I am currently a second year Equity Research Associate (~2.5+ years of work experience) looking to next steps. Long-term, I cannot see myself as a sell-side Equity Research Analyst. Rather, I would like to break into Corporate Development or go to a fund. My current team has strong recognition on the Street however, I'm not at a BB therefore exit opportunities seem to be limited (outside of staying in sell-side research). I'm seeking some help on deciding what the best next steps are and below are a few of the ideas I have mulled over.
My current plan is to study for the GMAT and get into a top b-school with the intention to jump to the buy-side research (without another several years on the sell-side). I believe this is the most simple and logical approach given I have some weak points (e.g. I was an Economics undergrad so all my finance/business knowledge was self-learned or on the job, creating some gaps) and a relatively small network (non-target, liberal arts undergrad). Also, the idea of two years to focus on learning and networking while having flexibility schedule sounds nice.
Alternatively, I could leave for another job. So far, it seems this is a more difficult path that would require me to take several small steps to get where I want to be. For example, Current role -> BB ER -> small fund -> better fund or Current role -> IR -> climb the ranks/better firms -> lateral to CD? The upside is I don't have to pay for b-school and I get to leave my current team quicker (MBA would start in Fall 2021 assuming I get into a top program).
Honestly, I'm not sure about either of these options. I don't like my current position and see little purpose in my everyday life. As depressing as that sounds, I'm feel kinda trapped and unsure of how to move towards next steps. I don't mind the hours but I just want to enjoy what I do on a daily basis. Any guidance or insight would be much appreciated. Thanks!