Full-Time MBA

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Pursuing a Career in Finance

Join us for a live chat with Chicago Booth current students and Career Services staff. Get your questions answered from students who are pursuing careers in finance services and investment banking. Ask about the resources available to help students learn about, prepare for, and land jobs in finance services and investment banking. Find out about curricular choices, school resources, student groups, peer and alumni mentorship, recruiting preparation and more. 

 Chat Transcript
 Guest: I have a 3 year undergraduate Degree so does the school consider my degree qualification also?

* Cristina Ochoa: Hello! We do consider Undergraduate degrees during the Admissions process. We ask for that information in the application. We also understand that undergraduate degree lengths vary by country. 


Guest: My career experience is of 3 years, I am switching career from Insurance to Investment banking any Chicago booth videos please share to me. How can I approach the alumni team since I lack experience?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: At this point, I would not reach out to the alumni. As one of the IBG co-chairs this year, I can tell you that we facilitate plenty of opportunities to interact with alums across the street. You will have lots of 1 on one networking opportunities and reaching out early is only likely to hurt your chances once this process starts.


Guest: Which class or professor has been the most impressive?

* Sarah Owen: Eugene Fama, Steve Kaplan, and Randall Kroszner were all very impressive professors that I've taken, but there are MANY impressive professors here at Booth


Guest: What does the timeline look like for recruiting for Asset Management & Hedge Funds? Is it structured or do these firms recruit more on a just-in-time cycle?

* Yan Zhang: The larger asset managers (T. Rowe, Capital Group, Maverick, Surveyor) will recruit on-campus, so you'll have the opportunity to interview on-campus in January. More niche hedge funds will recruit just-in-time.


Guest: Hello, how formal/informal is the recruiting process for private equity at Booth?

* Sarah Owen: The PE recruitment process is self-driven for the most part, but Career Services and the PE Booth Group helps facilitate the process.


Guest: what is the characteristics of strength in Booth in terms of finance, compared to other schools, which also have high reputation in finance?

* Mef: Booth has a strong finance reputation in all aspects including prestigious faculty, active student groups in finance, and career options.


Guest: Are there any financial regulator in class?

* Yan Zhang: There are definitely classes that will teach you about financial regulation at Booth, i.e. Money and Banking, Financial Markets and Institutions. I've yet to take them, but have heard great things!


Guest: Do you have any suggestions for people who want to learn financial/econometrics/ statistical software themselves in about four months? Do you have any personal experience to share?

* June Choong: There are about 3-4 econometrics focused classes (including applied econometrics) so you should be able to get a strong understanding of concepts and the software within 2-3 semesters. I unfortunately do not have personal experience, but I'm sure admissions can connect you with somebody that is pursuing the Econometrics & Statistic concentration!


Guest: How challenging is it to recruit for PE opportunities with a non-traditional background? Is there a typical path that students can take (i.e. perhaps 2-3 years of consulting/IB?) that can lead to PE down the line?

* Mef: PE recruiting is very challenging and does require having a traditional background (in either PE or Banking). Students with a non-traditional background interested in PE, typically pursue banking and potentially join PE after number of years doing banking.


Guest: Could you share your background & which internship you did if you are a 2nd year student - what made you choose that firm/group?

* June Choong: I was doing Big 4 consulting in NYC before Booth and I did Evercore IB this summer (will be returning). For IB recruiting, you go through a fairly intense 3-4 month networking process where you meet with bankers from each of the banks - that’s where you really figure out which banks you "match" with best and that's how you figure out which bank / group you end up. For me, I enjoyed the people that I met with at EVR and I liked the boutique/generalist model (b/c of my non-traditional background)!


Guest: I am currently a lawyer with no professional quantitative background.  Are there any courses or other resources you would recommend that I utilize so I can make myself an attractive candidate to recruiters in January?

* Melanie Scarlata: Depending on your career goals, the classes at Booth will offer more than enough opportunities to build your quant skill set.  The ability to select your courses from the onset of your time at Booth allows you to build the curriculum of most value and interest to you.  Your selections will depend on your aspirations and the knowledge you hope to gain.  We have many resources - Academic Services, Career Services and Student Groups to name a few - to help you plan your adventure!


