AMA - Non-Target -> Target -> MM IBD -> Corp Dev.

SECfinance's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 3,042

Hey guys,

I spoke with Andy a week or two ago about doing an AMA regarding my path from non-target to banking and beyond - so here it is. To sum up my path for those who may not know:

I didn't apply myself in high school, and saw a bunch of my friends who did care about their work move on to great schools across the country - ones that I couldn't get into due to my grades. I wasn't pulling a 2.0 or anything, I was just firmly middle of the pack at a school full of strong students, when I should have been near the top. So I took a scholarship offer at a non-target in the SEC, not the best school I got into but not the worst.

I knew that regardless of whether or not I wanted to transfer, it was in my best interest to crush it in school. And I did crush it - 3.95 GPA, joined a fraternity, accepted into the honors college, and so on. I was having a great time, but I wasn't really feeling challenged, nor was I seeing my peers land killer finance internships.

So I decided to apply to transfer to a few schools - some privates (Duke/Georgetown caliber) and some publics (Michigan/UNC/Texas/UVA caliber). If I wanted to have a shot at investment banking or a lucrative finance career, I felt I needed to move on to a school where the employers would come to me.

I ended up getting accepted to 4 of the 6 schools I applied to, and ended up transferring out after my sophomore year. It was really tough - I made my best friends from college during those first two years, but I had to make a "40 year decision", not a 4 year decision.

I was not a world beater at my new school, but it was enough to land me a SA position at a non-NYC MM IB. I received a return offer, and came back for FT in July 2013.

I recently started in corporate development in media and entertainment, and while the pay cut was tough, I am really enjoying it.

I do want to say thanks to Patrick and WSO for the wealth of information available on this website - I don't know where I would be had I not discovered it.

So, there you have it. AMA about transferring, IB, corp dev, SEC football, or whatever!

Comments (32)

Sep 9, 2015

thanks for doing this! just posted up on the frontpage and will post up again later this week

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Sep 9, 2015

I am EXACTLY in your position. At an okay (rising) LAU (yes, lib arts university) that sends a small amount of grads into IBD/HF/ER or whatever it may be in finance. It doesn't pump out kids into IBD and it isn't the most well known school, but so far I like it a lot. I'm really torn, however, I am also considering transferring. I want to be able to go to a school where I can get my foot in the door more easily as opposed to having to beg and plead recruiters to give me an informational phone call. With that being said, it wouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE from my current non-target school to land an IBD analyst job, but it'd be a lot more strenuous.

Looking for any general advice on the whole transfer process and if it's worth it (financially, emotionally, etc)? Like you said, I too have made great friends here so far and am really battling the whole urge to want to be more successful (even though that sounds ridiculous).

Best Response
Sep 9, 2015
elonfinance:

I am EXACTLY in your position. At an okay (rising) LAU (yes, lib arts university) that sends a small amount of grads into IBD/HF/ER or whatever it may be in finance. It doesn't pump out kids into IBD and it isn't the most well known school, but so far I like it a lot. I'm really torn, however, I am also considering transferring. I want to be able to go to a school where I can get my foot in the door more easily as opposed to having to beg and plead recruiters to give me an informational phone call. With that being said, it wouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE from my current non-target school to land an IBD analyst job, but it'd be a lot more strenuous.

Looking for any general advice on the whole transfer process and if it's worth it (financially, emotionally, etc)? Like you said, I too have made great friends here so far and am really battling the whole urge to want to be more successful (even though that sounds ridiculous).

I give very similar advice to almost everyone who asks about transferring - if you can do it, it won't crush you financially (i.e. giving up full ride for $150K in debt), and you get into a school worth transferring to (schools with PROVEN records of sending large amounts of kids into IBD/finance, not just good schools), you should do it.

OCR makes things so much easier for candidates, it is ridiculous.

