In my 30s and want to start over

emeka's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 32

Hello WSO,

let me get to the point. I'm in my early 30s, and want to change my life around, but I'm not sure where to start or what I want to do, or even what I'm realistically capable of doing at this age.

The long story?

Went to college, studied biology, struggled through it and landed a less than stellar (3.1 GPA). Worked and studied all the time, so I never did the networking that I learned one has to do to land a job or medical school admissions. The most I've done were summer research internships, where I realized that the only reason I went the premed route was to make my parents happy.

Graduated undergrad, but didn't find a job in the field, so I've worked in nightlife for the past decade. Started off pretty crappy, low pay, crappy venues, and dealt with homelessness for a while.

Three years ago, things started to change. I've been working in high-end venues, and with tips, I've been making around $80-120k, saved around $200k, and have been trying to network with as many successful individuals as possible. I've recently come to contact with a lot of finance people, and have become very interested in the field. I feel like I have enough money to go back to school, but up to now, I've had absolutely nothing I've been passionate about until now.

As to whether a career in finance is possible at this point, I would love an honest, brutal, response. If finance is not possible, what other fields are great and rewarding for someone who loves mathematics, computers (still teaching myself to code), and problem solving?

Apologies if it seems I'm all over the place. I'm just a bit overwhelmed with the content here.

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Comments (50)

Nov 27, 2018

I wouldn't do finance in your shoes. Your work experience strikes me as non-traditional, anyway. Might be a stretch to get into a top 10 school unless you score near perfect on GMAT. Why don't you start a business?

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Nov 27, 2018

I'd love to start a business, but I'd need an idea first. What kind of business could I start? Would a savings of $200k be enough to put into it?

Nov 28, 2018
emeka:

I'd love to start a business, but I'd need an idea first. What kind of business could I start? Would a savings of $200k be enough to put into it?

Not sure how your specific role/industry works, but surely you work for someone who owns the business. Why not be that person?

Nov 29, 2018

I've got a business idea that might fit with your background: party / entertainment concierge.

Two market segments to consider: (i) young guys / bachelor parties, (ii) middle to older aged guys / meetings and conventions.

Basic concept is you plan bachelor party weekends or outside entertainment for convention / meeting attendees. You take care of bottle service, golf tee times, dinner reservations, transport, etc. and generally show people a good time.

I've attended a bachelor party where we had a version of this and it made everything SO much easier. I also know a number of older businessmen that love to have someone show them a good time during a convention in Vegas or something.

To get started all you need is a website and some connections (which you probably have given your background).

It would be a lot of work but I think you could make some decent cash with it. Running a business also provides ample opportunity to flex your analytical muscles. Just a thought.

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Nov 29, 2018

I know a guy that blew up doing this. One of the best private guys in the biz. Started with some seed money and booking blocks of hotel rooms far in advance next to large events like superbowl.

    • 1
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Nov 29, 2018

Crowded field. And long term suicide. You end up drinking 5 days a week. Spend you time with bottle servers. Do cocaine a few nights a week at after-parties so that you know everyone in the industry.

Array
Nov 27, 2018

Welcome to the forum. To start, I would say anything is possible. We've seen some incredible stories come out here on this board. One of the top posts, titled something like "Never, Ever, Ever Give Up", should give you a sense of what lengths people have gone to land in the space.

With the above statements, a word of caution - your story is familiar to me (many personal friends are finding themselves at this crossroads), and it always makes me ask the question: why finance? The work is not glorious, it is often mind-numbing, and the lengthy hours can drain an individual quickly. Usually, the mid-life infatuation with IB or similar positions comes from the possible compensation and speaking to established financiers clearing much more than what an entry position would afford. With the assumption that you'd have to take the proper tests and be admitted to a high-tier B-school, you'd be nearing mid-30s with no guarantee of making it into the field. Are you willing to take this risk with the limited knowledge you currently have on what it is like to walk the walk?

If you have any detailed questions about the industry, I'm sure we will be able to point you to a proper answer to better allow you to understand the question I posed above.

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Nov 27, 2018

Thank you for your response. I do understand the risks. I also understand from experience that, at this point, anything I do will be risky. Why not try for something that will elevate me from the position where I'm at now? At the worst, I'll come right back to where I started.

I'm sure finance isn't glamorous, but I'd love to be in a field which involves my interests and is somewhat fulfilling. Nightlife might be lucrative for me now, but I can't do it forever; it just isn't sustainable. I'd want something with a future.

