Why Do BBs even hire from Non-targets?

Intern in IB-M&A

Since many people from lower ranked schools are as qualified or more qualified than those from higher ranked schools, why do bulge brackets hire disproportionately from higher ranked schools?

Comments (122)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

Because it isn't always true that HYP student > non-target student. Too many factors enter into college decisions and talent is as a result scattered across a greater variety of schools, hence why firms don't only recruit at HYP.

This isn't as true in other countries however. Europeans have a much more elitist system where target schools hold more weight than in the US, which results in London classes being essentially Oxbridge/LSE + few others (HEC, Bocconi...)

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

you are right

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 4, 2020

Who would you rather be around 100 hours a week: A pimply nerd from Harvard who grew up playing the violin and chess in his free time with next to no social skills or a bright kid from that grew up playing sports and has excellent teamwork skills from state university that busted his/her balls to get an offer.

Note: banking at a senior level is a sales job. However even at junior levels social skills are extremely important. There are VERY few people who have analytical skills AND excellent sales/social skills. Hence, in many cases the non-target social kid may be the better all around option as in banking your math brain really only needs to be "OK"

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Jan 4, 2020

Definitely agree in the context of University results/ Resume so far - but I would argue (username checks out) that the correlation between results up to college & a successful finance career aren't exactly perfect. In my experience they essentially want to know if you're smart enough to not f**k up & from there what are looking for is someone that can fit on the team cohesively and go from there

Jan 4, 2020

This is so pretentious. I went to a non-target and have worked with dozens of target school students in multiple capacities. I actually prefer kids who didn't go to targets. Why? Because I don't have to explain basic finance and accounting to them.

Sure the ivy league kids are smart...no argument there, but the job isn't so difficult that a college student who does well in accounting or finance undergrad can't be proficient at the job.

The non-target kids who get into FO roles know exactly what they are signing up for relative to the targets who majored in Ancient Greek literature, but decided to go into banking because it paid well.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 5, 2020

Of course I am lol. Sorry you took so much MS for it though, wasn't my intention.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 4, 2020

London classes have plenty of "non-targets" at top US BBs (which I think is a good thing). BBs in London target geographic diversity, so you will naturally see some people outside the traditional UK targets and HEC/Bocconi.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

Don't have experience with European offices, but whenever I take a look at schools' representation at top banks, it always seems that the top EU targets take many more analyst spots than the top US ones - just use LinkedIn to compare the LSE's placement with traditional US targets like HYP, Wharton, Columbia, Stern... Huge difference, which is why I'd say US recruiting is more decentralized. Doesn't mean that non-target placement doesn't exist in the UK though.

Jan 6, 2020

This is not true. I can tell both from direct experience and public sources. It's true that they need geographic diversity given the nature of the business but they hire Italians from Italian targets, Spanish from Spanish targets and French from French targets. Plus a fairly sizeable recruitment regardless nationality from UK targets (that are many more then the two three always mentioned here). It's true that they are enlarging the list of targets given the rising focus on diversity but we always talk about prestigious business schools and the majority still comes from the main targets. Just do a search on LinkedIn about Italians in BB or in IBD in London who attended an Italian university other than Bocconi

Funniest
Jan 4, 2020

Because ppl who ask these types of questions exist in Ivies

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Most Helpful
Jan 4, 2020

Is this the dumbest question on wso?

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Jan 4, 2020

Yes.

Jan 4, 2020

If you can't answer that question in the time it took you to type it out good luck in life bud

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  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 4, 2020

Because for one, OP, non-targets don't ask questions like you did in this post...

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Jan 4, 2020

"Why would a bank hire smart hardworking individuals from all walks of life, when they could hire ivy league clones whose SAT scores and GPA's aren't merely a reflection of their intelligence or hard work, but partially a reflection of the privileged lifestyles that afforded them that position in the first place?"

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Jan 4, 2020

I dont think to be privileged is a problem. However, as you say, I think they consider people from non target universities because in all teams variety of experiences and backgrounds is important in order to have different points of view over the same issue,case or problem.

Array

Jan 4, 2020

Cool that you think that but privilege is a major player as to how people access ivy league education. Not withstanding the financial barrier of affording elite private education, people in this country don't have the same access to secondary education and SAT preparation. Someone who payed $60/hr for an SAT tutor after their boarding school is going to do better than an equally smart and driven kid without those resources. This isn't to shit on people from more or less privileged backgrounds; they didn't chose the family they were born into. This is just to say that judging kids off of two metrics that aren't purely reflective of hard work and intelligence is flawed.

