Mod Note (Andy) - We're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #21 and was originally posted 5/1/2015.
I wanted to share some insight on what it's like having been through a few things after graduating from college. For reference, I graduated from a non-target school and got my first job within 2 months of graduation. It was a long-term temp.-to-perm. at adoing MO work. At the end of the stint I was let go, as the MD above my boss (ED) decided he'd rather bring in 1 senior manager than have 2 analysts (a perm. analyst was subsequently fired). I then spent some months unemployed, then working at a non-profit, and have now found a new offer doing MO work at a more senior level. Here are some common traps I've run into that I think everyone at the junior level should be keenly aware of:
You knew this would be first. You need to be meeting people 24/7. Recruiters, people within and outside of your firm who work in your field, people in MBA school who will soon be associates at banks or managers in F500 firms, even people who are unemployed and trying to break in. When you look to lateral, when you're unemployed, when your boss wants to send you on a trip to Belize, when you want to move to a new city, your network is what will do the heavy lifting. Your network is easily 1/3 of your overall career strength. Without one, you're just a replaceable drone whose presence nobody will notice.
Not knowing who you "are".
Don't be "that guy." Get familiar with your company's inner politics. Know who the people with clout are. Make a good impression every single time that you meet someone. Be friendly, don't talk too much, speak when it reflects well upon you, get to know people, stay away from people who are doomed to be fired or squeezed out, and always be accountable for work that can be linked back to you. You never want to be in a conversation where anything remotely negative about anything or anyone is being uttered. You want people to associate you with pleasant things like efficiency, trustworthiness, and bacon.
Thinking unemployment can't happen.
It can. I thought that since I had my fresh job at a big firm high in the sky that I'd be untouchable career-wise. I was deadly wrong. My boss had high hopes for me but that quickly changed when his boss decided to scale down the team and bring in a friend of his as a senior manager (dat network doe!). One day I was in a conference room with ED's and MD's telling me I'm golden and that they'd like to bring me in permanently, the next I'm a few floors down and having some MD I barely know tell me that "there just isn't enough headcount. Call us for a reference though."
Handling unemployment incorrectly.
If you get fired, laid off, squeezed out, whatever you want to call it: take stock of your personal life. My biggest mistake going into unemployment was hitting the pavement before being mentally ready. I didn't care, I didn't put the work into my resume that it deserved, and I was simply not emotionally over having been let go. Some people might sit in a corner and cry and feel better, but some of us aren't like that. I crashed entirely and went on a 3-week video game and alcohol bender before feeling better. The day you walk out of the office in defeat, give yourself time to recuperate. Take a week or two to remove yourself from the idea of "I'm in finance" and try to observe exactly what it is you're working so hard for. Your career will not always carry you, but your motivation and dedication can and absolutely will. Give those things time.
Letting your career veer off course.
Don't do this. There are many, many turns in the unemployment world that will simply encumber your career for good. Manage your finances well enough that some shitty offer doesn't entice you simply because you need cash. The victims of this trap are all over the place: the guy who's been out of work for years yet keeps saying "I can come back" or "I'm just waiting for x thing," and that staffing chick you met who goes "I used to be in finance but this is so much better and easier." Nothing wrong with either life, but you don't want to go from where you are to where they are and then convince yourself that it's okay. Which lends to my final point...
Don't forget your dream.
This may not apply to the more affluent among us (sorry if I'm wrong) and this is definitely not aimed at people with bigger concerns than(people with children or any other *actual* responsibility). Easily the most pressure I've faced so far has come from my family and friends. People will say "you work too hard," "you don't need that, just go work for so-and-so," "why can't you get a normal job like the rest of us?" Fuck that. Remember that you have only 1 life to live, and that while relaxing and doing "alright" isn't so bad at all, that just isn't what you signed up for. Not all of us will make it to BB , and 90% of us will fail to crack even the $200k/year threshold. But there should be no way in hell that we don't try if we have nothing to stop us. Just by having an internship, a college degree, and a job in finance, you have an advantage that so many others in the world can unfortunately only dream of having. Don't throw that all away; the games, your friends, beer, and maybe even your girlfriend/boyfriend will all be waiting for you after you finish working.
Sorry if I got too zealous toward the end, but it should be noted that I really enjoy what I do and I believe in it. Perhaps in 10 years I'll be some jaded old fool with 10,000 banana points telling everyone to quit while they're ahead, but for now I'm pretty optimistic.
Hope I could help even 1 person with this. Happy Saturday guys 'n gals.