As far as schooling goes, I hope there is some track that I can follow in NYC, but I'm not sure where to begin with that either. Hopefully there are education professionals on this board.

Nov 27, 2018

Good to understand your angle, thank you for sharing. To clarify, what exactly is interesting to you regarding finance? What role specifically is causing the itch? That will better help us aim our guidance.

Schooling is very cut and dry, there are numerous topics covering required/suggested GMAT scores and how to achieve them. Assuming you know how to test well, that'll be the first step. From there it will become clear as to what schools you can realistically shoot for and what OCR possibilities they will afford.

Feel free to PM if you'd like.

    • 1
Nov 27, 2018

Thank you for your feedback.

I have a fascination with numbers and analytical thinking. I like to solve problems, and learned from the past couple of years, that solving problems dealing with finances had become very fulfilling. I have no problems putting in many, many hours into things like this. I love having to think.

Nov 27, 2018

Good insight. I would then say that you do not fall into the general population (those striving to be in IB) here. The role is very focused on deck creation, attention to tiny details, and relationship building. You do some modeling, but it is very scripted and formulaic in nature. I wouldn't call most of what occurs in finance abnormally fulfilling or requiring anything outside of common-sense.

Based on your above answers and your opening post, I would suggest looking into engineering, be it computer, biomedical (maybe leverage some of your premed smarts), or chemical. It is a more direct application of numbers, critical thinking, and you can create some amazing things. I would venture to say all of the engineers in my social group and network are typically the ones most content in their career path for reasons outside of financial gain. I want to stress that they still make great money, but not the numbers you may find in the ecosystem of finance.

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Nov 27, 2018

How do you mean that I do not fall in with those striving to go into IB?

Nov 28, 2018

Because you actually want to enjoy your job.

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Nov 29, 2018

Sorry for the delayed reply.

I'm saying that because your enjoyment of math and critical thinking are not in line with what IB actually entails. There is a reason they call the people here "monkeys" after all.

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Nov 27, 2018

Studied biology at a semi-target before studying finance. People change directions all the time. The fact that you're in your 30s will play against you, unfortunately, but some smaller funds may find your social side (which I assumed from the numerous years working in nightlife) to be a very attractive trait, particularly for marketing/fund raising.

If you can manage to get into a decent MBA program by polishing your story, it could work. Also, tons of finance careers requires social interations and numerous folks happen to be socially awkward, so finding out which sub-field fits you best is likely the first step in your transition process.

Feel free to PM if you want more insight and best of luck.

Nov 27, 2018

I think that you may want to think about exactly where you want to go within finance, as some roads may be closed to you, given your non-traditional background, and in other roads it may get you a leg-up on an entry+ position. The below is a combination of hearsay, my personal experience in WM and AM, and speculation.

Ibanking may be closed to you, but you may have a chance if you get into a good school, dive back in and perform very well. Big places hire "classes" from top tier schools, and most view it as an steeping stone to a hedge fund or PE. (both of which are almost certainly off the table without prior experience)

Trading may also be off the table. There are few entry level positions, and its a small field. If your math is particularly stellar, you may have a chance, as we are near Jane St., and they always seem to bring in a big class of super-geeky math whizzes each summer. (I'm in a technical non-sales role, so when I say something is geeky, that's saying something)

Wealth Management may be an option. In WM you almost run your own business consulting with others about how to save and budget their money. Based on your comments, this seems closest to what you've done to get you interested in finance. There are places that will hire almost anyone, but be aware that WM can run from places that are basically multi-level-marketing schemes, trying to get you to sell to your family and friends then quit to highly reputable places. It is largely eat what you kill however, with entry level salaries below $40k (and they push you out if you don't produce) to top producers at wirehouses easily making north of $500k/yr.

Selling on a more technical level could also land you as a wholesaler in an Asset Management firm, possibly without even going back to school. There are far fewer AM jobs than WM, but you would be selling to WM financial advisers or institutions. Don't expect more than $80k for a rookie internal salesman, but externals can match or exceed the best WM FAs. WM firms rarely hire inexperienced technical people, but there could be an opportunity to transition with time.

Other aspects, I don't have enough experience to give good advice, but good luck, whatever you decide.

