Is It Too Late / A Done Path For Me To Switch Careers To Finance?

Just turned 23 in October.  Come from an Economics background, graduated with a BS in Economics summer 2020 and couldn't land a job for 7 months during hard COVID.  For the past 6 months I've been working at a crappy low pay ($18 an hr) data entry job I landed.  I'm working on the EU shift here in NY.  Job has little to no transferrable skills because the company uses in-house programs for most tasks.  Get good sleep if I'm lucky.  

This job is all the resume experience I have.  I'm upset at the situation I'm in but still keep a positive attitude and won't quit.  A lot of this is my doing, struggling to change bad habits over the years.  Not thinking forwardly, being ill-disciplined and indulging in too much BS dopamine from social media, YouTube and other internet crap.  Also not really knowing what to do as a career.  But I need to change my ways. 

I am looking for new work as this job and the hours have been taking a toll.  Will not be staying here for long.  I'm looking at entry level finance positions like credit analyst at small to medium firms, and was also thinking of doing one of those searchfunder internships.  At the moment I'm trying to learn as much as I can about rudimentary finance and accounting fundamentals.  I have a pretty good foundation right now, and on top of that I'm okay at Excel (my job requires me to use Excel to adjust economic data CSV files). So I have some shortcuts down.     

To crux of my question though, is this path close to over for me?  If not, what can I do in the immediate, medium, and long-term that would boost my chances of breaking into a fin analyst role, then down the line a portfolio manager role? 

As far as the field is concerned finance is very broad so I'm still trying to figure out if I like it as much as I think I do, and what role would suit me best.  I see how it can get more interesting the more I learn, but I think with most things... learning the basics isn't really all that stimulating and exciting.  At least for me. 

I'm considering doing an MS in Finance.  My undergrad cumulative GPA is pretty good at a 3.7, but math has always been a weak spot, and idk if I'll be ready / able to handle the math at a graduate finance level, especially since I haven't performed any collegiate math in a long time.  Also GMAT is a req too, but I guess it shouldn't be too bad if I put in the work.  

All advice is appreciated.  

Comments (12)

Most Helpful
Dec 22, 2021 - 8:23am

Come on man, you're 23? You have so much time left ahead of you, it's NEVER too late to switch jobs.

I personally know a 45 yr old who used to work in journal editorials who landed an IB gig at a BB.

Pimp out the resume: Certify yourself using online platforms (Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg), Tracy yourself skills needed in the industry, work over behaviorals and have a good and justified reason why you want this new job and why you switched, and lastly, gotta start networking!

You're in the big Apple, There are countless opportunities.

You got this.

Dec 22, 2021 - 8:36am

Randy Marsh

Come on man, you're 23? You have so much time left ahead of you, it's NEVER too late to switch jobs.

I personally know a 45 yr old who used to work in journal editorials who landed an IB gig at a BB.

Pimp out the resume: Certify yourself using online platforms (Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg), Tracy yourself skills needed in the industry, work over behaviorals and have a good and justified reason why you want this new job and why you switched, and lastly, gotta start networking!

You're in the big Apple, There are countless opportunities.

You got this.

Thanks, I appreciate the advice and warm words.  I must admit though, I'm trying to work on my discipline and work ethic because it just isn't where it needs to be if I want to make something out of myself in anything.  So all this sounds nice, but hard to see given the personal circumstances now.  On top of this I often have a lot of self-doubt, and have trouble taking things day by day with learning new things and subjects.  It's like I expect I should be able to learn the whole Python programming language or all of the Excel for ex. in a few days, so I get frustrated and quit after a few days.  Goes hand in hand with ill-discipline, and the excess dopamine release I was talking about.

I struggle to do grunt work that is just straight up unenjoyable and process boring concepts when learning something new, but I know that this is often the price paid for success.  "Embrace the suck" as it's commonly said.  Any tips on fixing this?

