The Ideal Major for Investment Banking and Other Career Questions

The Ideal Major for Investment Banking and Other Career QuestionsTapwage's Weekly Career Advice Column

In this regular column, our editors answer career questions from around the web. If you have a question on your mind, send them in to

Q. What major should I choose if I want to pursue an investment banking career?

Pick the major you enjoy and get good grades. We never advise tailoring your entire college curriculum for a single job since what you want might change in the future. Moreover, people with a wide variety of backgrounds and majors go on to pursue successful careers in investment banking. Business, finance, accounting and econ majors (at schools that don’t offer business undergraduate degrees) tend to statistically over index in most analyst classes at investment banks, but that is in part due to the fact that those are the students that predominantly apply. Investment banks also end up hiring science, engineering, arts and humanities majors.

Investment banking is a highly quantitative career and strong analytical, financial and accounting skills are incredibly helpful. So if you are not a finance, accounting or a business major, getting those skills in some form as it can be really useful to your chances of getting in.

Check out our collection of junior investment banking jobs and go through the typical requirements. Finance majors are preferred but rarely explicitly required

Q. I am nearly 30 and trying to change careers midway. My long-time dream is to work at a hedge fund or investment banking. I have a medical degree. How do I go about approaching this career change?

If you are inclined towards banking, then business school will help. A good GMAT (at or over 700) will be useful to get into a top 15 school which will significantly help a career transition to finance.

If you want to do more hedge fund, trading, investing type roles, then maybe also prepare to get a CFA. That is not the only thing you need but it validates your interest in finance. An MBA will likely still be the easiest way to transition into this career.Once you are in business school — the 3 career streams that might be the easiest / most structured to recruit for are:

  1. Investment banking

  2. Sales and Trading at a big investment bank

  3. Equity research

Investment banking jobs will prepare you better for other investing or PE jobs down the line. Sales and trading and equity research is a better segue into hedge fund / prop trading / long-only investing. Regardless of which of these three paths you want to focus on, it is critical to start recruiting almost as soon as you start your MBA, since the best path in is to get an offer to do a summer internship at these companies. Summer internship offers are typically handed on by Jan-Feb, a mere 4 months after candidates typically start their MBA.

Check out our collection of junior investing jobs and go through the typical requirements

Q. I am currently working for a big corporation and have been offered a job at a startup. The startup job has greater responsibility and opportunity for learning, but less money. Should I switch?

You should consider a number of factors before evaluating such a move:

  1. Are you learning a lot in your current role and is there a career path for you at that company?

  2. Do you have conviction in the startup idea?

  3. Do you respect the founders and management of the startup, and do you trust them to be good stewards of the company

  4. What types of skills and experiences are you likely to get?

  5. If the startup succeeds, will you be in a position to reap the benefits — both in terms of financial benefits and growth within the organization?

  6. If the startup fails, will you be able to point to tangible experience and learnings that you can use to either get another job or start your own company?

  7. What are your mid-term and longer term career objectives. This doesn’t have to be highly defined but what types of things do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years that you would enjoy?

The answers to these questions should point you in the right direction.

If you have questions regarding your career, feel free to ask us. Email us at

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Advice Annie is a team of Tapwage writers and guest contributors who help answer career and workplace questions

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