I'll be straight - emotionally, it was tough. I'm a pretty extroverted guy, I'm social, I go to parties, etc, but after two years of college, people have kind of set their friend groups and aren't going to be going out of their way to seek out new friends. That doesn't mean you can't make friends if you transfer, it's just going to be harder. This is an underrated consideration when people bring up transferring. I definitely didn't get the same experience as people who were there for 3 or 4 years, but that is fine with me. I have the same diploma on my wall and can say I graduated from my school forever.

It was a really tough decision to make, but in my mind it was the only decision I could make. Assuming I wanted to go into IBD regardless, transferring put me 4 - 6 years ahead of where I would be had I stayed at my old school. That is just a fact. I would have gotten a mediocre finance job, worked for 2-3 years, tried to go to business school to rebrand, and then tried to break in as an associate. That is invaluable time in my opinion. I would have gotten promoted had I stayed in banking (came up in several reviews), and at 25 be at the same level as fresh MBA grads who were anywhere from 28 - 33.

Transferring was the best decision I ever made. My true friends from my original school understood my reasons and supported me, and we're still great friends now. Do not let friends be the reason you stay at your school.

    • 2
Sep 9, 2015

Nice post. I too went to a non-target (am at a MM now). Not transferring was definitely a mistake.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2015

"Nice post. I too went to a non-target (am at a MM now). Not transferring was definitely a mistake."

Hello, what is MM?
Thanks.

Jan 11, 2016

?

Sep 9, 2015
Human Capital:

How competitive is OCR at a target? I feel like I would want to go to a target for more exposure to ibd, MBB, AM etc but don't want it to backfire if my gpa is 3.7-3.8, transfer student, but not a STEM major. Did transferring also mean more out-of-pocket cost for you and how would you justify whether or not it's worth it to pay more?

OCR is competitive for sure - but competitive OCR is better than no OCR and cold-calling boutiques with no hook.

I had a 3.4 - 3.5 my first semester at my new school and candidly, I had some trouble getting BB interviews. However, I didn't do enough networking/info sessions in the fall and my fellow transfer friends with similar backgrounds who networked and rocked a 3.8 at our new school got interviews relatively easily.

Out of pocket cost was the same for me, but the school was about 2x more expensive. As for whether it's worth it or not, by transferring, the increase in compensation I received upon graduation was than the cost differential between the schools, and both banking and my school will be on my resume forever. I would say it was worth it for me.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2015

I was in a similar position, went to a semi-target state school and am now in the M&A group at a MM. I went back and forth on transferring to privates/target publics, but ended up carrying through with my original decision. Hats off to SEC on the post and success, I think that you made a solid decision.

For those considering transferring to reap the benefits of a more advanced OCR and robust alumni base, keep in mind that there is no single proven path to investment banking. I shake my head when I see posts about "the road less traveled" and whatnot - every single person that breaks into banking has a different story.

When I decided to see it through at my semi-target state school, it was immediately apparent to me that I needed to make up for the lack of resources and connections that my University offered. What did I do to supplement this? 1.) Network like crazy and 2.) Read interview guides, Rosenbaum, and WSJ constantly. If your ruthless in your approach and never allow yourself to give up, something will fall off the tree that will get you where you want to be.

    • 1
Sep 9, 2015
McEnroe:

I was in a similar position, went to a semi-target state school and am now in the M&A group at a MM. I went back and forth on transferring to privates/target publics, but ended up carrying through with my original decision. Hats off to SEC on the post and success, I think that you made a solid decision.

For those considering transferring to reap the benefits of a more advanced OCR and robust alumni base, keep in mind that there is no single proven path to investment banking. I shake my head when I see posts about "the road less traveled" and whatnot - every single person that breaks into banking has a different story.

When I decided to see it through at my semi-target state school, it was immediately apparent to me that I needed to make up for the lack of resources and connections that my University offered. What did I do to supplement this? 1.) Network like crazy and 2.) Read interview guides, Rosenbaum, and WSJ constantly. If your ruthless in your approach and never allow yourself to give up, something will fall off the tree that will get you where you want to be.

