Graduating early - worth it or not?

I will begin working in an industry-focused coverage group as an investment banking analyst in August and want to hopefully work at a large PE firm with ample dry powder (MF/UMM) because the smaller funds in my industry have recently been destroyed - only the large players that can investment $150MM plus remain healthy.

I have the opportunity to start early at my firm, which will better position me to have deal experience to talk about during PE recruiting. Is it worth it? Should I graduate a semester early and begin working? Will it be that big of an advantage? My firm does not traditionally have a megafund placement history (think UBS/WF/DB/RBC) but has placed a few individuals into megafunds in the past so I will likely need any advantage I can get.

The alternate is to continue to train my sport (I play collegiately), travel, and missionary work while enjoying one last semester with my friends (and the beautiful women on campus).

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Comments (28)

Most Helpful
Oct 23, 2019 - 8:28pm

This is reflective of my personal bias - but I would say it's not worth it. Your ability to get the placement you want out of a banking program is going to be determined by things like your performance, how well your senior bankers advocate for you, your transaction experience, the bank you're at, and sheer luck.

Of those five, the only thing that's likely significantly impacted by joining earlier is maybe getting six more months of transaction experience (yes you could argue that more time could make you perform better, make people like you more, etc., but I would argue that is marginal). It might give you a leg up, given that a lot of funds have started recruiting so early that often people have no deal experience when interviewing, but I don't think that advantage is worth missing out of 1/8th of some of the most fun 4 years of your life - you're about to start what's probably 4 of the longest years of your life.

Realize there are other ways to look at it, but if it were me, I'd stay in school and soak it all up.

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Oct 23, 2019 - 9:58pm

What's with this idea of college being "the most fun 4 years of your life"? Seriously, I'm genuine in asking as a current UG myself. It's been a pretty bad overall experience thus far. I suppose the fun is if you were in some kind of fraternity? Is it actually even mor downhill from here because if so then what's the damn point. If I had to guess, I think this sentiment comes from older guys or something. No way this has been a fun experience at all and, if I could, I'd graduate now despite my supposed 'success' in recruiting.

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  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 24, 2019 - 1:39am

Honestly it depends on what college you went to, the cards you were dealt with at the beginning and the type of person you are. If you find a great group of people at the beginning of your freshman year and you click with them you'll have a blast. Being in a frat brings a lot to the table (big group of friends, attractive girls, parties) and people have a great time being in one, generally. Being competitive for IB recruiting, especially at a non target, probably means you won't have as much fun as others. Regardless, getting involved in whatever way can help tremendously, good luck.

Oct 24, 2019 - 2:32pm

I realize not everyone's experience is the same - I happened to have a lot of fun in college. But well above that, what I think most people really look back on and miss is the general lack of responsibility and freedom in college, that goes away fast (I know some people DO carry a ton of additional responsibility in college, but I was fortunate not to have to). I have plenty of fun now, but I also have responsibilities - financial, career, and personal obligations that I didn't have when I was in school. Furthermore, in the first couple years as an analyst and associate in particular, it's a grind - I don't know about others on this forum, I worked hard in college to do well, but I certainly didn't work 80+ hours weeks like I did as a junior finance professional. Lots of time to explore new things, whether that be hobbies, meeting new people, exposing yourself to different ideas, etc. A lot of that became harder after school - and that's what I miss. Not necessarily saying college is all one big party - although for some people that's an element too.

Oct 23, 2019 - 8:46pm

Enjoy school / time off. IMO finish early and just go see some of the world. There are beautiful women the world over and not just on campus. Bring a friend or two along.

  • 1
Oct 24, 2019 - 3:43pm

Graduate early and travel. You can probably sit in on office hours with the professor when you get back from travelling. If you can graduate early, do it. Some people are dying to leave campus, others want to enjoy all of it. I personally am leaving because financially makes sense and I want to backpack Europe/Asia and enjoy it while I have the time to (no responsibilities, no kids, no job.) It depends on what you want to do and where your priorities lie.

Oct 25, 2019 - 10:40pm

If you want to be super career focused, take a balanced approach would be to graduate early and do a PE internship at a UMM/MF in Europe or Asia. It's very common for European/Asian undergrads to do 6 mo. Internships post grad pre/post masters in finance/management. Bonus points for recruitment if your college sport is Euro-centric sport (rowing/rugby/football). I'd reach out to the Americans/people who did MBAs in the U.S. at these funds.

You get to travel, advance your career a lot, and don't have to pay extra to go to school.

  • 1
Nov 2, 2019 - 3:00am

European focused PE firms (PG, Nordic, CVC, EQT, BPoint, BC partners, PAI etc. . . ). Bonus if an area where DB is strong. I know quite a few people who did these internships and at the very least, big network boost.

Oct 29, 2019 - 7:51am

I personally decided to graduate early and do fulltime MBB. College is fun, but I just feel like going fulltime already makes more sense for me. In the end, I think it just comes down to how you personally feel about it.

Also, I wouldn't underestimate the edge joining earlier could give you - I would believe it will give you a better chance to outperform others.

Oct 31, 2019 - 4:02pm

I should add that I am not paying for school - I am in scholarship. Not sure if that makes a huge difference, but I will be letting some scholarship money go if I graduate early.

Oct 31, 2019 - 4:52pm

Personal thought: graduating a semester early to join FT does not guarantee "more success" than others. It really depends on your performance and how well your team advocates for you. I understand that spending a whole semester chilling...seems not productive (compare to the alternative of working FT) but if that is something you really want to do - please do. Once we start the full time, the race kicks in and we would have no time for this. Personally
I would graduate early and travel the world :)

Nov 1, 2019 - 6:16am

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Sep 19, 2021 - 12:14pm

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