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IB Interview Guide, Module 2: How to Walk Through Your Resume or CV Like a


Pro in Investment Banking Interviews
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) Why Your Story Matters So Much: Dont Drink the Milk
2) What is Your Story?
3) How to Tell Your Story in 4 Simple Steps
4) 7 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Story
5) Story Practice: Critique 3 Sample Stories
6) 3 Story Examples for Engineers, Accountants, and Bankers
This guide will teach you how to tell your story in interviews in other words, how to answer
the Walk me through your resume/CV or Tell me about yourself question.
This question is, by far, the most important one you will get in any interview.
Well explain the fundamentals of your story in this document, and then well provide
templates and examples of how to tell your story coming from different backgrounds.
But Im going to start by telling you a story about milk.

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Why Your Story Matters So Much: Dont Drink the Milk


Suppose that you come up to me one day after youve accepted a job offer at an investment
bank, and you ask a simple question:
Im about to start my new job. What advice do you have for me?
I respond and say, Dont over-think things. Worry about the big picture, make everyone happy,
and, most importantly, always spend 5 seconds checking yourself before doing anything
stupid.
Thats one way I could answer your question.
But I could also answer your question by telling you a story about my first day of work at a large
investment bank.
The bank held a meet-and-greet event for all the new hires, and I went up to one of the VPs
there and asked him a question:
I graduated with a computer science major, and Ive previously worked at IBM and different
tech startups. Im new to finance. I see you also had a tech background, so I was wondering: do
you have any advice for me? Is there anything I should know on my first day? Anything I should
avoid?
He glanced at me and gave a 4-word response:
Dont drink the milk.
What? I responded with a bewildered look.
I mean, always smell the milk before you drink it. And if it smells bad, dont drink the milk.
Um
Our office manager doesnt always keep the milk in the refrigerator fresh. So always smell it
first. And if it smells weird, dont drink the milk.
POP QUIZ: Which of these responses are you more likely to remember?
The one where I told you a story, of course.
Humans are terrible at remembering facts and figures, but they are great at remembering
stories.
Beyond the memorability, theres another reason why your story is so important.

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You can earn perfect grades from a top university


You can have prestigious internships at Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, and Bridgewater
And you can know the technical questions so well that you could become a Finance Professor
But if you cant pitch yourself properly in the first 2 minutes, none of that matters.
Ive conducted over 100 mock interviews with clients from around the world over the past 10
years, and Ive never once heard a good initial story.
Even candidates who attended schools like Harvard, Princeton, and Oxbridge could not pitch
themselves effectively.
But the good news is that you can make your story FAR better with minimal time and effort.
In fact, its the fastest way to improve your interviewing skills. If you spend just 1 hour coming
up with a good story, you could instantly double your success rate.
Return to Top.
What is Your Story?
Your story is what you say in response to the following questions in an interview:
Walk me through your resume/CV" or:
"Tell me about yourself or:
Why are you here today?
Those are the surface-level questions, but the real question is the following:
Why should we hire you?
Your story is NOT a linear walk-through of your resume, nor is it a rehashing of your cover
letter.
In fact, those are the worst ways to respond to this question.
Instead, your story tells a narrative about how your experience relates to the role youre
interviewing for, and how this role relates to your long-term goals.
It should:

Be Concise: Aim for 1-2 minutes (around 200-300 words at normal speaking speed). The
shorter, the better!

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Highlight Your Best Qualities: Focus on your most relevant skills and your greatest
achievements.

Answer the Main Doubts or Objections the Interviewer Might Have: Why might they
not hire you for the job, and how can you ease their concerns?

At this point, you may be thinking:


Really? All that in two minutes or less?
Absolutely!
Return to Top.
How to Tell Your Story in 4 Simple Steps
Heres a quick overview of how to structure your story:
1. The Beginning Your initial background (hometown, university, or business school).
2. Your Finance Spark The specific person, event, or experience that made you
interested in finance or investment banking.
3. Your Growing Interest How you gained more relevant skills and work experience over
time that prepare you for this job.
4. Why Youre Here Today and Your Future Why this firm and this group fit your longterm plans perfectly.
Following this structure is most important if youre an undergraduate or recent graduate. Past
that level, it gets harder to use this exact outline, but the general order is still useful.
If you already have full-time work experience, your Spark can be more of a gradual change
over time, as that sounds more convincing, and you can spend most of your time on the
Growing Interest section and mention your Spark within that.
PART 1: THE BEGINNING
There are three logical places to begin your story:

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1. Where youre from or where you grew up.


