Is my start to new job normal? Paid to do nothing

Chargerz34's picture
Rank: Monkey | 33

Hello,

I started a new job as a first year analyst at a small investment firm out on the west coast. During my first few days, I learned there is no formal training program here and it is basically learn as you go where I would be pulled into various projects to help out. However, I am now 4 weeks in and have not been busy at all or pulled into any serious projects. In more detail, I work 10 hour days and only have about 1 hour of actual work. The rest of my day is sitting on my computer doing nothing productive. I'm not being lazy - as I go DAILY to my superiors/co-workers and ask them to give me something to learn or work on in which I get the same basic response that they'll start getting me involved soon and it takes time. But its been 4 full weeks now! I know it may sound nice but I have never experienced this severity of boredom before.

Any advice? Should I just grind it out a little longer? It's a good name/experience to put on my resume but I really can't stand it anymore. I feel like I'm wasting my life away.

Comments (35)

Jan 26, 2018

You say you work 10s. Are you working 4-10s/week or putting in the extra time to make a good impression? If it's the former of the two, I'd suggest polishing up the cv, tactically and aggressively pursue other positions that interest you, but stay employed in the meantime. Use the 1 day/week you have off and hit the streets.

I'm in my second career after spending nearly 20 years as an engineer. I can tell you that life, in addition to your career, is far too short to be miserable, especially if you're spending 50 our of every 168 hours/week doing something you despise. You're talking about nearly 1/3 or your life being unhappy.

Don't know your age, situation or anything else, all I can tell you is that there isn't a price I could put on being content, or at least okay at work.

Good luck and good hunting if that's the rout you go.

Jan 26, 2018

I stay as long as the other analysts do in case I'm needed. 5 days a week. First job out of college too.

Jan 26, 2018

Are you doing a substantial amount of compliance training/studying for any certifications? If you're going to get paid to sit there, try doing something to further the cause. Does the firm offer you to get your CFP/ChrFA or other certifications at their expense? If so, take advantage of the opportunity.

If this is your first job out of school, perhaps you should give yourself some time in the position. I wish you well, but I am probably not the best person to advise you as I'm too far removed from your situation. What I said in my OP still holds true, but I don't have student loan debt, a name/brand to build, or any of the issues you are confronted with. I do wish you well.

Feb 2, 2018

Most people in finance spend way over 50 hours/wk doing something they despise

Jan 26, 2018

Stop bothering your bosses. They'll call you when they need you.

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Jan 27, 2018

You better find something to do. You can't just wait for someone to point you in a direction.

Some positions are on the job training like this with no formal training.

"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

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Jan 27, 2018

Try looking through older investment reports and presentations. You could possibly ask your boss if that is a good use of your time. He will usually either say: "Yes, that sounds like a great idea" or "No, that's a waste of time. Why don't you help me with this? [or] Why don't we see if someone else has something for you to do?" This has worked many times when I was an intern.

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Best Response
Jan 27, 2018

Offer your boss an OTPHJ and see if he goes for that

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Feb 1, 2018
MJ The Yeet God:

Offer your boss an OTPHJ and see if he goes for that

I had to google OTPHJ - made me laugh. Take my banana !!

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Feb 1, 2018

I never knew such acronym existed until I googled it ._.

Jan 28, 2018

I don't have a lot of information on your firm or details that would enable me to provide better guidance, but I'll try.

Look at your company. Analyze its various parts and see how each team member operates to achieve their objectives. This will be important because ultimately you will want to be the person helping them to achieve their objectives.

The difficult part about this, is that sometimes new hires are taken on and the team is too busy to train the new hire. In this case, being a self starter is highly important. You have to become comfortable with fragmenting your time between team members in order not to be a burden or annoying, but taking the time to learn the skills needed to be a contributing part of the team. I have been in several situations like this in low levels and management. Be available and don't get in their hair.

