Honest advice on possible target unis / major. Maybe I entertain you with the rant.

Long post below. Read it like a story, welcome to my mind etc etc. Spent a jumpy and anxious few months stressing about where I am heading, then it struck me to ask this superb community, since people here will be able to give me relevant, qualified and honest opinions.
Some background:
Currently working as an investment banking analyst at a top IB in India, been 2 years in this role. Sovereign debt analyst to be more precise - debt capital markets. Some experience in VBA - I have been automating some excel processes at work as a hobby, to keep in touch with some computation.
Have an engineering in electronics and communication degree from a decent college, but not one of the premier ones. CGPA 9.2
A business minor from a prestigious MBA institute.
Coursework included linear algebra, calculus, probability, differential equations, C, Java, Python, MATLAB, R, ML, AI, data structures, algorithms. A project on deep learning for my final year project, but nothing incredibly fancy. But more on this later.
Cleared CFA level 1 in the top 10 percentile in the historically lowest pass rate for any CFA exam ever, but I doubt that's relevant.
GRE 334, 170Q, 164V, and AWA 6 - something entirely useless but I can find some pride in it on bad days

Now the caveats:
I know I am missing statistics, numerical analysis, stochastic processes. I am also not extremely confident in the math I have actually studied - given it has been over 2 years since I last saw an equation!
Coding experience - sure I know the basics, but again, it has been a hot minute since I did any coding. Python I was relatively decent at (also what I did my final year project on, also published a paper in Elsevier SSRN and Springer both, but I maintain the paper was mediocre), but couldn't say the same for C. Not a genius or regular coder is what I'm saying - all coding experience has been college related. C++ - did it in high school, but I'm not too plussed about it. I know I should get the fundamentals down and then worry about a language.
Data structures / algorithms - not the best at this either. A couple of semesters in college, but I was busy chasing finance back then to take an interest in this. Life comes to a circle. Cruel irony.
Data science - not much in this area
ML/AI - a couple of semesters, and my final year project. But again, I've not been in touch with anything except yield curves and bond prices since I joined IB.

NOW.

What, honestly, do you think are realistic options for me? I think I may have mentioned, but I'm an anxious person. And for personal reasons, I absolutely must successfully apply for a Master's this year and leave the next. Where can I realistically and with a high chance get into? I am open to FE, Finance, Eco (I actually applied to a couple of eco only programmes in the UK last year, but nada. I would like to avoid the spiral it sent me down, this time))

I am not sure I am qualified enough for top FE programmes like UCB, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA - what's your take? Wondering if I could make it to top Fin / Eco programmes? Thinking Duke, Princeton, Columbia MSFE. Cornell perhaps? Again, I'm an international student, and again for personal reasons, I'd need a good payoff and a little bit of placement security. Obviously it is dependent on me, and I am dedicated and hard working and stress-fuelled, but you know what I mean - would ideally not like to be in a programme that leaves you to fend for yourself completely. So I'd really like it if it can be one of the good unis. What do you suggest? What are the placement stats like? Will I be able to survive there? I am obviously going to devote the time between getting an admit and joining to preparing math / coding.

So much to ask for! But bear with me. If these are not attainable, I'd wait another year. Tough, undesirable, but I will.
 
Most top schools publish placement stats, have you taken a look at them? Even if you look at the 2022 Rankings you can have a quick idea of placement for many top programs.
 
Most top schools publish placement stats, have you taken a look at them? Even if you look at the 2022 Rankings you can have a quick idea of placement for many top programs.
Thanks for the reply! My bad for not being clear though - I know the placement stats for good unis are great, and I know what they are, which is why I want to get into them. I guess my question is if I have a good enough profile to get into them. Failing that, obviously my only option would be to get into a decent but not great uni, and I'm not quite sure if their placement stats are actually true.
 
Try moving from pure accounting stuff to strats side, while preparing for the prerequisites. You'll have to do a lot of coding and see a lot of equations before joining an MFE. Or maybe move to a little more quantitative side, like the department that packages MBS, CDS, etc. (modeling stuff), GS India does that, other IBs must be doing it as well, I guess!

