by Brian DeChesare Comments (413)

Can You Really Use Business School to Re-Brand Yourself and Break Into Finance?

rebranding“Just go to business school.”

“Go to a top MBA program.”

“With HBS on your resume you can do anything you want.”

It’s one of the most common pieces of advice given to anyone interested in consulting or finance: get into a top MBA program.

Even if you went to a no-name undergraduate, did nothing finance-related since then, and you don’t know anyone in the industry, a top MBA program will let you break in.

Or will it?

The Short Answer

Getting into a top MBA program may narrow the gap between you and former bulge bracket investment bankers.

But it won’t level the playing field.

Business school is often thought of as a magic bullet – a way to break into finance when all else has failed or when you have no shot normally.

There’s some truth to that – but there are also a lot of problems with it.

“Non-Target” Programs

Ranking banks, schools, and anything else is a massive waste of time and brain cells – which is why there will never be “rankings” of any kind on this site.

But the relative “prestige” of your business school is important, even if the specific “rank” doesn’t matter: if you don’t go to a school that banks recruit at, you’re wasting your time and $150K.

So even if something seems prestigious on paper or it’s in “The Top 10” you need to go there in-person and ask students how recruiting really works.

There’s a less obvious conclusion as well: if you have a very small chance of getting into the top programs, then you’re better off pounding the pavement to get in.

Start with informal and unpaid internships and temporary positions at smaller places, and then leverage that to move up.

Cold-calling may not be fun, but it’s a far better use of time than going to a school where no banks recruit and where no alumni are in finance.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

Until recently, there wasn’t much respect for part-time programs.

This is starting to change, but they’re still not on-par with the most well-known full-time programs.

If you can’t afford to go back full-time and are only looking at part-time options, you need to visit the school in-person, walk around and ask students and faculty how many banks actually recruit there – otherwise you’ll end up with $150K in debt and access to 0 recruiters.

Running Away From Your Past

If you’re coming from an unknown school, you have a lower GPA, or you have less “prestigious” schools or companies on your resume, you might feel like The Fugitive: you didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re always running away from your past anyway.

But here’s the problem that often gets overlooked: your past will still come back to haunt you, even if you get into a top program.

There are some people in finance who just don’t understand anyone who’s not from a wealthy, blue-chip background, and you’ll always have to deal with it if you have the misfortune of running into them.

Getting into a top business school may reduce your sentence, but it won’t clear you of all the false charges.


“What about top MBA programs in Europe / Asia? Are they as recognizable as ones in the US?”

The short answer: the best programs are still well-known, but no, they are not viewed the same as Harvard/Wharton/Stanford etc. if you want to work in the US afterward.

It’s not because they’re “worse” – it’s just that most US positions are taken by people who go to US business schools. Recruiting is a lot easier when you don’t have to cross multiple oceans for an interview.

If you can get into top schools in Europe / Asia, but can’t get into the top US programs, then sure, go abroad.

No Network

You might be motivated to go to business school if you don’t have a great network and don’t feel like cold-calling dozens of firms each week to get into a local boutique and then working your way up.

On-campus recruiting is convenient, but it’s almost too convenient. The temptation is to sit around and wait for companies to come to you – but that doesn’t work when everyone else at your school is also impressive.

So you need to start building your network even before you even get there. Start calling alumni, say you’re going to attend XYZ school next year and wanted some advice, and take it from there.

Experience: Too Much vs. Too Little

Another dilemma: you might have too little experience or too much.

Going straight for an MBA right after undergraduate is a losing proposition (yes, there’s Harvard 2+2 but that is new and unproven) – you need at least a few years of experience and often more than that to be competitive.

I get emails every week from students asking, “Should I go for a top MBA program right after I graduate?”

No. Bad idea.

Many Associate-level resumes have 5 or more years of work experience – even if you get into a top school, it’s tough to compete with that.

You can also have “too much” experience to make business school useful, but this is less of a problem than having too little.

If you’ve been working for, say, 15 years, it’s almost easier to work your way to the top in another field and then move into finance at a much higher level.

The Solution?

All these pitfalls go back to the original point made in the beginning, and something that Kevin and Jerry brought up on Management Consulted (Why Harvard Business School Does NOT Equal McKinsey):

Going to a top MBA program helps, but that alone will not solve all your problems.

It’s Just Like Breaking In As an Undergraduate

I still get a lot of questions on the CFA and other certifications, despite repeatedly bashing them in the past.

Many students think that adding these lines to their resume will seriously boost their chances, forgetting that they’re just small pieces of the big picture.

And yes, business school is different and much more than just another certification, but the same principle applies: a top school and access to recruiting there will improve your chances, but you need to do more than just go to a good school and drop $150K to break in.

What to Do?

Let’s say you are committed to going to a top MBA program to re-brand yourself and then using that to break into finance – what should you do to make sure it’s not a waste of $150K and 2 years of your life?

  1. First, make sure that banks actually recruit anywhere you’re seriously considering. Visit in-person, meet with students and career services, and see what the real story is.
  2. If you come from a more “random” background then start addressing “objections” to your background even before you arrive at school.
  3. You also need to start networking long before you ever get to business school – all the former bankers will have a big advantage over you otherwise.

Think about pre-MBA programs in finance – if you can, take time off to do an unpaid or part-time job related to finance.

Think about activities and professional organizations that might take you closer to business, or at least ones that let you spin your resume more aggressively.

And start contacting alumni and going through referrals in the months before you arrive so that they know who you are when it’s summer recruiting season.

But Sometimes You Have to Go

Business school is not a magic-bullet solution, but sometimes you pretty much have to go just to have any shot of breaking into finance.

Recent graduates would be better served by going to boutiques and then working their way up to larger banks – but if you have 5-10 or more years of experience, banks only take you seriously if you’re coming from an MBA program.

And if you had a completely random background that had nothing to do with business – like a traveling bard – then you might have to go just to have more than a 0.000001% chance of getting in.

Got Brand?

There’s always a temptation to buy more degrees, certifications, or anything else that gets you more “prestige” and makes you seem more qualified.

But not only does HBS not equal McKinsey, it also doesn’t equal Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, or any other top bank.

Think of recruiting as a court case, with your key witness representing business school: a great testimony can push the odds in your favor, but you need plenty of “supporting evidence” as well.

That might be informal work experience, anything that can be spun into sounding like business, or a solid network.

So make sure you have both the supporting evidence and the key witness – otherwise, you’ll end up with a hung jury and no offers.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Could you go more into detail about how recruiting works if you’re in a one-year MBA program that starts in the fall?

    I’m thinking of various possible scenarios:
    1 Recruit in the fall along with two-year MBAs to intern in the summer and begin a full-time role immediately if you get the offer.
    2 Recruit in the fall along with two-year MBAs to intern in the summer. If you get the offer, you begin after after some months have passed.
    3 Intern at the bank right before you begin your MBA, then start full-time after graduating in a year.

    Are any of these the most common way the timing tends to play out?


    1. The second one is how it usually works. This is why it’s best to start in January, if possible, so you can intern over the summer, finish the program in December, and then not wait too long to start working.

  2. Hi Brian,I am currently a business major student from Central America hoping to land a job in investment banking in the U.S or in Europe(Depending on where it is easier to get the working visa at the time).I was planning on working for (3-4) years on a finance related job and then apply to a top MBA program either on the U.S or in Europe. I was wondering if you can help by telling me which of the following job prospects would be useful as a steppingstone for Investment Banking and which wouldn’t:
    1.Wealth management
    2.Private equity at boutique local firms
    3. Big 4(valuation side)

    All of these roles would be in Central America, as I would work in one of these fields for 3-4 years and after apply to a top MBA program. I was also wondering if bankers would be skeptical of any private equity or big 4(valuation) experience in Central America.

    1. #2 is the best option, followed by #3, followed by #1.

      Yes, bankers are more skeptical of PE / Big 4 / valuation experience in emerging markets, but they’ll be even more skeptical of wealth management experience there. And some amount of PE / Big 4 / valuation experience anywhere is better than nothing.

  3. Hi, I’m currently a senior in college that’s going to graduate from a non target school. I want to join investment banking the assets management side what do I have to do to break into industry?

    1. I’m not sure what you are asking. Are you asking how to get into investment banking, or how to get into asset management? They are different groups and jobs.

      1. Sorry for the confusion I want to break into asset management

  4. Hi Brian, I’m 35 and am currently enrolled in Auburn’s online MBA program. I worked as a copy editor straight out of college for four years, did Teach for America and stayed teaching for five years, and have been doing real estate investing the last four years while doing some teaching and working for an industrial supplier. My job is paying for my MBA so zero opportunity cost there. My plan is to work as an Analyst at a bank or real estate firm in Cleveland once I graduate. Does your advice about breaking into investment banking apply to somebody in a small pond like Cleveland? Based on your articles I have 0 chance of landing a job, but I’m not trying to work on Wall Street or anywhere prestigious.

    1. The issue is that there aren’t that many IB jobs in Cleveland (to my knowledge). So, sure, you could in theory find a boutique IB firm or RE firm or something similar there, but it might be tough to find enough firms to cast a big enough net with your applications. If you’re set on staying there, go ahead, but you’ll probably have to look beyond pure IB roles.

  5. Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for your detailed advice to everyone. Quite informative. I am currently working on my MBA application (with 740 GMAT), and my post-MBA goal is to break into a bulge bank M&A role back to Asia (Singapore; Mainland China; Hongkong, etc.). My dream job is that I can make it to an LBO PE fund one day.

    I have four years of working experience, all based on NYC. I started my two years at big four as an auditor, made to senior title and CPA license, one year at a local FDD consulting firm. I was then networked insanely to land my current leveraged finance analyst role (Leverage loan origination & Leveraged lending credit management) in a Japanese bank’s NY branch for about ten months. (MUFG, Mizuho; SMBC; Romura etc.).

    My biggest concern would be:
    if a good Finance MBA – Wharton, Booth, CBS, LBS, MIT, NYU give me the chance to break into a bulge bank back to Asia market?Considering no school is located in Asia (possibly INSEAD’s Singapore campus).
    Will I be too old to be an MBA asso, considering I already have like 5-6 years of working experience, compared to other fresh graduate banking analysts who go to MBA with 2-3 years of pure IBD analyst role? When I graduate, I am turning to 29-30s.
    Is there any chance for an MBA candidate with a background like me to have an opportunity to directly break into a PE/LBO/Credit Fund right after MBA? What is the most significant GAP you think I should work my ass off on?

    1. 1) The school’s location doesn’t matter that much because the top US and UK schools are still perceived as “the best” in Asia. The more relevant question is whether or not you have the background and language skills required to work in those places (you pretty much need to be a native Mandarin speaker in HK, in mainland China you basically have to be from mainland China, and in Singapore, Chinese or a SE Asian language are extremely helpful but not necessarily required).

      2) No.

      3) This is probably not going to happen because they normally only recruit from current bankers. You might have a shot at private debt/direct lending/maybe mezzanine roles, but probably not large PE funds.

  6. Hey Brian,

    This is w.r.t M&A recruiting in London. So I went to a target french school (but known more for politics than finance), am non-EU and graduating in 2020 with internship experiences as b-analyst, VC analyst and currently interning with a small boutique investment management (interned across 3 countries). Looking forward to MiM programs at target french schools. Since the info on Wall Street Oasis is very conflicting, I’d like to know what schools you might think are the best for FO recruiting and if I’ve a decent shot at them. (Just wish to know your opinions)

    1. So, which schools are you referring to? Just French schools? European schools? Business schools, Master’s programs, or something else?

      Generally the top schools for London roles are in the UK (Oxbridge, LSE, etc.).

      If you’re asking about France specifically, HEC, INSEAD, ESSEC, ESCP, etc. would be top choices depending on your level. But banks recruit from other schools as well – it’s not like you can only get into IB coming from those specific institutions.

      1. Ah I’m sorry I wasn’t very clear with my question. I was referring to Business Schools (planning to do a 2 yr. program hence not applying to the UK). Also that the gap year in a 2yr. program could be useful for UK M&A internships.
        Also what are your thoughts on EMLYON and EDHEC? Any other European schools (except those in UK) you’d recommend for good chances in UK M&A? Thank you so much!

        1. They’re both solid choices, but probably not “Tier 1” for IB. You can find plenty of Top European MBA lists online; outside the UK, HEC Paris and IESE always seem to place well. Same for IE and Esade.

  7. Avatar
    Varun Sharat

    Wanted to know as I was not able to get into a M7 School, but got into Darden, Stern and Fuqua if those schools would be enough for me to transition into IB. My background is currently in S&T. Based on placements all these schools seen to place well into the NYC market. Would greatly appreciate your thoughts?

    1. Yes, most likely, but it also depends on your previous career/background. If you previously worked at a well-known bank in S&T, you should be able to get into IB from those schools and with enough networking/preparation.

  8. Hi,

    I have 5.5 years of work experience, all in buy-side operations. I currently working in a supporting/middle office role at a US PE firm in London, with zero prospect of moving to the front. I’ve been applying for front office roles but it’s been super tough. Investment banking M&A experience and skills like financial modelling are required almost everywhere, even for junior sales/IR jobs. Between IR and investment, I prefer the latter as it’s much more interesting and on the top of the value chain. It seems doing a MBA is the only option for me to break into IBD and then move into PE. It is also the suggestion I received from both recruiters and some senior front office guys at my firm. I’m considering applying for either top business schools in the US or LBS. LBS seems more attainable for me as it’s cheaper. I’d also like to stay in London. But I’m not sure how good actually LBS is at landing MBA graduates M&A jobs. Many thanks, Hugh

    1. LBS places relatively well, but the issue is that MBA-level hiring is less common in London / Europe in general. So if your goal is a post-MBA role in IB, you’d still be better off going to the U.S. and completing a top program there because there’s far more MBA-level hiring.

  9. Hi,

    I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering and 9 years of experience. I am considering EMBA at Wharton, Will that help me to break into hedge Fund/Investment Management (not the quant side)? Thanks

    1. It depends on how you use it. If you can get a pre-MBA internship, sure, it may help, but you’re going to have to answer a lot of tough questions about “Why did it take you almost a decade to switch careers?” and “Why not leverage your skills at a quant fund instead?” See:

  10. Hi,

    I studied actuarial science for undergrad in Africa (2:1) and have about 1.5 years of experience in equity research. I am currently in a Grande Ecole (Master in Management) in France. I’ll be 28 at the end of the program. What are my chances of breaking into IB as an analyst at the end of my schooling?

    1. The biggest issue is that the recruiting environment in France is very difficult (see: because of cultural differences, endless off-cycle internships, etc. I think you would have a good shot at IB Analyst roles, but you should probably focus on London instead, even post-Brexit.

  11. Hi, I would like to get an IB job in the US. I am an international student that is currently working in corporate development.

