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Andy note: Best of WSO - this post originally went up December 2009 and we thought it deserved to go back on the homepage for those who may have never seen it.

After reading and commenting on this board it is very clear that everyone has goals/dreams and an idea of how to obtain them. Another common theme is how neurotic people are in landing that dream job at Blackstone, GS, etc. Yes there are clear paths to those positions and I myself wondered how I will get to the point in my career in which I have truly crossed all of the T's and dotted all of the I's.

Here is my point: There is so much time ahead of you. If you are smart and have the drive, you will achieve what you desire (within reason). My dream would be to found/co-found a boutique investment bank. I know it may seem like a stretch, but its a dream. In a perfect world this would happen by age 35-40. Now right now I'm 23, which gives me 12-17 years. I still have another 10-15 assuming I take 2 years out for b-school! Think about the sheer numbers!

Think of your career as not only the steps that you need to take to get to the end goal, but how long you have to get there. I think many of us worry so much about the near term that it can be overwhelming and unnecessary. Put things in perspective.

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Comments (64)

  • ibhopeful532's picture

    I agree.

    I would also add that often, the most life-changing opportunities presented to you are not achieved by design or planning- rather, they are accidental, fortuitous events that you encounter when you least expect it.

    Even a cursory look at the biographies of the most successfull entrepreneurs in history suggests that of all things, two ingredients are the most important for true financial success and happiness:

    1). Passion
    2). Luck

  • Banker88's picture

    No doubt. You cannot plan such things as going to HBS --> GS --> KKR. Life just doesn't work that way. You can have a general path and work towards it, but trying to be so specific is just setting yourself up for failure.

    I once interviewed someone for an internship, and this kid was like: "I want to work as a mortgage trader for 7 years, then open up my own hedge fund." I was like: LOL.

  • In reply to Banker88
    2007Grad's picture

    banker88:
    No doubt. You cannot plan such things as going to HBS --> GS --> KKR. Life just doesn't work that way. You can have a general path and work towards it, but trying to be so specific is just setting yourself up for failure.

    I once interviewed someone for an internship, and this kid was like: "I want to work as a mortgage trader for 7 years, then open up my own hedge fund." I was like: LOL.

    Lol, that's how most of us were though. Can't really blame the kid. My plan was 2 years IB -> 2 years PE -> Few years in PE European office -> Somehow become a Partner at PE Firm. All of that seems so laughable now, heck I'd be happy with almost any job.

  • CompBanker's picture

    I think the best thing you can do is to devise a plan, but don't be afraid to deviate from it. I'm on the IB > PE > HBS > Euro PE plan myself, but as I go through it, I'm beginning to take an interest in alternative paths. For example, I'm beginning to think that spending a year at a portfolio company may be a fun, alternative way to spend a year, get some operating experience, but not throw me off my ultimate path.

    CompBanker

  • ews09's picture

    There's nothing wrong with having a plan and aiming high - that way, you can be focused and motivated to work hard. Problems arise when we become so narrow-minded that we neglect or ignore other great opportunities. It's unbelievable how many people on WSO whine about having to "settle" for XYZ bank, followed by a bunch of trolls making fun of XYZ. Having a job in finance at all is an accomplishment to be proud of.

  • Lazyeye's picture

    Don't just take a step back and look at the bigger picture, take two steps back and look at the biggest picture. Life's a crazy ride and you don't get to know when the ride ends until it's time to get off, so don't waste it being pissed off because you didn't get an offer from GS. I know it's a cliche, but really try to imagine how you would feel if you found out that you have only a month to live; would you be upset because you didn't make partner at the PE fund before you died? Probably not.

    I've seen firsthand how fragile life is, and although it was probably the worst experience of my life, I wouldn't trade it for all the money and fancy titles in the world. The experience has given me perspective that can't be valued. Chase your dreams, give it everything you have to give, and just be thankful no matter the outcome. Don't act like the world is gonna end because you didn't have the great exit opportunities that your buddy at GS did. Ultimately, we're all getting the same exit opportunity anyway.

  • Billy Ray Valentine's picture

    All great posts and I agree that while you definitely need to have a "plan" as to your ideal path, you cannot be afraid to move away from that path if an alternative presents itself. Personally, I was set on banking, had my internship planned out, studied all the interview questions and wa ready to rock any interview. Landed my "dream job" at a place I liked, where I liked the people, and thought I would truely enjoy myself, the work and the utterly ridiculous salaries some analysts were pulling in their first year out of college.

    That internship fell through, and while I was infuriated and dissappointed at the time, feeling like all my hard work was worthless, it ended up bein one of the best things that ever happened to me. I worked a crappy internship for 2 months and then randomly got called in for an interview by an MD at a large AM firm who was looking for one intern. To this day I still don't know how he got my resume. While I was hesitant to go work there, afraid to stray from my IB mindset, I decided to take a chance and try a different path.

    Long story short, we had a great relationship and when he left his firm to partner with an old colleague starting their own PE shop, I was in. Now I have a great group of people around me, two great bosses and amazingly have a life outside of work to some extent.

    Essentially I got lucky and ended up in a great situation where maybe the pay (right now) isn't as high as I was expecting to be making in IBD, the potential down the road is much greater.

    To all those upcoming bankers I say this: work hard, study hard, and prepare in every way for your interviews at places like GS and KKR because that will definitiely make the path less bumpy. But at the end of the day no matter where you end up, you are still going to have to prove you have the same drive and passion to make it to the next level, as well as get a little bit lucky.

    Don't be afraid to stray from your path, but don't forget to stop and smell the roses along the way and have your life comepletely pass you by. Good luck to everyone.

  • dcheva19's picture

    If you look at the profiles of some of the partners in top PE firms, quite a few of them started in careers that this board will immediately label as "dead-end." Personally I've seen many engineers start off working a technical job, seemingly going down that dreaded "engineer for life" road I know some of you fear. But they ended up possessing so much industry knowledge by the time they finished their MBA and then got into banking or whatever, they were able to combine that industry knowledge with finance and rise to the top of the industry.

