Biggest professional regret?Subscribe
In light of the “Piper Jaffray: Sweatier Than Ever in 2018” thread (link), I was inspired to share the biggest professional regret of my career so far, however early in my career that it may be.
Asked to stay an extra month
I actually had to miss senior week since unlike many other banks, analyst training at Piper begins in early June and not right after July 4. From the first day of training to when I finished 3+ years later, I never took more than a week of work “off”. On every single one of my once per year, one-week long vacations, I worked a significant amount and never had the ability to truly decompress. I also remember missing things like not going home for Thanksgiving one year because there was just too much work to do.
Near the end of my analyst stint at Piper I was convinced to stay an extra month due to heavy junior turnover in my group as it was unlucky timing with some unplanned early departures as well as people’s end dates happening to coincide with one another. It was not my preference to stay that extra month at all - I wanted to have more time off for myself, but I chose to stay because: 1) I really liked my group and wanted to help them out and 2) part of the deal was I would receive a pay bump for that month in addition to a one month pro-rated bonus. I went out of my way to help my old group / firm out when I could've left them out to dry understaffed and with only a single experienced junior team member.
Like an idiot, I did not get the above deal in writing. Getting everything in writing is advice I’ve seen countless times before, but I never imagined that would be a problem for me as I was receiving the higher base pay and my group had always done right by its juniors during bonus season.
Fast forward to full-year bonuses being paid out and lo and behold, I did not receive the promised pro-rated bonus. After numerous back and forths and being ghosted for nearly a month, I was finally able to track down an answer. The feedback was that I was paid everything I was owed and that if I hadn’t worked as an analyst at Piper, that I wouldn’t have gotten the job offers that I did and I should be grateful for that alone – that I got absolutely the max amount for my year and that I should be happy with that – that maybe we did agree on the stub but I should’ve gotten it in writing – that even if they wanted to change it, that it’s too late and there was nothing to do now.
Now at the end of the day, the money is irrelevant. The amount I was shorted is easily less than 10k post-tax and I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation where my life won’t change because I am out that money. What I am bitter about and will probably regret forever is that by staying an extra month, I had only two weeks before starting my new job. I pushed my start date back as far as I could and there was no way to extend that further since my new group was being swamped and couldn’t afford to have me start any later. Who knows when I'll have another opportunity to have an extended time off in the future - I definitely won't be in my mid-20s.
In those two short weeks, I had to pack all my belongings, drive cross-country, and move into a new city, including buying and assembling furniture, getting a new driver’s license, registering my car, buying countless household supplies, etc. – all things that add up and significantly cut into the only time I truly had off since I graduated. That is time I will never get back, time I could’ve used to visit friends I hadn’t seen in years, actually travel a bit, or just time I could’ve used on myself to relax. Hell, I could’ve pushed my start date earlier to help my new firm given how busy they were and still have had an entire month to myself.
Get everything you negotiate in writing
I wish I had either said no or not blindly trusted Piper, thinking that my loyalty would be rewarded, or at least recognized. At the end of the day, I guess the healthy thing to do is to chalk this up as a learning experience that the world of business and finance is cutthroat, and that you should ALWAYS, ALWAYS, get everything you negotiate in writing, even when you think it won’t be necessary. Whether it's to prevent somebody from "forgetting" or actually forgetting, I'll never make that mistake again.
What’s your biggest professional regret?