    What would be best?
    1) going via top US MBA
    2) try lateral at US (insanely difficult? but saves money and time)

    1. Sorry I’m not a student

    2. I think you’ll probably have to do #1 because it’s extremely difficult to switch industries and regions at the same time. You’d have to transfer to a CD role in the US, and then lateral over to an IB role from that… which gets quite difficult the longer you’ve been out of school.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I have a BSc in Petroleum Engineering and an MSc in Renewable Energy from the University of Sheffield, UK. I have experience across a lot of sectors Banking, Oil and Gas and now Deal Advisory for the Power sector for the UK government in Nigeria. My years of experience totals 8years, and im considered an expert in the power sector and I just got an admit into IESE in spain for a full time mba and also HEC in paris. I have two questions 1) is it possible for me to break into PE or IBD?

    1. 2) which mba is a better option for my goals IESE or HEC?

      1. Don’t know offhand as I don’t track European MBA programs closely. I would look for the rankings list on eFinancialCareers and go by that.

    2. IBD, yes, but PE directly out of an MBA is unlikely unless you have prior deal experience in IB/PE.

  13. Avatar

    Hi! Thank you for the article!

    I’m an international, with apx 7 years experience in the financial services industry (front office role; deal making; credit related products) and have been accepted to the NYU Stern and Michigan Ross programs.

    Which do you think is a better option for breaking into IB in NY? Is there a huge difference between the two programs in terms of recruiting?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Both should be fairly good, but NYU is probably better simply due to location.

  14. hi, I studied microbiology at the undergraduate level but I have been working as a banker in the business development unit of one of the commercial banks in Nigeria. I am actually considering an MBA. Do I have a chance post MBA?

    1. I’m considering an MBA in the US

      1. and i have 7years of working experience in the banking sector

    2. Sure, but you’re probably going to need something beyond just the MBA to make the move… such as a pre-MBA internship or something else that you can do now, while working full-time, that shows more interest in investment banking.

      1. Thank you for your response. It may be difficult for me to do a pre MBA internship while also working full time here in my country but I’ll like to ask if there’s any professional program that can fill this gap which i can do

      2. Thank you for your response. It may be difficult for me to do a pre MBA internship while also working full time here in my country but I’ll like to ask if there’s any professional program that can fill this gap which i can do

  15. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your series articles about breaking into IB. I’m 29, female, I have acquired my MBA in Canada and passed my CFA level 2, and currently working in the project management team in a bank, which is non-related to IB. I’ve always been wanting to get my foot into the door but seems like my career path going to the opposite direction. I would very much like to switch my career to IB before it’s too late.
    Would appreciate for any suggestions.

    1. It will be extremely difficult to get into IB at this point, especially in Canada since the market is a lot smaller there. Maybe look at this story:

  16. Hi Brian,

    As a recent grad from a non-target with no investment banking internship, do I have a shot at getting an unpaid internship at a boutique?

    1. I was also a Psychology major but took Calc 1, Financial Accounting, MIS, and Microecon.

      1. Thanks for the reply to my other post. Just wanted to provide my background here well.

        Had a project coordinator internship at a nonprofit my freshman year. I have no finance experience but worked in Retail Sales and worked as a Pharmacy Technician at a top Pharmacy. I graduated in May 2017

        1. You don’t really have a shot in the recruiting environment of 2018 unless you get finance or finance-related experience somewhere (real estate, credit analysis, etc.). You need a sequence of internships these days.

  17. Hello Brian, first off thanks for the website, I’ve found your articles to be quite helpful. I’m writing because I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I am 29 years old, I got out of the US navy last year after being in for 6 years as a nuclear operator and have since enrolled at University of Illinois at Chicago pursuing a bachelors in finance with minors in business analytics and management information systems. I’m also currently working as a teller at a bank while I finish school. I’m on track to graduate in May of 2018 and I was wondering if I should pursue a masters in finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana or if I should pursue a MBA at a school such as University of Chicago Booth or Northwestern Kellogg.

    My overall goal is to become a managing director at an investment bank. If I am correct the career progression for investment banks is Financial Analyst>Junior Associate> Managing Director. From what I’ve read those with masters in finance would be grouped together with those with bachelors in finance as far as positions as financial analyst but those with MBA could potentially start as Junior Associates.

    Do you think it would be better for me to go for the MBA (leaving teller job and getting relevant internships during the summer) and then applying for a junior associate role upon completion; or do you feel it would be better for me to obtain the masters in finance and then apply for a role as a financial analyst.
    Any help is greatly appreciated thank you

    1. An MSF is better if you do not yet have several years of full-time work experience (and military experience is not seen as “full-time work experience” in the same way that a corporate job is). An MBA would be counterproductive for you because a bank won’t hire you as an Associate unless you have several years of full-time corporate work before enrolling in an MBA program.

      1. Avatar
        Scott Reese

        Thank you for the advice. Follow up question, if I obtained the MSF and then started a career as an analyst at an investment bank afterward, would going back to school to obtain an MBA be something that would be expected of me before being considered for an associate position(as long as I meet the other non-degree requirements) or would the fact that I already have a graduate degree be sufficient?
        Thanks again.

  18. Hi M&I,

    I’m a 27-year-old female, interested in a career in IB. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at a non-target/unknown school in 2012. I currently work at a Property Management Firm (Real Estate) for 3+ years. I’m not sure what the best route I should take to pursue a career in IB. As of now, I’m considering MBA programs at top schools but not sure if that’s enough or if there is more I must do to break into this field. Do you think I have chance? If so, what can I do to make myself more marketable?

    Thanks !

    1. Top MBA program + pre-MBA internship in IB ( Focus on real estate-related firms/groups because you need an industry at the MBA-level.

  19. Hi, Brian.I am Kevin from China. I have been working for 4 years in supply chain management and want to break into the finance area. I graduated from a prestigious university with good GPA in China but majored in bioscience. I got 780 on GMAT.

    Really want to ask you about the IB in Japan. Is it hard to break into investment banking in Japan? and how do you think of a career in Japan compared with a career in HK, provided the language is not an issue? I am fluent in Mandarin, English and Japanese. Thank you.

    1. forget to say that I am applying for the MBA program now. Any recommendation? How do you think of Yale SOM, obsessed with Yale’s prestige? Thank you.

      1. We don’t advise on MBA admissions, so not really. Yale is a top school but probably not the best option for getting into IB (Harvard, Columbia, and Wharton would be better).

    2. Yes, it is hard to break into IB in Japan because the industry is not big and they mostly hire Japanese candidates (language skills help, but as in China, they almost always prefer local candidates even if you do know the language). Also, a career in IB in Japan is usually worse than one in HK, London, NY, or other major financial centers because Japanese deal-making is very different and you won’t get the same exposure. If you know all those languages and you are from China, you are much better off going to HK.

  20. Hello M&I. I’m pursuing an undergrad in Computer Science and Engineering in India, Although the university I go to is not big shot, it is still a target school for the bulge bracket I-banks. The problem is that in most cases, Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan recruit for tech based roles, or quant roles. If my long term goals are breaking into buy side(might require going to a top ranked B-School if necessary), do you think it would be a wiser move to take a non investment banking role at a bulge bracket bank, or to take up an I-banking role at, say, Barclay’s?

    1. The problem is that the Indian market is strange and doesn’t offer the same types of opportunities as places like the US and UK (see all the existing coverage of India on the site). Basically, unless you attend a top IIM, you will not get into investment banking there. Other options might be to do consulting and eventually move in or maybe go to a boutique bank if you can network aggressively and then move up to a larger one.

  21. Hi M&I

    I’m currently attending the top MBA program in Asia and trying to break into the industry in HK. The school is based in Shanghai but I will be exchanging to HK this sept – dec. I already went through the recruiting season summer intern in HK and got to the final round to Merill Lynch. My questions are two part. First, is it much harder to break into the industry during full time recuirt meant, because I heard some firms don’t even hire for full time. Second, how important is MBA gpa? I had over 3.7 before and now wavering around 3.63 wondering if that will be an issue.


    1. 1) Yes, it is much harder, and many firms don’t even make full-time hires outside of their intern classes. 2) MBA GPA is not that important next to the school’s reputation.

  22. I currently work in strategy for a large health plan. I’ve had 7+ years of management, directorship experience. I have a doctorate degree in pharmacy so not finance related. I’m admitted to both Darden EMBA and Cornell EMBA Americas. Do you think it’s possible for me to leverage these programs into an IB role?

    1. Potentially, yes, but you would probably need some type of finance experience first. If you can’t take time off to do that, you might have better luck going for roles at VC funds that do healthcare or corporate finance at healthcare companies.

  23. I am working at a bulge bracket bank back office. Im in investor services where we provide customer support to FAs and investors who invested in our funds. Im doing very easy work everyday like managing contact info or emailing tax documents, and creating investor profiles.

    My question: if i do this for 2-3 years and i get 700+ in gmat, would i have a good shot at a target mba program?

    1. Potentially, yes, but you’d need some really good leadership or activities outside of work to get in. Because that type of job alone isn’t impressive enough to give you a good shot at the top schools.

  24. I completed my undergrad program (architecture) but became very bored with what i was doing after 4 years. I recently became interested in finance after a friend allowed me to shadow him at work. I graduated with my bachelors in 2012 and am looking to break into (IB although i have NO experience). Ive looked into MBA programs (nyu, baruch, etc) but want to know if this route makes sense.. Is it even possible?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, if you break into a target school, this will help. I’d say Stern, Wharton, Columbia, HBS are all good schools

  25. Situation:

    Recent graduate (May 2015) Non-target D-3 small liberal arts school for undergraduate. I have experience in financial consulting but have been trying to break into investment banking, PE, hedge funds etc. Unfortunately I did not have opportunities for internships in any of those segments. I know most people usually intern in IB then get into a full-time program. What are some ways to break in ? Im not in the worst experience possible because I 1. Am at least a finance major 2. Have some experience in the financial services field. Also, does it make sense to rebrand myself through a top MBA, MSA (M of accountancy) or MFA and go to a school where I know there is goood recruiting attention? Thank you

    1. I wouldn’t go back to school at this point. Your best option is to follow the exact same plan this reader did here:

  26. Hello,

    My situation:
    Bulge bracket IT Business analysis -Associate-level, non-finance degree Penn State, military experience, 29yo.

    Do I work from within to break into IB by going to a part-time MBA (i.e. NYU), or leave; go to a full time program. The second choice freaks me out because I already have a decent job, why would I want to go through the process of finding another one? I’m fighting myself everyday on this topic.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d probably go with the part-time one if you are not ready to leave your current job.

      1. Thank you, Nicole.

  27. Hi
    I am an eastern Europian female, 26 y.o. Have some background in private banking, speak 5 languages. Willing to transit into management consulting.
    I have been accepted to LBS, Cornell, UCLA and Emory full-time MBA programs. Which school sounds the most appealing in terms of employment internationally?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! I’d say LBS and Cornell. It also depends on which country you’re looking at, as well as which city you want to study in.

  28. Hi,

    I have 2.5 years of IB experience as an analyst (in a non-bulge bracket bank). I want to get into a top-tier bank/boutique, where I can work on more diverse and international transactions. I’ve been applying to schools and am currently meditating between two offers – one is a 2-yr MSc in Europe with a focus on the power/network industries and the other an MBA in Turkey (top 100 in FT European business schools) at a school that has very good business connections locally (but not so much on an international level). Both are with scholarships that cover fees and accommodation. Most of the MBA class are people with no or little work experience, and the MSc class consists mainly of people with experience in the electrical/product engineering. What advice will you give me as to what’s best to do in my situation? Do you think it is better to take the easier option (the MBA) and earn time to try to break in at a senior analyst level in Turkey (can speak the language due to background) or take the more rigorous and international (and arguably more reputable) European MSc programme and deepen my knowledge in the network industries sector? Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you’re interested in network industries, I’d go with the MSc. If you want a more general education with an emphasis on management, I’d go with the MBA. I don’t think you’d go wrong either way.

      1. Thanks, Nicole!

  29. Hi,
    This is a really interesting article, thank you for the post! I have a question, I am 19 and just got accepted into law at McGill. I would ideally want to do business consulting and get accepted into an MBA program in one of the top business schools, but I am really unsure whether I should be doing an undergraduate degree in business, instead of law. I just finished college, and McGill offers a direct entry into their law program. Would you suggest that I should focus more on getting an undergraduate in business, or will it be beneficial for me to have a background in law to attain my ultimate goal?
    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I may be wrong. However, if you are not sure, you may want to pursue law first and switch to business later. It would be harder to switch back to law if you decide you want to do law down the road, because it is a specialized industry.

  30. Hi I’m a Singaporean student, I’m currently doing an engineering bachelors degree from the National University of Singapore which is ranked 2nd in asia and in the 10s worldwide. However my GPA isn’t fantastic. and am looking to switch over to finance. If i do work before dong my MBA, it would most likely not be in non-banking sectors. What is better? taking an MBA after graduating or doing a non-banking job for a few years first? I’ve heard if you’re job has nothing to do with the business side of things then it’s as good as not having experience.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think it is easier to get into a top MBA after working for a few years, in banking or non-banking. So in your case, yes it maybe beneficial to work for a few years. Make sure you get into a top MBA or else it wouldn’t be that useful if you want to break into the industry.

  31. Hi I am an American who just got accepted into LSE Finance and PE, Oxford MFE, and LBS Mgmt. (Still waiting to hear back from Cambridge MPhil Mgmt).

    LSE – heard it’s like a factory.
    Oxford – financial economics sounds not so serious??? Oxford has a good rep worldwide but not sure if it will help me get a job.
    LBS – great MBA, but keep having it confused with LSE in the states.
    Cambridge – eh.

    I have zero finance internships, but graduated from an Ivy League School. Which program will help me get a job in the US?? ***

    No, I didn’t apply to MIT Masters of Finance bc I heard bad things and was not impressed when they came to my school to give a presentation. Also mad $$$.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! I prefer LBS but this is a personal choice. It offers a great network and is situated in London which increases your networking opportunity. I don’t think you’d go wrong either way, and I believe LBS is well recognized in international cities in the States. Perhaps Ox-bridge may be better recognized at other states but I would’t worry too much about it – if you decide to study in Europe, there’s always a chance that some Americans back home (if you were to go back there) will not know of your school’s name no matter how famous your school is back in Europe.

  32. Thanks for the read. I have a bit of a query that isn’t exactly related to this article. I am in the Peace Corps and want to stay abroad, particularly in Africa. Given that the author’s bio says he is traveler maybe you can share some advice.

    My background is in Education, 2 years with Teach for America and two years with an education program in the Peace Corps. I enjoy working in education but not the classroom. I like the idea of working with expanding private options for low income households and working with rolling out projects in any field.

    After reading this article, the idea of interning with a business in Africa seemed cool. This furthered my belief that my options are pretty wide open. Do you have any suggestions for how someone could crack into the business world, as an American, in the continent of Africa with a background such as mine?

