Do I have a chance for SA 2026??

I'm worried that I won't have placement for IB, and was wondering if you could provide me with some advice. I've been lurking on this site since my uncle, who works at an Investment Bank, told me about his profession and it interested me. For reference I am an incoming freshman at Wharton and grew up right outside of NYC. I would classify as a diverse.

The issue I'm currently pressed with is that I think I will be a "small fish in a big pond," which I am actively trying to cope with. Many of the incoming Wharton freshmen on LinkedIn have internships with search funds, private equity, and wealth management, but I networked with many different private equity firms and EBs and none of them would give me an internship and told me to apply when I'm older. Now I am stuck on holiday across the world for the summer as I sit back and watch my peers complete internships. I also am struggling a bit with the Greeks and Paper LBOs, which leads me to believe I have no chance for my freshman fall. I'm also worried that me being a diverse candidate will be a roadblock for me because I'm at Wharton.

Do you have any advice of what I can do to come back from my current deficit? If I'm fucked, what other careers are like Investment Banking that pay as much?

Comments (39)

Most Helpful
SupaHot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

this has to be a joke. right? …right?

  • 23
estevez35, what's your opinion? Comment below:

what... Im not trying to flex that I worked hard in high school and got to Wharton, I'm simply asking for advice. I think my diversity classification will be bad since I'm at Wharton so it would be assumed that I'm dumb and only got there because of my background. And, so many of my peers have internships already and I don't.

monkey84281830, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have a wonderful idea for you, since Wharton sounds like such a disaster, why not choose to go to a worse school? It'll solve all of your problems right? Nobody will have any internships, you can be as big as a fish as you want. Jesus Christ man, go outside.

  • 5
ASAPCOIN, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No, it is too late for you. Should try to transfer to IU (top target) if you want a chance to land a prestigious 2026 SA spot

  • 13
mullah123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wow. I have never heard someone spin going to a target school as something bad 😂. You're not even in college, relax! As long as you have some internship experience under your belt by the time your recruit for junior year internships, you'll be more than ok. Enjoy your holiday and stop thinking about finance.

  • Associate 3 in Consulting


Wow. I have never heard someone spin going to a target school as something bad 😂. 

i know its not exactly 100% same but in the UK if you went to a "target" (ie private) high school (i.e. our version of Andover, Philips, Deerfield, Exeter such as eg Eton for the most famous) etc then it counts against you (at least in Uni & maybe job) in applications because more is expected of you & its assumed your CV is only good because everything got handed to you on a platter

  • Prospect in PE - Growth

This had me dying. Best WSO comment I've seen

  • Associate 1 in PE - Growth
[Comment removed by mod team]
  • Prospect in IB - Gen

Associate is lying unfortunately.

After an extensive process, with interviews involving technicals (think how to make pronoun-friendly emails), brainteasers (think "3x = 15, find x" questions), & competency questions (didn't get asked this as I was born in target hospital) I'm happy to announce I just secured my offer from top BB (think Evercore/Moelis/Laz) for SA 2029.

  • 3
  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A

No, might as well apply for welfare now.

  • 2
  • Prospect in IB - Gen

It will be tough, but you can still land the prestigious northwestern mutual internship if you network hard.

  • 7
lostStudent, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Freshman at Wharton" 👁👄👁 yeah no chance just give up

mindsetfocus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If this is real, I'll try and give some advice.

Forget about what other people have coming into university, you're at a great school and once September rolls around, you'll all be on equal footing per se. This might be your only free summer for the next 4 years realistically, so enjoy your vacation.

However, once you get on campus you can begin to differentiate yourself. Focus on joining the investment club and any other finance-related extracurriculars, perhaps pick up an unpaid search fund internship in your second semester, some things of that nature. But, make sure to prioritize grades as those will be looked at during your junior year recruiting.

Overall though, you're in a great spot. Relax for the rest of the summer, maybe keep up with finance news on a periodic basis and be ready to do well come September.


