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William Blair
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William Blair Investment Banking Summer Analyst Program


Vault’s Verdict

William Blair is looking for smart, hardworking, personable, technically-sound candidates with strong academic backgrounds. The firm’s interns get tons of hands-on live deal experience while working alongside full-time junior and senior bankers. Interns also get access to various types of assignments as well as many valuable networking events. Meanwhile, William Blair’s full-time junior bankers get access to extensive career development and growth opportunities, including valuable mentorship, early responsibility, internal promotions, and the ability to move within various departments of the firm.

Although hours can be long and the work can be intense and stressful due to the strong deal flow, William Blair’s culture promotes a healthy work/life balance. Vacations are encouraged, a hybrid work schedule is in place, no busy work is required, and senior bankers respect juniors’ time and outside commitments. Meanwhile, salaries, bonuses, perks, and benefits are extremely generous and well above the Street average. As for wellness offerings provided by the firm, they include an on-site gym, free food, telehealth therapy, wellness rooms to decompress, and regular wellness trainings and seminars.

When it comes to DEI, William Blair has a very open and welcoming culture. And although its staff is still not that diverse overall, the firm has been making a huge push when it comes to diversity hiring, particularly striving for gender equity balance in its recruiting efforts. As for the firm’s business outlook, employee morale is strong, and the firm is positioned well to weather any potential storms ahead. It has recently increased its market share, average deal size, and international presence.

Hiring Process

“We are looking for smart, resourceful, hardworking candidates who are able to take direction, and willing to roll-up their sleeves and get to work.”

“We have first-round phone interviews followed by a Super Day that’s a mix of technical and behavioral interview. We look for smart students who are kind and can work well with others. It's important to get technicals correct, but that's not enough to get the job. You really need to win over your interviewers with behaviorals and demonstrate that you work well with teams. I would say we value behaviorals more than other banks.”

“Networking is important to receive a first-round interview. The Super Day is intensive with five interviews mixed between technical, behavioral, and cases. An ideal candidate is someone who demonstrates knowledge of technicals while being able to show that they would be a good fit for the culture by carrying a conversation well.”

“We are seeking people who are smart, driven, and innately curious, and enjoy solving problems in a collaborative manner. Being a team player is of utmost importance.”

Interview Questions

“We typically use behavioral interviews to focus on culture and fit, and then a variety of technical interviews to assess analytical aptitude. This includes valuation questions, LBO case study, situational case study, and tech market questions.”

“Fit-based interviews focused on finding leaders and culture carriers. Technical interviews are primarily basic LBO and valuation math.”

“Standard banking questions. Good mix of technical and behavioral questions. Emphasis is on making sure new hires would be a good culture fit.” 

“First round consists of basic behavioral and technical questions (approximately 30 minutes). Super Day consists of five 30-minute interviews with VPs and MDs consisting of behavioral questions, harder technical questions (paper LBO), and a case study.”

Intern Experience

“You’re immediately thrown on live deals and given analyst responsibilities from day one. I did not feel like an intern, as I was given the full Investment banking experience. The firm does a great job of hosting social events throughout the summer, and you can see the culture of the firm shine through the people that they hire. William Blair prides itself on culture and you can see it with how well they treat their interns during the summer.”

“Amazing culture, and great hands-on learning experience truly simulating a full-time experience. Awesome intern social events, and as much of a runway as you’re willing to take. Deal experience and social camaraderie in the office were highlights.”

“One of the best aspects of the internship experience was getting immediate exposure to the full team within William Blair. Given the focus on collaboration and lean deal teams, I was immediately exposed to MDs and partners in the first weeks on the job and it wasn't unusual for them to work directly with interns on certain projects. In addition, I felt like I got a real appreciation for what it would be like to come back and join full time. Instead of working on random projects for most of the summer, I was brought on to two live sell-side transactions and got to work side-by-side with the analyst and associate on the deal to assist wherever possible and 

“I had a great experience in the summer associate program at William Blair. The firm went above and beyond welcoming the interns to the program, assigning each of them mentors, and putting together a very thoughtful placement process. I got exposure over the summer to a number of different types of transactions, and worked with a variety of different people. I was put in a position where I could assist the deal teams and received frequent and helpful feedback.”