2. Your university.
3. Your business school or initial career.
You need this part to make your story sound more natural like more of an introduction at a
cocktail party than a boring monologue.
If youre an undergraduate or recent graduate, start with #1: where youre from or where you
grew up.
If youre an MBA-level candidate, start with #2: your university.
If youre far beyond that, use #3: your business school or initial career.
This section of your story is most important if youre an undergrad or recent grad.
At that level, bankers care more about your personality than your work experience.
Yes, you need internship experience to qualify for interviews, but once youre in the interviews,
you have to use something else stand out.
Once you have a few years of full-time work experience, this part matters less because your
work experience and skills will be more important.
Heres an OK example of The Beginning for an undergraduate:
Im from China originally, but I went to high school in the U.S. and attended Georgetown,
where I majored in Math and Economics and joined the Student Investment Fund.
This introduction gets the job done, but its not particularly memorable for a few reasons:
1. Being from another country can sometimes be your interesting fact, but there are
tons of students from China studying in the U.S. and U.K.
2. He attended a good, well-known target school for investment banks, and he picked
relevant majors, but its nothing unusual.
If you have a fairly standard background like this one, you could reference activities, sports, or
study-abroad programs to make yourself sound more interesting:

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Im from China originally, but I went to high school in the U.S. and attended Georgetown,
where I majored in Math and Economics and studied abroad in Qatar to study culture and
politics.
Qatar is not exactly a typical study-abroad location, so that bit will spark follow-up questions
and distract the interviewer from asking technical questions.
If you dont have something that unusual, mention your rugby team, your triathlon practices, or
something else beyond your major and university.
It could even be a nickname related to your activities: one of our clients referenced a nickname
he earned on his track-and-field team in every single interview, which is how many senior
bankers remembered him.
After you gain full-time work experience, you dont need to try so hard to be interesting,
especially if youre making a career transition.
For example, lets say youre an investment banking analyst in the equity capital markets (ECM)
group, and you want to move into M&A after working in ECM for two years.
You could say something like this for your Beginning:
I grew up outside Chicago, went to Northwestern for undergrad, and majored in Economics and
Finance. I did a summer internship in equity capital markets at JP Morgan and came back fulltime after graduation.
If you can casually throw in an interesting fact, go ahead and do it, but dont kill yourself
trying to be interesting. At this level, your work experience and rationale for making the
change are most important.
PART 2: YOUR SPARK
Ever notice how many movies start with an explosion?
An explosion captures your attention and sets the movie in motion.
And your Spark should capture the interviewers attention and set your story in motion.
Your Spark explains how you first became interested in finance, or if youve already had finance
experience, what made you interested in investment banking specifically.
While you could say that you became interested in the field over time, you become a lot
more memorable if you can link your interest to a specific event, person, or activity.
Witness the difference between an OK Spark and a better Spark:
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I first got interested in finance when I interned at a consulting group and researched and
analyzed clients financial statements. I spoke with an MD at an investment bank, Woodstone
Partners, and he made me very interested in the industry.
Thats fine; it gets the job done. This person names a specific bank and explains a specific
experience that made him/her interested in the industry.
However, your Spark could also be more memorable if you frame it a bit differently:
I first got interested in finance when I interned at a non-profit consulting group and analyzed
the financial statements of two clients that wanted to merge. I spoke with an MD at an
investment bank, Woodstone Partners, and he made me very interested in the industry.
Youre adding only a bit more information: the type of consulting group and why you had to
analyze clients financial statements. However, this additional information makes your Spark
significantly better because no one else will have this exact experience.
Heres a list of ideas if youre having trouble generating a Spark:

Information Sessions, Case Competitions, Activities, or Clubs

Specific People You Met Through Networking, Classes, or Activities

Your Own Investing or Trading Activities If You Can Be Specific

Family Businesses or Exposure to Finance from Other Family Members

Summer Classes and Other Special Academic Programs

Once you find your Spark, you need to develop it by adding enough information to make it
unique, but not so much information that you ramble on for multiple sentences.
Check out the difference between these two Sparks:
I was in an investing competition as part of the student-run fund at my school. I won, and it
made me interested in finance.
Now compare that to:
I got interested in finance when I entered a stock-investing competition at my school. I
researched the pharmaceutical industry, picked Pfizer, and then it climbed 50% in 3 months, and
I won first place. I was hooked, and I wanted to learn more about finance right away.

