32Yr old Fighter Pilot: Too Late?

GUNSLINGER's picture
Rank: Chimp | 8

Would 32 years old be too late to START a career in IBanking? I've flown my entire adult life and I'm used to a 70 hour work week in a competitive environment. I hurt my back and I'm considering surgery so I may never be able to fly a jet again. I have zero business experience, but I'm almost done with my prestigious on-line MBA from a small school in Oregon and I should be able to finish with a 3.8 GPA (same GPA as undergrad). I can stay in the Air Force and retire in ten years with a modest, but steady income. However, I am considering taking a risk and seeing what else is out there. Either way, I'm on the hook for a couple more years to satisfy my pilot training contract. Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Cheers

Region: 
United States - West

Comments (53)

Apr 16, 2009

If you are still under contract, how old would you be before you get out? Also I assume since your 32 and a fighter pilot you must be at least a Captain. Is air force life not appealing?

Apr 16, 2009

Bearing, I am a Captain. And the Air Force has been great, I'm just not sure if I want to be moving around every three years for the next ten if I'm not flying. Not that I'm 100% against it, I just want to do some homework before I resign.

Apr 16, 2009

i wouldn't say impossible. Leverage any sort of alumni contacts through undergrad and mba. Good luck man.

Cheers,

Dipset

Apr 16, 2009

I will be 32 when I can get out.

Jun 6, 2009

Well you can get a online degree if you are working and wants to get some additional skills simultaneously.

Apr 16, 2009

oh and i would recommend you get started on the CFA. Sit for the December exam. Another good site is analystforum.com CFA will give you a solid background and its highly regarded in the biz

Apr 16, 2009

Could you do a full time MBA after this? Maybe not at H/W/S, but at an M7 or other top school. That could be a good way to transition. You're definitely not too old though, you just need to position yourself for an associate hire

Apr 16, 2009

and ditto on the CFA

Apr 17, 2009

My dad had a similar experience so perhaps you'll like this anecdote.

In the 1980s my dad was in his early 30s and tried to enter banking from a NYU Stern MBA and ivy league undergrad background. He worked on a shrimping boat in the keys right out of undergrad, then became a physical therapist and entrepreneur (the 70s were totally different from today lol). He started doing some M&A advisory for a NJ firm, and then applied to a top position for the new Japan branch of a BB. He got to the final interview round and the one guy he was up against was a native Japanese dude, possibly from a top Japanese business family, totally fluent in both languages. They had dinner on the top floor of the bank's building, interview, etc but anyways the Japanese guy got the job. My dad said he got the feeling that maybe he was too old to break into the industry, and while he could have found another banking job he became a full-time entrepreneur instead because that fit his style better.

That was the 80s, quite different from today though. Remember, anything is still possible, as long as you are pursuing what you truly desire.

Apr 17, 2009

i think if you spin it the right way you could get in. i think you'd have a better shot getting into S&T because you're pilot background shows your ability to work well under pressure and most desk heads I know love that type of shit. one head would actually fwd youtube clips of jets, war, etc. good luck...

Apr 17, 2009

CFA designation is a really good idea. There are also many people in the banking industry that have armed services backgrounds. Make some phone calls and talk to people, its definitely possible.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of jets did you fly? I always wanted to be a pilot in the air force, but it never worked out. now i sit in a cube and model my life away :-(

Apr 17, 2009

"prestigious on-line MBA" That is an oxy-mo-ron. And you only have a 3.8 from this "on-line MBA" program? Nobody's gonna respect you, 'cause even if you're hired (which I highly doubt), you'll be an analyst, analysts are 22-25 years old. They'll call you "grandpa" behind your back, you will be the oldest investment banking analyst in the friggin' building. they'll mock your DeVry MBA.

Have fun.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

Apr 17, 2009
Tetris:

"prestigious on-line MBA" That is an oxy-mo-ron. And you only have a 3.8 from this "on-line MBA" program? Nobody's gonna respect you, 'cause even if you're hired (which I highly doubt), you'll be an analyst, analysts are 22-25 years old. They'll call you "grandpa" behind your back, you will be the oldest investment banking analyst in the friggin' building. they'll mock your DeVry MBA.

