Pepperdine (non-target) to BB IB? Transfer to target? MBA? NYU Stern waitlist

Hi, I'm currently a high school senior committed to Pepperdine University in Malibu, which is a private non-target school without any OCR. I thought I had a really strong resume that could get me into at least a couple of targets but unfortunately, COVID heavily affected my app. I got good scholarships and am fairly confident that I can do really well and achieve a high GPA. I understand the difficulties of going from a non-target to a BB IB offer out of undergrad and am now considering various different options.

My first option would be to attempt to transfer to a target school after 1-2 years at Pepperdine. The only issue would be getting into a prestigious school especially with how much more competitive college admissions are becoming, and also being a transfer would make it even more ridiculously difficult.

So then I'm led to my next option, likely more feasible, which would be sticking it out at Pepperdine, achieving good grades, and building up a strong profile for top MBA programs. Would it make sense to attend a business school straight out of undergrad or work for a bit first (possibly considering becoming a consultant), then get an MBA? Hypothetically, let's say I did attend a strong/prestigious MBA school first. Would it be fairly easy to get an offer from a BB IB or even hedge fund / PE firm? 

Did I screw myself over by not getting into a prestigious undergrad... or would it still be possible to network/work my way into a BB IB position straight out of undergrad from Pepperdine? Also, I'm currently waitlisted at NYU Stern but am already really set on Pepperdine and am concerned about how competitive Stern is (difficult GPA, Stern curve, lack of college experience due to no campus, not to mention the outrageous price)

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Comments (8)

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 15, 2021 - 9:30pm

As someone who did it, 100% possible coming from a non-target. You just gotta grind out the networking, but as long as you have relevant experience, good GPA, and are personable, you shouldn't have any issues. Other thing to consider is location though, do you want to stay West Coast or go to NYC?

May 16, 2021 - 12:09am

I networked from a nontarget but my only really successful connections were alumni. Alumni had a 90% response rate, compared to a 10% response rate for randoms. And in terms of the people who went from a phone call to someone who helped me get an interview - it was all alumni. If pepperdine has alumni on the street then I'd say it's possible to network in. Since it's a west coast school, anyone in IB may be in a west coast office, so if you want NY, you may be out of luck. If there are only a handful or no alumni on the street, then you're in a really bad situation. 

Then we can look towards a transfer. In a lot of cases the transfer acceptance rate is way higher than the normal admission rate. You'd have to transfer after your first year otherwise you'd have to add a semester to complete your degree because banks are recruiting sophomore Spring/Summer. 

Lastly, let's look at an MBA program. Top MBA programs, and MBA programs in general only accept people with work experience. That means 2-3 years minimum. I have a friend who did his MBA right after undergrad at a top program because his GMAT was amazing. He literally had interviews with every single top bank. But the problem was he went into the program straight after undergrad, so he wasn't experienced enough for the post-MBA associate positions which look for prior experience. But he also was too qualified for the post-undergrad analyst positions because he had an MBA. Ultimately he didn't end up in IB. It makes no sense to do one right after undergrad.

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 30, 2021 - 12:06am

Be prepared for every single hypothetical behavioral question (teamwork, initiative, leadership, etc.). To study for the technicals, build the models yourself so you understand valuation and accounting inside and out, mechanically and conceptually. Have a stacked resume (boutique IB / PE / VC / CD / other finance / etc).

Bottom line: outwork your competition from Harvard/Wharton, and don't undersell yourself if and when you get an interview.

Hope this helps!

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