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You dont need to have climbed mountains in Japan or starred in a Hollywood action movie to
have an interesting Spark: you just need something that is a bit different.
As with the Beginning, the Spark is more important for undergrads and recent grads.
At that level, standing out is essential because you dont have real work experience.
But once you have solid full-time work experience, you dont need to go to great lengths to
come up with an interesting Spark.
You could even make it low-key and mention it within your Growing Interest.
Taking that same example of an ECM analyst looking to move into M&A, you might say
something like this:
Ive enjoyed my time in ECM, but at the same time, Ive also gotten more interested in working
on more complex deals. Since M&A deals tend to be more strategic, theyre often more
interesting and challenging to work on. One example is the secondary offering I worked on for
Warbucks, where the company issued shares as part of its plan to use acquisitions to
consolidate the industry.
If you keep digging, but you come up empty-handed, dont worry.
Work around it by combing through your resume or academic record and finding something
you can spin into your Spark.
Example: You cant think of anything, so you go back to your first accounting class. You take a
quick look through the course materials, find one reference to an M&A deal or what Goodwill
means (any explanation of Goodwill must reference M&A activity), and then you spin that into
your Spark, using a bit of additional research:
I got interested in finance in my first accounting class when the professor used [Deal Name] as
an example to explain what Goodwill means. I was interested in how the buyer negotiated a
better price based on [Factor X], but ended up overpaying, so I started learning more about the
deal process on my own.
PART 3: YOUR GROWING INTEREST
After you establish how you first became interested in the industry, you have to explain how
your interest developed over time.
So in this part of your story, you string your internships, jobs, and activities together into a
progressive sequence, using 3 experiences at the most.

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That means youll have to skip the less relevant points and simplify your experiences.
University students tend to be the WORST at simplifying their stories. They often believe that
all 271 of their activities deserve to be mentioned here.
They do not. Pick 3 AT MOST.
The Growing Interest section is not just about your interest, but must also show how you
gained the specific skills that are required for this job.
For each experience, mention something positive and something you wanted to change or
improve.
The positive part should be a skill or quality useful for investment banking, and the part you
wanted to change should be another skill or quality you need for investment banking.
Heres a Growing Interest example from a student who went from on-campus jobs to
marketing and then wealth management:
1. I started out with a few on-campus jobs tutoring younger students in math and
accounting, which I enjoyed, but I wanted to gain more real-world experience
2. so I went to [Local Company Name] and did marketing there for the summer. I did
well, liked the business, and helped them generate 20% more leads over 2 months, but I
also wanted to do something that was more quantitative and closer to finance
3. so the next summer I did private wealth management at [Bank Name], analyzed
clients portfolios, and made investment recommendations. I enjoyed the analysis a lot
more, but I also wanted to work with larger-scale clients
This person is strategic about the points he/she mentions because each one expresses a skill or
quality required for IB math and accounting skills, marketing knowledge, and investment
analysis.
Notice that this person also avoids negativity, which is essential in your story as well.
Instead of saying:
There was no room for me to advance, so I left.
Try:

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I liked working with my team, but I also wanted more formal mentoring and advancement
opportunities.
The ad lib version is:
I really liked ___________, but I wanted to do more ____________.
The Growing Interest part tends to be most important if you have full-time work experience.
As an undergrad or recent grad, the story is always similar: you started off being broadly
interested in finance, and then became interested in IB specifically.
But as a career changer, your story might be significantly different: maybe you worked in
medicine, but now you want to go to a healthcare IB group; or maybe you worked in consulting,
but now you want to advise services companies on M&A deals.
Heres an example of the Growing Interest section for a career changer who started a company,
worked at a boutique bank, and then went to business school to transition to a bigger bank:
1. After co-founding my company, I became a lot more interested in raising capital, and
managing a budget, and I wanted to strengthen my financial skills by working in a more
structured environment
2. So I moved to Jackson Steinem to work on M&A transactions and do industry
research. While I learned a lot, I also wanted to work on more complex and varied deals,
since most deal flow there was private placement-related.
3. So on the advice of bankers and recruiters, I attended [Top Business School X] to learn
more of the required skill set and move to a larger bank.
Since this section is the longest part of your story, there are many opportunities to make
mistakes as well.
A few common ones include:
1. Explaining far too many different internships or jobs. Limit yourself to 3. If you have a
lot more than 3, group them together and say something like, I did a few internships in
audit, accounting, and wealth management to convey the point.
2. Including points that do not help your case just because they are listed on your resume.
Your story is NOT a recitation of your resume. Short, irrelevant internships, gaps in your
work experience, and unrelated activities will not help you.