    It's okay to deviate from your path, but wherever you deviate, try as hard as you can to be the best in that field. When you become the best (whether it's at a non-target school, no-name boutique, non-traditional banking route, etc) people take notice, and opportunities present themselves.

  • CompBanker's picture

    dcheva19, while your comments are certainly true, I'd caution anyone from using the profile of senior people in the industry as a guide to success. Private equity has continued to mature and as a result, the career path has become far more defined than it was 20 years ago. A harvard MBA and blue-chip experience were not nearly the requirements back then like they are today. As a result, many senior folks were able to become industry leaders with "non-traditional" backgrounds. I'd argue that it is far more difficult today than it was back then.

    Note that I'm not saying it's Harvard or bust these days, just that the bar is a lot higher than it used to be.

    CompBanker

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    #1- I don't know why people seem to put so much importance between GS/MS and the others, if you are shooting for the stars, as you should be, what college you attend / company you work for isn't going to make you successful, its more about your attitude and drive. While working at JPM/Citi will have a bigger impact on your development than working at some no name chop shop PWM firm in Atlanta, if you're capable of reaching your goals, it doesn't matter where you came from.

    #2- Especially recently, I've seen a lot of young people passing away. Everything from an 18 year old driving drunk and getting herself killed to a 25 year old girl with very late stage breast cancer to a 22 year old guy who went to sleep drunk, vomited in his sleep and died of asphyxiation. Its a shame to spend so much time/effort/sacrifice investing in a tomorrow that may never come. You're alive and then you die. And when you die its as tragic as all of the above incidents, when you hear about it happening to someone you know, you seem to feel like its an exception and very tragic confluence of events, but it will indefinitely happen to you sooner or later.

  • zumbido's picture

    First off, let me say hi to you guys. I've been a reader for a few weeks but this topic spoke to me and I had to post. I came across a quote on another topic that said something like: "Goals that are too focused lead to missed opportunities," which I think is very appropriate here.

    Since freshman year of college, I was sure that I wanted to get a Ph.D. in engineering so I pretty much made a beeline straight for grad school and my goals stayed the exact same for all four years. I went to a non-target state school for undergrad but got into my dream school for a Ph.D program (top 5 target). Well, since I had gone to the state school, I had a lot of extra scholarship money that I decided to use to invest - and I got hooked. Long story short, I've decided a Ph.D is not for me. Instead I'm getting a masters and am utilizing my school's awesome resources to hopefully get into a good firm.

    Basically, I've learned how important it is that even though you may have a very specific goal in mind, don't be afraid to explore other opportunities as they come - some random new hobby could turn into an exciting career! Also along the lines of making the best of the situation you're in: had I gone to an expensive private school for college, I wouldn't have had the extra money to play around with and probably would never have gotten into finance in the first place. I would have been on track for a career in research. Opportunity can definitely knock when you least expect it...

  • DontMakeMeShortYou's picture

    Marcus, you make some good points, but I'd like to counter with some of my own.

    1) First, I agree that attitude and drive are some of the biggest determinants of success. Combined with luck, a great attitude and unwavering drive will take you very, very far. I know a guy who almost got kicked out of high school, shaped up, went to community college, transferred to a target school and ended up at a very prestigious firm. While a great story, it's not common. The truth of the matter is, where you come from ABSOLUTELY matters. Having the right pedigree and the right connections, along with that great attitude and drive, will make achieving 'success' significantly easier. Whether it's right or wrong, you perceive the GS and Jefferies analysts differently. You look at the Harvard and community college kid differently. Drive and attitude matters, but who's to say that the GS->KKR->HBS guy doesn't have as strong of a drive/as good of an attitude? All else equal, the pedigree makes a big difference. There's a reason that KKR, BX, TPG, Carlyle, SL, etc are largely composed of Harvard/Wharton/GS/MS/BX/LAZ types.

    In an industry OBSESSED with image, I find it difficult to agree with your assertion. I firmly believe that where you come from makes a big difference down the line. There are going to be some standout performers who can come from anywhere and go where there dreams take them, but there are very few people out there who can emulate that sort of success. In reality, if you're talented, smart and driven, the firm name is really what's going to separate you from your competition. While there are a lot of idiots in banking, there are also quite a few smart, motivated people who will do anything to realize their aspirations. The only way to differentiate (on paper, at least), is to look at the brand name.

    2) If you really believe that death is imminent (not your words, I know), why are you in banking? Yes, I could walk out the door in 5 minutes, get run over by a car, and never even graduate college, much less try to make my mark on the world, but that's not going to drive my decision-making process. I understand everything I'll be giving up once I start work, so I've been taking advantage of senior year and the freedom it affords. I've traveled, I've gotten trashed, I've lived out sexual fantasies, etc etc. The thing is, no matter how enjoyable my experience has been thus far, I couldn't pursue hedonism to such an extent forever. Death is imminent, yes, but because I don't know when it's going to come--and I pray that it won't come knocking for a long, long time--I'm willing to work my ass off and make sacrifices.

  • In reply to DontMakeMeShortYou
    blackandred's picture

    DontMakeMeShortYou:
    Marcus, you make some good points, but I'd like to counter with some of my own.

    1) First, I agree that attitude and drive are some of the biggest determinants of success. Combined with luck, a great attitude and unwavering drive will take you very, very far. I know a guy who almost got kicked out of high school, shaped up, went to community college, transferred to a target school and ended up at a very prestigious firm. While a great story, it's not common. The truth of the matter is, where you come from ABSOLUTELY matters. Having the right pedigree and the right connections, along with that great attitude and drive, will make achieving 'success' significantly easier. Whether it's right or wrong, you perceive the GS and Jefferies analysts differently. You look at the Harvard and community college kid differently. Drive and attitude matters, but who's to say that the GS->KKR->HBS guy doesn't have as strong of a drive/as good of an attitude? All else equal, the pedigree makes a big difference. There's a reason that KKR, BX, TPG, Carlyle, SL, etc are largely composed of Harvard/Wharton/GS/MS/BX/LAZ types.

