Graduating a Year Early

I'm a rising junior at a non-target, big ten school, majoring in finance. I have the credits to graduate this May. Will graduating a year early be an advantage or disadvantage?

I studied abroad this past semester in Australia, which made it impossible for me to get an internship since we ended in late June, so I would have no work experience.

I am also considering one year MSF programs at UIUC, Indiana, Purdue, Vanderbilt. Thoughts?

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Comments (115)

Jul 17, 2012 - 1:02pm

Graduating early looks pretty darn good from what I've heard AND you studied abroad which is hard to believe cause usually the courses offered are electives.

But you will have given yourself extra time and a leg up on those in your class to build your resume.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.
Jul 17, 2012 - 1:39pm
lifeofpurpose:
I did graduate a year earlier than my classmates and it was the best decision I've ever made. However, I had a job lined up for me.

even if you dont have a job, just graduate and use the money you are saving in travelling the world, learn a new language, etc

and how long will this soul searching journey last and who will fund OP's life once he's broke? terrible advice. you're leading OP to a life of lemons.

Jul 17, 2012 - 2:04pm
orangejulius:
lifeofpurpose:
I did graduate a year earlier than my classmates and it was the best decision I've ever made. However, I had a job lined up for me.

even if you dont have a job, just graduate and use the money you are saving in travelling the world, learn a new language, etc

and how long will this soul searching journey last and who will fund OP's life once he's broke? terrible advice. you're leading OP to a life of lemons.

what are you talking about! how much money is he saving by not attending school? Tuition in-state must be like 15k usd right? cost of living another 25k? that is 40k. He can just travel, learn a language or do a master.

I would hire someone who graduated early (shows self determination, multi tasking, etc) and traveled to vietnam rather than a vanilla kid who graduated on time.

OP, just graduate early BUT WITH A PLAN. When i graduated early, i had multiple offers and was also admitted to a few master in economics programs in europe as an alternative plan (almost ended up studying economics in Rome full-ride)

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Jul 17, 2012 - 1:46pm

I don't think it makes a difference but obviously you can start work a year earlier if you're into that kind of thing. I was 1 semester early, so I traveled a lot since I never studied abroad, then started work a month or two early. I don't recommend doing it unless you have a plan on how to occupy that time, are saving you or your parents some money in tuition/rent/expenses, or are in a position to start your job early and that will help your career (or you're hurting for cash). People don't think you're a genius for getting out earlier or anything, but they will always ask what you plan to do during that time and an intelligent answer makes you come across as polished.

I hate victims who respect their executioners
Jul 17, 2012 - 2:06pm

If you have something lined up, like either a masters program (that sets you on your desired path) or a job that you were striving for then there is no reason to stick around campus any longer than necessary.

However, ask yourself if you need the extra year to build your resume and what kinds of things will help you with that.

Jul 17, 2012 - 4:50pm

Don't graduate early unless you have a job lined up or are enrolled in a MSF program.

This economy sucks, you have no work experience and the market is flooded with college educated kids looking for their break. I would say you are absolutely insane if you graduate early.

You need to get some internship experience under your belt before you leave the sanctity of school and pray that you can bankroll that into a real, FT offer.

I hate to sound so Draconian but as good as it looks to graduate early, I highly doubt that will compensate for your lack of experience. Smart, motivated kids are exactly the type drawn to finance, so your competition will be no different with the exception that they are a year older. Factor in that they will likely have finance experience gained through internships and I don't think you would stand a chance from a resume standpoint.

Apply for some Master's programs, search for internships and consider just taking additional classes in whatever subjects you want at the school you are already at.

The finance industry is all about networking. You can throw a rock on Wall Street and hit a dozen Ivy League graduates who had 3.6+ GPAs, tons of leaderships positions while in school and serious finance internships. Now consider how many more graduates there are that are just like them but couldn't manage to break into the industry. What's the major difference? Networking...and to be blunt, you don't seem to have that going for you.

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
Jul 18, 2012 - 4:31am

Finishing starting appears to be really what I've observed AND you analyzed overseas which is difficult to believe cause usually the applications provided are electives.

But you will have given yourself extra some time to a calf up on those in your classification to develop your continue.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:32am

Can i still get an internship if i graduate early? (Originally Posted: 07/15/2010)

I'm a sophomore from a target and found out that I can graduate early (skipping my senior year) by dropping my minor. If i graduate this year, is it still possible to get an internship at a Bulge Bracket Bank even though I'm no longer a student?

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:36am

I actually know from my brother's experience that it depends on the botique/bb. Some will let you intern immediately after graduating while others that have formal student internship programs will require you to still be a student.