If you really want to shift your career try doing it before the MFE, this will not only increase your chances of getting accepted into the best quant programs but will build your understanding ( a little bit!) of the different kinds of roles in the industry so that when you are in the MFE program you don't end up applying for every job that is meant for the MFE graduates.
(For example, it's possible that just to get the VISA you end up joining the risk side in big4/banks during the possible recession next year and then regret it later!)

Start seeing an MFE as a gateway to get your dream job, not any quant job just to enter the industry. Also, US is not like India, you have to put a lot of effort in getting a job. Placement statistics reflect the effort of both the school's career services and their students. Just seeing that percentage number in the rankings and being relieved that your probability of getting a job is say 95%, is the biggest mistake any international graduate can make.

Your profile is good, but a little more exposure to quantitative finance is essential. You are applying to econ programs in the UK, are you not sure about what you want. That's a priority here!!

Btw, with the new Talent VISA, if you get a masters from a top 50 QS university you will be eligible for the UK work visa no sponsorship is required for two years, just need to pay 750£ or something. If you are just looking for a way out of India, get into any program on that list. UK launches a new visa scheme to lure ‘high potential individuals’ globally
 
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Try moving from pure accounting stuff to strats side, while preparing for the prerequisites. You'll have to do a lot of coding and see a lot of equations before joining an MFE. Or maybe move to a little more quantitative side, like the department that packages MBS, CDS, etc. (modeling stuff), GS does that, other IBs must be doing it as well, I guess!

If you really want to shift your career try doing it before the MFE, this will not only increase your chances of getting accepted into the best quant programs but will build your understanding ( a little bit!) of the different kinds of roles in the industry so that when you are in the MFE program you don't end up applying for every job that is meant for the MFE graduates.
(For example, it's possible that just to get the VISA you end up joining the risk side in big4/banks during the possible recession next year and then regret it later!)

Start seeing an MFE as a gateway to get your dream job, not any quant job just to enter the industry. Also, US is not like India, you have to put a lot of effort in getting a job. Placement statistics reflect the effort of both the school's career services and their students. Just seeing that percentage number in the rankings and being relieved that your probability of getting a job is say 95%, is the biggest mistake any international graduate can make.

Your profile is good, but a little more exposure to quantitative finance is essential. You are applying to econ programs in the UK, are you not sure about what you want. That's a priority here!!

Btw, with the new Talent VISA, if you get a masters from a top 50 QS university you will be eligible for the UK work visa no sponsorship is required for two years, just need to pay 750£ or something. If you are just looking for a way out of India, get into any program on that list. UK launches a new visa scheme to lure ‘high potential individuals’ globally
Thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive response, man.
I agree - i should move away to quant stuff, which is what I'm interested in. Your point about not being deluded about placement stats is exactly what has kept me from applying for the past couple of years, and why I'm so unsure about applying this year - I am very very skeptical about the job scene there, and I'm not taking it lightly at all. A couple of my batchmates, arguably the same level as me but with less finance experience and a lower GPA, got into Columbia last year. To them it was a matter of writing a convincing application, which even I can easily write. It's me being honest here about how confident i feel in my skills, but on paper i have all the coursework! even my internship was in the derivatives team of the IB I'm currently at, and i have led ("delegated") a lot of fairly decent python and VBA automation initiatives for my team. But my aim is really not a decorated portrayal of my profile for the sake of getting in. I can fool the adcom, but not myself. I want to get proficient in coding (I'm confident about picking up python again quickly and getting decent at C++, given prior exposure) and math (confident about quickly brushing up what I have studied before, but will have to take time on some other areas) before i enter any program, not after. So wholeheartedly agree.
Don't want to go to the US just for the visa either. I really want to study more and gain expertise at a place that provides quality knowledge. I'm sure you know how it works here.... Don't want a repeat of that.
And I can see how I come off as confused. I want to do a quantitative study of finance. The eco programs I applied to last year were heavily quantitative - the math almost an entire overlap with the math of MFE. just that the outcome was more rates focused, and students gravitate more towards banking / asset management jobs which naturally reflects in the general feel of the course. I love math and have been good at it in college, and i don't want to be working at an unrewarding, unchallenging finance job for a long time.
I'm going to take your advice and start moving in that direction! A quant job may be difficult to get immediately, since I'll have to prepare, but I'm going to prep the prerequisites and if it doesn't take me to a master's next year, it'll take me to a job shift, and that's a great start.
 
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