Be sure to take notes, don't let your team members repeat themself. Its a real pain in the ass when a new person is bugging you about something and you explain it to them, and they forget it. This team member is not going to want to teach you again. Maybe they have to in some situations, but with a lack of structure in training such as your company, this is something to look out for.

So be proactive, make rounds, see if anyone needs anything, get them coffee, copies, reformatting on documents, touching up excel files, data entry, anything to get you going and interacting with the team. I don't mean to belittle your role, but sometimes acting in humility to help out with mundane tasks lets your managers know that you are willing to do what it takes no matter what. It is a sign that you are taking initiative and taking the first step, rather than sitting at your cube knowing that because you haven't been given any responsibility, that you have no responsibility.

I really despise situations like this and feel your pain. I am for a somewhat regimented training pipeline and reception into a company, but sometimes due to the size of the company, budget and labor constraints, a sink or swim self-starter approach is the result of these factors.

"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

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Jan 31, 2018

I wish my analysts and associates know this:

"Acting in humility to help out with mundane tasks lets your managers know that you are willing to do what it takes no matter what. It is a sign that you are taking initiative and taking the first step, rather than sitting at your cube knowing that because you haven't been given any responsibility, that you have no responsibility."

Good point!

Feb 6, 2018

But don't turn into the office bitch. They can whipe their own ass, sometimes.

Jan 31, 2018

Don't listen to Isaiah. He takes mirror selfies.

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Feb 1, 2018
Isaiah_53_5:

I don't have a lot of information on your firm or details that would enable me to provide better guidance, but I'll try.

Look at your company. Analyze its various parts and see how each team member operates to achieve their objectives. This will be important because ultimately you will want to be the person helping them to achieve their objectives.

The difficult part about this, is that sometimes new hires are taken on and the team is too busy to train the new hire. In this case, being a self starter is highly important. You have to become comfortable with fragmenting your time between team members in order not to be a burden or annoying, but taking the time to learn the skills needed to be a contributing part of the team. I have been in several situations like this in low levels and management. Be available and don't get in their hair.

Be sure to take notes, don't let your team members repeat themself. Its a real pain in the ass when a new person is bugging you about something and you explain it to them, and they forget it. This team member is not going to want to teach you again. Maybe they have to in some situations, but with a lack of structure in training such as your company, this is something to look out for.

So be proactive, make rounds, see if anyone needs anything, get them coffee, copies, reformatting on documents, touching up excel files, data entry, anything to get you going and interacting with the team. I don't mean to belittle your role, but sometimes acting in humility to help out with mundane tasks lets your managers know that you are willing to do what it takes no matter what. It is a sign that you are taking initiative and taking the first step, rather than sitting at your cube knowing that because you haven't been given any responsibility, that you have no responsibility.

I really despise situations like this and feel your pain. I am for a somewhat regimented training pipeline and reception into a company, but sometimes due to the size of the company, budget and labor constraints, a sink or swim self-starter approach is the result of these factors.

MIRROR SELFIE, MIRROR SELFIE.. sorry the only thing I can think when reading your posts

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Jan 31, 2018

Perhaps it's a personal flaw of mine, but it often times takes me a few weeks to get my new analysts fully baked into the team with full-time meaningful work. Alot of times we are in high-leverage situations and the team can't always count on passing work to the new guy because it needs to be done correct/accurately the first time. I'd just wait for them to ease you into the team and then i'm sure the work will come. For now, get up to speed on whatever you can, knock out any firm training you may have and continue looking for where you can plug in.

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Jan 31, 2018

At smaller firms I'd say this is not abnormal. I would talk to the other analysts about their ramp up period and ask them what else you should be doing versus the senior team.

Jan 31, 2018

Investment firm? Is this a buy-side research role? If so, you are fucking up royally right now by pissing that time away.

I interned at a small asset management shop and the 2nd day in the office, the Vice PM hands me a sheet of paper with all the holdings in our fund. He said to me, "Figure out why we own each of these names". Then hands me a marketing deck and said "here is our investment philosophy".

