Targeting the US for finance as a European - MFin worth it?
I'm a current undergrad in the EU, have successfully gotten a top London IB internship at a BB for summer 2023 (think MS/JPM/GS).
My main priority in the short-term is obviously doing really well in that and getting a return offer, plus finishing my current degree, but London isn't super attractive to me and working in the US, particularly NYC, is a big goal of mine.
I'm aware transferring internally at a firm is probably the easiest way of going about this, but IBD in London doesn't necessarily seem like something where this could be relied upon with any degree of certainty? i.e. very very dependent on firm need and different teams, I've seen alumni move to the US in S&T but not in IBD. I don't think I want to live in London for much longer than 2-3 years, personally.
Is doing a 1-year masters in the US a viable option to get a job offer there, or would that still end up being a visa lottery eventually where I might get kicked out after all the effort?
There is a possibility of me being competitive for scholarships to study in the US from institutions in my home country, which would make it a lot more feasible for me.
I know MFin at MIT is a top program, as well as Vanderbilt for IB, are any other schools good for finance recruiting?
Such as NYU, UChicago, Notre Dame, Wharton, etc? I'm quite in the dark about how different schools rank at masters level.
I know most are recruited from UG and MBA, but neither are options for me, at least MBA not anytime remotely soon.
Thanks and appreciate any advice!
specifically, could anyone speak to how likely it is to be successful through the H1B visa lottery if you do a STEM degree, i.e. three chances with OPT being longer or something? terminology might not be 100% correct there, but I think I've gotten the general gist of how it works, I'm just unsure as to whether that's likely at all or worth going to all this effort for?
do many people move from London to NYC within a few years of IB at a BB? how easy is that?
Personally am on OPT and desperately looking to make a move to London but unable to right now due to hiring freezes.
Sick and tired of this visa lottery. I also know a coworker who still did not get selected after 3 tries in the lottery.
Princeton and MIT are probably the best programs on the east coast, Vanderbilt is solid as well. BC has a great program, UVA has a masters in commerce with a finance specialization that you can do if you didn't study finance in UG. Villanova has a solid program but it sounds like you're a better fit for Princeton/MIT level programs.
Penn, NYU, and the other schools you listed don't have Masters in finance. Only programs in NYC is Baruch's and Fordham's which are alright but not great by any means.
Thanks! Are there other comparable programs on the west coast or other areas out of interest, or just the ones you mentioned?
If you have any questions feel free to reach out. I'm no expert by any means but I spent a ton of time researching programs and would be happy to help.
What about UT Austin?
You are right that internal transfers are highly dependent on the team/BU, and corporate hiring needs. It is not a certain way to get a life in the US.
1) get to London, work a little, save up, then do either Masters or MBA in the US. try your luck in the H1b lottery. some degrees matching IB are also STEM designated, so it might work out in your favor.
Don't forget: you can be sponsored by multiple employers per fiscal year for H1b
Is this worth it? For most Europeans, this is the only way if you are a professional/an employee at a company
Also: some jobs are H1b cap exempt (mostly in research, education, non-profit, etc)
Given current events and the economy, I wouldn't bet on international transfers unless you are on a rotation program with guarantees.
2) If you are eligible, participate in the diversity greencard lottery. the chances are slim, but you never know.
3) Dating - a huge amount of people get to the US with family sponsorships. Dating/marriage is also a strong contender how many of my EU friends moved to the US.
It has to be a bona fide relationship, of course. American girls like European partners, maybe because of a certain accent or how they look. It is not an avenue I would ignore, depending on how important the move is for you.
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Unless you really love them, please don't date someone JUST to get their passport.
That is exactly what I referred to above and USCIS will absolutely scrutinize the fiance visa. My friends had to share their social media profiles, bring all the photos, copies of flight tickets, credit card receipts, and answer many questions.
But the E and L visa are also under the microscope these days.. too many IT outsourcing firms have abused those visas over the years.
