Dartmouth Undergrad HF? Should I transfer?

TheBag's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 38

I'm an incoming freshman at Dartmouth extremely interested in breaking into HF after undergrad. I know it's incredibly difficult and was wondering if it's worth trying to transfer to HYPS/Wharton after my freshman year. I've heard that the few HFs that do OCR are very selective and only do it at HYPSW level schools, not sure about Dartmouth. Can anyone give any insight and advice? Thanks.

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Comments (19)

Dec 20, 2018

If it is your only goal in life to work at a HF immediately after undergrad, then yeah, the schools you mentioned will give you a better shot. Relative to its size though, Dartmouth sends kids to all the top banks in large numbers, who then recruit and break into top HFs following their banking stint. Only reason I would transfer is if you hated your freshman year socially/academically - otherwise that's a pretty shitty reason to transfer

Dec 20, 2018

I think I'll be fine at Dartmouth, but are there any particular downsides in trying to transfer? I do like Dartmouth and I too think pedigree is a not a great reason to transfer, but wouldn't a school like HYPW open new doors?

Dec 20, 2018

The downside is that transferring is highly disruptive and could leave you behind your peers at the new school, especially with how early recruiting is moving.

Don't transfer from Dartmouth solely to try to improve finance recruiting.

Dec 20, 2018

Dartmouth sends multiple people a year to Bridgewater fwiw

Dec 20, 2018

What kind of hedge fund are you thinking of? In general, hedge funds don't hire out of undergrad, and the only large funds that have a structured hiring program is Bridgewater and Point72. Two Sigma and AQR and other hedge funds might hire out if the quantitative skills are acceptable, as for sure the fundamental analysis skills won't be sufficient. But for everybody else, hiring an undergrad into a front-office position is usually only done if the team/PM had a good year and has a backlog of aspirational projects to do and willing to make the investment as the undergrad hire is essentially all cost and will rarely contribute to alpha generation the first couple of years. If there a hedge fund PM hiring an undergrad, Dartmouth with a good GPA and some data science, programming, economics, and math will land you an interview pretty much just the same as HYPSW, just be proactive about reaching out to firms and HR departments and checking online job listings as recruiting opportunities are irregular and on an as-needed basis.

Dec 20, 2018

If you're absolutely set on HF, then why not? Of course, if you end up really liking your experience at Dartmouth and end up making great friends, then stay. If not, then HYPSW will certainly give you a better shot -- in particular, H and W. I wouldn't even count on those opportunities being available through OCR, especially since OCR is late-timeline. A lot of them are blasted out earlier, or over the summer through email lists of certain finance and investing-related clubs.

Dec 21, 2018

Dartmouth grad here, so a bit biased, but 1) can confirm the school places very well with top BB and MF PE out of undergrad (and Bridgewater on HF side). Also not every undergrad is obsessed w finance vs a Harvard or Wharton where you compete w everybody 2) you'd have to have a really good story for why you transferred. Recruiters would find it weird if your only reason was to marginally improve your access to HF out of undegrad....

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Most Helpful
Dec 21, 2018

There are almost no fundamental HF opportunities out of undergrad from any school (I wouldn't touch Bridgewater or Point72). The few that are available would certainly give interviews to a top student from Dartmouth, you'd just have to be a little more proactive in the recruiting process. I don't think it's worth transferring if you already like Dartmouth.

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Dec 20, 2018

I wouldn't touch Bridgewater or Point72 either, but they're not necessarily terrible places to start at. Given their sizes, both have institutionalized training for new junior analysts, which almost no other hedge fund has. At any employer, the candidate should do their research on culture and the keys to success. At Bridgewater at least the relatively large presence of Dartmouth alumni there might make it a relatively hospitable place for Dartmouth grads--one of the Co-CIOs is a Dartmouth grad. Bridgewater is also a pretty stable employer once you fit into the culture . The same cannot be said of almost all other hedge fund front-office roles regardless if you gel well with the team/firm or not.

Dec 21, 2018

I'm sure it's great for some people. I just don't think it's a good place to learn fundamental investing. Where do the people who leave Bridgewater typically go? I could be wrong, but I imagine that IB/PE feeds into traditional HFs a lot better than Bridgewater.

Dec 20, 2018

Thank you for your reply. Why do you say you would avoid BW and Point72? I've read a bit about BW's cult like culture, but that's all I know. Personally, I'm interested in investing and not just making money, which is why I want to skip the Investment Banking part.

