What's the best path to the finance scene for a student from Europe to the US?

Hey everyone, I know that this question has seemingly been asked many many times on here before, but my situation is somewhat different. I could use some advice on how to make my way to the US. Here's what you need to know:

I'm 18 years old and not from the EU. I'll be starting my BBA at KU Leuven in Belgium this year. While it's definitely considered prestigious in Belgium and a well-regarded school in Europe, its reputation might not be as strong in the US. My goal is to get into management consulting after graduation, but I'm also considering IB, PE, and other finance jobs. While I've spotted a fair number of my university peers in MBB on LinkedIn, those who made the leap to the US are mostly in senior positions, and almost all have MBAs

I've identified three main options:

  1. Work in Europe for a few years (2-3) and then pursue an MBA in the US. However, I'd prefer a more direct path to the US.
  2. Get married to a US citizen after undergrad, work in the US for 2-3 years, and then do an MBA. But this seems unrealistic as I'd be quite young and probably financially strained.
  3. Find a job in the US straight after my Bachelor's degree. This is the most challenging option since I'd need sponsorship and lack work experience.

Option 1 seems the most realistic for now. Also, I'm curious if getting a finance job in a GCC country before my MBA is a viable option. You could say I'm fond of Saudi Arabia and the UAE for potential opportunities and better pay. 

It's complicated to explain why I want to move to the US. I've always wanted to move to the US since I was 9. I'm generally very flexible and open to many possibilities but not making the leap to the US isn't one of them.

Any insights and advice are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

 
Most Helpful

 A lot of people just "want to move to the US", but never end up doing it. This sounds a lot like one of those posts, since you already know the details/have done your research. What exactly is blocking these avenues? You are young and the best time to start something new is when you are below 30 years of age. Many research outcomes have shown that emigrating after a certain age will have a limiting effect on the results.

- If you want to move to the US right now, you need to pay and I am assuming you don't have the tuition money. Stop thinking about this option as it won't happen unless your family is happy to co-sign on a large loan.
- The other option is the MBA route, I don't see how this would be "too long  to wait" as it would give you additional experience and safety. It is the more sensible route.
- If you are not from the EU I am simply assuming that you are from UAE/North Africa or Asia - arranged marriages might work if you/your family are ok with it and you can accept this as a way into the US. It is something most Europeans or similar cultures can't do. It is an advantage to your plans, not a disadvantage. It is OK if you don't want to do it this way, of course.
- There is no way you can find a H1b sponsorship in the US with a EU education. The chances are so slim you don't even have to try, IMO. There are thousands of local applicants and international students on OPT who can do the same job.
- You forgot the investment route, either for permanent residency or non-immigrant. If your nationality qualifies, then this route could be a valid one also. Do your research around this if all you want is to live in the US but you don't care about being in a permanent job/in finance/in a certain location/..
 

Don't forget - many EU schools offer partnerships with US based schools for lower/no tuition. Maybe that works in your case as well.

What are the reasons to move to the US? I am guessing they are, among others, economic? The lifestyle can also be had in similar environments, i.e. Canada.

I remember you have posted this topic before, guessing you didn't get anywhere on your route so far? Sometimes this means there are no other options.
Best of luck to you.

 

Thank you for your reply. I understand that there have been many many posts like this one before. But moving to the US is absolutely a top priority to me. I couldn't think of any scenario where my position on this would change. It is hard to explain why and I don't want to bore you with too many uneccessary details. I have many extended family there, but this isn't all there is to it. I truly always wanted to live in the US, I'll never feel satisfied unless I live in the capital of the world. If I live in Europe, I'll most likely work in an American consulting firm or bank, speak English, use American-made programs, eat American food, and when I have time, I'll probably watch an American movie. America is the Roman Empire of our time. I just don't want to live in a Province.

Yes, my parents didn't want me to take out a high-interest loan to study in the US, and even if it frustrates me, I understand why.

I am indeed from the middle east, but I'm from a Christian family and arranged marriages have become less common, especially among more americanised immigrants. But I don't think it would be too hard to find an American wife (in a sincere/legal way). There must be many Americans in Europe. And i can always travel to America for a while when I have more funds and time.

It seems like the MBA path is the most realistic one. I just preferred not to wait 3 more years before going to the US.

 

well, I wish you all the best. And from how you write I can tell that you have never been to the US. The old, romanticized way of looking at the US would be the one displayed here. The reality is very different today.

It's ok to be into the American lifestyle and most of us do use the same American products and media channels.

But your plans sound a little bit too optimistic, almost naive:
- I don't believe there are "many Americans" in Europe, especially outside of key English speaking regions (London, Dublin, ..). They face the same visa/finance/cultural issues as for others moving to the US. There are a couple hundred thousand US Americans across Europe, but unless you work for an international employer - you probably won't meet them. WSO is a good source though.
- If you believe you can find an American wife, then hop onto the dating apps and online dating platforms. Time/youth is on your side here (much harder to do once you are older)
- Setup a clear savings/timeline/project plan what you have to do to attend a good MBA school in the US. GMAT/job/financing, .. and you will make it.

Best of luck

 

US Citizen who studied undergrad in a "prestigious" institute in the Nordics here, so maybe I can give some additional insights that most of the traditional Americans on this board can't give. What I've seen here is the one's who ended up in the US either went to MBB in the local offices and then transferred offices to NY/Chicago offices, GS/MS/JP London to NY MF PE, or did MBB and then straight to H/W/S MBA. Now, these guys were all complete monsters (Winners of European Case Comps, Case team-lead in first year, winner of stock pitch comps, etc) and clearly were focused on success the second they hit the desk, and all had Danish/Swedish/Norwegian citizenships. 