Guest: For asset management and hedge funds, is most of the recruiting with the large firms (T. Rowe, Fidelity, Wellington, etc.) or are there also a fair amount of boutiques that source candidates from Booth? And if so, apart from timeline, how is that process different?

* Yan Zhang: There is a good mix of both. The larger firms may host more events on campus and interview earlier, but aside from that, very similar processes! Career Services and the Investment Management Group do a good job helping you navigate the recruiting landscape so you find a role that fits your goals.


Guest: Do the industry clubs help with interview prep and recruiting tactics?  If so, how helpful has this been?

* Sarah Owen: The industry groups are incredibly involved with the recruitment processes and interview prep. The groups will essentially provide you with all necessary tools to be successful.


Guest: Do you recommend any prep courses/ work for Investment Banking in the summer before starting school? Wall Street prep etc.?

* Sarah Owen: Booth does an incredible job of prepping you for internships and ultimately fulltime positions. If you have not taken an accounting class, I would suggest an introductory course if you have the time. If you have a background in finance, I would not spend time on any introductory courses.


Guest: Is the full-time program primarily located in Hyde Park? And is the Gleacher Center primarily for the executive and part-time programs?

* Cristina Ochoa: Correct. Classes for the Full-Time MBA Program are primarily held at the Harper Center in Hyde Park. However, occasionally your classes may also be taught in the evening at the Gleacher Center. You can arrange with your professor to take the evening session at Gleacher, if you are unable to attend the class during the day at Harper.


Guest: How difficult is it to make the switch from a non-finance role to PE or VC? Will my lack of finance experience work against me during recruitment?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: While nothing is impossible, getting into the more coveted buy-side roles without any finance background is nearly impossible without at least doing some form of finance internship and then trying to pivot. The exception would be if you have a sales/marketing or programming background, and were looking to do VC. That said you would probably be looking for smaller niche VC funds in this scenario.


Guest: Is it common for people to switch into Finance or do most people recruiting for Finance already have backgrounds in Finance?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: It's very common for people to switch into finance. All four of the Investment Banking Group co-chairs this year were career switchers and I would say more than 70% of our members follow that pattern. You will get plenty of finance and economics practice during your first year.


Guest: I am an international student who wants to go to investment banking. I heard that bulge-bracket banks support H1B visa, but am wondering whether boutique firms do so.

* Matthew Van Voorhis: There are several boutique firms (Lazard, Evercore, Moelis, William Blair, Greenhill, and more) who sponsor H1B visas.


Guest: I am coming from a Fixed Income background and am planning on returning to the FI side post-MBA. Is the on-campus recruiting geared mostly towards equities or are you able to specify which asset class you are interested in?

* Melanie Scarlata: We partner with IM firms across all asset classes and provide access to the spectrum of opportunities on campus and through our alumni network.  Asset classes to be represented are indicated in job and event descriptions and you can indicate your interest in GTS, our internal database.


Guest: What are some of the Booth experiences that you've had in or outside of class that you feel has differentiated you from other prospective finance hires?

* Yan Zhang: Treks and stock pitch competitions! The Investment Management Group hosts an East Coast and a West Coast Trek. I led the West Coast Trek this year and we visited fifteen funds between SF, LA, and Orange County in the span of a week. Getting valuable face-to-face time with these funds at their headquarters was incredibly useful. In addition, competing in stock pitch competitions against other MBA programs on the national level gives you great experience and exposure to hiring firms. Booth placed extremely well this year (you can read all about it!)


Guest: From a more technical standpoint, how do you feel that Booth has prepared you for a career in finance (may vary depending on type of position you're seeking).

* Matthew Van Voorhis: It's hard to say relative to other business schools, since I haven't gone to any others, but I can say that over the summer I felt extremely prepared for the financial side of investment banking. There was nothing analytically they threw at me (or my classmates that I know of) that I didn't feel able to tackle. I was also coming from a non-finance background, so I feel strongly that Booth prepared me as well as anywhere else I could have gone.


