Industry Focus: Investment Banking
In this series, we ask current Yale SOM MBA students to share their experiences interning and recruiting for positions in their industries, as well as the resources at SOM that have helped them in the process.
Adhi Murali ’21
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech
Pre-SOM experience: Technology consultant for VMware
Summer Internship: Technology investment banking, Citigroup
Why did you choose the investment banking industry?
My interest in investment banking (IB) started during my time at VMware, when I was working on a post-M&A technology migration for a client. Through this project I worked with business and technical teams on both sides and was exposed to the synergies and rationale behind the transaction, how the target company was valued, and how debt was raised to fund the transaction. This piqued my interest in pre-acquisition decision-making that investment banks do, as opposed to post-acquisition work with a technology silo.
Additionally, IB has a lot of the characteristics I was looking for in an industry, such as the exposure to senior stakeholders, steep learning curve, ability to make high-impact decisions, and constantly being in an environment where I would be challenged.
What was a typical day like during recruiting season?
IB follows a very structured recruiting process across the Finance Club, Career Development Office (CDO), and the SOM alumni network. At the peak of the recruiting season we took the Metro North train to New York City two to three times a week for coffee chats with various banks. During the days we were at SOM, we attended Finance Club technical sessions and weekly meetings to get guidance on which part of our interview preparation we should be doing that week, as well as to receive feedback funneled through the second-years. We also used this time to do mock interviews with first- and second-years, and that became our primary support system through the process.
How was your summer internship experience?
We had a cohort of five SOM first years interning at Citi this summer, which made it easier to feel more connected and supported through the virtual internship. I had a wonderful summer experience through multiple social events such as virtual chocolate tasting and trivia events to make up for the in-person interactions we were missing in the remote format. We also had weekly sessions with different leaders within investment banking and group-specific training that led up to a final project where we had to pick and value an acquisition target.
Some other projects I worked on included doing industry research and finding prospective targets for a buyer looking to do M&A in a particular tech subvertical, doing company benchmarking and valuation for a few pitches, and assisting with internal projects.
Was there a class at SOM that helped you develop key skills for this internship?
There were three classes during my first year that directly applied to the recruiting process, summer internship, and industry overall:
- Advanced Securities Law: This Yale Law School class is taught by two securities lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb and provides insights into viewing every step of an IPO underwriting process from a securities lawyer lens.
- Basics of Accounting: This class provides an indispensable background on accounting, upon which other finance courses are built. Relevant topics covered include IFRS and GAAP standards, bookkeeping mechanics, reading financial statements, and various accounting conventions.
- Financial Statement Analysis: This class helps analyze different SEC filings in the evaluation of a firm's financial performance, exposing different accounting tricks that firms may employ, and combines accounting and finance into a practical framework for equity valuation with emphasis on IPOs and M&A.
What were some of the most valuable resources at SOM that helped you during your search?
The Finance Club provides structured investment banking recruiting guidance throughout the recruiting process, like a course of its own, starting from résumé and story development to technical and behavioral preparation, feedback through a designated mentorship program, and weekly meetings and technical sessions. Other programs include mock interviews organized by second-years, international student and diversity events, and Hong Kong/London recruiting.
The CDO complements the Finance Club by providing behavioral prep and recruiting strategy assistance. I met with the CDO at the start of fall to narrow in on IB as my industry focus and took advantage of various industry primers that the CDO organized with alumni across different industries. I also met with the CDO periodically through my recruiting process for behavioral prep and, upon getting my offer, to navigate next steps.
Do you have any advice for prospective students looking to work in the investment banking space?
Due to the early and structured timeline of investment banking recruiting, I would really recommend doing your research on whether you would like to pursue IB leading up to the start of your program. This can be done by leveraging all the SOM resources at your disposal post-admission, especially the second-year students, CDO, and the Finance Club, so by the time you get to campus you have a fair idea of what you’d like to pursue. Additionally, the Finance Club shares interview prep resources over the summer prior to the start of your MBA that can help you hit the ground running on technical interview content, especially if you are a career switcher.