MFE to S&O/Trading without internship

I'm hoping to get a reality check on S&O/trading job prospects if I were to pursue a MFE/MFA (or similar masters) in UK/France without an undergrad internship. A little background. Bachelor's from an Ivy in social sciences (poli-sci, pysch, management, applied stats), 3.8-3.9 GPA, research exp in management, but no finance-related internship.

Long version.

Sounds dumb, but I basically had no comprehension of what a "career" was during undergrad. I feel incredibly fortunate to have graduate at all (grew up in rural bumpkin town, parents worked ~100hrs/week in low/min-wage jobs, always worked 1-2 PT jobs to help/offset tuition). But career wise, I feel like I f-ed up. I didn't learn about IB/S&T until my junior year from my friends, but it was too late, and I missed out on SA recruiting. For FT, I drop my PT jobs for an unpaid research gig at our B-School (management; luckily it turned into a paid one). I landed some FT S&T interviews, but it was the pandemic and I had weak technicals - which was on me. Since then, I've continued in research, and realized I was pretty good at stats modeling and coding (self-taught in R/python/java bc of work).

I'd like to use that to get into a masters the UK (Oxford/LBS/LSE/Imperial/Warwick?) or France (HEC/ecole polytechnique) and hopefully land something in structuring/trading. UK bc courses are 9-12 months (LBS pre-exp MFA is 12-16months) and France bc the 2-year programs requires a summer internship, I speak French (non-native but C1), and it's cheaper despite being longer. I'm ruling out the US, it 1) costs 1.5-2.5x more, and I already have a shit tonne of debt, 2) is longer (18-24 months), and 3) I really need a change, and get away. My folks are telling to come home, but I don't to be that loser who went to the "big city" and returned with nothing.   

There's the Haas 12-month MFE program, but it's March-March and their internship is in the winter. I'm also know a lot of students come from physics, math, CS, engineering, and I worry I'd end up doing poorly in comparison.  

Assuming I can get into a UK program, what are the chances I'd actually land a structuring/trading role after graduation in the UK without an internship? If it's basically zero, then I rather not waste my time/money and just apply for longer programs (LBA MFA, HEC MiM in Intl Finance) where I know I'd have the chance to do an internship.

Any advice?


Based on the most helpful WSO content, here's a reality check on your situation:

  • Academic Background: Your strong GPA from an Ivy League institution and research experience in management are definitely positives. Your proficiency in stats modeling and coding will also be viewed favorably for S&O/trading roles, as these skills are highly relevant.

  • Lack of Finance Internship: Not having a finance-related internship could be a hurdle, but it's not insurmountable. MFE/MFA programs are designed to pivot your career towards finance, and your technical skills can help compensate for the lack of direct experience.

  • MFE/MFA Programs: Top UK programs like Oxford, LBS, LSE, Imperial, and Warwick are well-regarded and have strong recruitment ties with financial firms. French institutions like HEC and École Polytechnique are also prestigious and could offer a good pathway, especially with your French language skills.

  • Internship Importance: Internships are a critical component of breaking into S&O/trading. The UK programs' shorter duration might limit internship opportunities, but they often have strong industry connections that could facilitate recruitment. French programs' requirement for a summer internship could provide valuable experience and a foot in the door.

  • Prospects Without an Internship: While challenging, it's not impossible to land a structuring/trading role without an internship, especially if you excel in your MFE/MFA program and leverage networking and recruitment events. However, the odds are better if you have an internship.

  • Program Selection: If you believe an internship is crucial for your transition into finance, you might want to prioritize programs that include an internship component. This could mean opting for a longer program that ensures you get this experience.

  • Networking and Skill Development: Regardless of the program you choose, focus on networking aggressively and continue to develop relevant skills in modeling and coding. These will enhance your employability in structuring/trading roles.

  • Visa Considerations: Keep in mind the work visa situation in your target country post-graduation, as this will affect your job prospects.

In summary, while not having an undergrad finance internship is a disadvantage, your academic pedigree and technical skills are strong. You should weigh the benefits of a program with an internship component more heavily, as it could significantly improve your chances of breaking into S&O/trading. Good luck!

Sources: MFE right after graduation vs IB,, MSF to IB, Majoring in Wall Street?, London Business School MFA

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

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I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

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