    In an industry OBSESSED with image, I find it difficult to agree with your assertion. I firmly believe that where you come from makes a big difference down the line. There are going to be some standout performers who can come from anywhere and go where there dreams take them, but there are very few people out there who can emulate that sort of success. In reality, if you're talented, smart and driven, the firm name is really what's going to separate you from your competition. While there are a lot of idiots in banking, there are also quite a few smart, motivated people who will do anything to realize their aspirations. The only way to differentiate (on paper, at least), is to look at the brand name.

    2) If you really believe that death is imminent (not your words, I know), why are you in banking? Yes, I could walk out the door in 5 minutes, get run over by a car, and never even graduate college, much less try to make my mark on the world, but that's not going to drive my decision-making process. I understand everything I'll be giving up once I start work, so I've been taking advantage of senior year and the freedom it affords. I've traveled, I've gotten trashed, I've lived out sexual fantasies, etc etc. The thing is, no matter how enjoyable my experience has been thus far, I couldn't pursue hedonism to such an extent forever. Death is imminent, yes, but because I don't know when it's going to come--and I pray that it won't come knocking for a long, long time--I'm willing to work my ass off and make sacrifices.

    I guess you got it all figured out... you should write a book

  • In reply to Lazyeye
    blackandred's picture

    Lazyeye:
    Don't just take a step back and look at the bigger picture, take two steps back and look at the biggest picture. Life's a crazy ride and you don't get to know when the ride ends until it's time to get off, so don't waste it being pissed off because you didn't get an offer from GS. I know it's a cliche, but really try to imagine how you would feel if you found out that you have only a month to live; would you be upset because you didn't make partner at the PE fund before you died? Probably not.

    I've seen firsthand how fragile life is, and although it was probably the worst experience of my life, I wouldn't trade it for all the money and fancy titles in the world. The experience has given me perspective that can't be valued. Chase your dreams, give it everything you have to give, and just be thankful no matter the outcome. Don't act like the world is gonna end because you didn't have the great exit opportunities that your buddy at GS did. Ultimately, we're all getting the same exit opportunity anyway.

    What about 2 months to live? or 2 years? What would you do in that one month? Why would you do it? What is the justification for why you would do it? What perspective do have? What can be valued? Whose dreams are they? Define fragile? Why was it the worst experience of your life? Why is life a ride- is it because it really is a ride; or you want it to be a ride because its a cool and easy analogy? Why shouldn't they waste it being pissed off about not getting their offer? What is the big picture? What does it mean to 'give it everything they have' and why should they? etc.

    You get my point. I don't necessarily disagree after some thought on some of this, but don't preach something, if you aren't really saying anything. You perhaps could've logically justified everything you said, by saying it in 1 word, but all you really produced was a bunch of words that don't have any justification or meaning

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  • econ's picture

    Great post! It's something that's so fundamental, yet hard to keep in mind. We're always thinking about what we have to do over the next one to three years, forgetting that life is a marathon, not a sprint. I also agree with a lot of the comments which basically say, if you have skills, intelligence, and most importantly have passion and drive, then you will likely get ahead in the end.

  • Nomade's picture

    Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face

    that says it all

  • Barcadia's picture

    Having goals and ambitions is crucial obviously, but just because you have the goal and work hard doesn't mean you'll achieve it. Especially in this industry, a million other people have the same goal as you, so you gotta work harder than 99% of them and on top of them have a little bit of luck and then maybe you'll get where you wanna be.

  • MBAApply's picture

    Some good points made all around here.

    All I will add here is this.

    Life plans/ambitions/dreams are sort of like relationships (dating or marriage).

    Don't let an unfulfilled dream or goal take away your ability to dream in the first place.

    As Barcadia said, just because you have all your ducks in the row (you work hard, you're talented, your timing is right, you know the right people, etc) doesn't mean you'll fulfill whatever it is you're gunning for. That's the reality of life. You won't always get what you want even if you do all the right things (just like in relationships - trying to be the "perfect boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse" won't necessarily get the other person to love you any more - and that person may end up loving someone less perfect or less deserving than you - that's just how it goes sometimes).

    However, if you get to that point where you realize "the dream I'm going for isn't going to happen for me" -- don't let that KILL your ability to move on and find something else to gun for. Just like relationships - don't let a bad relationship scare you away from having to try again with someone else.

    Doing all the right things and not getting what you want can really hurt. But the key is finding a way to move onto another set of goals/ambitions that can keep you going. Realizing that you can't or won't achieve the dream you've worked so hard for is sort of like coming out of a bad relationship - it hurts to put yourself out there again and to start over, but one door that closes WILL lead to other doors that open IF and ONLY IF you're willing to see that we have more than one "dream job" in our imagination and realm of possibility. In plain English, there are plenty of other opportunities out there if the one you're gunning for doesn't end up working out. The BIG mistake that some (or many) highly ambitious young folks make is that once they've "failed" at achieving one set of goals (be it PE, becoming a movie producer, etc.) they end up giving up having ambition altogether - that's a recipe for rapid aging.

    On this site, it seems to be that coveted PE job. Great. Make that your dream at this point. Have a plan. Have ambitious goals. Work your ass off. Network. Get the right credentials. And so forth. But there's a chance that 10-15 years from now (or maybe even a few years from now) the people who get what YOU covet may be less deserving than you, or luckier than you, or whatever - even if you feel you've done all the right things. AND, if that happens, the best way to avoid becoming a bitter, cynical, resentful and spiritually dead person is to find something else to dream about if that happens.

    As bankers/finance types, you all have that colleague/boss in your office who is bitter, miserable and cynical about everything - that is the person who was once like you who had big goals when they were younger, but didn't quite get what they wanted (or what they wanted wasn't what it's cracked up to be, or they take what they wanted all along for granted), and are bitter and resentful about it because they lost the will to find something else to pursue. That is your cautionary tale right there.