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I've actually been pondering this same exact move as you have for a while. I love the US, and don't care much for London. I'd definitely go for top US MFin program if I'd have the chance.
I personally see a few options for myself in getting into finance in the US (primarily NYC). My plan A is to land a summer IB internship at a BB or EB in London during my Bachelor's, after which I'd apply for MIT/Princeton/Columbia/Vanderbilt/NYU MFin or similar. Plan B would be (if assuming I landed an IB internship) to convert the summer internship in London into FT offer, then stay in IB for perhaps a year and then switch to PE, where transferring between offices internally is way more feasible as well as the chances of getting into a top MBA-program in the US are higher. Plan C would be work at MBB in my country (in which I hate being in) for perhaps 2-3 years and then switch internally to the US or apply for MBA in the US.
One thing that bothers me is that the US MFin programs are significantly more quantitative in nature when compared to top European schools' (LBS, HEC, etc.) corporate-finance-oriented MFin programs. Thus, many of MIT Sloan MFin's go to work at quantitative hedge funds/proprietary trading firms, which aren't exactly for me.
If you don't mind me asking, on which year of your bachelor's degree are you? I'm on my second year, and really doubt I'll be able to stack enough extracurricular activities before next year's applications, as they are important for US applications. I'm currently doing a boutique M&A internship in my country and have secured an IB internship for the summer at a larger, regional bank. I'm also hoping I'd be able to land a spring week offer now and convert then that into a SA offer.
Congrats on the bulge bracket IB summer internship offer by the way.
Yeah, I have similar thoughts regarding the quantitative nature of the MFin programs. I'm in a comp sci/stats-focused undergrad and would love a corp finance masters that isn't extremely quantitative, which MIT looks like it is. I wouldn't worry about getting into IB from it though, an alumnus told me plenty went down that route, it's mainly getting through the quant courses with good grades that worries me. Plus the later visa lottery haha. What are your thoughts on if you failed to get a visa and had to go home?
I actually haven't looked at US applications at all, when you say extracurricular activities what kind of things are they expecting? I'm in the penultimate year of my undergrad, so I don't have a lot of time left either.
I think your comp sci/statistics-focused undergrad would fit quantitative US MFin (such as MIT/Princeton) programs, as well as Financial Engineering masters which are somewhat widely offered. If I were you, I would probably go for those anyways, as you're then still be able to go anywhere (HF/PE/IB/VC/Consulting) from there with some prepping. CorpFin Masters shuts off roles in quant hedge funds/prop trading firms, which I think most ambitious MIT MFins seek.
With your quantitative background, I think you're better equipped for quant courses than bachelor students in finance such as me. And I wouldn't worry about F1-visa as the acceptance rate is ~80%. MIT MFin acceptance rate is somewhere between 7-14%.
To answer your last question, in the US, schools and companies put more weight into ECs and leadership experience than in Europe. I recommend going through alumni LinkedIn profiles to see what they did.
Just to add one bit to all the international students OUTSIDE OF THE US reading this: The J visa allows international students to do an internship (paid) in the US, you don't have to study in the US to participate!
There are visa agencies that serve as a "bridge" between student and companies that want international students to work for them in the US.
Also, don't forget that your local companies also may have an interest in sending you to an international internship location, i.e. NYC.
F1 students within the US don't need the J visa as long as they don't violate any US labor laws, however they may also choose to utilize their CPT for this.
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From which country in Europe are you? Or which region in Europe, if youre not comfortable telling which country.
Perhaps I'm wrong but don't a lot of BB's actively encourage internal mobility for their A2A's? A friend of mine at a US BB is laterally to the New York office this summer. Pretty sure you have to be a top performer I.e top bucket but am sure American banks can send you to the NYC office.
Thought this was the case as well. Seems way more common to internally transfer company offices on an L1 visa which avoids the major headaches of the other visas. In fact a guy I spoke to recently just made the move from London to NYC at a BB and he said his firm was really big on internal mobility.