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Have you explored emerging market funds/companies? Or you may want to explore international companies in Africa and start contacting them? I’d narrow down a list of companies in Africa you want to work for and start contacting people at such firms via LinkedIn, ideally Americans who are working there

  33. Hi Nicole,

    Thank you for your response. The only way I know to build an investing experience is to have a personal portfolio. Do you think this is going to be enough? Are there any other way to showcase an interest in investing? Besides the IT role in funds, what else can be a conceivable entry point into the finance field?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Having a personal portfolio helps. If you can point to an finance self study course and activities outside of work (i.e. finance club etc) this may also help.

  34. Hi, this is a very interesting article. Thank you for publishing. I have 15 years of IT (infrastructure) background in various industries (local government, finance, retail and advertising). Currently, I’m an Associate Director of IT. I’m also attending Cornell EMBA program, which is very intense. I’m planning to switch to finance field, to either VC (best case) or Portfolio/Fund management. Do you think it is doable? Would you have any particular suggestion?

    thank you in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, perhaps you can look at IT roles in funds. I would recommend you to build your investing experience if you’re interested in transitioning into a front office role

  35. Hi M&I,

    I have a question about the top tier business schools.

    I graduated in a top university in Asia and am working in the sales team at a top tier global asset management firm, based in Hong Kong.

    I would like to go to business school to rebrand myself to break into the investment area. I am targeting London Business School (because I love London!), but I am not sure whether LBS is considered top-tier in Asia.

    Most of the discussions about MBA are quite American-oriented, many people suggest LBS cannot compare to M7 for recruiting in the US. However, I am not aiming at working in the US, I want to get back to Asia Pacific after graduation. So I would like to see how people perceive LBS in Asia (probably Hong Kong or Singapore)

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily, LBS is a good school, though yes HBS, Wharton & GSB may have better reputation

  36. Hello,

    This is a very helpful article. I had a query. I have 4 yrs of experience in family business with a Econ degree from a non-target. Which would be wiser to break into IBD/VC/PE: pursuing an MSF degree or an MBA. Also, what do you think of online mba/msf programs in regards to recruiting.

    Thank you for your response in advance.

  37. Hello,

    I just came across your article after doing a quick google search and found it to be very informative. Thanks for the clarifications.

    I’m interested in breaking into finance. I graduated from a non-target school, majored in finance and graduated with a 3.5 GPA. I currently work for a global payments network company in their pricing division. I plan on attending a top MBA program after completing roughly 3-4 years of work experience (currently have a little over a year of work exp.)

    What are my chances of breaking into finance – whether it be IB, PE, or VC? (Assuming I do get into a top MBA program)

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Assuming you get into a top tier MBA program, you may have 50/50 chance because you’ll still be competing against people who have had industry experience

  38. Hi, Nicole.
    I am hardware engineer working at one of the top tech firms (e.g. apple, google, microsoft). I have bachelor’s and master’s degree from top engineering school. I also took a few economics courses. I would really like to switch my career to investment banking or hedge fund, specifically in technology sector! I am planning to attend a top MBA to learn more about finance. Do you think it is common/plausible for someone like with no finance background to break into investment banking or hedge fund in tech sector after pursuing MBA? I wish my tri-lingual (Chinese and Korean) can help too. In addition to pursuing MBA, is there any other thing I should prepare for?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes people do break into the sector with no experience after a top tier MBA, though it can be more challenging these days. You’ll have to demonstrate your passion in & knowledge of the markets. Try your best to be active in finance associations on campus during your MBA program, network with alumni aggressively and learn modeling (you can check out BIWS) – this shows that you have some finance knowledge & interest in the sector. A CFA may also help if you’re interested in the buy-side

      1. Thanks Nicole. I just have few more questions. Do you regard top tier MBA as top 5 or top 10? And is getting into IB more plausible than getting into Hedge Fund for my situation? Is it realistic for someone like me to break into hedge fund?
        Regarding CFA, since I have no industry background in finance, is passing CFA exams would be helpful enough?

        Once again, I really appreciate your effort and time.

        Great Thanks.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, I meant top 10 schools, though if you can get into a top 5 MBA program, that may even be better. Not necessarily, your background maybe interesting to some quant funds.

          Yes passing the exam demonstrates your passion in the industry. CFA is mostly useful for HF and buy-side roles, but not necessarily for IB roles.

          1. Thanks, Nicole.

            I heard that it is not quite possible for one without finance work experience to break into private equity. Does it hold true even after pursuing MBA for someone like me?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes it can be challenging to break into PE without IB experience, even if you’ve got your MBA –

          3. Hi, Nicole.

            Is there any field (PE, VC, IB, HF, MF) you would recommend considering my situation assuming if I have graduated from a top tier MBA?

            Again, thanks for your time and effort.

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            It depends on what your previous experience is so I can’t say. I’d say its hard to enter PE without IB experience. Its also tough to enter HF without investing experience (personal or professional) or these days, a strong quant background, to compensate for that. VC – you’ll need entrepreneurial, investing and/or IB experience and rarely do VCs take in b-school grads with no experience. So that leaves you to IB and MF. I’d say you may have higher chances with those 2 routes.

  39. Hi,

    I am an Indonesian applicant for MBA degree. My aim is to work for an asset management firm, and I know that target MBA is required. Though, I am not sure what are target MBA for asset management firms (i.e. besides M7, what are the others? Are UCLA Anderson, Yale, Ross, Cornell considered target schools?)

    Thanks a lot!!!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes Cornell is also renowned for its buy-side connections I believe. The rest maybe semi-targets, though they are good schools.

      1. Thanks a lot for your prompt response. How about Hass, Fuqua, Tuck, Darden, NYU?

        Graduating from semi-targets, am I in a good position to land an Asset Investment job?

        The article below states that to get the job in this industry, it is not necessary to attend top 10-15, what does that mean?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I think they are all decent business schools though Stern definitely stands out especially given its location.

          It depends on whether you have solid industry experience and passion for the markets or not. Bear in mind you’ll be competing against people who have the 2 and graduated from top tier schools.

          Yes if you have the passion for the markets and some sort of investing experience & knowledge. AM places more emphasis on the above 2 and yes a CFA so if you have the 3 factors listed above, it might not be necessary to attend top 10-15

  40. Hi,

    I am currently a Junior at Middlebury College, ranked as a 4th liberal arts university in the US. By the time I will graduate I will have a GPA of 3.4 or somewhere around that number in Econ/Math double-major. I have had a few questions and I will really appreciate it if you could answer them:

    1) What are my chances of getting a job in IB without any prior internships in finance? I have only had 2 internships in Marketing, one of them being in General Electric Healthcare division.

    2) If I instead, pursue marketing or sales rep positions in general corporations rather then in banks for 3-4 years, and then get into one of the top MBA programs what are my chances of than breaking in IB as an Associate?
    Would sales/marketing experience help, or should I go with corporate finance instead before getting an MBA?

    3) How possible is it to become an IB analyst after working in Sales/ Marketing/ Corporate Finance for 1-2 years? Do banks only hire their analysts out of college?

    Best regards,


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1) Your chances are 50/50 since you’ll be competing with people who have GPA >3.5, experience & connections in the industry. To increase your chances you will have to network a lot and gain some sort of experience in the industry
      2) Your chances will be higher by doing a top tier MBA. If you can get into corporate finance after graduation, I’d just jump right in. Your sales/marketing experience would help you in other business-related roles though I wouldn’t say it is directly relevant in helping you land a job in IBD because you still lack the deal experience. But the top-tier MBA will help you retool yourself assuming you go down that path.
      3) Yes you can transition to IB from corp fin because the skills are relevant. Its harder to transition to IB from Sales & Marketing. Banks don’t only hire analysts out of college though it is easier if you were to break in from a top tier undergrad/grad program, or from another bank in the industry.

      1. Nicole,

        Thank you very much for your response. In that case I have a few more questions:

        1) Regarding my chances of breaking in IB after college, with my existing credentials, what types of investment banks are more likely to hire me? I understand that I haven’t got much of a chance in the Bulge Bracket, but do you think it would be easier and worth it to try to aim for small regional investment banks, or is the competition the same regardless of the size of the bank?

        2) If I end up getting a job in a small investment bank, how possible would it be to transfer to one of the big ones (let’s say Top 20) in a year or two assuming I do well there?

        3) This may not be a part of your expertise but: Would it be considerably easier to get into corporate finance in the big IBs than in the Investment Banking Departments?

        Thanks and best regards,


        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          1. Yes aiming for smaller boutique banks will help you.
          2. It is possible and many people move around the industry. As long as you’re good at what you do, I think you can easily move around.
          3. In IBs, I believe corp fin & IB are under IBD. No I think the process would be similar. If you’re asking whether its easier to get into corp finance at a company, I think the process maybe slightly easier though it’s still challenging.

          1. Nicole,

            Thanks a lot for the information again.

            I had one more question that I wanted to ask you:

            1) I may have an opportunity to intern in one of the biggest Ibanks in my home country (non-english speaking). Do you think this would give me a better chance when I apply for IBs after my Bachelor’s? For some reason I feel like Ibanks in the US wouldn’t really value an IB internship if it was done in a non-english speaking country.



          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Not necessarily. Having this internship is better versus having no internship/having internship in a field irrelevant to IB. If you have an offer with an IB/reputable boutique in NY, I’d choose the internship in US over the one in your home country. Otherwise, I’d take the one from your home country.

  41. Hi,

    Thank you very much for putting together such useful article. I studied computer science in one of the top 15 universities in the US (lower end 15) and have been working as an IT role in a decent hedge fund for around a year. I want to switch to the business side from supporting role and for now my goal is to land on a p/e job (understand usually have to work in I-bank first).

    I was wondering what are my options to make the switch: I went to school a little late than others so I am one – two years older than people graduating from the same year. I would love to explore the time-efficient way however I am open to the MBA path. Apart from going through an MBA program, I was wondering if there is any alternative. Also I was wondering if a one year master of finance say from MIT or Princeton might help. From what I researched, those are more for trading than investment banking jobs but I would really love to hear your opinion on it.

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes an MBA at a target will help you. I’d say an MBA is probably a better option vs master of finance if you want to break into PE. If you don’t get IB or PE experience early on and don’t want to pursue an MBA at a target, your next best bet is to work at one of PE firm’s portfolio companies or another company in the industry and get experience running a line of business, and then join the “Operations” side of a PE firm.

      1. I understand it can be hard to directly break into p/e, if I will shoot for investment banking analyst position (I understand MBA in this case can actually be a short cut for me to get into associate program but I am trying to explore ways alternative to MBA), do you think I can directly apply for those analyst program or MBA in this case is also necessary?

        Also, I do want to make the switch as early as possible however I am not sure what is a good number of years of work experience. Would you say 2 years work experience might have a shot?

        Thank you

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes it is feasible to break into IB without an MBA. However, it can be more challenging in your case because you’ll have to demonstrate your deal experience & knowledge of IB. An MBA will allow you to retool yourself and give you the opportunity to build the network.

          If your end goal is PE, you can also try to explore working in IT roles for PE first and then switch to FO. I think this is probably more challenging, but with the right network its doable.

          In your case, I think its best to switch as early as possible, because if you do land an IB role, you may have to start from the bottom given your lack of experience in the industry.

  42. Hi am a young graduate of Business Adminisration with no work experience and i want to do masters (MBA PROGRAM) by 2014 at canada.i graduated with(CGPA 3.25). i have the aspiration of breaking into the investing and manufacturing world. in these case of my which masters program and university will give me a chance in the competitive world.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think having the work experience will be most relevant.

  43. Hi,
    I am 34 years old and come from a non finance background. I have a background in Property and design. I have also been doing commodity and equity trading for over a year and find it very interesting and challenging.
    I have now saved enough to get into a MBA in London, UK (Non ranked). I am also thinking of doing CFA level I. Is this a good route to switch into Finance – Hedge Funds / Equity Trading?
    Please advise.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you aren’t going to a target MBA school, I’m not quite sure if an MBA can help you in breaking into IB. It may help you retool yourself and help you break into other roles in finance though. CFA is useful for buy-side roles (think PWM, AM), but not necessarily for IB roles

      You may find the below interesting:

  44. Hey guys – great site. Was just wondering if you could any share insight as to how Canadian investment banks (Big 5) are perceived by top MBA schools?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think what matter most are your experience, your level of responsibility, and your references. While the big5 may not necessarily have the same level of reputation as “Goldman”, or “Morgan”, the name is not as important as the content – what have you learned there? Did you lead? How were you a team player? Schools will be looking at these factors.

  45. Why does everyone want to ‘break in as an associate’? That being said, I have two offers from IB’s and one for a boutique firm that’s a block away from my residence… As the boutique manages just over 5B, should I stick with the boutique due to logistic reasons? It must be noted too that i’m in my 3rd year of university, my gpa is 4.0 and my major is in Finance, double minor in Accounting and ‘Business Economics and Law’.

    Your reply and recommendation would be more than unreal to hear.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! Seems like you’re leaning toward the boutique firm. You may want to check out Logistic reason is actually a good reason because I assume you’ll be working long hours and if there’s a way you can minimize your travel time this will help.

      1. Perfect. I enjoyed the secondary article as well.



  46. Hi Brian,

    If I work for Big 4 corporate finance for 2 years now, tried networking around but haven’t had much luck. Should I go for a MBA program to get in? My thoughts are if I were break into banking now, I would still be around 1st/2nd yr analyst and it would take me another 2 years to be associate. If I were to go for MBA next year, then after 2 years, I will be an associate. In this way, I would only save 1 year if I could get into banking now.

    What’s your thoughts on this?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes getting in MBA before breaking into IB as an associate is a longer route. So if you want a faster route, I’d suggest you to break into banking now if you can, especially since there’s no guarantee you can get a job in IB after your MBA. However, if you don’t get into banking, I’d suggest you to go for your MBA as a backup plan.

  47. Hi, this is quite insightful. But my situation is a bit different.
    I came from a regional top school with a rather quantitative major in Asia and am now a fund sales in a top asset management firm with 2 years of experience. In fact, I am interested in portfolio management, I do work with people portfolio management for some sales stuff. But I am not involved in the investment process. It is a bit difficult for me to find a relevant job. Do you think going to a top school for an MBA or Master in Finance can help me rebrand myself to shift to the portfolio management or equity research function? Or would you think just networking directly with other portfolio management people is more effective? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think a CFA will help you more than an MBA. I think networking with PMs and switching to more investment-related role would be more useful. You can always try networking in the next few months and apply to business school next fall and see how it goes. If you still can’t break into an investment related role in a year, you can consider going back to school (by the time you’d have applied already so you’ll have a backup plan if you get in). A school like Wharton will help you retool yourself to get into other areas in finance.

  48. P.S.S.: My degree is a 4 year program with only management/economics courses.

    Sorry for commenting three times in a row, i thought this info would be relevant.

  49. P.S.: I live in spain (canary islands), should I try with london based banks? Do I have to live there when I apply? It would be very hard and expensive to do that without any income.

