Most Helpful

Much less than you think. 

80% of the people here will tell you that if you don't make it to Goldman or McKinsey out of uni, your career is ruined and you will never make it to the top. 

I am currently an associate at very well reputed elite boutique on track to become VP next year. I have worked on several multi billion transactions and I have been on calls with the CEOs and CFOs of top companies such as Pfizer, Gilead, AstraZeneca, or Amgen. 

I failed to secure a spot in IB out of uni and then I failed again after doing a masters in finance. By the time I was 23 I thought my chances of working in high finance would be over as I didn't have the money to go via MBA after 2/3 years. I had to swallow my pride and settle for an audit and assurance role at BDO (a job that on this site would be considered mediocre by a lot of people) in a medium sized city in Central Europe. I spent the first 12 months of my career working with people that were way less intellectually curious, driven, and ambitious than me, and still I always knew I would make it much further than them in my career despite at that time we all had the same role and salary. 

Over the next 6 years I worked hard, made the right connections, take risks, and made the right steps toward my ultimate goal. This was my journey from 2015 to 2021: BDO Assurance -> BDO Valuations -> Big 4 Valuations -> Big 4 Corporate Finance -> MM Boutique in London -> Tier 1 BB -> Elite Boutique (where I am currently working)

It was a longer journey but I ended up where I always wanted to be despite starting at a tier 3 company in a non-prestigious city in Europe. A career is not a 3 years sprint, is a 40 years journey, and who knows where your path will take you. 

That is phenomenal.

Currently in a similar situation. Been caught in audit (UK) for 3 years and making an exit now into corporate finance. What are your best tips for climbing within corp fin? ( keen to replicate your trajectory )

Lloyd Blankfein worked at a law firm he hated before joining J. Aron before J. Aron was acquired by GS.

James Gorman worked at a law firm that was eventually merged into what is now DLA Piper before going to business school before going to McKinsey before going to Merrill before going to MS.

Brian Moynihan joined Fleet Boston as a lawyer before moving into PWM before Fleet was merged into BoA.

Sidney Weinberg started as a janitor but that was a totally different time. Harvey Schwartz started at JB Hanauer. Bill Conway started at First National Bank of Chicago. Roger McNamee started at T.Rowe. Bonderman started as a professor. Stevie Cohen started at Gruntal. Ken Griffin started at Glenwood Capital. David Tepper started in Treasury at Republic Steel. Icahn started as a broker at Dreyfus. Don Valentine started at Raytheon.

Leon Black was an accountant before he worked at Drexel before he started Apollo.

Robert Smith started at Goodyear Tires before going on to eventually founding Vista.

Milken started at the pre-merger Drexel (aka back when it was a low end MM bank).

Moral of the story is that it could matter but here is just a tiny sliver of the metric fuckton of important finance professionals who started at a non-BB/EB and ended up being the type of people who have books written on them. Sure, being in a good job when you start your career is important but it is just the start

Anyone got anymore of these career trajectories of hyper successful people who didn't follow the WSO prestige path? They're inspiring to read

The story and examples above are completely accurate. A career is a journey. As long as you start somewhere, if you are determined, work hard (and a little lucky), you can end up a lot closer to your "goal" than you ever imagined, even after allegedly "failing".

I'm at Bain now (which was a goal of mine, albeit a recent one), but I am in my 30s, this is my 3rd career, and I started at what I often refer to a "top 10 university if you flip the rankings". I won't downplay this, starting at a top undergraduate institution, securing brand-name internships, and landing a top job in BB / MBB or other top destination is a massive leg up in your early 20s. But this is by no means the only path available. I definitely echo what the poster above also said regarding drive and ambitions: most people I have worked with either had none or just very little of it. I always knew I wanted to do more, so I did. Pushed for it and now I'm at MBB. And this is not the end by any means, I'm planning at least one more career change within ~8-10 years.

I went from one of the lowest ranked Uni > inconsequential internship in agribusiness > Mid-ranked Uni > Top 10 Uni > F500 automotive business planning > PhD > Econ consulting at a company specialised in financial data (later got acquired by a larger player in financial services) > Bain

I learned what I could from each job / experience, and applied it to my next endeavour. Don't overthink, do your best, learn what you can, and keep pushing toward the things you want to achieve. Oh, and enjoy the ride!

It’s not a be-all end-all situation. However, life is definitely easier / goals are more attainable if you do start off strong. 

Yes, but it's not the end all if you don't land your preferred job right out of college. Getting an IB job sets you up for many exit opps to a lot of privileged opportunities that aren't offered to more traditional careers (e.g. if you started out as an auditor).

This all being said, hustle is always respected - you CAN make the move to other jobs...just need to convince the right people that you're the best for the job/get lucky.

Everyone above has nailed it - first job doesn’t matter nearly as much as it seems when you’re in it, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to start off on the track you ultimately want to get to.

I was able to go: non-target state university -> mid-size commercial bank (pseudo loan fund) -> large (mid tier) corporate/wholesale bank -> buy-side debt fund.

In all honesty, I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my career. I was originally all-in on going into IB and spent months trying to get an IB role after my first job. When it became apparent I wasn’t getting any interviews, I focused on steadily working my way “up,” i.e., making sure each new job gave me better exit ops than the last. I rounded out my resume along the way (got my CFA, got involved with a local philanthropy, gained some new technical skills, etc.).

TL;DR: First job matters for establishing your soft skills and learning how to operate in a corporate environment. In the long run, it doesn’t matter much to your career, so long as you continuously work along the way to get to the career you want.

PM me if you’d like more info or have specific questions, but if you’ve passed 1 and 2, there’s not much advice to give! You know how these tests go, and you know how to study and what methods works best for you.

The only real difference with L3 (aside from the content) is the essay portion. The change to computer-based testing is nice since you can type versus having to write by hand, but this section will still feel veryyy time constrained. Make sure you practice these types of questions a lot, and strategize how you’ll handle questions you don’t know. You’ll likely have to change your writing style; like writing bullets, strictly the facts, etc. versus long-form sentences and extra detail (i.e., the only necessary words you need to put down are the words you’ll get points for).

For my strategy on exam day, I’d first skim the reading and questions. I’d then answer the questions for which I was confident in my response. Lastly, I’d spend as little time as possible on questions I didn’t know before moving on. If I had a general idea but wasn’t positive, I’d jot something down for partial credit. Once I was through all the essay questions and answered everything I knew, I went back through to spend whatever remaining time I had on the ones I skipped or only partially answered.

Mollitia dignissimos quia magni voluptates vero ut dolor. Aperiam quia mollitia aperiam ratione aut qui reprehenderit ipsam. Ut dolorem et nulla nobis aspernatur veniam illo.

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres (++) 99.6%
  • Lincoln International (==) 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • William Blair 12 98.2%
  • Financial Technology Partners 02 97.8%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • William Blair 04 99.6%
  • Lincoln International 11 99.1%
  • Canaccord Genuity 18 98.7%
  • Jefferies & Company 07 98.2%
  • Stephens Inc 11 97.8%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International 01 99.6%
  • Lazard Freres 17 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.7%
  • Financial Technology Partners 06 98.2%
  • UBS AG 15 97.8%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (33) $392
  • Associates (161) $261
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $187
  • 2nd Year Analyst (102) $169
  • 1st Year Analyst (309) $167
  • Intern/Summer Associate (48) $167
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (225) $94
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...”

From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

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