How did you choose your career?

Soon to graduate here, but indecisiveness has let me down the wrong path. Finance has so many goddamn niche jobs and sectors, yet it seems that almost everyone of them requires you to know what you want and be preparing for it since the time you got out of the womb. I thought I despised banking until a contact got me an interview that got me studying for it. Yet I also have interests in ER, AM, etc... I feel there is aspects of each that I am appealed to yet I can't be studying for every one of those interviews and network when I am not dead set on where I want to go.

How did you choose your careers? What did you wish you knew before? Any regrets?

Comments (42)

Funniest
Apr 1, 2020

I didn't choose the darkness, the darkness chose me.

    • 6
Apr 2, 2020

i don

    • 1
Apr 2, 2020

emo

    • 2
Apr 1, 2020

In college I wanted to be something very different i came to this website initially thinking I wanted to do IB. I quickly realized that was an uphill battle and contemplated transferring to a semi target. But that tuition would cause me/ my parents to go into six figure debt (my little sister attended a niche private school and my parents paid for her tuition). There wasn't as many underdog stories on this site also, it was mostly target school or GTFO.

Anyway, thinking I'd earn enough money to get a nice grad degree, I started selling houses. Did that in Southern California and actually contemplated dropping out of college to do it more full time. I realized the money I was making was largely restricted by my classes. Glad I didn't and stuck it out. But I became very interested in real estate. Was mentored by several developers. Found the job interesting.

So I got a role as a project engineer to learn the construction business. It was interesting for about three months. Then through a mix of things, I resented it. I would actually mark personal days on my calendar to just decompress. I would count down until those days came. I was actually very miserable and questioned what I was doing with life. So I left after a year there.

Switching careers to something I find a lot more interesting. It's extremely stressful but even in the stress, I find I enjoy it. I wake up early and stay up late to learn more. It's more suited to my personality.

TLDR: Life isn't always a straight ad beaten path. You're not getting married to the niche career right out of college. Maybe it'll take a lot of effort and risk to switch around, but if you don't stop looking you'll eventually find your own path.

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Previously Malta Monkey

    • 4
Apr 1, 2020

What do you do now?

Apr 1, 2020

In the process of becoming a software engineer

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Previously Malta Monkey

    • 2
Apr 1, 2020

Did you recently leave the project engineer role to become a SE? Or was there more in between?

Apr 1, 2020

Yes and yes. Happened recently, but going through a programming accelerator/ bootcamp that places very well. Had an exam to get in, so self taught up to a point. Taught myself data structures and algorithms in order to get in. Then they have a structure to learn front end and back end engineering. I'm preferring back end right now

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." - Nassim Taleb

Previously Malta Monkey

    • 2
Apr 1, 2020

my career took a bunch of twists and turns over the years before I got to my current role. I would generally agree there's a lot of pressure put on young people to know what they want to do (and why) despite having minimal to zero context to make that decision. Feel free to slide into my DMs to discuss more.

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Apr 1, 2020

nvm

    • 1
Apr 1, 2020

Started off in S&T and did a grad program for 18 months. Was advised by my mentor to jump ship and got first hand experience with how much it sucks working on a sales desk when shit hits the fan. Made the lateral to IB with a M&A group a little over two years ago and never looked back - gonna go banking for the long-term.

    • 2
Apr 1, 2020

Interesting. How was the transition from S&T to M&A? I interned at a boutique brokerage/research firm but turned down an Equity Sales offer because I thought it would be very hard to jump to IB.

Apr 8, 2020

Sorry for the late reply. The transition was decent, but I did have trouble going from S&T to M&A in the recruiting phase. The most important thing I took away from the equity sales job was knowing how to talk to clients on the phone, pitching and office politics. Most of the technical stuff from S&T was essentially useless (I rotated within two derivatives desk). I also took a little bit of a salary hit in the short term and gave up my bonus for my first full year to join my new firm.

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Most Helpful
Apr 1, 2020

I went into college thinking I wanted to go to law school but with an undecided major. Through a family friend, I got a bullshit internship for in the IT dept of a medium sized financial services company for the summer after my freshman year. By sophomore year I realized I wanted to at least have a year or two off after college before I'd start law school so I decided to major in Economics so I could get some sort of decent paying job easier than majoring in say political science. I leveraged my relationships at the company I was at that past summer to get an internship at the company's mortgage-backed securities origination & sales desk for the following summer. By the end of the summer, I wanted to go into IB and had no more interest in law school. So I began to prepare for IB recruiting for the fall of my junior year. I landed the IB internship and while it was a great experience, did not enjoy the culture, environment, hours, etc. It just wasn't for me. I wanted to do interesting work, get paid well, but not work more than 50 hours a week. So fall of my senior year I recruited for F500 corp finance gigs and landed a three-year F50 FLDP. I'm in the final year of that FLDP and I could not be happier.