  50. I am 23 years old and graduated from a non-target spanish university. My average socre is 7.1/10. I speak spanish (obviously), have the highest certificate in english issued by cambridge (c2 level) and intermediate/advanced level of german. I have no qualified working experience whatsoever.

    In this particular situation, should I start networking for bulge banks, try with boutique banks or get a masters degree in finance? I’m writing this in January, so most application deadlines are closed.

    1. If you have no work experience, you need to get an internship first… but if you can’t afford to go to London and network, consider a top Master’s program in the UK such as LSE.

  51. If your looking to break into investment banking as an Associate what career experience would be more favourable: If you enter an mba with approx. 3 years of capital markets ops experience such as trading support or reconciliation at an investment bank or 3 years of experience with a corporate finance / strategy experience at a Fortune 500?

    1. Probably about the same, but the 3 years of corporate finance / strategy experience would probably help more with getting into banking because the work is more closely related.

  52. If your looking to break into investment banking as an Associate what career experience would be more favourable:
    If you enter an mba with approx. 3 years of capital markets ops experience such as trading support or reconciliation at an investment bank or 3 years of experience with a corporate finance / strategy experience at a Fortune 500?

  53. Hello,

    I am 34 years old IT professional, doing well in IT. I am now keen to switch my field and want to break into finance. I have just registered for CFA Level 1 and would take a break to do MSc in Finance in 2014 ie in two years time. Therefore I will be 37 by the time I graduate out of Msc.
    What are my chances in the industry?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole should help

      To increase your chances, you can try IT roles within finance firms – I think this is your best bet

  54. Hi! I posted a rather lengthy question in the IB hierarchy thread. I still need some advice on those questions, but reading here also brings up some additional questions:

    Is my experience in commercial finance (4 years in sales and not real estate/mortgage related) considered experience in finance and will I be able to leverage it after getting an mba to get an associate position? I know it’s not really investment banking, but you mention it should be pre-mba finance experience–so is this the kind of finance experience that will be enough or does it need to be IB analyst work? Will I be viewed as a career switcher instead, and does that mean I will be looking at entry level analyst positions when I graduate, or is an associate position still possible? If is is possible, what else do I need to do?


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes – depends on what kind of sales. Perhaps a relationship management role at an asset management/private wealth m’gmt firm will be a better fit if you have had sales experience. Institutional sales may help too but tougher to break in these days

      1. So yes I can get an associate position after I get an mba because of my experience? The kind of sales my experience is in: commercial equipment leasing/finance. I mentioned it in the airplane leasing thread. Not specialized in a particular type of collateral or industry but decisions are very credit/financials driven.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Perhaps CDO sales? Not quite sure how the CDO industry is doing ATM but your skills may be of use. Also look at credit sales roles etc

  55. Hello,
    I am currently working in KPO in India.My field is reconciliation and verification of booked forex trades for a major Investment Bank In US.I just started working.MY GPA is 3.00 in BS computers.Can i use studying in BS maths and MA economics to build Alternative transcript? My plan to do MBA is 5 yrs down the line.
    Alternative Transcript means where i can replace my original marks by the new and better ones? Will it help to build the profile?

    1. I am not sure about that one but I don’t think they would “replace” your existing GPA. Earning better grades the second time around may help improve their initial image of you and will only help your case.

      1. Ok,so which one is better? MA economics or BS mathematics.Both the above courses are provided by Indias Central govt.distance education University.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t think it matters in your case

  56. I think this question came up a thousand times:
    What is better to get started into Investment Banking (I am 31 years old and working in a Bank, but not in the Investment area)
    Master of Finance or MBA? (ceteris paribus)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      MBA may be better, but only an MBA from a target school

      1. Thanks for the quick answer.
        In Germany we have only four universities with an “EQUIS”-approved MBA. I think nobody will know them in USA or UK. You think there is any chance to be competitive with one of those?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t think they will be as reputable as the target schools in US & UK if you want roles in US & UK

  57. Hi,

    I am currently 19 yrs old and have done 3 years in Information Technology, currently working for a fortune 500 company in Canada. I have interest to get into business and finance. What should i do? get admission into an undergraduate program here in Canada?

    Which schools do you recommend? and what should i look into their curriculum? does the name and prestige of the school matters?

    How about studying for undergraduate in India ( I have heard that IIM and ISB are good, but tough to get into)

    and which skills should i work on? Be a math geek, personal skills, or speak more languages ( i currently speak 4) or learn at free time more about finance and markets as there are many open courses from Yale,Stanford,MIT and other schools at iTunes U.

    Thanks and Regards!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Top schools like McGill in Canada can help.

      Not sure about schools in India.

      Skills – ability to analyze financial statements; ability to model; ability to sell; ability to multitask; strong leadership, networking, communication, organizational & interpersonal skills, etc

      Being from a target school will help

  58. Hi,
    I went to a target undergrad school in Europe (average GPA though),
    didn`t get into IB, and I`m currently doing private banking for a top tier BB.
    How hard will it be to get into a top 10-15 MBA in the US/Europe

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      As long as you have solid essays, recs & GMAT I think you should have a decent shot.
      We’re not MBA admissions consultants so you might want to consult them

  59. I am Bachelors in Engineering with a low Gpa.I am starting to work in Sept in KPO in India at a Financial Analyst Position.My grades in BS are low.I am pursuing in Bachelors In mathematics and Master of Arts in Economics in a distance Education from Top University in India.Will they improve my chances of getting into Top MBA program After 5 years?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I believe so but then it also depends on your recs, essays, work experience and the whole application

      1. Yeah that’s there,but will these degrees help me build an alternative transcript?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          What do you mean by alternative transcript?

  60. Hi M&I

    Brief Background: I have an engineering degree from one of the top 3 schools in Canada, I have 4 years of experience in IT consulting with 2 well know global firms. At this point, I have been accepted to one of the top 3 MBA programs in Canada and from what I have seen the canadian BB Banks especially target this school as well as some limited recruiting from top US banks . My goal after MBA is to either go to IB directly at associate level with a well know bank in Canada (RBC, TD, BMO or prestigious smaller firms) and possibly transition to Corporate Dev after 2 years. How Critical is for me to get an internship with IB firm to be able to break in with my background. I was thinking about getting some kind of a finance experience and find a financial analyst role (more of a 40-50 hour/week position) and do the MBA part time but in that case I can’t get an internship but will have access to the same recruiting firms and events in my last year like full time students. Do you advice against part time in my case. How can I position myself if I switch to a part time program. Thanks in advance

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Having finance experience will help. Yes I’d try to work for an IB as an intern/part time employee if you want to finish your MBA degree. Network a lot and learn as much as you can about the industry

      1. Hi Nicole,

        So you are saying you advice against doing my MBA part-time (option 2) for someone with my background with no finance experience, in this market? Is there any other ways I can better position myself for an IB job if I decide to go the part time route?

        Option 1: Full time MBA + internship in IB hopefully
        Option 2: Part time MBA + Find a junior level financial analyst job at a bank or other firms = Demotion in pay and position as I am an experienced IT consultant now.


        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Re your pt in option 2 – Given your lack of experience in IB yes you MAY have to take a lower level role but then the role allows you to gain experience in the industry. If you are like the job and are good at what you do, I think you’d happy you took the role.

          Whether you take option 1 or 2 really depends on your financial situation and your goals – I cannot decide for you. Better position yourself – network a lot, learn a lot about the industry, read up on industry news and know why you want IB

  61. I enjoy reading your site. I am currently an analyst in a back office position who is getting opportunities to network and interview with front-office roles through diversity programs. I will be attending NYU-Stern to attain an MBA to develop my brand. Do you think leveraging these opportunities along with a MBA from a strong progam might offer an opportunity to enter the industry as an associate as well?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes both will help, esp with your network at Stern.

  62. Hi there,
    I am from Hospitality background(3+ yrs experience); as food and beverage manager I got to look into financial aspect of the business, which I find much more drawn towards than operations. I want to change my career and get a job in the corporate sector of hospitality.
    I am currently looking for an intern type position in a financial firm to up my chances of B school. My question is would something like a CFA help me as I come from a non financial background? (I know you do not think very highly of CFA’s, though just wondering if it would be different in my scenario)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure, if you’re interested in buy side (asset management) roles, a CFA can help you. If you want to be a CFO of a company, a CPA may be more useful

  63. This was a great read but I do have a question. I’m one of those incoming first year IBD analysts at a BB that will begin training next week. After my two years are completed, I don’t plan to switch coverage groups or move to buy-side. As a result, will it make any difference if I choose to go to an average MBA program over a top B-school?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t quite understand why you’d want to go back to get an MBA at an average school if you’ll be working in the FO of a BB? Yes. The reputation and network of your b-school makes a (huge) difference, whether you stay in finance or not

  64. Avatar
    Yusuf Badat

    Your site is very informative. I am currently thinking of pursuing a Master in Supply Chain Management with an intent of breaking into a career in procurement management at the international level.I also have a master in public administration. What is your advise. Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think readers can provide you better insights…

  65. Avatar
    Tom Jones

    Thanks for this site! Really informative. So I have undergrad computer science degree, 8 years of software engineering experience at a recognizable company (lead a small team of engineers at the moment), in the evenings have co-owned and operated a brick and mortar small business on the side last year for about a year + I have a ton of community service. I’m going to a US top 5 MBA school this fall on the east coast. Odds to break into a bulge bracket as an associate? Or should I just forget about this finance thing and target consulting? Any insights would be great. Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You should ask yourself whether finance or consulting excites you more. You can still break in if you craft a good story!

  66. Avatar
    Tawheed Akhtar


    Nice article!! I am especially glad I came across your perspective for CFA.

    I want to work in the investment banking industry and want your advice.

    I did my undergraduate in India from a top ranked engineering school. After this I got a doctorate from a top ranked institution here in the US(5 yrs). I am currently working with a major semiconductor firm (< 1 yr) as an analyst studying process data.

    I want to go into investment banking. For this I had planned to get into a prestigious MBA program(about 1-2 yrs from now). However reading your article has made me realize that that alone may not be enough. Could you please suggest what the best course of action for me is? Also it would be of great if you could point out where should I begin to network and what internships I should apply for.

    Thanks for the help

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d suggest you to get into a top tier MBA program first. I think a top tier degree would really help you break in (in your case). Think Wharton, Stern, Columbia, Harvard. I think it can be a bit challenging for you to move into IB right now given your limited experience though I may be wrong

  67. Thank you for your informative site.

    I am currently a military pilot working on my MBA from Oklahoma State. Their program is one of the few opportunities I have to get an MBA from an AACSB accredited school.

    I want to break in the finance world (preferably equities trading). Do I need to rebrand with another Masters from an “Ivy league level” business school or is it realistic to get in with my current MBA?

    My work experience primarily involves flying helicopters in awfully dangerous places… so I guess I have some experience with “risk”.

    Thanks for any feedback!

  68. Just thought i would leave a footprint to say what a great site this is! Great work!!

  69. Hi,I am an undergraduate civil engineering student in Greece.I have heard that due to engineering majors are tougher than others that a gpa of 3.3 would be enough for admission in a top 10 business school.Is that true? thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it can be true though our site mainly provides advice to people breaking into banking so I’d advise you to consult with b-school admission consultants

  70. Avatar
    Chintan Doshi


    I have done my Bacholer in Management Studies in 2008 Currently, i am working as an Sr. Associate in an KPO. And now i want to change the job and want to work in an good finance firm with a job profile like of an M & A. But i am not geting a proper job. So, please adivce waht to do. I don’t want to study furthur.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Network as much as you can. Find out how you can add value, why IB and pitch a good story

      1. Avatar
        Chintan Doshi

        I have tried but they tell that mine profile does’t not suites there. Can you tell me which area should i concerate more on, so that it will hwlp me in future. Like for say, M&A, Derivatives, Forex, etc..

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          What are you good at? Its hard for me to say on the comments page

          1. Avatar
            Chintan Doshi

            To be honest, i have little knowlede of all but not an practical knowledge. And also i don’t want to go in for a relationship mangare type of job or for a calls.
            Basically, i am confused.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Well figure out what you want first and then go after it.

          3. Avatar
            Chintan Doshi

            I want to do a job in a core finance company. And job should bereleated to derivatives, Investment banking…

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Then figure out what you are good at, how you can add value, research such companies and cold call them till they pick up your call!

  71. Hey there, thank you so much for the post!
    I am currently involved in Big 4 Restructuring office in Indonesia.
    I was thinking of applying to B-School after a couple more years experience to break into BB Firms in the States?
    Is that a good option or is there any other way I could break in investment bank in the States?
    Thanks in advance :D

    1. *into investment banking

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I think getting into a target b-school is a good option for you. Other than that, it will be difficult unless you do an internal transfer

      1. Thanks for your prompt input, Nicole! :P

        For Target B School applications, am I considered as being “interesting” coming from Big 4 Indonesia? Lol.

        Or do I still need to be involved in activities outside of work to stand out among the pool of applicants?

        Thanks again :P

  72. I graduated with a double major in Economics and Banking & Finance from Monash University. Its an australian degree. I got an offer from Cass Business School for the MSc in Finance. I know Cass is no LSE, Oxbridge or Imperial, but since I want to work in London, New York or Singapore in a front office role of an IB, I was wondering whether IBs only recruit students from the top tier UK schools for London?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily though IBs do recruit more from targets.

      Don’t worry too much. Apply, network and do your best – see how it goes

  73. Hi Brian,

    I am just curious how you spin your way coming from a job that is “middle ground” between finance and non-finance. You write a lot about how people go from Investment Banking and PE to Business School and then back to higher levels in Investment Banking and PE. You also write about how people with no finance background can begin to get credible finance experience and “spin” their story and go to Business school and have a chance at Finance. Please let me know what you think about this position:

    I went to a decent school, not Ivy but not unheard of either, top 30 but not ultra prestigious. I worked very hard, did very well, but obviously since no banks recruit there, I ended up with the best job I could. I work at Cornerstone Research in the antitrust division, a top economic consulting firm, I assume you are familiar with these types of firms. I see this place as a middle ground between fiance and non-finance, a segment you don’t talk much about. Cornerstone has a great track record of getting its analysts into business school, after working there 3-4 years many go to the top 10 business schools. I am approaching this stage, and would really like to break into Investment Banking after Business school. My question is, how do you spin this kind of background, and do I have a chance of investment banking. Do I have a shot in hell? You mention having a non-finance background means almost no shot, but what about this consulting “sort-of-finance-but-not-quite” background. Would you recommend dropping 150K on business school do you think this could get me into Investment banking, and how would you go about it.

    Thanks so much.

    1. I think you can apply the same logic, just say that working there you began to get more interested in the business side of deals as opposed to the legal side.

      You have a shot at getting into investment banking, but you really need to get a pre-MBA internship or something informal first to prove that you can do the work and enjoy it.