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Jan 4, 2020

Because people with 1200 SAT score got into Harvard. Also with GPA inflation , a 3.5 doesn't mean much at some Ivy's. You'd be well below average if you went to Brown business school. Also many Ivy's don't have technical accounting and finance classes . They are liberal arts schools after all. A 3.9 poli sci major at a target is more of an expense when it comes to training than a 3.9 finance major from a nontarget

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Jan 4, 2020

That's not true. If someone took classes in Data Structures, Algorithms, Theory of Statistics, Real Analysis, etc. you mean a 3.5 isn't much? If you're talking about Brown, then yes, I'd agree. But the other ivies, especially Cornell, then no.

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Jan 4, 2020

I wrote Brown for a reason . 3.5 would be solid at Cornell, MIT, Caltech but mediocre at Brown and Harvard

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

Last time I checked, Brown doesn't have a business school

  • Analyst 2 in CorpDev
Jan 4, 2020

I'm an idiot and I deserve the shit I got for this. Keep tossing fuck me.

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Jan 4, 2020

Right that was an error on my part. Let's say brown lib arts major then.

    • 1
Jan 4, 2020

wow I've been gone from WSO for almost three years and this question's still getting asked

Jan 4, 2020

You're not missing much. Still a bunch of thirsty undergrads trying to break into the supposed "lucrative" career of high finance.

Jan 4, 2020

You should probably delete your account after this one. It shows such a shocking lack of understanding of how the real world works that you wouldn't want it ever traced back to you.

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Jan 4, 2020

This forums obsession with targets and ivies is unhealthy. Get out of your bubble children

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  • Associate 2 in VC
Jan 4, 2020

I usually don't post on this site, but I thought the original poster could use a wake-up call.

I graduated from a HYP undergrad a few years ago and I now work in VC. When I started FT at a top-tier BB, I cared a lot about prestige and what university my co-workers had attended. After a few months as an analyst, it was pretty clear which analysts were top-bucket and which analysts were struggling to adapt to the analyst lifestyle. Some of the top-performing analysts came from HYP and other target schools, but there were also other analysts who had attended non-target state schools. At the 6 months mark, I slowly realized that one's undergrad education had little to do with the quality of their work. After getting to know the 'non-target' analysts, I realized they had probably worked just as hard as me during their undergrad years. Just as an example, this one analyst had attended a state school on full-scholarship, 4.0 GPA, PE internship, VC internship, and a boutique IB internship.

I come from a relatively privileged background, so prior to my analyst stint, I was completely clueless about the reality of the costs associated with America's college education system. The system is fucked up. One of my close friends from my years at the BB grew up in the lower middle class. He attended a state school on full-scholarship because his family wasn't poor enough to receive any need-based aid at top-tier schools, but they did not have the funds to be able to pay for his college tuition. For him, it was either attend a top-tier school and take on 100K+ in debt, or attend a state-school with no-debt.

So why do BBs hire non-target kids? From my brief experience in banking and VC, after you've proved you can produce quality materials and keep up with your peers, very few people care if you attended Harvard or the University of Utah. Picking a college in the US involves a lot more factors than simply: "Do I have the grades to attend University X?"

If this post is a troll, you got me. If not, the original poster and others who share the mentality that "target kids are superior to non-target kids in terms of performance" need to change their way of thinking. If not, it will only reflect negatively in your own performance and close many networking opportunities later in life.

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Jan 4, 2020
Associate 2 in VC:

I usually don't post on this site, but I thought the original poster could use a wake-up call.

I graduated from a HYP undergrad a few years ago and I now work in VC. Unfortunately, when I started FT at a top-tier BB, I cared a lot about prestige and what university my co-workers had attended. After a few months as an analyst, it was pretty clear which analysts were top-bucket and which analysts were struggling to adapt to the analyst lifestyle. Some of the top-performing analysts came from HYP and other target schools, but there were also other analysts who had attended non-target state schools. At the 6 months mark, I slowly realized that one's undergrad education had little to do with the quality of their work. After getting to know the 'non-target' analysts, I realized they had probably worked just as hard as me during their undergrad years. Just as an example, this one analyst had attended a state school on full-scholarship, 4.0 GPA, PE internship, VC internship, and a boutique IB internship.

I come from a relatively privileged background, so prior to my analyst stint, I was completely clueless about the reality of the costs associated with America's college education system. The system is fucked up. One of my close friends from my years at the BB grew up in the lower middle class. He attended a state school on full-scholarship because his family wasn't poor enough to receive any need-based aid at top-tier schools, but they did not have the funds t not rich enough to be able to pay for his college tuition. For him, it was either attend a top-tier school and take on 100K+ in debt, or attend a state-school with no-debt.