  • In reply to DontMakeMeShortYou
    Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    DontMakeMeShortYou:
    Marcus, you make some good points, but I'd like to counter with some of my own.

    1) First, I agree that attitude and drive are some of the biggest determinants of success. Combined with luck, a great attitude and unwavering drive will take you very, very far. I know a guy who almost got kicked out of high school, shaped up, went to community college, transferred to a target school and ended up at a very prestigious firm. While a great story, it's not common. The truth of the matter is, where you come from ABSOLUTELY matters. Having the right pedigree and the right connections, along with that great attitude and drive, will make achieving 'success' significantly easier. Whether it's right or wrong, you perceive the GS and Jefferies analysts differently. You look at the Harvard and community college kid differently. Drive and attitude matters, but who's to say that the GS->KKR->HBS guy doesn't have as strong of a drive/as good of an attitude? All else equal, the pedigree makes a big difference. There's a reason that KKR, BX, TPG, Carlyle, SL, etc are largely composed of Harvard/Wharton/GS/MS/BX/LAZ types.

    In an industry OBSESSED with image, I find it difficult to agree with your assertion. I firmly believe that where you come from makes a big difference down the line. There are going to be some standout performers who can come from anywhere and go where there dreams take them, but there are very few people out there who can emulate that sort of success. In reality, if you're talented, smart and driven, the firm name is really what's going to separate you from your competition. While there are a lot of idiots in banking, there are also quite a few smart, motivated people who will do anything to realize their aspirations. The only way to differentiate (on paper, at least), is to look at the brand name.

    2) If you really believe that death is imminent (not your words, I know), why are you in banking? Yes, I could walk out the door in 5 minutes, get run over by a car, and never even graduate college, much less try to make my mark on the world, but that's not going to drive my decision-making process. I understand everything I'll be giving up once I start work, so I've been taking advantage of senior year and the freedom it affords. I've traveled, I've gotten trashed, I've lived out sexual fantasies, etc etc. The thing is, no matter how enjoyable my experience has been thus far, I couldn't pursue hedonism to such an extent forever. Death is imminent, yes, but because I don't know when it's going to come--and I pray that it won't come knocking for a long, long time--I'm willing to work my ass off and make sacrifices.

    You're still in college, I dont have to look at your profile to figure that out.

    IBWannaB:
    A job is job. Make NO bigger thing of it!

    Exactly.

    Everyone, myself included, romanticized our careers when in college. At the end of the day, you're just doing what you fucking get paid to do. If your really want to achieve something, you don't have to work at Goldman Sachs to do it, and contrary to popular (on here) belief, it doesn't make it much easier to achieve. In fact, of all the analysts that have been through the GS program VERY few have done anything noteworthy... about the same proportion as people from the Citi program, or JPM program or any other investment banking program.

    As if, having worked at Goldman Sachs, when I walk into a conference room with 4 Senior PE partners each over 50, they don't share a glance amongst themselves because a 20-something year old kid is trying to sell them a $100 million deal.... do you think they give me any more/less respect because I come from GS rather than JPM or Lehman?

    There's a reason we're all equated to monkeys.

    Then again, we could have very divergent definitions of what 'achieve' means.

  • In reply to MBAApply
    Boutique Banking's picture

    MBAApply:
    Some good points made all around here.

    As bankers/finance types, you all have that colleague/boss in your office who is bitter, miserable and cynical about everything - that is the person who was once like you who had big goals when they were younger, but didn't quite get what they wanted (or what they wanted wasn't what it's cracked up to be, or they take what they wanted all along for granted), and are bitter and resentful about it because they lost the will to find something else to pursue. That is your cautionary tale right there.

    This is major concern.

  • In reply to Marcus_Halberstram
    Ari_Gold's picture

    Marcus_Halberstram:
    DontMakeMeShortYou:
    Marcus, you make some good points, but I'd like to counter with some of my own.

    1) First, I agree that attitude and drive are some of the biggest determinants of success. Combined with luck, a great attitude and unwavering drive will take you very, very far. I know a guy who almost got kicked out of high school, shaped up, went to community college, transferred to a target school and ended up at a very prestigious firm. While a great story, it's not common. The truth of the matter is, where you come from ABSOLUTELY matters. Having the right pedigree and the right connections, along with that great attitude and drive, will make achieving 'success' significantly easier. Whether it's right or wrong, you perceive the GS and Jefferies analysts differently. You look at the Harvard and community college kid differently. Drive and attitude matters, but who's to say that the GS->KKR->HBS guy doesn't have as strong of a drive/as good of an attitude? All else equal, the pedigree makes a big difference. There's a reason that KKR, BX, TPG, Carlyle, SL, etc are largely composed of Harvard/Wharton/GS/MS/BX/LAZ types.

    In an industry OBSESSED with image, I find it difficult to agree with your assertion. I firmly believe that where you come from makes a big difference down the line. There are going to be some standout performers who can come from anywhere and go where there dreams take them, but there are very few people out there who can emulate that sort of success. In reality, if you're talented, smart and driven, the firm name is really what's going to separate you from your competition. While there are a lot of idiots in banking, there are also quite a few smart, motivated people who will do anything to realize their aspirations. The only way to differentiate (on paper, at least), is to look at the brand name.

    2) If you really believe that death is imminent (not your words, I know), why are you in banking? Yes, I could walk out the door in 5 minutes, get run over by a car, and never even graduate college, much less try to make my mark on the world, but that's not going to drive my decision-making process. I understand everything I'll be giving up once I start work, so I've been taking advantage of senior year and the freedom it affords. I've traveled, I've gotten trashed, I've lived out sexual fantasies, etc etc. The thing is, no matter how enjoyable my experience has been thus far, I couldn't pursue hedonism to such an extent forever. Death is imminent, yes, but because I don't know when it's going to come--and I pray that it won't come knocking for a long, long time--I'm willing to work my ass off and make sacrifices.