Have fun.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

Seriously, if your just going to insult someone and not be productive in the slightest, don't post anything. Investment banking is really not that hard to get into, if you put some effort into it. I'm pretty sure if he can handle being shot at as a fighter pilot he can handle some little shit investment banking analysts, probably like yourself. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

Apr 17, 2009
mergerarb15:
Tetris:

"prestigious on-line MBA" That is an oxy-mo-ron. And you only have a 3.8 from this "on-line MBA" program? Nobody's gonna respect you, 'cause even if you're hired (which I highly doubt), you'll be an analyst, analysts are 22-25 years old. They'll call you "grandpa" behind your back, you will be the oldest investment banking analyst in the friggin' building. they'll mock your DeVry MBA.

Have fun.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

Seriously, if your just going to insult someone and not be productive in the slightest, don't post anything. Investment banking is really not that hard to get into, if you put some effort into it. I'm pretty sure if he can handle being shot at as a fighter pilot he can handle some little shit investment banking analysts, probably like yourself. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

HA! There's no way I'd work 90-100+ hours/week for a $65K salary/$10K sign-on/$20-30K bonus. I'm more of an algo trading/quant fund guy.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

Apr 17, 2009
Tetris:

"prestigious on-line MBA" That is an oxy-mo-ron. And you only have a 3.8 from this "on-line MBA" program? Nobody's gonna respect you, 'cause even if you're hired (which I highly doubt), you'll be an analyst, analysts are 22-25 years old. They'll call you "grandpa" behind your back, you will be the oldest investment banking analyst in the friggin' building. they'll mock your DeVry MBA.

Have fun.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

lol london?

Apr 17, 2009
dipset1011:
Tetris:

"prestigious on-line MBA" That is an oxy-mo-ron. And you only have a 3.8 from this "on-line MBA" program? Nobody's gonna respect you, 'cause even if you're hired (which I highly doubt), you'll be an analyst, analysts are 22-25 years old. They'll call you "grandpa" behind your back, you will be the oldest investment banking analyst in the friggin' building. they'll mock your DeVry MBA.

Have fun.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

lol london?

umm....NO. LondonE1 is a million leagues under moi.

Maybe I should drag around a toilet to show people that I AM THE SHIT.

Apr 17, 2009

Agreed. Tetris is a pretentious little kid who thinks the world is owed to him because he goes to Princeton. Get in as an associate and eventually work kids like him into the ground; you'll love it.

Apr 17, 2009

As you get older, it's more about your rolodex than job experience. A retired baseball star became an MD at Allen&Co (very under-rated for their deal flow) just because he knew people in the entertainment industry. He's now a "profit center" for them.

Apr 17, 2009

I will elaborate a bit on Drexel's advice, which is the way you should go. Sorry to break it to you, but your online MBA is mostly worthless (both for banking and other decent careers). If it is not too late, I would recommend dropping out and completely forgetting about it.

You said you have a 3.8 from undergrad, have been flying fighter planes and are a captain in the Air Force: these are very solid credentials that could get you into a real MBA program, maybe even one of the best. This is the course that I recommend if you are serious about getting into investment banking. Since you have a few years left on your pilot contract, you can use those to study for your GMAT (get 700+) and polish your essays.

I'm guessing that you may be able to get the service to pay for a portion of it as well, which would be great. During the two years of your MBA program, you would be angling for an associate internship in investment banking, and eventually a full-time associate position. You will be on the older side, but this is not really an issue. There are many ex-military people in banking, so you have a good chance at getting some hookups. Also, your experience as a fighter plane pilot is impressive to anyone. Seriously, mad respect.

Apr 17, 2009

Show some respect, Tetris.

Apr 17, 2009

If you got the cash and time I say go for it.

"I wanna Thank the Good Lord for Making me a Capitalist"

Apr 17, 2009

Damn, it's the LSO crowd here at WSO huh.

Apr 17, 2009

Thanks for the words.

I have considered real business school, but that would have to wait until my active duty time is up, and that would put me at 34yrs old at graduation.

And for the guy who asked, I flew the A-10:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II
Cheers, and thanks again.

