Elite military unit vs. IB....

Hey Everyone,

Just posting here to potentially get some advice / perspective from those that have been in the industry for a while. I'm not going to go into specific details, but for context, I'm a rising senior student-athlete at a target with an IB SA coming up.

IB seems interesting and a great springboard for your career, but I'm also at a crossroads where I have to decide whether I want to put my packet in for selection to an elite unit in the military. Honestly, it's been a dream of mine since I was a kid to get the opportunity to live that life. However, I can't help but compare myself to my peers who are aggressively gunning to move up in pursuit of "the path" (IB/PE/whatever). I guess the question is - is the tradeoff worth it? I'm not sure any amount of money can buy the experience I would get, but I can't help but think how much further behind my peers I would be once I get out.

Any thoughts? Looking back, would any of you take a risk to be a part of the elite in another chosen field that is significantly lower paying, but intrinsically more rewarding? 

Comments (45)

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
May 4, 2022 - 12:28pm

Is there a way to make this decision after your SA stint? If possible, I'd suggest you go into your internship with an open mind and see if you enjoy it. If you do, stick with it. If you don't, go the military route.

May 5, 2022 - 3:24pm
nahbrah, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you can't make this decision on your own, there is a 99% chance you're going to wash out of the SOF pipeline you'll be in.

You absolutely do NOT want to be in a position where you're going to be sent "needs of the Army/Navy/MC..." Because, if you do, you'll spend every waking moment of the next 4-6 years regretting your decision to join the military.

- Pigging backing on top comment because there has been little/no real advice given here.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 5, 2022 - 4:18pm

I mean I've spoken to people who were in the exact same position as me and made it through... Don't think there's anything wrong with hearing some different/new perspectives.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 4, 2022 - 12:33pm

These routes are so different that it's not really worth comparing like that. Think about why you want to join the military and how much you value that experience, and think about whether you would prefer that over getting a regular job.

However, the fact that you mention comparing yourself to your "peers", and the fact that you mention "elite group", makes me suspect that a large consideration for your decision is how others perceive you. You're the one that's going to have to live with whichever option you choose, so I strongly encourage you pursue what you truly desire. Because if you ask 99% of people, they would prefer getting a job over going into the military, elite group or not. 

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 4, 2022 - 12:40pm

OP here - That's a great point. I just want to clarify that I only put that out there for context and to see how it would potentially impact decision making - there are definitely different levels of sacrifice / dedication needed for different paths within the military.

As for comparing myself to my peers, I think it's just a part of being surrounded with the group of people I have been for the past 4 years. I wouldn't say I seriously care what they think, it's more comparing the idea of "being behind" anyone who pursues a normal career out of school.

May 5, 2022 - 10:36am
Malta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Came here to say this as well. They're very different paths in life. My childhood friend, we grew up on the same street since ~7 years old, just graduated SQT and is going to an East Coast Team (obviously not the SMU but an even numbered team). I'm super happy for him and he's one of the most loyal, genuine dudes I've ever known. But he couldn't give a shit about what others think. He's got no IG posts about his Trident or anything like that, it's generally frowned upon to do so. It's all because he really wanted to do that. Not for the prestige or the "Oooh Aaah" if he tells people what he does, because a majority wash out in BUD/S if that's their motivation.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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May 4, 2022 - 5:04pm
Destressed Debt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As others above have noted, figure out what you want to do before deciding. However, I've also seen and have a number of friends with high speed backgrounds, whether it's US or Foreign SpecOps do very well for themselves after their service, with a majority of them now in IB at reputable firms, so no need to fret over being unable to "bounce" back.

Get Jiggy With It

  • 1
  • Analyst 2 in PE - LBOs
May 4, 2022 - 5:21pm

Most BBs have programmes for veterans. If you already have a SA, I think you would be very well positioned for one of those spots, specially after working at an elite unit. 
 