    You're still in college, I dont have to look at your profile to figure that out.

    IBWannaB:
    A job is job. Make NO bigger thing of it!

    Exactly.

    Everyone, myself included, romanticized our careers when in college. At the end of the day, you're just doing what you fucking get paid to do. If your really want to achieve something, you don't have to work at Goldman Sachs to do it, and contrary to popular (on here) belief, it doesn't make it much easier to achieve. In fact, of all the analysts that have been through the GS program VERY few have done anything noteworthy... about the same proportion as people from the Citi program, or JPM program or any other investment banking program.

    As if, having worked at Goldman Sachs, when I walk into a conference room with 4 Senior PE partners each over 50, they don't share a glance amongst themselves because a 20-something year old kid is trying to sell them a $100 million deal.... do you think they give me any more/less respect because I come from GS rather than JPM or Lehman?

    There's a reason we're all equated to monkeys.

    Then again, we could have very divergent definitions of what 'achieve' means.

    I find your [Marcus] posts on this thread forum to range from being very well articulate and insight to swinging to total douchebagsness. But never the less, always the truth. +1 for Keepings it Real.

    Anyways, every time I go back to my Alma Mater to recruit and interview. I find myself drifting farther and farther from what undergrads view of the world and "success" (mine own included 3 years ago]. After working for 3 years, you see the world outside of the school mentality. I like most people here have a path I had in mind and followed. But now I also see so many other paths available that I never thought about previously in school. You realize how large and diverse the world is, and how many ways there are to the "top" [whatever you definition is].

    A really good friend of mine, went into MSF right after college. He's a smart guy, decent work exp. He's idea of success and path is like the example above of the kid who wants to 7 years in mortgage and then PE. It is very linear and has definite years. I find it pretty unrealistic for the most part.

    Recently, I had a misdiagnosis on a regular check-up. Thought I literally had only a few months. That definitely put certain things in perspective. After a few more tests, it was an error in prognosis (so retarded). I promised myself I will learn a lesson(s) from this. But as the months go by, it gets harder remembering the fear and clarity that finding out you health can be quickly deteriorating brings. I get back into the daily grind. Hustling for that next dollar, getting prepared for MBA, etc. An important lesson for me, is I really will focus more on the things that matter to me, but still not forgetting my goals and drive.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hug It Out

  • TheKing's picture

    ...it's what happens while you're busy making other plans.

    Not to be cheesey or whatever, but people do get way caught up in this shit. I used to as well. Then the real world hits. People talk about dying and shit, and there is some relevance to that (no one wishes they spent more time at the office when they're on their death bed). But, you need to also be mindful of LIFE.

    Yes, it's good to have a nice job that pays well and is (relatively) interesting. But, it's just that, a job. I've seen too many people become defined by their job. Trust me, you don't want to be introduced to someone as "the investment banker" or the "PE guy." You want to have more than that and be highly regarded for who you are, not what you do for a living.

    People, in general, tend to view jobs in the IB/PE/HF/S&T realm as the only respectable, high paying jobs.

    Furthermore, as I'm sure anyone whose ever worked on a middle market deal can tell you, so many of the wealthy entrepreneurs in this country got their start doing something FAR different from this. I've been involved in the sale of companies started by people whose backgrounds really weren't all that impressive on paper, but they went out and took life by the horns.

    There are many paths to success, so people ought to keep that in mind when they're about to blow their brains over not getting a GS offer or some other such shit.

  • dagro's picture

    people, you forget the title of this post.
    life plans. is your plan to work for your entire lives? sure, i understand being passionate about something that you want to do it forever, but just to give you an example - my plan is to land that dream job (or a near-enough equivalent), work my ass off for a few years, get connections, find that opportunity (startup, ceo position, boutique partnership) that will make lots of money, do that for a few years, and retire, hopefully in my 30's, while maintaining my relationship with my girlfriend/fiance, hopefully married by then with a small swarm of kids, a small mansion with a big beautiful garden, and a $1.5 million yacht to sail the Mediterranean. then i'll kick back, help my wife with her dream (designer clothes shop apparently) and write books. maybe even get published.
    doesn't anybody have a dream beyond the job?

    =========================================
    "... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

  • In reply to dagro
    TheKing's picture

    dagro:
    people, you forget the title of this post.
    life plans. is your plan to work for your entire lives? sure, i understand being passionate about something that you want to do it forever, but just to give you an example - my plan is to land that dream job (or a near-enough equivalent), work my ass off for a few years, get connections, find that opportunity (startup, ceo position, boutique partnership) that will make lots of money, do that for a few years, and retire, hopefully in my 30's, while maintaining my relationship with my girlfriend/fiance, hopefully married by then with a small swarm of kids, a small mansion with a big beautiful garden, and a $1.5 million yacht to sail the Mediterranean. then i'll kick back, help my wife with her dream (designer clothes shop apparently) and write books. maybe even get published.
    doesn't anybody have a dream beyond the job?

    Re-read what you wrote here after getting raked through the coals for a few months as an analyst. See what you think then. Not bashing you, but simply recalling the innocence of dreams in college and the promise of tomorrow.

  • dagro's picture

    that far-fetched, huh?

    never hurts to try tho. not afraid of hard work either, as long as i have that dream to aspire to. that's what'll keep me going when i'm stuck working on whatever till 2 am.

    =========================================
    "... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

  • In reply to dagro
    MurdersNExecutions's picture

    dagro:
    that far-fetched, huh?

    never hurts to try tho. not afraid of hard work either, as long as i have that dream to aspire to. that's what'll keep me going when i'm stuck working on whatever till 2 am.

    I think the endless long nights get to you faster and harder than any of us in college can realize. As someone told me, it's not a hard job, it's just annoying as shit.

  • dagro's picture

    i had an annoying job in the army for 3 years, working 10-24, often woken up round 2 or 3 to do something urgent, and that was on top of spending said 3 years sleeping in a room with 5-11 other guys, having a shit of a sergeant-first-class to make my life hell, and having my freedom of speech practically revoked on pain of not going home for a month or more. i think it gave me a little perspective.