Career Development

“You can move all over the firm from department to department if you’re a normal to strong performer. They place a big emphasis on keeping good people. I feel like no other bank is as flexible in this area. Same for office to office, coverage group to coverage group, and even functional areas of the firm. Promotion expectations are also very transparent. Only challenging thing might be that since we’ve grown significantly, we’re experiencing some growing pains and are still trying to figure out the most efficient ways to go about things.”

“William Blair has phenomenal internal retention policies/attitude. Sticking around through associate is highly encouraged, especially as the firm has transitioned from hiring MBA associates in favor of internal promotion. Many VPs started as analysts, as did several MDs. There is a very clear value placed on retaining talent, and thus ensuring folks are treated accordingly.”

“There is so much that’s great about William Blair's career development. The culture is incredibly nurturing; there is the chance to play up but necessary guiderails are in place to see success. There are mentorship opportunities to pay it forward with younger members of the team along with people always willing to help. The people at William Blair really buy into the collegial atmosphere and look at everyone as a contributing member of the winning team. The only downside would simply be that our team is growing so fast so not everyone gets the same personal level of attention as in the past.”

“William Blair is intensely focused on building and retaining the best team members in the investment banking sector. We work incredibly hard to find the right team members and create long-term career opportunities. We have formal training, one-on-one talent managers for all analysts and associates.”

Quality of Life

“We are required to take all of our vacation each year, and weekend work is not the expectation. We are ‘required’ to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday of each week. However, many teams are flexible, particularly if you’re a strong performer who can be trusted to stay atop your work. There is even more flexibility when you've been with the firm for more than a year.”

“Very strong culture that promotes work/ life balance. Minimization of busy work/non-value add work. Obviously, there are long hours, especially when deals are busy, but there’s a strong emphasis on the value of time outside of work.”

 “We have mandatory vacation for every non-partner employee. We track it and proactively encourage it. We have a mandatory one-month sabbatical for every analyst that gets promoted to associate. While we encourage three days in the office, we provide a very flexible office/home work culture. We take our jobs very seriously but believe that our culture drivers our success.”

“The sheer volume of working hours is a little unfortunate. Typically, I start the workday early in the morning and end after midnight. Saturdays are 50/50 on work, Sundays are largely guaranteed to work. Though, to be fair, one doesn’t go into banking not expecting the hours. I've been thrilled by everything else in the job. The responsibility, challenge, learning opportunities, daily exposure to clients, frequent interactions with senior bankers, and phenomenal working relationships with junior and senior analysts, associates, and VPs have made this job incredibly rewarding. The firm encourages in-office interaction while enabling flexibility many grew accustomed to with the Covid work environment. Through selective hiring, perks like free breakfast and lunch, resources to assist in every aspect of our job, and a multitude of happy hours and culture events, WB does a great job of cultivating a healthy and, candidly, astoundingly-positive culture.”

Salary and Benefits

“William Blair's compensation package is unmatched. Base salary is competitive and standardized, but bonus payout is above Street and always paid in cash on the same day of each year. We continue to have free breakfast and lunch at the office throughout each week, and the food quality is excellent. I have yet to hear of another firm that offers a similar set of benefits. Some may pay slightly more or have select reimbursements, but our comprehensive package is unmatched.”

“Compensation is exceptional, and benefits are good. We are paid in all cash, so we don't have to work with deferred compensation. Maternity/paternity leave is very much supported and encouraged to take. Also, we've enhanced our family reimbursement efforts (fertility treatments, SNOO Rentals, etc.).”

“The salary is very competitive and above a lot of peer firms. Vacation is also encouraged to take for junior bankers, and the 401(k) matching is nice, but it could be a little more.”

