B-School 2 years after UG? Is IB associate reasonable?

Recently accepted to a deferred MBA program that places very well into BB and EBs. I can matriculate after 2 years if I choose to or defer for more. I'll be entering a corporate strategy role in financial services in a few months. Some people are saying that these banks will never look at me or give me a chance. But I look at the situation and think what makes an electrical engineer who worked for 4 years more qualified than someone who worked in financial services prior and will have done stuff like the SIE and CFA level 1?

Is 2 years between UG and B-school too little? My goal is to be a post MBA associate

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Comments (14)

Jun 29, 2020 - 10:19pm

No, you need 3 years.

The exceptions I have seen are the following:

-Some sort of dual degree program most commonly JD/MBA
-Your experience after UG was BB/EE IB, MBB, or something similarly competitive.
-You are in an elite elite 2+2 deferred admissions program... (is this you?)

If you really want to know call MBA programs admission or recruiting offices and ask. My guess is they will tell you that the banks will filter out candidates that have less than 3 years work experience unless they meet one or more of the above criteria.

If the electrical engineer has 4 years of experience and 2 of them are managing a team of 4-8 people on projects and balancing client expectations then it is possible banks will prefer that to someone with more related technical experience with less total work experience. Also banks won't care that you passed CFA level 1 and they make everyone take the same FINRA exams so they won't care about the SIE either.

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jun 29, 2020 - 11:40pm

If your acceptance is at an M7 deferred program (I'm assuming it's Sloan/Columbia/Booth based on your description) you will have literally no problem getting an IB associate job. Anyone that's actually attended a top MBA program will confirm that IB is not a highly sought after post-MBA job at an M7 like it is at places like NYU/Duke/UVA etc. Lots of people come into those programs with pre MBA IB experience and no intention of going back (or else they would never have come to Bschool and would have just taken the A2A promote as a 24 year old). The hottest jobs on MBA campuses rn are Investing roles, MBB Consulting, and Corporate Strat roles at sexy tech companies. I've never met an M7 MBA candidate that wanted to get an IB associate role and struck out. 2 Years is not too little; most banks don't really give a fuck what you did before your mba asides from when certain candidates spin a story around whatever sector they worked in pre-MBA to demonstrate interest for specific groups (petroleum engineer wants to do energy banking in houston, corp strat analyst at a software company wants to do TMT M&A in SF, etc.). A good gmat score will help though.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jun 30, 2020 - 1:12am

Former IB analysts go to B-school to join MBB as consultants? Seems to me like a huge step backward. What is the rationale? Would think pathway from IB to MBB is pretty open without need for Bschool

Jun 30, 2020 - 6:22pm

You would think so, but at my MBB we do very little lateral hiring regardless of background. If you want to get into top-tier consulting you have MUCH better chances by going the MBA route than by trying to lateral. We get too many qualified applicants out of our target business schools as it is.

Jun 30, 2020 - 5:00am

Trading the devil you know in banking for the devil you don't know in management consulting is an interesting play.

For the record, there are PLENTY of students at the M7 that do not land investment banking internships and/or full-time offers due to visa and fit issues (the awkward quant/engineer at Booth/Sloan comes immediately to mind).

  • 1
  • Analyst 2 in Other
Jun 30, 2020 - 7:14pm

2 years is doable but VERY risky. what if you strike out? whereas if you work for 3 years before matriculating you're pretty much 100% guaranteed an IB offer at a BB/EB.

Based on risk/reward doing 3 years is definitely the move

Most Helpful
Jul 1, 2020 - 1:15pm

So, this happens every year - there is some kid who is like 24 in a class of mostly 27-30 year olds at Booth/CBS/Wharton. Yes, most everyone who recruits for IB will land a job, I have seen multiple cases of the younger candidate getting smoked in IB associate interviews. There's a couple reasons why:

  • Technicals are one piece of the interview but NOT the whole. As an incoming associate, you are hired, in part, based on the firm's assessment of your future MD potential, which in practice is an assessment of your potential ability to manage analysts.
  • With only 2 years' experience, it is VERY hard to give concrete and non-bs examples of having led a team.

  • You are going to be competing against guys who just got back from leading SpecOps missions abroad and 32 year olds who can chum it up with the MDs/VPs better than you ever could. They LOOK and SOUND the part - a 24 year old looks like he is gearing up to get a cab to BBar.

  • People your age - analysts, will be doing some of the interviewing of you for the associate role. I'm sure you can imagine the issues that come up when analysts are assessing people to be future MBA associates, especially when you are the same age.

  • Story really matters, and the younger you are the easier it is for them to say - well, why didn't you recruit for IB out of undergrad?

Anyway, what tends to happen to the younger candidates is that they really struggle to get their story straight and founder in the back-slapping networking that is MBA IB recruiting. So if you can do well in that environment, I think you will succeed (people absolutely do) but far more often than not, 24 year olds just can't make it work. I don't mean to scare you, just want you to know what you're in for.


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  • Summer Associate in IB - Ind
Jul 1, 2020 - 3:06pm

Piling on here but think a lot of the points above are valid but it does come down to the person. Also saying "top 10" is a bit of a misnomer - if it is Columbia or Booth, that is pretty different in the banking placement numbers than Yale or Michigan or equivalent. 24 is fine from Columbia/Booth (I attend one of those and you can very easily still get interviews as a 24 year old and what you do in interview is up to you.) It might be fine from the others too but the banking placement numbers at CBS/Booth I do believe are upwards of 90%. As stated above though, you will be pretty young in a process that is barely technical until the interviews. So you need to be comfortable speaking with senior members of the groups and need to be able to sell your value to the bank and often that is easier to do when you've worked more, had more responsibility with clients in your old job, understand the sectors you want to cover better, etc. You still probably get a job but you might have placed better with more years of experience

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