So both options don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive; you can have the life experience of the military and then the high-earning IB career

Anyways, as someone who grew up without much money and now is earning a fairly high salary, I'd advise you to go for the life experience. After a certain threshold in which you earn enough to not need to worry about bills, you can eat well from time to time and you can go on holidays, money doesn't matter that much. The  life experience/how you enjoy what you do is way more important. And from what you say, you really want to go to the military. So just go for it. I guess that an elite military unit also pays quite well, maybe not compared to a career in finance, which is as high-earning as you can get, but surely vs a normal job (I'm really curious so would appreciate some data points regarding salary at such units). So just go for it and enjoy the experience!! 

May 4, 2022 - 7:38pm
Donnie Azoff's Goldfish, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not saying you wouldn't make it cause I don't know you and haven't tried something like that for myself, but there is also always a chance you don't make it through selection and then you end up in some awful support role that you never wanted and you are locked into a four-year contract. 

May 5, 2022 - 2:56pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

We have an early entry for the "2022 User Name of the Year" here . . .

*
  • 1
May 4, 2022 - 9:34pm
datchup, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You should seriously do research before joining the military. Assuming this is 18X, you will be assigned needs of the army on a six year contract if you fail. Failure can be due to something completely out of your control like an injury. You could end up passing or getting reclassed to an MOS you enjoy if you did fail. But you're taking a huge risk of being junior enlisted doing a shitty job and hating your life. And the army is transitioning back to garrison life - there are no real wars being fought anymore and opportunities to deploy and do your job (especially in non-SOF combat arms) are slim-to-none nowadays.  

May 5, 2022 - 10:40am
Malta, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yep. It basically boils down to a few options depending on branch:

Army: 18X for SF for enlisted only, Rangers have a contract (note- actually going to RASP to be in the 75th) but also for enlisted only

Marine Corps: Recon contract for enlisted only, Raiders don't accept new people at all

Navy: I believe there's SEAL Contracts for Officers, definitely for enlisted. Not too sure on SWCC and EOD but a recruiter would know

Air Force: As far as I know, it's really just enlisted. From what I've read, there technically is a civilian contract for officers to be a CCT/ PJ/ Recon but that's super rare. A recruiter would know a lot better than me 

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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  • 1
May 5, 2022 - 4:56pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Malta

Yep. It basically boils down to a few options depending on branch:

Army: 18X for SF for enlisted only, Rangers have a contract (note- actually going to RASP to be in the 75th) but also for enlisted only

Marine Corps: Recon contract for enlisted only, Raiders don't accept new people at all

Navy: I believe there's SEAL Contracts for Officers, definitely for enlisted. Not too sure on SWCC and EOD but a recruiter would know

Air Force: As far as I know, it's really just enlisted. From what I've read, there technically is a civilian contract for officers to be a CCT/ PJ/ Recon but that's super rare. A recruiter would know a lot better than me 

Air Force has Special Tactics Officer, which I would recommend over anything else. You get the most trained, you get HALO wings, you go to combat dive school in Key West FL. No other Special Operations Officer gets as much training as these guys do. And you usually get a cool beret. 

https://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/special-tactics-officer

I was in CCT training and we had one special tactics officer. He started as an enlisted guy, but was a Captain and in charge of our training group. He wore the captain insignia on the scarlet beret below the CCT badge and I always thought it looked weird, but noticed none of the guys want to ditch their CCT badge on the beret. It's like their SEAL trident. 

-

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
May 4, 2022 - 11:20pm

As other have above, look a bit deeper and pursue what you enjoy and then do not look back. IMO, you can circle back to IB follow an impressive military stint whereas the reverse is not likely to be true (for most people). 

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
May 4, 2022 - 11:52pm

Why would you want to join the military if you don't need the money?

May 5, 2022 - 5:11pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why would you want to join the military if you don't need the money?

Dude.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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  • 1
May 5, 2022 - 12:05am
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Military isn't worth the health risk. Have a few friends with permanent injuries now including one of my very first investors. He was in an elite unit too. I respect anyone who serves, but the downside is perpetual chronic pain, not a good trade.

May 5, 2022 - 5:12pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:
m_1

Military isn't worth the health risk. Have a few friends with permanent injuries now including one of my very first investors. He was in an elite unit too. I respect anyone who serves, but the downside is perpetual chronic pain, not a good trade.

