7 Uncommon Pieces of Advice for College

Obviously, WSO is loaded with tons of great career and life advice. There are endless posts on target vs non-target schools, technicals for interviews, GPA, networking, rankings, etc. Rather than beat a dead horse, that got me thinking….what are some less common pieces of college advice for becoming a rounded career professional…

1. Find your hobbies – I hate to admit it, but probably 75 - 80% of my hobbies and interests are things that I was into during my high school and college years. Sure, I picked up a few more as my schedule became easier, but not many. As you get older and have less free time on your hands, it gets more difficult to invest the time to develop new interests.

In college, you should try to figure out the work of your life and what you're doing the rest of the time. If you don't, you'll just become this boring dude who works his job and then gets slammed drunk every weekend for the next decade after college.

2. Sow your wild oats as soon as you can – On that topic, I was an absolute party animal in college to the detriment of my GPA…that definitely was not wise but the upside was that I totally got this out of my system. By 23, I had sown all of my wild oats. There are posts on here that bemoan the loss of partying in your 20s. Furthermore, the common wisdom these days seems to be the pursuit of an elongated childhood from 18 to 35. I don't know….by the end of college, I was done with that, the famous Bible verse sums it up best in my opinion, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." When I graduated college, I was ready to be a man and didn't look back with tears in my eyes.

3. Meet as many diverse people as you can – As you get older and work in finance, your peer group will become narrower and narrower. When you're still in school, you can have friends who are artists, musicians, philosophy students, basically whatever. My chances of becoming best friends with a jazz saxophonist today are slim to none – back then, really not that unlikely. I hung out with all kinds of folks: security guards, waiters, bartenders, tattoo artists, basically everyone across the spectrum of society. I didn't think much of this at the time, but soon you realize that lots of people have the opposite experience. They grow up in an affluent suburb, attend an affluent school, become part of an affluent profession and basically don't know jack shit about the world or the people around them.

4. Develop your spirituality – You're in college and trying to figure out your life. Much like the hobby advice in part 1, this should extend beyond your career pursuits. You're not gonna have much time to read Buddhist texts when you're slammed on two live deals. You got your whole life ahead of you. Find out what it means to live it. Don't wait until you're 65 years old and scared before asking the big questions.

5. Don't ignore love early on – another piece of common wisdom these days seems to be the following life progression: fuck around in college: fuck 30 people on Tinder after that, and then marry some girl at 35 after she has already fucked half the planet…..am I crazy or does something seem really unappealing about this "common wisdom"? I'm not saying get hitched as soon as you can, but be open to the possibility. If you find the right one, you'll make the career balance happen.

6. Exercise and lose weight now – Lots of posts on WSO about staying in shape, but here is the easiest method. Get in great shape in college and then stay in shape. It's almost impossible to lose significant weight in banking, but it's actually not that hard to keep it level. Give yourself a good starting point.

7. Enjoy your classes – When I was in school, I really enjoyed the classes in my major. I'm kind of a dork…..but on others, I was just trying to make the grade. In college, you get so used to the process of essays, exams, and grades that you don't appreciate the unique learning experience. After you enter finance, your deep intellectual conversations will come to an end.  You're probably never going to debate world history with a PhD ever again. You can't just step into office hours of an expert in a field because you're curious about a subject. At first, this doesn't really bother you, but after a while, you realize that you haven't had a good intellectual conversation in a freakin decade. Maybe, this is just me, but regular life sadly has a sort of intellectual emptiness to it….

So what's the point of this? Well, ultimately, it's about life satisfaction. What's the point of getting the perfect job if everything else about your life is upside down or just plain empty. If you have good hobbies to occupy your time, have good health and avoid the party lifestyle, have a spiritual direction and intellectual curiosity to your life, and hopefully have someone to love, it's hard not to find yourself much more satisfied in life than the guy two chairs down also clocking the 80-hours per week. You don't have to wait until you're completely burned out and on your mid-life crisis before trying to figure out life. Well, hope this helps and all criticism is welcome as I know some of this may be a bit controversial. Hope you enjoyed the read.

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Comments (31)

Funniest
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 14, 2020 - 12:41am

No one cares about being well rounded or being intellectually stimulated when you want to break into banking. OP is acting like you enter a mid life crisis post college when in reality you leave behind all the hours of sitting in boring lectures and faking interest in alumni during networking chats so you can actually begin to build some decent wealth while padding your resume. 

