May 19, 2024

Realistic career paths out of a mediocre finance career?

Currently a credit analyst for the commercial bank at one of the BB's making around 75-80k. Been here for about a year and a half, and did tech sales for about a year and a half prior. I feel like my ambitions are beyond commercial banking, but I'm worried that my academic background will keep me here forever. I got a 3.Low GPA from a non target state school, and didn't have any fancy IB internships.

Im interested in pursuing PC, LevFin, PE, or anywhere that my resume might be semi transferrable to. At my age (nearly 25) and experience, it's hard to find roles to get out of my current analyst program. Most roles are opened up for new grads or post MBA grads, so I fall in this weird middle stage where I'm maybe too old to be applying for analyst programs, but not experienced enough for associate level stuff. Im worried if I continue down this analyst program, ill be stuck in commercial banking forever.

If you were in my shoes, what steps would you take?


Based on the insights from Wall Street Oasis, here are some strategic steps you can take to pivot your career towards more ambitious paths like Private Equity (PE), Leveraged Finance (LevFin), or Principal Investing (PC):

  1. Leverage Your Current Role: As a commercial credit analyst, you have a valuable foundation in credit risk and financial analysis. These skills are highly relevant in fields like LevFin and PE, where understanding the creditworthiness and financial health of companies is crucial. Make sure to highlight these skills in your resume and during networking.

  2. Networking: This is crucial. Start connecting with professionals in your desired fields. Attend industry conferences, join relevant groups on LinkedIn, and participate in forums like Wall Street Oasis. Networking can often lead to opportunities that aren't advertised publicly.

  3. Skill Enhancement: Consider enrolling in specialized courses or certifications that can boost your profile for the targeted roles. For instance, the CFA or an advanced modeling course could be beneficial. Wall Street Oasis offers various bootcamps and virtual courses that could enhance your skills in financial modeling and valuation, which are critical for PE and LevFin roles.

  4. Internal Lateral Moves: Explore opportunities within your current organization that are closer to your areas of interest. For example, moving to a role in the M&A department or a group that deals with structured products could be a stepping stone.

  5. Consider an MBA: Given your concern about being stuck in a middle stage, an MBA from a reputable institution could provide the necessary credential boost and networking opportunities to transition into high finance roles. It’s a significant investment, but it can potentially open doors to associate-level positions in investment banking or PE.

  6. Realistic Expectations and Persistence: Transitioning into high finance roles from a non-target background and a non-IB role will require persistence and sometimes a bit of luck. Keep your expectations realistic and be prepared for a longer journey, which might even include some setbacks.

  7. Explore Boutique Firms: Smaller or boutique firms might be more open to candidates with non-traditional backgrounds compared to bulge bracket banks. These firms often provide more hands-on experience and a faster learning curve.

By focusing on these steps, you can strategically position yourself for a transition into more specialized and high-profile areas of finance. Remember, each move you make should build towards your ultimate career goals.

Sources: Career Path Starting as Credit Analyst, 22 Year Old Failure Seeks Advice re: Breaking into Finance, Credit Analyst Q&A, Is this a feasible plan to get into investment banking with an accounting background?, graduated may 2019 and recently laid off first job

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

Don't feel discouraged. You are doing well and you just have to remember that everyone has their own timeline (which is hard to remember when it's easy to see other folks "succeeding" in their career on LinkedIn). As for exit opportunities, you can definitely aim for Private Credit roles especially at middle market firms. Some sponsors I work with explicitly said that they PREFER commercial bankers over investment bankers because investment bankers, to them at least, don't really know how to work with borrowers with not-so clean financials as they are very used to only dealing w/ large corporate or sponsor clients. 

That said, in terms of next steps, I'd look into sponsor finance roles at regional banks to build out your technical skills to position yourself for a true Leveraged Finance or Private Credit role down the road.


Top MBA is the most direct route, I would spend the next year killing it in your current role and then apply next year for 2026. 

Your GPA and school is fine if you can get a high GMAT score ideally 720-730+.

Lots of resources on business school forum and elsewhere, tried and true route.

Most Helpful

Et voluptatem modi et at praesentium quia. Provident cupiditate voluptatum quam. Qui est assumenda culpa aperiam consequatur ut et.

Quidem corrupti dolor delectus adipisci eum. Earum id et et ipsum nihil. Quo minus ipsam reprehenderit autem dicta. Quasi eos aliquam culpa aliquid omnis. Aspernatur perspiciatis dolorum numquam sit delectus.

Career Advancement Opportunities

June 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Perella Weinberg Partners New 98.9%
  • Lazard Freres 01 98.3%
  • Harris Williams & Co. 24 97.7%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

June 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 19 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 10 98.9%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 05 97.7%
  • Moelis & Company 01 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

June 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.9%
  • Perella Weinberg Partners 18 98.3%
  • Goldman Sachs 16 97.7%
  • Moelis & Company 05 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

June 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (22) $375
  • Associates (93) $259
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $181
  • Intern/Summer Associate (33) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (69) $168
  • 1st Year Analyst (206) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (149) $101
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”


redever's picture
BankonBanking's picture
Secyh62's picture
Betsy Massar's picture
Betsy Massar
CompBanker's picture
GameTheory's picture
dosk17's picture
kanon's picture
numi's picture
Kenny_Powers_CFA's picture
From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”