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Nov 27, 2018

Thank you so much for this. I'm really looking into all these options to see which is the most feasible and aligns with my interests. I'd love to know more about your experience with WM and AM

Nov 27, 2018
emeka:

Thank you so much for this. I'm really looking into all these options to see which is the most feasible and aligns with my interests. I'd love to know more about your experience with WM and AM

I'm happy to answer what I can as long as I feel I can avoid specifics that would kill my anonymity.

Nov 27, 2018

So basically, you're a stripper?

Nov 27, 2018

Haha, I wish, with all the bank I've seen most pull. I'm actually a door host.

Nov 27, 2018

I wouldn't do traditional finance/IBD with the context you provided.

Sorry for the direct questions - are you male/female? URM? Could you crack a 700 on the GMAT? I would try for that first and consider doing something like Top 20 business school -> tech or corporate world.

It also kind of matters... sorry to dance around it, what does "working in nightlife" mean especially with the context of tips? You'll have to have a resume set up appropriately for both recruiting as well as MBA applications. If you were e.g. a stripper, it's not automatically a deal-breaker but you should do something in the interim such as start a business or transition to management or something, I don't know what your current exit options are from this directly. If you can tell a story and particularly if you have some combo of diversity and GMAT, you can use an MBA to transition into something else. An MBA classmate of mine was some kind of fetish person (and a white woman) but she also ran tradeshows etc. and demonstrated hustle. She got into the same place I did, so had tons of exit options from business school.

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Nov 27, 2018

Thank you for your insight

Yes, I'm a Male URM. I'm sure with some studying, I could pull off a good GMAT.

Your question about my involvement in nightlife is perfectly valid. While it has been suggested to me by many, I'm not a stripper/dancer. I'm a door host, and I'm constantly in contact with very wealthy clients. I excel at selling table/bottle service and also make a lot of commission. I'd love to start a business, but have no solid ideas at the moment, other than buying property and using them as event spaces.

Nov 27, 2018

Thanks, throwing some more ideas out there for business school exit opps:

  • B2B sales / technology: unless you hate the concept of sales and/or technology, I would seriously take into consideration this idea
  • Relationship Manager at an asset management firm, or high net worth PWM / AM
  • Fortune 500 development program with rotations through different functions to find out which suits you and make you well rounded
    • 2
Nov 28, 2018
emeka:

I'm constantly in contact with very wealthy clients.

If you can get a recommendation from a high profile client, it might be highly favorable. Probably more so than the owner/mgr of these places where you work. You might want to start thinking of how you can go the extra mile in certain situations right now in your work to seek out liquid gold recommendations.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Nov 29, 2018
emeka:

Thank you for your insight

Yes, I'm a Male URM. I'm sure with some studying, I could pull off a good GMAT.

Your question about my involvement in nightlife is perfectly valid. While it has been suggested to me by many, I'm not a stripper/dancer. I'm a door host, and I'm constantly in contact with very wealthy clients. I excel at selling table/bottle service and also make a lot of commission. I'd love to start a business, but have no solid ideas at the moment, other than buying property and using them as event spaces.

Have you ever thought about becoming a household manager for an ultra HNW family? You should try to network with some of your wealthier clients about it. I have a buddy who is a former male model who went this route. He gets paid well to make sure that all the maids and cooks are coordinated, the jet is prepped, travel accomodations and reeevations are cared for, all of the constant renovation work and maintenance across several properties are on track and up to spec. It's challenging because you deal with extremely demanding people, but he gets access to a lot of interesting things. He's done it for 3 families now (1 Fortune 500 CEO and 2 hedge fund founders). The quality of the job is highly dependent on the family/head of household. He got into it originally through his nightlife connections. I'm assuming you are in NYC?

Nov 27, 2018
emeka:

Hello WSO,

**Three years ago, things started to change. I've been working in high-end venues, and with tips, I've been making around $80-120k, saved around $200k, and have been trying to network with as many successful individuals as possible. I've recently come to contact with a lot of finance people, and have become very interested in the field. I feel like I have enough money to go back to school, but up to now, I've had absolutely nothing I've been passionate about until now.
**

Wow, you have an amazing story. Good luck wherever you end up!

Just out of pure curiosity, can you explain how someone working nightlife can make 80-120K? That's more than what a lot of people make in the corporate world.

And what is high end nightlife? Would love to hear some stories here. You need to do a nightlife AMA lol. I think a lot of people would read.

Nov 28, 2018
Poseidon_:

Just out of pure curiosity, can you explain how someone working nightlife can make 80-120K? That's more than what a lot of people make in the corporate world.

