Advice on How to Move Forward?

TypeAdreamer's picture
Rank: Chimp | 13

Hi everyone, I've been reading here for awhile but I decided to take the plunge and try to get some recommendations. I'm in a real tricky, unique situation and not really sure if there actually is a solution.

I'm a history major at a non-target school and I always had planned on going to law school. I always did well in school, my is a 3.9, I have been involved in many clubs and leadership positions on campus. However, I talked with many attorneys after gradually growing more dissatisfied with the pre-law path, and they helped solidify my decision against it. Ultimately, if I could have a "do-over", I would have hands down, gunned for investment banking. I wavered back and forth the idea over the past year knowing that banking is what I truly want to do but felt I never had a shot at it given I don't go to an Ivy and I haven't taken accounting or relevant finance coursework. However, I feel that I'm basically doomed right now. I confirmed my decision on this career path very late in college. I'm going to be a senior next year and I'm in no way shape or form competitive for full time recruiting season. I have been pounding the pavement, hitting the phones, and sending out emails at all of the boutiques trying to see if there are any open spots. Most of them have already filled their spots and the few that are open, are looking for those that have experience and know accounting inside and out. I've had some people tell me to take on a double major but I'd probably be here an extra 1.5-2 years.

I don't really know what to do at this point. I've called most target schools about transferring but I have too many credits and so, I wouldn't be able to transfer unfortunately. I feel like it would be silly just to go to law school because it feels like I have basically no other option out there given my major and being from a non-target. Some people have suggested I gun for T14 and then get an MBA and can go into the PE or route, but from what I've been reading here on WSO, it seems that my non-target undergrad would come back to haunt me in terms of employment if I went the PE or route, is that correct? Also, I've read that some have advised against pursuing a JD if the goal is to go into IB PE or HFs, MFs. The odds seem pretty stacked against me so I don't know what to do at this point. My career adviser has recommended doing my school's MSF program but we are a non-target so I'm not sure if that would be a smart move. Also, if it helps at all, I'm a female. As of right now, my plan is to just keep pressing on with the cold emailing/calling Monday, but it's quite a tricky situation I'm in.

UPDATE: I was able to land a MM S&T Summer Analyst position (think William Blair, Piper Jaffray, Baird, Jefferies). Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to press on. I was losing hope. Now, should figure out what I can do to possibly switch to IB, since that was my main dream? Or would that show a lack of commitment? I am not familiar with lateraling and switching. I'll also be at an MM. I'm interested in PE, HFs, and fund of funds in the long term since I'm female (and would like to have children someday) so I'm not sure if I could do banking hours for the rest of my life. I've heard exit options are limited for S&T and I've always felt I was a better fit for IB. In any case, I'm very thankful I am somewhat back in the game, it was looking very dark.

Comments (32)

Feb 20, 2016

TL;DR, I only read through "gunned for investment banking", but wanted to say that IBD blows dick and you're lucky to not be doing it.

Feb 20, 2016

I thought history majors were supposed to be great writers. Use paragraph breaks.

As for your situation, you're fucked for FT recruiting cycle, so I'd suggest killing the GMAT and going to a MSF program with solid IB placement. In the mean time, keep networking and try to get some boutique M&A/IB/corp dev/etc work in.

If you have no interest in law at all, don't even entertain the T14 to B-school BS. I say this as the son of a lawyer.

Feb 20, 2016

To echo, try to get into a top msf program with front office recruiting.

It's also too early to have given up on boutiques or valuation shops. Be willing to work for free this summer and network your ass off right now. Use LinkedIn and figure out emails of regional boutiques.

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Feb 20, 2016

I'm a history major. I interned at a 20+ billion dollar hedge fund last summer and at least half the pm's where history majors.

Feb 20, 2016

You're too late for full-time recruiting. Everyone in your class has locked down a summer offer, and full-time seats at the competitive banks (BB, EB, MM) will be decided before August ends.

Your academic profile makes you very competitive for grad school, whether it's law or something else. Your heart seems pretty set against a career in law, so I'd continue to pursue the interest in finance. Ignore your counselor; the advice to do a non-target MSF is very self-serving. It keeps a great student at that school.