+1. I am a proponent of transferring if possible because I think it provides the easiest route to get where most of us would like to be, but it is by no means the ONLY route.

Sep 9, 2015

Why did you decide to exit to CD as opposed to PE or something industry-related? How hard was recruiting from a MM vs. what it might have been like at a BB? Did you consider staying in banking? Are you in NY now, and if not, did you ever consider NY?

Sorry to pepper you with a list of questions. Just trying to get an idea of your thought process since I am in a similar boat that you were once in (non-target>"no-name" boutique>non-NY MM).

Thanks for doing this.

Sep 9, 2015
Sil:

Why did you decide to exit to CD as opposed to PE or something industry-related? How hard was recruiting from a MM vs. what it might have been like at a BB? Did you consider staying in banking? Are you in NY now, and if not, did you ever consider NY?

Sorry to pepper you with a list of questions. Just trying to get an idea of your thought process since I am in a similar boat that you were once in (non-target>"no-name" boutique>non-NY MM).

Thanks for doing this.

Second most of these questions. Also:

-How big was your pay cut from IB to CD?
-Are you in the same industry that you covered in banking?
-What other options did you and other analysts have at a non-NY MM IB?

Sep 9, 2015

Hey, I'm just getting back into school, for my bachelors, and am thinking about getting into investment banking.

I currently have a 3.5 and am in community college. I have a little while until I feel comfortable to apply for transfer into any of the target schools. I estimate I have another 1 1/2 year until I will be where I want to be. I was wondering, as someone who maybe has more to go off of than just varying opinions on the internet, what should I be focusing NOW. (I understand I'm asking for another opinion, but this one I'm at least molding to answer what I think I need to know) I'm committed to improving my situation. I'm enrolled in the max number of units currently, keeping up on all of my coursework, plan on doubling up on winter/summer courses to catch up to where I need to be. I also plan on retaking the classes hampering my GPA and getting A's from this point onward, just subscribed to WSJ, started volunteering at my local Boys and Girls Club.

Should I be volunteering/participating in anything specific?
Is it to early for me to start networking?
Am I able to transfer from the CC I'm at to a State College nearby and then to a target school?
I've seen organizations like Stratus Prep that help with getting into target business schools, any experience/feedback on those organizations?
How tough was the courseload once you did transfer?
I was even thinking about studying and taking the GMAT. Do you know if that would hurt/help my case?

I have more questions, but don't want to bog down the topic. Thank you for your time.

Sep 9, 2015

You can transfer straight to a target if you fix your gpa and write killer essays. My friends at CC transferred to Brown, Georgetown, Emory, Vanderbilt, etc...

Sep 10, 2015

After transferring from a non-target/semi-target to a target for my sophomore year, I can definitely say going through the process is worth the struggle. It makes a huge difference having OCR and also just having a wider range of alumni to reach out to at every bank/firm. Instead of having to chase opportunities, people look to present them to you at target schools. Great post on transferring!

Sep 10, 2015

Hey, thanks for doing this.. Im in a very similar position, except that im an international student. I have two questions:
The first, what was the worst part about the transfer process in general?
And second, do you think im competitive for the schools below? Hope to be on the same path as you one day! Thanks

Stats are:
3.7 college GPA, Dean's list
2200~ SAT's
2nd-degree Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, National Champion.
EC's: 2 leadership positions in 2 different clubs at university (one is finance related).
Other: I'm a volunteer English teacher for blue-collar workers. I'd say I have accumulated over 70 hours on it.

Northwestern
UCLA
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt
Emory
Notre Dame
Cornell
Columbia

Sep 10, 2015

Northwestern
UCLA
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt
Emory
Notre Dame
Cornell
Columbia

According to posters, Northwestern doesn't send that many kids to banking. Notre Dame hasn't ever offered transferring to their business school (they're just starting to offer it this year with unknown stipulations). Columbia/Cornell/UCLA/UVA all have recruiting on campus, and Vandy/Emory are semi-s (I don't know how many banks recruit at them).

