Breaking into investment banking from a career in engineering

ME: Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to look at this post. I wont keep this description long, I am a Technical Manager working for an offshore firm, have three years of work experience, a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, I have some project management experience and I am based in the UK, age: 25
PROBLEM: I work long hours when I am in the office and away from civilization for about three or four weeks when I am not working in the office. For the amount of work I do, I do not think I am financially compensated well, I do not get any job satisfaction from my current position. I have been thrown at the deep end for the most part of my career, but I have bounced back from them but again, the rewards have been pretty poor: I mean i still live with my parents and cant even afford to buy a decent car, I havent had a holiday in three years.
I dont mind working long hours unless there is brighter lights at the end of the tunnel and entry level positions will not bother me, I do not mind staying away from home or family if required. I dont mind even going as further as quitting my job and doing a financial course if required.
REASON FOR FORUM POST: I have no clue where to start in investment banking, I am not aware if I require further education at a Masters level or is my current degree and work experience enough to break in, What sort of level of employment should I aim for? How long would it take me to get to the big leagues? Any advice would help guys!

Comments (277)

Aug 25, 2013 - 2:09am
ts9432, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am more into offshore services just now, I don't know about tonnes of money, certainly considerably more than minimum wage, its more about the job satisfaction really. Thanks for the advice holla_back. Would it be worth doing an analyst internship before heading out for an MBA? I have analyst positions available in my company in the finance and accounts section, would that be a good chance to get some experience?

Feb 23, 2015 - 9:30am
Csdal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi I am in a similar situation as you and was wondering what you managed to find out, if you made a move or if you are interested in start up as those are also considerations I am making with a similar background in engineering as well as public sector and M&A experiences for high tech, aerospace and defense. Please pm me!

Also well familiar with those remote roles and it is true if you want to do any heavy engineering you must leave the city!

Current Big 4 Management Consultant with an Engineering Background seeking new opportunities with more of an entrepreneurial focus in High-Tech, Energy, Capital Markets, M&A, and/or Venture Capital.
  • 1
Feb 23, 2015 - 12:43pm
banker365, what's your opinion? Comment below:

From engineering to IBD (Originally Posted: 10/21/2015)

Hey guys,

First post here. I couldn't find anything about my situation, so I'm writing a new post. I am currently a petroleum engineering student due to graduate in December 2015. I took a financial economics course and risk analysis and property evaluation course over my last year of college and really enjoyed these courses (significantly more than my engineering courses). I really started getting interested in energy focused IBD and PE as I did more research about the subject. My school is a small public university with almost no banking recruitment, so i was thinking of completing an MSF next year to increase my chances of getting into IBD or PE. can someone here give me some insights of the steps that can be taken to make this possible?

Thanks.

  • 2
Feb 23, 2015 - 12:45pm
aquasmith, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineer try to get into IB (Originally Posted: 02/20/2007)

I got my MS and BS at a top engineering school in Electrical Engineering with good GPA. I'm working at a software company where its software is mainly used in engineering in many disciplines. Since my concentration in grad school was in signal processing and estimation, I started with the SPC group. Our company also have financial products for financial modeling and numerical analysis. Recently I switched into the financial products group. I'm currently studying for CFA lvl 1, and trying to get my foot into the door. I would like to have some advice in which areas I need to focus on improving and learning to make myself more appearing candidate. What field in IB would be more likely for engineer to break into. Since I was in engineering, I have pretty solid statistics, math and programming skills. I'm not look for quant jobs. I want to look for entry level analyst position. Thanks bunch!

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Feb 23, 2015 - 12:49pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering to IBanking (Originally Posted: 07/06/2006)

Is it likely for an engineering undergrad to be hired by a BB as an analyst?

Feb 23, 2015 - 12:51pm
JCole55, what's your opinion? Comment below:

From Engineering to IB (Originally Posted: 10/31/2013)

Hey there! I'm a new user to this website and I figured I'd start it off with an inquiry as to how one would go about making the transition from engineering to Investment Banking. I'm currently a student attending a University in Canada, I've been working for a prominent oil and gas company as a production engineer but I can't help to think that I would rather be in finance... I'd love to hear some success stories and/or opinions on how to break into the IB industry as an engineer!