Two years ago, my brother finished all his requirements for graduating (after spring semester) but remained enrolled as a "student" at his college taking like 4 credits online so he could be in a program during the summer. Immediately after the program he graduated and got his degree (as a consequence, he couldn't walk with his class though).

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:37am

Graduate early without FT offer? (Originally Posted: 10/18/2011)

Hey WSO,

Been thinking a lot about my situation recently, which I believe is different than others which come up when using the search function. I could really use some advice and I think the opinion of posters here would be valuable.

Right now I'm a Junior at an Ivy. Currently, I'm a double major (econ + other) and had planned to graduate in 4 years as normal (class of 2013). However, I just realized that if I eliminate my non-econ major, I can graduate this Spring (2012), a year early (with a BA in econ).

Up until this point, I haven't applied for any FT jobs and have been entirely focused on SA positions (most interested in IBD). I'm worried that if I graduate in Spring 2012, and do an internship in Summer 2012, then FT recruiting next year in Fall 2012 would be much harder as a grad no longer on campus (in the scenario where I don't get a return offer or don't sign it).

What might be the best option? Would it be safer at this point to stay for a 4th year and recruit on-campus for FT next fall? Is there something else more worthwhile I could do during the 4th year, that wouldn't prevent me from going through FT recruiting?

I had another idea: what if I were to do a 1-year masters program in finance or economics, instead of taking a 4th year for my BA, and then recruit for FT during the fall at whatever school the program is at?

Thanks in advance very much for your advice (and reading this somewhat long post). I'd also love recommendations for good 1-year finance/econ programs if people have any.

Sincerely,
Appreciative

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:39am

Why don't you just keep the second major? Graduating early, without having already secured a FT offer, is asking for trouble.

If you want to graduate early, check with your career services to see if they'll allow you to use their recruiting program after graduating (most do). The pain - if your school isn't in a city where you want to live - is that you'll have to stay near your school during the fall. You'll also have to figure out what to do for winter and spring.

Overall, it's safer for you to stay on campus. Focus on SA recruiting, land a gig, and convert it into FT. It's a well-trodden path, and there doesn't seem to be a good reason for you to deviate from it.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:40am

If you could substitute your senior year for a 1 year MSF (target of course maybe even at your ivy?) I would think that you could stick to the normal recruitment cycle and actually be in a better situation than if you just did your BA in four years.

Take that with a grain of salt but it seems reasonable.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:43am

Why graduate early... well, gut feeling is it really does seem like a waste to take 4 years for the BA when it could be done in 3 (and I think the marginal utility of the second major, which in my case isn't something super-practical like math or computer science, is not that high). Also, I'm not having the most amazing time at my institution and would be fine moving on to other things.

I can't finish the double-major in 3.5 years, I'd need to stick around until Spring 2013. So, I could graduate just one semester early but I would still have to lose my 2nd major in this case - not sure if it's worth it.

Sean518:
If you could substitute your senior year for a 1 year MSF (target of course maybe even at your ivy?) I would think that you could stick to the normal recruitment cycle and actually be in a better situation than if you just did your BA in four years.

Take that with a grain of salt but it seems reasonable.

That's kind of what I was thinking, could others comment on the correctness/feasibility of this idea? So far, from my research, it seems like there aren't many (maybe ~5) strong 1-year programs that would fit this plan.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:42am

I would stay through december of next year, and not the full year. Rock your SA gig, then recruit in the Fall. Worst case you only stayed an extra semester and had a fun summer (even if it is a hard internship).

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:44am

This is true. I would drop the 2nd major if it isn't important or something that will help. Honestly though, I wouldn't graduate now without a job or position. If you can get a SA gig, then yes, graduate a year early, then work and see if you can participate in OCR the following fall.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:46am

I like the MFin idea and was going to suggest it independently of you bringing it up.

Assuming the resources you would use to pay your fourth year of tuition can be applied to a grad school without restriction, I think substituting your senior year in Economics for something more practical (actual instruction in Finance) would be incredibly helpful.

That being said, there are only a select few programs that would truly be worth going to. For example, we often through Vanderbilt, Villanova, Claremont McKenna, etc. into the question when a non-target student asks a similar question. THOSE ARE NOT SCHOOLS WORTH GOING TO FROM YOUR POSITION. Otherwise stated, you need to go to a school that will have at least as equal recruiting opportunities as your current. Off the top of my head, the few worthwhile programs I can think of are:
-MIT
-Princeton
-LSE
-Stanford (Masters in Mgmt Science and Engineering, with Finance Concentration)
-Oxford
-Cambridge
-Warwick?
-Imperial?