    =========================================
    "... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

  • DontMakeMeShortYou's picture

    Marcus_Halberstram:
    DontMakeMeShortYou:
    Marcus, you make some good points, but I'd like to counter with some of my own.

    1) First, I agree that attitude and drive are some of the biggest determinants of success. Combined with luck, a great attitude and unwavering drive will take you very, very far. I know a guy who almost got kicked out of high school, shaped up, went to community college, transferred to a target school and ended up at a very prestigious firm. While a great story, it's not common. The truth of the matter is, where you come from ABSOLUTELY matters. Having the right pedigree and the right connections, along with that great attitude and drive, will make achieving 'success' significantly easier. Whether it's right or wrong, you perceive the GS and Jefferies analysts differently. You look at the Harvard and community college kid differently. Drive and attitude matters, but who's to say that the GS->KKR->HBS guy doesn't have as strong of a drive/as good of an attitude? All else equal, the pedigree makes a big difference. There's a reason that KKR, BX, TPG, Carlyle, SL, etc are largely composed of Harvard/Wharton/GS/MS/BX/LAZ types.

    In an industry OBSESSED with image, I find it difficult to agree with your assertion. I firmly believe that where you come from makes a big difference down the line. There are going to be some standout performers who can come from anywhere and go where there dreams take them, but there are very few people out there who can emulate that sort of success. In reality, if you're talented, smart and driven, the firm name is really what's going to separate you from your competition. While there are a lot of idiots in banking, there are also quite a few smart, motivated people who will do anything to realize their aspirations. The only way to differentiate (on paper, at least), is to look at the brand name.

    2) If you really believe that death is imminent (not your words, I know), why are you in banking? Yes, I could walk out the door in 5 minutes, get run over by a car, and never even graduate college, much less try to make my mark on the world, but that's not going to drive my decision-making process. I understand everything I'll be giving up once I start work, so I've been taking advantage of senior year and the freedom it affords. I've traveled, I've gotten trashed, I've lived out sexual fantasies, etc etc. The thing is, no matter how enjoyable my experience has been thus far, I couldn't pursue hedonism to such an extent forever. Death is imminent, yes, but because I don't know when it's going to come--and I pray that it won't come knocking for a long, long time--I'm willing to work my ass off and make sacrifices.

    You're still in college, I dont have to look at your profile to figure that out.
    .

    Yes, I'm still in college and glad that you were able to figure it out without looking at my profile, especially because I STATED IT IN MY POST. I realize that I can be naive at times and I realize that despite the hours I worked this summer, I can't fathom what it must feel like being 6, 9, 12 months into the job. Still, the pattern I've seen in low to mid-level finance is that brand name really matters.Many of the first years at my firm this summer were in the middle of making exit opp decisions. It was explicitly said to me by multiple analysts that brand name played a big role in their decision-making process.

    All my post really said is that brand name helps. I made it clear that I believe that dedication and a great attitude will take you far, but the thing is, if a GS TMT guy has a great attitude and works hard, don't you think he'll be taken over the Duff & Phelps guy with a great attitude who also works hard? There are so many qualified candidates that it makes it a lot easier to filter by looking at analyst firms, groups and rankings. It's an "objective" way to recruit.

    I was by no means saying the GS->KKR->HBS, etc=success. If you're risk averse and a want a safe road, that's probably the best way to go about it (don't want to complicate this with issues of work/life balance, etc, even though I know they're important).

    The gist of my post was simple: brand name HELPS. If that belief means that I'm just a naive college kid, so be it.

  • CoreAsset's picture

    Who's going to make the next deep, insightful post that makes me re-think my perspective of life?

  • fordhammaster's picture

    probably me. like this one here: ask not what prestige can do for you, ask what you can do for prestige, like not working at jefferies/piper jaffray

  • In reply to fordhammaster
    h.e.pennypacker's picture

    fordhammaster:
    probably me. like this one here: ask not what prestige can do for you, ask what you can do for prestige, like not working at jefferies/piper jaffray

    Good to see you have new material. It's hilarious, because I've never heard a jefferies/pj joke. And I always like fresh material.

    I can picture which socially inept person you are at school. Get a clue.

  • waltersobchek's picture

    Someone said it once in another thread - can't remember who it was but it hit home for me (esp now that I'm FT in banking).

    Just don't wake up in 15+ years, realizing you spent most of your life preparing for something you should have done.

    If all you wanted were those houses in Greenwich and Southampton, then maybe working 15-20 years through GS/HBS/KKR is worth it. If you have other ambitions though, just don't waste your 20s away getting technical modeling experience and building industry contacts. Nothing wrong with the former, but I've seen a few kids sell their soul and give up a few dreams because bonus day was the ball and chain that has kept them attached to this job. Now they're 25-26 at the associate level, have 10s of 1000s of $s in the bank, and are about 8 times more miserable as me as a first year analyst.

    Just my 2 cents

  • In reply to TheKing
    waltersobchek's picture

    TheKing:
    dagro:
    people, you forget the title of this post.
    life plans. is your plan to work for your entire lives? sure, i understand being passionate about something that you want to do it forever, but just to give you an example - my plan is to land that dream job (or a near-enough equivalent), work my ass off for a few years, get connections, find that opportunity (startup, ceo position, boutique partnership) that will make lots of money, do that for a few years, and retire, hopefully in my 30's, while maintaining my relationship with my girlfriend/fiance, hopefully married by then with a small swarm of kids, a small mansion with a big beautiful garden, and a $1.5 million yacht to sail the Mediterranean. then i'll kick back, help my wife with her dream (designer clothes shop apparently) and write books. maybe even get published.
    doesn't anybody have a dream beyond the job?

    Re-read what you wrote here after getting raked through the coals for a few months as an analyst. See what you think then. Not bashing you, but simply recalling the innocence of dreams in college and the promise of tomorrow.

