Quarter Life Crisis - Seeking Advice

Title says it all.

I turned 26 today and realized that my life is completely backwards - I couldn't be further from the ideal vision of myself that I had when I was younger. I just went from working in finance in NYC to living back at home with my parents to boost savings while I get back on my feet, and I'm frankly ashamed of how things have turned out.

Graduated from a target, got a job in VC, and then got laid off post-COVID boom after our portfolio exploded. I rushed into the job market and took an IB job with a group that I didn't diligence properly and had a poor experience overall. Before my first bonus, I got an offer for what I thought was an interesting corporate development role in a growth space, and I figured it could be an opportunity to try something new outside of traditional finance that may still be relevant to a long-term VC career - they paid out part of my bonus so no meaningful concessions on comp.

Turns out the role is not corporate development - 75% of my time is spent doing random strategy and IR related functions at the company (which doesn't have a formal IR team) and so this function is somehow bestowed upon the corp dev / strategy group. Unbeknownst to me, the former head of "corporate development" (former BB banker) at this firm left after 6 months for precisely this reason. The job is fully remote - which I've realized is the worst thing for a young professional - and as a result, I'm getting pretty much no mentorship or support from the rest of the team compared to my friends and colleagues who have stayed in consulting/IB/buyside/etc. I've resigned myself to staying put until at least the year mark and then will try to find a new gig since my work history precludes any additional short stints.

As you can probably tell, I'm pretty dissatisfied with where my career is at and know that things need to change, but I'm not really sure which direction to go. Part of me is inclined to take full advantage of my remote status and do something life changing, like a world tour that's funded by doing BS tasks at this company. I'm reading "4 Hour Workweek" and am considering trying to lean into Tim Ferriss' mindset given circumstances. Despite the role being a complete joke, I'm still paid decently and will probably make ~$160k after my profit share bonus hits end of year, which is not bad if I travel to a LCOL area. I'm in the shit now, so might as well take advantage of it and enjoy my life, right?

The other type A part of me is constantly worrying about the fact that I'm currently in a role that does almost nothing for long term career goals, and that my chances of going to a decent business school and being an investor have been compromised by these questionable job hops. This side of my brain is increasingly active after having the painful realization that I'm no longer a 22 year old with seemingly unlimited potential. As I'm watching my friends' careers take off as associates in PE, senior consultants, product managers, and so on, I can't help but feel like I'm being left behind. Business school is an obvious "get of jail free" card, but I don't know how competitive I am for a good program when coming from a complete switcheroo role; however, I'm also concerned that more job hops pre-MBA would irreversibly tarnish my resume. Obviously some of this is extreme thinking that's influenced by comparing myself to the perfect GS -> Apollo -> HBS kids I've interacted with through my network, but I am very conscious of making more "bad" decisions now that I have made a number of those. Honestly sometimes wish I didn't know this forum existed, and that I could just roll along in life without fretting about exit opps, b-school placement, and my all time favorite: "career optionality."

In summary, I'd love to get the forum's thoughts on how to proceed with the current quarter life crisis. Am I overthinking all of this?  Should I take advantage of being remote by traveling and stop stressing about finding a new gig? Live my life and accept that VC funds / growth equity firms will just get filled up by cookie cutter Goldman and McK grads? Give up on the investing career path, say to hell with everything and just FIRE in Bali? Idk, but I'd love to hear any experience from older users who have navigated these situations and turned out alright.

 

What the hell. World tour? Bro you need to focus on untucking yourself.

here’s what you need to do. Move to Chicago or NYC like tomorrow. Take the VC role off your resume so it looks like one bad IB decision. And then start recruiting for any and all IB roles. 

do IB for a few years and suck it up this time and pray to god you get into a proper grad school 

 

I am in a somewhat similar situation to you, seeking answers to the similar questions you have. You saying that sometimes you wish this forum didn't exist is the first time I've seen that on here, and I agree. I question whether I am better off (from a macro view of my life) after reading through WSO the last 18 months or so. I would say the cliche phrase "comparison is the thief of joy" could apply here. Not to say you shouldn't compare, but don't put so much weight into other's accomplishments and achievements and focus on what you can control. There's always someone in a "better" position than you, and I'd say you should try and train your thoughts to view that in a positive light, rather than a negative one. I'm being broad here because I don't know what that looks like, but make it your own however you see fit. I know you are asking for advice from older users but I still thought I'd chime in as I've been thinking about this as well.