Feb 23, 2015 - 12:55pm
dman8775, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering to I-banking (Originally Posted: 03/20/2014)

Hello all,

I am an upcoming MASc graduate in electrical engineering (from UofT) who is interested in i-banking. My undergrad GPA is a 3.0, and my graduate GPA is a 3.5. During my graduate studies I had a research paper accepted for presentation to a major conference. Of course, coming from an engineering background, I developed lots of strong analytical skills. However, would this intrigue the hiring managers enough to get some interviews?

  • 1
Feb 23, 2015 - 1:00pm
redperson121, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering to IB (Originally Posted: 10/10/2006)

I have a computer science background & have been at a BB firm in IT as an associate (not IB associate, IT has its own associate programs) for 2 years now. Even though I have not worked directly in any IB/Finance roles, I have taught myself accounting, bond math, derivatives (especially credit derivatives), structured finance and am good with excel macros, VBA, C++. What are my chances of moving to IB as an associate or in some other capacity? Any advise greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:03pm
FMoney, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Recent Engineer Grad - Questions on How to get into Investment Banking (Originally Posted: 12/03/2013)

Hey everyone, so I am a first year engineer (graduated in electrical engineering from UCSD; overall GPA 3.44 UC GPA: 2.99 Major GPA: 3.01) and am very curious about getting my MBA so I can get into investment banking. I just finished up my first year as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley and am starting to look around at business schools for an MBA.

I know that a top business program is highly recommended and tuition is going to run me $110-120K (maybe more?).

A) I was wondering what my chances are getting into a top tier school? (looking at UCLA, University of Texas, Berkeley, Stanford, possibly others/ willing to relocate if I can get in)

B) What are the chances of getting a position as an investment banking Associate after graduating? Whats the job market like?

C) Most importantly, how in the hell do you come up with the money to go to these schools if you're accepted? How much will the school's student aid office help you out? Is a loan from a regular bank in addition to student loans enough to cover tuition? Whats the best strategy to pay for your MBA?

Much appreciated.

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:05pm
Big Dreams, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Career Path ...Engineer to IB question? Do a Masters Degree? (Originally Posted: 09/10/2011)

Quick Question WSO!...

I am currently a junior who is a Electrical Eng. + Comp Sci double major. I am also enrolled in the 5 year program which would result in a Masters in EE at the end.

Should I stick to this 5 year program or drop the masters and go straight to the work force to gain work experience?

I got interested in IB fairly late...about 2 months ago. The internship I had for a year and a half is no where related to finance (its an engineering internship).

This summer the goal is to push hard for a finance internship at MM or Boutique but if that does not happen then to get another internship in engineering/IT world.

But anyways..... Will this masters benefit me in the long run at all?? My path to get into IB will probably be with 2-4 years of work experience and an MBA. I don't think for me it will be possible to break in with an analyst role straight out of UG.

Is it worth spending that extra year at college for the masters? or just work...

Eventually after an engineering job...then 2nd or 3rd job will be somewhere related to finance so there is a gradual build-up to my "story".

Thanks!

**Edit: Also ....what about masters in EE vs. an MSF or MFin 1 year program?

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:17pm
PetEng12, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering major to investment banking (Originally Posted: 02/22/2015)

I'm new to this site, so bear with me here. I'm currently a petroleum engineering major at Penn State. Not a super good school, I know, but one of the few that offer my major and close to home. Currently have a 3.4 gpa and with three semesters left hoping to bring it above a 3.5. I've just recently developed a strong interest in investment banking and was wondering what are some ways that I can network and help myself to land an interview. I have social skills which I hear is the concern with engineering majors so that's not a problem. I know an MBA from a top school would be ideal, which I hope to achieve someday either way, but not until after a few years of working. Like I said I'm new here so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:28pm
garrettmiller, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can an Engineer enter the IB world? (Originally Posted: 01/06/2007)

I am 2003 engineer from Penn State. I have recently left the cubical life and entered the sales engineering realm. With 1.5 years left to finish my MBA (Taking at night) at a non top 50 program, I am extremely interested in a life as an IB. I know that I would be untraditional because I will not have a banking internship under my belt, and that I do not have a business degree, but how hard will it be to be given a chance by a firm? What should be my main focus over the next 1.5 years to get noticed? What firms should I be concentrating on? Any info helps.

