Accounting major, can't seem to break into IB

This post is a bit of a desperation post and is two-parted, but I will start with my background. I am a senior in a 5 year master in accounting program at a solid and well-targeted public (you can probably guess). I spent my early part of college as a finance major and gained little traction in IB recruitment. However, after I switched to accounting and got another year of maturity, education, and resume improvements under my belt I started getting more hits. BUT, after several final rounds/superdays that I thought had gone pretty well I still keep getting rejected for IB summer analyst positions (90% are Houston O&G because of my location which I am fine with and have an interest in the industry).

I guess my main point is what am I doing wrong here? I really reached a low point recently when I had a Friday superday (thought I did very well, answered the technicals correctly and made good conversation/connection etc.) and was told at the end of the day that we would find out in about a week but I got the rejection email the following Monday morning (did I really screw it up that badly?).

The other part of this post is that as part of my accounting degree I already have a spring internship offer with a Big Four in their Capital Markets/Transaction Advisory group. I have this on my resume and thought it would be a great boost to my IB odds (especially since its a spring internship and wouldn't conflict with summer analyst roles), but again nothing has panned out thus far. Additionally, I know this is not a bad job to start at and I should be (and I am) excited about the opportunity especially considering the vast majority of my peers are doing audit or tax work right out of school. But really what I want to know is whether this is a viable route into IB later down the road either post-MBA or not (and if top MBAs are an option with Big Four TAS experience) or if am going to be pigeonholed into the "accountant" role the rest of my life and never break free.

Sorry for the rant and thanks for taking the time to read this. Also I am not looking for sympathy or people to rub my back and tell me everything will be okay so please don't get that impression, I really just want some honest opinions about what my near-term and long-term plans might be.

Comments (26)

Oct 8, 2018 - 7:12pm

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Hope that helps.

Oct 10, 2018 - 9:27pm

Is the spring internship Part-Time during school? Or is it like a full-time internship? And do they give out FT return offers?

Transaction Advisory at Big 4 is actually not bad at all. You'll get some great relevant experience that you can talk about and in 6-12 months try to lateral to IB. I've heard of people going from TAS to boutiques, MM's, BB's and even EB's.

not very knowledgeable over MBA admissions, but statistically there must have been people admitted to M7 with Big 4 TAS experience, so yes. That is still an option. Just keep hustling

Oct 11, 2018 - 4:17pm

You should use linkedin (get premium, it's worth it) to search for alumni who have done the switch before, and start building up your network right now. Phone calls, coffee chats, etc. If you can't find school alumni who have gone TAS -> IB, find alumni at that IB, network with them and then ask if they know anyone who has done the move. probably a better idea to omit the spring internship from your resume or wait until you've started the internship to start networking. Reason being it looks bad on you to already be looking to switch industries if you haven't gave the other one a shot

and be strategic about the IB's you target because for me personally, I started networking with some elite banks at the beginning of my recruiting, when my networking skills and finance knowledge were subpar. Changed my tactics and got a MM offer. If I would've done it the other way around (first get "practice" with firms I wasn't too excited about) who knows what I could've gotten

Oct 15, 2018 - 10:48pm

Former UT iMPA here. It's definitely doable. However, if it doesn't work out, take the TAS job and lateral after a year (especially since the M&A market is doing fairly well). Keep your chin up. The MPA program office does a terrible job of letting you guys know that you can get IB jobs and setting up a similar pipeline like they have for the B4. Otherwise, you can always go back to bschool and recruit as an associate (which is what I had to do). Don't let the debt scare you. It's not that big of a deal if you're going into banking. If you decide to return to UT, you can pay it off within 18 months of graduation if you really want to pay it off as quickly as possible (which is dumb on a 10 year loan costing you 4-5% a year).

Oct 11, 2018 - 4:01am

Not US experience but I was in a similar/worse position and from my research the TAS to MM IB jump is actually quite straight-forward and won't be difficult at all. TAS will get you quite sharp on the technical side of things which is always a big plus.

You'll be fine, you're already a major step ahead (think ~2 years) of those in audit who want to make a similar switch as they'll have to try and secure your current role first.

Oct 11, 2018 - 8:56am

On your question of whether Big 4 Cap Markets/Advisory experience is a good route into IB: I would say that transitioning from Big 4 into IB is a lot more common and feasible than the other way around. IB really values the work done especially by junior roles in Big 4 firms, and a lot of the skills are transferable to a junior IB analyst work.

I don't think you should worry too much about not getting a good offer or being pigeonholed as an accountant: great accountants move up and away from accountancy jobs very easily after they prove themselves as good and build relationships on the job. If you are motivated and know where you want to get, keep that in mind on your day-to-day so that the decisions you make on your daily job steer you towards that goal. It is certainly achievable, and once you start working I think you too will realise just that. The important thing, and one that you deserve congratulations on, is that you have a very good starting job to launch your career from, and one that can get you where you want to get.

Sorry I cannot help on the MBA front, I don't know how the process for that works...

Oct 11, 2018 - 9:47am

I went to your rival U and also did a 5 year accounting program. Didn't go into IB myself, so all I can offer is anecdotes.

If I read your situation right, you have an internship starting in CMaas / TAS this coming spring? (side question - is it a rotation or does your Big 4 consider those the same group? When I interned in TAS, they were on the same floor but didn't overlap.)

The gents in my program had far more success in full time recruiting after an internship in consulting/big 4, than in SA applications. Almost all O&G groups or O&G boutiques.

Keep your head up, kill your internship, and head back out there.

Oct 11, 2018 - 2:27pm

Yes it is CMAAS. My impression during recruiting from the work experiences I heard from associates, sr. associates etc. was that you can choose between the transaction heavy side and the accounting advisory (rev rec, leases etc.) side. I would choose transactions of course. Do you mind if I PM you?

Oct 11, 2018 - 11:51am

I started my career in TAS, became a Manager, then went to business school and did IBD after that. Loved the work experience in TAS and the only change I would have made would be to go to business school earlier (as Assistant Manager) as post-MBA IBD hiring is all at the Associate level anyway.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
  • 2
Oct 12, 2018 - 5:41pm

Current Big 4 TAS employee here. Can tell you from the FDD side of things, exits to IB happen pretty often (especially at senior and below levels). On the CMAAS side - the PwC'ers in the group I know do tend to be more focused on technical accounting - so even if it is a transaction you are focusing on the carve-out work and not necessarily interfacing with the bankers on a regular basis. I'd say Big 4 advisory as a whole seems to do well with MBA's, although to be fair I'm speaking anecdotally from those I know who left to go to B-school, not those who got rejected (as that usually isn't broadcasted).

Keep the nose to the networking grindstone, would guarantee with UT alumni network a position will open up for you eventually if you want it enough.

Oct 13, 2018 - 1:30pm

My initial observation would be that you mentioned nothing about networking. Have you been networking like crazy, including leading up to your superdays? I am sure you have a strong alumni base in Houston. It is quite possible that you are going up against people who perform equally as well in interviews, but also have referrals and recommendations.

Oct 14, 2018 - 7:06pm

Hey thanks for the reply. You're definitely right that I didn't mention networking, which I should have. But I feel like it is hard to objectively say if your networking is "good" or "bad". I do try very hard to network, utilize linkedin, I have older friends currently in the industry that I keep up with etc. so not sure if that would qualify as good. Of course, there's always room to improve networking skills and connections.

Most Helpful
Oct 14, 2018 - 11:47pm

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