Fair warning and a word from the wise: IB is NOT the only path
Like a lot of you on here, I went to a non-target school. Well, I went to THE non-target school of non-target schools. I went to a tiny, rural, southern liberal arts college that 95%+ of you have never heard of. Sure, I got into 'better' and more prestigious schools, but at the end of the day I wasn't going to impose a preposterous financial burden on my family if I didn't have to, and the truth is I knew I didn't. I was confident in my ability to go out and win any job I could possibly want. So, I took the very generous scholarship package they gave me and spent the next four years learning how to learn (for those of you who went to liberal arts colleges, you know what I mean and you know this is by far the most valuable skill you got from college).
I decided fairly early on that I wanted to pursue IB
In my eyes, it was the only job anyone who had ever thought about doing anything in business should start his or her career off with. All the alums I spoke to said its what I should do and the career center said I should do it, and surely they know best, right? I spoke with the handful of alumni my college had in the industry, spent hours upon hours doing interview and model prep and an ungodly amount of time networking with people at reputable firms, just praying that one of them gave me a chance to interview for a SA role.
I knew I was fighting an uphill battle and I was ok with that. Nothing seemed sweeter to me than getting the same job as some punk from Princeton who's family paid 500k for his prep school and 200k for his degree, only I did it with a diploma from a public high school and without taking on any student debt. I would be able to say 'screw you man!' I can do it just as well if not better than you!
After doing this for 2 years, I got an SA offer at a Top 10 shop, did the internship, got the return offer, put my name on a dotted line and collected my signing bonus. I got to the bank, placed into the top group and went to work on the biggest deal at the bank at the time (yes, this is all true). Mission complete. Screw you Princeton Chad!
Happy ending right?
Wrong. I HATED the job. I hated the work and I hated the culture. I did all that work to get a job without once ever seriously asking myself if this was the path I really wanted to go down and whether or not it was going to take me to the place I wanted to go both in my career and in my personal life. I made the decision to pursue a career that was going to require me to sacrifice the better part of my 20's without ever once considering if I even wanted to do IB/PE for a living. (Yes, I know most people don't stay in either of those forever, but can you please just pipe down and listen to the story?)
I spent 3 months at the bank before I couldn't take it anymore and I quit on a Thursday afternoon. By Saturday I was on a plane heading to Florida to do a little R&R and soul searching.
I spent the next 2 months interviewing for jobs all across the board:
FP&A Role at a Start-up in SF, Product Analyst at a TES co. in NYC, Hedge Fund Analyst in Birmingham, AL, etc. None of these jobs at all required me to go into banking and each of them was going to point me in the direction much closer to where I really wanted to go.
I ended up taking a job in the media space doing growth and I absolutely LOVE it. The work is fascinating, the culture is fantastic, the pay is good enough and the exit-ops are right up the alley of what I think I want to do (come back in 5 years and see if that changed. Fingers crossed it didn't).
I say all this as a very round-about way of saying this...
BANKING IS NOT THE END ALL BE ALL
There are plenty of first jobs that will put you in a much better spot to pursue the career you want to lead without having to make an inordinate about of sacrifice. There are plenty of routes to get insanely valuable skills that will put you head and shoulders above kids who leave banking and want to come into your space. I know you want to prove you can hang with the 'big dogs', but if you go down that road for the sake of proving it to someone else, you're only leaving yourself to pay when you're miserable because you didn't listen to yourself and instead listened to those around you.
Have confidence in yourself. Have a vision. Map the most efficient plan possible and execute.