No SA Offer. Best Path Forward?

I'm currently a Senior in a 5-year program at a semi-target/non-target (think OSU, PSU, etc.) school. For the last year and a half, I've been working remotely at a no-name regional (officially a generalist shop but does a lot of TMT deals) boutique based out of NYC. After starting as an unpaid intern, I eventually got licensed and now I've been working as an Analyst full-time while going to school. I was late to IB recruiting because my original plan was to do Big 4. So, I hadn't networked nearly enough and wasn't able to land a SA offer. I've talked to a few MM banks and they said they'll keep me in mind for FT recruiting. I've come up with a few options if that doesn't work out:

  • M&A Consulting at Big 4 >> MM/EB/BB: EY and other B4 have 2-year M&A consulting roles. I thought about doing a 1-2 year stint and lateraling to a larger bank. I'd have the name behind me as well as some experience working on larger deals. Though, I don't know if this would be as good as actual IB experience.

  • Deferred MBA: Assuming I could land an Ivy, I'd defer for a year, stay at the LMM shop, and try to come in as an Associate at a larger bank. Would have the name behind me, which could be useful outside of IB recruiting. 

  • Try and Lateral From LMM Shop After Graduation: Stay for another year after graduating and try to lateral out. I'm concerned that, if I can't lateral out, I'll get pigeonholed in the LMM. Seems like it would be the easiest path if the hiring environment were better.

  • Combination of the Above Options: Self explanatory

I'd rather not stay at the LMM bank because the deals tend to be smaller, take a while to close, and the comp at this shop is mainly commission-based. The money can be really good if you have an established network but I'm only 21. So, you could probably imagine how well that's going.

I'm not interested in PE and, right now, I would like to make a long-term career out of banking. I was hoping to hear your opinions on which of the above would be the best option.


I would try to focus on weaker roles at BBs, like credit risk roles, jobs at adjacent companies like rating agencies and roles at smaller banks that are less commissions based; work at those places for a year; and then try to lateral to a 1st year analyst role and compete against fresh college grads from good colleges with your one year of work experience as the equalizer.


Generally good advice, but the fresh college grad roles recruit/sign 1 year out and have strict graduation date requirements which one would not meet if they were currently working. OP would have to compete for experienced analyst roles. But from roles like CB, credit risk as you mentioned, an internal candidate could do just fine

Most Helpful

I'd aim for something like corporate banking, valuation, big 4 TAS etc if the MM IB doesn't pan out

You don't really see consultants go to IB, you could do PE if you want but you'd have a tough time building the technical skillset. If you lateral as a senior analyst, you're expected to be able to run models from day 1.

Most deferred MBAs have a 2 year minimum deferral, since 1 year of work experience is not really that useful. At least for my bank, we would (and have) ding someone for having so little work experience. I know you have been working while attending school but firms/schools will heavily discount this and not count this as a full-time experience.


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