Top 10 Undergrad, Top 10 MBA... Unemployed 3 months, 2 not great offers to decide between

NotFunEmployed's picture
Rank: Monkey | 34

My story:
- did a degree at a top 10 undergrad
- a few years consulting at a small place focused on industry A
- Went to top 10 MBA
- Did internship in strategy for largecap firm in industry A
- Switched to banking and got post-MBA Associate role at mid-tier BB covering industry A
- Spent about a year in banking, didn't get any live deal experience at all
- Had to take almost a year off work due to health reasons (left the bank)
- Took mid-office role at large PE/HF
- A year in, I pushed for a move to investing team with a semi-ultimatum, got shot down, they found out I was interviewing and I got pushed out / asked to leave.

Since then (3 months ago), I've been interviewing a ton, mostly trying to land a role back in IB and had interviews with BBs, EBs, MMs, even a couple crap-tier places... nothing I could get to an offer. I've had a few investing-focused interviews, consulting, you name it. Counting the interviewing I was doing before I got pushed out, it's been almost 6 months that I've been interviewing.

I've finally gotten some offers, but I'm not sure about their prospects.
- One is an equity research associate role covering industry A. This is at a pretty small place (Cowen, Piper, etc.). Salary is ~75% what a fresh post-MBA ER associate makes at a decent firm, and bonus seems a lot lower
- The other is an IB Associate role at a 3-4 man shop with just one MD. Salary is about the same as the other offer (trying to negotiate it up, bonus is who knows? They close deals pretty irregularly. These are $5-$25 million transaction size deals when they do get done. They don't even have a real health insurance plan (I'm married and might be having kids soon; who knows what happens to wife's job).

I'm not sure either of these places are things I can do for more than a year or two, and I have ~30 years left in my career.

ER is dying eventually, so I'd need to either move to an investing role eventually (tough) or some kind of corporate role in the industry.

With the banking job, is going to such a small place going to prevent me from going to even a solid MM shop afterwards?

I'm not sure what sets me up best for the long term. I don't know exactly what I want to do but feel like I'd be OK doing a few different things as long as I know I have decent career/earnings prospects.

Would appreciate anyone's thoughts or advice.

Comments (11)

Jul 18, 2019

Were the health reasons that you left the mid-tier BB caused by the excessive hours you worked?

Most Helpful
Jul 18, 2019

This is actually a fascinating situation, and you laid it out clearly. It sounds like you are not excited about either role that you have on the table at the moment. A few thoughts:

First, finding a post-MBA IB role should not be that difficult - I literally get multiple emails every single day from HHs seeking to fill spots at BBs, EBs, MMs, etc in New York and all across the country. It feels to me that the banks really need bodies, and you're well educated and have relevant experience. I know it FEELS like a long time, but 3 months (post job) is not actually that long to be interviewing.

Second, how are you telling your story? I'd be interested to hear your spin on the last couple years since MBA. Bad stuff happens to everyone (the health thing was out of your control, presumably, although the firing from the PE/HF seems like it was a little more in your control) and I think in general there are definitely ways to sell the story without it scaring people off.

Finally, do you have a safe enough financial situation that you can afford to ride it out for 2-3 more months in search of something that's a better fit? In your shoes, I would hold out and keep grinding for the RIGHT thing, even if it takes a few more months. I believe it'll be worth it in the end, to be somewhere you feel more satisfied with.

If you're really in a bind, I'd take the ER role. It's at a brand name place (even if they're smaller, people still know the Cowen, Piper etc names, and they are respected within ER) and it is a proper job with regular responsibilities, pay and health insurance. The other one scares me a bit. If they don't even offer real health insurance, it's guaranteed that there are a LOT of other structural things lacking that you'll only discover when you get there. This isn't a criticism of those guys, but just the reality of working in a super small shop is entrepreneurial by nature and you are not going to get a lot of the safety net you'd get elsewhere. Also if they irregularly close deals, you may not gain the experience you're looking for, so at the end of a year you could find yourself in (another) pretty shitty situation.