Dec 22, 2021 - 11:42am

Have you ever consulted a doc for this? I'm not gonna armchair diagnose because that's a waste of time- but if you struggle with focus it's likely down to a few possible causes:

1- you're just not used to working hard for things. I don't know you, but this is a discipline that can be improved over time. If you suck at it, just force yourself to do it. Setting time boxes to accomplish things and set realistic goals that won't be a let down for you. Learning Python in 3 days is realistic if you've got nothing else going on and just want to script some stuff. Learning Python deeply in 3 days is just an impossible undertaking, because there's so much depth in that topic alone. Learn the difference between superficially knowing vs Grokking. Substitute Python for anything else, you cannot master something more than basic movement or rote memorization in 3 days.

2- Something else is up. Whether you're depressed, have ASD, ADD, some other 3-4 letter acronym, there's ways to help with that through a professional. If you've got good healthcare then schedule a consultation with a specialist.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 5
Dec 22, 2021 - 11:45am

Also just a note- I was (still am) super anxious about my goals. I try to think about this a lot that a mentor told me, "Don't let your goals crush you."

When I was 23 I was honestly pretty lost and didn't have much hope. Things can get better as long as you don't give up. We often overestimate what we can accomplish in 1 year but underestimate what we can accomplish in 5 years. Forgot who said that but it's true. Human brains aren't good at thinking exponentially for some reason.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
  • 3
  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Dec 22, 2021 - 3:53pm

You've got plenty of time! I'd try to get into a corporate job that you can move up in, doesn't need to be finance necessarily, but credit analyst is a good idea. Search fund internships can be extremely variable, a lot of the times they just want bodies to cold call and do data entry - I wouldn't do that unless you have no FT leads. Get a job somewhere you can stay for a few consecutive years and hopefully get promoted.

I think MBA is your eventual path - MS Fin can be difficult to land from since there's few programs in the US. Get 2-4 years work experience doing something, work on the GMAT in your free time, and apply a few years down the road. Your GPA is solid, you just need good work experience and M7 will give you a ton of optionality for what to do next.

Dec 22, 2021 - 7:57pm

You've got plenty of time! I'd try to get into a corporate job that you can move up in, doesn't need to be finance necessarily, but credit analyst is a good idea. Search fund internships can be extremely variable, a lot of the times they just want bodies to cold call and do data entry - I wouldn't do that unless you have no FT leads. Get a job somewhere you can stay for a few consecutive years and hopefully get promoted.

I think MBA is your eventual path - MS Fin can be difficult to land from since there's few programs in the US. Get 2-4 years work experience doing something, work on the GMAT in your free time, and apply a few years down the road. Your GPA is solid, you just need good work experience and M7 will give you a ton of optionality for what to do next.

I appreciate the advice 👍

  • Associate 1 in Acct - Other
Dec 23, 2021 - 12:24am

I feel you man. I graduated and worked in ops for a couple of months before I couldn't take it anymore. Then the pandemic hit and I was unemployed until the beginning of 2021. From there I hopped around contract jobs in ops for much less than I was getting before, although a bit more tolerable. During all of this, I was networking the whole time during work and even after I finished my contract. I didn't get an internship in college so I only had these contract operations experience going for me. 

If you have a family providing for you, I'd suggest leaving the job. It doesn't really do anything for your and is just a temporary source of income. Of course, you can always job search when you're off work but it is definitely harder to get into the mindset after a tiring day. Job searching is like a full-time job. Pretend it's a 9-5 if it helps. Talk to your university's career advisor. That helped me a lot on what to focus on (i.e. what careers do I want to go in / what intermediary careers will get me to that goal). Talk to people. Reach out. Schedule conversations. Network. Network. Network.

The first step is to be aware of your situation and having the motivation to change it. The second step is to do it. Keep learning. Read the news. Use YouTube to teach yourself to model. Read 10Ks if you haven't before. 

Dec 24, 2021 - 11:34am

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