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3. Explaining your work experience in an illogical order. For example, you did a private
equity internship, then you went to a Big 4 firm, and now you want to get into
investment banking. To tell your story, group together the PE and Big 4 experience and
make it sound like you did both around the same time.
That way, you can make your transition more about getting to execute more deals and
avoid explaining why you moved from PE to a Big 4 firm.
If your Growing Interest doesnt make sense, your entire story doesnt make sense, so you
must get it right.
PART 4: WHY YOURE HERE TODAY AND YOUR FUTURE
Its not enough to lead a horse to water you must push it into the puddle and pour the water
down the horses throat.
So in this last part of your story, you need to spell out your long-term goal very clearly.
That means youll actually say:
Im here today because
You can use this simple formula to explain your reasons for interviewing at this firm:
Your Background + Investment Banking = Achievement of Long-Term Goals
For example:
So Im here today because I want to combine my telecom background with finance, and
eventually become an adviser to companies in the industry. Your group has a great reputation
for that, with deals such as [Name a Deal], so joining your firm is the best way for me to get
there.
Or:
Im interviewing here today because I want to leverage my wealth management internship
experience and advise larger-scale clients on M&A deals, going back to the [Deal Name] deal
that first interested me. Your group is very strong in [Geography / Industry], which I follow, and
so joining your team is the best way for me to work on those types of deals.
If youre already in the finance industry, or youre at a similar firm (e.g., youre moving from
one bank to another one), focus on the advantages this firm has over your current or previous
employer: culture, responsibilities, client/deal types, etc.
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If youre a career changer, focus on combining your previous industry background with advising
companies on deals.
Regardless of your level Analyst, Associate, VP, or beyond you should never give the
impression that banking is just a steppingstone to something else.
In reality, youll likely be gone in a few years because so many junior bankers leave for other
industries.
But interviews are about perception, not reality, and so you have to act like youre in it for
the long haul.
You can be a bit vague about your long-term goals at the Analyst level, but you still dont want
to walk in and say, Im doing banking so I can move into private equity or venture capital in
two years.
And at the Associate level or beyond, you need to demonstrate a long-term commitment to the
field, or youll be dinged immediately (the first question in MBA interviews is often What else
are you recruiting for?).
You can use this structure for this section of your story:
In the long-term, I want to do [FUTURE GOALS], and I see [FIRM/GROUP NAME] as the best
way to get there because [DEALS, CLIENTS, OPPORTUNITIES, ETC.]
Undergraduates tend to give overly vague plans in this section. For example:
I am here today because I want the financial background and the steep learning curve that
investment banking offers, so I can become an investor one day. I dont know exactly what Ill be
doing in 20 years time, but investment banking is what Im most excited about for at least the
next few years of my life.
This ending is weak because:
1. The steep learning curve is a very generic reason for wanting to do investment
banking, and it indicates you may not know much about IB.
2. He admits to being uncertain about his long-term plans. Yes, obviously youre uncertain
about the next 20 years of your life, but you should not draw attention to this fact.
Something like the following makes for a much stronger ending:

