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How to Become an Investment Banker

Four Methods:While You Are in CollegeWhen in Graduate SchoolComing From Another Industry or Outside of SchoolAfter Joining an Investment Bank

Investment bankers are intermediaries that help their clients - whether individuals, companies or governments - intelligently invest their money. In addition, investment bankers are responsible for buying and selling those securities on behalf on their clients. However, before investment bankers can start assisting clients, they must know how to become an investment banker and achieve their goals.

Method 1
While You Are in College

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    Choose a banking related major. There is no investment banking major, so an individual must pick from an investment banking-related major such as finance, economics, business or accounting. Any of those majors should be fine. Having said that, increasingly banks accept and look to attract students with a mathematics or engineering background. The assumption is that students comfortable with quantitative sciences will find finance relatively easy to grasp.
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    While you are taking your classes, brush up on your spreadsheet and presentation skills. Investment banking is about being smooth with numbers. The right classes are great practice.
    • Make sure you are creating presentations with spreadsheets attached.
    • Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint are mainstream. Don't spend as much time with alternate programs.
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    Get a summer internship. The best thing you can do to get an investment banking job right out of college is to get a summer internship at an investment banking firm before graduating.
    • Try for the big investment banking firms such as well known firms in New York or London. Getting an internship at a smaller investment bank is really just about as good. These firms are called “Boutique Investment Banks” and exist in many cities.
    • There are many reasons why a smaller bank may be easier to get an internship at. It may be in your town. There may also be a firm that is more specialized to what you have done. (For example, say you have interned at an airline. There are a couple boutique firms that pretty exclusively lease aircraft.) There may also be less competition. Lots of students haven't heard of the boutique firms.
    • You can also get a summer internship at a regular bank (not an investment bank). That is not quite as good, but would still give you a huge leg up.
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    Hit the networks, and the social networks. Like anywhere, getting to know people outside of the interviews works great.
    • Join the investment banking club at your school, if there is one. That is a great way to network with potential employers.
    • Join Linkedin groups for investment banking.
    • Talk to alumni from your school that have recently joined investment banks. You can contact them via Linkedin or Readyforce or even Facebook. Ask them to lunch (if you are local) or a phone call if you are remote.
    • Don’t be afraid to travel to another city to meet people, if it will help you find better leads.
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    Look sharp when you meet the banks. They want people who can look the part.
    • The dress is classy, formal, and relatively old-school. It's not, however, out on the leading edge of fashion.
    • If you are from California, say, and going to New York, dress up. Read up on business formal dress for both men and women.
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    Get a glimpse into the world of investment banking by hearing what existing bankers have to say about the business.

    • Several popular websites and blogs cater to investment bankers. The language used is specifically aimed at finance professionals and reading gives you a better idea of the banker mindset.
    • Websites are a vital source of daily information for various finance professionals, including investment bankers. Blogs like give you insight into the life of a deal maker.

Method 2
When in Graduate School

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    Know that if you are in MBA school, the task of becoming an investment banker is easier. Many banks will come to your school to recruit. Make sure you network like crazy when the banks come visiting your school. Get business cards and follow up.
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    Search out boutique banks. Smaller banks are often not visiting your school. Seek them out via your favorite social network site. Remember, there is a sales element to investment banking, so they respect and admire if you have the guts to call them up.
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    If you are in graduate school that is not an MBA program, understand you can still do it! Investment banks love smart people from other disciplines.
    • Make sure you contact the career center people at the business school of your university and use them as a resource! They can help you find the right career nights.
    • Realize you need to prove your business smarts and look the part. If you are in social sciences, prepare to show you can use a spreadsheet like a wiz.

Method 3
Coming From Another Industry or Outside of School

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    Know that normally, the banks don't hire someone out of school. It is tough to get a job as an investment banker if you are not in school, but you can do it.
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    Spin your education story. If you are coming from an entirely different background, a nighttime or part-time MBA might be helpful. Normally, banks don't like part-time MBAs, but you can use it to tell your story about how committed you are to this career change.
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    Apply for or offer to have an internship. That may sound funny, but investment banks like hiring people with internships from school, and it can work for a mid career person as well.
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    Assertively network. Call up investment bankers - friends of friends? - and ask them to lunch and get their advice.

Method 4
After Joining an Investment Bank

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    Know that investment banks usually will have intense training classes to start. Study hard and impress! Depending on what job you aspire to at the bank, you will have to pass some exams. You want to get an investment banking license. Look at FINRA for more information.
    • The series 79 exam. The series 79 is for people who want to do company buyouts, refinancing and more.
    • The series 7 exam. The series 7 exam is required for stockbrokers. Series 7 is a very intensive, 6 hour exam.


  • An investment banker needs qualities and skills to be successful. For instance, a person should have strong interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to work with a team or independently and great math skills. Confidence and a great work ethic are also needed. Confidence is needed, because an investment banker encounters many rejections while working with clients.
  • The more you learn about the business of investment banking the better. That means going beyond just practicing interview questions and learning formulas. Meet with someone already in the business and ask them about the culture of the business and what it takes to succeed once you're in the business.
  • Completing other examinations called the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination and Uniform Investment Advisor Law Examinations referred to as the Series 63 and Series 65 exams many be required in many states.
  • Many investment bankers have more than one license.
  • An investment banker that has passed the exam is licensed and able to begin buying and selling on a client's behalf.


  • Employers may require an investment banker to attend seminars and conferences to stay informed about new services and financial products, and learn extra information that may be of use.

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Categories: Finance Careers