Do you dream of working as an investment banker alongside some of the biggest players on Wall Street? It’s a common goal for many who are pursuing their MBA or a Master’s degree in any other field related to finance.
Completing your MBA may not be enough to secure a position in the investment banking industry. The competition in the job market is fierce. So, you’ll need to prepare long before you draft up your cover letter, resume and start attending job fairs.
Read on for pertinent tips to help you land that coveted position in investment banking.
1. Network, network, network (like your life depends on it)
This doesn’t mean showing up at a career fair and stopping by every booth to make a formal introduction. You have to be strategic with your approach.
A better idea: research the firms that’ll be in attendance at the job fair. Next, submit an application to those firms that you’re most interested in.
Struggling to find job openings? Do a little legwork to find the best point of contact to inquire about upcoming opportunities. That way, you can tell the recruiter you’ve already begun exploring career options and show that you’re proactive.
You should also make connections in the classroom with your peers. You never know who they know or are already connected with in the industry. They may have a parent or relative that could be a great mentor or help you get your foot in the door. And don’t forget about your professors. They’re a wealth of knowledge and can prove to be quite resourceful later on down the line.
Also, consider joining finance clubs and connecting with alumni. Informal mixers are another great opportunity to introduce yourself to industry professionals.
Regardless of which path you take, always follow-up with the professionals you meet. The goal is to stay on their radar so they think of you first when an opportunity arises.
2. Search for internships
Long gone are the days when one internship is a one-way ticket to a job offer. This strategy may work for some, but it’s not guaranteed. Remember, the competition is at an all-time high.
Apply for as many internships as you can to increase your chances of getting an interview.
If you get hired, perform as if you’re already in a full-time role. The internship may be a ton of work, but you could be auditioning for a future job in the organization. And even if you don’t get an offer right away, that doesn’t mean the firm won’t keep you in mind for the future.
Once your first internship is over, go for others to beef up your experience. The more, the merrier.
3. Consider related roles
The chances of landing a role in investment banking are minimal if you don’t have the right skill set, educational background, and connections.
Simply put, a stiff candidate pool means your hopes could come crashing down sooner than later. But you can pick up the pieces and search for a related role that will give you valuable industry experience. (And don’t rule out middle-market and boutique firms if you can’t get on with a major investment bank).
4. Don’t rely on the career center
Career counselors at your university can aid in your job search and help you prepare for the interview, but you shouldn’t rely on them to help you get a job. In fact, doing so can be a waste of time. Why so?
Well, garnering their assistance to help you submit the perfect application, resume and cover letter \won’t do any good if it doesn’t get read by the hiring manager. Remember, these individuals are slammed and receive thousands of applications and inquiries for positions, especially during recruiting season.
Also, don’t get deterred if you don’t see any job postings online. By networking and connecting with key players, you could get first dibs on upcoming openings before they are advertised to the public. (Keep in mind that some firms rarely advertise entry-level positions).
5. Enroll in continuing education and professional development courses
The more knowledge you have about investment banking, the better.
This means thinking beyond the key concepts learned in college, and absorbing even more knowledge. To expand your skill set, you may want to consider enrolling in advanced training offered in online and classroom mode, to current and rising investment banking professionals.
Also, check with both your school and other career professionals to inquire about continuing ed courses available for professionals in the financial services industry.
6. Go the extra mile to prepare for the interview
It’s not enough to head into the interview with basic knowledge of the investment bank and the role you’re applying for.
You need to be in the know with regards to the industry climate, breaking news and the latest trends in case the interviewer wants to have an in-depth conversation.
Also, be prepared to share what spawned your interest in investment banking, your thoughts on where the industry is headed, and why you’d be a good fit for the company and the industry.
7. Dress the part
First impressions are paramount in the interview. And since you’re looking to break into a high-profile industry, you’ll definitely want to dress accordingly.
A dark colored suit will suffice. And if you’re wearing a tie, keep it simple. The idea here is to keep it classy and professional; you don’t want your attire to be a distraction. Dressing the part also shows the interviewers that you mean business.
8. Be an overachiever in the classroom
You’ll be competing with graduates from Harvard and other Ivy leaguers who feel like they have one up on you. But if you bring it in the classroom, it’s another way to boost your profile and demonstrate your commitment to doing whatever it takes to stand out.
This means going the extra mile to grasp and master material to the point where you can break it down and teach it to others.
You should also aim to finish at the top of your class anytime you complete an assignment, project, quiz or test. Also, finishing out your academic career with honors puts the icing on the cake.
9. Attend recruiting events
Are you familiar with Super Saturday? Prospects from some of the highest ranked universities in the nation compete for entry-level analyst positions at investment banks. If you receive an invite, expect to sit for several interviews throughout the day.
So, prepare accordingly and if you’re lucky and stand out among the other prospects, you could receive an offer on the spot. But if an offer is not extended, you want to follow up with the interviewers reiterating your interest in the position and why you’d be a good fit for their bank because they sometimes extend offers several weeks or even months later.
10. Ask for recommendations
This is where networking discussed earlier comes into play.
Recommendations don’t have to be in the form of a formal letter. Sometimes, all it takes is a call from a professor or investment banking professional to the hiring manager to get your application noticed, secure an interview or even better, get a job offer.
11. Use LinkedIn
Many of the key players in the investment banking industry have profiles on LinkedIn. While they may not accept your invitation to connect, it doesn’t hurt to peruse their profile to learn about their connections and professional affiliations.
LinkedIn is also a good way to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry.
12. Cold calling
Try cold calling to see what internships opportunities out there, but be prepared to make hundreds of calls to find what you’re looking for.
Sounds risky, but you never know until you pick up the phone and make a call to the individual who has the ability to hire you or at least share more about the internship program. They may be willing to take a moment to point you in the right direction.
13. Keep your personal record squeaky clean
Imagine going the extra mile to get a job offer, only to find out that your application was rejected because you couldn’t pass the background check?
It happens from time to time in the financial services industry since some employers run credit checks. So, it’s best to work towards improving your credit using tips provided by AAACreditGuide before putting in applications at firms.
14. Brush up on your people skills
Do you tend to be a bit shy?
To succeed in this profession, you’ll have to come out of your shell and interact with prospects, clients, and colleagues on a consistent basis. For this reason, the interviewer will be paying close attention to determine if your personality will be a good fit.
15. Think outside of the box
Don’t wait until you get your foot in the door to prove how innovative and analytical you are. Start in the classroom to sharpen your skills before you dive into the job market. Practice doesn’t yield perfection, but you’ll already know how to think outside of the box.
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