How To Become An Investment Banker With A Biology Major

ryan524's picture
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I am going into my last year at Northeastern University as a Biology Major. It is obviously too late to switch majors. I have always considered business an interesting career option and have stocks/small investments on my own. I want to get into investment banking.

Since I won't be able to use my undergrad, I was thinking of going for my MBA after graduation. I know that I need a lot of work experience but I refuse to work in a lab or anything biology related. What can I do to shift into an investment banking career? What is the best way of doing it?

Shifting From A Biology Major To A Career In Finance

It is not impossible to get into financial investing with a biology major but it will require much work and determination. A Masters in Business Administration will be an excellent asset, however, there are a number of required steps before you can even apply for an MBA.

How To Get An MBA

To enter a Masters of Business Administration program you need to meet a number of requirements. Below is a list of what you'll need to get into a MBA program, in the United States. Note that some will vary depending on the school you are applying to:

  • A four-year Bachelor's Degree in a recognized U.S. universty or international equivalent
  • A minimum two to three years related work experience
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of professional recomendation
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • GMAT score over 600

Watch this video to find out what sets you apart when applying for an MBA

The first and most important thing to do after earning your undergraduate degree (or before if you can) will be to get full-time, related work experience.

aceofspadestrader:

Try going into healthcare consulting (there's a ton of firms out there that specialize in hc). if you still want to get into finance after, get an MBA. In the meantime, you should try to do anything business oriented this summer.

How To Get An MBA With A Biology Undergrad

Lots of universities with heavy finance related programs recruit interns and provide networking opportunities directly on-campus. If you have a degree outside of finance or do not attend a university where businesses recruit finance positions, it will be up to you to network on your own. To do this, you can try cold-calling alumni from your university who have similar jobs, send emails, or reach out to potential mentors in a casual coffee talk setting. There are several ways you can get your 'in' but it will take a lot of leg-work on your part.

Read more about getting an MBA on WSO

Decided to Pursue a Wall Street Career? Learn How to Network like a Master.

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Networking Guide

Comments (42)

Jun 21, 2011

go for equity research and focus on the biomedical sector. i think your chances are a lot better there.

Jun 21, 2011

Just say you can dissect a financial statement like a frog

    • 1
Jun 21, 2011

Work in bio-related industry, then do MBA in finance, and try to get hired as an associate

Jun 21, 2011

Try going into healthcare consulting (there's a ton of firms out there that specialize in hc). if you still want to get into finance after, get an MBA. In the meantime you should try to do anything business oriented this summer

Jun 21, 2011

HCs take PhDs

Jun 21, 2011

Instead, go work in pharma sales (unfortunately, biotech wants either seasoned pharma sales reps or masters degrees with sales exp), and kick ass there, then go for an MBA, and during recruiting, get in as an associate.

Jun 21, 2011

Leerink Swann. You're in Boston, they're in Boston. Do something about it.

Jun 21, 2011

Exactly what ThaVanBurenBoyz said

I too am a biology major and I spent some time as a banker. My next goal is to join Leerink or a shop with a strong hc sector focus

Apr 11, 2015

I was hoping to ask how you were able to become a banker with a biology major. I hope to do the same and it's sounding like I need a big break, the more I talk with seasoned guys

Jun 21, 2011

I think unfortunately northeastern is a tougher obstacle than your major. In fact since biology is much tougher than finance as a major if you have a good GPA that looks very good. problem will be getting access to recruiters and interviews since banks don't recruit at northeastern. You'll need to network with alum to get a chance to interview.

Jun 21, 2011

Well BLiastoise said what I didnt want to say but its is true

Recruiters/interviewers are very happy to see my biology major in addition to my well respected school

Just remember to learn as much as you can about the industry and never give up. Opportunity will present itself if you continue to look

Jun 21, 2011

you can do it, I know someone who has done it ;)

its not like you majored in poly sci or history. You just have to explain why trading/research/IB versus med school/research/biotech etc.

Subtly indicate how your major is difficult and not a fluff major (counters the non-target/non-finance) but don't emphasize it too much as it will annoy the people interviewing you (since they probably were not science majors)

Jun 21, 2011

Although not life sciences oriented, Provident Healthcare Partners is Boston-based, and full of "non-targets." I think there's a couple of Northeastern grads there.

Jun 21, 2011

try to take some finance courses.

shoot for hc/biotech/pharma firms...product/business development, sales, operations, and maybe if you get lucky a finance role within r&d. R&D finance will get you a some modeling/valuation exposure where you can be more marketable to IB assuming you get an MBA or MSF.

