Seeking Advice - How to recover from being kicked out

Long time user here hoping to seek some advice from more experienced folks on how to recover from career setbacks, hopefully the discussion here will also be helpful for others out there to hear about what happens when things go wrong and how to come out better.

Pushed out from a top buy-side firm (due to fit and performance reasons). There was no significant mistake, old team remained supportive, I got on with others and my technicals are good. Issue was making the jump too early and struggled to transition i.e. leaner teams, more politics, less prescriptive role. Ultimately didn't enjoy many aspects of the role and didn't quite fit.

Lucky to land a role pretty quickly in tech corp dev. There is a lot of upside due the high growth sector and the team structure but the comp is not as high ($150k, might get criticised for this but tbh I went into finance mostly for the money and this was always the priority - come from a low income background), and there is not the same level of prestige as my old firm.  

Due to my limited # years in the industry this is the first time I've come across this situation, never seen it happen to anyone in my network. After it happened, I pressed on with recruiting at full speed but felt very lost and fell into a depressive / almost suicidal state and felt like a complete failure, as I had followed the typical IB -> Buyside route with some degree of success all for it to fall apart. But ultimately felt like a huge kick in the nuts and my confidence was hit hard.

I messed up and want to take this as a learning experience, ready to do things right next time, put in the hours, work like a bitch and play the game. Realise that careers are 30+ years, that there are many different paths to success and wealth than just IB->MF, and that messing up in the first few years isn't necessarily game over. But worried about comp and progression in the future being more limited. Thanks for reading this far. Would highly appreciate advice on: 1. possibility of getting back into PE/HF with my now less traditional profile - ideally without having to do an expensive MBA, and if this is necessarily the best way to maximise comp? 2. how to overcome this hurdle and make the most of my next role and 3. what attitude to take to maximise comp and career progression in the future.

Comments (24)

Jan 18, 2022 - 6:00pm
spawn, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for sharing your situation.I think there are a variety of issues here, none of which are especially unusual but are still concerning. It's pretty easy to value your worth by how much money you make, especially if you didn't have a lot of it growing up. A lot of people get into this industry for the prospect of making a lot of money and a lot of people read these forums incessantly to try and plan their moves strategically so they can maximize income. However, if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or severe depression I would urge you to seek help - find a counselor to talk to, regardless of price, it's important to focus on your mental and emotional help.

Secondly, you said it yourself - careers are 30+ years long and this will be a blip in it for you. Will you be able to work at KKR next? Probably not, but there are lots of great shops out there. Plus, you're earning good money. Most Americans don't earn anywhere near to 150k (regardless if they're in corporate finance or not). Chin up.

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jan 18, 2022 - 10:00pm

TLDR: if you are very ambitious and start out poor, you think about ways to make money; if you glue to IB and/or PE, you trade labor for a boatload of cash but still you don't know how to make money. I'm no saint, just thinking out loud. And, I'm jealous of that MF spot. I am. 

-------

I think it might be good to really think about your situation for a second.

It seems that you say you come to realize there are different paths to success, but your mindset is still fixed on that IB -> MF -> Whatever path. And it's totally understandable because hey, you have been "THE WINNER TEMPLATE" for all those business school students and all those who wanted to do IB and those who want to go PE. You ARE that small chunk of people who made it. Most people don't go to MF, mind you.

I have an extremely bumpy career start, extremely meaning extremely.

It taught me one thing: I GOTTA figure out how to establish businesses and make $. I CANNOT rely on companies to give me a stable career and great pay. If you don't catch this mindset, read Rich Dad Poor Dad or WSO user brotherbear's comment. It's the same work-pay model for a MF Associate and a tennis court gatekeeper. If you get this, that MF sacking might not be a terrible thing, although right now both your prestige and your pay fall significantly. 

Now, most people are nowhere near your IB/PE accomplishments. You have had some great insights into how companies work. Leverage that knowledge, sit back, and think. 

Jan 20, 2022 - 2:08pm
IcedxTaro, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Solid advice.

T30Alumnus brotherbear I am tagging in on this discussion as some of the things I read from their posts added a lot of value to my current life.  Starting your own business on the side may not be a bad idea to explore further.  However, fix the things you can fix and start from scratch to move forward. 

If you are not working now, get a job, any job, and network hard.  Start with the basics.  Good luck!

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Mar 7, 2022 - 9:07pm

I don't mind.

Tbh, I don't have a shiny background, definitely "lower-tier" compared to your background. You also have more work experience under your belt compared to me. You probably worked at a much better bank. 

You sure you wanna communicate in a DM, after me telling you this? 

