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Q&A with one of our recent graduates who secured two front-end M&A offers

We recently interviewed an alum of City Investment Training that completed a summer internship at Jefferies and is an incoming analyst at Perella Weinberg Partners.

She shares her experience of applying for Investment Banking jobs and doing her internship, as well as her tips for succeeding in Investment Banking networking and interviews.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

This summer, I graduated from UCL with a History degree. I know what you’re thinking – a liberal arts degree and Investment Banking? I just finished an internship at Jefferies in the summer for 10 weeks.

How did you go about applying for internships and when did you start your internship at Jefferies?

I did it wrong the first time round and sent most of my applications out in November 2018, which was too late. You need to get your applications out in August/September. The only application I sent out in September was Jefferies and luckily, they gave me an interview – I got an invitation for their last assessment centre, one day before it happened.

Can you tell us a little more about the assessment centre and what it was like?

Having now experienced full-time graduate ACs, this AC was quite mild. It was two interviews with two partners where they asked me a range of questions, motivational and technical.

I think the “Why Investment Banking?” answer is really important to get right. Most interviewers have already made their decision based on your answer to that question.

What was your answer to the question: “Why Investment Banking?”?

I said that I had done a private wealth management banking internship the summer before and although I liked the elements of the job related to finance, I felt that it was a bit slow-paced for me and that there weren’t enough technical skills involved. So, I joined my university student fund. This was my first taste of valuations and researching/pitching stock. I really enjoyed that, so I wanted to get first-hand experience and applied for Investment Banking internships, and here I am!

How was the experience at Jefferies?

It was very intense, to say the least. On Monday to Friday, I didn’t have the time to do anything else. My first team was UK corporate broking, meaning that you have to get in before the markets open. I also had the task of sending the morning update out, so I had to be in the office by 6:30 am. I would leave at 1 or 2 am. When I finished, it made me realise how many hours there are in a day! :) On Friday nights, they took us out for drinks. But it was a really good experience. One of the things you learn is that it’s OK to say that it’s not possible to get everything done in one evening.

Did you work weekends?

Yes, sometimes you’d get an email: ‘Can you get this done over the weekend?’ and it would be an 8-hour piece of work. You just had to go in. Across my 10 weeks at Jefferies, I probably had one clear weekend and that was the first one. The first team was a bit lighter on weekend work, but I would go in for 5 hours on at least one Saturday or Sunday. In the second team I also had to balance preparing for the Intern Project, so we were extremely busy.

What were you mostly working on at Jefferies?

- A lot of it was data mining, which involved researching information and pulling it out and presenting it nicely.

- Editing slides.

- Creating company profiles by pulling out the financials and presenting these on slides.

- Making minutes for client calls and circulating them.

- Making public information books.

How did you go about networking and winning interviews?

Post Jefferies, I had an average of 3 interviews a week for 4 straight weeks. I targeted boutiques.

I searched for the email address of the managing director of each firm on RocketReach and then used a template email which I tweaked by drawing on something that I had in common with them, such as the same school, university or degree. The template email should be very humble, and I always attached my CV.

What did the template email look like?

Hi [name],

I have just graduated from UCL and spent 10 weeks at Jefferies. I am really interested in hearing about your experiences at [their firm]. Would you have 5 minutes over the next couple of weeks where I can meet you for a coffee or speak to you on the phone?

I have attached my CV for your reference. I really look forward to hearing from you.

With regards,

[Your Name]

How did you get the list of boutique investment banks and how many emails did you send out?

I didn’t send out that many as I only targeted boutiques, but top-level boutiques such as Centerview Partners, Evercore, and Lazard. I read up online, spoke to as many people as I could, and when I heard the name of a firm, I would look it up online. I had heard some of the names and knew they had a formal application process. I didn’t always apply via the application process but cold-emailed a managing director, who has the power to fast-track your application. Sometimes they wouldn’t reply but if they did, they would say to me that they had received a lot of emails, texts, and LinkedIn messages and that mine stood out.

What was your success rate after sending out emails to the boutique investment banks?

Probably 50%. Of everyone that replied, I either met with them or spoke to them on the phone. I only spoke to one of them on the phone. You can make a much better impression by meeting someone in person rather than speaking on the phone because they can see who you are. Also, if they have already made time to meet you, treat that as your first interview with them.

Don’t ask them silly questions but let them talk about themselves. Ask broad questions and treat it like an interview by doing your research about the firm. If they like you, they can sometimes help. For example, I spoke to a VP at Evercore on the phone and he made sure that I got an interview.

What kind of questions did they ask you the first time you met or spoke, and how did you answer those questions?

They wanted to know why I wanted to get into Investment Banking and why I was not going into certain industries such as tech, marketing or journalism. I would say that you should talk about your skills and passions, such as those you acquired through your degree. People like to talk about themselves, so be smiley and enthusiastic and respond accordingly (“that’s so interesting!”).

I was never interested in Bulge Bracket firms and I would make that clear to the boutiques. They want to know why you want to join their firm.

I would say things such as: “I like the size of your firm, the close relationships and unique culture, the responsibilities you have from the beginning and not being a small cog in a big machine”. Because there are less people in boutiques, a recommendation can go a lot further than in the larger firms, where it’s difficult to stand out. I didn’t necessarily have to go through the normal application process because by meeting the managing director, I was asked to come in for an assessment centre.

Also, talk to as many people as possible to get as many views as you can about the interview. Find a mentor who can proof-read your CV and give you general advice, especially an analyst that has just gone through the application process.

What are some common technical questions on finance that interviewers ask?

Accounting questions were common:

- Can you explain amortisation and depreciation?

- DCF (Discounted Cash Flow)

- Comps (Comparable company analysis)

They might also ask you about the trends and big deals in the industries in which they operate, such as healthcare and tech. So, keep up with the news to ensure that you are prepared to answer their questions.

How many job offers do you have?

I have two - one is a six-month internship at Houlihan Lokey, which is a boutique, and the other is an offer for a full-time analyst job at Perella Weinberg Partners, starting next July.


The interviewee recently completed the Full-Time Analyst Programme at City Investment Training. All the students who took our 8 weeks training program, 90% of them found internships and jobs.

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Despite the onset of Covid-19 and its accompanying challenges, our program registered a 90% placement rate for students on our 8 weeks training programs. Our students secure jobs at marquee investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Citi Bank and Deutsche Bank among others.

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