Reconsidering banking after receiving offer... help?

So I'm a sophomore econ and math major at a target school, and I've been aiming for banking since the start of college. I'm now sitting here with a summer 2020 IBD offer at a good BB and completely doubting myself.

This semester in college has been rough because I overextended myself with courses and activities, and combined with recruiting, it was a super stressful time. The week of my superday was insanely hectic, and I was running on 4 hrs of sleep that week. After my interviews had finished, I confessed this to an analyst from my school, and he laughed and told me "to get used to feeling like this every day for most of the year".

More than just the lifestyle, after taking a computer science course this semester, I feel like my intellectual energy has been reignited. I feel like an idiot for not having done CS from the start because my end goal is VC and entrepreneurship, and I could definitely do that starting in tech. Also, tech pays better than IB and has a much better lifestyle. I'm sitting here punching myself in the gut wondering why the hell I didn't do it from the start. I was always quantitatively inclined and could have done it, but I really thought IB was the thing.

Has anyone been in my shoes before? I'm feeling so lost, and I know I should be happy with this offer but I can't help but feel that IB is for suckers and people who are going into tech have it figured out.

Comments (51)

Apr 18, 2019

Same stage as you and I reconsider this all the time. Sometimes I get the sense that this is for people who don't know/can't see themselves doing anything else.

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Apr 26, 2019

Also feel like in the same spot as you and the OP...actually coding an app right now to launch before my internship starts........hmmmmmm

Apr 18, 2019

If you can handle the rigors of an economics and math program at an academically rigorous school concurrently, you can handle investment banking.

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Apr 18, 2019

Thanks for your comment. My concerns are less about my ability to handle banking and more my concerns about whether banking is worth it or not. Like most people gunning for offers from the BBs, I don't see myself in banking long term. I can't say with certainty where I see myself in 20 years, but since tech is so interesting and is a booming industry, I definitely want to be in that sector somehow. I feel like given my quantitative background, I could have definitely done CS from the start, and the entry level jobs pay MORE than ones in banking and are usually 40-50 hrs/wk.

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Apr 18, 2019

ok so why don't you spend your free time building your dev skills & working on projects & then recruit for FAANG, they will respect the BB IB background

also i'm pretty sure tech doesn't pay more (long term-- even short term after 3 years you're making more all-in in IB then you would as a 3y dev at FAANG)

"It is not our circumstance that controls us, but our thoughts that control our circumstance." -James Allen

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Apr 18, 2019

No one will scoff at two years of analyst work at an investment bank, especially technology firms.

Have you considered an analyst stint in a technology group at a bank and a transition to venture capital before a potential MBA? Gives you the analyst experience with valuable exposure to an industry of personal interest while allowing for optimal optionality moving forward with your career.

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Apr 18, 2019

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, TMT is one thing I'm highly considering, and it's probably what I'll try to do should I decide to stick with banking. But the more I think about it, the more that tech sounds like a better start because of lifestyle, more pay (especially per hour), and more interesting work.

Apr 18, 2019

Sounds like you want to move to a more pure tech role. Can you swing that based on where you are in class work, internships, etc.?

Apr 18, 2019

I was in your shoes (kinda) last year. I'm math/finance and either wanted to go VC or trading. Got a BB and EB offer and reneged for trading. Do what interests you. I got caught up in the money and prestige and realized I really wasn't interested in the work. You can't make a wrong choice as long as you go with your gut imo. That being said, banking does open doors, so really think about it.

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Apr 18, 2019

Learning to build software is intellectually stimulating, and it's extremely rewarding when you finally figure something out after banging your head against the keyboard. With that being said, if you don't love building software it's gonna be tough. Hours will be better than banking, but like any job you need to consider culture. If you're not the guy who goes home and codes up a new grocery list app just for fun, or wants to go to hackathons and meetups on nights and weekends you may not like your team of co-workers. There are people who don't fit that stereotype, but you'd need to meet your team to know.