      Is it worth $150K? If you put in the time and effort needed to make it work, yes. If you’re not 100% certain you want to do IB and will do anything to get it, no.

      1. Thanks a lot, glad to know it would still be possible to position that background through business school to get into IB.

        What I was also wondering in general, is how prestigious is Economic Consulting to the Finance World. Do Banks see a job at Cornerstone as a reputable position that entails demanding responsibility, or do they see it as a joke job for Wall Street rejects? How does Economic Consulting fit in, because I know that Management Consulting is made fun of from time to time on this site. But mostly, what would Banks think of my Cornerstone experience on my resume?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Banks see that as a consulting job. I think interviewers would be curious as to what you’ve learned there and what transferable skill sets you have. Interviewers would still prefer deal experience though I presume.

  74. …you are not a lawyer

  75. I know there’s a section on accountants trying to make the jump into IB, but on the topic of rebranding I was wondering if you could comment on the possibility of Big4 Tax (Financial Services) –> MBA (Harvard/Wharton) –> Bulge bracket IB –> Top 10 PE

    Other info:
    Undergrad –> state school; summa cum laude; high GPA
    State Law School (was basically free) –> high GPA; SEC internship
    Passed CPA

    Peripheral questions:
    Assuming the prior situation is at all feasible, would recommend rotations in auditing or transactional services (or anything else)?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not sure about rotations but the track you mentioned works. Just make sure you get into a top business school and try to gain an IB internship during your time at business school. Maybe a rotation in transaction services would help

      1. Thanks so much for the advice!

        As a corollary to this, I was wondering if you have any comments on the appropriate (approx.) length of time I should spend at the first job. More directly, do you think two years would be sufficient?

        I know that elsewhere on the site, authors have advised that 3-5 years is more the norm, however, as a lawyer in the tax group (who will also be picking up a LLM along the way, paid for by the firm of course ;) ), I should be able to get more substantive work quicker.

        Any thoughts are much appreciated.

        1. Usually you need 3+ years for a shot at the top business schools.

  76. BTW, the name Nicole reminds me of the Sweet girl in the Pink Panther movies , :).

  77. thanks for the reply. Is anyone among these a target or at least a semi-target for MBA?
    Indiana Kelley, Georgetown Mcdonough , Rice Jones, SMU Cox, Babcock Wake Forest, Vanderbilt Owen.

    1. i mean for IB.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Semi-target MBA I believe – Indiana, Georgetown, Rice, Vanderbilt

      1. Thanks a lot Nicole , you have been very helpful.

  78. Hi,
    I want to ask you if I would have a good chance of getting into top 10 MBA programs. I went to Michigan State for my undergraduate (double degrees), but graduated with not so good GPA. I started my career at an IT company for 5 years then one year at a start-up company as manager. Currently I am running my own business in HR sector and it’s my 5th year. The company has been performing very well. Aside from my career, I have lived in abroad for about 15 years in three different countries.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Can’t really say – we only teach people how to break into IB.

  79. Thanks for this site. I am an Indian engineer wanting to switch to Finance (in US). Have got admitted to Simon Rochester MBA and WashU Olin MBA. Which one to choose? Am preparing for CFA1. Or should I wait and try for a higher ranked MBA? for example Cornell Johnson ? I may be able to convert that next year , but I am already 29 , will be 30 when I join MBA, so dont want to wait any more. Plz advise. BTW i have 7 yrs exp in IT.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Neither of the schools above are targets, and honestly I don’t know much about the schools above to help you make a sound decision. I don’t think the above MBA programs can increase your chances of breaking into IB significantly though they might be able to get you into other financial institutions. If you can’t wait anymore, just choose one.

  80. Regional up & coming I-Bank 2 years Analyst position in a structured product group
    gmat 740
    top 50 undergraduate program, 3.8

    Does the regional bank/structured products group screw me for a top 10 MBA?

    1. Not in and of itself. Your chances depend strongly on what you’ve done outside of work and how well you spin your story – you’re at a slight disadvantage vs. someone at a brand-name bank, but you can still get into top 10 programs.

  81. Avatar

    First, I want to say I really enjoy your site – it is a wealth of knowledge.

    I graduated in 2010 from a top 10 Civil Engineering program with a not-so-great GPA of 2.8, and have been working in construction management for 1.5 years. I’m really interested in moving to IB and eventually sell side (hedge funds), but don’t think i have much of a shot given my background without re-branding via MBA. My main issue is that I do not have enough experience right not for a top tier MBA program, but really want to switch to finance – What jobs would someone like me be best served in looking into for the next 2-3 years? Am I stuck working in CM/engineering until I have enough experience for a MBA and trying that route?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d suggest you to do some research on what areas of finance you are interested in most. Think about what you’re good at, and which areas of finance you can add value to. Once you sorted the above out, you can then network w people in that area and go from there. While your GPA is not ideal, I wouldn’t it deter you from applying to finance

      1. Avatar

        Thanks for the response Nicole. I’m really interested in the buy side, and would love to move to a hedge fund, but that is typically the end game for many – I don’t think I can just start there. Where do I start?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Start working for a small, unknown hedge fund first. Learn to trade.

  82. Hi

    Brief Profile

    Engineering from a known colelge in India + 3 yrs work ex Technical + MBA from a top Indian Business School (Finance) + Post MBA Workex in IT (2 years in Business Dev & Strategy)

    What are my broad options to enter Finance?

    Thanks a lot

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yeah you should be able to get into middle office roles. I think you’ll have to network quite a bit to get into front office roles

  83. Hi, I’m your average Joe/vagabond mentioned elsewhere: state school undergrad, 3.3 GPA in communication, 26 years old. I bounced through a few jobs right out of college and decided to travel the world for the last 2 years. My experience has sparked strong interest in social enterprise. I’m considering an attempt at a second undergrad in business management at a target school in order to move through more traditional recruiting channels into consulting. Does this sound like a good decision or a waste of time and money?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      waste of time. Why second undergrad? Why don’t you do a masters or directly look for a job now instead?

  84. Hi,

    I am based out of india. I am currently working at an associate level in the securities pricing group. Currently i currently have 4+ years of experience and i am looking forward to get into an MBA program ( full time) in India. Do you think it would be a wise decision or a feasible thing to do after having 5+ years of experience and the enrolling for an MBA program ( full time)OR should i work my way up and go for the three letters behind my name ?

    1. Depends what you’re looking to do… if it’s a career transition, MBA is a better bet, otherwise if you want to stay in the same group keep working

  85. Hello M&I,

    Your site is just wonderful. So much useful information about the finance industry. I wonder if you can give me an advice as I want to change my career path. Im 32 and I have a master degree in marketing and have 8 years of experiance in marketing/management. Curently I am in real state but I want to go into finance. I wonder if I should get an MBA or take just some securities courses (like CSC) or do something else..


    1. MBA is probably the best bet for a career change at this point.

  86. Hi, I have a question on using business schools in Australia to get into venture capital. I have 7 years experience doing consulting, strategy, management reporting and financial analysis work for CIOs of major retail companies and banks in Australia (and doing some work with corporate strategy for those companies too). I’m planning to get my Executive MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management while working (FT rank #35, and will be in my early 30s when I finish. Is it realistic to think that I can break into venture capital in Australia after I finish, at an associate level? Thanks

    1. Possibly, but the VC industry in Australia is really really small almost to the point of being non-existent. So that will make it quite difficult.

      1. Thanks for that. What about my chances of looking at a US, Tokyo or London based VC firm, with my background and future qualifications?

        1. Also of note – students in AGSM’s exec MBA program can have a 3 month study exchange at Wharton or LBS, if this helps the ‘target school’ case.

        2. Sure probably easier there anyway but Tokyo is impossible unless you are a native Japanese speaker

  87. Hi,

    Also to add to the above, i have done my garduation with accountancy being my major subjects. Also, my academics don’t speak much about me as i was an average student in my undergrad years.

  88. Hi,

    I am based out of india. I am currently with Deutsche Bank Group at an associate level in the securities pricing group. Currently i currently have 4+ years of experience and i am looking forward to get into an MBA program ( full time) in India. Do you think it would be a wise decision or a feasible thing to do after having 5+ years of experience and the enrolling for an MBA program ( full time)OR should i work my way up and go for the three letters behind my name ?

  89. If someone gets admitted into a MBA program, can they do an internship before starting their MBA program? (In other words can a person do pre-MBA internship/post-MBA internship for recent grads)? Or are internships only for currently enrolled and attending students?

    1. Yes that is quite common, and lots of “Pre-MBA Programs” exist.

      1. How about Co-op, Professional Development Programs, etc?

        1. Sure those can be good

  90. Zoblot:

    You may have covered this before but, does it make sense for me, an analyst who is promoted to an associate at a bulge bracket bank to get my MBA in a couple of years. I may want to get in to PE.

    1. Not really. Could get some time off but its an expensive vacation.

  91. Hi, I find your site quite inspiring and it has brought me a lot of insight into the IB/PE world that I always questioned before. This is an out there question, but I’m wondering what your opinion is on revealing in your CV or in interviews that you became a Pickup-Artist, as a way to tell your story and present yourself as someone different and with something unique to bring to the table. The Pickup community has gotten a bad rap in the media, yet spinning your story of how you went from being a 25 year old nervous virgin who never kissed a girl, to someone who had done the hard yards, approached thousands of women and become confident and sociable and improved his social and romantic life as a result could be a compelling display of character and hard work. So how would it go revealing this in an interview… or revealing this when trying to get into a top business school? Would it be regarded as laughable and sleazy and a story to pass around the HR pool, or admirable and unique? Appreciate your thoughts.

    1. I personally would not say that because it’s perceived as sleazy. Definitely not something to write about when applying to business schools.

  92. Hey,

    Just wanted to say that your articles are really informative. Quick question- Is this a plausible scenario for using an MBA to break in to IBD?

    [Top 50 Public Undergrad]->[2Yrs Big4 Audit to Senior Associate]->[2Yrs Big4 TS M&A/Valuation]->[Top 10 MBA]->[BB IB Associate]?

    FYI this includes CPA, 750+ GMAT, 2Yrs Overseas W/E, CFA L3 Candidate. Thanks for your help.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I’m assuming at the post-MBA associate level you would most likely be stuck in IBD based on other readings on this site.
        The aspect that I most enjoy about TS is getting to analyze the LBO/Merger models and learning about the theory behind the business decisions. I’m under the impression that this most closely correlates with PE and I’ve worked on a couple KKR targets which was very interesting. With the same career path above at the 1st year Big4 TS level and the same stats, is there a plausible path to mid-to-upper level PE?

        Thanks again for your help.

        1. 2290 SAT instead of GMAT (if pre-mba path), if that matters.

        2. Would have to start at smaller PE firm and move to bigger ones over time

  93. Hi M&I,

    You site has been extremely helpful. Great advise!
    I dont have any experiece. I am from Chile and since I came to US, I’ve been a tennis Pro for 5 years in the Hamptons, NY. I have met many super wealthy successful people in finance. Consequently, I became very interested in breaking in the finance world and some of my clients have encouraged me to do so by going to B-school. Here is my situation: I joined the US Air Force Reserve to pay for school (yes, that’s how much I want it). I am attending Penn State and will graduate in 2 years with a finance degree. However, I will be 30 yrs ols by then and have 2 more years in the AF. How likely is it to get in as an Analyst? Would it best for me to think about trading or wealth management? At this point I’m not think about an MBA yet. How can I break in? Thanks.

  94. Brian, I appreciate your honest, unbiased advice.

    General question:
    I returned to university well into my 30s where I earned an undergraduate degree with honours in Economics. I have less than 2 yrs. full-time, post-graduate work experience, but have strong aspirations for business school.
    At my age, would you recommend attending business school NOW for a career in finance, while I stil reasonably can?

    1. Honestly you will have a tough time getting into IB or PE at this stage, but other options like asset management might work

      1. Understood; my main concern is simply completing an MBA while there is still any window of opportunity left. As you’ve pointed out, ‘age’ appears to be less of an issue with trading and asset management.


  95. I disagree with this idea of using MBA to develop a ‘network’ anyone with half a brain, 2 years free time and 150k could develop a real network for a fraction of that price. Also, why do you want to network with people who are going to be roughly your age. Unless they are the kids of the rothchilds, clintons etc you won’t gain ‘much’ more from them since they are in the SAME position.

    I also take the view that MBA for starting a company is even more of a worse rationale since it’ll make you a helluva lot more risk averse since you’ll be more than likely taking on a shedload of debt to pay for that piece of paper!

    1. Point #2: Never said that anywhere here so not sure where you’re getting it from. Point #1: Disagree because it’s not that easy to get access to some people if you’re just off networking on your own. Yes you can meet people, but you can you meet the right people? If you’re working full-time and can’t travel much as a result, it’s difficult… business school brings together like-minded people all in the same place.

  96. Hello. I currently have a BS in Business Administration from a Jesuit university. For the past 4 years, I have been working as a manager for a big box retail company. I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh’s two-year MBA program this fall. I will be concentrating in finance.

    My question is can I still get into a summer analyst internship program or will the MBA status make me overqualified, even though I do not have any finance/investment work experience?


    1. You will be overqualified.

      1. Ok thanks. A few follow up questions.

        Even though I may be “overqualified”, is that a possible internship I can pursue and actually get?

        Would it even be possible for me to do the internship as a summer associate, even with no finance work experience?

        If neither of these are an option, how can I break in? Thanks again.


        1. Not really, you are better off just going for fields outside of IB… think about trading, wealth management, etc.

          1. Thanks again.

            Do you have any links that may give me an idea of what some of these other fields are and what they involve?

            I am still a little new to the finance game.


  97. I graduated with a BS in Geology from U. of Miss. in December, and am currently working as a geologist for an oil company. I’ve been told that an MBA would give me a great background and teach me how to run/open my own company, as well as raise money for drilling operations, aquisitions, etc. How do I prepare for an MBA/GMAT?

    1. Do a search on here for MBA and GMAT lots of articles cover this topic or go to the “GMAT” link at the top of the page.

  98. I’m going to be a highschool senior next year and I’m the type of person who likes to get things done ahead of time, and picking an undergrad school is one of them. I plan to go to business school then get my mba in management, then work within the fashion industy. I not to sure where or how to go about doing this. The factors are im looking for the best connections, a school in CA, and a school firms would take seriously incase later on I choose not to go in fashion.

    1. This site is intended for people who want to enter the finance industry, so I can’t comment on fashion – maybe check some fashion sites and ask around

  99. Two Quick Questions:

    1. Is this a practical/possible track to getting into a top PE firm. What are my chances?

    Boutique Investment Bank [Boutique as in real boutique; 1-3 Regional Branches] –> Gain 2 Years Work Experience –> Top 15 Business School [Something like UCLA Anderson, UVA, or Duke] –> Break into top 10 PE Firm.

