Just yesterday, I was hit with the bad news that my favorite new TV show, NBC’s Awake, is going to be cancelled after just one season. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you remedy that as soon as possible as it features one of the most creative concepts to come along in some time. The concept, outlined below, is surprisingly relevant to young and aspiring professionals in the abstract.
Following a car crash with his wife and son, Detective Michael Britten returns to work and finds himself in one of two different realities every time he wakes up, one in which his wife Hannah survives the accident and the other in which his son Rex survives the accident.
Detective Britten actively lives out two different paths that started from a specific catalyst. As the viewer, we get to see how his life is different in each reality.
As young professionals, when we reach key decision points, we can unfortunately only live out the path we choose. Something that isn’t emphasized enough, in my view, is how profoundly impactful career-related decisions can be early on in your professional life. Decisions you make as early as your Senior year of college and two to three years out of college can have massive effects on your career trajectory.
For instance – if you begin your Wall Street careercredit derivatives at a big bank, you’ll find it very difficult to move into investment banking or PE. Alternatively, if you started out in banking and transitioned into PE, you’ll find it very difficult to shift into sales & trading. If you want to leave the industry altogether for something radically different, you might just find yourself with a big mountain to climb.
As someone who has gone down a variation of The Path (http://tinyurl.com/2bqtlo9) for five years and is currently in his second year of PE, I can tell you without hesitation that if I want to do anything other than work on middle market M&A transactions, it will be a bit of an uphill battle.
This is not to say that there aren’t exceptions to this rule - some hard work, skillful networking, or an MBA can go a long way. But, it won't be easy.
With that said, to anyone in college who is thinking about entering a certain field and to any fresh grads contemplating their next move, take a hard look at the choices before you. Do your due diligence and make sure that you make career decisions for the right reasons because they can have a serious impact on the trajectory of your professional life. And unlike Detective Britten, you can't live out multiple lives - you can only go down the path you choose.