Dilemma - USC MSF or IB summer internship?

sunmaid's picture
Rank: Chimp | 10

Hi all,

I was recently admitted to USC's MSF program but can't decide if I should attend because I also received a IBD SA offer (think Citi/SocGen/Barclays) in NYC. Currently I attend undergrad at a target school. Should I go for the MSF program, which starts in the summer, or take the summer analyst gig? Any thoughts appreciated.

United States - Northeast
United States - West

Comments (18)

Feb 28, 2014

go for SA UNLESS you got into Princeton/MIT and wanna go there. You don't want your most recent school to be a step down.

Mar 1, 2014

SA. And go to a MSF with a Fall beginning.

Mar 1, 2014

Take the SA and don't enroll in the MSF program. Getting a MSF target school degree is redundant if you already go to a target. Secure your position after the summer and take up an interesting venture for the year before you would start at the IB.

Mar 1, 2014

Considering USC's first year status, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to secure an SA offer of that status after the program.

I'd go for the sure thing.

Mar 1, 2014

IBD. This shouldn't even be a question.

USC is a great program, but it's difficult for a graduate (or even undergraduate program) designed to try and help you get a job in banking... to compete with a job in banking. This is like asking if you should turn down Dartmouth to spend a fifth year in highschool trying to get your GPA up.

Mar 1, 2014

I said it in the other thread, but will reiterate. Do the SA and then apply for a Fall MSF program. If you got into USC you should get into other programs and have a large bank SA on your resume will help you get into many MSF programs.

Mar 1, 2014

Thanks everyone for all of your input.

IlliniProgrammer, so you don't see any added value in going directly into an MSF program and possibly getting the same outcome as what I might get if I went the other route? I agree that it's hard to weigh a grad program against a job in banking, however, I'm also worried about the likelihood of not getting a return offer from this SA program, given that the probability can be quite low these days. Assuming I take the SA position, I would then have to go back to school for another semester to do FT recruiting, which can prove all the more challenging. Right now, I am a junior but can graduate early by dropping my minor (and then head directly into the MSF program). If not, I could graduate in December.

Also, I wanted to elaborate on my background a bit. I did an internship last summer at a similarly situated bank (but was in fixed income, not what I had wanted). Also, I have done some off-cycle non-IBD, finance internships at a BB and an elite boutique. Not saying that my background is perfect, but given this, would another SA position (with the possibility of no return FT offer, and then having to do FT recruiting the next season) add that much more value over going directly into the MSF? To be honest, I'm losing sleep over this decision because the (hefty) deposit for the program is due real soon. I'd appreciate any further thoughts, thanks!

Mar 1, 2014

IMO dude, you have a on of great internships, not sure why you need yet another and/or the MSF. Are you not getting offers for FT positions or something?

Simply take the internship and find a fall admissions MSF. You'd be nuts to pass over this paying internship at a bank in the position you want for an MSF.

Mar 1, 2014

60% shot at IBD if you take the SA and a fall admission MSF/ 30% F500 or other finance gig otherwise
30% shot at IBD if you take USC./ 60% F500 or other finance gig otherwise.

It is not easy to land in IBD if you go directly from undergrad into an MS program. The assumption is that most students are pretty picked over for IBD by the time they get to grad school if they don't have prior work experience; who would go to grad school if they wanted industry and had an offer from Citi IBD?

This seems like a no-brainer to me. I understand that there are a lot more uncertainties involved and it's hard to make a decision where you have no idea where you'll be in six months, but the outcomes out of the summer internship stochastically dominate USC; the cumulative density function for IBD is strictly lower than it is for USC. That is, if you symbolize the outcomes from taking Citi/Barclays/SG as a 20-sided dice roll, and the outcomes from taking USC as a 20-sided dice roll, for every number on the USC dice, the same number on the IBD dice is at least as good as USC.

Now, what's scary for you is that there's a huge drop on the IBD dice between 9 and 8. If you roll a 9, you get an FT offer. If you roll an 8, you get an offer set from a weaker school than USC. But a bottom 40% outcome out of USC is probably no better than a typical outcome out of a weaker school.

That huge gap looks scary, but even in the 40% chance you don't get the offer, you're not comparing the weaker school against USC for this decision- you're comparing the bottom 40% of outcomes at USC against the weaker school.

For every outcome out of USC, there's a better outcome taking the IBD SA gig. That's this quant's take.

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Mar 1, 2014

Wow thanks, I appreciate your quant perspective. Now I'm a bit speechless from your response haha


Mar 1, 2014

SunMaid, I actually was admitted to the program too but don't have the same dilemma as you. I agree with everyone else, and not sure why you would pick a grad program only to get the same, if not better, outcome in undergrad.


Mar 1, 2014

Take the summer analyst opportunity...agree with the logic above if IB is what you want to do

Mar 2, 2014

I'd listen to TNA's advice. USC is a good school and has a great brand on the west coast, but I'd take the summer internship

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Mar 2, 2014

hmm..I'm gonna take the opposite position here. I think you should do the MSF because 1.) you will have an advanced professional degree that will pay off in the long run and could get you promoted faster. 2.) The USC Marshall network is arguably the strongest on the West Coast and has placed surprisingly well on the East Coast not far from what UCB Haas and even Stanford have done. and finally I think you have enough quality internships that you can leverage into a full time analyst position. Its gonna be a little trickier, but much less so if you want to work in the LA or SF office. I'm curious to hear others thoughts on this view as well.

Mar 2, 2014

I'd like to clarify on my first point. What I mean is when you want to lateral after say two years as an IB analyst, you have a better shot of being hired as an associate should you want to move laterally to another firm. Or say you become an Associate and after a few years, it will make it easier to get hired as a VP at another firm.

Mar 4, 2014

do you apply for the msf program in usc in the first round?

Mar 8, 2014

Take the internship. Like everyone else said, it's the for sure thing. Plus it's easier to reapply and get accepted to MSF programs than getting a SA internship.

Mar 18, 2014