Thanks

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:42pm
G-man, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineer looking to enter IB (Originally Posted: 11/04/2015)

Hello,

I graduated a few years ago with a Chem E degree and have been working as an engineer (oil industry) for the past two years (I have been working more as a petroleum engineer/drilling engineer - not at all as a Chemical engineer). I am looking to go into IB, have been looking for the past few months. I have absolutely no experience working in any bank. My financial experience is limited - I have done some stocks trading and recently trading options (currently ~20% increase from initial deposit).

I have looked into graduate school (MFin) however seems like I have pretty much missed this cycles deadline so would have to apply next year. I don't see myself getting into a bulge bracket, maybe a small/mid sized one at best (I will probably still apply for BB...hopefully does not look bad on me if I end up applying multiple times over the next few years?). I will be quitting my job soon, and do not want some year long gap on my resume. Can anyone advise me on this? I prefer not waiting for masters, I would rather start working ASAP then have a masters in mind.

Since I am in Oil and Gas industry as an engineer currently, I see it best to transition into an O&G related IB.

I went to a non-target public in midwest, and had a ~3.6 or so.

Any and all advise is appreciated.

Feb 23, 2015 - 1:50pm
FutureBazillionaire, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering path to IB? (Originally Posted: 04/01/2013)

Would graduating with a 3.5 in an engineering program(non-target), working for a few years(3 or 4) then getting an MBA from a top school like Stanford or Harvard or Columbia, etc, place someone in a good position for IB at a place like JP Morgan? or something? I'd think they would make more money doing that route vs continuing in engineering right?

This isn't me, I was just curious how engineers do it. I doubt they had time to network.

Feb 23, 2015 - 2:09pm
ENlGMA, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering to IBD (Originally Posted: 09/23/2012)

I'm 25; I graduated from a non-target school with a degree in Civil Engineering and a second major in Economics in 2010 with a not-so-great GPA. I worked right out of school at a retirement recordkeeper where I got my Series 6 and 63 licenses. Two jobs later and I'm finally working in engineering but am just finding that it's not something I'm passionate about.

I originally went for my econ degree because it was something I was passionate about, and so I'm interested in making a career change to finance. I've done research and think I'd like to get into IBD or PE, maybe eventually end up at a hedge fund.

I've started trying to network to this effect. I actually got lucky and have gotten into contact with someone higher up in PWM at a BB bank in NYC, who is incredibly generous in helping me get into contact with other people he knows, and also said he would personally recommend me for their Analyst Development Program (he's part of the hiring board). I also have been in contact with someone here in town who is higher up in PWM who said they would get me in contact with an MD.

Both of these people sound like they'll be very helpful, but I'm sort of at a dead end in terms of networking because I don't know anyone else in the business. I suppose I need to be more aggressive about asking around, but I'm worried that if I start cold calling or something along those lines that I'll just get stonewalled for my lack of experience or ability to compete with people that went through the normal process (4.0 GPA at a target school plus top internship).

I want to know, aside from the existing networking that I'm already doing, both how I can further cast my net out there, and also how I can make myself look more marketable to prospective employers.

I've heard the CFA Level 1 can help but the amount of time it takes might not be worth the reward of simply adding another line to my resume. I picked up some books on investment banking (Investment Banking Explained: An Insider's Guide to the Industry by Michel Fleuriet, Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and M&A by Joshua Rosenbaum, and Investment Valuation by Aswath Damodaran) and I'm probably going to do some courses through Breaking Into Wall Street or IBI.

These add value in terms of my knowledge of the business, but can I really add these to my resume? More generally, how can I show to prospective employers that I'm a good hire for an entry level position in this business?

I've considered going back for MS Finance but I think my chances are about just as good now as they would be after I'd get that TBH. I don't want to get an MBA until I have a year or two of work experience in the industry under my belt at the very least.

Best Response
Feb 23, 2015 - 2:15pm
roofstreet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

engineer breaking into IB (Originally Posted: 07/13/2011)

hello fellow WSOers....im trying to break into IB as an analyst at ANY firm but i dont have a finance background. i did a double degree in engineering and science (i know not really finance related from the university of toronto. uofts engineering program is pretty decent -- top 5 within north america). i just recently graduated (IB (im hoping for a large bank--BB, but i guess this may not be possible with all the ivy grads to compete with...)

thanks!

signed fellow monkey :)

p.s. its 5pgs in total

"...the art of good business, is being a good middle man, putting people togeather. It's all about honor and respect."
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Feb 23, 2015 - 2:34pm
eastCoastguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

engineer breaking into IB.... (Originally Posted: 06/20/2007)

This is my first post on these forums and I want to thank anyone that can provide any advice ahead of time. I'll try to keep this short and to the point.