In my US BB I haven't seen anyone being hired straight from an MFin for IBD in the US. London -> NY seems way more common.
Have you come across many who've done the London -> NY switch? Does it seem more a very very high top bucket performance thing?
Seems to be an open option for anyone who wants it and is decent at their job, provided they are willing to wait a year or so until there's an opening.
Hey! Not exactly in the same situation but when I was considering which masters to apply to, after talking with several students from masters in the US (including from MIT) and the UK, the general advice was to go for the UK because it was easier to get into IB/PE in the UK and then transfer than get into IB in the US from a masters, as it was really hard for internationals because masters are not really recognized, even if it is STEM (like MIT's).
The girl I talked to from MIT even told me there were many students who weren't able to get any internship and the school wasn't really helpful, apart from the brand. Another one I talked to ended up getting an internship in the UK because it was easier to recruit there from the US than in the US itself.
Take it with a grain of salt as this is what I was told and didn't experience it first hand, but for me it was enough to make me apply to masters in the UK.
Hope it helps, best luck.
You are quite knowledgeable about the situation.
1) you're correct that visa lottery will be a big issue. many employers will be not interested because it's a big risk for them, because it's a lottery, so any given year they might lose an employee who they invested time in just due to the chance of lottery. so unless you're a head above others, most employers won't be interested.
2) MFin is not a target pipeline for IB in US. it's a target pipeline for quants/HF/trading/prop trading, but not for IB. so banks will come on campus only for UG and MBA. so even if you find them at university career events, they'll ask you what program you're in, and once you tell them you're an MFin, they'll tell you to apply online, and your application will go straight into garbage.
3) US IB highly prefers to hire full-time through SA (or hire experienced people from other banks and Big4). to apply for SA, you have to have another 2 years of school ahead of you (you'll do SA after 1st year and then start full-time after 2nd year). so you need to enroll in an MFin program that lasts at least 2 years. there are very few top schools in US that have MFin programs at all, and even fewer MFin programs that last more than a year.
4) US IB is all about networking. you'll need to send thousands of emails and LinkedIn messages to random people at banks you're applying to, have tens of calls and maybe even drive/fly to meet some of them for coffee in person to charm them enough to get a referral. without referral, your application goes straight into garbage. this whole process will easily take many months. and at the same time you'll need to try to prepare for all technicals and keep your GPA high.
5) US IB application deadlines are very early. for summer internships you need to apply in like April-May of the previous year. so if you managed to get into a top 2-year MFin program which starts in July, for example, you already need to apply for internships 3 months before the program starts, and to successfully apply you need referrals for which you'll need to play a networking game for like 3-4 months. so you need to start working on it in like Jan-Feb, i.e. 6-7 months before your top 2-year MFin program starts.
and at the end of the day after spending 3-4 months on networking, 100-200k on school+housing+expenses during school, you may still get unlucky in lottery and get kicked out of the country, and start from where you began but with 100-200k of debt and being 2-3 years older. plus you'll need to spend time finding a new job now.
=> it's your business whether you consider it worth the risk, but I would recommend working for 3 years at your top bank in London, then applying for US MBA. all top schools have MBA programs and they are a target pipeline for IB recruiting, so it will be way more reliable. plus MFin programs are not much cheaper than MBA. MIT MFin will cost you like 200k will cost of Boston housing and other expenses.
Thank you, this is really helpful and essentially very much what I was getting at re: the pros and cons.
The only way I'd seriously consider the MFin is if I could get a scholarship for fees and some towards accommodation/living costs, which is something I'd have a good chance of getting as there is an institution in my home country that does these as I mentioned. Do you think the drawbacks of the MFin still would outweigh this, in terms of career progression vs working in London for several years?
Yes, they would still outweigh, in my opinion, because of the above mentioned reasons.
You are guaranteed a 3 year visa for the US after most MFins
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