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How to Cold Email for an Investment Banking Internship or Full-Time Position

An investment banking cold email is a message to a banker to ask directly about a position at the firm. In case you don’t hear back you follow up a few times with the goal of scheduling a quick phone call or an in-person coffee-chat with the banker. Cold emails work best for finding initial, informal internships at smaller banks that lead to official internships or positions at larger boutique or bulge bracket banks later. You can also successfully send cold emails to win off-cycle roles at larger banks, but you need to have previous experience or very strong profile to do so.

The good news is that you don’t need to at a target school to use cold emails effectively. It is a numbers game the more cold emails you send the more likely you’ll land an internship and break into the investment banking world. The bad news is that cold emailing is a repetitive process, and it is not the most intellectually stimulating experience, however if you want to be competitive for the investment banking internships at a well-known investment bank that lead to full-time offers, you’ll probably have to use some amount of cold emailing. The key is the get out there and practice.

Cold Email Action Steps

1. Find 50-200 Investment Banks in Your RegionIt is easy to find the biggest banks, however they typically have a very structured application process, so our advice is to start at small- and mid-sized firms that has more flexibility. To make your life easier you can get access to one of our IB firm databases each containing 500+ banks depending on your area. For each investment bank we provide verified homepage, contact emails, application home page, LinkedIn page, phone number, all US office locations and more. Firms are categorized based on industry and product focus, location and prestige:

2. Find 2-5 Professionals at Each Bank and Their Email Addresses (200-500 Email Addresses)  This is an extremely time-consuming process and you can save hundreds of hours by purchasing either our New York, California or Chicago investment banker contact lists with thousands of contacts each with verified email address, LinkedIn profile, position, group, etc. ensuring that you will find someone at each level in your desired industry or product group:

3. Email 1 Contact per Bank to Ask Directly About an Internship/Position (200-500 Cold Emails) – Keep your email around 3-5 sentences and request a brief call to discuss internships or potentially other positions at the firm. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions to start sending cold emails: the earlier you start and the more you send the more likely that you’ll succeed. Do not copy and paste emails without removing formatting. Follow up if you don’t hear back after a week and make your message even shorter. Send a final email after another week. Update your Cold Email Tracking Excel and move on to other contacts and firms. You should try other people at the same bank and, in parallel, keep reaching out to other professionals at other firms. If you don’t get response from 3-5 people at the same banks, cross the firm off your list.​

4. Expect to Receive Responses from 10-50 Bankers – Candidates typically get around 10% response rate depending on how strong their background is and how competitive your area is (lower response rate in New York and higher in smaller financial markets). Your goal is to get another person on the phone, which will usually take a few messages back and forth.

5. Use a Spreadsheet to Keep Track of Your Cold Emailing EffortsBe organized, remember when to follow up, remember what you learned about your contacts (their favorite sport team, favorite destination, etc.). Networking is about being consistent.

6. Schedule 5-25 Intro CallsYou should expect about 50% success rate converting responses to actual phone calls. These conversations are like mini-interviews, so be prepared for the usual interview questions. Think about how to sell yourself and be prepared to answer common objections about your academic and professional backgrounds. Spend time learning as much as you can about the firm and your contact so you could ask specific questions that shows you did your homework. It is unlikely that they would ask technical questions at an introductory call. It’s easy for everyone to say that they’re hardworking and determined, but you need to set yourself apart by showing them with 3-5 memorable experiences how you have exemplified those traits in your past. The most effective, if you can build genuine relationships such as meeting in person, taking your contacts out for coffee, lunch or drinks, sending them emails with random articles they might be interested in, or finding out about their unique interests: if they run or play a sport. You can’t just straight-up ask for an interview, say something like: with recruiting season coming up, I was wondering how I could best position myself. This is where a banker would offer to pass along your resume, talk to HR or even come back with some phone interview times if he likes you.

7. Complete 3-15 Interviews – Depending on how prepared and likeable you are you should convert half of the intro calls to real interviews. Of course, real-interviews are fair-game to ask anything including technical questions, deals you are familiar with or relevant industry trends.

8. Choose the Best out of Your 2-5 Offers – Congratulations! You made it. You won more than one offers out of this process. Time to choose the best fit for you. You should expect to convert 1% of your cold emails to actual job offer. This process should take about 2-4 months depending on how much time you need to spend on finding hundreds of verified email addresses, how many contacts you reach out to and how many emails you send daily. At this point, you are well-ahead of your peers and after completing this internship you can aim higher by sharing your investment banking deal experience and land a position at a bulge bracket or premium investment bank. You can find our contact lists on our Product Page that can help you to find relevant contacts at specific industry or product groups at specific geographical locations. 

Cold Email Template

Obviously, your actual cold email should depend on many factors: if you have work experience at a well-known firm (e.g. Deloitte, Google) or some relevant qualifications (e.g. CFA, CPA) you definitely want to include it. Contact people with similar background reminds them of themselves (went to the same school, worked at the same firm, have a reference the contact knows, both of you are from non-target schools, etc.). If you have a special interest in that particular bank, region, coverage or product group be specific so they understand why you are interested in their bank specifically as they will perceive you a better fit and that they are less likely to waste their time talking to you compared to other random students. If you already have at least one internship or work experience, you can attach your resume otherwise don’t send it until they request it. If you are from a target school, you definitely want to use your school email to give you legitimacy. Don’t wait until you have the perfect cold email template, or until it is the perfect time as your cold email and your application process will evolve over time. Remember, don’t spend more than a few minutes on each email as it is about quantity not quality at this stage. Here is a quick template to get you started:

Subject Line: [Name of Your School] [Degree] interested in IB at [Firm Name]

Hi [First Name if Analyst-Associate or Mr. Last Name if VP-MD who is 5-10 years older than you],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Full Name] and I’m a sophomore pursuing my [Your Degree] at [Your School] interested in investment banking opportunities at [Bank Name].

I would like to learn more about your experience at your firm and schedule a 15-minute phone call in the next few weeks. I understand that you have a very busy schedule and I would really appreciate your time.

I’ve attached my resume in case you find it helpful to give you more context on my background. Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.


[Your First Name]

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