Exit Opps Are Paradise

If there’s any career advice that you’ve taken to heart during college, it’s that “Investment Banking” is by far the most visually and phonetically appealing title on LinkedIn anyone could ever possess. That is, as a summa-cum-laude-imminent finance major at a top-tier university (think Duke/Brown/UChicago/Emory), you’ve had the privilege to witness several of your college’s most elite alumni come back and speak firsthand to you about their career in “IB”. At these borderline exclusive information sessions, many of the speakers referred to investment banking as “a career path that opens up countless doors of opportunities” or “the equivalent of getting your MBA without tuition”.

In fact, even one prominent alum named Hudson, a Senior Associate at the newly minted elite boutique known as FT Partners, went so far as to claim that “with 2 years spent in Investment Banking (i.e. FTP SF) you gain the same experience as 4 years in Trading, 6 years in Consulting, and 43 years in Big 4 Audit/Advisory”. Although, Hudson did caveat that this equation is only applicable to GS/MS/JPM and the elite boutiques — a bank like Cowen, Wedbush, or Guggenheim will likely have a more diluted conversion rate, he said.

In the following weeks, you find yourself concentrating on Hudson’s axiom a lot. Personally, you regard Hudson as a bluechip role model — a heroic being who isn’t bounded by the walls of political correctness: someone who never sugarcoats his views but rather considers all things at true face value --- however harsh that may be for the poor bastards who work at Guggenheim (definitely a MM bank, unlike FTP). Hudson is going places, you think.

Learning the Ropes

After digesting Hudson's words of wisdom, you, along with your entire student investment club and business fraternity, have become absolutely hooked on pursuing a career in banking. This interest in IB blossomed slowly at first, with you barely knowing what LBO stands for, but soon after a couple weeks of scouring Wall Street Oasis, you’ve accumulated an amount of knowledge potent enough to unbiasedly tier-rank each bank according to (deal flow * exit opps / number of positions) and correct anyone else’s differentiated viewpoints. 

Thanks to the industry knowledge you've built from WSO and your elite university network, you are able to pull some strings to waltz your way into Goldman TMT (NYC), one of the most prestigious groups on the Street. Looking upon your peers, you realize that you landed by far the best gig in your class, perhaps even the east coast. Most of your wretched peers had to settle with Citi, UBS, Barclays, and god forbid, RBC Capital Markets -- only a few managed to yield an offer from a GS/JPM/MS/EVR/LAZ/MOE/CVP/PWP/PJT/ROTH(London only)/GRNHL/LTREE/QATL/FTP firm. 

Your Little Brother, Bradford in ECM

As you begin to compose your wildly anticipated and time-urgent post detailing the acceptance of your GS internship to alert your immensely attentive fanbase of 437 people on LinkedIn, you can’t help but notice your friend, Bradford’s job announcement. Bradford doesn’t go to as elite of a caliber university as you (think PSU/UGA/UF/Vandy) but he managed to land a SA role at Morgan Stanley.

Initially, you are appalled that Bradford’s accomplishment will eclipse your own. After all, how could he have only had to pay a third of the price for college to receive the same job? How could it be that MS would accept some 1200 SAT super-scored commoner from a quasi-community college? This paradox boggles your mind. However, after further exploration, you discover that Bradford was placed in the firm’s Equity Capital Markets group. A quick fix of Wall Street Oasis verifies to you that ECM exit opportunities are even worse than Management Consulting. Many WSO users don’t even consider ECM to even be true, authentic, blue-blood, Ivy-League, non-GMO Investment Banking.

You exhale in joy at this realization, supporting your mental gymnastics that 2 years at GS TMT likely punches the same weight as 11 years at MS ECM. Triumphantly, you message Bradford on LinkedIn, slyly congratulating him on the position in a superficial manner while coolheadedly advising him to change his falsely misleading job title of “Incoming Investment Banking Summer Analyst” to a more plebeian form of recognition such as “Incoming Capital Markets Intern”. After all, Bradford will likely appreciate your unapologetic advice. He's lucky to be friends with someone at such a prestigious college and IBD group like yourself -- he'll now likely revere you as a role model who never sugarcoats his views but rather considers all things at true face value. 

From this realization with Bradford, you’ve now developed a new axiom on career advancement that you can add to your collection: If a job doesn’t have a more lucrative exit (ECM), it belongs to the state school kids (Bradford). To test this axiom, you take joy in researching that none of your TMT group at GS hails from a Bradford-occupied school.

What Could Possibly Have More Exit Opps Than IB?