So why do BBs hire non-target kids? From my brief experience in banking and VC, after you've proved you can produce quality materials and keep up with your peers, very few people care if you attended Harvard or the University of Utah. Picking a college in the US involves a lot more factors than simply: "Do I have the grades to attend University X?"

If this post is a troll, you got me. If not, I would strongly advise the original poster and others who share the mentality that "target kids are superior to non-target kids in terms of performance" to change their way of thinking. Having that mentality will only reflect negatively in your own performance and close many networking opportunities later in life.

Great post, and I will give my flip side perspective.

I grew up on a farm in downstate IL. Over half my high school didn't go to college, and of those who did, another half only went to community college...fewer han 25% of the kids from my high school of 3,000 (at least when I graduated) ever made it to a 4 year school. I had engaged parents and got great grades, but neither of my parents went to good colleges. I also had a perfect ACT and a near perfect SAT.

I applied to 3 colleges for Mechanical Engineering and got into all three...Colorado, Illinois and MIT.

I got a partial athletic scholarship to CU and generally wanted to live in CO. Picking my school based on career prospects was not on my mind as an 18 yo, and I had no one to guide me about why that matters. I only applied to MIT because my mom made me since it was "the best" engineering school, and I was good at math.

I had a cousin who went to Princeton for football and ended up in IB because "that's what Princeton men do," who encouraged me to pursue that path. He and I aren't all that different. He just got recruited to a better school for a different sport.

I started at GS in my first job out of school and was intimidated by all of the Ivy League kids. I learned in about 2 months that many of those people were less prepared for the job than this ignorant farm hick. I just worked as hard as I could and that was enough to succeed.

Jan 9, 2020

A lot of people subscribe to the "undergrad is destiny" ideology on WSO (including the small but growing Marxist-Leftist contingent)

Do you think your life would be any better had you gone to MIT instead of CU?

Jan 10, 2020

As a fellow Boulder grad now working in consulting - amen.

Jan 4, 2020

No the main reason that Investment Banks hire kids from target banks is not because of their hard work or any of that. It's literally all because kids who attend target schools more often than not come from privileged and wealthy back grounds, where they have a network of wealthy individuals that they can utilize. If you've never noticed all your MD's will only care about talking to people or funds who have cash to spend. I remember countless times we stopped talking to a fund that was in the middle of fund raising simply because they didn't have any money that we were trying to get for our clients. Statistically speaking do you think a kid from a non-target has the same connections that a kid from a target school has? It's the same reason as why everyone goes to the M7 business schools. Do they actually teach you anything you can use? Fuck no. If anything most MBA associates are retarded when it comes to financial analysis but GOD DAM are they USEFUL for their alumni network and connections. It's actually funny because while banking places such a huge emphasis on prestigious schools, literally in the STEM fields they are the complete opposite and purposely ignore kids from the prestigious schools like MIT and CalTech because they're too theoretical and have their heads up in the clouds instead of being actually capable of producing something real.

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Jan 5, 2020

Exactly. I was the eldest of 3 boys being raised by a single mom. I got into some great East Coast schools, with partial scholarships. But my mom pulled me aside and said "You got into Berkeley with some aid and scholarship. I can't afford to help you go East. You have 2 brothers following you. We don't have much money. You gotta go in-state. I'm sorry, that's all we can do."
That's life. Good people go to non-targets and semi-targets, and one just has to hustle. Here's to kicking ass in 2020, with much love to fellow state-school people out there.

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Jan 5, 2020
earthwalker7:

Exactly. I was the eldest of 3 boys being raised by a single mom. I got into some great East Coast schools, with partial scholarships. But my mom pulled me aside and said "You got into Berkeley with some aid and scholarship. I can't afford to help you go East. You have 2 brothers following you. We don't have much money. You gotta go in-state. I'm sorry, that's all we can do."
That's life. Good people go to non-targets and semi-targets, and one just has to hustle. Here's to kicking ass in 2020, with much love to fellow state-school people out there.

No no no, you were a victim, and we need to take from the rich-but-unworthy and give to you.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jan 6, 2020

Even if you're a student at the University of Utah, you can still break into IB if you have the right work ethic

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 11, 2020

As a student at the U of U I can confirm. While we don't send many kids to banking (usually less than 10), as long as you have decent intelligence and are willing to put in the hours you will get an offer.