Porkchop

Apr 17, 2009
Porkchop:

Thanks for the words.

I have considered real business school, but that would have to wait until my active duty time is up, and that would put me at 34yrs old at graduation.

And for the guy who asked, I flew the A-10:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II
Cheers, and thanks again.

Porkchop

Curious, did you go rotc or air force academy? If you went to the academy, a 3.8 is balling. I'd still recommend doing a ft mba, you have good credentials, and the difference between 32 and 34 is not huge. I would drop the online mba, as most m7 schools won't look favorably on you completing a second mba; concentrate on the cfa, polishing your essays, and maybe finding some volunteer work you can do.

Apr 18, 2009
Porkchop:

Thanks for the words.

I have considered real business school, but that would have to wait until my active duty time is up, and that would put me at 34yrs old at graduation.

And for the guy who asked, I flew the A-10:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II
Cheers, and thanks again.

Porkchop

Tankbusters are badass! Blowing up tanks with mavericks and then the gattling gun!! you are going to get bored on wall street haha, best of luck.

Apr 17, 2009

It does not seem like investment banking means much more to you than just
a job that will pay well in addition to your air force pay once you retire from the military. I went to a graduate program with many current and former military types, and I got the feeling that in addition to the business world, there were many defense consulting opportunities both in the United States and around the world. The military experience is highly regarded, especially if you are a pilot. So if you're not sure, why not take your expertise and apply it. That said, no reason you can't get into a boutique that specializes in defense contractors and/or defense suppliers. I have other former military friends who do very well in the general consulting world like McKinsey, Bain, BCG etc. But I would again stress that you should find something that leverages your highly specialized skills which you have spent so much time honing.

And before Ibanking, I would look around for small trading outfits that would be really impressed by the notion that you are a pilot (ie you excel at processing many pieces of information real-time and making decisions based on the input - ie trading). It's all about the OODA Loop - use it!

www.deltahedged.com

Apr 17, 2009

You still have a full career ahead of you. You will probably be working in some capacity till age 70. Its better to start late at something you like than to never get into something good.

People are giving good advice - try and network your way in. People respect what you do. However, it may not happen that way.

Use B-School to get as a back-up. I'm sure you'd get in somewhere good, and can use the MBA to propell you to a very good job. There is nothing wrong with starting off as an associate at age 34.

Tip: If you apply to B-School, don't mention the online MBA thing.

ANother route is working for in commercial banking for a Bank like Regions or BB&T. I know for a fact that they hire military officers for the training programs without any B-School. Its not as badass as Goldman Sachs, but it's a solid career route.

Good luck.

Apr 17, 2009

The A-10 was my favorite plane growing up.
Considering the kind of infantry support roles it flies in, if you were in active combat, you've probably saved a few lives too. Mad American pork chop props to you, Porkchop.

Sales and Trading desks are full of ex-military. The atmosphere is all about execution under stress, which others have mentioned.
A buddy of mine went to West Point and his school buddies used to tour the street, PE shops, and others, and everywhere he looked was someone with a class ring. You shouldn't have a problem finding friends, if you can find a way to get in during this market.

If you are at all interested in consulting, you must also know that firms like AT Kearney and especially Booz Allen Hamilton love former officers. Depending on the engagement, you could be consulting in and out of the Pentagon or other DoD operations. Contracts is a big part of the game in the defense industry, and contractors (like Lockheed, Boeing) will often hire ex-military to handle sales. Big $ here. Watch Howard Hughes in the Aviator throw parties for flyboys and you'll know what I mean, I guess.

Now, neither of these occupations are considered 'IBanking' that you asked about, but they draw from the same pool of talent. Good luck.

Apr 17, 2009

I second "suburbanfarmboys" post. Booz Allen loves former officers. So do firms like PRTM.

Apr 17, 2009

I agree with those that say the online MBA is useless; the coursework is secondary to the contacts, stamp of approval, and commitment to the industry that the MBA represents. The CFA program preps you with enough background knowledge to have a good idea of what's going on.

If you focus networking on the DC area, there are plenty of boutique IB firms that specialize in government work. They love guys from the military for both their contacts and their work ethic.