Jan 19, 2022 - 4:00am
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like what happened to me early in my career.  Dream job turns into a nightmare and I'm on the outside looking in for a few months.  Lucky for me I was able to stay in PE but that was after I had "been blackballed from PE in Boston."...direct quote from a recruiter.

Yes you can get back in but it's going to be a major up hill battle because the question will always come up why you left and it's a small industry.  The key is knowing someone really well at another fund that can vouch for you and your work product (the only thing that saved me).

Good luck,

Patrick

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jan 19, 2022 - 2:31pm

4am... are you taking care of yourself Patrick?

Jan 19, 2022 - 9:14am
Ravena, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hold on to the fact that over the course of your career this is a rounding error. I spent nearly 9 months unemployed and walking dogs after a blow up at work that cost me my job as an early employee at what is not a notable alternatives firm. Every year that followed has made that incident less and less of an issue.

If you want to stay in PE I would suggest going to a small shop where your background may carry weight despite the noise and working your way back up the ladder.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jan 19, 2022 - 4:04pm

I'm closer to your level, but I didn't get a return offer after my summer BB internship. I ended up going to a different BB and completed my two year analyst stint. I couldn't get any on-cycle PE offers until I landed a UMM PE role well after the official process. I did well at the UMM PE role and now I'm up for VP / Principal after ranking well. As long as you work hard, these things revolve themselves so don't worry about small step backs in a long career.

  • Partner in PE - LBOs
Jan 19, 2022 - 10:37pm

Life is rarely linear for the majority of the population. Just take a look at this pandemic. You could of been laid off, you could of got Covid and been hospitalized.

It's very easy to be grateful in these tough times. 

The cards that were dealt to you in life, are the cards that were dealt to you. Some people are dealt A-A, others 7-2. 

It's up to you to decide how to play the game of life, with the very cards you have in your own hand. 

Research shows that more $ after a certain point doesn't necessarily lead to more happiness (fortunately or unfortunately?)

I'll leave you with this quote, as you go about thinking how to play your own hand: "I'm a Great Believer in Luck. The Harder I Work, the More Luck I Have"

Jan 19, 2022 - 11:34pm
Wallstreetertobe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're still way too early in your career. I'd focus on the new gig and try to stay at least 2 years and maximize your learning experience. I know comp matters but when you're still starting out focus on being apart of a team where you work with strong leaders and develop transferable skills. 

You're in tech corp dev so easy to move over to a PE, Growth or VC role in a few years, if you want. But as one of the other users said consider doing something entrepreneural (ex. a searchfund) so you don't have to rely on a pay check in the future and get real equity. Senior people in PE/HF get fired all the time too. 

Jan 20, 2022 - 8:00am
Marcus_Halberstram, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You need to be honest with yourself and do a cold hard truth assessment of why you failed at the MF role. It is unusual for them to push someone out, even for performance reasons. So that is very valuable feedback you've gotten from the universe. Need to see that, understand that, pull it apart. Engine was smoking and caught fire. Time to take it apart and rebuild.

Something in your "how to be a beast" manual was right on the money - that's how you got there in the first place. But other areas had structural issues. Thats 100% normal. For you to have gotten there in the first place means you're at a level where anything is repairable.

Figure out the answer. Fix it. There is nothing in life that isn't fixable.

This is a game of continuous improvement. Recursive optimization. Maybe this one area that when fixed makes you superhuman? This feedback is very valuable. Don't gloss over it.

Set backs only feel like set backs in the moment. If you're dynamically adapting, it always turns into a massive net positive. It's okay to feel bad and beat yourself up over it, that feeling is what neurologically drills into you that "this is not an outcome to be repeated." You're innately a winner, that's why it feels so devastating.

PM me if you want to talk through what went wrong and how to fix it and how/if/when to get back into the industry.

Array
  • 8
  • Managing Director in IB-M&A
Jan 20, 2022 - 5:15pm

I went through a very similar situation many years back.

Honestly impressed you found another job this quickly. When I did my disastrous brief stint in PE, under a truly terrible Partner, I seriously contemplated suicide. And even after a good night's sleep, considered just giving up on life and becoming a NEET. Embarrassingly, I made a rage post on WSO about the Partner, before quickly deleting it.

Thankfully I had a good group of friends who talked me off the ledge, and I decided to go back to IB. While my problem was with a bad firm, and my experience not at all indicative of most PE firms, it had nonetheless soured me on the industry.

Since you say that money is a significant motivator for you, and you aren't satisfied with $150k, maybe consider IB?

The guys from my Analyst class who are now Partner/Principal at Megafunds likely make more than me, but unless you have an ex-wife leeching a significant chunk of your income or an egregious drug habit, you will find it difficult to spend your all-in comp if you get to the MD level and are reasonably competent at your job.

Jan 21, 2022 - 8:40am
HFANALYST84, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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