Furthermore, if you can prove any sort of quantitative merit, you can open up a whole array of Financial Engineering, Financial Mathematics, and other Quant Finance programs from top schools that could propel your profile even further than an MFin would. (Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Berkeley, CMU, etc.)

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
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Jul 18, 2012 - 4:47am
Nouveau Richie:
I like the MFin idea and was going to suggest it independently of you bringing it up.

Assuming the resources you would use to pay your fourth year of tuition can be applied to a grad school without restriction, I think substituting your senior year in Economics for something more practical (actual instruction in Finance) would be incredibly helpful.

That being said, there are only a select few programs that would truly be worth going to. For example, we often through Vanderbilt, Villanova, Claremont McKenna, etc. into the question when a non-target student asks a similar question. THOSE ARE NOT SCHOOLS WORTH GOING TO FROM YOUR POSITION. Otherwise stated, you need to go to a school that will have at least as equal recruiting opportunities as your current. Off the top of my head, the few worthwhile programs I can think of are:
-MIT
-Princeton
-LSE
-Stanford (Masters in Mgmt Science and Engineering, with Finance Concentration)
-Oxford
-Cambridge
-Warwick?
-Imperial?

Furthermore, if you can prove any sort of quantitative merit, you can open up a whole array of Financial Engineering, Financial Mathematics, and other Quant Finance programs from top schools that could propel your profile even further than an MFin would. (Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Berkeley, CMU, etc.)

Thanks very much for the extremely helpful reply! I think this is the route that I will try and go, and if I don't get into a worthwhile program I can stick around for another year. I guess at this point the question is to find all the relevant one-year programs that fit my position.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:49am

Well then he should try to get a SA gig and convert it to full time...Recruiting for big banks is wrapping up anyways right now so it's not too late yet, but pretty close. I would advise strongly that he try to maybe even be a part time student for the fall if it means he can get OCR/Career services (unless he can get it anyways).

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:50am

Guidance needed for early graduation Junior/Senior (Originally Posted: 07/01/2013)

As the title states I have the opportunity to graduate this upcoming year. I am entering my third year at a small private liberal arts school (has a good reputation for academics).

Here is what I am currently working with:

-3.9 GPA
- Finance Major
- Athlete
-No internships to date due to sport
-Would like to enter IB or consulting

Graduating a year early would save a decent amount of money but at the same time would be taking a year away from my college experience. Here are my potential options, all assume that I graduate a year early unless otherwise noted*

1) Get a job if I can find one and most likely miss a majority of the recruiting that will go on.
2) Get an internship after graduation and hope for the best
3) Go get a 1 year MBA or masters -- assuming I do well on the GMAT
4)* Get an internship after the next summer. Come back for my forth year but take one class and enjoy life but and start searching for a job. This would mean I would graduate in December...not sure how this will be viewed by future employers.

Any advice would be appreciated. Feel free to PM me.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:51am

I was in a similar situation. I played baseball at a target school but got hurt and wasn't seeing the field. I harbored professional aspirations so I graduated early and transferred to another school. I work at a REPE firm now and during the recruiting process most people looked favorably upon my early graduation as it showed time management, drive, etc. especially with a sport.

Lana? Lannaa???? LANA!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!

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Jul 18, 2012 - 4:54am

It also strikes me as odd when people say they want to work in investment banking OR consulting. Those are two drastically different fields (barring rare exceptions). It seems you may like the idea of working in those fields more than actually working in those fields.

To answer your question, I would suggest figuring out what it is you truly want to do...and why. When you can definitively state your desired destination, it becomes a lot easier to draw the road map to get there. Don't let an extra semester of tuition dictate your decision...those dollars will be a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:55am

pnb2002:

I wouldn't recommend it as you have no internship or work experience based on which you can find a competitive job.

I think you should:

- find an internship this summer

- Take part in fall recruiting and just take one or two classes (part time)

- Then graduate a semester early to save on tuition.

This brings up a good question I have -- does it not look bad to only be in one or two classes the fall of your senior year? Would graduating in December make you more or less attractive to potential employers?

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:56am

Bobby Digital:

It also strikes me as odd when people say they want to work in investment banking OR consulting. Those are two drastically different fields (barring rare exceptions). It seems you may like the idea of working in those fields more than actually working in those fields.

To answer your question, I would suggest figuring out what it is you truly want to do...and why. When you can definitively state your desired destination, it becomes a lot easier to draw the road map to get there. Don't let an extra semester of tuition dictate your decision...those dollars will be a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme.