It'd be much easier to get in that way and subsequently switch directly or use a well-regarded MBA to propel you into a BB IB. (if that's the route you want to take)

Apr 17, 2009

Are you sure that you want to work "back-breaking" hours in banking with your bad back? That is something that you should seriously consider.

Assuming that you are half-way there, do your 20 years in the military and then retire and use that income to start your own business, which will be a lot more rewarding. If you are willing to work 70-90 hours in banking, you should instead work 70-90 hours for yourself; and you will surely succeed.

Apr 18, 2009

2 everyone who says online MBA is useless: having it is much better than not having it, ok? Same reason why some Juniors actively participate in competitive sports, take CFA, and join various "honor" societies. Are these things useless for i-banking? Yes. Do they increase change of 1st round? Definitely.

Apr 18, 2009
PussInBoots:

2 everyone who says online MBA is useless: having it is much better than not having it, ok? Same reason why some Juniors actively participate in competitive sports, take CFA, and join various "honor" societies. Are these things useless for i-banking? Yes. Do they increase change of 1st round? Definitely.

If you're not qualified to give advice, why do you do so? A no-name online MBA increases the "change" of first round? Absolutely not. If anything, it draws into question the academic capability of the candidate in question. Further, having an online MBA eliminates the possibility of getting a real MBA from many top programs: programs from which one would have a much more realistic shot at getting hired. It's like sawing off your toes to fit into a smaller shoe. Sure, you could do it, and, sure, it might work, but why the f*ck would you want to irreversibly scar yourself when you can just buy one size up...

Apr 18, 2009

start working on your CFA. I would also highly recommend trading as opposed to IB--the fighter pilot lifestyle definitely makes you a good fit for trading.

Apr 18, 2009

I had an internship at a boutique bank once and one of the higher ups had spent a long time in one of the military branches and attained a pretty high rank. I have to be vague here, but if you want to know his story you can pm me.

check out Sloan Fellows at Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan and London Business School (and maybe more). They admit people with an average of 10 yrs of experience (8 yr minimum) and have in the past admitted higher ranking military guys. if interested then don't finish that online mba- as that might disqualify you from attending these top bschools (look into it).

Apr 18, 2009

Oh my fucking god.

Tetris show some motha fuckin respect for our man in uniform.

And why is everyone hating on the online MBA degree. Yes, I agree that it is a piece of shit but at least it is something productive he can do while serving. Wouldn't admission officers be more confident that he can handle the MBA courses and it could also be a great platform to BS about why MBA?

Apr 18, 2009
PG:

And why is everyone hating on the online MBA degree. Yes, I agree that it is a piece of shit but at least it is something productive he can do while serving. Wouldn't admission officers be more confident that he can handle the MBA courses and it could also be a great platform to BS about why MBA?

I was actually going off of a piece I read in the FT a little while ago with bschools presidents talking specifically about getting a second MBA, and how they generally don't accept students who already have one, and they view hiding it as dishonest. I would suggest you post in the AskStaceyBlackman thread in the bschool forum, as her feedback will be more legit than most of ours.

Apr 18, 2009

You might be able to do it, but would you really want to?

How much is it going to suck to work 80-100 hours a week cranking out pitch books, taking orders from a 26/27 year old about which graph to put where? People right out of college need to because they have no experience or knowledge.

You have some interesting real life experience and have a lot more opportunities open to you than a 22 year old. If I were you, I would seriously consider getting a real MBA and trying to do something that is real (defense contractor?) instead of something that gives "good experience."

Apr 18, 2009

I would tend to agree with smartest guy ever on the executive MBA thing. But you don't have to put it on your resume...

One of my close friends is a West Point grad and now a Ranger. I respect that guy more than most people I work with on Wall St.

Porkchop, you could certainly make the transition. My question is why? With your experience, the sky is the limit. These guys above have presented lots of alternative options that sound 10x more satisfying than IBD. If I were in your shoes, I would seriously look at entrepreneurship.

Apr 18, 2009

1) Your online MBA IS worthless as a credential, but hopefully you got something out of it academically. That would enable you to do well at a real MBA program.

