Senior in HS Looking to Get into IB; What can I do to get started & what school should I pick?


I am a senior in High School who will be going to college next year. I have always wanted to do engineering; however, I am now looking to break into finance. I am wondering how feasible this is and looking for help as I transition.

Firstly, I am wondering which of the following "target" schools I should attend: Cornell, UChicago, Brown, Columbia, or NYU (note: not Stern). Unfortunately, I applied to engineering at most of these schools, but it is not impossible to switch (although, I'm not even sure what I should be switching to; finance?). I also did not apply to schools like Wharton because I was oh-so set on engineering :/

The second issue is that all of my extracurriculars are related to engineering. All of my notable awards, internships, activities, and connections from High School sadly relate to Computer Science. It seems like I will be starting over again and am wondering: will this put me at a significant disadvantage? What steps can I take now to stay competitive?

I guess this is a less objective question but should I even bother switching at this point? I've set myself up for quite a nice career in tech, but I'm worried about ending up as a web developer in a cubicle making $80k-150k for the rest of my life -- and that would suck. It seems like there's a clearly defined path in this industry and you can move up the ranks and make more if you put in the work. Am I simply being naive though? Am I romanticizing finance because I do not understand it as well as I understand tech?

Thanks so much.

Comments (8)

Apr 22, 2019


Apr 22, 2019

If I had to rank those schools (don't take my word for it): Columbia, Brown, NYU, Cornell, UChicago. Not too sure about the last 3, but Columbia is definitely first.

Lol, I'm new here but you should look at my post. I was a former physics major, switched to econ and math, and turned my attention to finance after freshman year (currently a sophomore), even though I had entertained IB for a while. I just received an offer from a BB for my junior summer.

1) If you are a senior in high school, you are in a perfect position to gear your time in college for finance. What you did in high school will only matter for securing your first internship for the summer after freshman year (and it looks like you did impressive stuff). Otherwise, what you do in college matters much more. You got into great schools, and you will never have this much career mobility in your life. You could go premed if you wanted to right now and be totally fine lol. So you are not "late".

2) Because I was in the physical sciences, I also didn't have much experience in finance (0 internships) apart from my activity in my school's investment club. I still got interviews at most places I applied. Keep your GPA > 3.7, be really involved in whatever finance or investment societies are at your school, and grind for those freshman and sophomore finance internships which will make you super competitive for IB. Being a target school makes a huge different, and go to all the networking and info sessions that you can to make good impressions and build your network. And you can do a tech internship freshman summer if you don't manage to find a finance one (I did science research).

3) Your tech background will not disadvantage you. In fact, it's a sign that you're smart. And trust me when I say this: this shit is so much intellectually easier than tech. It's not complicated to learn technical stuff for banking interviews, and it doesn't even compare to what you'll see in tech.

Now, the reason I asked you to look at my post is because I am reconsidering investment banking after receiving an offer. In fact, I am looking at tech as a prospective career and considering switching to CS. IB is definitely romanticized, but I still think it has many advantages, and there really is no better way to enter the business and finance world. But my interests have really gravitated toward entrepreneurship and VC, and I think tech might be a better way for me to enter that space. Also, if you start a career in big tech, you'll be making more than a first year IB analyst (usually $180K+ at FAANG vs ~$120K in IB). You'll also work 40-50 hours a week instead of 80-100.

You have a lot of flexibility since you haven't started college yet and are going to a great school. I would say you should research around on this forum and others like it and think deeply about what you might want in the future. If you have lots of reservations about finance, maybe stick with the CS major (or at least a minor), as it's possible to go from CS degree --> IB than Finance/econ degree --> tech.

EDIT: Read over the non-Stern part. Revise rankings to
Columbia > Brown > Cornell > UChicago > NYU. You should go to Columbia unless you hate NYC or can't afford it.

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Apr 22, 2019

The 180k+ FAANG positions you are thinking of are usually researchers who are extremely well-versed in their field (AI, ML, Language processing). Most junior engineers at FAANG make 80-120k depending on location.

Apr 22, 2019

That's false. Base salary is usually $100-$130K, but with bonus and stock, total compensation usually nears $180K. I know that some of the unicorn tech companies regularly give $200K+ offers.

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Most Helpful
  • topboy
  •  Apr 22, 2019

You can get plenty of relevant experience during your first year (investment clubs/societies, courses, etc.)

For IB and considering you aren't gonna be studying economics/finance I would rank the schools this way: Columbia > Cornell > UChicago >= Brown > NYU

At Columbia you won't get flak for being STEM since they don't have an undergrad b-school. You'll have zero issue getting BB freshman programs, sophomore programs, and junior year internship interviews at the BB/EB's. I would however consider switching majors if possible to maintain your GPA. At target schools all that really matters is meeting the GPA threshold and networking with alumni when they come to visit.

At Cornell you'll definitely be looked at after AEM and Hospitality kids but you'll still be looked at and won't have problems getting interviews. The assumption here is you'll be doing your part by maintaining GPA + Networking. UChicago is definitely a better school but if you want NYC IB Cornell simply has a way larger alumni network & proximity is a bonus

After this it's definitely UChicago and then Brown, again you should not have problems getting interviews because of alumni network.

NYU non-Stern will def be a shitshow, even being in Stern is pretty competitive since 80% of the kids at Stern want to work in FO Finance.

Don't really worry about your background/engineering background because your HS achievements won't mean shit after your freshman year. College is where you mold yourself into who you want to be. Feel free to PM for any additional advice!

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Apr 22, 2019

You haven't "set yourself up for a nice career" in anything yet. Unless you're a prodigy developer or have a gig lined up right out of HS. Get into a good school, try to reduce the need to take on debt. Do some web dev this summer to save $.

That being said, you have plenty of time. Your experience with engineering/coding is a plus. I don't recommend hanging that up quite yet.

You are romanticizing. Grass is always greener. What's the difference between being in a cubicle crunching numbers and decks vs being in a cubicle coding?

Do what you're interested in. Use college to become well rounded. Make friends, build your social skills. Network. Time is on your side.

"Out the garage is how you end up in charge
It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars, it's how you
Start off a curb servin', end up a boss"

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Apr 26, 2019

How did you interest shift from engineering to investment banking in a few months? Doesn't sound like there is a genuine desire here...

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Apr 26, 2019