Current investment banker and former CC user - AMA

Hi everyone - figured I’d offer to do an AMA on investment banking careers as a current investment banker that was a frequent user of CC when I was in high school and going through the college application process. Feel free to ask me any questions on investment banking careers, internships, the recruiting process, or college decision questions. Happy to offer my perspective if at all helpful to current HSers and college students!

MODERATOR’S NOTE:

This is an verified AMA, anonymous_nyc is legit!

Thanks for taking time to do this.
I am a college 1st year student - on track to major in Math and CS at a top-10 college. I wasnt able to get any IB internships this summer (got a tech internship). How important it is to have internships to get into IB and how to get that first internship role? What majors are looked favorably (in other wordes a pure math/cs is ok? or they look for a finance coursework as well).

I applied to several IB internships this summer - not even a single firm even offered to interview me. In the tech side things are not great either (blind/online/careerservice applications sent: 40; not a single interview - finally got this role through a referral). In the single interview that I received everyone was impressed with my background and got the offer - but getting to the interview round seems difficult. wondering what I am doing wrong and how to improve my chances for next summer.
TIA.

IB internships first year are rare, not that common second year, and pretty much essential third year.

Even for math/cs, internships first year that are earned purely on merit (as opposed to family referrals) are uncommon. Most students haven’t developed that much skill in CS yet.

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Of course, happy to do this and great question. It is really hard to get an IB internship at any of the main banks for your freshman summer and even for your sophomore summer as the vast majority of the slots are for junior year summer analysts only (as afterward you would get an offer to join the full time analyst program for the following summer) so I wouldn’t be discouraged at all. At the freshman and sophomore level, there may be some early look or diversity short-term externship programs or virtual events that you may be eligible for and that are great ways to get into the pipeline for interviews for the junior summer internships down the line. You may also have more luck if you try to seek a local boutique IB internship or something else within finance such as a local wealth management firm or a corporate finance internship.

I go through a lot of resumes for the summer analyst internships and what we typically look for is a strong academic background (i.e. high GPA, strong university, relevant majors/minors), relevant finance coursework and extracurriculars (i.e. investment clubs, IB clubs, etc.), and relevant professional experiences (ideally finance internships but also other internships or leadership roles in extracurriculars). Going to a top 10 school and assuming you have a good GPA you will definitely get looks for IB recruiting for the junior summer analyst position. Typically finance majors or econ majors with finance coursework are the most preferred majors but also Math/CS/other quantitative majors are also looked favorably upon, especially if you are able to demonstrate you are interested in finance from taking finance classes or joining finance-related extracurriculars on campus.

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Moved this to AMA category at the top level for more visibility. Thanks for doing a verified AMA!

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Hi @anonymous_nyc ,

My son is currently an econ major but thinking of switching to finance. How difficult would it be to get into IB or Finance in general with an Econ degree. Whether or not he makes the switch in major, Finance is definitely a field he is seriously considering at this point.

Second question is, how helpful are programs like Global Platinum Securities and similar ones for students interested in IB/Finance? Similarly, would participating in his schools’ endowment student investment group be helpful beyond giving him a learning experience? As in, would it be something employers/internships might see as a bonus?

Thanks.

100% accurate. Best case after first year is usually some kind of two week “shadow” internship which normally aren’t widely recruited for (you need an “in”).

It depends somewhat on what school he is attending and the type of firm he is shooting for. In my S’s summer intern class at a bulge bracket, there were many interns from the usual Ivy and LAC feeders that don’t have finance majors, other than Wharton. The other interns were typically from a business school of a good university (e.g. Stern, Ross, etc…). Part of the challenge is where and which IB’s are steered to initially in your S’s school. It’s useful to be on the “list” of students who are invited to “get to know you/networking events” that many IB’s host at the schools.

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All of the banks also have special programs for diversity candidates (URMs and women). Students do not have to be attending IB/banking target schools to apply for those programs, and there are candidates with all types of majors. Have your S check into those as well, starting with his school’s career center. Perhaps @anonymous_nyc can talk more about these programs.

Your S should also create a LinkedIn profile and reach out to alumni from his school that are in jobs/companies of interest…networking is critical to getting a job in banking/IB.

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If your son is interested in IB, PM me. I have a list with many of the diversity programs. They are competitive though. All majors are considered. My D did not like IB, but she did use those programs to check them out. Finance bro culture was too strong for her and work didn’t seem that interesting. She settled on consulting instead.

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In response to your first question, Finance and Econ tend to be the two most common majors for IB incoming interns so doing an Econ major on a standalone basis would certainly keep the doors open for IB recruiting. I double majored in both finance and econ and found that the coursework from each major was helpful for preparing me for a career in IB. However, would note it does vary by school in terms of what major best prepares someone for IB recruiting. For instance if at an Ivy or top LAC, there likely isn’t a finance major available so econ is what most people who are planning to recruit for IB tend to major in and many of my coworkers were econ majors at top LACs. However, at a school that offers an undergraduate business program, finance majors from the business school will typically have the best placement into IB (in part due to the finance curriculum but also due to the stronger emphasis on career development and finance extracurriculars in undergraduate business schools, plus alumni and HR will typically give the edge to the business school students) compared to econ majors in the school of arts & sciences. However, if the econ major contemplated is housed within the business school, then this distinction is not really as significant.

For your second question, participating in finance-related extracurriculars whether through your son’s university or externally is definitely important and will help make his resume more competitive as it demonstrates an interest in finance and perhaps will enable him to participate in some professional experiences or deliverables such as stock reports or case studies. When we are going through resumes, we definitely see a lot of candidates with finance extracurriculars so I would say that it doesn’t necessary give an edge in recruiting but more just keeps you competitive amongst the other strong resumes. Examples of the types of finance extracurriculars students have on their resumes: IB workshops/bootcamps through their university, student-run investment portfolios, M&A clubs, distressed investing clubs, as well as third-party programs such as SEO (diversity) or corporate sponsored externship programs, case competitions, virtual development events, etc.

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Agree, all the banks these days have a huge emphasis on recruiting diverse talent (can include a combination of URMs, women, LGBTQ, veterans, disabled depending on the specific program). If your S/D fits any of these categories, they should certainly apply for any of the diversity programs that they qualify for. Most banks offer these as early as freshman and sophomore year whether for short externship programs or development days to diversity super days for the summer internship program. At a lot of banks half of the internship spots may be earmarked for diverse talent entering through these programs so it is certainly in one’s best interest to apply if eligible.

Also agree on networking with alumni through LinkedIn at the banks you are applying to. If we have two equivalent resumes and one of the candidates networked with several of the alumni, we will a lot of times give that candidate the interview slot because they had demonstrated their interest in the firm to several alumni.

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