Guest: Is the PE/VC lab a differentiator for helping Booth students secure employment in the industry?

* Mef: The PE/VC lab is one way that students secure opportunities in the field but there are other options as well (job postings, networking with the booth alumni and reaching out directly to funds).


Guest: Thanks for taking your time to answer questions. Does recruiting for venture capital firms mirror the PE firms? Mostly self-driven, I'm assuming?

* Yan Zhang: PE and VC recruiting may be less structured, given the smaller number of people who go into those fields vs. investment banking/consulting. That said, there is a support system amongst second years and Career Services who'll help you find the right firms who'll hire.


Guest: I heard recruiting process of investment banking requires tons of networking. I wonder how people interested in getting a job in NY manage the networking process. Do these people fly to NY frequently?

* Sarah Owen: Booth has one of the most successful brands on Wall St. and due to this reputation, all the banks come to campus to do recruitment of students (networking) interested in IB. This year approximately 25 banks came to campus. That said, towards the end of the recruitment process – just before interviews for summer internships – all IB recruits will take a one-week trip to NY for events hosted by the banks.   


Guest: I would love the opportunity to intern at a PE/VC fund via the Private Equity and Venture Capital lab. It is one thing that, for me, makes Booth stand out. How does the bidding process work and how competitive is it to get in?

* Mef: You'll have a detailed review of the bidding process when you get here and the selection criteria focuses more on your commitment to PE/VC space.


Guest: Dhanat, after studying engineering and working in consulting (stated in the website), why did you decide switching to investment banking? Which classes are the most important ones in this process?

* June Choong: When I worked in consulting, I did a lot of integration work and that's where I got my initial M&A experience. Consulting was a good place to start in terms of building my project management / general business skills but after a couple of years I wanted more exposure to the strategic / financial pieces of M&A. This was the primary reason why I wanted to pursue IB. In terms of courses, accounting and corporate finance focused classes are probably the most critical for a career switcher like myself. Just to name a few, footnotes accounting, taxes, M&A accounting, cases in financial management, money and banking are all very relevant.


Guest: How early into your Booth career do you need to decide on which industry you want to go in? Can I interview at banks and tech companies? Do many people have variation?

* Melanie Scarlata: Campus recruiting for internships begins mid-October.  However, we encourage you to begin exploring career paths earlier.  Career Services will facilitate programs designed to help you find your career passion during the summer, orientation and the fall.  IB recruiting is heavily campus focused and for the most part is wrapped up by February.  Some tech firms recruit along a similar timeline but others have a more elongated process.  Career Services and the student groups will help you build a strategy that takes into account your goals and the timelines of each industry.


Guest: Hello everyone, what advice (in addition an MBA) would you give to someone who wants to start a career in Finance after having spent 10 yrs. in construction/engineering industry? I have great interest in working for an Investment Bank or Large Corporation. What full-time job position would you think I should been looking for?

* Sarah Owen: To career switch into IB requires first and foremost a MBA from a top ranked business school. Once at the MBA program, the school will facilitate the recruitment processes to gain a career in IB. Having a background in finance is not necessary, which is great for people like you and me (I was in the military before coming to Booth).


Guest: I've heard that students can utilize Polsky Center to get an internship opportunity at a PE firm. If this is true, how does it work?

* Mef: You can get PE internship opportunities thru the PE/VC lab, which is managed by the Polsky center - you'll get additional information on the process of applying for the lab from the center directly when you get here.


Guest: Thanks to everyone for doing this. I've heard the quantitative rigor of Booth classes really sets the school apart. Do you feel like that gives an edge in buy-side recruiting compared to other schools?

* Sarah Owen: The quantitative rigor of Booth 100% sets Booth a part during the recruitment process, as well as your performance during the summer internship.


Guest: What concentrations (in addition to Finance) would you suggest for someone interested in working for Investment Banking?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I think accounting is really important. The finance classes here have all been great, but the accounting classes will really give you the foundation to do a lot of the basic analysis that is necessary in investment banking. I also decided to go for the analytic finance concentration since I feel like it expands a lot more thoroughly on a lot of the financial theory behind the decisions investment bankers have to make.