  • 2
  • Prospect in CorpFin

It's completely over for you. I personally was at a target high school (Andover / Exeter / Harvard-Westlake) and couldn't even get looks at EBs in my Senior-to-Freshman summer.

Luckily, my great-auntie is an MD at a Super Bulge Bracket called Northwestern Mutual (pretty lowkey spot) and I was able to snag a seat in their JCS (Janitorial Cleaning Services) group.

In your case, you'll likely have to work 2x as hard and you might land a low-tier boiler room like Goldman Sachs. Best of luck, but your outlook is bleak.

  • 6
fireghost10, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Knowing that u mentioned Harvard westlake u def went there

  • 1
  • Intern in PE - LBOs

Congrats on harvard westlake

  • 1
monkey0114, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Man you're gonna be struggling. I know people who went to HYPS type places, and couldn't even land retail jobs in freshman summer let alone crap like accounting internships at small firms because they had nothing on their resume before going to college. By the time they recruited for SA even with ultra hard networking they were struggling to get looks from big 4 audit (one managed to get superday at kpmg but that's it). 

From what I remember, after graduating I think one managed to hustle their way into Walmart for a store management trainee role (but in a poor geography think south dakota/iowa) and the others struck out in retail and had to settle for garbage disposal and sewer cleaning type roles. They are keeping their hopes up though, they mentioned that they'd read an anecdote on of a guy who managed to lateral from street cleaning to a janitor role in a regional bank. From there they networked hard with back office (think compliance/operations) and managed to land an unpaid operations internship at the same regional bank which they leveraged into a FT offer in operations at a Northwestern Mutual office in Indiana. They're hoping to sit out the current market for a couple years before grinding the networking to hopefully lateral into a super prestigious global financial powerhouse (think KPMG/PWC) in operations.

Don't mean to scare you but you're fucked. If I were you I'd get grinding hard

  • 4
  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A

Exactly my thoughts. I don't want to scare OP but he would be wise to begin documenting his (lack of) income and employment so he is able to reap the benefits of unemployment / social security upon graduating unemployed with a ton of loans. 

EBITDAWrangler, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Brother, you need to relax. Get good grades, learn your technicals by recruiting, and coming out of the best business school in the country you will have every firm offering you. 

Is this post sarcasm?

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A

Yall are joking but this is literally how it is in Mainland China on some Kony2012 shit 

  • 1
  • Intern in PE - Other

Look into starting a mining project in montenegro. Sit back as your metal stacks & your country becomes an EU member by 2025 (fingers crosses ofc). Congrats, you are a mining tycoon.

  • 2
  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other

Holy shit are you retarded? You have plenty of time if you come into freshman year with a game plan. You could put your foot on the gas halfway through freshman year and still be ready for diversity recruiting by your sophomore fall / winter. It's always a few months before the normal people applications open and RBC goes first. Apply to all of them and you'll be on the finance hardo treadmill in no time.

Diversity SA -> normal SA -> full time IB -> PE on cycle -> PE -> master of the universe

Hell you can just go straight into PE from Wharton. Legitimately the only marginally better school for finance opportunities would be Harvard or maybe Stanford. If you can't break in from Wharton you definitely couldn't have done it from anywhere else …

leveraged_sellout, what's your opinion? Comment below:

nah ur screwed i got my first internship in middle school, networked into a top bb (gs, ms, baml) for sophomore summer (high school), recruited for buy side for grade 12 then went to a different target school for all 4 years of uni.

dude…ur fine

JohnCBelfort, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why didn't you do your daycare's investment banking workshop?

monkey0114, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Because you have to get headhunted from target hospitals when you're born to be able to go for on cycle daycare recruiting

  • 2
IB_SNKRhead, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is wild, dude rly said "if I'm fucked…" Touch grass

  • Intern in IB - Cov

lol, diverse and at wharton, if you fuck this up you're a special breed of moron…that said, you'll be fine. You literally have the best possible circumstance of anyone you're competing with that isn't a client kid

anon252525, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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