KU Leuven seems to be a regional target for MBB in Brussels and there are a couple people who've ended up at banks in London, but from what I gather its notoriously difficult for non-EU citizens to break into regional MBB offices and especially difficult if you don't speak the local language. 

Honestly, if you're focused on getting to the US the most streamlined path seems MBB and office transfer and since you're interested in MC, this is probably your best bet. So work hard, network, and try to break in as a BA/AC/Associate at one of the firms. 

Would note though that you seem to have a very romanticized image of the US, it's important to remember that the US offices of firms are some of the least WLB-friendly offices in the Western world, especially compared to non-Germany EU. Don't know that is important to you but it is important to think about while you're starting UG. There is also not that many American's in Europe and in all honesty the American men and women I've met seem a bit more interested in shagging the local populace than a foreigner so I wouldn't plan on that as an option.  

 

Well, obtaining an EU citizenship is relatively easier than obtaining US citizenship. I know a lot of people from my country that moved to Europe for their studies and it isn't very hard to stay long enough to apply for citizenship. However, I'm worried that obtaining a European citizenship might actually make it harder to become a US citizen if I already have 2 citizenships. 

I know that living in the US won't be without some disadvantages. I know there will be less WLB, but if we ignore all the other non-work related factors I mentioned earlier, I'd still prefer to work in the US. The pay is relatively higher, and from what I've heard, consulting is also more prestigious there. 

I don't pretend to know everything, I just finished high school and I have a lot to learn, but my (brief) research leads me to believe this.

So not to waste your time, do you think the transfer route or the MBA route is a better option? 

 

1) I didn't want to mention that earlier, because I might be misunderstood. I don't want to engage in any fraudulent behavior, but one of the easiest ways to move to the US and one that I personally know a lot of people who have done it is asylum on religious or political grounds. I can legitimately claim it. If I have an EU citizenship it wouldn't make a lot of sense and would likely get rejected. 

2) I do speak French. 

 

Not from here but went to college in the states. This post makes me giggle and feels pathetic. Just give yourself a few more years before you can so confidently say you are frantic about the AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE. And btw, I will not be surprised if this dude ends up taking the asylum route and comes here with a few cases under his belt (as long as your case is still being processed, asylum applicants are allowed to stay). 

I saw ppl posting about arranged marriages or asylum every day as ways to get around the long line in front of USCIS and yes many of them worked out. While I would never pull that trick, it's irritating to see how the immigration game can be so anti-merit and easily rigged like that. 

 

No offense and nothing personal, it's just my sentiments on the immigration game. Hey, I'm just another visa slave the USCIS won't give a single fuck to. It only turns out to me that this country obviously doesn't need more bankers but scientists, true loves, and refugees. 

We are way beyond the level of putting food on the table, and I believe ppl today are working hard for a sense of fulfillment. If the immigration system could so easily frustrate me and devalue my identity, personally, I would not plan to stay here long term. 

You are only 18. I don't know if you have even been to Europe once in your life, but the world is big enough that you don't have to bet your dignity/fulfillment on immigrating to another country (that you have never been to). That kind of thinking easily fucks you up from the inside. 

My suggestion is to learn to appreciate the life you live, befriends with ppl from different backgrounds, and go to different places. And definitely work hard to get into finance/ consulting, not because you'd make more money, but that a career like that would help you build your confidence so you won't ask questions like this when you are turning 22. 

 

As others have said, very romanticised view. I had this - trust me. All it took for me was a week-long trip to NYC and talking to a few bankers there. It really cleared up a lot of the rose-tinted admiration I had for IB in NYC and America as a whole. Don't take your fortunate position in Europe for granted either.

 

Look, after re-reading people's replies here, I get your point. I really do.

I have chosen a pretty hard university, I've done all I can in high school to go from a pretty average student to getting high grades. While I'd definitely like to go to Europe because Iiving here has become somewhat boring, It involves a lot of compromises. I'll have to save a lot of money, live in a much tinier place, and overall have a less expensive lifestyle. I'm doing all that because I believe it'll one day allow me to live in the US. If it doesn't, then really what's the point of all that?

I'm willing to change a lot of things, but where I live, get married, raise my kids, retire and eventually die is pretty important to me.

I'm absolutely grateful that I got a chance to study in Europe, and I am actually excited for it, I do like Europe but I don't think it's where I'd like to live for the rest of my life. I could get into why if you'd actually want to know.

 

Natus id modi veniam fugiat ipsum omnis sed quas. Accusamus est ducimus consequatur quis qui sunt. Neque autem velit sed rerum sunt. Sint voluptas eaque sunt et.

Career Advancement Opportunities

February 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Goldman Sachs 19 98.8%
  • Harris Williams & Co. (++) 98.3%
  • Lazard Freres 02 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 04 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

February 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 18 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 11 98.8%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 07 97.7%
  • William Blair 03 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

February 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.8%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 98.3%
  • Moelis & Company 06 97.7%
  • Lincoln International 04 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

February 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (19) $385
  • Associates (81) $263
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (12) $184
  • Intern/Summer Associate (32) $172
  • 2nd Year Analyst (60) $169
  • 1st Year Analyst (193) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (141) $101
notes
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...”

Leaderboard

success
From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

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