An entry-level job at an investment bank typically requires you to have a college degree. This can be a degree in finance, economics, accounting, or business. Degrees such as Master of Business Administration (MBA) or advanced degrees in math can add to a candidate’s appeal as well. At these kinds of programs, you can acquire the knowledge and skills you need for investment banking. If you don’t have a degree such as these, your chances of getting a job at an investment bank are very low.
Investment banks recruit people from the best colleges and universities in the world. To attract the attention of campus recruiters and hiring managers, you will probably need to have good grades as well. In the US, most investment bankers have graduated from Ivy League schools. So if you are coming from a different school, or if you have bad grades, you might have a harder time finding a job in investment banking. Of course, other ways can help you get this type of job. But, more on that later.
If you are still in college, start networking with other students who have the same interests as you. You never know who is going to have what position in the future. For anyone that’s wondering how to become an investment banker, you should know that your network is one of the most important aspects. If you create a big network of people, there is a higher chance you will get a good job in a few years. Of course, it is more effective if you know somebody higher up at the bank. But, who can guarantee that that won’t be one of your college colleagues in a few years?
Another way you can expand your network is by doing internships during your studies. These contracts last shorter and are generally easier to find. You can even do a few internships to meet more people as well as have more experience. We know that it is nicer to enjoy a vacation when you can just relax. But, remember, what you do during your studies can majorly impact your career.
How much experience do you have?
Having experience can put you on top of the list when it comes to applying for any job. It makes sense anyhow. If you already have the experience, the company where you want to work doesn’t have to invest as much to train you. But, it can be hard to get experience if everyone is asking for experience when you apply for a job.
The first thing investment banking recruiters look for on your resume is experience. It doesn’t matter if you were at the top of your class if you don’t know how to do business analysis, financial modeling, and so on. This is why it is so important to do internships during college. If you find a banking investment internship, that is even better. While gaining the skills you need, you will also gain an enormous advantage when you apply for a job.
So, you have experience – but how relevant is it exactly?
Of course, as we have previously explained, you must have some experience if you want to land an investment banking job. The thing is, relevance is vital when for people that are assessing your resume. Now, as you’re trying to break into investment banking, the probability is low that you have experience in that exact area. But, some things are more connected to investment banking than others. There is a way to boost your chances here, so, let’s see just how.
Do you have experience in something that is even remotely connected to the job that you’re seeking? If the answer is yes, you must use that to your advantage. How you should do is by presenting the experience as analytical and banking-related as you possibly can. Make sure that you use specific examples though – being vague will not get you far. Highlight your results and try to connect them to a certain aspect of investment banking.
How much time and thought did you pour into your resume?
Your resume is the first thing that any company is going to assess, and if you want to get the job – you need to ensure that the first impression is good. Many people tend to work on the aspects that they want to put in their resume more than they work on the resume itself. The problem with this is that even the most impressive stats lose their significance if not presented well. This doesn’t mean that your CV should be a masterpiece, but it does need time to procure the best version.
So, not only is it important for your resume to look good and grab attention, but it also needs to be representative. Be careful about what you put into the resume, as all of it paints a picture of you as a candidate. Of course that you want to present yourself in as positive a version as possible, but make sure that you can back those words up. If you land an interview, the probability is high that your interviewer is going to want to learn more about your resume. Plan in advance!
How many opportunities are you using?
All of the things that we’ve been talking about so far are important and have their place in seeking a job in investment banking. The thing is – none of these things really matter if you don’t seek and use opportunities that you’re presented with. We understand that the first step is always the hardest. Seeking opportunities can be incredibly stressful, especially if you get turned down a couple of times. But the truth is, being resilient and pushing forward is the only way to ensure that you’ll break into investment banking.
In the end, there is no golden equation that will be able to predict your overall chances. That being said, there are some guidelines that you can look into to find out more about your chances. After reading this article, you have learned more about the most important aspects when it comes to breaking into investment banking. Make sure that you assess all the parameters, keep doing your research, and good luck!