I agree. IB and consulting are very different, besides the fact that both pay rather well. During interviews, try not to let on to IB firms that you're interviewing with consulting firms, and vice versa. They might ding you for not being serious/passionate about their industry (I think it applies slightly more often in IB than consulting, but still...)

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:57am

southernbydesign:

pnb2002:

I wouldn't recommend it as you have no internship or work experience based on which you can find a competitive job.

I think you should:

- find an internship this summer

- Take part in fall recruiting and just take one or two classes (part time)

- Then graduate a semester early to save on tuition.

This brings up a good question I have -- does it not look bad to only be in one or two classes the fall of your senior year? Would graduating in December make you more or less attractive to potential employers?

Most recruiters will not look at your transcript, so they won't know how many classes you take each semester.
If you're flexible with the start date (i.e. willing to wait 8 months and start in August), graduating in Dec will not affect your chances. If you want to start in Jan, then that might be more problematic, since many consulting firms have fixed Fall start and training dates.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:58am

Anonymous.:

southernbydesign:
pnb2002:

I wouldn't recommend it as you have no internship or work experience based on which you can find a competitive job.

I think you should:

- find an internship this summer

- Take part in fall recruiting and just take one or two classes (part time)

- Then graduate a semester early to save on tuition.

This brings up a good question I have -- does it not look bad to only be in one or two classes the fall of your senior year? Would graduating in December make you more or less attractive to potential employers?

Most recruiters will not look at your transcript, so they won't know how many classes you take each semester.

If you're flexible with the start date (i.e. willing to wait 8 months and start in August), graduating in Dec will not affect your chances. If you want to start in Jan, then that might be more problematic, since many consulting firms have fixed Fall start and training dates.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that a lot of the firms have multiple start dates. I know some people that started in October, January, and even February.

Jul 18, 2012 - 4:59am

southernbydesign:

pnb2002:

I wouldn't recommend it as you have no internship or work experience based on which you can find a competitive job.

I think you should:

- find an internship this summer

- Take part in fall recruiting and just take one or two classes (part time)

- Then graduate a semester early to save on tuition.

This brings up a good question I have -- does it not look bad to only be in one or two classes the fall of your senior year? Would graduating in December make you more or less attractive to potential employers?

Not usually because you're recruiting in the fall of your senior year. In fact, many of my friends goings into consulting or IB got the job and took the following semester/quarters off to travel, go home, etc.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:00am

Graduating a year early - internship or full time? (Originally Posted: 04/10/2011)

Hey,
I'm thinking of graduating a year early to save 50k and obviously time (plus I don't really like my school). My original plan was to get an IB internship like everyone else next summer and hopefully land a full time offer. However, if I graduate early I don't think I'll even qualify to apply to internships since I won't be returning to school after the summer. Should I just apply to full time jobs next year? Will I even stand a chance without any summer experiences in IB?

Some relevant info:
- Current sophomore at an Ivy
- Near 4.0 GPA
- Finance major
- Internships so far: past summer with IBM GBS, this summer with a major fund management firm's HK office
- Hope to work in Asia (HK/China, I'm fluent in Chinese)

Thanks!

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:01am

Im confused...if you have the fund management internship this summer, your graduating in the spring next year anyway right? you wont be going back regardless.

In short, no. Enjoy your college experience, you'll never get it back. If you have near a 4.0 from an Ivy and an IBM internship on your res (which is business consulting?) your likely to land some interviews. Especially if your fluent in Mandarin.

Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker.
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:02am

Sorry I wasn't clear. If I graduate early, I'll be graduating in Spring 2012. The fund management internship is for this summer (sophomore summer). And yes, the IBM internship was with their business consulting division.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:04am

Take a gap year in the middle, who says you have to graduate early? Your loans (if any) won't bear interest until you graduate, so take a year off, go Spring 2013, stay with all your friends, enjoy access to four years of OCR, and make the smarter move.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:05am

One big problem is that I don't like my school. So I don't think I'll enjoy coming back after a gap year lol. Plus I am already 1.5 years older than most of my peers because I started in a different educational system. I want to "get my time back" by graduating early.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:06am

There is no rush. Why hurt your career options just because you're anxious to get out of school? Besides, why WOULD you want to get out of school, ought to be the best time of your life? Why do you dislike it so much?

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:07am

Graduating Early - Find a Temporary Job (Originally Posted: 11/14/2017)

I am planning on graduating this Fall semester and have a full-time IB role lined up. However, I'm at the point where I realize I want to find something productive to do the next several months.