 

I answered OP elsewhere. I would encourage you to read my answer and consider it as well. You are free to decide whether it’s sound or advice or not. I would like to add, however, that sometimes setbacks are a blessing in disguise. Personally, I think you should think along the lines of what is worthwhile, or perhaps even where the path of least resistance is. If you think about IB, for example, I think you’re unlikely to figure that is really what you want to do with your life. Even more so, if you’re going to have to really grind it out just for some mediocre gig at a boutique or whatever. So take these failures as a chance to reassess. Think about what you really think is worthwhile, on one hand, and what would be a path of least resistance (in regard to success) on the other. It’s better to do what is worthwhile than anything else, but in lieu of something that is truly worthwhile, I think it’s better to do what you can really do well than it is to do something that’s neither worthwhile nor are you particularly successful at. That’s the advice I wish I had received when I was first in your shoes. 

 

Hey there, first off, happy birthday! Now, let's dive into this. It sounds like you're in a bit of a pickle, but remember, it's not the end of the world.

Firstly, it's okay to feel like you're having a quarter-life crisis. It's a common feeling, especially in high-pressure fields like finance. It's also okay to take a step back and reassess your career path. You're not alone in this, and it's not a sign of failure.

You've had a series of unfortunate experiences, but they've also given you a wealth of experience. You've worked in VC, IB, and now in a role that involves reporting and IR - that's a pretty diverse skill set.

As for your current job, it's clear that it's not what you expected. But remember, every job is a stepping stone to something else. You're gaining skills and experience that you can leverage in your next role.

If you're considering a world tour, why not? If you can afford it and it's something you've always wanted to do, it could be a great way to clear your head and gain some perspective.

On the other hand, if you're worried about your career progression, it might be worth sticking it out for a while longer. You could use this time to network, upskill, or even start looking for your next role.

As for business school, it's not the only path to success. Many successful people in finance didn't go to business school. But if it's something you're interested in, start researching programs and see what you need to do to get in.

Finally, remember that everyone's path is different. Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on what you want and what makes you happy. You're still young and have plenty of time to figure things out.

So, to answer your question, no, you're not overthinking this. It's normal to question your career and life choices. But remember, you're not stuck. You have options. You just need to figure out what you want and go for it.

And remember, even monkeys fall from trees. But they always get back up and keep swinging. You've got this!

Sources: Yes, You Are Having a Quarter Life Crisis (and it's ok)

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 

FT 2yr T15 MBA could be a good reset.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

Do you feel like you’d be eligible to recruit for more acquisitive corp dev roles? You can make bank rising the CD ranks if you find a better company

 
Most Helpful

I'm not sure, I'd love to but it seems like a lot of the desirable corp dev roles are filled by individuals coming from top IB roles. Networking could help, I just am really struggling to get interviews right now.

Not directly related to your comment, but I'm sometimes frustrated with the feeling of constantly being behind in the workforce. Similar to many on this forum, I worked my ass off to try to get on the right track in college and ended up empty handed after recruiting for all the traditional pipelines (consulting, banking, etc.). I worked hard in high school to get into a target, worked hard in college to get a ~3.9 gpa and tried to focus on building experience through internships, but ultimately didn't prioritize networking to the extent that I should have, and failed to land the right sequence of internships which resulted in a suboptimal junior year internship in corporate banking. Finally got a non-traditional buyside role via full time recruiting, but felt like I missed out on a lot of the training, networking, and branding that many of my peers got as a result of that path. 

I know that you are not entitled to anything in this industry - it is brutally competitive, especially in NYC/London/etc. But I wish I felt like there was some tolerance for deviations from "the path."

I also increasingly feel that I've lost my "internal locus of control" post-college. My job was lost because of poor fund performance, I then can't find a new job because of market conditions, and the snowball of negative outcomes grows. When I was younger, I felt confident that hard work and grit would be rewarded, but I've seen so many people get fucked by circumstances  that I've lost a lot of that optimism. I'm just trying to take back control over my life so that I feel more like I have ownership over my direction and outcomes rather than simply being thrown around by circumstance.

In summary, it just seems very tough to make it in this industry with a non-traditional background (i.e., no 2+2 with a stint at a top bank or consultancy) and I'm trying to figure out a viable career that aligns with my interests without having a perfect background. Hence my comment about throwing my hands in the air, accepting that I'm not going to be considered for roles that I am excited about, and instead of beating myself up about that, just taking advantage of a weird remote job by traveling and maximizing life experiences. I might actually enjoy myself for once instead of feeling trapped by this path that I can't seem to get on in the first place.

