Q&A: Community College --> Semi-Target --> Big 4 Audit --> Boutique IB M&A (Ask Me Anything)

Always a popular topic and I'm happy to share my experience.

To give you some background info on myself, I went to community college after HS then transferred to a semi-target where I received a BBA and Macc. I started my career at a Big 4 (audit) in the Bay Area and made the jump to IB after my first year.

I'm pretty open, so feel free to ask anything that comes to mind.

Comments (16)

Jun 30, 2020
  1. (This is a 2-parter) Did you know about IB when you were in CC and when you transferred do you think CC tampered with your chances of landing IB out of undergrad?
  2. Would you rather have went to a non target straight out of ug and just grinded hard on networking or do you think the way you did it was the right way to go
  3. What are your plans for the future
Most Helpful
Jun 30, 2020
  1. To the first part of your question, no, I didn't know about IB when I was in CC. I knew I wanted to go into finance before I transferred but didn't have a solid grasp on finance careers. For the second part of the question, I do think it made it more difficult but that stemmed mostly from a lack of exposure to the industry. If I knew about IB and the recruiting process when I started in CC, I could have taken different steps (e.g., leadership roles in finance clubs, finance/accounting focused internships, networking, etc.) prior to transferring that would have boosted my chances of securing an SA and FT position out of ugrad.
  2. Assuming you mean a non-target out of HS and not UG, I would take the path I chose again if given the opportunity. I did poorly in HS and the non-targets I would have been accepted to would have made it nearly impossible to recruit into IB. That being said, I knew a lot of people that transferred from non-targets to my school and that route could give you a better opportunity to build your professional skillset than a CC during your freshman and sophomore years.
  3. To completely honest, I'm not sure what the next step in my career will be. The idea of going to the buyside is appealing but it'll be a challenge given my background. I've also looked into industry roles that a lot of people from IB recruit into (e.g., corp dev, biz ops, FP&A) and would consider them with the right company.
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Jun 30, 2020

I did the CC route before going to a semi-target. To be honest my most memorable and best teachers taught at the CC.

Greed is Good!

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 30, 2020

Congrats on the transition. I'm sure it wasn't easy, so great job!

When recruiting, did you find the community college experience made your recruiting more difficult? Or was it possibly even an asset, because it showed how hard you worked and how determined you were?

Jun 30, 2020

Great question.

On day 1 of school after I transferred, I was advised, along with all of the other transfer students, to never bring up being a transfer student during recruiting unless specifically asked. To this day, I'm not sure if this was to maintain the brand of the school or the students. That being said, I chose to not disclose attending a CC during recruiting and that worked fine for me. The only issue I encountered was the occasional question regarding my lack of internship experience as a junior.

    • 3
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jul 1, 2020

Makes total sense. Actually, it was good that the new school reps took the time to give you guys a game plan moving forward... glad it worked out!

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 1, 2020

When you say don't bring it up, did you actually leave CC and experiences from there off your resume?

Jun 30, 2020

Congratulations on your tremendous achievement. I was in audit a year ago as well, know how hard it can be to break through that ceiling.

Curious if you've found any transferable skills between the two -- for me, the exposure to financial statements I got through the tie-out was definitely helpful but maybe there are more salient things in M&A

Jun 30, 2020

Congrats to you as well. It's definitely not a process I want to go through again.

Broadly speaking, I would say there were two main skills that were pretty transferable. The first is what you mentioned which are the tie-outs. These helped tremendously with seeing how the financials are connected at the detailed level. The other skill I found to be pretty helpful was the ability to do diligence in general. Maybe it was because my main audit client had a horrible control environment (they received an adverse opinion the year before I started and a disclaimer of opinion when I was there) but it feels like my ability to know where to look for potential issues that may arise during a process is pretty strong compared to my peers.

    • 2
Jun 30, 2020

Did you consider using TAS as a stepping stone to breaking in or did you just start networking?

Jun 30, 2020

I thought about recruiting for Big 4 TAS but after chatting with a few of my old team members that made the switch, it didn't seem like it would be too helpful. TAS is pretty similar to Audit in terms of what you do and the exits I saw into IB were on par with Audit.

    • 1
Jun 30, 2020

How did you make the switch from Audit to Investment banking? was it through LinkedIn networking, cold emailing, etc?

Array

Jul 1, 2020

A mix of both LinkedIn and email. I personally preferred LinkedIn because I knew they were receiving my message; however, I had equal luck getting interviews through both LinkedIn and email.

    • 1
Jul 1, 2020

bay area SaaS biz dev at a startup -- yay or nay (for next career jump)?

Jul 2, 2020
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