That was it, I literally spent the entire summer reading 10-ks, earnings transcripts, and building my own models. They rarely ever assigned me anything but after a month or two of grinding, my knowledge had improved immensely and I was able to hold my own. They started letting me sit in on meetings with company management and sell-side guys, attend conferences, and pitch my own ideas. They let me intern during the school year and were going to hire me on upon graduation.

My point here is you have an opportunity. You should be taking initiative and doing your own research, trying to learn your firm's investment strategies/holdings. It is hard for anyone on the team to assign you any projects when you don't even basics about the business model of the companies you are invested in. Show some initiative and they will start including you more.

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Jan 31, 2018

Hey buddy, I'm in my fourth week of work, although I'm in a bit of a different business. My first two weeks were incredibly slow. But what my boss had me do was go through a ton of excel models, and not really do anything with them.

I had to first get access to them, which took three days. What going through all of these models will do for you is allow you to see what goes where, and really where your outputs are coming from. I also had to go manually redo a TON of outages and have the separated by the month, then basically lay them out over a monthly map. This process was a pain staking three day process, but I learned so damn much about our assets and about how they run.

Go through the models, F2 on everything you can, see what goes into the outputs, build you own model to represent the data. I built a few models that allowed us to simply copy and paste large trade data to auto populate a much cleaner sheet instead of us having to sift through raw data. Now we use this model.

So, I would follow this if I were you, times seemed so slow at times and now that I have added a little value the work has really come in.

Hope this helps

Feb 1, 2018

Man, 4 weeks is a drop in the bucket. I work for a regional IB in a very niche role, with no formal training program. I work under two senior bankers who have been in their roles for decades, meaning they don't want to or have time to train a 22-year old the business. I'm 7 months in, fully-certified, and only just now getting real work handed to me.

What I'm saying is, be patient. I've been taking some financial modeling courses and plan to take CFA Level 1 in December. You're getting name brand experience on your resume and a salary to better yourself professionally - be proactive and take advantage.

Feb 1, 2018

You're building up IB experience at least... focus on the bright side. My situation is different, but I can somehow relate to yours. I started as an intern for a F500 working in investor relations/ Corp Fin last summer and my first 2 weeks were dead boring. Then I introduced myself to the CFO and Dir of Strategy and proposed to do any work they needed to as I wanted to learn as much as possible. At first, the CFO made me put some books together, proofread presentations etc... boring stuff but I did it as well as possible and was reading a ton of research on the industry. A month later I overheard that director in the elevator talking about European competitors so I took a chance and offered to pitch him on 3 potential acquisitions for us overseas... I did my best, he liked it and now I'm full time investor relations/ strategy analyst. I sit in all the meetings with IB MDs pitching us deals and work with the executives on a ton of small projects because they heard I was committed. I passed the CFA lvl 1 last week and taking 2 in June. Now I am thinking about the next steps of my career, any advice welcome but my point is reading up on research, and taking any projects thrown your way will really leave a good impression and allow to build trust with your bosses. Good luck man

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Feb 1, 2018

That is some good grinding right there, well done

Feb 2, 2018

Ask yourself what drove you to take this job in the first place. What are you positioning yourself for in life? What skills, knowledge, network and authority do you need to get to that point and thrive?

If you think the answer is to be told exactly what to do by somebody rather than think creatively about your own ability to impact and generate your own satisfaction then you will continue to be frustrated by the persistent lack of a 'guiding hand' in life.

This attitude typifies that of someone who has grown too used to being told what to do rather than taking a first principles approach to their situation and building their own perspective. You will quickly realise (perhaps when you look at the owners of your business) that there are people in life who make, build & assert and there are people who sit around and wait for someone else to show them the way and give them meaning. Figure out which bucket you fall into.

Feb 2, 2018

If you have literally nothing to do, ask someone if they don't mind you pulling up a chair and watching.