    2. What is the starting salary like at a regional boutique bank vs a bulge bracket bank. Is minimum 80K annual after bonus fair to assume?

    Thank you for your help, your website is phenomenal.


    1. Top 10 PE firm would be very difficult coming from a boutique bank, so I don’t think it’s too likely. Middle-market PE yes, but not top 10. Boutique starting salaries are the same or similar but bonuses are 50% lower on average.

  100. Hey I’ve looked around a lot on the site and can’t seem to find anything for quant positions. Do you suggest someone looking to become a quant attend an Mfin, MFE or MSMF program? Or is that the same plight as attending an MBA once you have the necessary basic ability?

    1. Yes one of those programs is probably a good bet if you want to get quant positions. I don’t know much about it personally so nothing here yet but hope to cover it in the future.

  101. Hi,
    I am an Indian working in IT industry for last 5.5 years (working for clients reputed in financial domain) and am planning to do an MBA from a reputed US B school. I want to eventually venture into Private equity focussed on Technological companies . Can you please give me an idea about how should I plan my career or which career path should I choose to realise my goal.Is it possible to get into finance (IB/PE) after an MBA with an engineering background? [I would also be needing H1B initially to work in US]

    1. It will be extremely tough to do PE without doing IB or PE pre-MBA. So I would get a pre-MBA internship in one of those fields to maximize your chances, otherwise it is close to impossible.

  102. I’m a high school senior who interested to go into IB, and currently there is a tough decision in front of me. I got into Babson, Northeastern and Macaulay Honor @ Baruch. To me, I would love to go to Babson, yet I afraid of the career opportunities there due to the location. For Northeaster, although it has an amazing co-op program, but Baruch seems the easiest to get into IB as it’s in NY, and it’s also easier to get an IB intern. Could you please give me some advices?

    1. I would say Baruch is the best, but even there you’ll be at a disadvantage next to people at NYU, Columbia, etc. – so either start networking early or consider transferring.

  103. Is there any sense in going to business school after having practiced corporate law for 2-3 years? Would the combination of legal practice + a top MBA be more beneficial? Or, does the MBA not add much value at that point in one’s career?

    Love the site.

    1. I don’t think it would add too much if you already have a JD + corporate law experience.

  104. This might have already been answered somewhere else on the site, but how much will a BBA hurt me in the admissions process if I want to get into a top MBA? I’m currently a freshman at Michigan, and I’m wondering whether I should study Math + Economics or get the Ross BBA. I realize that the BBA will lead to better recruitment opportunities which would help me get into B-school from the financier route. But what if I decide to go into IB for two years then leave for Corp Development.

    Would B-school admission officers look down at me because not only do I not have PE/HF experience, I have a BBA, which means I’ve already taken a good portion of the classes for an MBA? I mean how can I convince that the MBA will help me, if I’ve already learned basically half the stuff the MBA was supposed to teach me?

    1. I don’t think it matters… you do not want to do an MBA right after undergraduate anyway

      1. If you were in my position what would you choose? I realize that purely from the perspective of obtaining an IB job after undergrad, the clear answer would be Ross. However, I’d personally much rather not waste time studying business, only to learn the same material if I ever do get an MBA.

        Plus it seems like studying business is a joke. It seems a math major is going to be more useful, if ever decide to lateral over to trading, especially the more “quanty” products.

        I guess my real question is assuming I have good GPA for a math major, will I still get interviews with a fair amount of networking?

        1. Yes you will, but if you are not certain you can get a good GPA then it’s not a good idea.

        2. Do the BBA. I have friends that did Michigan BBA and got Goldman, KKR, Bain Capital, UBS, Lazard, etc. The math majors I know ended up switching to computer engineering b/c 0 job opps with math major on resume — you’ll be branded a techie if you do the math major, or worse 0 job ops. BBA won’t hurt opportunities later. I know Michigan BBA grads who went on to HBS, Wharton, Stanford, or went on to Michigan MBA — but they did that AFTER they got 3 to 5 years of work experience with big firms.

  105. I recently found your site while I have been conducting my career search and have found it very informative and helpful. I graduated this past December with degrees in finance and economics and am looking to get into investment banking, preferably middle market or boutiques. However, I have found the search to be very frustrating and have not had any calls for interviews, even though I have lots of contacts through my dad. I have thought about trying to get an MBA, but now I’m not so sure after reading your articles.

    My question is this: What do you think about the joint degree (MBA-JD) programs? And, do you still feel the same way about getting a graduate degree right out of undergrad if you’re getting a law degree as well as an MBA?



      Bad idea – keep networking, cold-calling, and do whatever it takes to get an offer even if it’s at a tiny boutique.

  106. I’ve been considering some options coming out of a non-target school next year. I’m not sure I’d be able to make it into a BB firm. That’s been the goal, but I just got an unofficial offer from someone in PE. He’s a partner for a VC firm that’s not exceptionally large but would give me good experience. Is there some benefit to starting out in PE over IB, particularly when applying for MBA programs?

    1. Not really:

      But if that’s your best offer, definitely take it.

  107. I was wondering, if you are already working in investment banking right out of college how necessary is it to get an MBA to move up the ladder? Are there people that move up to the MD level or jump to PE without getting an MBA, or is will it be harder to advance without it?

  108. Actually i am currently working in a market research organization & want to break into finance industry. I am looking forward for a course that could help me enter into finance industry so that i can do my MBA After 2 or 3 year. Do you have any idea about the course that i should choose in US & from which college.
    If the duration is of 1yr that would be great as it would give me an opportunity to have a better understanding.

    1. Maybe look at a top Master’s in Finance program in the US.

  109. I have a degree in administration & want to break into finance industry. i want to do a short term course in equity research max upto 1 year. can u tell which would be good colleges in US to target

    1. Not sure about equity research – I don’t think most schools offer courses on it.

  110. Have been working for three years in consulting in cleantech/energy industry after getting a technical MSc degree from top school. Am trying to figure out a viable route into a boutique PE or VC focusing on my industry of expertise. Is it possible to find a way into an entry level position at a PE or VC firm now, or should I continue building industry cred and then use a top tier MBA to get into PE/VC?

    1. For PE or VC generally you need either banking or a top MBA first. Some smaller places might be exceptions though. So maybe contact a few smaller places (focus on VC if you’ve done consulting), see what the response is, and if it’s not spectacular then think about the MBA.

  111. Hi Brian, currently I am a continental europe student who has received a summer internship offer in the finance division (back office) in a BB IB. My aim, in the future, is to break into equity research, but I am not sure I will be able to do that in the future, considering I am not from a top tier school and probably odds are lower for ER. I’d like to know if, in your opinion, there is a chance to be admitted to a top-tier MBA (after reaching an accountancy qualification such as CIMA) and from there move to ER. Thank you.

    1. It’s possible but not sure how much recruiting into ER there is. I think they usually take people who are already in another front-office role or who are industry experts and very senior.

      1. Thank you for your reply. And what about MBA –> M&A –> ER? My major concern is that I won’t be able to get into the MBA programme though.

        1. That could work, as you said the major obstacle is getting into the MBA program in the first place so you’ll need to do something different outside of work to stand out there.

  112. I graduated in Commerce in the year 2007 and since then have been working as an IB Analyst. My profile is related to pricing of securities which are in turn used for MTM’s( mark to market).I am planning to get back to books and want to get into the more front aligned profiles (research , sales, risk mitigation . Pardon me , if i am being too vague). I have narrowed down my preferences to – MBA program , CFA or FRM . Please could you shed some light on these and provide your valuable inputs ?

    1. Hey,

      My current profile would be a middle office function. Also, pardon me for including risk in the front aligned functions…

    2. MBA would be most helpful at this stage (if you want to do research); for risk mitigation do the FRM, for sales just network (search for the middle office to sales & trading interview on this site).

  113. I graduated in business administration and finance in a top European university 5 years ago (many students from this university are recruited every year as analysts in IB). It was a 5 year program in which you obtained additionally an “MBA”. This MBA would not be considered as an MBA by an IB for an associate position because it is obtained at the same time as the bachellor without having previous professional experience.

    During my stay at university I founded my own investment company and accomplished to launch two real estate development projects delivering +60% IRR’s to my shareholders. After that, the market collapsed and coinciding with my graduation I took an intelligent decision and closed the business. During the last two years of my bachelor program I also worked as an intern for PwC in a business consultancy project.

    After finishing my bachelor program I started working for a boutique strategic consultancy firm involved in two big PE transactions. After that I worked as Manager of Acquisitions for a hotel chain getting involved in several transactions (acquisitions, debt financing, equity raising etc…) and now I work as Investment Director reporting to the CEO for an investment management platform which provides advisory, management and transactional support services to a tremendously wealthy family focused on the acquisition, development and disposal of investments in the banking, fashion, real estate and luxury hotel industries. I actively manage my own portfolio of private companies. It is similar to working for a small PE firm but only with one investor instead of multiple investors.

    I have a 5 year professional experience (only 28 years old) having held several high responsibility roles always involved in different type of financial transactions.

    When I look at the different pre established career programs offered by investment banks through their websites I see clearly that you have two options: analyst recruited out of an undergraduate/master program or become an associate only if you come from a top MBA program or promoted directly from the analyst pool.

    Is it possible for someone with my profile (which is not the most conventional for IB but which I think that can really fit with what it is expected) and that would be willing to sacrifice it’s social life and sanity to start working 100 hours a week to become a potential candidate for an associate position in top M&A IB? Or the only option to become an associate for me is to study a top MBA program to learn things I already know?


    1. Probably no chance at a large bank, you would need an MBA.

      1. Thanks for the answer. So large IBs will always require a top MBA program as a first filter for associate positions (if you are not an IB analyst) and there is no other way to get the job.

        1. In a better economy you might be able to network in but when things aren’t so great, an MBA is your best shot if you haven’t been an IB analyst before.

  114. OK so I’m an undergrad senior at a nontarget, 3.6 gpa, hoping to break into banking. now i have little/no finance experience so breaking in as an analyst is gonna be difficult. im currently networking my ass off, but i can only realistically hope for a boutique or mm.

    i do have some useful connections at a big4 firm. supposing i did manage to get in, would it be worthwhile spending 2-3 years at a big4 company if i wanted to do banking? could i work there for 2 or 3 years, go to a top 10 mba school and rebrand myself?

    1. Sure, that’s viable. A boutique or MM bank is probably better but Big 4 is not a bad alternative.

      1. Would going to a boutique or MM bank make it more difficult to get into a top 10 MBA program?

        1. Marginally but not that much different if you present yourself well

  115. Brian — I want to recruit into an associate position post-MBA and eventually get into PE. From your previous comments you seemed to be pretty down on the prospects of recruiting into PE post-MBA without any analyst years before hand. However, it almost seems as if you’re specifically referring to going into PE directly from the MBA program — if I were to do a few years at the IB assoc level, does this then change things and make me more likely to recruit into PE after a few years, or is the MBA-point the only real window for entry?

    Further, coming from a F100 corporate finance background, I am exploring ways to position myself to break into IB post-MBA. Is a pre-MBA internship necessary or not, as I am already in a finance-type role? I’m going to a top 5 MBA program (though not HSW), but I want to give myself every edge possible.

    Thanks a ton.

    1. It’s not impossible but it is improbable because they mostly want IB analysts who are much closer to the technical side. If the market improves your chances will be better. Pre-MBA internship would help but it’s not as necessary if you are already doing corp fin.

      1. So what are my exit opportunities from the IB associate level? If PE is going to be an uphill battle, am I basically relegated to being an IB lifer or perhaps moving into corpdev at a F500? Is there anything I can do in the coming summer or while at school to position myself to make the PE leap after a few years of post-MBA IB?

        1. Most people stay in IB or move to corp dev/finance roles at normal companies. The best thing you can do is get a pre-MBA internship in PE or at least something on the buy-side such as VC or even a small hedge fund and then use that to legitimize your interest.

          1. Brian — bleh, not the best news but thanks a ton for the advice.

  116. Avatar

    My stats-
    Undergrad: no-name state school, BA in Computer Science, minor in Math
    WE: 4 years with an international non-profit working on security and development issues (not related to Comp Sci).
    Age: 30
    GRE: high score, puts me in range for top-10 MBA

    I want to break into ibanking and give up nonprofit work; I am debating taking a shot at a top 10 MBA and pursuing it. My one major regret in life is not going to a better undergrad and pursuing finance.

    I have no finance related experience (except managing my own meager portfolio) and no connections. This would be a major derailing of my career and my life and so I am trying to figure out if this is total insanity or if there is a reasonable chance of success. I’ve been devouring all the postings/discussions/info I can find on the net.

    I know there are no guarantees in life but advice is appreciated. Thanks very much for your site.

    1. Avatar

      Sorry, my question is:

      Does my age, lackluster undergrad school and lack of banking experience pose a serious hindrance in pursuing a career in IBanking even if I were to attend a top-10 MBA program?

      1. The biggest problem is lack of banking experience, which is why the pre-MBA internship is essential if you want to do a top 10 program

    2. You have a shot but it’s not a slam-dunk certainty – try to get an unpaid or informal pre-MBA internship first to test the waters. You’re competing with tons of former bankers and finance people so it’s tough if you have no experience.

  117. Hi

    I found this site just tonight and since then i’ve been reading for 3 hours straight.
    I love this website and thank you very much for your articles

    I am sorry to bugg you with the ceritification question but here in korea firms do indicate
    ‘it is an asset for candidates to posess CFA,FRM or etc’
    on their recurit things.

    is this because some IBs here are just a small part of the group?
    or is this the culture?
    i am on exchange at a korean university and i find many students here want to take certification exams.

    also, how do you evaluate the prospect for the korean firms in the area?

    Also, how good does your English have to be if you want to work in the finanace area in Canada?
    my mother tongue isnt English..

    Thank you !!

    1. I think it’s just the Korean obsession with education (I lived there for 1.5 years…). They may say that but experience/networking still trumps certifications… CFA might help a bit but it’s still not the best use of time. For working in Canada, you need to be perfect or pretty darn close – good enough to read financial reports quickly.

      1. Thank you very much for the answer!

        so i guess its probably better to volunteer at Grameen Bank in Bangladesh than to study for CFA lvl 1 during the winter break.(here the winter break goes for two months) is this correct?

        but, if i lack in the knowledge of finance/accounting, is studying for CFA lvl 1 a good way to study basic finance? or could you please tell me a better way if there is?
        (i’m assuming that some finance/accounting knowledge is a must)

        oh, about the question regarding the english level again,
        i dont have any problem with reading but i dot write/speak as well/fast as the native speakers

        Is this still going to be a significant problem?

        thank you very much for the helps again!
        i really appreciate it!

        1. Yes. Read a textbook or get one of the courses offered via this site – the CFA is too general and not terribly useful for IB/PE. Depends what you mean by “speak as well as” – if you can understand clients on the phone without difficulty then you should be fine.

