interests at universities.

Now, for a Masters in Finance program I think you're going to have a different experience - from my understanding, even at a target program, it is still more challenging to recruit than from a target undergrad program. Still should be great improvement from a non-target undergrad, but how much so may vary.

Dec 26, 2017
xxx-ThrowAway-xxx:

I mean IBD recruiting for undergrad at a target vs non-target is night and day - at one you have banks coming to campus to recruit with resume drops, meaning with a solid experience/resume and some networking, as well as proper interview prep, you should receive multiple first rounds, superdays, and eventual offers. At a non-target, you need to have a great connection/really impress someone networking to get your resume even looked at. Obviously nothing is guaranteed with the competitiveness of the IBD recruitment process but, just do a quick LinkedIn search of wall street alumni from a target vs a non-target - the vast differences in representation on the street could not be explained just by varying degrees of interests at universities.

Now, for a Masters in Finance program I think you're going to have a different experience - from my understanding, even at a target program, it is still more challenging to recruit than from a target undergrad program. Still should be great improvement from a non-target undergrad, but how much so may vary.

Okay, I gotcha. So applying at a target is still quite a lot of work, but not any more than a dream job in any field.

Could you expand on what you mean by having a different experience at a Master's? From what I understood, they're basically resume boosters for people from non-target backgrounds or with little experience. But the top ones are definitely not easy to get into- I had a way harder time with the GMAT and college courses (CS degree) than with the SATs and AP classes in high school.

I don't fully see what the difference is between having a school on your undergrad versus having it as your Master's. I always thought a school like Berkeley/MIT/Princeton/Oxford/etc. would be good no matter when you got your degree.

Dec 26, 2017

While having a target university on your resume will strengthen it slightly, a Masters degree at one of those illustrious institutions you mentioned is less 'impressive' than an Undergrad. I'll give it a shot at explaining why.

The ratio between applicants/places is everything to people that are focused on prestige, like Investment Banks and Consultancy firms. That simple ratio defines which institutions are considered elite.

At Undergraduate there are simply far more people applying (even though the number of places on Undergrad courses are often fewer than MSc Finance/MSc Management courses). As a consequence, the applicants-to-places ratio is much higher. A target undergrad education is, by that measure, more elite.

This is compounded by a decreasing quality of applicants from Undergrad to Masters. Undergrads at MIT or Oxford will normally have jobs lined up for when they finish. We assume that the best people are given jobs first, which lets face it, is not unrealistic. So the 'very best' people don't need masters degrees. The perception among HR is almost invariably that a Masters simply provide another shot at recruiting, for those who didn't impress employers enough first time around.

Regrettably, Masters are now being thought of as cash-cow for illustrious universities to exploit. Undergrad students (who spend three of four years there) are treated by the uni and recruiters as the 'real deal' and the 'true output' of such institutions, and masters students (who spend 10 months on campus) are seen to be simply buying a year of experience.

It is this combination of competitiveness/quality/perception which results in a target Undergrad holding more clout among recruiters than a target Masters. My experience is that in life more generally (socially etc), that rule holds true (despite it sometimes going unsaid).

Dec 25, 2017

It's much easier at a target. Aside from OCR/resume drops/info sessions, there will also be more alumni to network with.

Dec 25, 2017

Way harder at a non-target for obvious reasons. Have heard it's somewhat hard from a MSF program as well, IMO a job with transferrable skills and heavy networking would be better from an opportunity-cost standpoint.

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Dec 26, 2017
Gutfreund_:

Way harder at a non-target for obvious reasons. Have heard it's somewhat hard from a MSF program as well, IMO a job with transferrable skills and heavy networking would be better from an opportunity-cost standpoint.

Could you explain what you heard about recruiting at MSF programs? I always thought that a degree from a top 10 school would make it much easier for you regardless of when you got it.

Dec 26, 2017

MSF is not held with the same regards as an MBA, which people use to make a career switch in most cases. So yes an MSF from one of these Top 10 schools would give you more alum to reach out to - but most of these will be straight from undergrad or the school's MBA program into IB. So something to consider, are the alum in IB coming out of the MSF?

The other point is that you might need to polish up your networking and interviewing skills and figure out if this is what's hindering you from a FT IB offer, before signing up to pay thousands of dollars on a MSF only to come out with debt and no offer in the end, when that time could have been spent at a Corp Dev, Credit, Big 4 role instead and just networking, WSP, studying for CFA on your free time to make the switch.

Dec 26, 2017
Comment