I worked in the back office at an AM for 2 years before leaving for greener pastures. Now my job did suck, but there were a few benefits to the situation that I was in and that I'm sure a lot of you are in right now.
1. Free time at the office - The back office is a pretty easy and mindless job. A few hours of efficient work a day should be enough to free up the rest of your time to work on something else. I personally taught myself to code, but you can also learn to read 10-Ks, price options, weave baskets, etc. If you look at the job as a study hall, you'll feel a lot better about yourself at the end of the day.
2. Very easy to stand out/add value - I felt like someone who didn't make the Varsity team. It sucked, but I could score 20 a game on JV because the competition was piss poor.
In my first week, I noticed about 100 manual processes that could be automated with simple Excel macros. I started making a couple for my team and before long other teams were seeking out my help. I was lucky to have a cool boss who let me freelance.
My first couple were retardedly simple, but over time I learned to code better and wrote some semi-complex stuff. Outside of macros, there are still plenty of stupid processes that can be improved. The key is finding some one (in my case it was my boss's boss) who is ambitious but too stupid to leave ops. He will take credit for your ideas, but everyone will know they were yours because he is too dumb to come up with anything on his own.
3. Easy to network - I dealt with a fair number of FO people. Since dealing with ops is on the same level with taking lunch orders and there were only interns around during the summer, I usually dealt with guys around my age. They liked dealing with me because I was semi-competent at my job, and they were stressed out from getting shit on by higher ups all day. Some were assholes, but some appreciated having someone they could talk to. By the time I left, I had a few guys who said they would vouch for me if I applied for a new position.
4. Companies outside the industry don't realize how shitty ops is - This is a huge one, and I would recommend everyone in Ops give serious thought to applying to another industry. I got offers from a top consulting firm and a tech firm, and both were impressed by the company name on my resume, not realizing I was one step above a janitor. This also allows you to embellish what your actual role is.
5. Free time outside of work and a stress-free life - At the very least, you should be tan, in good shape and in a good mood. Don't underestimate how much this can help when you network and have interviews.
Being in Ops sucks, but you're still better off than 90% of people your age. If you're set on being a MD/PE partner/HF PM/billionaire by 30, you're probably SOL. But the good news is Social Security is fucked up and the retirement age will probably be 90 by the time we get there, so you still have a ton of time to reach whatever your goals are.
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