One thing I've been thinking about is potentially finding temporary work in finance, such as a boutique IB or a CorpDev role. I'm curious how advisable this is. Would this create a potential conflict of interest with the bank I will work with? Any other advice?

Thanks.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:08am

The full-time role won't care. I don't think a CorpDev team would care, although you might have trouble just joining for 5-6 months. The boutique bank might care and want you to take a few weeks or a month between leaving them and starting at your full-time role, but if it's a place small enough to be willing to take someone on for a few months, they probably do small enough deals that there's no conflict of interest with your future employer.

Have you asked your full-time employer if you can start early?

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:10am

Early Graduation Dilemma - PE recruiting and GPA (Originally Posted: 11/02/2013)

Hi guys,

Current a senior at a semi-target, with a full-time BB offer. Hoping to get into PE after banking.

I will end this semester with a 3.61-3.64 GPA, and a 3.7 major GPA. I was originally planning on graduating a semester early but heard that many PE firms have a 3.7 GPA cutoff? I'm hoping on some advice on my two options:

  1. Stay an extra semester in school and take easy classes, definitely get to a 3.7 (at least rounded). Will cost me ~$20k in tuition and housing

  2. Take the money and travel the world (lots of bucket list items…) before I get chained to my desk. Take 1 month and study for the GMAT and get a good score. (will this make up for a low GPA?)

Really appreciate any advice.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:13am

It's actually 3.85

'Before you enter... be willing to pay the price'
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:15am

certain PE firms have very high GPA cutoffs (based on headhunters) but a 3.6 vs 3.7 won't matter to them as most firms either (1) won't care about 3.7 vs. 3.6 or (2) have 3.8, 3.9+ GPA cutoffs (yes, there are quite a few of them - less of the megafunds and more of the elite MMs/HFs who can afford to be more selective) so it won't matter anyway

GPA matters kids, it's not just some number, for better or for worse, it can be a very important determinant of your prospects even after your first job. Wish there's less bullshit on this board on how "hustle" can make up for a weaker background; unfortunately that's not often true

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:16am

WishYouWereHere:

certain PE firms have very high GPA cutoffs (based on headhunters) but a 3.6 vs 3.7 won't matter to them as most firms either (1) won't care about 3.7 vs. 3.6 or (2) have 3.8, 3.9+ GPA cutoffs (yes, there are quite a few of them - less of the megafunds and more of the elite MMs/HFs who can afford to be more selective) so it won't matter anyway

GPA matters kids, it's not just some number, for better or for worse, it can be a very important determinant of your prospects even after your first job. Wish there's less bullshit on this board on how "hustle" can make up for a weaker background; unfortunately that's not often true


Investment Banking - Prospective Monkey
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:18am

WishYouWereHere:

certain PE firms have very high GPA cutoffs (based on headhunters) but a 3.6 vs 3.7 won't matter to them as most firms either (1) won't care about 3.7 vs. 3.6 or (2) have 3.8, 3.9+ GPA cutoffs (yes, there are quite a few of them - less of the megafunds and more of the elite MMs/HFs who can afford to be more selective) so it won't matter anyway

GPA matters kids, it's not just some number, for better or for worse, it can be a very important determinant of your prospects even after your first job. Wish there's less bullshit on this board on how "hustle" can make up for a weaker background; unfortunately that's not often true

If true (which I doubt) that would be a truly horrible way of screening candidates, and I'd love to hear said firms' rationale.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:19am

The quality of your work experience at the BB will matter a hell of a lot more than a 3.6 vs. a 3.7 gpa. If it was something lower like the low 3s (like 3.0, 3.1...) maybe firms will think it's weird and pass on you if they have a ton of other similar candidates, but you don't, so it's not an issue.

Taking the time to travel and study for the gmat is more useful long-term.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:21am

yea, going to school and spending 20K to round your GPA up sounds like a good business decision

alpha currency trader wanna-be
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:22am

Would you rather stay an extra semester without an S&T offer or graduate a semester early preparing for an MFE program? (Originally Posted: 12/02/2016)

I'm asking for a friend, of course. He's interested in S&T and quant trading.

The dilemma: he didn't get an S&T internship this semester and can graduate spring semester.

