This B-School Is The Go-To Pipeline For Investment Banking Internships Focused On Tech

·8 min read

Want an investment banking internship in the fastest growing sector of the industry? This Bay Area B-School has the best track record in the market. UC-Berkeley photo

When Rawool Sahu decided to pivot careers, he first considered MBA programs in the Chicago area, where he worked several years in healthcare financial planning and analysis. Sahu looked at both the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, but neither provided everything he was looking for.

Eventually Sahu realized that among the things he was looking for was a move to the West Coast after years in the Midwest. And that led him to the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where he enrolled in the school’s part-time Evening and Weekend MBA program, commuting to and from Chicago.

Sahu didn’t know exactly which direction he wanted to go, but in his first week at Haas he attended a series of intensive information sessions on investment banking and thought it sounded intriguing.

A PIPELINE FOR INVESTMENT BANKING INTERNS

This summer, Sahu completed an internship with a boutique Bay Area investment bank Moelis & Company. He was offered a full-time position with the firm beginning next year.

“Haas was great in terms of helping me get started in the process,” he tells Poets&Quants. “Berkeley has a really strong network of investment bankers in the Bay Area, including a lot of Evening and Weekend MBAs, and I was able to connect with alumni who are working in the field.”

Sahu is one of 14 Haas MBAs who secured a coveted — and lucrative — summer associate internship at a Bay Area investment bank this year. That is a 22% market share, more than any other B-school, says Bill Rindfuss, a continuing professional faculty member and the Haas School’s manager of financial services recruiting for MBAs. In 2019, it placed 33% of Bay Area interns, or 24 Haas students.

INVESTMENT BANKING INTERNSHIPS OFTEN LEAD TO FULL-TIME JOB OFFERS

Bill Rindfuss, Haas School of Business

Haas has established itself as the go-to pipeline for such internships in the Bay Area – the world headquarters for investment banking firms covering the tech industry. It is a train ride away from San Francisco, Palo Alto and Menlo Park. It’s easy for students to go meet with bankers, and it’s easy for banks to get to Haas to find students.

Further, a lot of Haas MBAs are interested in tech or come from tech backgrounds, and most of the Bay Area IB internships focus on tech or life sciences.

“We’re very fortunate to live here, at the global intersection of finance and technology, and tech investment banking is a great example of something really interesting at that intersection,” Rindfuss tells Poets&Quants.

“For those who want to pivot into investment banking, we have a very straightforward proposition: We are the hometown team. We produce the local talent that the banks are seeking.”

For students who want to pivot to investment banking, the summer associate internship is invaluable. Internships often lead to full time offers which come with salaries averaging about $175,000 per year along with $50,000 signing bonuses.

Because Haas MBAs compete with graduates from other top B-schools for the internships and the full-time offers, the school has built a very deliberate and intensive program for helping students through the rigorous application process.

Rita Wiley, MBA ’22, secured a summer associate internship at middle-market investment banking firm Piper Sandler in San Francisco. She also accepted a full-time position with the firm beginning after her graduation.

RECRUITMENT BEGINS ON WEEK ZERO

At Haas, the intern recruitment process begins almost immediately, during Week Zero. It starts with an overview on the industry, and then rolls into a weekly Investment Banking Speaker Series. MBAs then break into smaller study groups to help each other prepare for coffee chats and research the different firms. Then, students schedule individual coffee chats with the banks in which they are most interested.

“It’s definitely a grueling process. You basically come in and need to decide whether you’re doing investment banking or not and hit the ground running,” says Rita Wiley, MBA ‘22, who interned this summer at Piper Sandler and will begin working with their healthcare team full-time after graduation. She is also a Diversity Fellowship recipient which comes with extra compensation on top of the regular offer.

While MBAs gravitate largely toward local tech and life sciences coverage banks, there’s a lot of variety in the types of firms. Students can choose whether they fit best at a bulge bracket bank, like Morgan Stanley, or an elite boutique or a middle-market bank. Haas also has a well-paved path for students who want to find internships in New York or other locations, Rindfuss says.

Wiley graduated from West Point Military Academy in 2015 with a degree in life sciences, and served as a military police officer for five years. After taking a medical retirement, she decided to get an MBA. She thought she would focus on finance, but wasn’t sure how that might look. She first considered investment banking in those first information sessions at Haas.

“I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to go, but investment banking seemed to open up the door to a plethora of other opportunities. It was the best avenue to get me up to speed, especially with my military career and nontraditional background,” she says.

She applied to Piper Sandler because it is a middle-market firm mostly focused on mergers and acquisitions, but is growing into other sectors. The San Francisco healthcare team where she will work next year is among the leaders in the sector.

A CONNECTED ALUMNI NETWORK

Haas’ pipeline to West Coast banking basically feeds itself. The B-School has been a leader in the area’s Investment Banking interns for many years. Those interns secure jobs in the Bay Area banks who then come back to their alma mater to find recruits for their banks’ summer associate positions. Plus, the sector is in a record-breaking year for mergers and acquisition volume, and most of that is coming from tech, Rindfuss says.

Rawool Sahu, MBA ‘22

“The largest share of our students have gone to the Bay Area, and so most of our installed base of alumni are here,” Rindfuss says. “If you want to do investment banking, and you want to do it in the Bay Area, advising the most active and interesting clients, then you absolutely should come to Haas.”

The B-School has a base of very engaged alumni who come to networking events, participate in the Speaker Series, and who are willing to connect with students one-on-one. That’s how Sahu was connected with the boutique firm, Moelis & Company, where he will work full-time in healthcare-focused investment banking.

“One of the things I enjoyed about being in a smaller office is I got a lot of access to many of the managing directors who pulled me into conversations with the clients,” he says. “Those were some of the most interesting aspects of the internship for me because I was on phone calls, listening to the CFOs and CEOs, and thinking about the company’s next direction. Whether they were trying to sell a company or acquire a company, listening to how they think that through was a great learning experience.”

GREAT STUDENT SUPPORT

Christine Jan, MBA ‘22, grew up in Taiwan and earned her undergraduate degree in finance. She worked in wealth management in Hong Kong at UBS. Her MBA experience at Haas was her first exposure to American-style education.

“I came from a background where you go to school and do whatever the teachers tell you to to be successful,” says Jan who

Christine Jan, MBA ’22

interned this summer and got a full-time offer with Morgan Stanley’s tech team, located in Menlo Park. “Haas helped completely change my mindset to crafting my own story and how to position myself. I’m used to selling products to clients, but I never had to sell myself.”

Jan worked closely with Haas’ Career Management Group, spent hours talking to alumni, and found support with classmates throughout the recruitment and application process. She and Wiley were part of the same small study group that helped prepare her for meetings with banks and prepare her applications.

“At Haas, we had a great mix of Executive MBAs, Evening and Weekend MBAs and full-time MBAs, and we have a lot of classes and clubs that are cross-cohort,” she tells Poets&Quants. “We shared resources, bumped into each other in class, and shared points on how to tackle different situations in the process. That came through in a lot of the conversations I had with the banking alumni.”

During her internship, Jan assisted in fundraising for IPOs, debt financing and mergers and acquisitions. She will work with the Morgan Stanley tech team full-time after graduation.

“The biggest and most happening deals are going here in Silicon Valley, especially for tech. The world is coming here to raise funds, and that’s just how it is at the moment,” Jan says. “I really like the global mindset on the worksite.”

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