Friday, June 13, 2008

First Post! and How to Get In

Since this is the first post, welcome!  I hope you find this blog informative, interesting, and funny (hopefully, at least for my sake, there'll be no shortage of humor on the job).

Since I haven't started work yet, the only topic I can even begin to write about is how to get a job in investment banking.  Although I can't imagine that it's easy for even the most qualified person to get a job in finance, I do have some friends who I couldn't imagine not getting into finance - and they did, but because of the current market, they received fewer offers than they would have in a better year.  These friends are the people with strong-but-likable personalities, huge GPAs, impressive coursework related to finance, the right internships, and that tough ability to do everything right in their interviews.

I'm not one of those guys.  My GPA's mediocre, my coursework (science) is almost completely unrelated to finance, I've never worked at a bank, hedge fund, private equity shop or anything related, and I've done many things wrong in my interviews.  So with these stats, or even with impressive backgrounds like those of my friends, how do you go about landing a job in IB ?

First, learn about it.  Talk to anyone you know who works at a bank, from your analyst friends to managing director-level alumni.  There are plenty of reasons you might want to go into IB, but these guys will give you the real scoop with what you'd be doing.  Associates are particularly helpful to talk with, since not only were many of them analysts before rising to associate, but they directly manage analysts and can tell you what traits are valuable, which you can then decide if you possess.  I would hope that some people you talk with discourage you from entering finance; the more realistic a picture you get, the better, and if you decide that it truly interests you, you will absolutely have a leg up on other applicants.

Second, network.  You talked to your friends and alumni; these are not the people to ask for jobs unless they offer (your analyst friends can't help and you want to forge meaningful relationships with your alumni).  Very important people to network with are those who know you or your parents.  If you have these options available and think you're above it, you're going to have to lose that attitude right away (I have some friends who were very reluctant at first to utilize their parents to find a job), because you will be competing with people who are using their connections.  If, like most of us, you don't have any of these personal connections, use your school's alumni network (wisely!).  I don't care how big your school is; actively seek out relationships with people with similar backgrounds to your own, don't ask for a job right away, and you will have valuable new contacts.  For great networking dos and don'ts, see the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal.

Third, be proactive and persistent.  Shoot for several in-person or phone meetings with your contacts per week.  Don't be a pest and don't overuse any one contact, but do stay in touch.  A few people will emerge as real resources; an incredibly helpful person who was even involved with hiring at a bank spent a lot of time with me on improving my résumé.  Ask these people to help you with your résumé!  They'll be reading résumés, so they will tell you exactly what you need to do.  When you meet with someone, dress like you would in an interview (non-black suit, conservative shirt and tie if you're a guy, polished dress shoes, polished hair and appearance) since you may be called up to his office for your "informal" meeting.  You'll often be overdressed, but it's better than to be underdressed.

Fourth, ace your interviews.  By now, with all your networking, applying through your (and nearby or affiliated schools') career center, and cold applying to a ton of banks, you'll have at least a few first-round interviews lined up.  Be yourself, be confident, be humble, and expect the interviewer to try to shake you up.  If you're at this stage and you've diligently taken care of the above three points, you'll be in great shape for the final rounds and an offer.


brian said...

hey good post i'm looking forward to reading this after you've worked for a bit... i'm a rising junior so i'm gonna be in the recruiting process soon

Ryan said...

I'm sorry, but I'm a noob to all of these. Why do we have to wear non-black suits for formal interviews. Is there any special meaning of black suit?
Thx =)

The Analyst said...

Hey Ryan, I'm not sure why non-black is the way to go, but it's what I've heard from multiple sources. Mergers & Inquisitions (a great blog) has some thoughts here. He thinks black suit is too formal for business; I just assumed that charcoal or navy are considered more conservative.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see your in the field you love. I am also in a similar situation as I'm in a non related field and looking to get into finance. Best of luck...I will be visiting your blog often.

Jen said...

Hi the analyst,

I stumbled upon your blog through wallstreet oasis. I am in a similar situation as you were before you got your job. My background in in Engineering (w/o work experience) and I've been trying to get into the City for over 2 years now. I do have some questions which I hope you can help me out with. Please email me at so that I can get in touch with you. Thanks!