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Im here today because I want to combine the financial skills Ill gain in investment banking
with my background in emerging markets in Southeast Asia, so I can eventually become an
adviser or investor in companies there.
This ending is better because he cites an industry and region, gives a more specific long-term
goal, and does not admit to any uncertainty.
If you dont have anything that specific, even a vague plan like the one below is better than
saying, I dont know what Ill be doing in 20 years time:
And Im here today because I want to combine what Ive learned in strategy consulting with
what you do in banking, and advise companies on their expansion plans, M&A transactions, and
financing strategies.
Like the Growing Interest section, Why Youre Here Today and Your Future is most important if
you have full-time work experience because bankers will expect you to stay in the industry for
the long term.
ACTION!
You should now understand how a great story can completely change a boring interview and tip
the odds in your favor.
To recap, here are the 4 sections you need to outline:
1. The Beginning.
2. Your Finance Spark.
3. Your Growing Interest.
4. Why Youre Here Today and Your Future.
We recommend writing a quick outline of 100-150 words before practicing your story in a
mock interview or real interview.
When you tell your story for real, it will likely be closer to 200-300 words.
Do NOT write out your story word-for-word, or youll sound like a robot.
When you tell your story in real life, you should aim for 2 minutes or less.

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Interviewers have short attention spans and will tend to cut you off if you go on for much
longer than that.
Return to Top.
7 Mistakes You Should Avoid
When Developing and Practicing Your Story
Mistake #1: Too Much Setup. Keep The Beginning short and sweet. No one cares about your
class schedule, your previous 11 internships, or all 114 of your extracurricular activities. This
part should be the shortest section of your story.
Remember how nothing happened in the movie Minority Report for the first 40 minutes? Your
story should be the opposite of that movie.
Think: the opening shot of the original Star Wars, where the Star Destroyer fires on the Rebel
fighter carrying Princess Leia.
Without a single word of dialogue, we learn everything we need to know about the Empire
and the Rebels, and, more importantly, we jump right into the action.
Mistake #2: A Non-Specific Spark. Mentioning a professor or a competition or a stock you
invested in wont cut it. You need the names of companies, deals, stocks, or people.
Think about how boring a movie like Pulp Fiction would be without all the unique details:
Two mob hitmen attempt to kill someone for their boss, but get surprised when an accomplice
jumps out of hiding and shoots at them; they survive, but one hitman decides to quit. The other
stays in the job and almost gets his bosss wife killed, but ultimately dies when a boxer hes
hunting down surprises him and kills him first.
Yawn.
People dont love the movie because of that story outline: they love it because of the details,
like the foot massage, the Bible-quoting hitman, the adrenaline injection, the $5 milkshake, and
yes: The Royale with Cheese.
Mistake #3: Too Many Plot Twists. Even if you were a novelist, a lawyer, and a hockey player
before getting interested in finance, you should simplify your previous career to avoid giving
the impression that you have shiny object syndrome.
One or two hops in your Growing Interest section is fine, but you should avoid going
beyond that, or youll give the impression that you dont know what youre doing in life.

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A movie with too many plot twists comes across as trying too hard: Think about The Dark
Knight Rises, which overdoes it with twists in the final 30 minutes.
And if you have too many twists, turns, and transitions in your story, interviewers will question
your commitment and long-term plans.
Mistake #4: Illogical or Missing Transitions. Wait, why did you move from saving the dolphins
into private equity? If you forget to mention that, your interviewer will be lost.
Make sure you explicitly name the reason behind each career transition, and that you go in the
roughly chronological order of those moves.
Think about the movie Memento, which is told in reverse chronological order, and do the
opposite of that.
Its OK to group together experiences and act like they took place at the same time, but you
should not jump back and forth between time periods.
Mistake #5: Too Much Negativity. Playing the blame game in an interview is a losing battle.
Even if your previous boss was a serial killer who also sold crystal meth to elementary school
kids, you still dont want to mention it as a reason for leaving the job.
Frame each work experience as: I liked X about this experience, but I wanted to do more Y
NOT I hated this part, so I decided to quit.
Each transition should be about moving closer to your ultimate goal, not nitpicking your
previous internships and jobs.
Think about the movie Office Space and how Peter Gibbons constantly complains and badmouths his employer.
Sure, it leads to some funny moments, but would you want to hire someone like that?
No, and bankers wont hire you if your story is that negative, either.
Mistake #6: That Vision Thing. Even if youre not quite sure of your career plans, you must
define something for interview purposes. This point is especially critical at the MBA level
because interviewers will reject you if you dont seem committed.
If you dont explain why youre there by saying, literally, Im here today because then
interviewers may not understand why youre there, and you wont get offers.
Think about a movie like the 2001 version of Planet of the Apes: The ending made no sense.