In each step of my process above, I made the decision of what I wanted to do less than 12 months ahead of time. I'm the most indecisive person there is. So no, you don't need to prepare for anything out of the womb. Some on this website and those high school seniors and college freshmen who don't know their foot from their ass but act like they know everything about the finance world will make you think you have to your whole life planned out a decade in advance but it's bullshit and you don't. No regrets whatsoever, my path brought me a lot of lessons, experiences, and good friends that I wouldn't trade for anything. Pursue what interests you and don't be afraid to do something because you feel like you'll be locked into it or that it'll veer you off some pre-planned path. Do it because it interests you a

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Apr 2, 2020

Hey great post. I was just wondering what you plan on doing post-FLDP?

Apr 19, 2020

Thanks man. I'm going to take a promotion at the end of the FLDP here in a few months and spend a year at the company while I apply to MBA programs.

Apr 1, 2020

I was pre-law all through college - took the LSAT and everything. I shadowed some attorneys and realized I would hate the work though and I needed a job. A fraternity brother of mine worked for a real estate brokerage firm and helped me network my way in. I realized quickly that I hated brokerage, but I met a number of owners and developers in the role and immediately knew that's what I wanted to do.

    • 1
Apr 1, 2020

Ended up as a data analyst - right now it's in the defense sector.

Always loved pats of finance, but not enough to make a full career of it. I think it's ok to test the waters and see if you enjoy it, but man, working with something you love is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling, even if you need to take a pay-cut.

I've been coding since I was a teen, and I've always loved making my own data sets, or exploring others - so the turn to data science was only natural for me. I was already familiar with the more advanced technologies and methodology through my education, so the transition went pretty smoothly.

My transition was

oil & gas engineer -> MBA -> financial analyst in energy sector -> data analyst in tech startup -> data analyst in defense sector.

Pay is pretty good, though not GREAT - but low COL also mitigates that a great deal. Work is interesting - very routine, but interesting. You actually get a sense of ownership, and know that someones will read your work, instead of it going into a black hole, never to be seen again. Awesome work / life balance, with highly flexible schedule.

Only pain is that you travel A LOT, on par with management consultants.

Apr 1, 2020

Background is in physics, so I looked at jobs in physics and found that even as a 50 year old I'd be making less than someone right out of college going into finance.

So why IB specifically then? Ego and a sense of superiority I still feel is justified if I'm completely honest. I could have gotten a nice back office job, but then the fact that a bunch of dimwits, whose only real skill they have over me is they know how to run their mouths (a skill that can be learned) would be earning fuckloads more than me really annoyed me. I wasn't going to sit around in the back office and feel like some cuck.

And here we are.

    • 1
Apr 1, 2020

Why don't you go into a quant HF/ PT?

Apr 2, 2020

How far into your career did you make this transition?

  • Associate 1 in AM - Other
Apr 1, 2020

I sorta wandered in to AM after majoring in engineering. It's the industry where most people are paid well (compared to the type of engineering that I was majoring in), and figured I'd do finance as well. So, I picked up the finance stuff by taking CFA exam and polished the quantitative part along the way. I am happy with what I am doing right now :D

Apr 1, 2020

It was a hot summer. I was one of those small town kids who managed to get into the best high school in Beijing thanks to outstanding academic achievement. English was my strength subject. In this normal morning, I was doing what every 16 year old should be doing - study for exams. Then opportunity came knocking on my door.

Three crew-cut guys were at the door of my dorm, and one of them asked me: "would you like to have a cup of tea with us?". "No I have to study", I answered instinctually. "We weren't asking".......

There I was in this room with a guy in eyeglasses, smoking a cigarette. He was looking at a batch of papers which seemed like my personal info and English exam results. "As you know, our country is in critical situation right now", he was still looking at those papers, "the Western media, lead by America, has started a propaganda campaign against our dear country and leaders, trying to paint us as the evil power". He looked up, "we need the Westerners to know that we are a friendly and harmless nation, and UK and US are the real evils. The best way to do that is to feed them this info via the internet". "But why are you telling me?", I was confused. The guy stubbed out the cigarette, "we need you to spread our 'truth' through foreign social media, in English. For every post you write, we will pay you $5. You know the 'market price' is really 5 cents, but because you know English well, you make 100 times that". That seemed like a great offer, but I was hesitating because I wanted to focus on study. It turned out I did't have much choice.