And what is high end nightlife?

have you ever been to NYC?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Nov 28, 2018
Poseidon_:

And what is high end nightlife?

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTM0ODU5Nzk2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzI2ODgyNQ@@._V1_UY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Nov 27, 2018

Dude just go into b2b sales if your driven. You can probably get a position in 2 months or less. Time is not on your side my friend.

I wouldn't try enterpreneurship like someone suggested. High upside but high risk given your age. If you don't even have an idea, then don't start a business for the sake of doing it.

Learn to sell someone's product first. Then create and sell your own.

    • 1
Nov 28, 2018
emeka:

what fields are great and rewarding for someone who loves mathematics, computers (still teaching myself to code), and problem solving?

Sounds like you should think about an MSF or a Masters in Financial Engineering.

You're probably going to have to nail the quant down on the GRE.

Only go to a top school.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Nov 28, 2018

As far as the MBA comments on this thread, I think its going to be a real tough time to get into T10 programs. I think the MSF MFE programs are just a better fit for the circumstances and the interests stated.

If you want to get into an MBA program (T10), I would advise sparing no expense for test prep (get the books + classes + anything you need) and the assistance of a professional MBA career coach to frame your story. You need to groom the people that recommend you and probably need to make sure they can write in a legible and professional manner. As for the GMAT, with that 3.1 in uGPA, you're going to have to be a splitter at a 720 minimum, most likely. I think you need a 740 to have a good look by a T10 adcom. Unless you can frame some spectacular part of your life in a very good light. Maybe the URM will give you the extra boost and only a 700 or 720 is needed. Not sure.

Diversity candidate is probably the right phrase for you. Play off of that. Why are you unique? How are you valued? Why are you valued by your industry the way you are and how did you get to that point? These are probably some things to think about and the MBA apps are going to require a bit deeper thought to craft a successful T10 application. There are also some books out there of successful HBS essays and the like that you might want to purchase off of Amazon. Not only to consider the things that people write about, but to use their perspective to shine light on the gems in your life that you can taut in your apps. Think of this as a first stage brainstorming session and then you can put together what you think is a decent app and send to the MBA career coach for polishing and final edits.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 2
Nov 28, 2018

I agree with the B2B sales comment. If you really want to go into finance, I think the best way would be to have some of your finance friends intro you to a shop that would take on someone with your background. I've seen it a couple times before, a bouncer/bartender that got an entry level job in RE brokerage, went to a non-target MBA, then went into RE structured finance. The hardest part is just getting your foot in the door (cliche i know but true). If one person is willing to take a chance, bust your ass and make the most of it and you're off to the races.

You're a little behind, but despite the push for gender and racial equality, ageism still exists. That will hurt you and help you. It will be harder to get a job, but once you get one, you'll be the preferred analyst/associate to take on client meetings, trips, etc... nobody wants to hang out with a kid that was slamming 30 racks in sperry's 3 months ago. Your life experience counts for something.

    • 2
Nov 28, 2018

This seems like a good idea, and I will look into it. Just a question.. what's a target?

Edit: My apologies, I should have taken the extra few seconds to look

    • 1
Nov 28, 2018
emeka:

This seems like a good idea, and I will look into it. Just a question.. what's a target?

@theaccountingmajor

Funniest
Nov 28, 2018

    • 2
Nov 28, 2018

Lmaooo <- would've thrown a banana had I been able to afford to..

Most Helpful
Nov 28, 2018

You've got what I call the 30s depression...Office Space perfectly illustrates cubicle life...

Fight Club gets it...

If you aren't in the gym lifting weights, I'd highly recommend it.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. ~ Henry Rollins, The Iron and The Soul

"From Tom Lehman's interview on Golf Channel with David Feherty....We all need 3 things: Something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to (hope)." It was after he read the first Monday Mindset I ever wrote and sent out. I've never forgotten it. Tom Lehman was quoting Thomas Edward Bodett. I couldn't think of a better thought to end the year on.

3 Things Everyone Needs to be Happy:

Someone to love. Someone to care about, someone to help, someone to sacrifice for, someone to commit to. There's no greater gift that we can give to another human being, or to humanity, than love. This is how needs are met, healing takes place, forgiveness is given and received, and our lives, communities, and world become better.

