I'm using a throwaway, but I've been on WSO for the last three years trying to move from a F500 back-office job Into M&A. I'm 25 and just landed an Associate gig at an elite boutique in M&A. I figured I would outline my story, and give back to the community by answering questions (if any) people have about my experience.
Undergrad: Ivy, 3.2, Football, Econ/Engineering Minor
For two years after undergrad I worked in a F500 (think GE/Travelers/AIG) IT Leadership Development Program. After the 3 months of working in the corporate strategy division, I knew I wasn't going to last long in this career. All the issues of a typical corporate job - meaningless work, bureaucracy, unmotivated colleagues, and meetings about meetings. After 12 months of working hard it was clear I was a top analyst. My $65k salary, $3k bonus, and 3% raise were very underwhelming, so I started positioning myself to break into investment banking.
At the end of my first year on the job my company announced the divestiture of a large business unit. I spoke with the manager of my LDP program and got staffed on the divestiture team. Clearly this would be a great opportunity to learn and build a "why investment banking story". It turns out that I did not learn ANYTHING useful working on these divestitures, but it definitely helped the story.
I got in to a top 20-25 ranked B school, and left my job for more school two years after college with one year of working on quasi-m&A related projects. I targeted elite boutiques in a single specific T-2 banking city (think Charlotte, Minneapolis, Houston), meaning a maximum of 8 spots for summer associate interns across maybe 4 firms.
I networked extensively, rehearsed interviews, and connected with mentors for guidance. I made sure my grades were top-notch, and I read the Pearlbaum book. I ended up landed an associate internship for the summer after my first year with a great firm.
Over the summer I worked extremely hard and got an offer to start next August.
I am currently in my living room drinking scotch and doing my B-school homework halfheartedly. Thanks have to go out to all the WSO posters that provided their insights on my path.