Options:

  1. Stay an extra semester, reevaluate strategy, and get either an S&T internship or some respectable SA in the spring, then go back in the fall for one more semester and do FT recruitment

  2. Graduate without a relevant SA and start working on "gap" courses toward an good MFE program

"A modest man, with much to be modest about"
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:24am

Graduating Early From a Non-Target vs Transferring to a Target (Originally Posted: 08/26/2012)

Hello everyone. This is my first post here on WSO, but I have been reading threads for a while. I am currently set to graduate from a non-target at the age of 18. I would definitely prefer this option if it is viable because I would rather get out into the world and try to make an impact rather than be sheltered in school. However, some of the posts that I have read regarding employment opportunities worry me. I will be applying to the HBS 2+2 and Yale Silver Scholars program, which would probably help me at least secure some kind of job. I clearly do not want to depend entirely upon these programs though since they are extremely competitive. I am a physics major with a 4.0 GPA so far and believe that I can do well on standardized tests if necessary (GRE or GMAT) since I scored a 2370 on the SAT. I will also be applying to Princeton's MFIN program as well as MFE programs such as CMU's, Stanford's, and Columbia's. I would rather pursue traditional finance but am looking to these other programs as back-up given my quantitative background with hopes of landing some kind of quant job and then transitioning. All in all, I would like to know my chances of getting an IBD job at a BB or MM given my circumstances. And if these are exceedingly low, I would like your opinions on my back-up plan of pursuing quantitative avenues and then transitioning to a traditional IBD role. Finally, I would like to know if I should simply surrender my ambitions, attempt to transfer to a target school, and follow the traditional route. Thanks in advance for your insights and your time.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:27am

I went to a non-target because I have the option of graduating at the age of 18 (they accepted me early and took all of my credits) and they paid me to go. At a target, I would pay a substantial amount and would take at least 3 years to graduate after being accepted at a normal time. That being said, I can still resume a relatively normal path at a target school if those that know more than I do (you guys) deem it to be an optimal choice.

@SirTradesaLot
Just because I have ability to pursue quant roles, why is it given that I should? From what I have read, quant roles are not better than traditional roles with respect to compensation, prestige, or job opportunities. Is there something that I'm missing that would convince me that quant roles are more desirable, or are you assuming, understandably, that I would enjoy a quant role more given my physics background?

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:28am

You're more likely to fit in on a trading floor. Banking is about fitting in. Banks sell their advisory services to major corporations. That means they rely heavily on relationships, reputation, and image. This is why the entire concept of "target" schools exists. It's far easier to say to some CEO you went to prep school or college with that you're putting the team of 12 Harvard guys on the project than it is to say "Hey, we've got some smart guys but it's a hodgepodge of schools but they'll get it done."

As an 18-year-old, you're not going to fit into that environment very well. Few bankers, if any, are going to want to take a chance on a kid (literally) who still has a lot of room to mature, at least in their eyes. You're still a teenager. I am speaking simply from personal experience here, I attended college as early as you.

Trading is an incredibly meritocratic environment. The old heads you sit next to might have nothing more than a high school degree. The guy next to them might have two PhD's in astrophysics and aerospace engineering. The point is that smart is smart is smart. They don't care about your pedigree as long as you can produce. If you did well on the SATs, studied a quantitatively rigorous subject like physics, and finished up your college program with a 4.0 at the age of 18, you're going to get some looks if you apply to trading roles.

These are roles you can get directly out of undergrad, no graduate degree required. In my opinion, this offers the least downside risk. If you realize you dislike trading and you want a career in banking, PE, or something else in finance, you will have the most interesting story in the world to tell an admissions committee for business school, and the MBA is the reset button on your career.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 1
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:30am

Also, my guess is that you would have a better chance for early responsibility on a trading floor. IBD certainly hires people from non-targets, especially with your stats, that's not really my reason. The biggest issue I see is that you're just 18. It will be harder to build strong relationships with your co-workers. I think that is a bigger issue in banking than in capital markets. Some may disagree with me though. Usually, being a quant requires a little less teamwork than banking roles.

I haven't worked on the banking side though, so it is somewhat conjecture on my point.

Have you thought of getting a PHD? That would solve the age issue, get you in at a higher level, and open up a lot of doors (to be fair, it would probably close off IBD though as I haven't heard of a PHD in physics working in banking or any other sales role, for that matter).

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:31am

I think you're too young for pretty much any IBD job... very few if any banks want an 18 year-old on their teams. While a trader might be willing to tutor you, in my opinion you're really just too young to enter the workforce.

Feel free to apply to Harvard 2+2 and Yale Silver Scholars but I doubt you will be accepted. Acceptance into business schools depends on Job Experience and Leadership, and my guess is that while you have good GPA you lack in the other areas that they are looking for. Rather than business school, my guess is you'd be better off applying to advance degree programs or to transfer to a target university.