Guest: Roughly, what percentage of students in investment management get a full-time offer from their internship?

* Melanie Scarlata: That is a tough question.  We don't have full information about all offers, just accepted offers.  Generally, between 45-55% of students accept an offer sourced from their internship but we know more receive offers at the end of the summer.  The employment report found on our website provides more details.



Guest: One follow-up question regarding the PE/VC lab. There was an email recently about a student from Brazil who converted her internship to an offer for the summer. I'm an international applicant with a similar background, so I've been wondering how many students accomplish to do that? Is that the exception or the norm?

* Sarah Owen: Not many students convert PE / VC Lab internships into fulltime offers simply because the recruitment process is not set up that way. Companies hire you for the summer with the open intention for you to re-recruit the following year. That said, there are a few students each year, such as your friend, who will convert an internship into a fulltime offer.


Guest: What is the general time line for recruiting? When does it really start to ramp up?

* Melanie Scarlata: Campus recruiting begins in mid-October.  You will spend the fall exploring, networking and learning about opportunities.  Campus interviews take place from January - February.  However, many sectors do not recruit on campus and seek talent well into the spring.  Your timeline will be industry/sector specific.


Guest: Recruiting opportunities for PE more focused on investment or are there ops roles available as well?

* Mef: Most of the PE roles are focused on investments but there are still opportunities if you're interested in ops roles as well


Guest: Do PE firms come on campus for recruiting?

* Mef: No, PE firms typically do not come on campus but they partner with PE student groups, job postings, and Polsky center (PE/VC lab)


Guest: Is there any admission process to join the Investment Group? How about other Student Groups?

* Yan Zhang: Nope, anyone can join any student group. But once you join, there are things you need to apply for, i.e. being an Analyst in the Student-Management Investment Fund (SMIF) or representing Booth at a stock pitch competition


Guest: I'm interested in learning more about cryptocurrencies in an academic setting, are there are opportunities for this at Booth?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: This has been covered in some of my classes to date, but being so new there aren't any full classes focused exclusively on cryptocurrency. It seems the sort of thing that the new FinTech class, and Money and Banking are likely to cover more in depth as it becomes more mainstream.


Guest: Where do the greatest number of finance graduates end up? NYC? Chicago? Elsewhere?

* Sarah Owen: The majority of graduates end up in NYC due to market activities, but those who wish to end up elsewhere are typically successful recruiting regionally.


Guest: Is there a good chance to recruit for a post MBA banking role without an internship experience or pre MBA experience

* Melanie Scarlata: A full-time banking offer generally requires an internship or prior experience. You could potentially make a case if you have experiences such as M&A within a company, PE, any position requiring long hours and modeling experience, but it would not be an easy slog.


Guest: Hi all, thanks for your time today. What are the "can't miss" finance classes, or the ones that you found particularly memorable?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I'm currently in International Corporate Finance with Raghuram Rajan (ex head of the Bank of India). Hearing his perspective on the financial decisions faced by the leaders of international corporations and governments has been extremely eye opening. I would also say that Financial Analysis and Accounting I (footnote accounting) has been one of the most useful courses I've ever taken. You will never look at a 10k the same way again!


Guest: What is your most memorable experience at Booth so far?

* Mef: I have so many memorable experiences at Booth – as staff, the best ones have to do with celebrating students' success when securing their dream jobs :)


Guest: What is the most challenging aspect of IB recruiting? Do you have any advice?

* June Choong: I would say the most challenging aspect is overall "process" management. Recruiting is a very long process where you'll likely meet 50+ bankers across 10+ banks. A key component of your success is your ability to manage your time and track all of your interactions; that way, you can always be prepared and have the right data points when you interview or make offer decisions later on. One key piece of advice would be to make sure you are always taking notes and "reflecting" on your conversations on a weekly or even daily basis. Also, be sure to always touch base with the second years to make sure that you on track.


