Investment banking is a field where traditional paths dominate, but what happens when you're nearing the end of your bachelor's degree without a full-time offer in investment banking? The journey doesn't end here. In fact, there are several strategies you can adopt to keep your investment banking aspirations alive.
Are you ready to stand out in your next investment banking interview?
Pursuing a Master in Finance
The first and most effective strategy is to enroll in a master in finance program. Such programs can significantly bolster your qualifications and appeal to potential employers in investment banking. They offer a unique advantage in that they don't strictly require a business-related bachelor's degree from a target university. Admission often hinges on standardized test scores like the GMAT or GRE. A master in finance degree from a prestigious institution can provide you with valuable knowledge, a strong network, and the leverage needed to secure a top investment banking job. This route is especially worth considering if you're committed to a high-paying career in investment banking, as the return on investment is typically high enough to offset the cost of additional student loans.
Continuous Internship Approach
A more challenging but viable option is the continuous internship route. This involves graduating from university and securing the best possible internship, preferably in investment banking or a related finance area. The key here is to keep applying for subsequent internships, building a portfolio of experience that makes you increasingly attractive to employers. This strategy demonstrates your dedication and growing expertise, potentially leading to a full-time position. However, it's riskier, as gaps in your CV can occur if you're unable to secure continuous internships. To mitigate this risk, applying for master in finance programs as a backup is a prudent strategy.
Taking a Longer-Term Approach with an MBA
The final option is to reconcile with not starting in investment banking immediately after your bachelor's degree. If you're still determined to break into the field, consider roles that will pave the way for an MBA, which can then lead to investment banking opportunities. Roles in management consultancy, corporate development, in-house M&A at large companies, or with the big four accountancy firms are excellent starting points. An MBA, particularly from a U.S. institution, can make you an attractive candidate for summer associate or full-time associate roles in investment banking. However, be aware that the landscape for MBA recruitment in investment banking has been changing, particularly in Europe, so this route may be more fruitful if you're open to working in the United States.
Conclusion: Maximising Your Chances
Breaking into investment banking can be daunting, and while luck plays a role, maximising your chances through strategic planning is crucial. If direct entry into investment banking isn't feasible right now, gaining experience in related fields can significantly enhance your profile. Many successful investment bankers in Europe have completed multiple internships before securing their dream job. So, stay motivated, gather as much relevant experience as possible, and keep your investment banking goal in sight.