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Wrapping It Up

Timeline for the Process


This is the most difficult section for me to write since I entered the process from outside of the "normal loop" of the Ivy League school interview schedules. However, after working at an investment bank I was able to see the process from the other side. Still it is difficult for me to write this section because I don't want to throw off your job search by telling you incorrect dates. So instead of trying to say so-and-so is absolutely the way investment banks recruit undergraduates, I will convey what I know or have found out and then try to construct a realistic picture of what is going on.


First I will present the timeline that I followed since I am certain about the validity of these particular facts. However, I should have started my job search much earlier than I did. PLEASE BEGIN YOUR JOB SEARCH AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE IN THE EARLY FALL OR LATE SUMMER!!!

Note that these dates are approximate and only follow the interview times of my past employer, who is representative of the other investment banks.

December 1 - February 27: I wrote letters and made phone calls to set up interviews until I had the job offers in my hand. I later discovered that I was hired during the spring recruiting cycle.

January 11-16: I went on my first job-hunting trip to New York. During this trip I had my first interview at my current employer, which corresponded to a combination of an on-campus interview at an Ivy League school and a first on-site interview in the scheme of things. (This interviewing cycle was probably one of the later ones for most investment banks.)

February 1-7: I took my second job-hunting trip at my expense to contact and interview with other investment banks.

February 11: I had a final round of interviewing at my current employer (their expense).

February 13: I received a job offer.

February 20: I attended a Sell Day for the bank that ultimately hired me. A Sell Day is where an investment bank markets itself to you.

February 27: I accepted a job offer.

By the end of February, nearly all investment banks have completed the year's hiring for analysts. Most other positions are filled year round because they are more demand-driven.


According to several sources, the best time to send out your resume is in November and December to get hired in January and February. I would say earlier is better. A Salomon Brothers analyst was originally quoted on the Ohio State Finance Department web site as saying that you should send out a large number of customized letters. Exactly!

I also picked the brains of fellow candidates at investment banks to discover more about the process at Ivy League schools. This is the summary of my findings.

1. They signed up for on-campus interviews and were weeded out from the start.

2. They then interviewed on certain dates at the investment banks' headquarters in New York depending on the students' schools.

3. There is a fall and spring recruiting cycle. According to further "interrogation" and my experiences in investment banking, I think that the fall cycle begins in September and is complete by the middle of December. However, this is not substantiated.

4. The spring cycle starts in late November or December and ends in February-March. Based on my own experiences, talks with fellow candidates, and the information originally on the Ohio State Finance Department web site, I know that this is an accurate time frame for the spring hiring cycle of investment banks.

5. I happened across an on-line on-campus recruiting list for a good, but not Ivy League, school. Many of the New York investment banks each did their on-campus recruiting on a certain block of dates from late September to late January. For example, Goldman Sachs recruited from November 12-14 at the school.


There are two cycles of recruiting, a fall cycle and a spring cycle. The fall cycle runs from September-October to November-December and the spring cycle from late November-December to late February. I am certain about the accuracy of the spring cycle dates but the fall cycle has not been confirmed.

During each of the cycles, the investment banks are conducting on-campus interviews at all the Ivy League schools. They are also subsequently conducting first on-site interviews for candidates who have made it past the on-campus interviews.

Investment banks set up interview dates based on your school for both the on-campus and first on-site interviews. For example, in the spring cycle, all the undergraduates of Ivy League School 'A' interview on-campus with the investment bank from January 5-7. Then on January 20 the candidates selected in the on-campus interviews from Ivy League School 'A' will interview at the investment bank's headquarters. Subsequent interviews usually will all take place at the headquarters with a mix of candidates from many different schools.

Beyond the first on-site interviews, the process is usually taken away from the candidate and placed in the investment bank's hands. They set up interview and event dates and arrange (and pay) travel needs. Final interviews are usually called "Super ___day", such as "Super Saturday" or "Super Monday". By the end of the cycles, investment banks will have made their job offers and then welcomed their new analysts during "Sell" days.

In summary, a typical interviewing cycle (fall or spring) will be:

1. On-campus interview

2. First on-site interview

3. One or two more on-site interviews, the last of which is referred to as "Super ___day"

4. Job offer by phone and letter

5. Sell Day

6. Job offer acceptance or declination by phone and letter


Now that you know something about how investment banks recruit their analysts it will be easier for you to figure out how to get into the loop.

Basically, you want to start your contact process at the beginning of the fall and spring recruiting cycles so that you can merge into the loop with the other candidates. Start sending out your batches of cover letters and resumes in early September/October and November/December. You want to try to set up your first on-site interviews for roughly the same time as the other candidates. Just hit it hard and keep it going strong for many months.

Finally, some programs have posted deadlines, which may be as early as October 31 (a rare case). Most investment banks, however, do not list any deadlines. In that case follow the rough timelines for the fall and spring cycles found here or in another reliable source.

Copyright 1998-2000 by Jonathan Sides
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