Mod Note (Andy) - as the year comes to an end we're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #39. This one was originally posted 9/20/2015.
Mod Note (Andy): Check out Wilowallstreet's AMA here. The AMA is still open and he is actively answering any question that you may have.
See my other recent posts: "Advice from an ex-IB MD - why aren't you getting those interviews?", and "Advice from an ex-IB MD - on how to make VP"
Someone asked me last weekend how do I get a job in finance, I said it's relatively easy. I'll tell you how I did it and hopefully it will help you on your journey. I came from an EM country, and arrived in the midwest for my undergraduate degree. I was a Computer Science major, and decided in my fourth year to do Economics also. I didn't know what a Investment Bank was until the January of my graduation year. So given this limited planning and foresight, I made Managing Director at age 34. I'll tell you how I managed to do it.
Start reading books, magazines, newspapers to do with finance - choose whichever branch of finance you want to go into and understand the lingo. So for example, since I wanted to do Sales & Trading, I read the Financial Times, the Wall St Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Fortune. Anything I could get my hands on to get the lingo.
Find all the movies you can find on the industry, watch those too. All careers are specific tribes, with their own cultures, languages, short hand. You need to learn the lingo before people will take you seriously. You want to sound and look like an insider.
Find the opportunities. Talk to friends, talk to family, read the newspapers, look at job websites, look at the websites of the companies you are interested in working for, call your university career office.
Learn to write resumes and cover letters. Best way to learn is to see a lot of samples. Build expertise in doing this. Go work in the Career Center if you need to.
Learn to interview, the trick to this is just practice, practice. Do lots of practice interviews, do informational interviews, even apply for jobs you don't want. Its important to just get a lot of hours on the board. Figure out your weaknesses, and figure out your strengths. Make sure you highlight your strengths in each interview.
If you have done steps 3-5 well, then you will get a few job offers. Don't agree to any offers until you have received them all, then compare what's on the table in a rational manner. These offers are not final, remember there is always room to negotiate. Negotiate. Once you have maximized the opportunity, make a decision.
Show up at the job. Remember at the beginning you know close to nothing, so you are being paid to learn. Make sure you learn. Ask questions every day. Find 5 new people to meet everyday. Figure out how to help them.
Figure out what drives your boss and your boss's boss. What is important to them, what are their goals, how do they operate. What are they trying to achieve. Once you understand their goals, help them achieve those goals.
Keep learning new things, keep reading, keep your eyes open for new opportunities, figure out how to keep your name out there. Keep growing your network. Treat it as a career marathon, not a sprint. Its about staying in the game as long as possible, so make it fun.
Books you must read
Never eat Alone (Keith Ferrazi)
The Start Up of You (Reid Hoffman)
Influence (Robert Cialdini)
How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
Finance is about people, not numbers.