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Hi there WSO,

Summary of my info:

* Junior at a target school
* Computer science and math double major, 3.9 GPA, impressive tidbits (2400 SAT, etc)
* Previous software engineering internships with Google and Amazon
* Spending next summer in doing strategy development for a high frequency trading prop shop

Long story short, I'm a computer science major who's gotten sick of the west coast. The current startup scene has driven me batty, and I've been looking to steer my career away from that.

Finance has caught my eye, and I'm evaluating possible career choices. I just recently talked to a good friend of mine who is now at a BB IBD coming straight out of an undergrad in electrical engineering with no finance related internships. He says it's great, and my interest is piqued

If I wanted to get into Ibanking when I graduate full time, what would you recommend I do? Internships for this summer are off the table, but I'm likely returning for another year of school (coterminal Masters) after this.

I'm willing to accept "don't bother" as an answer if that really is correct.

Comments (26)

  • APAE's picture

    You are at a target school. You have killer grades and stats. You have blue-chip firms on your resume already. You could honestly probably still swing a strong internship this summer if your schedule permitted. If it doesn't, you are still absolutely not out of the running for a full-time role.

    Begin networking now. Leverage your alumni directory and the career services office to get in touch with alumni across the street, explain your situation (can't spend the summer but are interesting in joining the analyst program), and stay on their radar all through the summer. When offers are given in August, there are always a few spots open at each bank. In the past two years, that lateral hiring at the end of the summer has been very hush-hush and not widely announced, there are so few spots that firms don't even bother publicizing them since there are more than enough qualified candidates trying to move around between the banks, let alone enter without having summered.

    To beat that, you need to be very proactive. Get the interview guides (you'll crush them, it's easy to prepare), develop a strong set of connections at several firms, and parlay that into full-time interviews in September, or ideally, August. You want to be able to begin your school year with a job offer in hand; it gets progressively harder to get a full-time role at a bank you didn't summer at the later into the fall you go.

    Good luck.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • sillymonkey123's picture

    Alot of kids would die to be in that West Coast startup scene. If you insist on going into finance, why Ibanking? Your a math/compsci major. You fit well at a quant prop shop. Forget Ibanking, you would be bored with that in a week. If you wanna use your skills apply to these shops. The transition to that is math easier and it pays more.

  • john2126's picture

    APAE -- Thanks for the advice, sincerely appreciated.

    sillymonkey123 -- Primarily, I'm looking to challenge myself in ways I'm not used to being challenged. As far as quant prop shops go -- is the compensation really all that it's hyped up to be? I know a recent PhD from my school who strongly advised going into a quant type role right now.

  • In reply to john2126
    Black Jack's picture

    APAE -- Thanks for the advice, sincerely appreciated.

    sillymonkey123 -- Primarily, I'm looking to challenge myself in ways I'm not used to being challenged. As far as quant prop shops go -- is the compensation really all that it's hyped up to be? I know a recent PhD from my school who strongly advised going into a quant type role right now.

    I feel like IB might challenge you in terms of work volume, but given your interests/background I have a hard time believing it will be intellectually that challenging for you. My two (perhaps worthless) cents.

  • In reply to john2126
    Scorpion's picture

    APAE -- Thanks for the advice, sincerely appreciated.

    sillymonkey123 -- Primarily, I'm looking to challenge myself in ways I'm not used to being challenged. As far as quant prop shops go -- is the compensation really all that it's hyped up to be? I know a recent PhD from my school who strongly advised going into a quant type role right now.

    I'm just a college kid too, but maybe I can share perspective. I had originally been enticed by IBD over quant shops. I had a "variety" of reasons, but it basically came down to the fact that I thought quants got paid peanuts compared with IBD. After reading more about the quant industry and after multiple recommendations by friends and connections, I realized that while I am a personable guy, I would be able to better leverage my talents in quant work. Plus I actually find it more interesting...I naturally read about financial mathematics, after all.

    Ultimately, I found that I fit in much more with the quants. While I party frequently and am always socializing... I've always felt more at ease in a demanding math class than with most of the IBD-or-bust friends I have.

    And as I found out later, provided you do reasonably well...quants do not get paid peanuts. To be honest, if you have the skill set you are describing, I would be almost certain YOU would make MORE as a quant than as an IBD professional. Example:

    I would say follow your passion...but if you are still hesitant, I hope the above removes comp concerns from the equation ;)

    Good luck. Hope this helped.