Jan 4, 2020

is there a way to ms a post?

Jan 4, 2020

Yes

Gun rights activist
Jan 4, 2020

Why do you care?

Currently applying to medical school.
7 Acceptance so far

  • Intern in IB - ECM
Jan 4, 2020

Go tell that to David Solomon that, he'll definitely appreciate knowing that some random HYP was "undoubtedly better than him"

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

first of all, I was joking when I said that. Second of all, David Solomon is the exception to the norm and Hamilton is also a good school. What do you think the chances are that a 3.5 grad from a state school will be more qualified than a 3.9 HYP grad?

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  • Intern in IB - ECM
Jan 6, 2020

Is Hamilton a good school? Yes. And there are many, many good schools, including state schools - you can probably list hundreds of 'good' or 'great' schools. Yet you still go on about Ivies and HYP.

I don't care about the chances of whether a 3.5 or a 3.9 is better - it is unrepresentative of a candidate and it is ostentatious to obsess over it. It is at most 3 characters on a resume. Qualification and one's ability to succeed in this industry have very little to do with one's GPA and college, as many in this thread have pointed out.

I wish you luck in succeeding because you're going to need it with that superiority complex.

Jan 4, 2020

There's often a finite need for excellent sheep.

Jan 4, 2020

The banks are looking for the most impressive all-around people. That means good grades, smart answers to questions, maturity, drive etc. Its a mix of characteristics they want and they are solving to maximize that.

Attending a top college isn't a great proxy for that. It's an OK proxy. I mean, what does it really take to get into HYP? Its primarily about your GPA from ages 14-17. That's already rife with issues. Its a different stage in a person's life. And the schools do a terrible job of correcting for degree of difficulty because they have a separate agenda of favoring certain racial groups, donors, athletes etc.

So I think the bank would love to get all their kids from HYP but but too many talented people will have already slipped through the cracks in the admission process of those schools. So the banks have to look more broadly to find the very best.

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Jan 4, 2020

The reason is simple, many firms (I can't say if GS specifically does this or not) find that recruits from HYP or other-ivy and ivy-like prestige do not perform much better if any better than recruits from quality state schools, small privates, etc. This has been a benefit of data analysis int the post-2008 world. Further, recruits from non-targets are often less demanding on pay, stay longer, and otherwise don't carry the ivy-baggage (trust me, if you drop the H-bomb too often, you are getting made fun of, especially at the analyst/associate level).

GS isn't stupid, they do this because it's good for their business.

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jan 4, 2020

thanks for an actual answer

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Jan 4, 2020

Glad to help. This thread seemed to trigger many (I'm from a state school background myself, but very non-standard path to where I am now). Another point is that when you consider that many clients of the BB firms are headed by CEOs, CFOs, and VPs from all sorts of schools, it probably would look bad to have the reputation of only hiring from one set of schools (especially the IVYs or so-called "targets" in general). A lot of big execs, wealth mngrs, PE/HF fund managers went to places like OSU, UT-Austin, PSU and even places like UF, UCF, and FIU (I'm from Florida originally, and I know legit billionaires from those three FL state schools). IB is a business and they have to win clients just like everyone else.

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Jan 5, 2020

"GS isn't stupid, they do this because it's good for their business."

Indeed. Actually I worked for a Bear Sterns guy back in the day. He said Bear looked for "PHDs" - 'poor, hungry, and driven'. "Give me a smart, hungry go-getter, I don't care where he went to school." This dude was made senior MD before he was 30, and he went to a lower-ranked state school. And then he got to Wall Street and hustled like his hair was on fire.

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Jan 5, 2020

Why do you think GS and other top banks should hire exclusively from HYP? Do you truly think that the "prestige" and the US News ranking of your school determine your intelligence level? Do you truly believe an HYP student is superior to a semi-target or non-target student?

I get a lot of people worked their asses off to get into HYP, but you cannot deny the amount of legacies who got in due to their parents. I know a lot of people (myself included) that had offers to go top schools but ended up having to go to "lower-ranked" schools due to the cost. My family couldn't afford the tuition costs (even after aid) and I didn't want to take on $100k in debt to have a brand on my resume.

Your anonymous profile (smart move, I guess you knew your poorly worded, ignorant sounding question would get a lot of heat) indicates you are an intern in M&A. If you have actually interned in IB, you should know it is not rocket science and is in fact more about work ethic and personality rather than book smarts. HYP does nothing different that any other schools in preparing you for IB, you can argue they actually do less since they do not offer an undergraduate Finance major. At the end of the day, it is completely inappropriate to compare 2 people based on who want to the more "prestigious" school. There are many factors that go into the college selection process, and beyond that, the variables that determine whether a student will be successful in IB have nothing to do with academic performance and the name of your school. I hope you understand that after all these replies.