    • 6
Jul 18, 2019

I appreciate the extremely thoughtful post. I'm getting those emails from HHs, and I'm getting interviews, second rounds in some cases, but then I'm not converting them to offers.

My thinking is that if I take the small IB role, at least I can envision the plan where I use the IB job as a stepping stone to get back in that game at a decent MM shop.

My real concern is that where do I go from the equity research role? It might be the better job to be in while I'm there, but if I don't plan on being in either, the path to move up seems clearer from IB, even at a no-name tiny boutique.

Jul 19, 2019

Well if you are getting interviews and not converting them to offers, either a) your technicals suck or b) your story doesn't make sense / isn't believable or c) both. Where are you getting dinged?

I would think more reps would help. How many interviews have you done so far? What would happen to giving it another 3 months of interviewing at IBs with super-dedicated prep? IB interviews are formulaic - anyone can master them with the right practice (mainly memorization of questions) and coaching (unless you have literally no social skills or your English is terrible, in which case you may be beyond help).

    • 1
Jul 19, 2019

Re: your approach. Are there some friends/MBA classmates in IB now that can help do a mock session or two to get a sense of how you're coming across in interviews or help identify what you need to work on? Technicals are a easy fix - tons of free reading materials and interview sample q&a's out there. And I assume you already have an idea on the "what's" and "why's" your story, experience, value-add, etc. But ease of presentation, confidence, attitude, delivery (e.g. crisp, structured responses) are highly important. And how you're coming across is something that just requires more practice. Best to identify the area(s) you need to work on before you run through the list of BB/EB/MM offices.

    • 2
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Jul 19, 2019

Maybe ~5% of ppl who go into ER "move up"... the exits are notoriously the most vast cuz you gain a more transferable fundamental investing skillset/mindset. Coupled with your IB deal experience and MBA it seems like this would open doors into the jobs you'd really want on the buyside in AM or at a HF. After barely even a year on the job, with your background, you'd be getting looks from HHs. I'd lift that offer if I were you.

Also, ER isn't dying necessarily that's a misinformed take. Broadly its shrinking as the BB firms that post-MFiD can't receive the degree of comp for their services, it's becoming less core to their business. But, this actually is an opportunity for the Pipers/Cowans: Corporate Access and Research Coverage is a fundamental market need and these types of shops are gaining share while becoming relevant in Mid-cap/Large-Cap names.

Think of the ER gig as a revolving door with a steady check and benefits in the mean-time.

    • 3
Aug 11, 2019

Real talk alert: Looking at your story the main concern I would have as a hiring manager is that you seem to have bounced around. Moving from role to role, and even from industry to consulting to banking to principal investing. As an objective observer, I have a tough time understanding what you even want to do. This is not a good look and this is what you really need to fix / address. Your resume is what it is, so you need to confront this one head on. Have a story (or multiple stories, depending on who you're talking to) about why this next move and very specifically why it WILL NOT BE just another stepping stone. And this is where I tell you your comment above troubles me because that is exactly how you really are viewing your next move. You really need to stop thinking about the "future" and start thinking about what you are doing right now. Take the job with the ER firm. It's in your industry (A) so the plot arc on your resume makes sense (stay far far away from that fake investment bank you are talking to). Then, put in a solid 4 or 5 years with them and then reassess. You may love your coworkers and the lifestyle and eventually even the money too and end up wanting to stay. Or you may realize your passion is elsewhere. But you absolutely cannot go into situations where you are looking to your next move before you've even gotten in the door. People can sniff that out from a mile away, and frankly so could I, even all the way through a WSO online forum. You are the wide receiver who is looking upfield before the ball is in his hands but then drops it because he isn't paying attention to the job at hand.

Jul 19, 2019

You've received some good advice so far. If I were you, unless you absolutely need the $ / insurance, I'd keep on looking.

Could you go back to your BB bank? If you had to leave due to health reasons, but performed decently in your 1 year there, would they not be willing to have a conversation, even if it's your old bosses putting in a good word for you in another group at the bank?

    • 1
Jul 20, 2019
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