    Sorry for the double post - but for those prospective analysts out there, see what you wrote in college, and how you feel after as TheKing said getting "raked through the coals" for a few months. I remember being oh so optimistic on these boards a year ago....

  • Tasteful Thickness's picture

    Hey, it's hard to not post in this thread. I think that a lot of us are at the age and maturity level where this is a constant thought running through our mind.

    While I have a plan, and have certainly tried everything in my power to realize my goals, etc. If I only look back 12 months, I find that, while some goals have remained the same, circumstances are completely different. It might be that you were denied from a scholarship/job/school. It might also be that you were accepted! The point is, is that the only thing that is constant in life is change.

    You can't be sure of anything else, just know that your life situation and current circumstances will change and you will need to adapt your plans, goals, dreams, around them. Having a framework is good. But what is even worse is having a framework that you refuse to abandon, and ceases to be optimal to your current life situation.

  • In reply to Tasteful Thickness
    Tasteful Thickness's picture

    Fingertips:
    The point is, is that the only thing that is constant in life is change.

    For those of you who think that was too sagacious for a monkey--it was. That concept is stolen from the Dao De Jing> -- I highly recommend you check it out, great reading.
  • big_dreams_banker's picture

    Thank you for some much needed perspective. +1

  • In reply to DontMakeMeShortYou
    Ari_Gold's picture

    DontMakeMeShortYou:

    Yes, I'm still in college and glad that you were able to figure it out without looking at my profile, especially because I STATED IT IN MY POST. I realize that I can be naive at times and I realize that despite the hours I worked this summer, I can't fathom what it must feel like being 6, 9, 12 months into the job. Still, the pattern I've seen in low to mid-level finance is that brand name really matters.Many of the first years at my firm this summer were in the middle of making exit opp decisions. It was explicitly said to me by multiple analysts that brand name played a big role in their decision-making process.

    All my post really said is that brand name helps. I made it clear that I believe that dedication and a great attitude will take you far, but the thing is, if a GS TMT guy has a great attitude and works hard, don't you think he'll be taken over the Duff & Phelps guy with a great attitude who also works hard? There are so many qualified candidates that it makes it a lot easier to filter by looking at analyst firms, groups and rankings. It's an "objective" way to recruit.

    I was by no means saying the GS->KKR->HBS, etc=success. If you're risk averse and a want a safe road, that's probably the best way to go about it (don't want to complicate this with issues of work/life balance, etc, even though I know they're important).

    The gist of my post was simple: brand name HELPS. If that belief means that I'm just a naive college kid, so be it.

    Ah the college days. So sure of the world. If work hard + intelligence + "brand" = instant Godliness at everything. I remember when my friends and I were like this as well.

    It is inevitably spoon fed to us by school, parents, expectations, etc. I am assuming by being on WSO you're pretty ambitious and/or went to a "Target" school. I was the same way. Essentially all your life you've been pretty driven and more likely than not, pretty smart and good at school (assumption). If you worked hard, studied for that test, and joined certain clubs/sports you moved on to the next stage of scholastic evolution. The pinnacle being that Ivy League college. Then you start again in college. Work hard, study for that test, join certain clubs/sport/fraternities (essentially show off you are an leader), and do the "right" (prestigious) internships.

    You are golden and set for life. Maybe(?) You do have a head start and will likely end up at a top-notch company, be it banking, consulting, F 500, etc. Now this is where it gets fun. There are no more set rules. No homework set solutions, no set criteria on how get ahead (aka get that A). Life isn't fair. Sometimes that dumber and lazier guy just gets ahead so much quicker because he/she was at right place at the right time. Example, that guy who became a multi-million/billionaire(?) even though he didn't graduate the 3rd grade by selling sub-prime mortgages. He was like a pizza delivery guy that got hired off the streets and then worked as mortgage underwriter and then started his own firm and then sold it (saw this on TV, totally forgot the guys' name and too lazy to look it up).

    School for the most part is a decent meritocracy. Companies try, but it's all about who is bringing the money. You can be the most kick-ass guy and start your career at GS. But that idiot friend of yours could have started his/her career at Bumblepiss Mortgage Corp. 6 years ago. But ended up VP at the GS because he/she was able to ride the rise of Bumble Piss Mortgage Corp. and was able to bring in $100 million in profits for his previous company. GS recruiters then assume he was that stellar and deserved that VP spot, while you're still only a lowly associate. (of course this is an extreme example). What I'm saying is, where you and your friends and competitors start may not be where you guys end up 10-20 years down the career path. Nothing is linear, there is no set school like ground rules.

    Work hard, have a plan, and challenge yourself. Brand does matter, but not as much as I would like and people on this forum makes it out to be. Who knows in 10+ years, GS may go the way of Salomon Brothers, Drexel Burham. Or their reputation takes a huge hit. All I am saying. Do work hard, but also smart. Be adaptable. Don't get pigeon holed into one way of thinking. Follow this A --> then B ---> then C path and suddenly you're Godly and your "Brandness" will be so awesome PE partners bow in your wake. There's only so much you can affect the outcome in life and success is one lesson I've since learned.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hug It Out

  • Marcus_Halberstram's picture

    What is the metric for success? On this board it seems like its:

    Target --> IBD --> PE/HF --> Target MBA --> PE/HF
    Target --> IBD --> PE/HF --> Target MBA --> Start-Up

    If thats the case, many of you are doing everything you're doing not because you enjoy it or are developing/cultivating a skill-set but because its a stair step (if you genuinely love banking/pe, thats a different story). Most of the people in this field are so wrapped up in the prestige/money associated with stepping foot on that staircase, they're not even thinking about where its taking them. That being said, the above track is a good one. You make a shit load of money, you will be pretty successful and hopefully won't completely despise what you do in 10-15 years.