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It made so little sense that Tim Roth, who played the villain, had to explain the ending after
people saw the film.
Do the opposite in your story; make your ending so clear that a caveman or even an ape
could understand it.
Mistake #7: Including Information That Doesnt Help You, or Including Information That Hurts
You. If you completed a 2-month internship that was irrelevant to finance, or you had a work
experience gap of 4 months, should you bring up these points in interviews?
No!
Your story is a sales pitch.
If theres information that does not make a bank more likely to hire you, leave it out.
Lets pretend that you have herpes, and you go on a first date with someone.
During that first date, would you tell him/her that you have herpes?
No, of course not.
Many students think that they need to be honest in their stories, but this is completely
wrong.
Your story is a sales pitch.
If something doesnt help you, leave it out.
Return to Top.
STORY PRACTICE: CRITIQUE THREE SAMPLE STORIES
To test your understanding, check out the sample stories below.
Figure out what each person did right and wrong, and explain how you would improve these
sample stories.
Then, well tell you what we thought about them at the end.
Example #1: The Liberal Arts Career Changer
Im originally from a small town in Texas, and I went to high school there. I
was always interested in literature, and I won a few writing competitions
when I was younger. I went to Columbia for university because of its liberal
arts programs and location in Manhattan.

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I followed my plan at first, and in between my sophomore and junior years, I


worked at a non-profit doing marketing and fundraising. At first, I just
focused on writing letters and newsletters to donors, but midway through
my internship we were approached by another non-profit that wanted to
merge with us.
I had to learn about M&A and finance very quickly, and I became a lot
interested in those fields. When the internship ended, I went back to school
and became an officer in the student investment club and I started
researching stocks and companies to invest in.
Im here today because I want to pursue my interest in finance and work in
M&A on a larger scale at an investment bank. Although I come from a liberal
arts background, this could be an advantage in investment banking because
Ill have both the soft skills and the technical skills.
What did you think?
Our verdict: OK, but not spectacular.

The best part was his Spark the non-profit M&A story is unusual, specific, and will help
him stand out.

The main weakness is that he doesnt explain why hes here, his future, and how
investment banking fits into it.

Theres also little support for his Growing Interest the investment officer point is fine,
but its a bit thin for explaining this big a change.

The other problem: It sounds defensive to say, Although I come from a liberal arts
background at the end. He should turn that into a positive instead of using an
Although statement.

This story would have been stronger if he had said something at the end about
combining his non-profit work with M&A and working on the types of deals this bank
focuses on. Also, he needs more to support the Growing Interest section self-study,
independent projects, or specific stock picks might work.

Example #2: The Life-Long MBA Banker


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After I graduated from Oxford, I went to Lazard and worked in their M&A
group in London for a few years. I worked on over a dozen deals there, and I
got to learn about all types of M&A.
Before going to business school, I wanted to take some time off and explore
another part of the world so I volunteered in China for a few months, taught
English, and studied Chinese. I also learned about markets and the economy
because I was right outside Shanghai and met many finance teams there.
For business school, I wanted a broad education with an international focus,
so I decided to attend Wharton and go through the Lauder program there.
That allowed me to continue studying finance and apply it to China, and it also
gave me the chance to meet a lot of business leaders. I want to take
everything I learned at Lazard and apply it to larger and more complex deals,
in what will one day be the worlds biggest economy.
In the long term, I want to become a trusted advisor to Chinese companies,
and given your banks work in the region and all the transactions youve
worked on, this is the best way for me to get there.
How about this one?
Our verdict: Pretty good.

Since he has been a full-time banker, he doesnt need as much of a Spark as an


undergrad or recent grad does so he combines it with The Beginning and talks about
both Lazard and his time in China.

This story about volunteering and studying abroad will set him apart, and his logic
about wanting to work on larger-scale transactions in a specific region makes sense
(although its questionable whether deals are larger and more complex in China).

He could further improve this story by adding in details about the bank hes
interviewing with and the deals theyve done in China. For example, he could cite a
specific deal in the last sentence (all the transactions youve worked on, like Focus
Medias $7 billion reverse merger, this is the best way for me to get there.)