In my opinion, you're best bet in order of desirability (i) More advanced degrees, (ii) Transfer to Target, or (iii) Enter workforce (trading, not IBD).

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:39am

dabears432:

Feel free to apply to Harvard 2+2 and Yale Silver Scholars but I doubt you will be accepted. Acceptance into business schools depends on Job Experience and Leadership, and my guess is that while you have good GPA you lack in the other areas that they are looking for. Rather than business school, my guess is you'd be better off applying to advance degree programs or to transfer to a target university.

This is false, please be careful about spreading misinformation. Programs like the HBS 2+2 program specifically look for undergrads in non-finance fields (eg physics) and because they ONLY accept applicants WITHOUT formal work experience (post-graduation) they place a huge emphasis on grades and test scores. With strong extracurricular activities (research, leadership etc) the OP would be a competitive candidate for this type of program.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:33am

Thank you all for your illuminating advice. These comments have really cleared up some major misconceptions of mine.

@APAE
That makes a lot of sense and agrees with a lot of other things that I have read. Could you further explicate what trading roles you mean specifically since I don't have any financial experience. Are you talking about S&T in a bank or prop shop or quantitative trading roles? And do you know which groups of firms would hire me directly out of undergrad like you mentioned? Most of what i have read indicates that quantitative traders usually need a phd or, at the very least, a masters in financial engineering/computational finance/etc.

@Sirtradesalot
Yes, I have considered getting a phd, but I decided in the end that the 4-5 year time investment likely isn't worth it if I can find another path. If I could land a high level job upon completion, I would reconsider. However, it seems to me that most quants aren't compensated nearly as well as bankers and other professionals in finance despite their higher levels of education. Please correct me if I am wrong.

@dabears432
I appreciate your candor, and I assumed as much. I fully intend on attending advanced degree programs prior on attending the work force; I simply wanted to seek the guidance of those who are actually in the industry. I didn't really expect my graduate school application to fit well with business schools anyways. I anticipate going to a program like princeton's mfin, mfe, mit's mfin, stanford's mfin, columbia's mfe, cmu's mfe, etc.

@BTbanker
Yes, I am of Indian descent. For whatever it's worth, I was born and raised in the USA.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:34am

Either.

Look, trading is trading. Yes, some of the most exotic derivates require some very technical degrees because of the level of mathematics involved, but for the most part, any S&T desk at a bulge bracket bank is going to put you through a ten-week training program with all the other analysts hired, give you a year or two on the desk to learn before you get your own book, and then set up with a small amount of capital to start. A prop shop is going to do all that but with less time holding your hand to get you set up. Either way, you're probably equipped to do it already, you just need to learn to sell yourself, to be bold, and to act like less of a child. Up until this point you've solely been taught. You've learned at a fast pace, but you need to kick some doors down and make some moves of your own.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:36am

Look at the backgrounds of some of the people at places like Renaissance Technologies and DE Shaw. Quant funds love physics PHDs. Needless to say, top hedge fund managers can make multiples of anyone in a bank. Not to say you magically become one just by getting a PHD.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:38am

SirTradesaLot:

Look at the backgrounds of some of the people at places like Renaissance Technologies and DE Shaw. Quant funds love physics PHDs. Needless to say, top hedge fund managers can make multiples of anyone in a bank. Not to say you magically become one just by getting a PHD.

This. Get a PhD, become a quant on the buy-side, get rich.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:40am

Early Graduation (Originally Posted: 03/25/2007)

I am currently a soph, have an internship for the summer with a BB and was just considering the prospect of graduating early.

How is this viewed by business schools, say if you graduated in three years and have a 3.8 gpa from a non target but work for a top tier consulting/IB firm like Mckinsey or Goldman?

Is it impressive to graduate early in the first place?

Also, do you think with a BB internship this summer and a somewhat impressive internship my freshman year that I can get an FT with firms like Goldman/Mck?
(I wouldn't like to return to the BB I am interning with this summer FT)

Also, will I have to take the gmat? Will this help my FT prospects.

As many inputs as possible will be appreciated!

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:42am

but what of the gmat? would I have to take it...considering that I come from a non target, I figure I might need a stamp of approval since I don't exactly have a 4.0...

also, I've always had the impression that graduating early had some form of wow factor component to it and was hoping this will help me for B-school admissions...

is this not the case?

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:43am

Graduating early has very little "wow factor", it's more like "oh, good for you", whatever.

The GMAT isn't really helpful for FT recruiting if you already have internships...

