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William Blair Investment Banking Summer Analyst Program

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Vault’s Verdict

William Blair is looking for smart, motivated, well-rounded, humble candidates with solid academic records and strong technical, communication, and social skills. For students, the firm runs a very rewarding internship program. Interns have access to great training, deal experience, and social networking events. Hours can be long, though. Meanwhile, the firm’s full-time junior bankers have access to numerous career development opportunities, including extensive technical training, a mentorship culture that fosters senior bankers guiding junior bankers, clear promotion tracks, and the ability to transfer between departments.

Although hours can be long for analysts and associates (like at most investments banks), senior bankers at William Blair are very respectful of junior bankers’ time and very understanding of commitments outside of work. In addition, using all your vacation days is strongly encouraged. Compensation is said to be very competitive, and benefits are said to be in line with the industry average. Some insiders do say that bonuses have been down as of late, but note that they should improve as markets improve.

Diversity hiring and creating an inclusive culture have been big priorities for William Blair, with insiders saying the firm has done a fantastic job when it comes to hiring women and race and ethnicity. Still, insiders do say there is room for improvement when it comes to D&I. As for the firm’s business outlook, after making layoffs in early 2023, the firm is well positioned to continue to gain market share, and its employees are very confident in the firm’s leadership team.

EMPLOYEE REVIEWS

Hiring Process

“My firm seeks candidates that are well-rounded and will fit the culture of the organization. They are looking for not only super smart and technically skilled individuals but also individuals who are dynamic and will be able to adapt, learn, and grow with the firm.”

“Looking for hardworking well-rounded candidates who are accomplished academically and professionally. They should also absolutely be well-equipped socially.” 

“Looking for well-rounded candidates who are accomplished academically and professionally. They should also absolutely be well-equipped socially.”

“Culture fit is really important. At the end of the day, many candidates ‘ace’ the technical section, so it really is about finding the right fit.”

Interview Questions

“Why William Blair? Why middle market? Why investment banking? Walk me through an LBO, financial statements, etc.”

“Why this job? Why this team? What sets you apart as a candidate? Why are you a good fit for the platform?”

“Various types of valuation methodologies, paper LBO, why would one company be valued higher than another, etc.”

“Paper LBO case study of a business, DCF, enterprise value formula questions.”

Intern Experience

“My summer internship was a very fruitful experience with respect to culture, team dynamics, industry work, and deal experience. Relative to my peers, I believe that my experience was as good as you can get.”

“Great training experience. Gave a proper representation of the full-time analyst role. Made great professional connections. Lots of social events and made friends with my analyst class. Long hours and late nights (things were very busy).”

“Best part is you felt like you were a part of the team as an active member doing real project work versus fake tasks. Everyone also wanted to get to know you personally and cared about your life outside of work (it wasn’t just 100 percent professionally-focused).”

“Direct deal experience. Lots of autonomy to work and learn. Long hours. Overall great program with a great balance of training and hands-on experience.”

Career Development

“Informally, there is a strong culture of wanting to help others. There is very little sense of competing against your peers; it’s more of a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ mindset. Formally, there is extensive training across all technical areas. Perhaps there could be more training around topics like legal knowledge, but the core areas (Excel, PowerPoint, modeling, slide building, etc.) is very well covered.”

“People care about your development as an analyst and will help you get the reps that you need. People are more than willing to provide constructive feedback that helps you grow and realize what areas you can improve on. Blair takes a mentorship approach and invests in their juniors. There are formal training sessions for full-time folks that are helpful. I have found Blair to be an incredible place to develop as an analyst and have gotten very meaningful experience here. On the other hand, we have been stretched thin in terms of capacity and people are being staffed with too many projects to devote enough time to each one. This means folks are not getting as meaningful reps and they are just trying to keep their head above water and deal with everything that is being laid on their plates.”

“The firm puts a lot of focus on career development and is consistently offering training opportunities across all levels. The promotion track is clearly defined and structured, although there is some concern amongst my analyst class this year about the number of analysts who will be promoted to associate, given the tough deal environment and tighter budgets.”

“They allow people to transfer between departments, which is rare. I have seen this across all levels of the team with several people coming in at the highest levels from other groups and also having people move from banking to other areas as well. This is unique. However, there does not seem to be incentive for thinking or acting above your level (analysts thinking like associates, associates like VPS, etc.). This limits people’s willingness to seek career development to some degree.”

Quality of Life

“In my experience, people are very respectful of your time. Protected Saturdays are strictly adhered to (has to be critical work to happen on a Saturday), which makes the job so much better. Knowing that you are fully off on a Saturday is huge for mental wellbeing. Vacation is highly encouraged and people are required to take 100 percent of their vacation days. VPs work hard to make sure that analysts and associates are fully unplugged when they are on vacation, only plugging in when it is absolutely unavoidable. Day to day, our office has established a culture of exercising in the evenings, and occasional week night social plans are fully accepted, assuming people are getting their work done.”

