Is it possible to get recruited out of college as an associate or higher?

So, I was talking to a Investment Banking hopeful (I want to get into Private Equity myself) online. Obviously, a lot of people lie online, so I'm pretty wary as to what I trust. Something that caught my attention was that he says a guy he knew got hired as an associate right out of undergrad. That got my attention, because if it is possible, I'd very much be interested. I mean, I was under the impression that you had to get an MBA or CFA to become an associate. Assuming you went to a target school, got a 3.5 plus GPA, and got good internships, can you become an associate right out d undergrad? Or is the guy just lying?

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Comments (25)

Apr 22, 2017 - 1:49pm

No. Being an associate requires a lot more than just a fancy MBA - you need to be able to work with analysts, manage VPs and MDs, communicate with clients, be decisive in ambiguous situations, make judgement calls, check work for flaws, accept when someone finds flaws in your work and a whole host of other things. All of these things come through real world work experience, not through a couple internships or a bunch of degrees.

Even if you can convince a business school to let you in with no experience and then somehow get hired as a banking associate I'd unequivocally advise against it. I've had plenty of experience with associates that didn't have great work/leadership experience before business school and they were universally terrible and were forced out within their first 18 months with very little to show for it.

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Apr 22, 2017 - 1:51pm

Some of the euro/asian banks will call entry level analysts "associates" in some groups, but they aren't the associates in the BB term we have come to accept as the standard and usually make less than first year analysts at BBs.

Apr 29, 2017 - 2:22am

Seconded.Too common nowadays.

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Apr 23, 2017 - 2:05am

Outside of a JD MBA, no reputable MBA program (from a banking standpoint) will accept you right out of undergrad these days (wasn't always the case, i.e. in the 80s). If you have an MBA from a school ranked in the 50-100 range, with no work experience, you'll enter as an analyst that is two years older than the others.

The promotion schedule in banking is very structured. There are cases were people get promoted a year early due to a combination of truly outstanding performance (not just top bucket) and group need (people left and need someone to step in, or a lateral is able to negotiate a title bump)....but you're talking about sipping 3 levels, with no experience at all. That's not happening.

Apr 22, 2017 - 6:47pm

This is just a title. Big 4 calls Assurance, Audit, Tax, Valuations, every group associates even though it is entry level. There is a difference between just a job title and responsibilities. If you pass the CPA with a bachelors and go right into big 4 earning 55k you are called an "audit associate." But that is really not what a traditional "associate" is with an analyst team under them and significant responsibilities that require actual work xp.

Apr 22, 2017 - 11:42pm

No, she almost certainly got hired as an Analyst out of undergrad and just changed her title to Associate on Linkedin when she got promoted instead of creating a new job position on her profile. No one works 7 years as an associate.

Apr 23, 2017 - 7:27am

Why would you want to start as an associate with no work experience? You would be competing against bankers with three years analyst experience for ranking, which would just about guarantee bottom bucket. Once you start bottom bucket, it's tough to leave, and the VP promotion gets tough (forget about reputable buyside. No one is retiring off two years' associate salary.

Apr 23, 2017 - 8:22am
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Total Avg Compensation

May 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (195) $233
  • 2nd Year Analyst (110) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (96) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (26) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (405) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (330) $82