Something to do. Something to do isn't just something to keep us busy, or occupy our time. It's something we do to make a difference. It's something that gets your attention off of yourself and onto others, allowing you to make a contribution to the world. This could be your work, a cause, or a calling. It's not so much what you do, but why and how you do it. Choose a new mindset at work, volunteer at an organization or cause, or discover, create, and communicate your life's message. This will take your life from surviving, to success, to significance.

Something to hope for. Hope is the medicine I use more than any other. "Hope can cure nearly anything!" (Dr. McNair Wilson) Hope is powerful! My prayer is that you will discover hope for your life, hold on to hope during your journey, and share hope with others!

    • 8
Dec 4, 2018
Bizkitgto:

You've got what I call the 30s depression...Office Space perfectly illustrates cubicle life...

Fight Club gets it...

If you aren't in the gym lifting weights, I'd highly recommend it.

You know, I harass my department's lead PM ENDLESSLY for having never seen Office Space. The #2 PM and the traders/cap markets guys also love to pile on. Rumor has it that McKinsey is coming in in January to talk to us too.

    • 1
Nov 28, 2018

Honestly, I think that you have a powerful story and that b-schools will be keen to take interest in your profile.

Your GPA is fine. Although it doesn't help your case, it doesn't significantly hurt it either - I frequently scour through clearadmit (website for b-school applicants) and see folks within that range get into top 15 programs on the reg (not to mention as a URM). Hell with your story, they might even grant you financial aid.

As a start, spend a few months taking stabs at the GMAT and try to crack a 700. If/when you do, I think you'll be in a much better position to plan exactly how you want to turn around your life. IB would be an immensely tough uphill battle but a career in finance is certainly possible, and it's truly not even a long-shot.

Best of luck. If you're really as interested in the field as you claim you are, I'm sure thing will work out.

Nov 28, 2018

I went from IBD to PE to HF.

If you're in NYC and you want some insight/tips PM me.

Nov 28, 2018
Nov 28, 2018

You need to evaluate what you you want and your options more carefully. What do you enjoy? What income do you want? What is the likelihood of success? I'm not one to tell someone not to pursue their dreams, but I think you can develop a list, make a plan, determine the chance of success, and make a decision.

Nov 29, 2018

If you send me a PM, I'd be willing to listen to more of your story. Events management, public relations and marketing seem like much better avenues for you to pursue, but if you really want to go after finance, I suppose we can talk about that.

Even within finance, you could (with the right education) parlay your experience into working in a family office. I know a number of celebrity PAs who have your background combined with a brand name educational experience. Family office jobs like the ones I'm pondering only really come in certain cities, though. If you're earning 100k+ in total comp from the nightlife scene in any city, I suspect you work in just a handful of US cities. After all, I suspect no one in St. Louis or Indianapolis earns that much in tips and base comp from working in nightclubs.

Like I said--happy to listen to more of your story through a private conversation. It's tough to give advice without more details.

    • 1
Nov 29, 2018

OP you should definitely take this poster up on his offer. He is as real as it gets around here and will not hold back punches.

Dec 2, 2018

Hey, I've been extremely busy for the past few days. I'm still here, and I would love to tell you more. I just need to be able to send more PMs.

    • 1
Nov 29, 2018

I was in a similar boat but was able to transition to a feeder career before the MBA cutoff age (early 30's) and then transition into consulting.

Honestly your best bet is to tap your network. There are plenty of roles that look for hard working people pleasers, and you likely foot that bill. Don't waste your time on the 20 something transition path (WM etc, then MBA, or CFA, etc etc). Just start researching an industry and build a story. Commercial real estate brokerage, investment sales, whatever you're into. Throw out hard finance, it's a bitch of a learning curve and noone will take you without a stupid pay cut and probably a crappy job wrapped up in a bow. Sales is where its at for you, but you need to show that you're dedicated to learning a new gig and that you can walk the walk.

Enroll in a local real estate certificate program (or whatever track you're looking for), meet the folks there, and tell everyone and anyone you know what you're trying to do. Don't blow your nest egg on the dream or you might end up with double the regret.

And if you're doing it for the money, reevaluate. Long term ROI might be worth it, but when you factor in the risk it shouldn't be your top (or second or third) consideration.

    • 2
Nov 29, 2018

You could be competitive for a decent masters in finance program, though going the MBA-->>investment banking route may be tough.

Read as much as you can about different areas of finance and what your options might be after doing a masters in finance. I'm guessing that you have good people skills so doing something in wealth management may be a good track. There are a lot of niches that you can slide into.

Nov 29, 2018
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Dec 4, 2018