"Of course, you don't have to do it, but I'm not sure if all your study will yield any result if our dear country is not your first priority".........So here I am, with multiple accounts for reddit, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc.

So to answer OP's question, sometime a career chooses you.

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Apr 2, 2020

Is it true that China invented oxygen?

Array

Apr 2, 2020

@Chinese RE Guy, Are you serious? When did this happen? How did it make you choose RE? Why, for instance, did you not go into politics?

Apr 2, 2020

No I was just joking.

Or was I?

    • 1
Apr 2, 2020

lmfao story wasn't half bad. How often do you post fake green texts cuz it seems like you have experience writing these. 7/10 not bad.

Apr 8, 2020

Obviously he writes a lot from the sound of this. CCP at full force baby!!

Apr 2, 2020

Given my background is in Physics I thought I am more comfortable with numbers and looking for patterns in complexities is something I really enjoy. Through the on campus aggressive recruiters I took my first internship trading commodities at MS, as I thought I understood physicals better than a random made up financial number going up and down. It turns out trading is pretty much similar across board, you just need to learn the terminology and try to understand what are the supply and demand of this asset class. During my internship I came into contact with many prolific traders in fixed income world. Spent 1.5 years market making before moving to the buyside doing pretty much similar things as I was doing before and never turned back ever since...

One thing I would've told my first year uni self is don't take the piss in my programming classes and actually sit there and learn it properly. It would've saved me many months of hard work of relearning it and feeling like I was one step behind. It's never too late to learn of course but the Computing Science people really had a relative leg up in the new era of technology boom in this industry.

    • 3
Apr 17, 2020

Sounds like an impressive career, given that you are now a PM according to your profile. May I ask what was your path towards the PM role? Any suggestions on how to get there?

I have been on the buy side for about 5 years. My first job after PhD (I'm a Quant). Unfortunately I dont see a path towards PM role at my current place, so I'm looking to make a move

Array

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Apr 2, 2020

I took my first trip to New York in 2008 when I was in 8th grade. This was October 2008, right when all the shit hit the fan, but as a 13 year old I didn't notice, realize, or care.

We walked all around Midtown the first day, and that was when my obsession with architecture began. I literally told myself that first day that I would make a life out in New York doing something with buildings. Fast forward 5 years and I'm majoring in marketing. My fam takes another trip to NYC freshman year and the obsession with buildings hits me again. We return home and the following Monday I go to our career services center and change my major to real estate finance.

Now, 6 years later, I'm doing exactly what I said I would be in 2008, at 13 years old. Working in real estate in NYC and loving every minute of it.

    • 7
Apr 2, 2020

This is awesome. I've always said NY has some of the most beautiful architecture in the world.

Apr 2, 2020

Hell yeah bruv way to keep a commitment

Apr 8, 2020

So you're saying in order to make it I needed to make the decision at 13? Damn I'm screwed.

Apr 2, 2020

It's been a rollercoaster for sure. Graduated from a decent school in 2015 with an Econ degree, and then worked in a back office role for about a year after graduation. Hated every second of it and quit with nothing lined up. I was always interested in real estate, so I tried to get a job as an analyst, and gave up about 6 months in (which I'm starting to regret). Then I figured I'd give software sales a shot and interviewed for entry level roles for about 3 months before I finally got something. Figured I could hack it and make 100k+ after a year or 2 (not uncommon at all).

Unfortenly it hasn't worked out just yet, as I stayed in that first sales role for about 2.5yrs with no real career growth. I got a couple raises and was making decent money, but I was still cold calling all day pounding the phones. During that time I was always trying to get a better job, but it was difficult to take time off of work and I was gunning for a role in a tier above what I was currently doing (not too qualified). I ended up taking the same entry level position at another company in October in hopes of getting promoted around this time, but I haven't been hitting my quota and Covid 19 isn't helping either.

It's been tough so far and more often than not I feel like most of my career has been a failure. I'm 27 in an entry level job doing the same thing I was doing 2.5 years ago wich is increasingly frustrating. I'm doing my best to grind it out at this point and my company has proven to be very lucrative to a lot of people that work there.

I guess I never really answered the question "how" I picked my career. I was never particularly passionate about anything from an academic standpoint. One of the reasons I bailed on RE finance was that I don't think I could stare at excel all day, and one of the reasons I chose SaaS is that I can work in a variety of different verticles throughout my career. I guess I see what happens.

Also we sell into all of the large banks/any sort of finance/stats/data capacity. It's a company similar to Alteryx/qilk/tablue, so hmu if you want some licenses :)

Apr 2, 2020

Have you thought about grad school at all?

Apr 3, 2020
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