I went through 4 years of engineering at the University of Rhode Island (decent engineering school) thinking I wanted to be an engineer. I came out with two degrees, biomedical and electrical engineering, and began working for a large defense contractor doing electrical design engineering. On top of that I had 4 internships in different engineering disciplines (chemical, civil, biomedical, and electrical) searching for something that I truely enjoyed doing. Now after working at my permanent job for a year, I realize that I absolutely want nothing to do with engineers or much of the engineering field. Believe me I've done my research on older engineers in my industry, as well as young and old engineers in other industries, and I truely dont see myself as an engineer. If you doubt me ask any engineers you know if they like their jobs, or better yet think their pay is equal to their expertise.

In doing a ton of research on career paths, I'm highly drawn to IB, and absolutely drawn to NYC. I have a few contacts in the field (friends of friends) with whom I ask a series of questions, but one of the more important ones being, "How do I break into the field?" They all respond with "What area do you want to go into?" The problem for me is they all sound really interesting, but I seem to be partial to M&A, Corp Finance, Trading, and Research. From what I've read, engineers seem to be hired into Quant and Derivatives positions, but all seem to require at least 2-3 years experience.

My question to you folks is,

    What do you think the best way for me to break into the industry is?

I'd prefer not to pay for my MBA on my own, but will do so if necessary. I also understand I'll be on the bottom of the bottom for a couple years but that doesn't really phase me.

    Should I try and start off in Operations? Is an internship something that would be possible even though I'm out of school? Is it out of the picture to apply to the BB's?

I've already began to try and get acquainted with the lingo (reading Fast Track, Guide to Financial Interviews, reading the Wall Street Journal, etc.). Also the alumni contacts are very slim in the industry. I've seen a 4 week course in IB (www.ibitraining.com),

    is this a scam or something actually helpful?

Can anyone provide any insight?? Thanks again ahead of time for the help.

Feb 23, 2015 - 2:46pm
Big Dreams, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering Undergrad...first job as analyst...is it possible? (Originally Posted: 08/21/2011)

(Sorry this is kind of long but I really hope I can get some good responses and help)

Hey guys whats going on? First post but have been on the forums for a long time. I am in need of some advice hopefully I can get some help from the good folks on here.

Background: Entering junior year of college in a few days as an Electrical Engineering/Computer Science double major at UMass. Doing the degree for the solid background/rigorousness of the curriculum. Don't want to be a 9-5 engineer for the rest of my life. True passion lies in Business/Finance/Entrepreneurship. Was going to enter 5 year program for MS in 5th year in EE but recently figured...It will be pointless for the direction I want to go in.

Work Experience: Started an internship freshman year at Millipore (Now EMD Millipore because it got acquired by Merck). Internship had continued through this summer so total 2 years of experience. Intern for their UNIX Department.

Question/Advice Needing: I want to position myself/lay out a game plan so I can try to get a job as a First Year Analyst/Junior Analyst after getting my undergrad degree. I will be graduating Spring 2013. I have read into this field and how the ladder of growth works; I read about the crazy amount of hours and hard work required to be successful in the field.

Is it possible to get a job as an Analyst with an engineering UG degree? I still have one summer left before graduation; the plan for this summer is obviously to work as hard as possible to land an IB internship. Does anyone know if there are IB internships in Massachusetts? Or are they all in NY and other states? My plan also between now and graduation is to learn as much about MS Excel as I can because I have seen the importance of this to Analysts. An MBA in Finance is also on the bucket list but hoping that happens after 2 years work as an Analyst.

What do you think? Is it worth setting my head straight and going for it? Any more advice I can start from?

Thanks!

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:33pm
changeofheart, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineering to investment banking (Originally Posted: 01/16/2016)

What would make a hiring manager give an interview to an engineering student for a full time IB position?

It's common to see nowadays Poli sci, arts, english, comp sci or engineering majors get into IB. My question is, what makes them stand out enought to get a shot assuming they all come from the same target school?

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:35pm
changeofheart, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your answer.