I think you would have a decent chance at UCLA/UVA/Vandy/Emory with Columbia/Cornell being stretches.

Where are you going now and what are you majoring in? 3.7 in finance from bumfuck rank 300 school is entirely different from 3.7 physics from large state school with a strong engineering program.

    • 1
Sep 10, 2015
tyleralberto:

Hey, thanks for doing this.. Im in a very similar position, except that im an international student. I have two questions:
The first, what was the worst part about the transfer process in general?
And second, do you think im competitive for the schools below? Hope to be on the same path as you one day! Thanks

Stats are:
3.7 college GPA, Dean's list
2200~ SAT's
2nd-degree Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, National Champion.
EC's: 2 leadership positions in 2 different clubs at university (one is finance related).
Other: I'm a volunteer English teacher for blue-collar workers. I'd say I have accumulated over 70 hours on it.

Northwestern
UCLA
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt
Emory
Notre Dame
Cornell
Columbia

Worst part was writing the essays in my opinion - you can't just say "I want to come to your school so I have a higher chance of being successful in life".

I think you're as competitive as anyone else - transferring is such a crapshoot sometimes that it's tough to say. I think when I transferred you weren't allowed to transfer into Notre Dame's business school, so you may want to look that up. I would throw schools like Michigan and North Carolina on your list as well.

Sep 10, 2015
Sil:

Why did you decide to exit to CD as opposed to PE or something industry-related? How hard was recruiting from a MM vs. what it might have been like at a BB? Did you consider staying in banking? Are you in NY now, and if not, did you ever consider NY?

Sorry to pepper you with a list of questions. Just trying to get an idea of your thought process since I am in a similar boat that you were once in (non-target>"no-name" boutique>non-NY MM).

Thanks for doing this.

I went more towards corporate development because I like the idea of really contributing towards one company's growth and trying to execute a long-term plan, rather than looking at a deal from a pure financial return perspective. Nothing against PE, I think it is an interesting field. I just preferred CD.

As far as why not something like a HF or AM firm, while I like the markets, I'm nowhere near passionate enough to dig into different companies day-in and day-out.

For CD, recruiting was not that difficult in my opinion. I certainly didn't feel like I was missing out on opportunities because I came from a MM IB background as opposed to a BB background. For PE it was a bit different, it seemed like my colleagues had to grind a little harder to get the interviews, but I think that was more of a function of being outside NYC as opposed to being at a MM bank. Most of them ultimately landed something they were looking for.

I definitely considered staying in banking - I had a good experience, was getting paid well, liked my colleagues. Ultimately decided I wanted to try something new to see what else was out there and figured there was no better time than the present.

I'm not in NYC - I definitely considered it and looked at some jobs there, but I am not a gung-ho NYC person so I took a great opportunity elsewhere.

KJEB_ZH:

"Nice post. I too went to a non-target (am at a MM now). Not transferring was definitely a mistake."

Hello, what is MM?
Thanks.

MM - middle market

Mellieator:

Hey, I'm just getting back into school, for my bachelors, and am thinking about getting into investment banking.

I currently have a 3.5 and am in community college. I have a little while until I feel comfortable to apply for transfer into any of the target schools. I estimate I have another 1 1/2 year until I will be where I want to be. I was wondering, as someone who maybe has more to go off of than just varying opinions on the internet, what should I be focusing NOW. (I understand I'm asking for another opinion, but this one I'm at least molding to answer what I think I need to know) I'm committed to improving my situation. I'm enrolled in the max number of units currently, keeping up on all of my coursework, plan on doubling up on winter/summer courses to catch up to where I need to be. I also plan on retaking the classes hampering my GPA and getting A's from this point onward, just subscribed to WSJ, started volunteering at my local Boys and Girls Club.