 

Don't usually agree with SmokeFrog, but his answer is probably the best one in this thread. I would say you've actually hit a gold mine. You went to a target school, got a great GPA, and already have VC experience, not to mention the current role you're in is fairly cushy. As long as you take advantage of your network, which should be pretty large, and sell yourself hard, I don't see why you can't go back to VC or in the very worst case scenario get a top MBA. But if I were in your shoes, I would just keep chugging along and work on a few side projects or develop other skills. I think you're vastly overvaluing the traditional 2+2 path and how smooth it is, while not realizing the amazing situation you somehow managed to find yourself in 

 

My first bit of advice is don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s hard to see your peers become doctors and PE associates and not feel bad but you’ve gotta remember this life is a marathon and you probably have another 40 years of work ahead of you. By the time you’re mid to late career these few years in the doldrums won’t matter much. My advice is take full advantage of the flexibility you have right now. Go see how far $160k and a little bit of duolingo takes you in Colombia or Bali. Maybe a career investing won’t mean that much to you in a year and you can move on or maybe it’ll be the perfect break to spend time sitting on beach working on your story (e.g took a remote job to have the flexibility to support my parents) and grad school aps. Either way you’re doing alright

 
Funniest

Is this a humble brag?

Working 20 hour weeks and get paid 160k and work full remote in your hometown?

Most of the country are middle class losers and you’ve struck gold by failing upwards into basically corporate welfare and instead of using your free time to work out and chill and bang chicks, you spent it crying on here that you’re not on the golden path? And people say I lack perspective lol.

 

If I were you I would suggest to settle in, try to get some good resume bullets in at your current job, and prep to jump to your next opportunity. Reality is the market is shit right now, which gives you a few options:

1. MBA prep: It is probably a good year to apply for MBAs as they have seen applications come way down due to uncertainty and higher rates.

2. Lateral jobs: Will be tough in this market, so you may well need to settle in and do your best to build some good resume bullets for the rest of 2024, and be ready to hit the ground running in 2025 if the economy picks up.

3. Entrepreneurship: Take advantage of your location independence, good pay, and low hours to minimize effort at your job and develop a business plan to launch something yourself, whether a VC backed company or something else.

 

I went through something kind of similar, but it lasted a lot longer for me. I took at a job at a boiler room without knowing it, quit, bounced around from place to place for years before I started to get a sense of direction as I approached 30. I spent most of my time working remotely as well and not in jobs that sounded particularly impressive on paper either. I had a low wage financial analyst job for a non-profit. I did blue collar for a while. I was a humble civil servant. Then, I was a “consultant” but not really a consultant and not at a particularly reputable organization. Now I’m in my early 30s doing a dual graduate-law program at a really solid school. I think it’s bot exactly what I always wanted for my life, but it’s actually a much better choice for me than what I was trying to do and what I’ve been doing. I only wish I had realized that a lot sooner, like within 3 years of leaving IB. It would’ve been nice to have finished all of my education in my 20s so I could be hustling in my 30s, but it is what it is. I had to get to a point where I realized there was no perfect choice, so I had to just do what was the best choice for me. My advice to you would be to think about what sort of legacy you want to have. That legacy might be your legacy as a dad. It might be your legacy as a warlord. But either way, if you have a legacy you want to leave, there’s something you want to do to earn that, and if  there’s a career that lends itself to that legacy and that doing, then commit to that. You especially want to do this if you it’s going to require additional schooling by the way, which is not a bad idea for someone with good grades from a target. You could probably get a PhD and join faculty at an R1 if you really, really wanted to. So that’s what I’d say. That’s where I got to. Think about what you want to do and commit to that. Get your year or whatever and then immediately make moves toward your career. 

 

Career IR person here, 12 years fundraising and IR within Alternatives. Recently switched to the deal side. Long story short is that you have plenty of time to pivot as you wish. Corp Dev opens door that other roles don’t. IR within PE where your base is already at a great starting point but then can quickly double once you add your fundraising bonus and carried interest. You can also make the move to the deal-side in a year or two if you really absolutely hate it. I personally think that corp dev can easily and very quickly launch you into a csuite role if you set your mind right. COO? CFO? CIO? CIRO? It is all about time and HOW YOU SELL YOURSELF!

 

This sounds like me at 26. I felt like I kept striking out early in my career for one reason or another. GFC tanked my first firm, took a rebound job with maniac executives and then a failed fund. I was mentally in the dumps for years, and reached the point of having panic attacks. I swallowed my pride, went to bschool and started over in IB. I’ve since left IB for a stable job I’ve enjoyed for years now. B school was a helpful, albeit expensive way, to slow down time and reflect. All the best, really feel for you 

 

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