Jun 22, 2011

NU has a kid at GS Levfin this summer. It's not like he's graduating from ITT Tech.

My recommendation would be to reach out to other's that have made the switch in the Boston area.

Jun 22, 2011
theBEEGEES:

NU has a kid at GS Levfin this summer. It's not like he's graduating from ITT Tech.

My recommendation would be to reach out to other's that have made the switch in the Boston area.

OP is from Northeastern, not Northwestern aka NU.

Jun 23, 2011
GED or Bust:
theBEEGEES:

NU has a kid at GS Levfin this summer. It's not like he's graduating from ITT Tech.

My recommendation would be to reach out to other's that have made the switch in the Boston area.

OP is from Northeastern, not Northwestern aka NU.

I'm aware. Northeastern also goes by the abbreviation NU.

Jun 23, 2011

I was in your exact situation one year ago except I wanted to go into scientific research. I would def. look into equity research. ER offers high pay and u can combine ur knowledge of finance and bio. Currently interning at a research shop and i love it. It did help that i cam from a semi target school, but I still think you could do it. My opinion, since u are coming from a non-target..take the GRE. Go for a masters in bio at a top school, which will give you access for recruiting. Even an MPH for that matter. This is out of the ordinary, but that should be your last choice. Network like crazy (linkedin), learn about the industry, take a finance class or teach ur self finance and accounting (the basics is enough for now), and make use of this site. The users on this site are very helpful.

Let me know if you have anymore question
Take care

Jun 23, 2011
unknown4ever:

I was in your exact situation one year ago except I wanted to go into scientific research. I would def. look into equity research. ER offers high pay and u can combine ur knowledge of finance and bio. Currently interning at a research shop and i love it. It did help that i cam from a semi target school, but I still think you could do it. My opinion, since u are coming from a non-target..take the GRE. Go for a masters in bio at a top school, which will give you access for recruiting. Even an MPH for that matter. This is out of the ordinary, but that should be your last choice. Network like crazy (linkedin), learn about the industry, take a finance class or teach ur self finance and accounting (the basics is enough for now), and make use of this site. The users on this site are very helpful.

Let me know if you have anymore question
Take care

Masters in biol at top schools have recruiters come to them? sounds strange. I have many friends doing life science masters in top Canadian and ivy league schools, and I never heard of that. Seeing that biology PhDs are found in high numbers, Im sure ER recruiters would only take PhDs ... unless you and the recruiter have the same last name

Jun 23, 2011

Actually if you have to have a PhD and are coming in at an entry level position, they rather have the masters student. Why? #1 a masters graduate and PhD graduate have the sam knowledge in terms of science. Only thing is the PHd student spends like 4-6 years to do their own research for their thesis. + they have to pay you more for ur phd considering all values are the same. They rather take the master guy. Actually if you go look for masters program in sciences, you will find very few. This is because there something about research grants and money, and this is making schools close their masters programs so that students are forced to do Phd. BUT, you can get into a phd program do the necessary coursework in the first two years (same courseware for Phd) and the drop. They will give you a masters then. I had a few friends that did that, one of which is a banker. True there are a lot of science PhDs out there, the important thing is that you come from a top school. Usually tho, people who get their PhDs and masters don't want to go into banking, so you never hear of it. But like i said. this should be the last choice. I would just network my ass off and try to get something now.

Jun 23, 2011

Actually if you have to have a PhD and are coming in at an entry level position, they rather have the masters student. Why? #1 a masters graduate and PhD graduate have the sam knowledge in terms of science. Only thing is the PHd student spends like 4-6 years to do their own research for their thesis. + they have to pay you more for ur phd considering all values are the same. They rather take the master guy. Actually if you go look for masters program in sciences, you will find very few. This is because there something about research grants and money, and this is making schools close their masters programs so that students are forced to do Phd. BUT, you can get into a phd program do the necessary coursework in the first two years (same courseware for Phd) and the drop. They will give you a masters then. I had a few friends that did that, one of which is a banker. True there are a lot of science PhDs out there, the important thing is that you come from a top school. Usually tho, people who get their PhDs and masters don't want to go into banking, so you never hear of it. But like i said. this should be the last choice. I would just network my ass off and try to get something now.

Jun 24, 2011

Why in God's name do you feel like you have to embark on a 3-5 year path and spend tons of money because you're not a traditional major?

If anything, that's an advantage.