Guest: Are investment banking interviews typically resume/behavioral or case/analytical?

* June Choong: Each bank has a different approach, but I would say a good mix of both - so you really need to be well prepared in both areas to succeed. That being said, interviews are way down the road assuming you apply through the standard path.


Guest: Do most local Chicago PE/Hedge Fund firms conduct interviews on campus or in their offices to meet the team?

* Mef: Most PE/Hedge Fund interview at their offices.


Guest: What's the most challenging class you've taken at Booth?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: Theory of Financial Decisions I - Eugene Fama's class. Best bring your A game.


Guest: I am interested in pursuing an Associate role at an IB post-MBA. When banks come to campus to they have specific spots open or are applicants able to voice their areas/divisions of interest?

* Sarah Owen: When recruiting for IB, applicants focus on specific groups and/ or industries based on both fit and interest. No matter what group you’re interested in there will always be a bank with an opening in that group – as hiring occurs across the banks.


Guest: Follow-up to Sarah's response about location where finance graduates end up...Does the same go for summer internships? Do most of these take place in NY?

* Sarah Owen: The majority of summer internships take place in NYC. Again though, I recruited for Chicago, a number of my friends recruited for West Coast, Houston, London, etc., and almost all of them were successful in achieving a region specific internship.


Guest: Roughly, what is the percentage of students who want to get IB summer intern successfully land offer(s) for summer every year?

* Mef: The number varies every year but if you're committed to recruiting for IB, have the characteristics from a fit standpoint and follow the process diligently the likelihood of landing an offer is very high.


Guest: What is the pre-work one is expected to do if the plan is to transition from sales/marketing background before MBA to Finance career route post-MBA?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I actually worked in sales before business school and successfully made the transition into investment banking. The biggest thing you can do to help your chances is really reflect on why you want to work in the industry (things like money, and prestige are not good reasons). Most of the networking events during the fall start with the question: why do you want to do banking? The more thoughtful, and genuine your story, the more successful you will likely be in the recruiting process.


Guest: For someone with a corporate finance/treasury management background, how realistic is it to pivot into PE/VC, having been exposed to investment banking mainly as a corporate client at Fortune 500s?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I think if you have a strong finance background you can make a case, but you will have to work for it. I know a few individuals with that type of background that have made it work, but there is going to be a lot of work on your end, and you need to make sure you're taking classes with the right professors who understand the industry (PE/VC Lab, and EFPE for example). If you are planning to recruit for PE and a traditional path (consulting or banking) this will decrease your chances of getting a good PE offer.


Guest: Why did you choose Booth when choosing where to go for MBA? Biggest decision-making factors?

* Yan Zhang: The flexible curriculum, the academic rigor, and exit opportunities.

Flexible Curriculum: If you have a background in finance (i.e. CPA, CFA), you won't need to repeat Accounting 101 and can instead jump straight into the hardest classes immediately.

Academic Rigor: World-class faculty with open doors. For example, I covered Trust Banks at Capital Group, and had looked at LSV Asset Management. At Booth, I'm currently taking "Behavioral and Institutional Finance", taught by Robert Vishny, the V of LSV!

Exit Opportunities: Great track record of placing Boothies into top tier programs.


Guest: For students who get involved in the IBEP with any of the partner schools abroad, do they tend to only do so as 2nd years, or do some students go as 2nd semester 1st years also?

* Cristina Ochoa: You engage with IBEP during the Winter Quarter of your second year.


Guest: What are common reasons why someone would turn down a return offer from their internship? Do they then recruit with other banks or do they pivot to other industries?

* Sarah Owen: The typical reason for declining a full-time offer is fit. The individual did not enjoy the overall culture of the organization. This does not happen often due to the extensive recruitment process and the number of people for the firm that a student will engage with before accepting an internship.


Guest: Bit of a change of direction- what has been the most interesting/useful NON-finance course that you have taken at Booth?

* June Choong: Two of my top non-finance classes are Corporate Governance and M&A Strategy. The former teaches you about the roles and responsibilities of company boards (which I thought was unique) and the latter, while it may seem finance-focused, is more focused on M&A from a business development perspective (e.g., covers things like strategic alignment and integration).  Both classes are taught by very experienced practitioners (which is what I think makes the class more than anything else).


