Does venturing into investment banking give you a headache?
It’s infuriating, isn’t it? It does for many students, graduates, and career changers in the United States too!
I know venturing into a career in investment banking is one of the most lucrative and prestigious fields in finance, which is why many people like you are eyeing it.
But breaking into this competitive industry without prior experience can be a daunting process—especially if you don’t have an expert to hold your hand along the way.
However, if you use the right approach and strategy, starting a career in investment banking with no experience is possible.
In this article, I’ve put together a breakdown of straightforward, proven tips, insights, and strategies for getting into investment banking without experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
You’ve got a minute? Let’s dive in!
What’s Investment Banking?
In order to have a clear understanding of how to break into investment banking, you first need to understand what it stands for.
Investment banking offers financial guidance to individuals, organizations, and corporations. If you go into investment banking, you’ll be responsible for assisting security issuers and investors in managing mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations. Additionally, in investment banking, you’ll also help companies and governments raise capital, provide strategic advice on corporate finance matters, and perform financial analysis.
Is this job for you? Let’s find out more about this in the next section!
How to Become an Investment Banker
Let’s look at the right set of steps to follow if you want to become an investment banker in the US:
#1. At the undergraduate level, take your first degree in a finance-related field.
#2. At the graduate level
#3. At MBA level
#4. Beyond MBA level
#5. Take online courses if you’re transitioning from another career
Tips on How to Get into Investment Banking with No Experience
In this section, I’ll take you through how to start your career with the skills but with zero experience in the field.
#1. Start with internships/Volunteer opportunities
The easiest way that I know to get you into investment banking with zero experience is to apply for internships or volunteer opportunities in relevant organizations.
Not only will this give you the chance to get your foot in the door and learn the ropes in the industry, but it could also lead to valuable connections and opportunities down the line.
So, do not hesitate to put yourself out there and offer your skills and enthusiasm—who knows where it could take you!
These are opportunities you can create for yourself. Go for them!
#2. Use your story to create an elevator pitch
Undertaking volunteer work and internships not only provide you with valuable experience and skills but also offers a unique and compelling story that can help you stand out from the crowd.
A story is a powerful elevator pitch that showcases your passion, dedication, and expertise in investment banking and, ultimately, wins you a job.
For instance, it will help you address the famous “Tell us about yourself,” which most people fear. Additionally, it will help you provide practical solutions to practical problems right there in the interviews.
Here is an example:
“…one project that particularly stood out was when I worked as a financial analyst intern for a local startup.
I was tasked with developing a financial model that would help the company secure funding from investors. Through my analysis and recommendations, the company was able to secure $1 million in funding and increase its revenue by 20%.
This experience solidified my desire to work in investment banking, where I can use my analytical skills and passion for finance to help companies achieve their goals…”
#3. Build a standard resume or CV
It’s an easy mistake to make.
I’ve seen several elite students make mistakes when crafting their resumes and CVs by trying to do it the way everyone else is doing it.
To convince the hiring panel in the investment banking industry, you need to have a standard resume that is unique to yourself and tells your story.
Don’t settle for generic statements on your resume like “able to work under pressure with minimal supervision.” Instead, let your personality and values shine through. Express your desire for a collaborative work environment that supports growth and development.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when crafting your resume:
- Keep it concise.
- Tailor your resume to the role that you’re applying for and demonstrate your competence in that area.
- Use bullet points to list your achievements in previous roles, such as increasing revenue or leading successful projects.
- Quantify your results.
- Use industry-specific language
- Make sure your resume is error-free and easy to read.
#4 Learn and prepare well for interviews
It’s not that interviews are difficult to deal with. It’s the fear that we need to let out so that we can feel comfortable in the interview room.
As an investment banking enthusiast, you’re expected to be smart, organized, and detailed; after all, the job is not for the weak.
You need to leverage the academic skills you gained in college, the experience you gained during your internships, and the problems you solved. Doing so will help you demonstrate your ability in the role you’ve been called for.
That’s why I mentioned early on that you need to have a unique story that will enable you to pitch. A unique story will change the focus to what you can do—and that’s what the hiring managers want to hear.
To give you a heads-up, here is a detailed guide to investment banking interview questions you can expect in an interview for any role.
#5. Register with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other communities for finance and investment banking professionals
It might sound like a tedious process, but trust me, it pays to join professional communities.
There are two major benefits to that. Joining a professional community offers the opportunity to receive guidance and mentorship from experienced industry leaders and professionals.
Additionally, networking with these people may turn out to be “net worth” for you in terms of getting referees for your future job applications or even meeting your future employer in the forum.
Being a part of a professional community also has the advantage of increasing your chances of getting hired by investment banks, which prefer to recruit individuals registered as finance practitioners.
If you have that on your resume, it will give you a competitive advantage over those with experience who are not registered or do not have reputable communities behind them.
Here are a few of the investment banking professional bodies you can register with within the US.
- Association for Corporate Growth (ACG)
- National Investment Banking Association (NIBA)
- M&A Source
- Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF)
#6. Be up-to-date with industry news, current events, and trends
The world is changing at a breakneck pace, and the job market is no exception. Trends come and go, and if you’re left behind, it will be difficult for you to catch up.
For instance, the digital era is currently evolving, and as a result, many businesses are switching to machine learning and AI. How does this affect your job as an investment banker?
Learning about what’s happening both locally and globally puts you in a better position to address issues in the industry as they evolve.
There is far more advantage to being up to speed with current news and events in a job interview than having an experience that is no longer applicable to current problems. This is what you should aim for to break into the industry.
Here are some of the reputable finance news outlets I can recommend to you to stay up to date.
- The Wall Street Journal
- Harvard Business Review
- Financial Times
#7. Create and build your own blog related to finance
If you begin your career with blogging, it can serve as a launching pad for swiftly and effortlessly securing job prospects in investment banking.
All you need to do is start your own free finance, economics, or accounting newsletter or blog site and regularly publish articles and blogs about current trends, news, and events.
Trust me, within a space of 1-2 years, your blog would have grown. You can then leverage SEO and PR to break your way into the limelight as a financial expert, and hiring managers will be at your door the next morning.
#8. If you fail, re-evaluate and try again
Let’s face it. Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned, but that doesn’t mean you give up. Instead, you need to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate your strategy, and bounce back better.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- If you’re a graduate–go for an MBA
- If you had an MBA–-go for a Ph.D.
- Network more and build connections
- Scout for less competitive roles
- Take our career coaching consultation program
Investment banking is a complex and dynamic industry that requires a unique set of skills, knowledge, and experience to get into. While some people are born with these qualities, others have to work hard to acquire them.
Breaking into investment banking without experience is possible. You can start by crafting a strategic plan that showcases your relevant skills.
You also need to network persistently and embrace entry-level opportunities to break into investment banking without experience and emerge victorious.
Get started today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Can I get a job in investment banking with no experience?
Yes, it is possible to land a job in investment banking without experience. However, it doesn’t just happen; you need to be strategic about how you present yourself to the hiring managers. You need a resume that stands out from the rest, a compelling story, and good networking skills.
2. What is the easiest way into investment banking?
Having a degree in finance is a promising way to get into the investment banking industry. You can also find your way through other degrees such as business management, accounting, marketing, commercial acumen, finance, and financial analysis.
3. How do I get my first investment banking job?
- Start with an undergraduate degree with a major in finance, economics, or business.
- Pursue an advanced degree, preferably an MBA.
- Get an internship, volunteer opportunity, or first-entry job in investment banks and firms.
- Network like crazy to find a job in top investment banks.