After you post your 3-paragraph internship announcement on LinkedIn featuring GS’s signature light blue logo (to make sure everyone know’s what logo you will be repping on your $150 stonewash Patagonia Men’s Better Sweater Fleece Vest this upcoming summer), you reach a form of virality on social media you’ve never seen since the time Will Smith bitchslapped Chris Rock on live television. Your post alone receives over 550 impressions with several dozen beta males individually direct messaging you. You are feeling especially elated until your one friend, Weston, congratulates you. Weston went to the same prestige-level college as you (again, think MIT/UPenn/Princeton/Emory) but his employer isn’t a bank you were familiar with. Instead, it is something called Blackstone — Weston is a “Private Equity Analyst”. Another quick recon on Wall Street Oasis confides to you that Private Equity is universally superior to Investment Banking, yielding both better exit opps and higher upside compensation than the sell-side. For the first time in your life, you begin to feel inferior thanks to Weston.

The second you hit the desk full-time at Goldman, you are gunning for private equity. Everyone else in your analyst class has been citing that 2 years at KKR is equal to at least 20 years at JPM. You even asked Weston to confirm these numbers. However, thanks to your TMT + elite university connections, once again you are able to nosedive your way into Apollo. Originally, you were going to go with Carlyle but after discovering that D.C. (Carlyle’s HQ) is universally inferior to NYC in terms of city tier rankings and exit opps (both professionally and dating), you decided to pass up on the offer. After all, 2 years in NYC is virtually the same as 5 years in DC, 10 years in San Fran, and 29 years in London. Now for the next 2 years you don’t have to worry about any Weston’s stealing your thunder as the bearer of best opps while you grind your 100-hour work weeks at GS in peace.

Incoming Guinness World Records Candidate for Most Exit Opps

As you wrap up banking and switch over to the promised land, you are feeling more entitled and powerful than ever before. In fact, you ponder that you’ve nearly reached the point where nobody can out-exit-opp you. You are the exit-opp lizard king and your self-proclaimed career flexibility now transcends the barriers of high-finance into other industries as well. Take for instance your friends in medical school. You grimace to yourself, thinking how pigeonholed these sorry folks will be when they are stuck practicing medicine their entire life. Lawyers? Engineers? Professors? You can’t help but laugh at the fact none of them in life will ever be able to exit to Corp Dev, PE, IB, ER, HF, VC, AM, CEO, NFL, or a Tier 1 Olympic sport even if they tried. You have pity for the state school plebs who have such limited career paths, with their only true exit being the cemetery. Couldn’t be you.

That is, until you find out a lot of your fellow associates at Apollo and other similar top-prestige (MF only, no UMM) shops are applying to HBS/GSB. You begin to hear that 2 years at a top MBA is the same career advancement as 10 years in private equity, 81 years in corporate finance, and 173 years in an undergraduate state school. Taking a break from PE to get your MBA would actually be ideal for you; it will give you time to now consider what it is exactly you want to do with all these exit opps you’ve nested.

Life at B-School as a 2+2+2'er

When you finally enrolled in HBS, you notice that you are a lion among sheep. Aside from your colleagues at Apollo/BX/KKR, most of your class is filled with non-target school ciphers (think Alabama/MSU/Rutgers/Vandy/Baruch) from consulting, non-finance F500, and Big 4 backgrounds. Many are trying to land a job at Goldman TMT as an Associate, which you can’t help but die laughing at. Sheep is as sheep does, you guess. You’re wondering if you should stay late after class to sign any autographs for them.

Meanwhile underneath your dark borealis green Patagonia vest lies an empty heart, beating to the sound of a ticking clock as you decide what it is on Earth you will be doing after business school. You considered a corporate development role in big tech but cringed at the starting salary package they offered --- "these clowns are almost paying as low as the Big 4," you shriek in contempt. Plus you would have to relocate to San Fran, a place of refuge filled with NYC-rejects, you think. At this point, you might as well volunteer your time to help rebuild an entire village in Africa for free --- at least they would actually be dumbfounded by your 2+2+2 experience, unlike the disgraceful and ignorant bums of SF. These feelings of dissonance leave you ready to return back to PE post-MBA, not because you enjoy the work (you actually found out you hated it a long time ago) but because you can't think of anything that sounds more prestigious or elite. After all, Apollo would be happy to have an all-star like you back on its roster.