  118. I am a 29 yr old former Marine officer (2004-2008) and currently an outside sales representative for an aerospace company (2008-2010). I am headed to Columbia Business School in the fall. I have 720 GMAT/3.0 Econ degree from top 50 public. I am aiming for an associate position. How much trouble will I have competing with fellow students who have analyst experience? Does CBS have enough banking slots to overcome my lack of experience? Is it just a matter of busting my butt at the recruiting events? I would appreciate your perspective, as would the other military officers who are increasingly attending business school. Thanks, your site is great.

    1. You have to haul ass networking, kill people and vanquish the competition. You are at a disadvantage next to former bankers so the only way to compete is to out-network them.

  119. Hi Brian,

    Would love to hear your thoughts on bschool recruiting for finance professionals (or even better an article!). For those looking to get into a top p.e shop (maybe not KKR/BX but audax, madison dearborn, hellman) or a hedge fund, is recruiting during mba school really an option and are these positions relatively easy to obtain for ex-bankers? Basically after two-three years of banking, assuming you’re in at H/S/W, can one transition into p/e post-MBA without pre-MBA experience? Or will it be impossible given the competition at these schools? Is the 2 years ibd + 2 years p/e really necessary to do p/e after bschool at a larger shop?


      You have a 0.1% chance of getting into PE without doing IB or PE before the MBA. I think I’ve mentioned this elsewhere… and for the top PE firms you have about a 0.01% chance even if you’re at a top bank because they hire so few people each year.

      1. Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I meant breaking into top P/E from b-school with ONLY 2-3 years of investment banking experience (and not 2 ibd + 2 pe). For those looking into get into p/e post-mba, does the extra 2 years of pre-MBA experience help that much?

        Basically my current situation is that I pretty much wasted a year out of undergrad pursuing an unrelated field (economic consulting) but after a little over a year I was fortunate enough to transfer into the merchant banking / pe arm of a European non-BB bank. It’s a bit sad that I feel too old to do another 2 years of p/e before applying to bschool and would rather just go straight to bschool and try my luck through recruiting (esp. given i have quasi p/e and portfolio company operations experience).

        I know p/e is extremely tough to break into post-MBA (even for those with 2+2), so would it be near impossible for those without reputable p/e experience pre-MBA? Thanks!

        1. The PE experience does help quite a bit even if you do a top MBA because they filter people by who has done PE before and who has not. So I would definitely do PE before business school – otherwise it will be tougher to get into PE afterward.

  120. Avatar
    trying to bank

    First, thanks for putting the time into this great resource. I’ve really learned a lot about banking and your blog has been instrumental in my process of transitioning into banking.

    I’m a 2009 graduate from liberal arts school ranking a tier outside the most prestigious of liberal arts schools. It does have a top 15 undergrad business school, but I studied a social science and a humanity. I’m currently finishing my second year of Teach For America in Colorado and this past summer did a business bridge at a top school. I want to move into a career in finance, particularly in banking.

    I’m unable to use any on campus recruiting, as I’ve graduated and have had a bit of a difficult time networking mostly due to having a demanding full time job. I’ve networked a bit through TFA but not with the best of luck. I haven’t yet tapped into my school’s alumni and will make that part of my next steps. I’ve applied online to the BB banks but don’t really expect much. I’m in the process of applying to boutiques but haven’t started cold calling yet.

    I’m anticipating a very difficult time breaking in and as a result I’m considering just going straight for a top MBA, is this something that you think is necessary? What would be the best/easiest way for me to break into ibanking?


    1. I think you’re underestimating the power of the TFA network… I would not go for an MBA yet until you have been extremely aggressive and contacted dozens of people through there. It sounds like you have not tried hard enough yet, so I would recommend against an MBA unless you spend months aggressively networking and still come up with nothing. Please see everything under Recruiting at the top of this page.

  121. Thanks for the info. Since we are on the subject of PE shops I have a couple more questions:

    1) If I want to work for a major PE shop one day should I start my career at a bulge bracket firm or a middle market PE shop? I have networked pretty well so I have some options.

    2) I read somewhere on this site that at the higher levels a banker makes 10x more in PE than IB. Does this also hold true for middle market PE funds? If not, what is the minimum size of a PE fund through which one can command that type of earning power?

    1. 1) Bulge brackets are better for the name recognition.

      2) That’s not really true at smaller funds – this article has some estimates:

      1. Thanks again for the great info.

  122. Hi,

    I work in portfolio management at a commercial bank in the Healthcare division. I will be attending a top 10 B-school that is targeted by major banks and PE shops. I know some people in I-banking but I want to break into PE. You said that post-MBA associates with no I-Banking experience do not have a chance of landing a job at a major PE shop. Does that also hold true for someone with my background?

    1. It’s still really tough even if you have other finance experience – I’m sure it does happen, but you’re competing against a lot of former IB and PE guys.

  123. Avatar
    Prashanth Cherukuri

    First off, thanks a lot for the terrific content on this blog. I’m someone who is trying to break into I-banking, and I’m so glad I came across this site.

    One of the things I’ve been learning in the first few weeks of my MBA program is Private Wealth Management. I’m very sorry if you have addressed this somewhere else on the site, but I am wondering how one could gain entry into PWM, and how the career progression is, compared to IB.

    Mind shedding some light on that? And thanks again for the site. I’ve already spent 3 hours on it and just getting started.


    1. Basically PWM is lower risk and lower-paying than IB. You get a better lifestyle but you won’t be making nearly as much and it’s harder to move to the top. There’s some discussion here in the comments:

  124. This is a great website. Thank you for all of the information.

    I just turned 36 years old. I worked in politics for 4 years and then almost went to an Ivy-league business school at age 26. Instead, I took the opportunity to enter into the real estate boom and did $1 billion worth of investment over the past 8 years. But, it all blew up, as everyone knows.

    So, I went back to graduate school to get a Masters in International Finance and Banking at the Fletcher School at Tufts.

    Questions: 1) Am I too old to enter Investment Banking as an Associate? 2) Would I be better off also adding an MBA? Thank you.

    1. 1) No, but to get in as an Associate you would need an MBA. 2) Yes, you need an MBA at this point.

  125. Whoops I got cut off! I live in Seattle right now, so there are I-bank jobs around, but it’s definitely not NY or Chicago. I was wondering what you would advise as the best route to break into the field? Thanks, love the site BTW!

    1. Try to move to a local boutique, outside Seattle if necessary, and then business school after a few years

  126. I am one and a half years out of undergrad at a state school that’s not particularly well-known for business. I majored in Finance with a minor in Econ with just over 3.3 GPA. I have been working as a financial rep at Northwestern Mutual for the past 10 months. I can’t stand selling insurance and have been hoping to break into investment banking.

  127. Hello M&I,

    This is a great website!

    I would appreciate it if you could take a look at my background and solve my problem

    i am from one of the top indian undergraduate school(IIT).i graduated this year(may 2010)with btech degree in civil engg.i have joined TATA Consultancy Engineering(core civil engg. company,a dream come true company for civil engineers).now my problem is that i have lot of interest in finance feild espcially in private equit research y,portfolio management, hedge fund,(trading related activities infact i have been trading in equity market for last 2 years)and i have also register my self for cfa level 1 dec with only 1 month passed joining this company i begin to realise that this is not the work i want to do . so now i have 2 option:-

    1. whether i should continue this job for next 2 year and then do my mba in finance and switch to finance sector (as work ex in this company could help me in giving a good shot at top b school in india,but my work ex post mba will get back to 0 in finance sector).
    2. i should leave this job and instead work in some small financial firm and after 2 year i should do my mba(but i myself don’t know,at this point of time as a civil engineer with little knowledge of finance,who will hire me,but my work ex will get count and help me in getting good finance job post mba ).

    1. I would move to a finance firm as soon as you can and then use an MBA to move into investment banking, otherwise you will just blend in with all the other engineers trying to switch.

  128. Hello M&I,

    This is a phenominal website! Kudos!

    I would appreciate it if you could take a look at my background and analyze my career plan.

    – I have a GMAT score of 770.

    – Since Jan 2008, I’ve been working in Risk IT at the leading investment bank’s NY office. I make a total of about 200k a year. In this role I’ve been promoted twice in the last 2 years. (I know this is not anywhere close to a mainstream PE or Banking role but I turned down several ‘hot’ tech offers like google, msft etc to come here and receive some exposure to the financial side.)

    – Attended Georgia Tech from 2006-2007. In 2007 I graduated with a masters in Computer Science (GPA 3.92).

    – Between 2004 & 2006 I worked at IBM and a startup company in a purely technical role for about a year each.

    – In 2004 I graduated with a bachelors in computer engineering from a top 10 school in India (being ranked 79/50000 in the entrance test).


    – I want to get into PE. I know this is a very unrealistic goal given that I have no prior banking experience.

    – I am going to apply to a few top U.S. MBA programs for the session starting in fall 2011. I am hoping that this will help me make the transition.

    Given that I have no prior banking experience do you think I would be better off forgetting about PE and trying to break into asset management or investment banking? Is IB or Asset Management a more realistic target?

    I have faith in my ability to succeed once I get in but given I have a close to nothing network and poor networking skills (which I plan to work on at b school) do you think I can break into any of these three areas (PE/IB/Asset mgmt) given my background?

    1. You really need IB or PE pre-MBA to have a chance of doing PE post-MBA – otherwise it’s close to impossible. IB or asset management post-MBA are more do-able than PE.

      1. Thanks for your advice and for going through my rather lengthy post. That’s probably the plan I’ll go with.

  129. You need full-time work experience in between graduating from undergrad/Master’s program and doing the MBA program, otherwise you stand no chance against everyone else. Other than that it sounds good.

    1. Um, well you could just get in right after undergraduate… easiest solution.

      If you actually want to follow that plan, whatever experience you can get that’s closest to banking/finance is best

  130. Hi M&I,

    Great website! I am interested in going from engineering into Finance. I am currently an engineering manager (5 years exp) at a top software corporation and will be starting my MBA in the fall at a top 20. I understand that it is very difficult to break into IB since I am not at a top 10 school. Can you elaborate on what other finance jobs I would have a good chance at career switching into post MBA? Would I have any chance at landing an Associate IB position at a second tier or boutique bank?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. specifics: I will be attending USC Marshall and plan to look for finance jobs in the LA area. Thx.

    2. You could get into middle-market / smaller banks, or even larger ones with enough networking.

      Outside of IB, you could also do wealth or asset management. S&T / prop trading does not recruit much from MBA programs. The usual choice is IB or PE, but for PE you usually need banking experience first.

      1. Thanks again! Having no finance experience, I would like to start to prepare asap. Do you have any recommendations on things I can do to start to come up to speed? Are there any must read books you recommend on finance or IB specifically? I start school in 5 months and unfortunately I cannot quit my job early to do a pre-MBA internship due to financial reasons, so I will need to do as much self study as possible.

  131. Love the site and the candid advice.

    background at non-finance company with superb brand
    borderline top 10 b school (but not a “finance” school)
    interested in banking or buy side, but didn’t go through banking recruiting process until late in cycle (deathbed conversion)
    Have to decide on summer internship. Two choices:
    A) bottom-tier BB (for personal reasons would prefer not to say there long term)
    B) McKinsey

    If my goal is to recruit at top-tier BB for full-time, it seems like A) makes me look like I failed to get a prestige job over the summer, whereas B) makes me look not serious about banking.


    1. I would go with A, because at the Associate level it’s more important to show commitment and consistency with regard to interest in banking.

  132. Avatar
    wannabe banker

    In case i don’t make it into Top 10 schools for MBA, do i have any shot at Banking at all?

    Is there anyway i can leverage my being a top BB bank (in IT) for networking etc? How about trying to gain some experience doing
    related work paid/unpaid first before or while trying mba? if i take the contacts of some Associate level people in the banking division
    and email them, you think that might work?

    I am thinking in this direction, because even if i do MBA from a NON TOP 10 school, with no finance experience, i don’t want to
    end up in a position with NO on-campus bank recruiting OR going into consulting or IT related areas when I really want to make a switch to mainstream

    If the only possible way is MBA from a top 10 school, i will just put all my energies to that and if i can’t crack it, i will
    just let go of the MBA idea

    thanks for all the advice, your website is helping me in understanding a lot of this.

    my profile summary:
    4 yrs experiece
    bachelors and masters in computers science (3.9 and 3.6 gpa)
    IT Consulting experience in financial firms across US
    currently in a top Ibank in ny

    1. You can try, but it’s probably easier to network your way into S&T rather than investment banking if you’re in IT right now – more overlap with trading. Unpaid internships pre-MBA are also a good bet as you mentioned.

  133. Avatar
    wannabe banker

    ok makes sense, so you are saying MBA is really a bridge for me to switch from technology into finance and i will have to start from analyst position in banking.

    thanks so much for the advice.

  134. Avatar
    wannabe banker

    Hi M&I,
    your website is incredible, i feel bad i haven’t discovered until now. Your advice seems very straightforward and you seem to know a lot about the finance industry. I really want to get into banking, below is my profile:
    – bachelors and masters in computer science
    – 4 years of consulting work experience, worked with clients across ny, chicago, westcoast (brokerage firms, stock exchanges etc)
    – currently working for a software startup as a consultant for a top IB in ny.
    – having worked with financial firms, i understand a lot of what goes around and i am intersted but i know that alone doesn’t cut it to switch careers

    if i get an mba from a top school focussed on finance, can i break into finance? precisely into banking? and what are the chances i can make it big in 10 to 12 years.

    I am 28 now, i obsess numbers, even though i work in technology i spend other time reading earnings reports, merger info etc so i thought why not pursue something that interests me more.

    any thoughts much appreciated.

    1. Yes, a top business school is your best bet. You would stand a good chance if you could do that.

      “Making it big” is hard to answer because just like anything else, most people never make it to the top / decide to do other things etc.

      1. Avatar
        wannabe banker

        thanks! and what are the odds of getting into front office banking? i think if i do switch careers its best if i can get into front office with client exposure right, also how long you think i should work as an entry-level analyst before becoming an associate?

        will i stand any better chance than a fresh college finance grad from a top school in early 20s OR in other words, will i i have any advantage of my current career experience and academics at all or prettymuch i will be starting over?

        i really appreciate your insights!


        1. Usually you have to spend 2-3 years before becoming an Associate. At this point you honestly don’t have much of a chance of getting in as an Analyst – business school is by far your best bet because you’ve been in another field for several years.

  135. Avatar
    Jonathan Cage

    M&I, can you speak about breaking into Banking from a Trading background? I did a Structuring/Marketing at a bulge bracket as an Analyst – got hit by the recession – and am doing product development at a Fortune 500 for the past year. I want to see if I can break into banking. Thoughts?

    I was thinking: 1) Take modeling classes 2) Network like crazy 3) MBA (last choice)

    1. All of those are good ideas, but I would not do the MBA unless you get a lot more experience first – it’s really a matter of spinning what you’ve done to make it sound like you’ve gotten more and more interested in corporate finance over time, show evidence of that i.e. self-study, and then networking by focusing on small boutiques and local firms.