“I think we are fairly compensated, and Blair makes sure that they provide compensation that is competitive with the Street. I really enjoy the hybrid work model and that we can go to the office when we want/what works with our schedule and meetings. For example, if I have an early call, I can go to the office for lunch and work the afternoon/evening. I also appreciate that we can go home at whatever time works for us and continue to work from home. As a woman, I appreciate that we don't have to stay super late in the office with few people around (which can be a safety concern in a city).”

Wellness Efforts

“The firm provides a free benefit for telehealth therapy through a provider. There are wellness rooms to decompress, and taking mindfulness breaks is encouraged. Regular trainings and seminars are hosted by the firm. During Covid, bankers and management took a lot of interest in employees’ mental health.”

“We have a gym in the bottom of the building. Lots of healthy snacks in the office at all times. Every Thursday they cater a really nice lunch to the office. Everyone has been supportive of me taking breaks to go work out.”

“Free food in the cafe is huge, and the top-down approach of actually carving out time on weekends to relax via protected Saturdays works (managers have to get sign-off from co-heads to have teams work on Saturdays).”

“Senior leadership is very serious about vacations and protected time out of the office, and offers support during personal situations that arise during live processes. I have personally benefitted from my team's flexibility and empathy during some very difficult times in my personal life. I am forever grateful for the support and remain committed to paying it forward, where possible.”

Diversity and ESG Initiatives

“We have LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and many women. The firm does its best to be inclusive, especially given its Midwest demographic.” 

“Completely open and welcoming culture. We strive for gender equity balance in our recruiting efforts, and to make the class as diverse as possible. “

“Best aspect is the openness and focus on driving diversity and equity. The worst aspect is that we just haven’t reached those milestones. Investment banking remains somewhat homogenous, and while the company has initiatives to help increase our diversity, it just takes time.”

“Blair is not the most diverse bank, but there are active conversations and efforts in place to improve upon this. The senior bankers are really transparent about needing to improve this, and they share their plans as to how they would like to improve diversity, which I appreciate. We are actively working on women's initiatives within the firm, and there's a lot of opportunity for junior people to get involved and make their voices heard. I am an analyst and was able to approach my group head to plan more women's events, and he was fully supportive. He gave me a platform to share my ideas with the group, the group is providing funding, and he attends events when his schedule permits. I feel a lot of support from my team and from Blair in general when it comes to diversity efforts for women.”

“We have teams tasked with philanthropy. The firm has a foundation and does a tremendous amount of charity work. We also are leading the ESG effort, and many of our buy-side investments and sell-side research has been ahead of the curve on ESG initiatives.”

Business Outlook

“Because we’re one of the largest private partnerships remaining on Wall Street, our leadership is able to weather market volatility much easier than larger, public platforms. This is apparent in the firm's decisions to forego layoffs during periods of market volatility, especially during past downturns where we actually hired and expanded. Our firm continues to remain focused on the long-term trajectory of the business, providing psychological safety and opportunistic opportunities for many of our teammates.”

“Strong leadership and collaborative culture have positioned the firm well for continued success in the future. We have grown significantly and hope to maintain the same differentiated culture we have had in the past few years.”

“Employee morale is very strong. Overall, we have a lot of confidence in the firm and leaders in charge. Partners within my group are very transparent about what plans are in development, what is being discussed, and how it affects us. The senior bankers within my group make a point to get to know us. One of the MDs has quarterly one-on-one meetings with analysts to see how work is going, what's going on in their lives, etc. It's nice feeling appreciated and valued as a person at my firm. In terms of culture and employee morale, I think Blair blows other banks out of the water. We are also rapidly growing and always have an opportunity to join a new deal, collaborate with new team members, and hone in on areas that we find interesting. The growth we have seen in recent years is really impressive, and I feel confident that Blair will continue on this trajectory.”

“While the firm likely won't be immune to market forces, WB is positioned well to weather the potential storms ahead. We have taken market share and expanded our average deal size over the last year. We have created a unique niche as the advisor of choice for PE firms, and there is also significant effort going towards international expansion, which further extends the firm’s growth runway.”

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
2023 Employees (All Locations): 2,100

Major Office Locations

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