Overcoming Failure and Building Up Skillset

In a tough spot at the moment and would appreciate any advice or feedback that people have to offer. 

Graduated in 2019 from a non target with a degree in finance and have been laid off from both jobs I’ve had since leaving school. 

Job 1:  Technical Consultant @ Salesforce/Workday

We were building out a new office and group internally after a reorganization. COVID hit less than a year into the job and they laid off my entire team shortly thereafter. 

Personally hated the job so I wasn’t too gutted when I got laid off and was able to meaningfully improve my interpersonal and presentation skills in a client facing role. 

I was able to leverage this experience into a specialty masters at a semi target after having trouble finding work during COVID so I’d say it was net positive. 

Job 2: Analyst @ LMM PE firm ($500M AUM)

Was able to leverage my industry experience to land at a tech focused LMM PE shop. It seemed like a great place to be as they had a training program and infrastructure to support junior people when I interviewed.

The reality ended up being something completely different. They cancelled the training program and the senior associate on the team quit before I got there who was the most junior employee at the firm. 

This led to a situation where I was working directly for a principal who expected me to perform at the same level as the senior associate who had 5 YOE with no training on day 1 and was ostracized anytime I asked a question. 

I’m not afraid of a challenge so I lived in the office for 3 months working 16-18 hour days 7 days a week. Ultimately, I was able to make substantial progress during that time but it wasn’t at the pace my principal wanted so I was laid off at the beginning of month 4. 

I wasn’t entirely shocked by this development given the smallest mistakes I would make would be held against me for weeks on end and this person had no idea what they wanted to see in certain deliverables until they had the final product, which led to them screaming at me in front of the entire office on several occasions.

Current Circumstances:

I’ve been unemployed for over a year now and am at a loss for how to move forward. 

Anecdotally, it seems like many employers these days don’t want to train their employees. 

It also seems like success at a firm early in your career is largely dependent on luck. I know plenty of people at other firms in my age range that were able to get through the analyst years by being given the institutional support and runway to succeed. As a result they’ve been able to leverage those opportunities into better roles and promotions. 

I’m happy for these people but also am admittedly envious, given I’m now 4 years out of undergrad and have never really been given any sort of meaningful runway to professionally succeed or grow into my role. Even the worst analysts in IB are given a full year to prove themselves and the firm I was at wouldn’t even give me 4 months making me feel like I got screwed over. Am I crazy to think I’ve been unlucky to this point? 

I know there’s nothing I can do to change it now and have been working to gain marketable skills in areas like data analysis in Python, R, SQL, Tableau, etc. that I was previously admittedly weak in. I also networked a fair amount with mixed results and completed the Wall Street Prep modeling course to improve my efficiency/stay sharp. 

These efforts have yet to yield any meaningful results and am at a loss for how to move forward here. I want to take the next step forward in my career and be given the runway to succeed somewhere but that’s proven elusive to this point. 

I’d appreciate any tips or insights anyone is willing to offer. 


Hey there, I'm really sorry to hear about your tough journey so far. But remember, every setback is a setup for a comeback. Here's some advice based on my experiences and the wisdom I've gathered from the WSO community:

  1. Embrace Failure: It's important to remember that failure is not the end, but a stepping stone to success. It's a learning experience that can help you grow personally and professionally. Don't let it discourage you, let it motivate you.

  2. Own Your Job Search: Don't blame external factors if things aren't going your way. Have some confidence, persevere, and know that close enough isn't good enough. Carry yourself with integrity and strive for excellence.

  3. Be Curious: Have a sincere sense of curiosity about people, work, the industry, etc. Curiosity builds understanding, and understanding builds knowledge. This will help you in your job search and in your future roles.

  4. Seek Energy Boosters: Know what gives you energy during the day and use those boosters to become more accomplished. This could be anything from a hobby, exercise, or even a particular task that you enjoy doing.

  5. Reflect: Reflect on where you could have done better and more been the person you know you can be. This will help you identify areas for improvement and work on them.

  6. Improve Your Skills: You're on the right track with learning Python, R, SQL, Tableau, etc. These are highly sought-after skills in today's job market. Keep improving and adding to your skillset.

  7. Network: Networking is key. It can open doors to opportunities that you might not find otherwise. Keep networking and building relationships in your industry.

  8. Don't Dwell on Past Mistakes: If you mess up, own it. Don't make excuses. Don't dwell on it. Accept it, improve on it, and do what you can to prevent it from happening again.

Remember, your career is a marathon, not a sprint. It's okay to stumble and fall, as long as you pick yourself up and keep going. You've got this!

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

Sorry to hear about the rollercoaster you had, have been in a similar spot before.

Not sure if you’re US or EU based, so from a EU perspective, I’d keep my chin up and keep applying and networking. You clearly demonstrated work ethic, discipline and hunger to succeed as you grinded your butt off to develop necessary skills and stay sharp, so don’t be afraid to show that.

Imo, the most difficult part will be to sell the story in a way that HR or any other first contact person doesn’t get a semi heart-attack thinking of the red flags they see.

So, the Covid lay off is quite understandable and everyone will agree upon that, don’t think I’d change too much about it, just bad luck and timing.

The second lay off is a mixed bag. Personally, I see 2 options for you: either completely cut it off your CV and say you went for travel during this time or had some personal time off, something legitimate. As a recruiter, if you see someone with one or more several short stints you might think something is off with this person and you don’t want to be the one taking the heat for referring them. Other option is to be honest about the experience. Highlight your commitment, your pro active actions, your constant asking for feedback but that in the end due to an internal restructuring (leaving of your mentor), you didn’t get along with your new supervisor on a human level. Don’t talk bad about the firm or them as a person, but just mention it wasn’t a fit as it seemed and you got unlucky. It’s still not the greatest story but something to get along.

Lastly, look for other roles too. FP&A, controlling, corporate development etc. you should be fairly easily cruising through these interviews / modelling tests as they’re usually quite vanilla in my limited experience and then later try to move on. Again, story might be the critical part you’ve to nail along the personal fit (generally speaking).

For networking I guess you know what to do, just keep doing it and also try to leverage your alumni network. There’s always someone knowing someone and a door open at times.

Best of luck, mate.


Thanks so much for your feedback! I appreciate it. 


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