Example #3: The Fortune 500 Director of Finance

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I spent many years working in engineering at companies like Facebook and


Intel, but decided to make a switch and move to the business side.
I went to Harvard Business School, and then used my experience there to
move to the business development division of Applied Materials. I got to
see a lot of internal M&A deals there, and learned more about the business
as a whole and I was promoted to Director of Finance within 2 years.
Although I did well, I felt that the pace was a bit too slow for me. I was also
getting more interested in the entire market rather than just my company.
Thats what drew me to investment banking, and so I started doing more
research and speaking with as many bankers as possible.
Im here today because I want to combine my operational experience in
the technology industry with my knowledge and interest in finance, and
become a trusted advisor to management teams at tech companies.
Since Ive worked on both the product and the business sides within the
industry, I know how management thinks and what their key concerns are
and now I want to advise them and work on transactions that affect the
industry as a whole.
So, what about this one?
Our verdict: Decent, but a notch below the example above.

One problem: Her Spark was not specific enough. She should have gone into more
detail on a specific M&A deal she worked on and what about that deal made her
interested in investment banking.

Her Growing Interest section could also use some work because talking to bankers
sounds quite generic. As a career changer, you have to reference specific people and
firms, self-study courses, and other efforts youve made to learn the industry and the
required technical skills. Remember that the Growing Interest section must
demonstrate how youve gained the skills required for banking.

Aside from those points, the parts at the end are solid reasons for someone to move
into investment banking.

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3 Story Examples for Engineers, Accountants, and Bankers
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Now that youve learned what makes a story good and not so good, its time to think about
your story.
To nudge you in the right direction, were providing you with 3 examples you can use to draft
your story.
These examples all come from the next few lessons in this module, so you can find everything
here and a whole lot more by proceeding to the next lessons.
The examples here are simple ones designed to get you thinking:
EXAMPLE #1 Technical Field or Engineering into Finance
In this story, the interviewee focuses heavily on proving he can do the work and handle the
hours since hes moving into the industry from engineering.
OUTLINE:

Beginning: From China originally, went to UC Berkeley, majored in EE, and had an
interest in finance due to his uncles import/export business in China.

Spark: Worked at Lockheed Martin doing technical writing, and helped customers save
money in the satellite testing process.

Growing Interest: Joined the business fraternity, did a school-year internship at a techfocused hedge fund, and participated in a Goldman Sachs case competition.

The Future and Why Youre Here Today: He wants to combine his TMT and aerospace
background with his finance experience and advise tech companies on their expansion
and financing strategies.

FULL STORY:
Interviewer: Why dont you start by walking me through your resume?
Interviewee: Sure. So Im from China originally, moved to the U.S. in high school, and went to
Berkeley to major in electrical engineering, since Ive always been interested in technology. I
was also very interested in finance because my uncle ran an import/export business in China
that worked with a lot of industrial companies.
In my first internship, I worked at Lockheed Martin doing technical writing to help customers
understand the products. But in the process, I became a lot more interested in the business

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side because some of my recommendations helped customers test satellites 20% more
efficiently and save money.
I started to think about combining my engineering skills with my interest in business, so back at
school, I joined Delta Sigma Pi, the business frat, did a Goldman Sachs case competition, and
also completed a school-year internship at Oak Road Brothers, a tech-focused hedge fund. I
liked the financial modeling and valuation work there, and getting to look at companies
creatively, but I also wanted to work on longer-term projects and actually influence companies
strategies so Ive become most interested in investment banking.
I know what Im getting into in terms of the hours since I often worked and studied 70 hours
per week when I did my school-year internship and took 5 classes at the same time and Im
confident Ive taught myself enough finance to contribute.
So Im here today because I want to combine my engineering skills with what you do in
investment banking, and advise technology companies on their M&A and financing strategies.
And joining Qatalyst Partners, given deals youve worked on, such as Oracles acquisition of
NetSuite, is the ideal way for me to get there.

EXAMPLE #2 Regional Accounting Firm into Investment Banking


In this story, the interviewee focuses more on the why behind his switch into investment
banking, as well as his interesting fact; having the proper skills and being able to handle the
hours are also important, but a bit less so with this background.
OUTLINE:

Beginning: From Toronto originally, played hockey growing up, and went to Ohio State
in the U.S. on a hockey scholarship and because they had a strong accounting and
finance program. Joined Kreischer Miller, a regional accounting firm, to gain more client
exposure.

