Feeling unsure of career path forward

bca's picture
Rank: Baboon | 143

Looking around my F500 company, I don't see a role I want 5-10 years down the road. I am really struggling to figure out what is next. I've been here 5 years and given this thought for a few of months now, and really haven't made much progress. Maybe I have analysis paralysis trying to find the 'perfect career' but wanted to see if any career changers could share what may have helped you break through, or if you have any suggestions on career paths.

I am an ENTJ/Enneagram type 3 (achiever), if that helps give you an idea of my personality type. I would like to move more into a sales/revenue generating type role eventually. I haven't enjoyed being a 'support personnel' as supply chain, in an engineer dominated industry (oil/petrochem). I perform well when challenging, but realistic goals are laid out.

I work in a second-tier city (Dallas/Houston/Chicago/etc.) married with a wife making $100k. No debt. Just a reference that I would be ok to take a haircut initially.

Would like:
- Meritocratic career (I've had a fairly subjective based role, though I'm not naive to think this doesn't exist elsewhere)
- Career structure and a manager/mentor that I can learn from- the market, technical skills, soft skills, etc.
- Realistic shot to gross $200k within 3 or 4 years of starting job (on top of my 5 years experience)

- Analytical, detail oriented. Enjoy performing analysis and then making recommendations.
- Polished, well spoken, can effectively communicate/present
- Competitive (probably to an unhealthy degree), but enjoy working with and helping other teammates and internal/external customers
- I am extremely self and socially aware and can be extremely adaptable to any situation, crowd, or work type

Careers that have caught my attention
- Commercial/corporate banking (eventually relationship manager or sales type role)
- RE brokerage potentially spin into development or acquisitions after a couple of years (if I decide brokerage isn't my cup of tea)
- MBA to IB with the intention to cut teeth for 2 years and pivot out into some future defined role. I may wind up staying longer if I decide then, but hard to tell 4-5 years from now.

United States - Midwest
United States - South

Comments (11)

Jan 23, 2020

Consulting or commercial loan officer.

But who's to say what's fair to say and what not to say? Let's ask Dr. Dre
Jan 27, 2020

Thank you for your suggestions. Consulting has been an option, but the more I thought on it, I think I would prefer to go the banking route (if I went one of those 2 avenues). I find the finance side of life/markets interesting, and would rather be in my own bed each night. I'll have to look into commercial loan officer more. I glanced, and it sounds similar to a commercial banking relationship manager. Is it the same thing or just something similar?

Jan 27, 2020

Yeah. Depending on the bank you can put in 40-45 hours and make boatloads of money as a commercial relationship manager. Other sales/biz dev role in higher finance may also yield high $$$/to hours ratios.

But who's to say what's fair to say and what not to say? Let's ask Dr. Dre
Jan 23, 2020

You seem like a prime MBA to IB candidate. If that's something you're serious about, I don't see why you wouldn't pursue it. If you're in Chicago, you have some great programs nearby.

But also, cheer up. You've worked at the same company for 5 years. Maybe lateraling to another F500 company could totally change things for you. It's hard to know if the other jobs you mentioned are realistic goals since it's not clear what you currently do for a living

    • 1
Jan 27, 2020

That is a very fair question and something I think I'm struggling to find clarity on as well (regarding what I want to do for a living). I did the whole 'get good grades, go to a good school, get a good job' which I checked all the boxes relative to the American standard and most of my peers, but lack of fulfillment in this job/not seeing a path upward to growth, responsibility, and more money have me questioning what else it out there. I think I may feel a little 'burned' by it all, but I'm sure some of that stems from high expectations of myself.

I have considered lateraling to another company, and think I may start throwing some lines in the water just to see how it shakes out. It can't hurt, right? I am serious about the IB, obviously a large driver would be the money and the fact that (even if staying in for 2 years), it could springboard me on a better job path than I'm currently on.

Most Helpful
Jan 25, 2020

If you are planning on having kids in the next 3-5 years then the MBA-IB is a tough one. And you can only go to IB if you go to a top school. If you do a local school, then make sure it has a strong pipeline into whatever the local shops are. I generally do not recommend B-School unless its top 25 max and top 10-15 really. Otherwise its a waste unless you go to a local B School that has a solid alumni recruiting network in your area.

Does your wife work? Would she have to quit her job while you are in B-School to move with you? Being an MBA associate who was not an analyst before is going to be a steeper learning curve and the first couple year will be tough., Life is better in the field offices of the IBs so if you are looking at one of those , that is a better option than NYC. If you do not love finance, then making more money in IB is not going to make you happy and if you have never worked 6-7 days a week 12-14 hour days, you may find the grass is not greener. Its best to have a passion for something and follow that, particularly if you are not already on the finance train.

It is hard to leave because your lifestyle rises to the well above average comp you earn in the industry and you find yourself stuck trying to maintain a certain standard of living for you and your family that does not leave a lot of other options. I live in NYC and am senior analyst at small HF. Earnings have been in the $600-$800k all in over the last 5 years depending on funds performance and after taxes, rent, living expenses and a daughter starting collect it leaves very little for saving other than the basics like IRA, 401K and small PA. Outside of NYC its more manageable but since I grew up here it is hard to see myself leaving for low tax, low cost of living state.

    • 2
Jan 27, 2020

My local school is a top 30, and does indeed have a strong pipeline into banking. My wife works roughly 50 hrs/ wk ($100k income). We talked about the kids piece and are ok to wait a couple of years, if the banking path transpires. I think the biggest adjustment to me would absolutely be the hours, but I'm extremely aware of that. My current job is boring, easy, low hours. I don't like it. I am a grinder and feel that I would much rather be grinding something out, even if it's not sexy.

I'm pretty humble guy and acknowledge I would enjoy the lifestyle adjustment a bit, but am confident I would keep it in check. I do enjoy finance, but as you mentioned, never held any type of actual corporate role, so it's really hard to say. I enjoy learning about the markets, love personal finance, would really love to be able to access a company, but question if I would enjoy it as much as you mention above. I also believe that the better you are at something, the more you will enjoy it and the passion will manifest itself in most cases. sort of the 'Cal Newport' approach to 'follow your passion'.

I appreciate the comment on the learning curve as a 1st year associate, as I don't have the analyst experience. Generally, how does an IB train a new associate not only to do their job, but to look over the analysts too?

Jan 27, 2020

Non-analyst associates tend to be held in low regard by analysts since a 2nd or 3rd year analyst generally runs rings around a 1-yr non-analyst associate. Associate training does not teach you how to supervise the analysts. I am not sure how it is now, but it used to be that 1-years associates had a sort of probation period and did not get analyst support generally the first 6-months on the job, they had to figure it out themselves so they knew what they were doing before they started running analysts, but that may have changed since that was over 20 years ago.

Its best if you start out knowing your modeling/accounting/corp fin very well. In general a 2nd/3rd year analyst performs at 2x level of efficiency vs a non-analyst associate. I don't know if there are many analysts who stay around for associate promote anymore, but they tended to treat the analysts worse because they had been through the grinder themselves.

Jan 27, 2020

I can only speak on the IB side. If I'm reading through the lines appropriately, if you're in Texas, your wife/family is there, stay there for sure, don't go to NYC. If you're open to remaining in or even prefer O&G, you can go to a reasonably good local business school (UT Austin or Rice) and get a great O&G IB job that will keep doors open for you in corporate exit options later on. It is tough work but the only option I personally would recommend would be worth going back to school for.

    • 1
Jan 27, 2020