2) It's almost impossible you'll get an analyst job as a 32 year old. You'll be too old. Being 34 and going for an associate position would be fine, but you need to come from a top MBA program to have a shot--and even then, you'll need to do a lot of legwork/homework to know the Ibanking culture. (Also, consider a one-year top MBA program in Europe, ie IE in Spain, Oxford/Cambridge/LBS in UK, Bocconi in Italy, if you care that much about your age.)

3) Take what people say on online forums with a grain of salt. Esp. kids like tetris that prob. don't have a job and haven't grown up.

Your problem is not your age, simply bad timing. But a couple years from now it may be a whole different story.

Good luck.

"Categorical Imperative: If I cannot look at my mother or my wife in the eyes and explain it, I won't do it" - Some British MD.

Apr 18, 2009

Do the CFA man

Apr 19, 2009

Everyones right, your online MBA is really to going to help much, and I've read that some biz schools wont take you if you already have an MBA ( I know Chicago does for sure) so I would not finish it if you have a lot left to do. Even if you do get a top MBA, especially right now, with no biz experience, your going to be competing with all your classmates for SA spots and most of them are experienced. But in terms of getting out, totally. You've served your country (which some assholes on this site don't respect) and would look great for top program. Look for a good regional boutique to from your MBA.

Apr 19, 2009

First off, everyone needs to back the fuck off of Tetris. There is significant research that shows when an unborn fetus' is routinely prodded as a result of double penetration, fetal development is hindered. Thus the 3.1 GPA and the ridiculously stupid comments.

More to the point, I don't know about the online MBA. I could argue for leaving it off your resume all together. If you DO happen to get an interview, its not going to be because you have an online MBA.

Apr 19, 2009

Also... Im not sure how true this is... but I do know there is a strong degree of mutual respect and amongst people who have served. Maybe you could somehow try to network with ex-military now working on Wall Street and try to get advice from them. If one them takes a liking to you, maybe they'll go to bat to get you an interview.

The bottom line is, no one on this forum is really qualified to assess your likelihood of getting into banking with your background. Someone who has already served and is now working in banking will be able to give you a more realistic outlook, and give you much more meaningful advice. I'd try looking at alumni from top military academies to see which are working in banking, also ask around, the people you know from the service may have worked with/under someone who left for greener pastures on walls t, search the internet/linked-in, maybe you can get someone to search the personal profiles on Capital IQ (don't have time right now), maybe if you send me a PM and keep bugging me I can do it sometime.

Apr 22, 2009

First of all, yes, it is possible to break into investment banking. Your timing may work well as the market skips along the nadir of the sine wave for a while. However, picking up on Philosophical Monkey's post above, your online MBA is worthless, except that it will allow you to enter IB as an associate, versus analyst (pre-MBA). There are thousands of ivy leaguers with relevant experience who are essentially intellectual dry powder waiting on the sidelines for a new opportunity or job to suck them in. You simply have to position yourself better by telling a better (but, truthful) story.

As for the 70hr/week commentary, this is basically four days of work at an IB for a first-year associate once deals begin to flow again. So no one will be impressed. You might want to spin your desire to be academically challenged. I flew for the Navy for ten years, and aside from flying, basically all I did on deployment was eat, sleep, lift-weights and study. So I would suppose that have also had to cram volumes of information into your head in small amounts of time. This is something that is salient to the IB interviewer. You may want to talk about your ability to handle stress. Again, this is a place that you have (or, should have) demonstrated experience.

As for the job, it truly sucks. You are going to be dealing with individuals your own age who have accomplished far less than you have, sans making a few big bonuses. And by and large, smart as the IB crew is, these individuals measure themselves by their respective paychecks. It's pathetic. But my conjecture aside, it is as riskless of an environment as you will find. Perhaps trading would be a better fit.

Wish you the best of luck. But seriously, think about what makes you happy as an individual. If it is a $100k car, home in the Hamptons and $500 lunches, IB is a good route. If it is life experiences, you should look elsewhwere.

Apr 22, 2009

You guys are idiots. No 32 year old military captain, if he gets the job, will start out as an analyst.

Jun 6, 2009

its not late mba people are even more late than the age mentioned:)

Dec 14, 2009

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Dec 11, 2009
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Dec 13, 2009