I originally wanted to be a lawyer, however, after interning for a law firm over the summer, I quickly noticed how miserable lawyers are. During my second year of college, I am taking Finance and Accounting courses, and loving the work.

I have decided that I want to become an investment banker after college. What tips do you have for getting an investment banking internship? I plan on doing the CFA Program (Chartered Financial Analyst) after college, but what else can I do to stand out to get one of these highly competitive internships?

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5 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You can’t get those. It’s too late. You needed to apply for the internship this fall. Of this year.

    But first of all investment banking isn’t accounting. It’s sales. A sales person works with physicists (quants) to get a lot of money to make good trades.

    You don’t want to be a banker, you want to not feel lost so you are looking for a safe path to not feel lost. Additionally, most people who go into banking fail. It’s very competitive and it’s 12 hour days for most of your life. And you have to live in a major city. But only the very top bankers can earn enough to support a family in a major city, so most bankers quit.

    You will not be a top banker because you are not a sales guy and you’re not a quant. Once a month I coach bankers who make half a million $ a year in NYC and they have to leave banking because they are failing.

    So the bankers are just like the lawyers. There are no safe paths to adulthood. The sooner you admit this the sooner you can get down to the business of really trying to see who you are and where you fit.

  2. Anoel
    Anoel says:

    Usually I might say that Penelope is being too harsh but no, investment banking is crazy and you should research it extensively and make sure it’s really your goal. But if you enjoy your financial and accounting classes, I would get involved in entrepreneurship or look into getting real world experience that can boost your business and social skills (internships, freelancing, etc). If you can develop skills that best reflect you as a person and that show you can bring real value to businesses, you’ll be prepared for post college jobs.

  3. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    When I have crossed paths with investment bankers on various projects, they work significantly more than 12 hour days. If you are enjoying your accounting courses, have you considered starting a career in public accounting? This would also require long hours during the start of your career, but is a great launching pad to other accounting jobs. I’d suggest talking to your accounting professors about an internship with one of the Big 4 firms.

  4. jessica
    jessica says:

    You don’t need a CFA. What you need is a graduate degree in advanced Math (computational, physics) or an MBA from a top school.
    If you don’t have that you either need a relative already employed in the sector, or a close friend to get your foot in the door.
    That sums up everyone I know in ibanking.

    Most marriages that I’ve seen in this fail (high stress, fluctuating salary- commission based). The ones that don’t are top performers who outmanoeuvred (sales +social skills) everyone else competing for the coveted director positions. The others end up in HK or Singapore.

    That said, you can make a great living in the financial sector not only as an investment banker. To be able to make that work, you need to be a top notch salesperson. Top performers in this industry know finance, and they know sales. Find top advisors in your area and get an assistantship, or an internship. Also, verify their credentials through FINRA before accepting. That will fast track your way to understanding the business. Or go work for a major insurance player (AIG/ING/etc) and work your way up their ranks. Again, it’s all sales.

    Good luck!

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