Guest: What do you think was most helpful at Booth in order to securing your full-time or summer offers? Is there any advice you would give a newly admitted Boothie?

* Sarah Owen: In coming to Booth, there is a set framework in place on how to successfully recruit for a specific industry. Once at Booth, follow those guidelines and you will be successful.


Guest: Do some Booth students doing finance recruiting also study abroad for a semester? If so, when?

* Mef: Students recruiting for finance and interested in study abroad do it later in the year (spring quarter) given the fall is primarily when firms actively recruit students for various finance opportunities (IB, Corp. Finance, FinTech, etc.)


Guest: Following-up to Sarah's response to the question regarding the necessity of travels to NY for recruiting for NY positions, then most students end up going to NY for recruiting for just once (for one week before interviews) in the whole recruiting process?

* Sarah Owen: Outside of diversity events (i.e. Military, minorities, and women), the average number of trips to NYC during the recruitment process was 1 to 2 or IB recruitment.


Guest: Do you have any recommendations on things I can do to help me decide between pursuing investment banking or management consulting as post-MBA career options since the recruiting begins so early in the MBA process?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I was in a very similar situation, and here's what I did: I reached out to classmates from college who worked in both industries and asked them to share their experiences. For me, I really wanted to focus on developing a financial skillset that I felt would complement my sales/marketing background prior to business school. I think if you are really unsure of what you want to do, consulting has a more diverse set of exit opportunities. That said, if you know you want to do something in finance (PE, VC, M&A, corporate development) you can't get a better start than in investment banking. You're right though, it would be best to have this figured out before you come to campus.


Guest: How important do you think is to learn how to code and what programming language would you deem as essential to excel in the IB career?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: I would say it is totally un-necessary.


Guest: Is Booth a very Finance focused school? How about other career paths and job functions if you are interested in careers in Finance and other options (Tech, Data Analytics, HR etc.)?

* Yan Zhang: Booth has a great finance reputation thanks to award-winning faculty (Thaler, Fama, Merton Scholes), so the path is there if you want to pursue it, but we also have great faculty in these other departments you cited. Many of my classmates are pursuing Ops and Analytics roles in the finance realm.


Guest: How did you prepare for technical questions in IB recruiting?

* Matthew Van Voorhis: There are a lot of materials that IBG sets students up with, as well as individual tutors if necessary. We generally suggest students start studying around Thanksgiving, so nothing to worry about yet. 


Guest: I am excited about the course flexibility. But, is it ever overwhelming? Do you feel as though you have enough direction or information to build a well-rounded experience?

* Yan Zhang: That's where the Academic Advisors, Career Services, and Second Years come in. If I came in blind, it would certainly be overwhelming, but in your first few weeks at Booth, you'll be exposed to great resources that will help you navigate the landscape, so you get the most relevant learning experience.


Guest: Is there any book/website would you suggest to learn more about Investment Banking in general and associate career?

* June Choong: I thought Mergers and Inquisitions was generally a good blog to follow to get high-level information on the industry. If you want more quantitative content, Breaking into Wall Street was good as well (more for interview preparation).  That being said, the BEST way to learn would be to talk to second years or bankers that are already in the industry (this is what is great about the Booth recruiting process).


Guest: Does Booth offer any financial assistance for International students?

* Cristina Ochoa: Booth does offer merit-based scholarships to students, regardless of location. Almost 70% of the current class have not received scholarship.


Guest: Does investment banks allow you to apply for positions in multiple locations (ex. 1st: NY, 2nd: Singapore)?

* Sarah Owen: It is possible to apply to multiple locations. Career Services or the industry group leading your recruitment process will help you in navigating how to communicate your multiple location preference to the different firms.


Guest: How much benefit does having the CFA designation bring in AM/HF recruiting?

* Yan Zhang: It certainly helps! There's no downside, so I recommend you take the exams. But if not, the second years will help you prep for interviews.