You should look into the top MSF programs. @TNA runs MSFHQ.com, use that as a resource to figure out which programs interest you most. Also consider the one-year programs at Duke (MMS) and UVA. Most people don't use them effectively, in my opinion. Everyone goes thinking the OCR or opportunity to self-recruit while in school is the big selling point. It's not. The advantage is the opportunity to recruit for summer positions for the period between your undergrad graduation and the start of the Master's.

Your grades are fantastic. They need to be, for you to break in as a non-target. You have two steps here: make the most competitive applicant profile for these schools + start the recruiting game.

For school, you need a great gmat score and some leadership positions. It sounds like you were already doing the latter (with an eye towards a potential law school app). Now all you need to do is take 3 months to murder the GMAT. If you're following this plan (getting your SA position between schools), you can basically think of yourself as a rising junior. You don't need an internship this year if you're a rising junior. It'd be great, but not mandatory.

I'd do two things over the summer. Take accounting and/or finance classes (so you have knowledge that'll be helpful in your future job). Maybe even declare a minor in accounting; it'll probably require you to rework the classes you planned on taking senior year, but a) you'll learn applicable knowledge and b) have something for your resume that signals interest both to grad schools and employers. Also study for the GMAT; you should have more than enough time over three months with no other time commitments except summer classes to break 750.

You can then also start the networking grind. Go through your alumni database and LinkedIn to start getting in touch with people in the industry. There are more than enough posts on this site and guides elsewhere on how to get through this; it's unfortunately nothing more than a numbers game where the time you put in directly correlates to how many contacts you get out of it. Try to get warm relationships with people at as many firms as you can. Once you've progressed past LinkedIn to get people's emails, then progressed to phone calls, consider flying out to New York for a couple days for a series of coffee meetings or informational interviews.

With all of this, your senior fall will ultimately be the time to shine. Not only are your MSF/MMS/etc. apps due late in the semester, but this is when you need to lock down an internship.

It's very doable. Your grades, leadership, and gender will make it easy to get into grad school. Make sure you deliver a gmat score that will finalize things. You need to simultaneously make sure you're in shape for an internship, because if you can enter grad school with a return offer in hand, you can absolutely coast while you're there. No pressure to participate in bullshit student organizations, go through the (lackluster) campus recruiting that exists at those programs, and kill yourself to get a job while balancing school.

Good luck.

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Feb 20, 2016

I'm a double major with a minor from a non-target, and none of the degrees I'm pursuing are related to finance/economics. You also have a better GPA than I do. That being said, I had roughly 80 networking phone calls over the summer and studied the Breaking Into Wall Street IB guide religiously. I pretty much only got interviews at places where I networked. I ended up signing an offer for an SA role over a month ago at a big MM bank. For you, the thing is to keep going after the regional boutiques, and even offer to work unpaid this summer, if you're really serious about breaking into IB. Also, figure out how to craft a story that weaves all of your experiences together (past summer jobs, high GPA, extracurriculars), and how all the work you have done throughout college has positioned you to add value as an SA. Good luck and keep networking.

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Feb 27, 2016

I'm still trying to hustle and cold call all the banks. If it helps, I'm in an area that is outside of NY but is still a pretty big market.

Feb 27, 2016

In your shoes, I'd do the following:

Fuck that cold calling bullshit. Work hard to get a solid job outside of investment banking, it's probably the most competitive profession to "break in" and you're at a disadvantage. If you aren't happy with your job in a few years, maybe go for an MBA... You certainly have the academic profile and you'd come in as an associate... If you still wanted to pursue it at that time. Alternatively you could waste time pursuing it now or saddle yourself with a bunch of debt for a less effective MSF. At least that's how I view your situation.

Feb 28, 2016
ArcherVice:

In your shoes, I'd do the following:

Fuck that cold calling bullshit. Work hard to get a solid job outside of investment banking, it's probably the most competitive profession to "break in" and you're at a disadvantage. If you aren't happy with your job in a few years, maybe go for an MBA... You certainly have the academic profile and you'd come in as an associate... If you still wanted to pursue it at that time. Alternatively you could waste time pursuing it now or saddle yourself with a bunch of debt for a less effective MSF. At least that's how I view your situation.