Jan 5, 2020

I'll chime in because I did think like OP in part from undergrad through probably the first couple months of my career. I went to a target school (though I didn't even know the concept existed at the time) and assumed whatever I recruited for would have candidates from similar schools.

I was pretty surprised when a lot of the interns for the summer and subsequently FT hires were not only from schools not ranked near mine but from secondary state schools and non-selective private schools.

I started working with pretty senior folks at my firm from the start and was very impressed by them. I realized frequently after several weeks of close work they went to schools I'd never even heard of or thought negatively of.

It clicked for me quickly that everyone's upbringing and opportunities are so different that very qualified smart people won't necessarily have gone to top schools in tons of cases, but career growth is blind to all that when talent and hard work shine through. It might take longer to get to that desired firm or industry for someone from another school or with lower GPA, but it's a long career and these things sort themselves out.

When I work with someone now I don't care at all where they went to school and I certainly wouldn't hire the kid with a 3.7 from HYP over the kid with 3.7 from his local public school just based off that.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 5, 2020

Man the tomfoolery on these threads these days is wild.

Jan 6, 2020

cringes

Jan 5, 2020

Why does your girlfriend blow dudes in the locker room of Golds Gym? One of those things w/out an obvious explanation that just is.

Array

Jan 5, 2020

Because banks, at any tier, will still want to have analysts who have worked their way there by being a well-rounded human being and not just being one-dimensional and/or overprivileged and not just get handed the position on a silver platter just because they went to a ivy league. Attending an ivy league school or any top tier target universities is NO GUARANTEE of being a top performing analyst.

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Jan 6, 2020

Targets: will get priority first pass for most firms and will generally be first choice given they are generally more well connected and more polished

Non-targets: hungry kids who will leverage usually decent sized alumni networks / can demonstrate social acumen and hustle which can be a decent indicator of more soft required banking skills

The reality is that in the internship and interview phase, target kids who are on equal standing with non-target kids will be given priority because they are a safer choice. This is a fact. However, non-target kids can frequently make a case for themselves that they are a better choice. Imagine if you have equal technical skills on the job as well as getting along with your team equally, the truth is it will come down to the relationships you have in your team on an individual basis. PM me for further questions.

Coming from someone who got a full-time offer when pitted against an SA colleague who was from a target school and I was not

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Jan 6, 2020

You could hire them all, but you're gonna get stuck with a bunch of Jared Kushners and Donald Trumps. Might as well just hedge your bets and get in top students from other schools, instead of completely relying on the vetting of a few schools.

Furthermore, banks have a lot more competition for top talent these days.

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Jan 6, 2020

Watching interns argue over this is 10/10..."I know a guy who has a 3.6 non-target who works at MS/GS/whatever"

You guys seriously don't have a clue, its astonishing

Jan 6, 2020

Interns, take this shit to CollegeConfidential or some other site, come back when you get a FT

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 6, 2020

I didn't go to a target school, but I'm not sure where this whole HYP nerd with zero social skills narrative came from. In fact, I'd argue I know more of these kids from state schools than the former...also, the obvious MIT/Cal-Tech..

Jan 6, 2020

I go to a state school also and I'd argue it's easier to spot the nerds. A business major is more outgoing and well rounded while a math/physics (and usually CS) tend to be the nerdier types. At an Ivy because there isn't really a finance major Econ could be your well rounded middle class kid or that math/Econ double major .

Jan 7, 2020

Shit, weren't something like two thirds of recent Harvard students virgins (at enrollment), and a quarter of all students skipped sex during their college years.

Jan 11, 2020

Well some people want to remain virgins (religious/moral reason)... Doesn't mean they don't have social skills. I mean let's be real if you want that type of girl it's not too hard to get one.

Jan 6, 2020

This is the dumbest question I have ever seen on this site, and that's really saying something.

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Jan 6, 2020

Considering the fact you aren't a certified user with a boatload of banana it actually says quite little.

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 6, 2020

Lol, considering you're a non-target student confused about his career path with a Gorilla ranking, I'd saying you spend far too much time on WSO. Say less; recruit more.

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Jan 6, 2020

This guy definitely does not FVCK

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Jan 6, 2020
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Jan 6, 2020
Jan 9, 2020