  136. The corporate law route has been difficult. I’ve had plenty of legal offers but nothing really in line with corporate M&A (i.e. Weil, Skadden, etc..) Another question though. Would such a transition be possible from M&A consulting at an Accenture/Mercer/IBM caliber firm (not exactly Bain/Mck/BCG)? Opportunities in consulting have been presenting themselves, but I want to optimize the opportunity to jump into I-banking down the road (3 yr work + 2yr MBA or 5 yr work)

    1. M&A consulting to banking is possible, but it’s much easier if you’re at MBB vs. the others you mentioned.

  137. Here’s my situation: went to decent northeast undergrad for business management now at bad law school in northeast focusing on Corp. Finance and M and A, both were because broke and had full rides. Option for post law school between big 4 tax and small marketing firm for big bank credit card modeling (think creatig models for credit card offers and financing the creation of new credit car programs). I’ll be 24 when out of law school. If I work one of these ( help deciding would be appreciated) for 3-4 years and go top MBA what are my odds for BB associate?

    1. Edit: over 3.6 gpa in undergrad and law school. Thank you very much in advance

    2. It’s kind of odd to go from law school to an MBA program then to a bank… but I guess it’s do-able. Personally I think you’d be better off by doing corporate law afterward (if possible), and then moving into banking from there instead.

  138. Would applying for an analyst position after a JD from a top 10 law school make sense? Your comment re: MBA + years of experience vs straight through/re-branded MBA for associate positions suggests that.

    1. No, not really. They would not let you come on as an Analyst after law school, that just makes no sense – from law school your best option is to work in corporate law and then move over.

  139. Hey, so I know where you stand regarding the CFA, but just to be sure, do you feel the same way towards the CMT?

    1. I don’t think the CMT has anything to do with banking. Maybe its of marginal help for trading but honestly all traders care about is how much money you can make for them.

  140. Hey Brian,

    I’m a big fan of this site. I was hoping you could help me: I live in Europe and there is a graduate program opening in M&A at a BB. The only problem is that it is in a small city and the M&A advice is for small caps. Is it relatively easy to switch to more prestigious M&A groups or is it hopeless? There’s also another one in corporate banking, once again, how easy is it to switch to IB?

    my background: top EU school and am currently interning at a ‘top 5’ management consulting firm and having a hard time deciding whether I should pursue IB or consulting…

    1. I would do the M&A one. It’s not exactly “easy” to switch but small M&A group -> large group is easier than moving in from corporate banking.

  141. So if my gpa is around a 3.3 by the end of this semester (mid-december) then I should be fine? Or is there still potential for problems?

  142. I have a 3.2 gpa (rounded up from 3.12), and for some reason I put 3.3 on the official online application for a bulge bracket as well as the resume I included with that application.

    I had a phone interview with them and they asked about my 3.3 gpa and I didn’t want to say it was actually a 3.2 in the interview since he would assume I wasn’t honest on the application.

    If I end up getting the offer, and the background check shows its actually a 3.12, not a “3.3”, will I be screwed? What can I do to fix this, if anything?

    1. You can’t really do anything about it. It really depends on how thorough the background check is – 3.12 to 3.3 is a big jump and you could potentially get in trouble for it, but there is not much you can do. You definitely DON’T want to bring it to their attention.

      1. What do you mean “how thorough” it is? Are there any banks that don’t confirm your gpa? I’d assume that’s one of their first priorities.

        1. It means: “Will they think that the difference between 3.3 and 3.12 could happen between when you told them and when you started? Or will they assume you were lying all along?”

          There is absolutely 0 you can do at this point. Banks do look at transcripts, but they don’t necessarily calculate GPAs unless your transcript has the GPA written on it (some schools do, some don’t).

  143. (1) Risk is generally not considered front office / ‘banking’
    (2) No, middle office bonuses are a small fraction of front office bonuses

  144. Avatar
    Morgan Sachs

    Thanks for your response. Just two quick questions: (1) Given that I’ll be an ‘IB Credit Risk Analyst’ (and not and M&A, FIG or Tech analyst, for instance), would you still consider me to be a ‘real’ IB Analyst or not? (2) I will be in the same training program as other IB analysts and I know that my salary is going to be the same as for analysts in groups such as M&A, etc… But don’t really know anything about the bonuses. Do you have any idea about how analyst bonuses for this kind of position compare to bonuses for analysts in other teams (such as M&A, etc)?

  145. Avatar
    Morgan Sachs

    Hi Brian,
    Love your website! I accepted an offer as an Invetment Banking Credit Risk analyst for a BB for next year. How good would you consider this job compared to a regular IB analyst (without the ‘risk’ part)? What about exit opportunities? Do you think that if I excel as an analyst I could move and stay in the firm as an associate in an M&? group without an MBA? Thanks!

    1. It’s usually tough to transition from middle-office to investment banking – more likely to get into sales & trading, so I might go for that instead. Exit opportunities – not too familiar offhand, but I think again you’d have the best luck with S&T-type positions or anything else related to credit / credit ratings etc. Moving into the M&A group is possible, but you need a really solid connection there to make the jump.

      1. Avatar
        Morgan Sachs

        Thanks for your response. Just two quick questions: (1) Given that I’ll be an ‘IB Credit Risk Analyst’ (and not and M&A, FIG or Tech analyst, for instance), would you still consider me to be a ‘real’ IB Analyst or not? (2) I will be in the same training program as other IB analysts and I know that my salary is going to be the same as for analysts in groups such as M&A, etc… But don’t really know anything about the bonuses. Do you have any idea about how analyst bonuses for this kind of position compare to bonuses for analysts in other teams (such as M&A, etc)?

        1. 1) No, this sounds more like a middle-office role where you’re supporting others rather than working with clients.

          2) I don’t think the training program will be the same – bonuses are probably less than what IB analysts would make, but I’m not sure of exact numbers.

  146. That’s a really long article! Lots of great insight.

    Bschool can certainly be important in helping people transition over to finance if they are somewhere else at the moment, but most people place an over emphasis on the MBA as a guaranteed ticket.

    Your article is very realistic in the sense that there’s so much more that needs to be done outside of the MBA curriculum and group activities in order to position yourself for your own goals.

    Your advice of reaching out to alumni contacts even before Bschool starts is def good advice to follow.

    I would also recommend MBAs to focus less on the group activities and classroom projects and more on your future career. You don’t want to be the guy who aced all class projects and took on major responsibility but then graduate with no job offers. MBA is a good platform to be on. You still need to jump from there to get to where you want to be.

    1. If you think this article is long, clearly you have not read the rest of the site. :)

  147. How important is it to work in New York when you begin full time? Would it be better to work at GS at a non-NY office or at a slightly lower-level bank in its New York office?

    1. It depends if you want to stay in NY or move somewhere else. It’s harder to move from another location back to NY later on, easier to do the reverse.

  148. Avatar
    Summer Analyst

    Hey Brian,

    If you’re in undergrad and making about 15 million a year trading/investing money. What are some of the options in IBD or in finance in general?

    1. Um… you can just drop out of school and invest full-time if you’re raking in $15MM per year :)

    2. yeah I’d forget about school and banking and take the money and run somewhere else.

  149. Hi Brian,

    First off, I love the site! And I just bought the networking toolkit, and I’m loving it too. Haven’t found another site that’s as practical and informative.

    One question though, I’m actually not actively pursuing a career in banking, although I would definitely be open to it. I’d really prefer working as an analyst in investment management (especially real estate related) or research. Is there anything you would say differently to someone like me in terms of resumes, cover letters, interviews, career paths, or networking? I’ve already come to the conclusion that the vast majority of your advice still holds true, but is there anything you can say about what makes breaking into investment management/research different than breaking into banking? Thanks!

    1. Thanks, glad you have found everything helpful.

      As far as investment management/research vs. banking or PE, there’s actually not a whole lot that’s wildly different. Really the main difference is that interviews are not squarely focused on corporate finance/accounting/valuation – they’re more about the markets, what companies you like, selecting investments, etc. Resumes/cover letters are pretty much the same.

      The career path is probably a bit more “stable” in that there’s not quite as much risk as the other fields on here, but there’s also less up-side because you’re not working with multi-billion dollar deals and correspondingly huge fees.

  150. Hey!

    What the difference between an MBA and a MFin in regards to investment banking? I’m a student right now at a Canadian university and I’m thinking of getting a MFin (right after graduation) at a US university that’s closer to Wall Street.

    Do you think it’ll be useful? Do I still have to get a MBA later on to advance if I have a MFin?

    1. They’re completely different – MBA lets you enter as an Associate, whereas MFin you’d still be an Analyst. MBA requires several years of work experience as well.

      You won’t necessarily “need” an MBA later on, it’s more helpful for career changers.

      MFin is most helpful if you go to a non-target school right now and need a better name.

      1. Thanks for the reply. It’s much quicker than email!

        I am from a Canadian school that’s far from Bay Street. However, if I happen to find a full-time job with a major investment bank… will there be any point in getting a MFin?

        I’m thinking of schools like MIT or LSE.

        1. There’s no point in doing it if you already work for a major bank

  151. Avatar


    Thanks for the quick reply. I’ve already signed Big4 because I had no realistic shot at banking last recruiting season due to the state of the job market at the time. Not to mention no banks recruit at my school…

    My question to you is this: If I make the move to boutique after a year or two, and go for top MBA from there, what are my chances of landing a BB associate position? PE?

    Secondly, aside from networking from the start and keeping up to date on the finance blogs etc, what else would you recommend I do to increase my marketability in the next year?

    Would passing the CFA prior to applying to the boutique help at all?

    1. You have a good shot at bulge bracket Associate position, PE is harder but do-able.

      Don’t bother with the CFA, huge waste of time. Networking, maybe doing some self-study that doesn’t involve 400 hours to take an exam… always good to be able to show them work samples.

      1. Avatar
        Summer Analyst

        Haha. Should just put up a post with a big bold title “Here’s all you need to know about CFA to be a banker”

        and then in the body text with 100pt font, “IT’S A WASTE OF TIME.”

  152. Brian,

    Could you talk a little bit about Venture Capital as alternative to PE? I’ve heard VC firms value an MBA.

    1. Actually VCs probably value an MBA even less – they really want people who have started successful companies. It’s very, very, very difficult to move up to Partner-level at a VC unless you’ve done that or you’ve picked home-run investments. MBA is more useful in banking/PE.

  153. Hi,
    I was wondering if it would be easier to move into large cap PE or a well known Mid-market PE shop like TIAA if I work at a) A bulge bracket, b) A no name regional boutique, or c) A no name regional PE shop.

    I am from a non-target background.

    1. My guess is BB.

    2. Bulge bracket is definitely the path of least resistance there.

  154. Avatar

    Hi Brian,

    I went to a large state school and majored in accounting (top 10 nationally), and graduated with a high GPA. I’ve accepted a Big4 offer as an auditor but would like to move to banking ASAP. I’m currently finishing up my Master’s in accounting and CPA exam, and will be done by spring.

    I would ideally like to move into an analyst role at a BB IBank, then go for a top finance MBA and finally into PE/HF.

    However, I’m not so sure what’s the most efficient or realistic way for me to do this. I’ve heard about boutique banks accepting candidates with 1-2 years experience in accounting. What would my chances of ultimately attaining a top-MBA -> BB associate/PE be with this route?

    Also, I know there is a transaction services group at Big4, which basically does M&A due diligence. I’m deciding whether I should go this route for a couple years or if it would be better to go to a boutique?


    1. I would definitely go to the boutique first – it’s much more direct than doing Big 4 first. Otherwise you could do Big 4 and then make the switch over to the boutique.

      You can do the top MBA –> PE route, but be aware that it’s very, very difficult to get into PE post-MBA unless you did banking before.

  155. I’ve got an interesting one for you. I enrolled in a top-25 JD program in NYC immediately after a top-25 undergrad. Halfway through I realized I wasn’t too hot on being a lawyer, so switched into the JD/MBA, intending to enter a career in finance, prob portfolio mgmt or trading. However, the b-school where I was a JD is ranked far lower than the JD program, so not nearly as much recruiting. I’m currently in the final year of what became a 4-year program. So, soon I’ll be a JD/MBA with little to no relevant experience. What’s my best move from here? Great appreciation for any advice.

    1. That’s a tough one. I would say test the waters bit, contact some alumni, and see what kind of response you get to your profile… if that doesn’t work, I would say the best move is to do corporate law for a few years and then transition over to banking, using clients/former clients and other professional contacts.

  156. I’ve heard that post-MBA banking associates who didn’t do banking before obtaining their MBAs have no shot at transitioning to PE. They say that for post-MBA banking associates “the ship for PE has already sailed.” In general, is this true?

    1. Avatar
      Summer Analyst

      I wouldn’t say “no shot” or “never” or “can’t do it at all.”

      I saw post-MBA associates w/ analyst years jump ship easily.

      For the post-MBA associates w/o finance experience, I’d imagine that it’s possible, but in my experience with post-MBA banking associates with no prior banking experience, they generally suck.

      1. Well, I’ve read what analysts have to say about post-MBA associates. I don’t plan on being the pretentious douchebag who thinks he knows everything. I definitely want to absorb everything I can from the analysts and try not to create extra work for them.

        1. Avatar
          Summer Analyst

          Most post-MBA associates w/o analyst years think that way at first. But there are a few problems with that

          1) Associates are still higher than Analysts. You will have to give work to Analysts.

          2) When you give work to Analysts, most likely you will give “extra” work since you never spent time as the monkey at the bottom of the totem pole. Post-MBA associates w/o analyst years generally have no idea how to do things efficiently.

          3) Even if you try hard to learn from the analysts, most likely they won’t have time/energy to teach you. And back to #1. You’re an associate, one notch above analyst.

          I’m sure there are great post-MBA associates w/o analyst years but I never came by one. My views might be skewed/salted a little with a little anger having to deal with them.

    2. As Summer Analyst said above, it’s possible but not likely. Very, very difficult to get into PE post-MBA especially if you haven’t done banking before that. It’s easier when the market is frothy.

  157. So you are saying Columbia Quantitative Methods of Social Sciences program pretty much does not do anything else other than pushing the job seeking process 1 year later?

    1. I’m not familiar with that program specifically – this article was discussing traditional 2-year MBA programs. If that’s just a Master’s program, then it wouldn’t do much aside from giving you another year to find jobs / possibly give you better access to recruiters.

  158. Hey Brian,

    Is it mainly a US phenomena where banks come to universities to recruit? In Asia/Australia, it seems that regardless of which university you attend you still have to apply online. Does that make attending business schools in this region useless?

    1. It’s mainly US/Europe – but keep in mind that even in other regions, even when you apply online they are still judging you based on the name of your school and how well-known it is.

      Business school is certainly not “useless” but may be less helpful in those regions.

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