Should I be volunteering/participating in anything specific?
Is it to early for me to start networking?
Am I able to transfer from the CC I'm at to a State College nearby and then to a target school?
I've seen organizations like Stratus Prep that help with getting into target business schools, any experience/feedback on those organizations?
How tough was the courseload once you did transfer?
I was even thinking about studying and taking the GMAT. Do you know if that would hurt/help my case?

I have more questions, but don't want to bog down the topic. Thank you for your time.

You should be focusing on getting great grades right now, and maybe learning more about finance via some of the resources that are frequently mentioned on this site (Rosenbaum, M&I, WSO guides, etc.). Try to get an internship in something finance-related to learn more about the industry.

Probably a little early to start networking, you want to at least sound like you have a handle on what you are interested in.

I would not recommend transferring twice - you can transfer directly into targets and should do so if possible.

I don't have any experience with organizations like Stratus Prep, sorry!

Courseload was tough - definitely more difficult than my first school but nothing I couldn't handle. Just more expected from you in class, faster pace, etc.

I don't see a scenario where taking the GMAT would hurt you (don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to) but I'm not sure it would explicitly help.

jss09:

Sil: Why did you decide to exit to CD as opposed to PE or something industry-related? How hard was recruiting from a MM vs. what it might have been like at a BB? Did you consider staying in banking? Are you in NY now, and if not, did you ever consider NY?
Sorry to pepper you with a list of questions. Just trying to get an idea of your thought process since I am in a similar boat that you were once in (non-target>"no-name" boutique>non-NY MM).
Thanks for doing this.

Second most of these questions. Also:

-How big was your pay cut from IB to CD?
-Are you in the same industry that you covered in banking?
-What other options did you and other analysts have at a non-NY MM IB?

Pay cut was ~30% from what I made as a second year analyst. Not in the same industry, but I was in a product group so I had some exposure to the industry. I focused in other ones though.

Other options: PE, VC, corp dev, debt funds, startups, etc. Same options as most people in banking.

    • 1
Sep 10, 2015

Just to clarify, 30% pay cut was all-in, not off base, right? Also what are your hours like right now, what was the recruiting timeline, and how did the overall recruiting process look like for people trying to pursue CD roles?

Just wondering because I'm also at a MM firm right now and am thinking of going into CD as an exit. Thanks in advance.

Sep 10, 2015
NuclearPenguins:

Just to clarify, 30% pay cut was all-in, not off base, right? Also what are your hours like right now, what was the recruiting timeline, and how did the overall recruiting process look like for people trying to pursue CD roles?

Just wondering because I'm also at a MM firm right now and am thinking of going into CD as an exit. Thanks in advance.

30% pay cut all-in. Probably 40% off what I would have made as a third year analyst. Base was unchanged from third year analyst base. Hours for me are 8:30 - 7 usually, can be anywhere from 6 - 8.

Recruiting is much more informal than PE - if you've read some of the CD threads on here, you're aware that CD teams run SUPER lean, so most hire on an as-needed basis, not bringing in X associates every August. Recruiting process for me was interesting in that the opportunity was passed to me by a senior banker. HR phone screen, couple rounds of in-person interviews, etc.

I had plenty of opportunities come through headhunters, but I wasn't absolutely looking to jump from my bank when I did so I focused on a few key opportunities.

Sep 10, 2015

Did you ever consider MBB consulting? After IB or while in undergrad.

Sep 10, 2015

Awesome, thanks man. Would you say there is a lot of variability in terms of some interviews being pretty technical and others not? Or is fit generally more stressed? I've just recently started thinking about what I want to do after my analyst stint so I haven't really read up on much CD stuff yet.

Sep 10, 2015

i'm actually in the opposite position and was hoping to get some advice. currently at UVa (chose the school solely because it was the better college for business) and i've realized the university isn't a fit for me. not a fan of the southern-ish culture and it's hard to live it up in the small town. basically i'm just not motivated and considering transferring back home to rutgers. i know i'd have to bust my ass 100 times harder, but i'd actually have the motivation to. any advice? (looking to work in business technology / consulting btw)

Sep 10, 2015

Hi,

How much travelling is there within CD? Do you ever fly somewhere or do the whole rent a car/hotel thing?