If VC is your goal consider that going from two years as a junior engineer to Associate at Accel/Sequoia/Kleiner/A16Z/Benchmark is probably not gonna happen. Going from GS or MS to an investing role is something that happens much more frequently, even if it only ends up being for a couple years before they place you in a finance role in a portfolio company. Why do they move you out? So you can get operating experience at a real company, which will be useful as a Partner/Company Board Member in the future. You are unlikely to get any business experience in a few years of engineering, unless maybe you transition into a PM role, but even then it's tangential.

Another route to VC could be engineer to founder to investor, in which case switching to CS and pursuing engineering roles makes sense. But you need to decide if that's a path you actually want to pursue.

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Apr 18, 2019

Second this.

Apr 18, 2019

Thanks for your comment. I experienced this in my previous internship which involved programming, and it was incredibly rewarding getting things to work. I never thought of myself as the nerdy CS type though, but I do find computers and programming fascinating.

It makes sense that if I only want investing roles, IB would be the more ideal path. But, (and this may just be super naive), being a founder and an entrepreneur and being involved with leading industry research and exciting new products DIRECTLY on the engineering side sounds more fulfilling than the investing side. I know not everyone can found the next uber, but even being an engineer and product manager for them (and similar up and coming startups) sounds fun.

This could just be grass is greener though. All jobs suck in some ways

Apr 18, 2019

Definitely positives and negatives around every job. Sounds like you've got the right idea though: IB if you want to be an investor in startups, CS if you want to be an engineer at startups. Just have to figure out if you are more interested in nitty gritty details of product, or overarching strategy of the company. Both can be great roles, but even in your own startup you will have to choose to focus on product or business eventually.

As far as being a PM, I personally can't think of a less fulfilling job. A lot of MBAs go into it since they want to be in tech and don't have the skills to code anything, but there's no magic in PM and product manager is the fast track to nowhere. Being the go-between for the technical team and the business people, trying to explain why you can't roll out this new feature idea by next week to the business folk while explaining to the engineers why they need to immediately shift focus away from a major project they've been working on for months sounds pretty dull. Factor in that you do very little real work (delivering something you did), spend a ton of time in meetings, and your best exit op is to convince some engineers you know to quit their stable job to come build your startup and you've got a recipe that could be a disaster. Or could be great if you pull it off.

If it turns out you love to code and want to stay in engineering, keep in mind salaries max out way earlier than high finance and ageism in the development world is real. After 35 (admittedly a long way off) people will expect you to be in management, taking you away from what you enjoy. You could love managing people and the product strategy work that leads toward more of a CTO role and be perfectly happy though, so it's not necessarily all bad moving away from development.

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Apr 25, 2019

A lot of VC folks in San Francisco also took the Engineer to Product Manager to VC route, so that's tried and tested too

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Apr 18, 2019

It's pretty clear IB isn't for you. I have the feeling that going down that path will be brutal for you. It's brutal for those that are actually interested in capital markets/finance. Also, and this is especially true at the intern/analyst level, it wont be intellectually stimulating for you. You should totally switch to tech if you have the ability to do so. IB really is, in many cases, for those that don't really have a passion for anything and don't know what to do. I think your analysis is spot on.

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Apr 18, 2019

Thanks for your comment. Brutal, huh? Hmm. I guess what I'm trying to figure out with this post is if there are doors that IB will open that I would prefer over the doors that big tech will open. I do find capital markets as a whole interesting, but yes, it doesn't seem like the daily grind of IB involves anything remotely interesting.

You seem to have a different opinion than most people who've commented. Is there anything from your background or story that has led you to recommend tech so quickly? Did you go from IB to CF? Thanks again.

Apr 18, 2019

What kind of group/bank have you signed with? From what I know standard street hours isn't 3am every day for the whole year (it will definitely be the case during deal crunch time though). Also recruiting is a different kind of stress - with banking you definitely have some downtime.

I think your final decision should be based on what you really want to do in the future. If u want to do VC I think honestly doing banking and then some operations role at a tech firm/tech PE will place u better than going the dev route.

Apr 18, 2019

I got an offer from a good BB, not GS or MS but like 2nd tier. We haven't been assigned groups yet. My end goal is either entrepreneurship (through startup or by acquisition) or VC. My real target is entrepreneurship, though, but VC in case I fail at that, as I would still love being involved with emerging companies since it's just so exciting.