King's Back in the Promised Land

As a newly-spawned VP in PE, you spend the next 10 years deciding whether you should start your own fund or wait until your partner, Greg, retires or dies. Greg is only 7 years older than you and appears to be in far healthier shape for his age. In fact, Greg now works fully remote from the third-level balcony of his 10-acre beach house in the Hamptons. He's even invited you to come visit for a weekend but you've been too busy clocking in 65 hours each week at the office as your hair continues to thin, making only 40% of his annual comp. 

Although you've found VP to be an extremely sweaty role, you convince yourself to stay solely based on the premise that your current LinkedIn title, "Private Equity Vice President at Apollo", is far more prestigious and noble than being a founding partner at some wee sub-$1-billion-aum startup fund. You would hate to be pigeonholed at your own startup. Hypothetically speaking, you confide to yourself that 10 years as a VP at a Megafund would be perceived the same as spending 30 years at a startup fund, 50 years at a L/S equity hedge fund, or 478 years at a bulge-bracket investment bank.

As you continue to wait in the decade-long line to become Partner, you've noticed that dozens of your friends have launched successful startups, IPOs, and hedge funds, sometimes 10x-ing your net worth. Most of these people have worked half your hours over their careers and weren't even ex-Goldman! You feel down bad on a weekly basis until a rush of dopamine flows through your brain as you check your personal email account: you've been contacted by your alma mater's Career Services Center (think Harvard/Emory/Stanford) asking if you'd be interested in giving a presentation to the college's students. You agree to attend and begin to inform these prospects that "you can do anything in the world coming from a NYC-based MF PE background."


He's back, more based and bananapilled than ever


2 things happen:

”prestige” which no one gives a shit about except other people on the same banking ladder as you. You really think the guy next to you in first class on the airplane or the couple you meet at the cocktail party don’t just immediately zone out when they hear your profession? At least big 4 drones don’t get their self worth from their job (mostly)

and money, which you correlate with a successful life to a degree of 1 based on your chosen career path. Any step back or lateral will have you viewing yourself as a failure. You’d likely be happier off making a living wage owning a bike shop in Asheville, maybe start a chain or add a brewery to it, but you can’t break free of those golden handcuffs 


Real talk. I know banking opens so many doors, but why does it seem 95% of these “endless exit opps” are buyside, corp dev, or startups/entrepreneurship? I know there are more exits out there, but it feels like we are all guided towards a few outcomes. Worst part: I’ve realized that I don’t want to grind it out for decades to come, which basically implies corp dev.


Wouldn’t doubt it. IB/PE gives you that euphoric high caused by a high comp at a young age, only to throw you in a job that brings you right back down to earth. Then you spend years in corp dev looking like second-rate citizens next to the product groups that are actually in charge of P&L and have a much better path to executive positions.


wow thats depressing af. I guess being in college rn is very different to what the real world is like if 50% of all IB/PE analysts go into Corp Dev (which i fully believe).

I guess the other 50% who continue down "high finance" pretty much have to be mild sociopaths then by virtue of sticking it out in a high stress environment and to/want to suceed in it.


 If you really think banking is a paradise, you don't know much about it. The stories in Exit Paradise are stories about family and about place. This portfolio has grown to be a great resource for college and internship opportunities

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No no, this one is actually good. Go fucking read it my man.


Haha classic.

You keep it going, man, you keep those books rolling. You pick up all those books that you're gonna read and not remember and you roll, man. You get that associate's degree, okay? Then you get your bachelor's. Then you get your masters. Then you get your masters' masters. Then you get your doctorate. You go, man. And then, when everybody says quit, you show them those degrees, man. When everyone says, "Hey, you're not working, you're not making any money", you say, "You look at my degrees, and you look at my life. Yeah, I'm fifty-two, so what? Hate all you want, but I'm smart, I'm so smart. And, and I'm in school. All these guys out here, uh, making money all these ways. And I'm spending mine to be smart. You know why? 'Cause when I die, buddy, you know what's gonna keep me warm? That's right, those degrees."


Amazing post. Slaps even harder because I have exactly 437 LinkedIn connections

<img src="https://www.wallstreetoasis.com//files/inline-images/BAEAD9F8-8CE9-49F5-8A35-2AFAD42D41F0.jpg" __jsogobjectid="19" />

Absolute legit content -- will leave IB for army 18X immediate after identity issues resolved and getting into SMUs in 8 yrs is way more satisfying than anything else


Hahaha this is great. We need more posts like this as well as from that Analyst 1 in IB - Cov who made the "EB is Paradise" and "7 Things I Hate About Citi" (both linked here, def give them a read if you enjoyed this one)




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