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Tips to Land a Job in Investment Banking

Roughly 30 to 40% of candidates from top MBA programs land a summer internship in investment banking. 10 to 15% get an offer.

Landing a job in investment banking without an MBA, experts say, is difficult—and often top firms recruit directly from B-schools.

“Banks expect a certain level of academic training, technical proficiency and, for lack of a better word, ‘polish’ provided by top MBA programs,” says Drew Pascarella, senior lecturer of finance at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management in New York.

US News recently explored why candidates from top-tier MBA programs hold an advantage in investment banking and how a B-school education can pay off big.

IMPORTANCE OF THE SUMMER INTERNSHIP

An MBA education offers students the foundational skills needed as an investment banker. But just taking courses isn’t enough to get your foot in the door. For many students, landing a summer internship at a banking firm is the surest way to a future offer.

“That summer internship is the biggest feeder to a full-time job,” Sunshine Singer, a career adviser for investment banking at The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, says. “Most banks look to fill their incoming class with interns.”

Networking, Singer says, is also key to landing an offer. If you’re intent on getting a job in investment banking, consider joining your B-school’s investment banking club. These clubs often offer students extensive networking opportunities and access to resources such as interview prep.

“Associate-level hiring is extremely network-driven,” Singer says. “MBA programs have dinners, they have ‘lunch-and-learns,’ they do a lot more networking, so I think it’s more difficult if you’re not at a top-30 program.”

BUILD YOUR SOFT SKILLS

In addition to taking courses such as accounting and corporate finance, experts recommend students to also consider courses that target leadership, management, and communication. These types of courses can offer students the needed soft skills that banks demand.

“As bankers become more senior,” says Drew Pascarella, senior lecturer of finance at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. “They need to be able to market themselves and their firm effectively in a highly competitive market with a sophisticated client base; to build valuable relationships with clients; to turn massive amounts of data and analysis into actionable and credible advice; and to lead large teams of people through the most complex deals a company will ever do.”

Sources: US News, Mergers & Inquisitions

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