  • LiveTopShelf's picture

    First off, you're a beast. A quant prop shop is relevant to you and will also be more intriguing. The money will be there regardless--a substantial amount. I, too, suggest the prop shop gig. Teach me your ways!

    "What the hell would I ever say to a gorrilla?

  • boredviewer's picture

    Why do ibanking? Why not be a prop trading role/quant analyst? Firms like D.E shaw, AQR, Jane Street or Getco might be more suitable for a person of your position.

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    If you apply to banks, they will likely push you towards capital markets, instead of banking. I would look for some quant hedge funds with your background as well.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?


  • AndyLouis's picture

    The current startup scene has driven me batty,

    why specifically?

  • WSRenaissanceMan's picture

    Quant trading is 100% the direction you want to head. You'll get a chance to use your developing skills and the capital markets will let you do all the math you'll ever want. You want a challenge? Try beating the market. Compensation will be an afterthought when you can do that.

    Make opportunities. Not excuses.

  • In reply to john2126
    pplstuff's picture

    is the compensation really all that it's hyped up to be?

    Quant salary database

    I'll do what I can to help ya'll. But, the game's out there, and it's play or get played.

  • HoldenC's picture

    Dude, you obviously will be able to be successful at any career you seek. Particularly in finance, any firm would be dumb not to at least take a long hard look at you, even given employment trends across the industry.

    I would reccomend just talking with people in a variety of roles across finance to get a better idea of the full range of oppourtunities in the industry. You may find you actually really want to do iBanking even though your background (i.e. major) may lend itself to a quant/prop trading position. In any case, you will likely have oppourtunities in every area of the industry, so the difficulty will be more on you figuring out what you prefer.

    Also, regarding compensation, if you work hard with your innate abilities you will be able to make tons of money regardless of where you go. While some fields may on average make more than others, I wouldn't necessarily worry about median or mean compensation.

    I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.

  • ChiTown82's picture

    I have a similar background (dual degree Math & CompSci), minus the target school and internships but add an MBA in Finance. Decided my Junior/Senior year I didn't want to program and chased IB... now working for a top regional in a niche debt capital markets group. While I enjoy what I do, I do get bored with some of the work. Sometimes I feel it isn't as intellectually stimulating as I thought it would be (quantitatively speaking) so I have looked in to other avenues of finance (specifically private debt, trading, buy-side, etc.). I think it really comes down to what do you enjoy? I love structuring transactions and closing deals - but I think I enjoy executing investments much more. In terms of how to get in to IB? Network, network, network. I was lucky enough to have an SVP of a boutique take a chance with me and I've run with it since... Like others have said above, with your background (software engineering) you may really enjoy quant trading. Reach out to people (via LinkedIn), see if they'll set up phone conversations with you in an attempt to grab an internship, interview, etc. Good luck. Feel free to ask me questions because of our similar backgrounds...

  • AnalystMonkey2769's picture

    You're so money and you don't even know it.

    I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought- GG

  • marcellus_wallace's picture

    Banking is challenging really? Surprisingly I had a lot of silly friends like you at a top Canadian school who also left/turned down Amazon and the like to do banking, some hated some love it comes down to how much of a salesman you are and how much you really did enjoy comp sci/maths/engineering.

    That said I would say all of them never reached their full potential by going to banking, it is very hard a compsci/engineer to crush folks from other backgronds in banking. The ones who reached their full potential went to prop trading, quant trading and basically led to doing some crazy next level shit.

  • sillymonkey123's picture

    Listen to Marcellus, the guy know his shi%. Trust me if you go into banking with your background, you'll be bored in 6 months. Its a grunt job, its not very thought provoking. You can program man don't take that for granted, lots of people would die to have those skills.

  • Outsider's picture

    obviously you don't know shit

    How big is yours?

  • BuySidePrussian's picture

    Like those above me have already said, you may be better suited shooting for a quant role at a prop shop, or HF. Although many Hedge Funds require an MBA, I know that many hire quants straight out of undergrad. The hours will likely be less than in IB, and your comp will also be much higher.

    Unless you have dreams of being a deal maker, going to the trading side of things might be more your niche. Every fund wants/needs quants, you'll have an easier time getting a job, especially since you seem to have social life, and you'll have better job security.

  • In reply to ghandi
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

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