Read the Vault/M&I/WSO guide, get on top of the knowledge, start cold calling and emailing alumni and let them know you're interested in finance and have taken the initiative to learn what you need to know.

Your story is what you make of it. If you say you took biology as your major because it was genuinely what you were interested in studying and that you'd like to synthesize your academic passion with your interest in business (through working in a healthcare or technology investment banking group perhaps), I can almost guarantee you someone will take a shot on you and help you grab an interview.

Look, it's the people that take the initiative to learn what they need to, craft a solid story and reach out to as many people as possible that are fit for the industry. The people that say "Oh, looks like I messed up my major. Time to spend $100k+ on an MBA and hope I get an IB job." are the people still looking for work.

P.S. If you have no business experience, play up research assignments and summer work in your resume. God hope you at least have a high GPA, though.

Jun 24, 2011

agree with no homo...

Jun 24, 2011

agree with no homo...

Dec 7, 2012

I need some help pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! Sso I graduated from UCONN with a BS degree majored in Biology. I already have couple years of Research expereince and I worked at pfizer for some time. But I feel like doing a BS major is not worth of if you are not going to Med school or doing PhD and I am not intersed in those. I was thiking to do MBA but I dont know if that will help me or Should i Just do MPH?? ughh I Dont know what to choose but I really wanna study more and get a decent job with Good Salary!!! Please HELP!!

Apr 12, 2015

Whoa, old thread alert. LOL. Transitioning 'into' IB is always hard once you graduate. At some point its going to be a miracle or MBA to make the switch. But if you haven't graduated the best bet is take some accounting and finance coursework and network like crazy

Apr 12, 2015

I am not sure if ibanking is the best gate to VC/entrepreneurship for someone like you.

Apr 12, 2015

*From my experience, having a Sciences background often works to ones advantage in the financial world - Biotech companies are of the most active issuers of securities throughout the capital markets, and as such there is a continuous need for knowledgeable bankers that have Chem, Pharma and Anatomy backgrounds.

Your greatest obstacle is going to be proving that you can understand the numbers and express both the Sciences and Financial sides of the business as one entity in a coherent and comprehensive manner.

*Look at Rodman and Renshaw - Their business is 90% Healthcare, Biotech and Pharma - Call them to see what they're looking for - You may be able to get an entry-level analyst position given your educational background - and they may be more flexible with regards to NOT making you just analyze companies - they may train you as well.

V/C Work usually requires many years of operation within a specific industry - You're essentially identifying investment opportunities.

-GateBreaker

Apr 12, 2015

Thanks for the inspiration. What does being an analyst entail?

Can anyone recommend any good books to read to prepare myself for investment banking.

I am preparing for Law School now, and hope to do a JD/MBA. I was also wondering if investment banks care how old you are when you start. If i do a JD/MBA, I may be 30 by the time I am out and ready to start my ibanking career. Do they prefer 20 y/o?

Apr 12, 2015

If I was you, I'd just go to med school for Plastics.

Apr 12, 2015

haha, If it was only that easy @ArcherVice! Any other advice??? Anyone??

Be yourself, everyone else is taken.

Apr 12, 2015

I know right? lol.

There was another thread recently about this same topic. I think there was some good advice.

Apr 12, 2015

Your case reminds me of Michael Burry founder of Scion Capital. You should do some research about him and you'll know what I mean. He went to med school, became a doctor but was more intrigued with investing.

Apr 12, 2015

I'm on the same boat. Graduated with biology degree and have been working for almost 3 years now. I've also lost a lot of interest in sciences and have begun to find IB and ER more interesting. May I ask what you have done to start moving towards that field? For me, I've consider taking extension courses at Berkeley, but I feel that might be a waste of time/money. Maybe I should go straight for CFA or MBA. I'm curious to find out what your thoughts are.

Apr 12, 2015

My friend works at Avalere Health in D.C. which is a "strategic advisory firm" focusing on solving complex analytic and strategic problems for health care companies and non-profits. They hired her straight from undergrad, with a ~ 3.4 Neuroscience BA.
They really like kids with hard sciences/public policy/research backgrounds. It's the business/public policy side of healthcare. Just an idea.

With a 3.0 in Biology from a non-target, you're going to have a hard time going IBD immediately, even at boutique and MM shops. Can you really not take on the debt to attend a 1 year Master of Finance, Accounting, Financial Engineering, or Management Studies?? If you get a nice GMAT or GRE score there's a chance you could even get some merit aid for these types of programs.

Apr 12, 2015
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Apr 12, 2015