Sad MBA student recruiting in recession

I'm a 1st year MBA international student at one of the 7 schools.

Coming to school having high hopes.
With a VC background wants to make it in PE/ Growth equity.

Now 3months into recruiting for summer internship, I'm absolutely crushed and feeling lost.
I have been told, as international student, and no previous banking background, I have zero chance to make it into PE or growth equity.
Now I'm recurring for consulting which is not my 1st choice, which is also super competitive.
Now I'm carrying a huge amount of student loan, and watching myself deviating from my dream jobs' track. And may not even make it into my 2nd choice career track.

Any sobering words or encouraging words, plz shake me and wake me up.

Comments (21)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 3 in IB - Cov
Nov 21, 2022 - 12:46pm

I'm not sure how much diligence you did prior to starting your MBA, but outside of maybe a handful of very specific diversity programs, getting a PE offer without any prior experience and as an international wasn't really possible in a great economy either. Issue is big places have more than enough candidates and interest that they have no reason to interview someone with no experience. Small places won't sponsor.

At least when I went, HSW were very explicit and transparent about this during their sell days and prior to people accepting.

The good news is that the first job out of MBA program won't define you. If you do well and make the right connections, plenty of people have been able to lateral in down the line.

Did you give any thought to banking? Probably too late for the summer but for full time it's certainly worth considering. If you want to do PE, it's certainly a lot more similar and will be an easier jump. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 22, 2022 - 4:30am

Will have to agree with the above. Keep grinding and attempt to land a post-mba IB or consulting role. I know it's disappointing but you need to readjust expectations. I've met and seen a lot people come through various different PE firms at the post-mba level and have personally never seen anyone without relevant PE/GE experience prior to their MBA land a spot (even at H/S/W).

  • Associate 3 in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2022 - 10:34am
[Comment removed by mod team]
  • Associate 3 in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2022 - 11:20am

It's not that easy to get a FT IB offer either, with no prior experience. The challenge is there are very few FT spots outside of those who interned and first priority goes to those with return offers at competing banks. Not impossible, but it's a huge process to put yourself in contention now that you're pretty far behind. 

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Nov 23, 2022 - 1:14pm

you should def worry about the debt. have international friends/friends of friends at US MBA programs who couldn't find jobs that sponsored their visas + graduated with a truckload of debt that is hard to pay back w/o a decent job that's US-based. lastly, many incurred debt or pay tuition by converting their home country's currency. strong USD wrecks you and leaves you in a suboptimal position to search for your desired job. the network only gets you so far

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Nov 22, 2022 - 11:03am

Agree with everyone else... even in the best economy, international with no PE experience = no shot for PE out of MBA. This is very well known and I'd say it's at least somewhat on you for getting all the way to MBA without doing this type of research. Even a US citizen would likely not be able to do this.

Has your school's banking recruiting happened yet? I'm a bit removed from the recruiting world, but at least in the last few years my group typically has done MBA recruiting during a single week in January. You'd need to absolutely grind out some networking in the next few weeks, but may be doable. There are next to no FT associate spots (unlike analysts, summer associates don't really decide to switch career paths all of a sudden) so this is your most likely shot at IB.

Otherwise I'd stick with consulting. That's a great path and you can switch into IB, or even smaller PE from there.

Nov 22, 2022 - 11:20am
Monkey Tomato, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's too late to start IB now. Networking coffee chat pretty much done. Next is waiting to see if we get interview at all and interview prep. I kept myself in one of the boutique banks recruiting pool and 4 consulting firms(MBBK).

I now realize, I failed in the MBA recruiting diligence and that has cost me precious time in finding out what's not possible.

Now I'm thinking to try my best with this 4 consulting firms( will apply to all but most effort to those 4.

After mid January I should know result. If it's a no :(, then I wanna try VC/Growth Equity from Jan and onwards, but plz tell me that's also not an option to internationals

Nov 22, 2022 - 11:36am
Monkey Tomato, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you. It is absolutely on me for not doing my diligence well. I thought I come from VC with Pre-MBA internship( at a non US PE firm )I would stand a chance. I also didn't see a recession coming 😅🥲nor see how being an international just removes me from certain job buckets. ( this was not advertised anywhere in business school ads lol)

For now i think I will stick to consulting and see if I can land any summer internship.