Controversial
  • VP in IB - Gen
Dec 15, 2020 - 8:34pm

This is a poor man's way of thinking. Don't worry, I grew up middle class and thinking like that, too. 

Now, when I look at my bank account statements, I know I can retire on the spot, or even as of yesterday. Not 40 yet btw and live in high COL city. 

Believe it or not, IB isn't as terrible when you don't have any pressure to bring home a paycheck. Ironic, because this level of confidence allows me to whoop ass in my role of getting clients. 

TLDR; life can absolutely get infinitely better any time and the good times most definitely don't stop after college. As a matter of fact, I had I good time in college, but it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine.

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Dec 14, 2020 - 8:56am

No one cares about being well rounded or being intellectually stimulated when you want to break into banking. OP is acting like you enter a mid life crisis post college when in reality you leave behind all the hours of sitting in boring lectures and faking interest in alumni during networking chats so you can actually begin to build some decent wealth while padding your resume. 

You're absolutely 100% correct. That is exactly why I wrote the above advice. As I mentioned throughout, a lot of these items are things that I only realized later on in life. At 22, I didn't realize how important they were. Sharing advice that is less than obvious to a young student is the whole point.

When I was a young grad, my biggest regrets were not getting a higher GPA for example. As you get older, that becomes a rather minor aspect of your regret of what you could have done better.

Side note: And yes, I've seen a lot of people have mid-life crisises in this career.....usually it's not the well-rounded folks. Just some food for thought there.

  • Incoming Analyst in S&T - FI
Dec 14, 2020 - 10:05am

all fair points but as a college senior departing soon the only regrets I have are not partying harder or screwing more chicks....(and ive had my fair share)

but yes sage advice indeed

Dec 14, 2020 - 2:47pm

You seem really depressed, out of shape and lonely working 80+ hours a week.

Perhaps you should try to exit to something else.

Array

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  • 7
Dec 14, 2020 - 2:50pm

Where do you get that? I'm an extremely happy and satisfied person. That's part of the point....just passing on what has worked for me. I certainly wouldn't be sharing advice if I was miserable lol.

Side note: I exited a while back to a nice corporate position. All is good.

Dec 14, 2020 - 2:57pm

NoEquityResearch

Where do you get that? I'm an extremely happy and satisfied person. That's part of the point....just passing on what has worked for me. I certainly wouldn't be sharing advice if I was miserable lol.

Side note: I exited a while back to a nice corporate position. All is good.

Oh so you already made the move lol

Array

  • 1
Dec 15, 2020 - 5:15am

Just get rich and fuck hoes what is all this pseudo psycho philosophical talk on the internet these days also take everything you read on the web with a grain of salt op (and myself) could as well be living in our parents basements and commenting on the internet all day long while stuffing nachos into ourselves  

Dec 15, 2020 - 9:16am

You're certainly right. Could be just stuffing my face with nachos.....however, a lot of the advice that I'm giving above is really fairly standard stuff that has worked for people since time began. Works for me and has worked for a ton of others.

I would be much more skeptical about the advice from people telling you to party non-stop, sleep with as many girls as possible, don't worry about being a well-rounded person, and forget about spirituality because that's for idiots. For how many people across the centuries has this sort of advice led to the path of happiness?

Also, remember that the happiness from this sort of path is often fleeting but the genital warts are forever...

Dec 15, 2020 - 6:44pm

A letter to my (former) self...

1) Read, consume, and speak with as many people as possible. What I am saying is to consume as much raw information as much as you can, filter it, and use it to your advantage. Whether this be WSJ, Bloomberg, books recommended on this site or going out to that frat party, etc. Reading and having facts and information that you can use in conversations, friendships, late on in life will prove invaluable.

2) Do not waste a minute. This may sound childish now, but looking back I think of the minutes wasted. I wish I could tell you that once you are done studying that life will get easier, but in reality, the combination of having a fulltime job where you work long hours it does not. Go on that date, have that sex, reach out to the alumnus you were too scared to talk to. You get it.

3) Reputation matters. I do not think this can be overstated. My dad always said to me, "treat the man taking out your garbage with the same respect that you would treat me". Treat the MD with as much respect as you would the fellow Analyst, or Intern or Janitor. This is easier said than done with the egos we deal with, however, having been in the industry a few years, there is a huge distinction between those that are dicks (the "this isn't my job") and being proactive and helpful. That kid wearing beat up clothes? He is a first generation college student. That buddy that can't afford to come out for drinks? Buy his. They can and will remember.