Dec 21, 2018

Neither is a good fundamental hedge fund. They both are good at what they do, but I don't think either sets you up well for a career in investing (particularly BW) long term.

There really aren't many opportunities out of undergrad (SPC, Matrix, maybe some other one offs).

For what it's worth, almost anyone in IB would skip it if they could immediately start investing.

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Dec 20, 2018

OP, are you an incoming freshman as in you just got accepted Early Decision and still have 9 months before starting? Just to stay on thread, unless you find yourself unhappy at Dartmouth, it's probably not worth switching. There is a huge social factor to consider. Your closest friends could very well be your dormmates your freshman year and whatever study groups you form for your intended major's prereq courses. That's when social circles start forming and these connections are strong and can last a lifetime. To leave after one year (or even worse, 2 years) is to essentially throw most of that away and then to try to form a new network at the new school as a bit of an outsider. That isn't an easy transition. The gain in recruiting for a HF is extremely marginal to nonexistent, and any gain you have might be complicated by your reduced allegiance to both schools--if interviewer went to Dartmouth you no longer fit the Dartmouth mold and if interviewer went to HYPSW, you're not their typical HYPSW candidate...

As someone who interviews candidates at my HF, I would be at least a bit skeptical about a candidate's loyalty and mindset--if this was a student who attended a state school and transferred to Ivy League, I get that and I appreciate their hard work and ambition. But a candidate who transferred from Ivy League to Ivy League undergrad? Something feels off here.

Dec 21, 2018

I know of many Wharton transfers that landed incredible jobs (including HFs). The loyalty notion is absurd.

I'm not advocating he transfer (especially before starting as a freshman even), but there is some merit to it if he's dead set on finance and unhappy at Dartmouth (that's not the base case).

Dec 20, 2018

Thank you so much for your reply. You hit the nail right on the head, I indeed got accepted to Dartmouth ED. To be honest, a major part of why I'm considering transferring is because I was manipulated by my counselor into forgoing applying to my dream HYP school for Dartmouth. Only later realized my application was competitive enough for those schools. It's a pretty long and messed up story. Anyway, as someone who does HF recruiting, do you always know if the applicant has transferred schools at any point? And do you give it much thought at all? And from your experience in the industry, how is a HYPSW grad viewed versus another Ivy/T20 grad?

Dec 20, 2018

My firm does global macro and most new hires are quantitative researchers/developers/analysts, so I can only speak from my own experience, although I imagine that this applies to most other macro funds as well since that's where the industry is trending. It might also apply to hiring at multistrat funds as long as it's not for a fundamental long/short equity team (which almost never hires from undergrad anyway). Very few full-time hires are straight out of undergrad. In most cases, there may be a need for a quant trader who already has some experience in the specific instrument, could be volatility product, some fixed income relative value, etc. Or a quant developer who knows electronic/algorithmic trading and can improve execution. Or an alpha researcher who would also have prior experience. The only fresh grads hired are usually either Masters in Financial Engineering kids or undergrad interns who do exceptionally well. On the undergrad intern spot, this is probably your best way to break in. We almost never have front-office entry-level positions open. For the few entry-levels we have hired recently, in almost no case do we actually hire an undergrad candidate through a recruiting process because the undergrad will always lose out to the a Masters student, which to us is a negligible cost difference as both are inexperienced hires. Any new hire out of undergrad has served an internship. As for schools, we don't really care. We just care if this kid has good programming skills, prior data science experience (this is key as most of the work for interns is dealing with big datasets that needs a lot of cleaning/processing), self-learner, market interest, etc. We've had kids from Ivies as well as from NYU, CMU, Baruch, Berkeley. One other thing is our timing, our recruiting doesn't follow a calendar like IB, consulting, and tech. We could post an intern listing for the summer in January or could post it in April. Entry-level could also be at any random time depending on need. I suspect this is true of most hedge funds outside of the largest of hedge funds.

Dec 22, 2018

Pretty sure there are plenty of great options to go straight to buy side if you want from Dartmouth, and you can gun for those and top banking roles. If you do banking, you can jump to a fund in 1-2 years if you do it correctly and at that point you have more HFs open to you than that smaller pool out of undergrad. Definitely do not transfer from Dartmouth solely for recruiting, that's actually absurd to consider

Edit: Whoever threw MS, would love to hear which part of this you disagree with / didn't like (think that is more productive than the ssilence)

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