I had a rather interesting experience over the weekend that has me thinking about something many prospective monkeys avoid in their day to day thought process. If worse should turn to worst, and you've failed to enter/PE/ /S&T (or whatever the case may be), at what point do you call it quits and stick with what you have? Is there an age where you should stop? A particular collection of personality traits that's doomed you from the start? Or perhaps, a point in your life when career success inevitably plays second fiddle to the responsibilities of family? I ask because I'm worried that I've done a friend a tremendous disservice by not telling him to stop looking, to give up, and that his dream of have long since become irresponsible, if not utterly foolish.
Let's back up a moment, this particular outlook didn't come out of the blue and some background is in order. Over the weekend two friends of mine were in town - both of whom work in- and we met up with some other friends of mine at a local pub. Once there the conversation turned to "being old and married", "the kids", "work", and "check out that girl over there, think she's over 25?" Typical conversation topics while tying one off. My two friends in reflected on how their lives had become substantially more manageable after they had been promoted to senior bankers. They could finally enjoy some of the finer things in life, like starting a family and inappropriately staring at college girls during happy hour. This being in stark opposition to their early careers, where they'd spend intimate time with spreadsheets while staring at the bare walls of their cubicle as the clock slowly passed by yet another "happy hour". Many of you will recognize this progression as it is not unique. No matter what path you take in your career, dues are owed and success is earned, with time and effort paid like currency who's paucity may be overwhelming. A senior citizen will never be an NFL quarterback just as a toddler will never be a managing director at a bank. Two extreme examples to say the least, but the fact remains the same: there comes an age or circumstance where you will lack the ability to expend the necessary time and effort required for success, and your cause will have become lost.
This brings me to the moment where I may have done more harm than good. One of my friends at the pub, upon hearing that my two friends were bankers, inquired excitedly, "I've been trying to get a job as an associate for a long time, do you have any advice?" They offered him the same advice regularly discussed on WSO: network, go to industry events, and learn as much as possible about finance. They were being polite, as he was a friend of mine but merely an acquaintance of theirs, and I know him well enough to inform him otherwise. The fact is, my prospective monkey friend is in his 30s, is married with two kids, and already has a successful career in software development. He has next to no background in finance, and even if he were to successfully transition to a, he'd be taking a pay cut outright, never mind the far larger cut on an hourly basis. The difference in career stability is even more stark; experienced software engineers are in demand while the supply of qualified, prospective monkeys, are legion. In short, he has no business attempting to transition into given his circumstances. Sometimes, reality is cruel and you have to realign your goals with the choices you have long since made.
This is but one example from a universe of lost causes, but I have to wonder, what other strings of choices would make the same pursuit foolish? Is the 22 year old, introverted, non-target grad with a 2.2, who hates networking in a better position for success then the 30+ software engineer with a young family? Almost certainly not.
So, monkeys and prospective monkeys, what circumstances should cause someone to change their focus from "how do I get in" to "is this still worth pursuing"? When and why should you pull the plug?