5) If you fuck up, admit it, apologize, and then bust your ass to remedy the situation.

4) Read through the top posts in WSO all-time. 

5) Watch these two videos. They are the product of Jim Donovan, a GS MD and former UVA law school professor and total about an hour total, but worth the watch. If not for how to "think" strategically, damn good motivation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8kqCIxXTEw

6) After you have watched the prior videos, find a mentor.

Hope you all have a healthy and safe holidays.

And remember, no man is a failure that has friends.

Cheers,

Will

Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career.
  • 3
Dec 21, 2020 - 12:14am

I agree with this stuff, but I'm a bit against looking at as much raw info as possible. I think it's equally important to know what you don't need to read or things that you can probably just skim over. Takes some judgment, but it's easy to fall into looking at too many unimportant details. 

Dec 15, 2020 - 8:47pm

Love #1. Started reading WSJ when I was a sophomore in HS (right in the middle of GFC, which really peaked my interest in the field). Kept this up ever since, and paid off BIG time when I was looking for internships and jobs.

In some cases, I got positions on the spot, only because I knew something particular about [insert topic/industry/company/person/group] that really impressed the shit out of interviewers. Oh, and if you're trying to use this strategy, find a subtle way to transition to the topic so it doesn't seem obvious you're trying to flex. Be smooth and natural like organic cucumber.

Best part was when I received verbal confirmation of an offer before the interview ended, and then seeing the next guy (or gal) walking in all nervous thinking they still had a shot. 

So boys and girls, the moral of the story is read, read, READ. Make sure you understand what you read and have decent enough memory remembering high level stuff, otherwise it's a moot point.

Dec 17, 2020 - 12:29pm

Mindset that I wish I had: 

Do NOT benchmark yourself against your classmates, benchmark yourself against the greater graduating class competing for whatever field you're going for. This would have lit more of a fire under me. 

Also do NOT use your career portal as your one stop shop for recruiting. It spawns complacency. Ie. if an internship's GPA requirement is a 3.5/4, do not be satisfied with a 3.51.

Dec 17, 2020 - 2:44pm

I think that you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I'm using the Bible verse to relate how one's mind and way of thinking can change. How you can go from something being very important to your life to completely unimportant as you mature.

In an ideal world, the real advice would be to become so enlightened and mature that you don't even need to party at all. However, we're all human and that's really just not realistic for 95% of the population. Hence, my advice is to at least get it out of your system as soon as possible. If you never feel the need to get black out drunk during college, even better - makes you a better man than me. I'm not encouraging debauchery but instead saying to cut it off as soon as realistically possible.

Dec 17, 2020 - 3:35pm

You can still have a crazy good time on the weekends and kill it during the work week. I've even grown my network by meeting new friends, or friends of friends, on the weekends. Alright, maybe that's not you, and I understand if you want to stay in on Friday and catch up on sleep, but on Saturday? There's no reason not to try to have a good time, it's your best years. 

Dec 17, 2020 - 5:40pm

#1 is probably the most important and the most difficult.

I agree with all the points, but people on WSO are generally college students or recent grads (or even a couple of brainwashed VPs) who are just obsessed with "high finance" and miss what OP is saying. I do think a lot of these common senses (at least to me) will become more obvious when one gets older and has more life experience, but hey if you figure these out at an earlier age, kudos to you. 

Dec 17, 2020 - 9:30pm

+20 bananas if I could grant them. Definitely agree especially regarding some posters in their 30s who still think chasing girls and drinking yourself stupid in your 20s is the point of life. It's part of the encouraged elongated childhood into the 30s which I mentioned. 

While the popular mantra on this website is that your 20s are the best period of your life, it's the complete opposite of what you hear from even older people in their 60s and 70s. Never has a single person in that age group told me, "Man, you gotta party your ass off in your 20s, because those are your best years."

Instead, I've heard tons of older people refer to the time that their kids were young as the best part of their lives or perhaps when the grandkids came. To repeat the Bible verse from earlier because it's just so damn good: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." ....we usually all get there eventually, it's just takes some of us way too long in which time we can cause a lot of damage to ourselves and others.

Dec 18, 2020 - 12:27am

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