Yes, sacrifice is a key part of serving. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
May 5, 2022 - 5:16pm

Mitch McConnell and Biden's ideologies aren't worth anyone's personal health if it could be avoided

May 5, 2022 - 2:15pm
MD Step Dad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would go with the military path. It's more interesting than IB and you really cultivate integrity and camaraderie. Also, you will have better stories to tell to your future generations than sitting on the office for 16 hours (better stories, at the end, are good or interesting moments).

I have 2 friends who were in SWAT. Left after 6 months due to personal reasons but their trainings and the things they learned sound interesting.

May 5, 2022 - 5:22pm
Arroz con Pollo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I assume that's what he's talking about. SEAL's, MARSOC, Rangers, Green Berets. Then you have JSOC units which include DEVGRU (Seal Team 6) and Delta Force (Sort of the Army version of DEVGRU).

Also have been task forces which were formed to absolutely dominate. Task Force 121 went crazy in early 2000's and included guys from the above

May 5, 2022 - 5:33pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Arroz con Pollo

Then you have JSOC units which include DEVGRU (Seal Team 6) and Delta Force (Sort of the Army version of DEVGRU).

USAF 24th STS are also Tier 1 assets in JSOC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_Special_Tactics_Squadron

I've met two people from this group. One was my instructor. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 5, 2022 - 3:27pm
nahbrah, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you can't make this decision on your own, there is a 99% chance you're going to wash out of the SOF pipeline you'll be in.

You absolutely do NOT want to be in a position where you're going to be sent "needs of the Army/Navy/MC..." Because, if you do, you'll spend every waking moment of the next 4-6 years regretting your decision to join the military.

  • VP in S&T - FI
May 5, 2022 - 3:50pm

If you are going to go down this path, I would not go 18x or Option 40. I would enlist first in a MOS you want to do, 11B if you want to do infantry and try to get an Airborne contract. Then, once you go through your normal pipeline you will be able to attend RASP or SFAS. This way, if you don't make it, you are able to just go back to what you were doing and fulfill your initial contract and at least you will get Airborne. 

I would consider the officer route too, but sounds like you want an opportunity to go special operations asap. For Army, you will basically have to wait at least 3 years. I believe that Navy OCS offers you an opportunity to go to BUDS if you are near the top of the class. 

May 5, 2022 - 5:18pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Navy OCS offers you an opportunity to go to BUDS if you are near the top of the class. 

I went to school with some people who got to BUDS. One was a physics major with a 3.98 GPA. The other had a crappy GPA and he chose to enlist after military college to get a BUDS slot. My brother was at the Naval Academy, but didn't have good enough grades to get a BUDS slot, so had to do SWO for a bit then got into BUDS as an O3. 

Now that I think about it, there was a dude I trained CCT with and he got his Bachelors and tried to be a USAF CCT Officer, but got denied and he turned down an Air Force commission to go Enlist and get a CCT slot. Crazy. His mindset was that after he got his beret, he could just get commissioned easily and that's exactly what he did. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
May 5, 2022 - 11:43pm
hobojoe626, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you can do the military route do it. You can always come back to banking (though it's not easy to get back in but Elite Military -> MBA makes you stand out enough to be competitive). Some people here may think you're crazy to walk away from a IB job but serving your country is something you have for life. When you're 60 and talking to your grandkids, you'll either say "yeah I led a semis company to IPO" or "I was a mf Navy Seal"

May 6, 2022 - 11:13am
curiousgeorge79, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Talk to people who have been in the elite unit before. My cousin joined the Marines at 18 thinking it would be this and that but it was not and he could not get out soon enough. It was a good experience for him because he needed to grow up, but I'm guessing that isn't an issue of yours. If he had talked to people about what he was getting into vs. his uninformed perspective, he would have made a more informed decision.

Those people know what it actually is like, who it is for, etc.

May 7, 2022 - 3:19am
Cannabis Equipment Financing, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 7, 2022 - 4:00am

Join a "special situations" sell-side group, they have the same name of military groups and you also get elite exit opportunities ~/

May 7, 2022 - 10:10am
k1k10, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 7, 2022 - 11:18am
wsoburner22, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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