Realistic path from enlisted military to IB?

  I'm currently enlisted in the USMC. I'm not an officer and I'll be getting out In the middle of August. My high school GPA is less than stellar. I was young(er) and thought for sure I'd do 20+ as an infantry Marine till the end of my time. Things change and I've found other things I think will be much more fulfilling. Finance in general peaked my interest, and PE monopolized it. I understand IB is the accepted route to get there.
 My question is this: How realistic is it for me to start community college > transfer to a target (I understand the grades and ECAs this would require to a decent degree. I intend to learn more prior to my EAS). > land a IB internship > capture a full time position at a BB (I'd go to smaller/ less prestigious banks if required, but that's of course not the goal). Is this general roadmap feasible or am I fooling myself? 

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Comments (14)

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Apr 6, 2021 - 10:12pm

It is definitely possible! I would start with Service2School and get an ambassador that will help guide and mentor you through the application process. Some actionable first steps are reaching out to S2S tomorrow, creating a list of target schools you want to go to and you think you will be a good fit for (this is the hardest part, not every school is for everyone), and creating a plan of attack for going to your local community college once you EAS. You'll have to apply next March for admission in 2022 as all targets are finished with admissions right now.

I and many others were in your shoes before. If you need any help, I'm happy to talk more. 

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:31am

I finished this post, and continued to do some more research on my own. I found S2S during that and came back to see this haha. It's definitely something I'm going to look into more. I think your advice to give them a call asap is good advice!

Apr 6, 2021 - 10:22pm

The basic roadmap makes sense. The hard part will be the execution. And it is not a negative thing that you're enlisted. Look into Columbia's School of General Studies. It is specifically designed for someone with your background. Hit up veterans on LinkedIn who went that route. 

How bad are your high school grades? Would it seriously impact your admission to Columbia's SGS? If they are, then community college will help. Otherwise, skip it. Also, standardized testing. You will need to ace that as well. 


  • 1
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 6, 2021 - 10:53pm

Echoing columbia gs. Have seen many milvets get into ib from here. There should be many programs / initiatives for you to learn about the school and connect with current students or alumni. Would even suggest directly calling admissions or some office and start asking about how to learn more about gs and how to best set yourself up for admittance

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:35am

Wow this was something I had no idea existed, so thanks for sharing that information. I'm looking into making this option 1 as of now. I'm also quite excited to take the standardized testing. Part of it being I get to show schools that I really have changed since then, but I think a larger part is really having tangible proof to show myself that same thing. I know I have grown, but I don't know something about having a score to show it feels nice if that makes sense lol.

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Apr 6, 2021 - 11:06pm

Former 0311 here and that was my roadmap. However instead of going to a target after CC, I went to a extremely non-target state school majoring in finance due to an unexpected divorce, but I still broke in to IB at a BB. I had to network a lot harder than my peers who came from target schools, but I still managed. If I were to do it again, I would've gotten a degree in engineering or computer science and not finance because while I might have had a leg up during the first few years of my career, my peers who majored in STEM were just as capable and also had knowledge in other fields other than finance. I would've also utilized resources like Service2School and VetsonWallstreet to help me aid in networking.

Now the things that I believe helped me succeed in breaking in:

  1. Utilize your Veteran network. You'll be surprised on how many grunts there are in this industry and I believe it's because we know how to get shit done on little sleep working through the night and still perform the morning after a night of binge drinking, all the while getting berated by someone superior over bullshit. That's just my personal opinion, but you'll find plenty of service-members willing to help you out, but only if you reach out to them first. Linkedin is a great place to start. Also try to talk with the officers in your company or battalion. Chances are they have friends from college in banking and wouldn't mind setting up a networking call with them, especially if you are a stellar Marine. 
  2. Resume. No one cares how badass your job was and how you know how to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire or maneuver. While that sounds cool, it doesn't showcase the complexity of our jobs as infantryman. People who weren't in combat arms can't understand it. Think about giving instructions to POGs and fresh boots and how you have to translate what you know in a level that they can understand. Likewise, you have to change the way you describe what you did to make sense to civilians who are looking to hire you. For example, if you were a team/squad leader, you can showcase how you were an effective team player and leader who was able to comes up with solutions to complex problems with the information you're given in a timely manner. You want to relate it to what you've done as this is just a general example. 
  3. Stay humble and be willing to network and learn from those who are much younger than you. I was in my late 20's and was networking with associates who were still in high school while I was getting shot at in Iraq, but guess what they're the SME in the field and they know a shit ton more than you and if they're willing to sit down with you, don't do anything to scare them off. I've seen too many vets squander their chances because they can't let go of their pride. Again, no one cares how badass you were as a grunt, because most civilians can't differentiate between a grunt and a POG anyways. They just like that you served and that should be enough for all service-members.
  4. Reach out and apply to every bank that you can. AND I MEAN EVERY BANK. Many banks have veterans programs to give you a leg up, except for you JPM. You have one for the UK but not for the country you were founded in SMH. 
  5. I don't know what they teach at  SEPS/TAPS now, but when I went through it it was pretty useless for breaking into finance. Unless you're trying to get a government job, it's fucking worthless.
  6. Have fun in college. It's ok if you don't get an internship as a freshman or sophomore. But make sure you get one as a junior. Utilize the GI Bill and all the resources that the school has to offer for vets. There's a lot. Travel and fucking decompress. Just don't go too wild. 

Your roadmap is entirely feasible. You just have to be dedicated to your plan while being able to persevere even if you plans don't go accordingly. 

Good luck and Semper Fidelis.

Edit: I also just realized you said infantry Marine and not infantryman. Oh how the times have changed.

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:42am

You've made a plethora of helpful points, and I appreciate the time it took you to do so. S2S is something I'm looking at as of today. I think you're spot on with everything in your 'Resume' bullet. It's nice to know other people come from the same position and have succeeded. 

Also, was infantry Marine never used back in the day haha? Infantryman is still commonly used, but the two are practically used an even 50/50 in conversation nowadays. Now that you've brought it up though, I do think I get what you mean by "the times are changing" after giving it a second of thought.

Apr 6, 2021 - 11:11pm

Prior enlisted here and currently in IB not a BB but top MM. I had terrible highschool grades and went to a very small community college like school to get my associates. I then transferred over to a 4 year semi target city school in nyc. Easy to guess which one that is. There I used the military card a lot, networked and got some internships. Time went on and I eventually landed a IB job in nyc. Through networking and show casing how my experience in the military will lead me to doing well in banking. Can handle hours, stress.. blah blah. So it's definitely do-able. Just requires some work as you'll be spending your first 2 years at a community college, not many people will give you the time of day. So you'll be behind in terms of networking and internships when you transfer.

Apr 7, 2021 - 7:48am

I've accepted I'll be behind in some areas. Don't see it as a problem so long as it's still reasonably possible, and it's shaping up to look that way. It's good to see others walk the path you're hoping to, and doing so successfully. Thanks for your help and congrats on a very nice career post-service!

  • NA in IB-M&A
Apr 7, 2021 - 1:35am

I did this and know a small handful of other people who did as well. The tactical roadmap is well covered in other answers, but once you get into a target it's pretty straightforward to get into IB. Just keep your head down and keep sprinting until you get that offer.

One caveat is I don't know of anyone who has done all this, then transitioned to traditional PE. Maybe this is more due to selection bias (for example, I wasn't interested in doing PE and most others I know on this path are the same) but something to be aware of. Would be cool if you were the first!

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