Banking won't be an option as i already missed out in the summer recruiting cycle.

If you have any advice do enlighten me , thank you 🙏🏼

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Nov 22, 2022 - 11:46am

Contrarian view from my own experience at Columbia with zero pre-MBA finance experience

I managed to get an in-semester internship at a co-investment fund that aligned closely with my background. This may be just because I was in NYC and could go in 3 days a week, but by going to our career fair/making connections I had multiple PE/AM offers for in semester internships that could both have easily converted into full time roles. Turned down the fulltime offer from the fund because pay is way better in IB but it's certainly possible, you just aren't going to get a job at KKR or the sexy VC shops. You also have 3 years OTP so wouldn't worry so much about being international. 

Multiple of my friends - many internationals btw - did this as well, FWIW.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2022 - 2:31pm

What were the size of these PE firms? I have found it difficult to convince PE firms to give an in semester internship

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Nov 22, 2022 - 3:40pm

Small - office size of maybe ~10 - 15. I was able to do it by focusing on firms which were purposely pursuing a thesis which I had subject matter expertise in. You're never gonna get a pure-play buy out shop or Venture fund, but if you have a background in say restaurant administration (maybe you worked for Darden restaurants corporate or something, I'm making this up),it was my experience that a small fund or co-investment shop focused on food and entertainment would at least give you a serious look, especially for an internship which could presumably be unpaid. You get your foot in the door as a free SME for them, and then show that you can actually think and act like an investor. 

Nov 23, 2022 - 6:26am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's only November and your school + alum network has a huge incentive in making sure you succeed, remember that

Even if you don't get the most glamorous internship, you can surely get something interesting and that looks good, and at least re-recruit for consulting / tech / F500 jobs next year

Sucks you're just figuring out how hard PE recruiting is now, but better you realize it now than later

  • 2
Nov 23, 2022 - 5:53pm
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There is no such thing as a career track.  Especially post MBA.  Pre MBA, there is the beginning of a career track because people go IB >> PE and have a leg up in certain roles from there.  But even then, that's just a good start, that's not anything close to a career track.

So think less about the track and think more about the individual contribution you can make over the long term.  What are you great at, what do you enjoy, what ideas do you have, what function do you see yourself in the top 1% and how do you get there.

Once you have some sense of that, just try to pick the best 1st post MBA role for that.  Honestly, its not too important.  Consulting for example is the ultimate job for people who want to figure things out later.  It's almost an extension of the MBA, except a well paid one.

Whoever told you you can never do PE because you didn't do IB before b-school is an idiot.  It's true that doing MF or UMM PE right after b-school can be near impossible without a certain resume.  But now change those conditions . . expand the pool of firms, expand the length of time to get there . . if working in PE is your dream, people have accomplished much more difficult things in this world than eventually getting to PE

Over the long run, baller jobs go to ballers.  Focus on you, not the track.

  • Director in IB - Cov
Nov 23, 2022 - 8:21pm

Some of the regional large bank opportunities (eg LA) might be little behind but open. Consulting you need to go beyond MBB. Like not going to be your favorite but even TCS is worth a shot. Don't know how much things lately but stuff like Amazon, Microsoft were always good landing spot for domestics and internationals who struck out in consulting. Your #1 priority is someone who pays decent and sponsors H1B

Nov 25, 2022 - 7:05pm
pebro150, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm at HSW and wrapped my recruiting - agree this year is tougher if you aren't one of the shoe-ins (e.g., MF PE with a return offer recruiting for other funds). I've found that some shops would be willing to take a chance on you if you came in at the associate level (versus typical VP level for MBA's). If you're really set on PE / GE, that might be something to consider.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Nov 25, 2022 - 8:07pm

At a MF and haven't seen any MBA hires in the last 2 recruiting cycles get hired as VP at my firm. Not sure if it was just different COVID-ish or what. If anything we actually hired a few people that we downgraded (ie. they're going to come in at a lower / same seniority than they were at their firm prior to starting their MBA). Not talking small fund pre-MBA either… borderline MF / certainly at least UMM.

Nov 25, 2022 - 8:26pm
pebro150, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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