This is a throw back post.
Practically all emails we are receiving surround the same topic, internships, job choices and choosing to focus on GPA/majors/experience. Having been on the other side of the table for the interview process it’s sometimes hard to remember all the choices we make and how to make the correct one. Many people are out there trying to “maximize” which bank they work for and for good reason as your first major job is one of the turning points in your career. So we will take a look at how you’re going to decide where you will work. Beginning at the lowest level on Wall Street… the Summer Analyst/Associate Level.
Step 1 The Application:
When applying for your summer internships remember the screening process. Here’s the refresher 1) GPA 3.5+, 2) Finance course work – accounting or corporate finance, 3) Finance internships in something close to Wall Street, 4) Extracurricular activities that show interest in finance or transferable skills. The trump card is an internship in Wall Street role. With that said most questions that we are fielding surround the “GPA” so here’s the breakdown.
1) Always choose an investment banking role over GPA if you want your best shot to get into Wall Street. Always. Even if you have a 3.0 we will interview you. Why? You are a less risky hire and have the credentials
2) We screen out at ~3.5+ GPA, a 3.7+ GPA may be the water mark for some banks, however a 3.5+ GPA and a real internship at a real bank will trump the 0.2 delta every day of the week
3) Double majors… Again review the 4 step process, if you can obtain a private wealth management job instead of a degree in political science…. You guessed it we’re choosing the finance resume
4) Regarding the sub 3.5 GPA and banking experience, you will be interviewing with a negative stigma, we will believe you had “preferred selection”… Hope you get the idea, so be prepared for a grilling on your role there and how you obtained the job (see how you’re already in the interview room though)
5) Finally, while finance courses are important once you get through 1-2 basic finance and accounting courses it is best to switch gears and get internships close to a Wall Street role.
Step 2 The Internship:
Some people get caught up in “prestige” for the summer analyst role. This is damaging. As always think about how you will be perceived when you interview for your full time role “What will be most impressive to my future interviewer?”… Ding… That they offered you the slot. So when you choose your internship it is in your best interest to research heavily in both the bank and the group. If you have to choose between Citigroup and Morgan Stanley but know that Citigroup extended 90% offers and Morgan Stanley extended 25% offers… Go with Citigroup and interview with Morgan Stanley during the fall recruiting season. Since we want to make you rich and save you time here are some situations and exceptions.
1) Choosing between a dying bulge bracket or a growing middle market bank? Here you choose the middle market bank. If you’re surprised re-read the underlined text, getting an offer is paramount, in the fall you interview with your credentials. It is like walking into a party with an 8.5/10 on your arm already… You get the idea.
2) Choose between a sweatshop Bulge Bracket or an easy Bulge Bracket? Simply look at the offer rate. It is only 10 weeks so if the sweatshop has a 100% conversion… get ready to destroy your body with stimulants for 10 weeks. It’s worth it.
3) Choosing between an internship in Banking at a small bank or private wealth management at a Bulge Bracket? Again it bears repeating, transferable skills. If you want to work on Wall Street… then… get Wall Street experience. The Boutique or Middle Market.
4) If you do not know which side of the Street you want and have mixed offers in S&T/Research/Banking at Bulge Brackets to Mid-Markets? Choose Investment Banking it is the most transferable, at minimum they know you work hard
5) Multiple offers but your ideal interview is in a week? Push as hard as possible to sign the date late. If you absolutely must choose today you may be forced to “re-neg”. This is taboo advice, however, you will soon realize absolutely no one in the hierarchy cares about you so it’s best to place yourself at the best bank possible. Ruining a single job offer is not a life ending situation.
Step 3 The Full-Time Offer:
We already wrote about warning signs and how to choose the right bank, however a good summary on how to choose the right bank in an all else equal scenario is as follows: 1) Prestige (note it does not say “bulge bracket”), 2) M&A over ECM or DCM and 3) Life Balance. Notice, here we care much less about getting “offers”, instead we care more about placing the right “logo” on our resume:
Goldman M&A banking? Front of the line sir.
Jefferies M&A Banking? Middle of the line sir.
Moelis? Front of the line sir.
Quatalyst with massive deal experience? First in line sir.
So on and so on. As written earlier… Pain today or regret tomorrow.
Notably, this is also a great time to address the bitter banker issue when you finish your 2nd year. To be put simply, your low twenties are not the best years of your life. Instead you have built a strong resume by working at some terrible job, this pain will continue through for roughly 3 more years, at that point it gets much easier. The pay goes up, the hours go down and you have enough valuable skills to be an important asset to your firm.
Conclusion: If any young reader wants to cut to the chase the best thing you can do for yourself is remember the following “If I was the hiring manager what would I want to see?”. A 4.0 GPA in Chemical Engineering from an Ivy League is great, but how does that help the interviewer? It doesn’t. So before you take a new job, pick up a new major, or choose a dangerous platform to work for ask yourself the same question and you’ll stumble upon your solution 9 times out of 10. This theme continues even as you move up the ladder. Develop valuable skills and your bank account will thank you.