IB, Tech, Startup: when to take risks?

Curious as to how some of you approached riskiness of jobs and careers as a college student/early in your career.

IB ain't looking to hot rn but at the end of the day the paths there to be walked it seems like at least early stage.

Fortunate enough to have had experiences in Quant (Optiver/HRT/CitSec etc) and a BB IB and think I enjoy the trading side more but also really didn't mind IB and the optionality of the exits/not being fired 6 months in for P&L I just can't get out of my mind.

Wrapping up my senior year at the end of the year and part of me wants to just say fuck it go balls to the walls and do quant or a startup but just want to hear some of your thoughts from people who have travelled the path. Thanks all.

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assuming you are actually qualified for quant (i.e. you can code and do math) you probably aren't going to get blown out for P&L in 6 months. there is a ramp up and unlikely you would be independent enough to have that kind of risk for at least the first 2 years

my personal framework for risk:

Early in your career you need to build transferable career capital. Thus it is worth being risk averse unless you have an amazing opportunity - i.e. I would generally recommend taking BB IB, big name consulting (MBB/tier 2/big 4), or big tech as a first role.

Don't go to a startup straight away unless you have an amazing opportunity - i.e. work directly for someone who previously had a >$100M startup exit, you get into Y combinator, etc.

Once you have 2-3 years of something strong on your resume, it makes sense to switch to swinging for the fences.

Note that if you are international and need a visa, or have lots of student loans, I would stay conservative until that situation is more derisked.


at the end of the day you have to do the best you can. in your early career you need to focus on 1. building transferable skills and 2. branding those skills (not as obvious).

So ideally you join the #1 firm in the industry of your choosing in an impactful role.

if you can't do that work your way down to the most transferable/best branded thing you can get.

i.e. no IB offers? can you get a big 4 accounting offer?

No big tech offer? can you get an SDR (entry level sales) role at the largest tech company in your city?

point #2 - get the best branding - is related but not the same thing as prestige. when you are early career if you go to a small company the average hiring manager doesn't know WTF it is. if you instead have a recognizable brand it will create legibility for you. "Oh, he worked at KPMG. hes a solid accountant" - even tho most of us here probably don't consider KPMG audit to be prestigious, it is actually valuable


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