how do i know if im just not cut out ?

hi all. i know everyone says the learning curve is steep and first hitting the desk is really tough for 6 months. however, im only 3 weeks in but i am starting to think I am just not cut out.

I am making a lot of mistakes no matter how many times I triple or quadruple check. When an associate or VP explains something technical to me I just blank out and don't absorb/understand it at all no matter how hard I try. I am looking at my fellow Analyst 1's and they are all doing amazing and I am actually so behind them in terms of skill, speed, and intelligence. I am seriously feeling absurdly incompetent and useless.

Comments (16)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 14, 2022 - 1:44am

idk dude now realizing i prob cant handle the pressure & stress / not smart enough for PE/HF ,so u doing ECM, it being easier, and having lighter hours, while essentially paying the same, sounds like u are in a super sweet ass spot tbh lol

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 14, 2022 - 1:45am

Some of what you said makes me think it could be ADD. I'd look into that, but see below for some more tangible advice:

  •  "I am making a lot of mistakes no matter how many times I triple or quadruple check" - are these big or small mistakes? If the latter, I'd say it's normal for someone ~3 weeks in. You can triple check something but it's still hard if you don't know what you're looking for. With that said, it's important not to repeat mistakes. Focus on developing pattern recognition so you don't have to proof read something 10x, but rather know where the land mines are. This comes with time.
  • "When an associate or VP explains something technical to me I just blank out and don't absorb/understand it at all no matter how hard I try" - I can definitely relate. What has worked for me is to try to review / try to do things myself before seeking an explanation from someone. If the associates and VPs are the ones offering to explain I'd just say something like "Do you mind if I spend 30 minutes reviewing this analysis / file before we discuss? I just want to make sure I come prepared with specific questions". If anything, this makes you look better imho. 
  • "I am looking at my fellow Analyst 1's and they are all doing amazing and I am actually so behind them in terms of skill, speed, and intelligence" - a lot of people in banking are "fake it til you make it" types so I would not concern myself with how others portray themselves. Just focus on your development, which is what you can control. Also, a great attitude is probably the single most important attribute for an analyst early on. 

Hopefully this is helpful but above all I'd advise you to take a step back and realize this is just a job. It's important to take pride in your work and strive to do well but being a "top" analyst shouldn't define you and is most likely an empty pursuit. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 14, 2022 - 1:50am

This is amazing, I seriously can't thank you enough and really appreciate you taking the time to write this out. Wow, you are spot on, I have diagnosed really bad ADD, was prescribed 80mg (really hefty dose I know) but ultimately stopped because it literally made me depressed and I would feel super weird on it. I also felt that the medication didn't really "click" and never really straight up solved my problems. I even tried concerta, ritalin, vyvanse, etc with my doctor. Do you also have ADD, if you did what seemed to help? I don't even know if ADD is my real issue here, I don't have trouble focusing I'm glued to my screen and focused up just because the pressure makes me. I feel like my issue is I am just straight up dumb and a slow learner. Thanks again for the comment, seriously means a lot.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 14, 2022 - 2:15am

I think ADD contributes to some of the things you described (particularly the part about blanking when someone is trying to explain things to you) but I don't think it's the only factor at play. FWIW I wouldn't advise you to get back on meds and don't think the effects ever go away, it's just a matter of learning how to thrive in spite of it.

One thing that really helped me at the beginning is creating checklists. Try to create lists of stuff to check for before sending deliverables to your team. Have one list for models, one for CIMs, and extras for whatever else you need. Every time you make a mistake, add it to the list. You'd be surprised at how much stuff you should be checking for but forget if you're not intentional about it. Atul Gawande has an interesting book called "The Checklist Manifesto" in which he illustrates that though checklists seem simple, they can be very helpful even in the most complex fields (he also has a TED talk in which he talks about it). 

Sep 16, 2022 - 9:26am
acardboardmonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with all these points! Build tools for yourself on the mistakes as well. In addition to a checklist, when you get comments I found it helpful to use a bright highlighter to mark off ones you've done so you don't miss any. Little stuff like that can save you, and we've all been there. Contrary to what some other A1s might be saying, no one is born to be a junior banker lol

Sep 15, 2022 - 5:01pm
fhfslegacy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh man trust me I know exactly how you feel. Reading your post resonated so much w me because I was exactly like this when I use to work for a top trading firm. Here are a few things that really helped me combat the issues you mentioned above:

1) Start using MS OneNote, write down every detailed procedure and organize your notes there, also word it as if you're talking to yourself. Don't just copy paste. Then also create a new sub page for each day and write down what you did and if there's anything you learned/made mistakes - This helps alot because you're essentially creating a "papertrail" for all the important stuff you've done/noted. So say for example your manager asks about something that you did on a specific past date, you can always go back to your OneNote and check.

2) Ask a lot of questions, but within reason and if you don't understand, interrupt and tell them to clarify. Just beware this can sometimes go against you since asking too many or stupid questions will create doubt in their head.

3) Fake it till you make it. Develop confidence in yourself and don't worry about the competition, you're just as good as them if you've made it this far working alongside them. 

All the best, and remember you're only 3 weeks in so don't be too hard on yourself.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 16, 2022 - 3:05am

this means the world to me, thank you so much for the comment. seriously.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 15, 2022 - 9:13pm

Same here started on the desk a few months ago but thinking about switching to dcm for better hours / easier work and same pay

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Sep 16, 2022 - 9:33am

3 weeks is EARLY. It's totally normal to be underwater still, banking is a lot to absorb. Give yourself at least 3 months to understand anything. Your teams know you are new and will need some time to ramp up.

A few ways to get better

- take detailed written notes when your VP or deal team is telling you things. If you don't absorb it or can't write it down fast enough, ask them right then to clarify/slow down/repeat. Better than spending hours doing it wrong. If you're just listening to verbal instructions of course it's hard to remember stuff.

- print pages before you send them and check them off with a colored pen to make sure you got all the comments. missing comments or formatting errors is VERY common when you first start, you will get better

Realistically your fellow A1s are likely also having issues. No one hits the desk in IB knowing how to do all of it, just takes time and practice. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 16, 2022 - 9:36am

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