Is it necessary to have a Finance or Business/Economics background to get into Investment Banking?
A short answer is it's not a must but it helps. A Finance or Business/Economics backgrounds allows you to demonstrate your interest in the field. If you do not have any finance-related major and want to break into the industry, you have to start preparing early by attending finance classes, proactively networking with fellows and banking professionals to equip yourself with finance-related internships.
What are the "Target Schools" of Investment Banks, Private Equity Firms?
Schools that Investment Banks/Private Equity firms actively come recruit at due to the long-history relationship and the vast alumni network. If you are a student at one of those schools, your chance to land an internship or a job is much better than others. Especially in finacial hubs such as Wall Street - New York and London, target-school students reportedly accounted for over 50% in the total number of new hires annually.
You can check the list of target schools in the US (update 2020) here.
What is the ideal GPA?
The requirement for GPA varies firm by firm and region by region, you should visit their websites for more details. Some Bulge Brackets require a minimum of 3.2, but the safe GPA should be at a minimum of 3.5 and higher. Below-3.5 GPA decreases your chance to pass the CV round, especially non-target students. Candidates with average GPA will need finance-related internships and actively join investment clubs at school to be competitive.
How do I network?
Network is considered the hardest part of breaking into Investment Banking, Private Equity and Hedge Fund. Networking can be categorized into two main groups: school alumni and professionals. You should get started networking as soon as possible. Be prepared with Wall St. knowledge, a clear plan, and doing research about the networking professional / firm. In addition, clubs at your schools can certainly help out. Cold-emailing is an important step but how to cold-call/email without annoying bankers with busy schedule requires lots of preparation and practice. You can sign up for our Networking Guide to prepare your networks carefully and tactically.