Common Pitfalls of Early Analyst Life & Unemployment

M- Weintraub's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 730

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 a BB doing 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:

Not networking

.
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 models and bottles (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 IBD, 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.

Find Your Mentor

  • Increase your chance of landing a job by matching with one of our 200+ mentors.
  • Our mentors are top employees at the most selective firms.
  • Proven process with over 1,100 clients over 10 years.

Comments (19)

Apr 25, 2015

I take every single point you made to heart. As an individual who's doing Big 4 trying to break into IBD; networking, constantly brushing up that resume and reminding myself what I want in my career keep me sane day in and day out.

You just reinforced the fact that I'm on the right track. Thank you!

Apr 28, 2015
captainP:

I take every single point you made to heart. As an individual who's doing Big 4 trying to break into IBD; networking, constantly brushing up that resume and reminding myself what I want in my career keep me sane day in and day out.

You just reinforced the fact that I'm on the right track. Thank you!

This

Apr 28, 2015

Refreshing commentary. I couldn't agree more on your first point, "not networking". I had a friend in a similar situation and it made him realize the importance of maintaining your network. His observation was that most people bust their balls to get that first big break, then immediately fall off the networking wagon once they have a job...

Best Response
Apr 28, 2015

I hate when friends ask ' Why do you work till so late? Chill. enjoy your life, and they don't know they'll be sucking my balls in 3-5 years.

    • 5
    • 4
Apr 28, 2015

What's your story?

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

May 2, 2015
AlphaAsFAQ:

What's your story?

I'll sum it up as briefly as possible. Perhaps one day I'll write a AMA like the real pros do lol.

Founded a startup after high school, it sucked though and I wound up wasting 2 years of my life on it. Met some finance people, decided to go to school, did internships abroad and in NYC, graduated with a bad GPA but with decent resume otherwise. Applied for and got first job at top 3 BB in NYC, corp. finance team.

The most important thing I think that I've learned thus far is to be honest with yourself about your shortcomings. Being a non-target, having a bad GPA, or if you're missing experience or if your profile is off in any other way, are all indicators of some point in life where you failed to perform. Be honest with yourself about that and make sure that you bring your work ethic / knowledge and skills to par.

Apr 28, 2015

you are brown. admit it

Apr 29, 2015

Commentary at the end is pretty sad tbh. There's so much more to life

"My dear, descended from the apes! Let us hope it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

May 1, 2015
Illuminate:

Commentary at the end is pretty sad tbh. There's so much more to life

I don't know if I'd say sad exactly. Maybe a bit naive. There's absolutely nothing wrong with busting balls at work particularly in the beginning of career. Just don't lose sight of what's really important.

May 2, 2015
fryguy22:

"Illuminate" wrote:Commentary at the end is pretty sad tbh. There's so much more to life

I don't know if I'd say sad exactly. Maybe a bit naive. There's absolutely nothing wrong with busting balls at work particularly in the beginning of career. Just don't lose sight of what's really important.

Thanks. That is more or less what I meant.

May 2, 2015

Agree with the comment above pertaining to the end being sad. As an associate at a BB who has moved countries, I can confidently say that you don't realize how easy it is to lose friends when all you do is work (granted long-distances don't help). Who is to say they will be there when you are out of banking as they'll likely be married or established in a new life. Making $200k, which pretty much every non-stub associate at a BB will make, isn't worth having no life.

May 2, 2015
dr. copper:

Agree with the comment above pertaining to the end being sad. As an associate at a BB who has moved countries, I can confidently say that you don't realize how easy it is to lose friends when all you do is work (granted long-distances don't help). Who is to say they will be there when you are out of banking as they'll likely be married or established in a new life. Making $200k, which pretty much every non-stub associate at a BB will make, isn't worth having no life.

You should take stock of these things as you consider your career decisions. I've moved a number of times, and so far the casualties include friends and a lady friend. Some of those I regret losing quite a bit. But now I know what I'm willing to lose over my career, and if the circumstances present themselves again, I know where to draw the line.

So don't misunderstand what the last part of my post is about. I'm more saying to not quit finance if that's what you want to do, rather than to work forever because it's somehow "worth it." It isn't always.

Apr 29, 2015

Great post. Seriously, if I had any SBs, I'd give them all to you. I'd find a way to make it happen.

If I had one thing to add, it's this: never underestimate the value of hard work. Applying for jobs isn't quantity vs. quality, it's about quantity AND quality (especially for us non-target folks). So make sure your resume and cover letter are perfect, and send them to every job posting that you're interested in, along with anyone who is interested in seeing them. That also applies for work. People notice who stays late to work, and most bosses appreciate it.

May 1, 2015

this is a great post. +1 for fellow "non-target"

May 1, 2015

As a former associate (hired right out of school) who has now fallen into the unemployment category and unfortunately overlooked the networking aspect (thought putting the hours only into work would have been enough) do you or anyone else have any advice for looking for a new gig right now? I've been applying like crazy, tightened up my resume and cover letter, and am getting nowhere...

May 2, 2015
spaceadmiral:

As a former associate (hired right out of school) who has now fallen into the unemployment category and unfortunately overlooked the networking aspect (thought putting the hours only into work would have been enough) do you or anyone else have any advice for looking for a new gig right now? I've been applying like crazy, tightened up my resume and cover letter, and am getting nowhere...

I don't know if you mean pre-MBA or post-MBA associate. Keep in mind that I'm at the pre-MBA level. That said, in those shitty "I really want to quit, fuck this whole industry" moments, the best thing you can do is take a step back and do something else. At one point I took a weekend trip to my college town and went on a drinking / recreational drug rampage with old friends who had stayed up there. You always want to gain some perspective and come back around when your energy is high. The next step, but only after you did what I just said: don't quit. Consistency and follow up are key, in my opinion.

I would also appreciate if more experienced pros would chime in on this.

May 1, 2015

I already have my MBA so post I suppose (they didn't make a distinction.) I appreciate what you're saying and I agree but what I was saying is that I was let go because of massive cuts across the board in the firm. I actually want to stay in the industry and was asking for advice seeing as I am not getting anywhere with my search right now. I apologize if my original comment was poorly worded.

May 5, 2015

Absolutely right. Couldn't agree more with everything that you said. As an incoming second year analyst Im starting to see the results of hard work and dedication. People start to notice you after months (if youre lucky) of putting your head down and grinding it and accepting invitations to lunch or bars for networking. Kudos!

May 7, 2015
Comment