Thanks for your advice but honestly, my major is just plain not very employable. My only options coming out of undergrad would have been IBD or consulting, which is not what I am interested in. At this rate, most people I've had coffees with have told me to transfer and delay or graduate and get an MSF (but from what I've read as you have said, they are not that effective). My back up plan I guess would be law school, it really is a bad situation but nothing I can really do about it, since I can't go back in time and change. So as of right now, I'm just going to keep cold-calling and if I get lucky, maybe a boutique will give me a shot.

Mar 14, 2016

Just curious, do you have a genuine distaste for investment banking? It seems like you are often going on threads and telling people "oh, it's over for you" all the time. I don't question your credentials but it appears like you are pissed off at the majority of posts on WSO.

I think most people on this board would agree that if op doesn't get a SA at a BB, EB, MM, etc., it will be much harder to get in one of them as an analyst. That's not to say he couldn't lateral from a boutique but if he wants to go straight to a BB after college it will be much harder.

Mar 14, 2016

I'm pragmatic and all I see are kids being misguided to shoot themselves in the foot. It's probably the most selective industry around, and they look for a particular pedigree. False hopes are a disservice, yeah, yeah, it does happen. Fine. But it's like the lotto, show me ALL the people where the cold calling and blind hope didn't work, and you'd have a different opinion.

As an example, take a look at the "Am I a cocky f**k" post, basically the guy went to a school where BCG etc don't recruit, he has a 2.9 GPA and he's been turning down good jobs... Why? They aren't good enough for his expectations of working as a management consultant, which also happens to be one of the most selective industries around. His efforts have left him with an employment gap, missed opportunities, lost time and his financial situation probably isn't the greatest. But hey, 'just network' right?

I don't remember the post, but basically there was a kid who could go to a great school in Germany (he's German) and have a good shot at getting into IB. He'd also be in the same country as the house he inherited. My advice was, go to the school in Germany, rent out the house and maybe lateral or whatever to the states later from a position of power... His choice: sell the house in order to go to an outrageously expensive school in the US (international tuition with no aid), with a substantially harder recruitment environment (he'd need a Visa)...

Don't get me started on the girl who basically burned every bridge and became homeless in the pursuit of an IB job.

If you pay attention to the advice I've given... it's ALWAYS to make a move based on a position of strength once you have a foundation to stand on. Rather than backing yourself into a corner and/or trying to 'flail' your way out of it. Swing for the fences, but have a solid foundation first.

Mar 11, 2016

I was able to land a MM S&T summer analyst internship (not many banking positions open, so I started applying for other finance related internships). Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to press on. I was losing hope.

Mar 11, 2016

Don't go to law school. Get a MSF. Network the hell out of it.

The "impossibility" of breaking in to IB explained by some people on this site is laughable. Those people are like the friends that never tell you what their true motives are.

You just found out recently that you want to COMPLETELY change career paths. You're a senior, and you are going to need to redirect your path. Take a deep breathe and be patient, the results will not be immediate. Don't waste your time getting a JD - you obviously don't want to do law. Start teaching yourself accounting / finance outside of school, continue networking, and focus on getting into a MSF to eventually break into IB.

Mar 14, 2016

agreed.

Mar 11, 2016

If you really want IB sooner than later i would honestly recommend a MSF at top tier program like Vandy, USC, UT, WashU, etc. Otherwise like other have mentioned you could work for 2-3 years in some financial role and than apply B-School to get into a top 25 program. I also know some school schools offer part time MSF programs so that could be worthwhile to look into.

Mar 11, 2016

I posted an update and I just included it in the topic. I was very thankful to land an MM S&T position(think William Blair, Piper Jaffray, Baird, Jefferies). I've always felt I was a better fit for IB though but I'm very thankful to be back in the game. I'm not familiar with switching and lateraling so I'm trying to do my research and figure out how to proceed.