Apr 21, 2019

2nd tier BB, lol

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Apr 21, 2019

Dude, it's a summer internship.

Grind for 10 weeks, get the return offer and glowing references, and the leverage your experience wherever else you want.

fuck nevada i ain't goin to that state

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Apr 18, 2019

I mean, you have a limited number of summers in college, so you have to use them wisely if you are trying to enter a competitive industry immediately after graduating. Most who go into big tech full time have tech internships and experience under their belt. IB is prestigious and gives you great business experience, but it isn't a substitute for a tech internship. But sure, if I don't manage to get a 2020 tech internship, I'll be fine with IB

Apr 22, 2019

I disagree with your response OP.
Totally with you, summers are limited, but a 2020 IB offer is so much better no matter how you cut it. Sure, I am not familiar with the CS industry, but if there is something I know, CS professionals are equally unfamiliar with the IB industry. They will see the BB bank and be very eager to speak with you, especially with your academic background.

If you go work doing CS that summer, you will be pretty locked in. Having no banking internships will not bode well for FT recruiting if you decide you want to actually do IB, having a BB internship is as close as it comes to a golden ticket to any career path, not to mention an incredibly valuable experience where you will learn business and finance skills, something most CS professionals lack.

Touching on your goal of VC, I agree with many previous comments, you really need some business experience to be marketable. Many CS students I met in college clearly could not enter VC, they might understand the technology behind it better than someone like me, but they have a hard time with understanding finance and monetizing. If you really despise IB, don't put yourself through it, because it will be a bad experience, but if you are willing to try it and give it your all for the summer, I think it will lead to the best career outcomes after graduation.

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Apr 22, 2019

How much time do you have to accept the offer (assuming you haven't already done so)?

Apr 18, 2019

I was given 2 weeks originally, got it extended for another week

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Apr 22, 2019

You seem like a pretty bright guy. If you were able to land a BB SA internship so early in the game, I'm confident that you'll be able to land an equally impressive tech role. At the end of the day, the decision comes down to you. Don't feel pressured to accept the offer, if you don't think it'd be a good fit. I wish you the best of luck in the decision making process!

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Apr 25, 2019

A big difference between IB and school is that banking is done as a team.

My hours are as rough now than they've ever been, even as a dual degree student who worked to pay for college. But I love my team. I know who doesn't do mornings, I know who's cranky in the afternoon, and they are familiar with my idiosyncrasies as well.

The trick is to end up in a group where you work with people with whom you can be friendly. With whom you can laugh. If you like your team, then you learn to accept that you spend a huge amount of time hanging out with cool people and working on puzzles that yield cash flow (or not).

I love my career, and wish you all the best as you figure out your place.

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Apr 25, 2019

Here's the deal man. People going into tech certainly do not have it 'figured out.' Tech is alluring because of the strong culture and promised upside. How often does that upside happen? A lot has ot go right.

What's great about IB is that it cvan prepare you for any career afterwards. Working with and advising companies will help you develop strong critical thinking skills and learn how to help companies tackle and solve problems. not to mention you will develpp the fundamentals of finance and accounting and how to analyze different problems.

You can always leave bnanking and pursue other careers - I personally think it can open up a lot of doors. Think of it as a necessary evil if you want to. No one has ever doubted someone who has IB experience. But if you don't start in IB out of college, good luck breaking in. It is not easy (without getting an MBA). I think you should definitely take the job. if it isn't for you, you'll have brand name BB experience and be able to pivot elsewhere. It's an incredible starter job (despite the long hours of course).

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Apr 25, 2019

I just finished being in your shoes. Coming from undergrad, I was gunning for IB. However, recruiting didn't go well for me, but that may have been because I grew to love coding much more than accounting/finance. The enthusiasm (or lack of) probably showed. However, I'm happy with myself because I ended up as a quant in a trading firm. The lifestyle is better than IB (60 a week and free weekends), and the intellectually demanding part of the work makes me want to take my work home out of interest.