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:45am

Do you have scholarship? If you do why don't you just do a double major, take only 4 classes a semester your senior year and enjoy yourself. You already have a BB internship your sophmore year. Leverage that your junior summer for something even better and enjoy yourself your last year.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:46am

I am also planning to graduate early because my school is way too cheap. (they "force" you to graduate after 128 credits, which I will have by the end of Junior year due to advanced credits)

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:47am

alright, I don't think I'm graduating early then...I thought there was a wow factor component (apparently not)- I might as well chill out and stick around for four years...

college is such a waste of time though-

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:48am
yup:
alright, I don't think I'm graduating early then...I thought there was a wow factor component (apparently not)- I might as well chill out and stick around for four years...

college is such a waste of time though-

That's the attitude that makes graduating early a non-factor. You're supposed to find ways to add value to the time you spent in college. That's way more of a wow factor.

To be honest, I don't really think anyone cares about graduating early. A degree is still a degree, doesn't matter if you did it in 3 years or four.

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:50am

i don't think it has a wow factor. but it is beneficial. you could be the youngest analyst in your year. after a few years, you might be younger than some of the 1st yr analysts, depending on what course you did (double degree, with honours or not).

Jul 18, 2012 - 5:53am

what if you choose to graduate in 5 even though you could do it in 4? maybe to boost your gpa or double major? how is this viewed?

Array
Jul 18, 2012 - 5:58am

Graduate early with a hedge fund internship? (Originally Posted: 08/01/2009)

I finished my second year studying at a target school. I would be able to finish all the credits needed to graduate one year early. I have decent grades given that I have been taking hard classes in school (though i know that the bankers usually don't care about that). I am currently interning in a quantitative hedge fund and have been working on a very hard project (actually, almost too hard for an undergrad). I have taken some hard statistics classes in school, but I do not think I can compete with the physics/statistics/mathematics phD in the area of portfolio management. I hope to get into invest banking to start my career in a much faster-paced, strategy-centered industry.

Do you think my quantitative background and my internship in a hedge fund would easily get me interviews in bulge bracket banks. Would it be much better if I stayed in school one more year to try to get an internship in investment banking?

Jul 18, 2012 - 6:00am

Graduate Early? (Originally Posted: 07/09/2011)

I need help deciding either:
1. Stay at UC Berkeley for a total of 3 years and get a major in Statistics and a minor in political economy
or
2. Stay for a total of 4 years and get a double major in stat and business(haas)

I want to get into trading after college. Which do you guy think is more beneficial?

"Have you ever tried to use a chain with 3 weak links? I have, and now I no longer own an arctic wolf." -Dwight Schrute
Jul 18, 2012 - 6:01am

Don't let the allure of graduating early get to your head too much. While it is an accomplishment in it's own right; just be sure you are getting the most out of your education during your time there. Berkeley is an excellent school and has the potential to open many doors.

What do I think is more beneficial? -- To major in what you enjoy and what you find to be the most intellectually stimulating; that could be chemistry, English, engineering, stat, business, or whatever. Just study what you enjoy the most; you'll come away with much more if you take that approach... at least that's just how I see it.

In 1976, James Hunt broke the sound barrier through Eau Rouge only to retire before the event finished... following the race he had sex with three Belgian nurses at the clubhouse near La Source.
Jul 18, 2012 - 6:02am

Well, I do enjoy statistics/math and finance. However there are some courses like marketing and communication that I don't want to take in the business major.

"Have you ever tried to use a chain with 3 weak links? I have, and now I no longer own an arctic wolf." -Dwight Schrute
Jul 18, 2012 - 6:04am

Graduating early with SA offer? (Originally Posted: 02/27/2012)

Hey all. I recently received and accepted an SA offer from a top BB. I'm currently a junior, but will be able to graduate in May. I've decided that I would like to graduate in May and take what would be my senior year and use it to travel.. Would this be a problem for my background check? I did list that I was part of the Class of 2013 on my resume, but my plans have now changed. Would love to hear any advice you all may have. Thanks!

Best Response
Jul 18, 2012 - 6:05am

Shouldn't be a problem on your background check, but unless you go to UChicago/CWRU/MIT or any other "where fun goes to die" school you are missing out on a great year - being a Senior with a FT IB offer in hand sets you up for just about the best year of your life.

Jul 18, 2012 - 6:06am

It should be fine, you still got your BA and didn't lie about GPA. I think that they might only care, if, for instance, you were really a 4th year student who claimed to be a junior so you could apply for internships, and then graduated.

Plus on-campus FT recruiting is pretty dead anyways - just make sure you rock your internship and get the offer.

Jul 18, 2012 - 6:07am
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