I believe it's too late for me to get an internship for this summer. Would it be impossible to score a full time position in September having these odds against me?

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:37pm
gstaats5, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Banking options for someone with an engineering background? (Originally Posted: 01/17/2015)

I am currently an undergrad student majoring in structural engineering and I wanted to know what type of finance jobs I could be competitive for upon graduating. I have always planned on getting into business in one way or another after getting my engineering degree (I did engineering because people always told me business grads were a dime a dozen) but what is the best way to do this? Right now I am working a manufacturing engineering internship and I also work with a commercial real estate brokerage as an advisor so I'll have a decent amount of work experience. Are there any entry level finance jobs that pay well and like to hire engineering grads? Thanks for any help!

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:39pm
devoutCapitalist, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I like hiring engineering majors as they are often very good problem solvers. You can teach someone material and domain expertise can be developed over time. I cannot teach someone to be a good problem solver.

If you're smart, have good grades, and are attending a target school… then you can compete for any internship/entry level job offered.

My group likes to hire talent.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:42pm
IBforME, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Breaking into I-Banking? (Originally Posted: 09/20/2006)

All,

Could I get some advice on how I can break into the world of i-banking.

I am a 2nd year MBA student that is considering breaking into i-banking. Early in my pursuit, it has become increasingly evident that many/most i-banking firms are only interested in specific molds (i.e. top 20 b-schools) when they recruit for new associates. I attended a small engineering school for my undergrad and now attend UGA for my MBA.

I do not have a finance background, which is probably another knock against me. My background is mainly in operations, ranging from engineering, IT, and business start-up. I would like to think i-banks would value candidates with strong operations backgrounds, but I'm not sure if that's the case.

Does anyone have any thoughts or pearls of wisdom on how/if I can penetrate the mold and get in front of a i-banking recruiter?

Thanks.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:43pm
aspiringmonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you still might have a chance if you have a good gpa. Unfortunately you really messed up by not getting an internship over the summer.

So my advice to you would be to network your ass off.

But i'm not even in the industry yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:44pm
livingthedream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This might sound harsh, but as a second year you should have it sewn up by now. If you don't have a finance degree and your goal is to get in to IB then why don't you have an internship under your belt? With your background you could differentiate yourself for sure

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:45pm
Mis Ind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unfortunately, Terry has an awful career center. It's hard to go from there to any investment bank. Try Houlihan Lokey and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. Both are local and are willing to look at UGA grads. Also, on the other side of the wall, look at the Atlanta private wealth divisions of GS, MS, BS, and ML. It's much easier to get into private wealth than IB with a non-target local MBA. I know GS's Atlanta office hires people out of UGA as long as you're white, male, and Southern. Ditto the Atlanta branch of Wachovia Securities, if you really want to go there.

  • 2
Feb 23, 2015 - 3:47pm
Mis Ind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Livingthedream, it's the best you can really hope for from a school like Terry. Trust me. Not to diss you, man, but you don't even need a real undergrad degree to go to Terry.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:48pm
livingthedream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

the only communcation i want with PW guys is when i am the private wealth they talk to. and even then, don't talk to me.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:49pm
zala rules, what's your opinion? Comment below:

livingthedream, is there some stereotype i don't know about?

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:50pm
Mis Ind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No, I completely agree... but it's better than managing an Enterprise Rent-A-Car store or selling products for Primerica, both of which recruit heavily at Terry, or did a few years ago.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:51pm
livingthedream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

zala: you can't tell me that someone with your experience/ attitude is honestly looking at PW as a career choice?

dear god, say it ain't so...

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:52pm
Mis Ind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Most likely, Zala. Private Wealth is the red-headed stepchild of any bank.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:53pm
livingthedream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

it's like someone who actually wants to be a broker.

good lord.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:54pm
zala rules, what's your opinion? Comment below:

no no no. definitely not considering it. i know that PWM will take anyone with a pulse, but i wanted to know specifically.

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:55pm
livingthedream, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think you've just answered your own question! Most PW guys I know are failed IBers...never got the dream gig, wanted to stay "in finance".

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:56pm
tze, what's your opinion? Comment below:

biggest problem is lack of finance, mind you, mba should get you somewhere

Feb 23, 2015 - 3:57pm
arcanne, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Banking > VC > Tech PE; PM me if you would like any advice I'm happy to help
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Feb 23, 2015 - 3:58pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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