At the end of the day, I don't think you should feel regret. Starting your career in banking is a huge accomplishment, and you'll do well in life regardless of whether you continue in banking after graduation or switch to coding.

You can prepare for tech interviews on the side before you begin your summer internship to test the waters. Also, you can go to a hackathon at your school next school year. If still like the work and get some interviews, tech recruiters would be more lenient on your lack of programming experience as long as you can pass their technical tests. This gives you options, but you'll need to commit a lot of hours to start to understand the data structures/basic algorithms to pass those tests if you are certain you'd like to work in tech.

Apr 25, 2019

At what point in college did you make the switch? Had you already declared business majors and switched, or was this before you declared?

Apr 26, 2019

First make sure you get some rest. it's good approach this with a clear head. Second the whole notion the tech gets paid more than IB is flawed. Initially in your first five years tech may pay higher and tech also pays founders loads more money. However nobody is going to pay a software engineer as much as a banker 5 years in. ...Unless you luck out and get early stage stock options. Learning to code is extremely valuable, especially from efficiency standpoint in IB. So enjoy those classes.

You can always go back to software engineering someday. Banking is a more traditional route and you don't get many chances. Plus it's important to learn how the business world works

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Apr 26, 2019

Seriously fuck off. People literally cheat and sabotage to get into your position with an offer. Just go through with the summer, get your offer, and then you can interview and explore at your own pace senior year if you decide you want to renege and leave the industry for good.

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Apr 26, 2019

I was in your shoes about 10 years ago. Had a job in equity research, but the attitudes of the people I worked with and the general lifestyle just wasn't a good fit for me. I also hate living in Manhattan. I ended up doing software engineering because I'm good at it and enjoy the nature of the work. Today I'm developing software with a team of people I really like, solving real business problems, and have a great life outside of work.

Any experience you get is a learning experience. If IB is not right for you, that's ok. Most of the entry level people do it for a couple of years and then move onto some other field. Very often people move on to something else capital markets related, other times something like law, entrepreneurship, or some other corporate role.

Trust your gut.

Apr 26, 2019

Having friends who did banking and having done banking myself, I will tell you for sure to switch to CS. If I could go back to undergrad I would have 120% absolutely done CS and become a software engineer. Starting total comp is ~190K. Also you can stay in the industry.

But for IBD you only make actual money if you stay in IBD or PE/buy side. Otherwise your comp drops to ~$130-150K after 2-3 years of analyst years--assuming you go into industry, and this is assuming you go to the hottest tech companies. So while you're making ~$130K with already 3 years of experience, new grads with CS degrees are making ~$190K right out of college. Also you're probably still working longer hours even in tech, cause you would probably work in corporate finance or corporate development.

Trust me you're in a very lucky situation of still having choices cause you're in school and at not a bad school (since you mentioned you're at a target). Save yourself from all the future regrets and switch to CS.

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Apr 27, 2019

I think we are talking about two very different goals and with little overlap in life path. Both paths could get you to the same destination, but how you get there and what kind of person/leader you would be when you get there will be very different. So you have to pick what really works better for you based on who you really are.

Enjoying CS classes is one thing, but be honest with yourself and see if you really envision yourself as a code junkie. Do you think you have what it takes to compete with other programmers who probably have built multiple apps in high school? Do you think you can catch up with them in the next 2-3 years? If you really enjoy this, don't you think you would've stumbled upon it yourself back in high school? If you can't find yourself competitive, then you won't build a reputation and can kiss VC goodbye.

On the other hand, having secured an IB summer analyst offer is not a small accomplishment and maybe it says something about what you enjoy and what you are good at. Also, having a profound knowledge in tech + IB experience is a pretty good combination.

Based on the limited information, since you are a sophomore I think the logical path is to switch your major to CS or something and build your knowledge in tech while keeping your IB offer. And if you end up finding an opportunity that is much more appealing, it's not too late to switch your path then. Yes this would mean reneging your offer, which is fine. You don't owe the bank anything and that's the luxury you can afford at a target school.

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Apr 28, 2019
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Apr 28, 2019
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