Mar 14, 2016

Congratulations.

Mar 14, 2016

Congratulations! Any of the banks you gave as examples would be a great starting point for your finance career and could serve well as a jumping point into FT IB. No need to go the MSF route; keep networking and studying, keep in touch with those you already met and I'm sure that you'll land something great for full-time. Well done!

Mar 14, 2016

Did you cold call alumni or just random bankers?

Mar 13, 2016

Bump

Mar 13, 2016

Congrats on finding the position. I started in trading right out of school and was able to work my way into BB IB so do not be discouraged, it is possible. I came from a non-target with a 3.4 GPA. As long as you can network and express your sincere interest in moving forward, you can pull it off. The key for me was to do A LOT of your own research (study for CFA, spend all day on investopedia, etc). The way I taught myself the majority of finance questions I have is from asking google question after question. Beyond that I studied for and passed Level I CFA which helped a lot in regards to picking up new finance knowledge. Just keep hustling.

Mar 14, 2016

Dude you're fine, plenty of people have it worse. Don't stay in school for longer and don't get an MSF. Most MSFs, even the top ones, rarely place into IBD at any sort of competitive rate. Here are some of my scattered thoughts.

  1. You've got a summer offer at a MM in S&T which is pretty good. Kill it there and network within the bank. All of the MMs you mentioned have IBD and if you do well it shouldn't be to hard to spin the "I thought I loved S&T, but I realized I love banking and want to stay at the MM firm that I love, except being in banking". So that's one route.
  2. Keep the networking going on outside of work, there are limited spots at the BBs for non returning analysts, but they are there if you can find them. There are also plenty of MMs that have spots as well. You just need to make sure you're in the right place when they come looking.
  3. If you can end up doing IBD in any capacity, even at at MM bank, you can always lateral to a BB after a year. Yes there are limited spots, but you're going to hear a lot of that so start becoming numb to it.
  4. Learn all about IBD and the technicals over the summer. BIWS and the WSO guides will be key. Also start developing a story around why you want to do IBD.
  5. Don't settle for a post MBA Associate position. If you really want to do banking now, get in early and at least earn the opportunity to get into PE. Unless you plan on becoming a career banker, in my opinion being a post MBA Associate would kind of suck.
  6. Honestly, IBD isn't that great. It can help you get to a MF PE shop, but thats pretty much the only thing you truly need it for. Everything else you can accomplish outside of
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Mar 14, 2016

There are 1 year msf programs tbat you can apply to and are considered targets (MIT, Princeton, MIT.) Duke has a one year masters program in their b- school.

Mar 14, 2016

That's one of the reasons why I like WSO, I can count on constructive criticism, advice, and the cold hard truth, no sugar coating. I'm trying to figure out how I can maximize my chances of being at a non-target, non-finance major (but high GPA, 3.9) with my SA MM S&T offer to ---> IB, preferably at a BB (since I really would like to have exit options and the possibility of working at a HF or a fund of funds)... But I'm not sure how likely that will be because again, spaces WILL be limited for non-returns and how likely would a BB would be willing to take me on to fill that position over someone lateraling from another bank with a target pedigree degree? It stinks, it really does. The only thing I have going for me besides my GPA is that I am female, because I've heard that it helps in the hiring process since not that many have entered banking. I have to figure out how realistic my chances are at this point and how to help maximize them.

Mar 14, 2016

I don't want to come off too strong but did you really get a SA for MM S&T within 3 weeks of applying? I had thought their applications were closed back around November or October? Good luck on your new role.

Mar 14, 2016

I applied back in mid January. I had my superday a couple of weeks ago.

Mar 14, 2016

Straight up cold called and met people for coffee. It was hard work but it really paid off in the end because now I don't have to worry about taking LSAT this summer. I'm wondering if I complete the CFA though? I just want to maximize my chances of breaking into IB at a Bulge Bracket, if that's still a possibility for me, I know it will be difficult because of the limited spaces with lateralling and coming from a non-target. I was thinking about still transferring but it's kind of late for me to do that.

Mar 15, 2016
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Mar 15, 2016