Thanks in advance.

Sep 11, 2015
Human Capital:

Did you ever consider MBB consulting? After IB or while in undergrad.

Considered - absolutely, more so when I was in IB and had decided I wanted to move to a more strategic role. The thing about corporate development is that it is called something different at almost every company. One team's "Corporate Strategy" team may do all the company's M&A while another's may do no M&A. So I found myself looking at roles where the team was made up of a bunch of consultants. The role still interested me, so I thought about MBB/management consulting as a result.

I think it's a great path if you aren't sold on wanting to work at a HF/AM firm/finance long-term - on the whole, my friends in consulting seem happier than my friends in banking and they have gotten some great exits or stayed with their firms.

patsnation:

i'm actually in the opposite position and was hoping to get some advice. currently at UVa (chose the school solely because it was the better college for business) and i've realized the university isn't a fit for me. not a fan of the southern-ish culture and it's hard to live it up in the small town. basically i'm just not motivated and considering transferring back home to rutgers. i know i'd have to bust my ass 100 times harder, but i'd actually have the motivation to. any advice? (looking to work in business technology / consulting btw)

This is a tough one - if you're unhappy, you should look to make a change in your environment that would result in you being happier. What year at UVA are you @patsnation ?

NuclearPenguins:

Awesome, thanks man. Would you say there is a lot of variability in terms of some interviews being pretty technical and others not? Or is fit generally more stressed? I've just recently started thinking about what I want to do after my analyst stint so I haven't really read up on much CD stuff yet.

Definitely, but the interviews I went through were much less technical than banking. They kind of assumed you know your stuff since you now work at a bank. They were much more interested in fit and why the industry/corporate development.

mongonese:

Hi,

How much travelling is there within CD? Do you ever fly somewhere or do the whole rent a car/hotel thing?

Thanks in advance.

I have not traveled at all - the more senior members of my team have been to Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, etc.

    • 1
Sep 11, 2015

@SECfinance it's my second year and I just know that I can be more productive and motivated back home. i'm sure the drop off is quite substantial between UVa and Rutgers but will i be completely shut out of higher end consulting jobs? (or FO jobs in IB?)

Sep 11, 2015
patsnation:

@SECfinance it's my second year and I just know that I can be more productive and motivated back home. i'm sure the drop off is quite substantial between UVa and Rutgers but will i be completely shut out of higher end consulting jobs? (or FO jobs in IB?)

I'm not going to tell you that you're going to be completely shut out - there are enough stories on this website to dispute that. However, you will be putting yourself behind the 8 ball, especially if your grades are in a good enough position at UVA to get into McIntire. What about transferring to another college that is a different environment but similar caliber?

Sep 11, 2015

Why did you decide to leave IB and go into corporate development?

Not knocking it at all because the work sounds interesting but it's just strange to me how people go into IBD (I would guess most are heavily drawn to the money) and then go into corporate development.

I mean I guess lifestyle is a big factor...

Sep 11, 2015
Dece:

Why did you decide to leave IB and go into corporate development?

Not knocking it at all because the work sounds interesting but it's just strange to me how people go into IBD (I would guess most are heavily drawn to the money) and then go into corporate development.

I mean I guess lifestyle is a big factor...

Well, for one - you can't get hired in the group I'm in without IB experience. Everyone in the group has banking experience and they don't hire straight out of school.

As for why I left, lifestyle and career exploration. I work a lot less now and work on more interesting projects (not just grinding for a client). And as I mentioned before, even though I had a positive experience in banking and actually liked my group a lot, I wasn't sold on banking as a career - so I figured I would give something else a shot and see how I liked it.

    • 1
Sep 11, 2015

Hey,

I may consider Corp Dev as my next step. Can you please elaborate on how the interviews were like?

Many thanks

Sep 11, 2015
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  •  Sep 12, 2015