“The firm does a good job at trying to create an environment where balance is highlighted and encouraged, but the reality is that this job just does not really allow for that to take place. That said, I have found that when people are out of the office on official vacations, the teams do their best to allow them to really be out of office.”

“Family-oriented culture. The team I work on has a good understanding of other commitments outside of work and respects those commitments while ensuring work product quality is maintained.”

“I really enjoy working at Blair. Obviously, sometimes the hours or nature of analyst work is less than ideal, but I don’t view that as firm-specific. Overall, I generally think Blair values your personal life more than most firms, and I am satisfied overall with my work/life balance.”

Salary and Benefits

“Very competitive salary and bonuses (in a normal year; we will see how things go this year). Respected vacation time. In-office cafeteria that has quality food for cheap. Meals that can be expensed. Overall good insurance. Casual dress code is nice. Unfortunately, they recently made it so that you have to go into the office to get a reimbursed meal on the weekends. We used to be able to expense meals regardless of location Monday through Sunday. I know this is a trend across the Street, but it seems unfair to say that juniors have to go into the office on a Saturday or Sunday in order to get their free meal.”

“Bonuses are down across the industry, so this can’t be attributed to the firm itself. However, junior bankers are still working equally hard, making the cost of work for the employee higher.”

“All-cash bonuses free of any vesting is a massive benefit relative to publicly-traded firms. Cost cutting has gotten rid of a lot of prior ‘nice to have’ perks like a really good snack/drink program (still have it, but the options aren't nearly as good) and catered lunches on Wednesdays. We also used to have a ‘social budget’ for getting dinner/drinks with colleagues which was great but it didn’t last. My major gripe, though, is the healthcare options for non-Illinois employees. I have above-average healthcare costs given a health issue, and I wish there were lower deductible plan options that I could select.”

“Overall, I think pay is good. But it’s been a difficult few-year period. Tougher year last year, so bonuses were lower. Will be the same this year.”

Wellness Efforts

“We offer a full complement of wellness resources from counseling to extensive medical benefits that allow for seeing whoever is helpful to you. We get regular emails from leadership about ensuring vacation is taken and that it is known that the culture supports talking to senior leadership about any issues that come up. I have seen this in action several times.”

“We have wellness rooms, and I think people will make an effort to work with you if you are going through mental health issues. We have protected Saturdays and try to give people a break on the weekends when possible. Importantly, we also try not to keep juniors up late at night without good reason.”

“This is a priority for the firm. They provide lots of healthy meal options in the café, and there is a gym in the building that offers a great discounted membership.”

“Current flexibility to WFH two days a week is a strong benefit in terms of squeezing exercise into day amongst hectic schedule. We also have an employee assistant program and five counseling sessions offered through Health Advocate, as well as mediation programs that weave in with our training programs.”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“Fantastic job in promoting diversity hiring as it relates to women and race and ethnicity, but I don't hear as much about our hiring related to other groups.”

“Everyone can feel welcome at Blair regardless of background. People here are genuinely nice and do not hold hatred against any groups, from what I have seen. Blair is a meritocracy, and you are judged by your work, not your background.”

“Very inclusive across the board with plenty of support/alliance groups. We hired someone specifically related to DEI and have made progress in these areas. We still have some room to grow, but this has been a huge priority for us.”

“While it is difficult to hire and promote as many people from under-represented groups, we have a sincere desire to do so, and certain programs actively generate interest from these groups for investment banking analyst positions.” 

Business Outlook

“William Blair's competitive position, especially in M&A advisory, has never been better. We were the No. 1 ranked bank by The Deal in the first half of 2023 for buy-side advisory transactions with PE involvement. Our market share has certainly increased for sell-side M&A in this more challenging market, and our win rate in pitches has improved.”

“Rising rates have hit our business hard, but we will be back. We have a great, diversified team of leaders ready to take market share on the up.”

“We are really strong in, and highly leveraged to, middle-market private equity transactions, but this market has cooled given the rate hikes and valuation dynamics that are out there. In addition, ECM related activities have been impacted this last year as well due to macro factors. These dynamics, along with a decision to ramp up our spending, has created a temporarily challenging situation. That said, while morale has been lower than in a past few years, there is a confidence from leadership that we remain very well positioned longer term and that the brand remains exceptionally strong.”

“Very difficult market, but our firm collectively has a lot of confidence in Brent Gledhill and Matt Zimmer and their ability to lead us through a tough period of time.”

 

William Blair

The William Blair Building
150 North Riverside Plaza
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 236-1600

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Chairman: John R. Ettelson
CEO: Brent Gledhill
2024 Employees (All Locations): 1,900

Major Office Locations

Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Frankfurt, Germany
London, United Kingdom
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Charlotte, NC

Major Departments & Practices

Investment banking
Investment management
Private Wealth Management