Desperately need some advice from the WSO community

Hi all,

for two years now this website (along with M&I) have been my go-to for researching what it takes to make it into investment banking. Today, I finally joined up because I am facing a serious dilemma and need some help.

My story:

  • Non target school; went to university a year early (17), was in a band first year of school, failed 6 classes, didn't know what I wanted, turned it all around when I got interested in finance, took an extra year of school to boost the GPA to a "descent" level

  • 3.14 cumulative GPA (expected 3.2-3.3 when my final two electives are in), 3.5 Finance Major GPA; eligible to graduate in September

  • Passed CFA level I, writing level II next year

  • Currently working as unpaid summer associate for a boutique merchant bank in Shanghai that syndicates best efforts loans for projects in the US and Australia; also I am the co-owner of an English language school in Shanghai

My options:

a) Go back home (Toronto) to try and network my way into a boutique or MM IB-analyst position either in Toronto, Calgary or possibly London UK (very hard). My connections to the industry are pretty good (some friends parents are high up in the banks here + friends in the industry), I'm a very outgoing guy and am not worried about cold calling or pounding the pavement. Only real thing holding me back is my absolutely atrocious first year and a half of school.

b) Stay in China, continue to work for the company I am at, continue to learn Mandarin, apply for Masters programs in EU and North America (I have passports for the UK and Canada). The company is small and unknown internationally, but the partners are well connected in Canada and the US and I will get paid if I stay here, although not nearly as much as someone in IB in North America.

My goal is to land a good MM or BB (not likely at this stage) I-banking analyst role.

If I take the Masters route, it's going to mean I enter a program in January at the earliest, or more likely in September of 2013. In addition, that's two more years of school just to make it into an analyst role where I will be roughly 3 years older than the majority of intakes. Then again, I will have a working knowledge of spoken Mandarin, a higher level degree, a completed CFA, and extra work experience from being in China, which will likely improve my candidacy for a BB.

If I go home, I may not be able to get the I-banking role I'm after, which means I'll probably end up at best doing equity research for an Asset Management company. The benefit is that if I network really well and get lucky, I will have the job I'm after at a younger age that I would be otherwise, which will give me more leeway in the future to make decisions regarding language learning and masters programs.

WSO....what would you do?

Thank you in advance for any input.

Comments (3)

Jul 1, 2012 - 11:33pm

If you go the MBA route I think you'll be applying for Associate roles. Also it sounds like you've got a pretty unique background as far as getting into an MBA program. Your undergrad GPA might hold you back slightly, but I would think if you score strongly on the GMAT coupled with your international experience you would have a competitive resume to get into a top 10 program (Note:Take this with a grain of salt and talk to someone who actually knows what they're saying.)

and since you asked, I would go for the equity research role.

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