Spark: He audited one private client that was preparing to go public, and became a lot
more interested in major M&A and financing transactions from that experience.

Growing Interest: Decided he wanted to get into IB, so he went to FTI and joined their
valuation group to gain the relevant skills; worked on purchase price allocation and the
valuation of intangibles and learned financial modeling and M&A analysis on the side.

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The Future and Why Youre Here Today: Wants to advise major companies on deals like
the IPO that initially sparked his interest, and this firm has a great reputation for both
junior analyst exposure and IPOs of middle-market companies.

FULL STORY:
Interviewer: Why dont you start by walking me through your resume?
Interviewee: Sure. Im from Toronto originally and played hockey competitively growing up. I
decided to move to the U.S. and go to Ohio State for university since I won a hockey scholarship
there, and since they had strong accounting and finance programs.
I did an Accounting degree there, and then joined Kreischer Miller, a regional accounting firm,
because I liked the client exposure and how it used less of an assembly line approach than the
Big 4 firms.
On one assignment, I had to audit the financial statements of a middle-market retail client that
wanted to go public soon, and that made me very interested in M&A and financing
transactions. I liked how everything was forward-looking rather than historical, and how, as a
banker, you could influence companys strategies rather than just evaluating deals after they
had taken place.
To get the skills for investment banking, I went to FTI Consulting and joined their business
valuation team, where I worked on purchase price allocation and the valuation of intangible
assets. On the side, I also completed financial modeling courses and taught myself more about
M&A analysis and the valuation of entire companies.
I ended up working around 70-80 hours per week during that time because I was studying
intensively and also had to meet tight client deadlines, so I know what Im getting into with the
hours.
Im here today because I want to use my accounting, valuation, and finance background to
advise major companies on deals like the retail IPO that initially sparked my interest. Ive
enjoyed meeting everyone on your team, and BMO has a great track record in this area, with
deals like the Davids Tea IPO, so Im confident that your group is the best way for me to get
there.

EXAMPLE #3 Investment Banking to Private Equity


In this story, the interviewee focuses on proving that hes been interested in investing all along,
and went into investment banking to gain skills that would be useful for private equity.
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OUTLINE:

Beginning: Grew up in Valencia, Spain, and played a lot of basketball growing up; moved
to London and attended UCL for undergrad, completing a degree in Philosophy, Politics,
and Economics.

Spark: Started investing in Spanish banks and learning more about the sector; many
firms were distressed at the time, and he thought there were overlooked opportunities
and undervalued companies.

Growing Interest: Did an internship at JRJ Group, a boutique financial services-focused


PE firm, but wanted broader deal exposure and more experience executing deals, so he
joined JP Morgans Leveraged Finance team in London. Gained more financial and deal
analysis skills, but also wanted to return to his original interest in investing.

The Future and Why Youre Here Today: He wants to combine his LevFin, PE, and
investing experience and work on transactions involving entire companies and add value
over the long term, and this firm has a great reputation for that.

FULL STORY:
Interviewer: Why dont you start by walking me through your CV?
Interviewee: Sure. So Im originally from Valencia in Spain, and I played a lot of basketball
there growing up. For university, I moved to London and did a degree in Philosophy, Politics,
and Economics at UCL.
At the time, many public banks in Spain were financially distressed, and there were always
news stories about the sector. But I thought a lot of the reports were wrong, so I began
investing some of my savings in banks the market had unfairly penalized. It made me very
interested in investing and the financial services sector.
I did an internship at JRJ Group, a local private equity firm focused on financial services, and I
helped them with sourcing and monitoring portfolio companies. I liked that work, but I also
wanted broader deal and industry exposure, so I took a full-time role in the Leveraged Finance
team at JP Morgan.
That gave me more of the required technical skills since I worked on much larger leveraged
buyouts and debt-related deals, and I gained access to a wide alumni network. I also realized
that I was most interested in working on transactions involving entire companies instead of
minority-stake investments.
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But I also wanted to return to my original interest in investing in undervalued companies. So Im


here today because I want to combine my Leveraged Finance, PE, and investing experience and
work with companies over the long-term to add value and improve their businesses.
Riverside has a great reputation in this area, with deals like Orliman and SIGG, and Ive enjoyed
meeting everyone on your team, so Im confident this is the best place for me to be.

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