    I personally have a different perspective. I know what I enjoy and love doing and I know what I where I want to be in a few years. In assessing those hopes, IBD/PE/MBA is what will allow me to develop the skills to get there and be successful. A lot of young people in this industry think they'll do this for a handful of years and start-up their own business. And often it isn't because of some dream they've had, but just because they feel like thats the next sequence of events. I would urge people to really get to know themselves, what you enjoy doing and what you would feel incredibly happy doing for the rest of your life... then determine what you need to do to get there.

  • Bondarb's picture

    Every couple of months somebody writess a "soul-searching"-type post about whether being goal-oriented and working so hard is a smart move in a broader sense. While we are all aware of how fragile life is, it is unfortunately an unrealistic strategy to ask yourself "what would i do if i had one day to live?" and then live like that....after all everybody needs to make a living. Living your life like every day is your last is a luxury that is really only afforded to those who were born very rich. So, if you decide at a young age that you want to be an investment banker then there is no reason you shouldn't pursue that in a realistic way, which unfortunately means hard work, getting into a good school, etc.

    Everybody's life unfolds in unpredictable ways...whether its your career, your health, your relationships, etc. Life has a way of shredding your plan to bits, but that dosent mean you shouldnt have a plan.
    As an above poster noted, Mohamed Ali said that the plan dosent mean shit once you get in the ring and the punches start flying...but that dosent mean he didnt hire trainers, coaches, etc. to try his best to come up with a strategy and try to implement it!

  • In reply to Ari_Gold
    Bondarb's picture

    Ari_Gold:
    DontMakeMeShortYou:

    Yes, I'm still in college and glad that you were able to figure it out without looking at my profile, especially because I STATED IT IN MY POST. I realize that I can be naive at times and I realize that despite the hours I worked this summer, I can't fathom what it must feel like being 6, 9, 12 months into the job. Still, the pattern I've seen in low to mid-level finance is that brand name really matters.Many of the first years at my firm this summer were in the middle of making exit opp decisions. It was explicitly said to me by multiple analysts that brand name played a big role in their decision-making process.

    All my post really said is that brand name helps. I made it clear that I believe that dedication and a great attitude will take you far, but the thing is, if a GS TMT guy has a great attitude and works hard, don't you think he'll be taken over the Duff & Phelps guy with a great attitude who also works hard? There are so many qualified candidates that it makes it a lot easier to filter by looking at analyst firms, groups and rankings. It's an "objective" way to recruit.

    I was by no means saying the GS->KKR->HBS, etc=success. If you're risk averse and a want a safe road, that's probably the best way to go about it (don't want to complicate this with issues of work/life balance, etc, even though I know they're important).

    The gist of my post was simple: brand name HELPS. If that belief means that I'm just a naive college kid, so be it.

    Ah the college days. So sure of the world. If work hard + intelligence + "brand" = instant Godliness at everything. I remember when my friends and I were like this as well.

    It is inevitably spoon fed to us by school, parents, expectations, etc. I am assuming by being on WSO you're pretty ambitious and/or went to a "Target" school. I was the same way. Essentially all your life you've been pretty driven and more likely than not, pretty smart and good at school (assumption). If you worked hard, studied for that test, and joined certain clubs/sports you moved on to the next stage of scholastic evolution. The pinnacle being that Ivy League college. Then you start again in college. Work hard, study for that test, join certain clubs/sport/fraternities (essentially show off you are an leader), and do the "right" (prestigious) internships.

    You are golden and set for life. Maybe(?) You do have a head start and will likely end up at a top-notch company, be it banking, consulting, F 500, etc. Now this is where it gets fun. There are no more set rules. No homework set solutions, no set criteria on how get ahead (aka get that A). Life isn't fair. Sometimes that dumber and lazier guy just gets ahead so much quicker because he/she was at right place at the right time. Example, that guy who became a multi-million/billionaire(?) even though he didn't graduate the 3rd grade by selling sub-prime mortgages. He was like a pizza delivery guy that got hired off the streets and then worked as mortgage underwriter and then started his own firm and then sold it (saw this on TV, totally forgot the guys' name and too lazy to look it up).

    School for the most part is a decent meritocracy. Companies try, but it's all about who is bringing the money. You can be the most kick-ass guy and start your career at GS. But that idiot friend of yours could have started his/her career at Bumblepiss Mortgage Corp. 6 years ago. But ended up VP at the GS because he/she was able to ride the rise of Bumble Piss Mortgage Corp. and was able to bring in $100 million in profits for his previous company. GS recruiters then assume he was that stellar and deserved that VP spot, while you're still only a lowly associate. (of course this is an extreme example). What I'm saying is, where you and your friends and competitors start may not be where you guys end up 10-20 years down the career path. Nothing is linear, there is no set school like ground rules.

    Work hard, have a plan, and challenge yourself. Brand does matter, but not as much as I would like and people on this forum makes it out to be. Who knows in 10+ years, GS may go the way of Salomon Brothers, Drexel Burham. Or their reputation takes a huge hit. All I am saying. Do work hard, but also smart. Be adaptable. Don't get pigeon holed into one way of thinking. Follow this A --> then B ---> then C path and suddenly you're Godly and your "Brandness" will be so awesome PE partners bow in your wake. There's only so much you can affect the outcome in life and success is one lesson I've since learned.

    This is business, not school. If your friend can bring in money, then he DID deserve the job. Investment banks are not out to "get the best people" (whatever that means), they are out to make money. In this World, the fact that you may be smarter or nicer then your hypothetical friend dosent make you a "better person". Going to a good school can get your foot in the door, but being an actual producer matters much more...in fact its all that matters at anything but the very junior levels. And that IS meritocracy at its finest.

  • anonymousman's picture

    GS, KKR...
    Money, status, power, prestige...

    They are all perceived means to the same end.. happiness.

    Happiness is the only thing we value as an end in itself, and the only reason we are motivated to do anything. So don't mindlessly chase things for their own sake. Think what makes you happy, and make that the goal. Even if its just owning a little blues bar in Memphis..

    Your dead too long to live an unsatisfied life.

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