Finding out what you are good at?

Someone I greatly admire once told me ‘do what you are good at, not what you enjoy’ and it stuck with me. I’ve only just really had time to reflect on this. How do you find out what you are good at?

I’m a second year Mathematics student at Imperial, which is hardly relevant to finance outside of technological research or quantitative finance.
 

I would say I have 7/10 social skills. I have a girlfriend, close friends, leadership experience and can speak really well with seniors in a professional environment, but am naturally more introverted from previous confidence issues in high school. 

I’m naturally quite quick thinking and am very good at recognising patterns (got into a ‘high iq society’ based on this). I don’t like mundane work unless I’m learning, neither intellectually insanely difficult work.

I suppose this leaves me more technically inclined, but that doesn’t narrow down my career options too much. 

How can I find out what area in finance best suits me?

 
Most Helpful

| High IQ society
lmao, nerd

Anyway you say you don’t like mundane tasks but you also want to do something you are good at.
Finance is mostly mundane. Even on the industry side where we supposedly have the “most exciting” work, 90% of my workflow is still PPT and Excel.
Are you good at mundane tasks? Do you want to do something you’re good at? Do you want to work in finance? Then just do whatever blows your skirt up, I got into the energy sector because I like big billion-dollar projects in countries of questionable ethics (and because my grades weren’t good enough for IB), it’s mostly the same anyways: 70+ hours of Excel grinding and PPT finicking, except I get to travel to cool places in biz class to talk with some big shots at some BB while their nerd analysts stfu and take notes. Sure they make ~20% more than I do, but being the client feels sooooo good.

In any case, whatever your career is, finance or other, you’ll get pretty bored after a year or two, so just find the path where you can max your pay while minimizing your efforts, and always have exit options. Optionality is key to rationality and peace of mind.

 

Well, it sounds like you've got a great foundation to start with! Studying Mathematics at a top university is a fantastic start, and don't underestimate the value of that degree. It's not just relevant to tech research or quant finance, but it can also be a great asset in areas like risk management, financial modeling, and data analysis.

Your social skills are also a big plus. The finance industry is as much about people and relationships as it is about numbers. Being able to communicate effectively with colleagues, clients, and superiors is a key skill in this field.

As for your quick thinking and pattern recognition, those are great skills for many areas of finance. Whether it's spotting trends in financial markets, identifying risks, or finding efficiencies in financial processes, those skills will serve you well.

Now, to find out what area in finance suits you best, I'd recommend a few steps:

  1. Research: Look into the various areas of finance - investment banking, private equity, asset management, corporate finance, etc. Understand what each role involves, the skills required, and the typical career path.

  2. Network: Reach out to professionals in the industry. Ask them about their day-to-day work, the challenges they face, and what they enjoy about their job. This can give you a real-world perspective on what it's like to work in different areas of finance.

  3. Internships: If possible, try to secure internships in different areas of finance. This will give you hands-on experience and a better idea of what you enjoy and where your skills can be best utilized.

  4. Reflect: Think about your skills, interests, and career goals. What areas of finance align with these? Where can you see yourself thriving?

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here. It's about finding the right fit for you. And don't worry if you don't have it all figured out right away. It's a process, and it's okay to explore and change your mind. Good luck!

Sources: Interview Question: Why Finance? Sample Answers, Aspiring Wall Street Student: Where do I start???, https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/school/yale-vs-columbia-vs-nyu-stern-undergraduate?customgpt=1, Best way for an accounting major to break into finance?

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

Of course - that’s why I think it’s good advice.

If you are good at your work, you grow to enjoy it and vice versa. I’m not sure what I TRULY like (research shows humans are bad at knowing what they want), but somewhat know my strengths.

 

Overall you’re supposed to do what you’re passionate about. Careers generally come with three things:

- You’re passionate about it

- You’re good at it

- You make good money

Lots of people only have 2/3 or 2.5/3. If you have a family, you might be doing what you’re good at to make money, but early into careers you should generally follow what you’re passionate about, then get good at it and the money will follow.

"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
 

If you are good at your work, you grow to enjoy it and vice versa. I’m not sure what I TRULY like (research shows humans are bad at knowing what they want), but somewhat know my strengths. Similarly, if you are good at something, you will be paid well, whilst the opposite may not generally be true.

 

pinkdoughnut11

If you are good at your work, you grow to enjoy it and vice versa. I’m not sure what I TRULY like (research shows humans are bad at knowing what they want), but somewhat know my strengths. Similarly, if you are good at something, you will be paid well, whilst the opposite may not generally be true.

Not quite. Saint Mother Teresa was good at her work and was paid zero. Public Defenders may be very good at their job and are paid little. Social workers. Teachers. Your argument doesn’t quite hold water.

"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
 

I cannot stress the importance of being in a career that you actually enjoy. Plenty of people chase a paycheck out of undergrad, but it's not sustainable. I find that those who play the long game are often happiest.

A director during one of my internships said that if you dislike what you're doing 3 or more days a week, you're in the wrong spot. Not exactly rocket science, but a good self-check if you notice a trend beginning to start.

To answer your question:

  • This forum (plenty of guides and anecdotes to read through)
  • Networking and informal conversations/ e-mails
    • You will be surprised how many people are willing to talk about their career and experiences
    • You'll click with individuals with similar personalities and strengths as you - great sign
    • Ask about work/ life balance, rough compensation expectations, culture, travel, etc.
 

I have recently think of the same thought when deciding what I am good at and not. I would say I am good at: 

- Mathematics 

- Science

- Finance

- Making people laugh 

I am sometimes finding myself still improving with: 

- Grammar and English sentences 

- Time management occasionally

I am not sure what these abilities or areas of improvements mean for jobs. 

 

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"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

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