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Feb 2, 2018

learn things to further develop yourself. read ebooks on kindle cloud, maybe do some modeling training (one here is solid), CFA, GMAT, use your downtime to better yourself.

9 hours of downtime sounds extreme but no matter what you will have some downtime most days. use the time in the most efficient manner possible.

also, be sure that you are communicating regularly with the team and try to build a relationship with them.

Feb 2, 2018

What type of investment firm? I can't imagine this level of inactivity at a hedge fund where you'll eventually be expected to source ideas. At the very least, you should be reverse engineering their process so you can hit the ground running when they ask you to do substantive work.

  • If you're in PE, do more research on the industries in which your firm invests.
  • Subscribe to industry rags, figure out which books are relevant to target industries (media - cable cowboys, energy - the prize, etc., etc.) and start reading.
  • Stay up to date on public company earnings calls so you understand important industry trends.
  • Develop templates that will be useful in your day-to-day. Little things like an easy way to present historical and projected financials, month-to-quarter-to-year sumif spreadsheets to ease conversion of time series into different periods, automatic price charts, etc.
  • Read about past deals and try to reverse engineer the investment memo and model
  • Are there any screening methods, RSS feeds or Google alerts you should set up now?
  • Think about big picture themes and ideas that could drive new investment ideas or products.

Rags' anecdote is instructive:
"I interned at a small asset management shop and the 2nd day in the office, the Vice PM hands me a sheet of paper with all the holdings in our fund. He said to me, "Figure out why we own each of these names". Then hands me a marketing deck and said "here is our investment philosophy"."

You need to be as useful as possible when they finally turn to you to perform your job. Start getting in reps.

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Feb 2, 2018

Hi OP,

I know this might seem to be abnormal and unpleasant, but I had a similar experience at the small firm I started out at as an IB analyst. The smaller firms tend not to have large formal (expensive) training programs. Further, as a fresh grad and first year analyst, your superiors know that you have a limited skillset, so they don't bother to give you work because at the beginning its actually MORE work for them to give you work and then show you how to do it. Once things start getting really busy, they will give you work, don't worry.

Additionally, this is often the nature of the beast. The work comes in peaks and valleys. You very well may sit for 6-8 hours with nothing to do, then suddenly at 6pm you may get sh*t on with 6 hours worth of work from your @[email protected] MD who is heading out to play with his kids and finally remembered to give out some work. Just bear with it. Use the down time to your advantage and put together and update comps that you might need down the line, create templates that will save you time in the future etc. This is normal and you will get busier the longer you are there.

Feb 2, 2018

As many people have already mentioned, in many locations there won't be formal training processes. The best thing to do is take initiative and be curious. New hires are often the ones that find archaic processes in how the company works. Search for those weaknesses, bring them to light, and make suggestions as to how they can be improved.

Apart from that, spend time shadowing others in your role, or in roles that you will be helping. Find out what can be done to make their jobs / life easier.

Lastly, be selfish and spend time bettering yourself. Read articles, study for the CFA, etc.

Realistically, you should have 1-3 goals that you're working on, and each day you should be able to say that you've gotten at least one step further toward your goal. I'm not going to judge you in any way like some people might, because I don't know you. But really value the time you have at hand, the worst thing to do is nothing.

Feb 2, 2018

Never underestimate the difference between "what do you want me to do" and "I think I should be doing [X, Y, Z], do you agree."

Remember, you're valuable if and only if you are a force multiplier for your superiors. They have more on their plates than they can reasonably address already - training you and getting you up to speed is more time out of their days.

The next six months will not be comfortable for you. You'll feel like there isn't direction, and you waste time, and spin your wheels on things that end up not being useful. But if you can use that to gain a better understanding of what needs to be done on a project and when, you can speak up and say "hey, I can handle that" more and more often.

If you don't know what to do, make an educated guess and don't take it personally when you're wrong. Be coachable and be gritty and keep coming at it with energy. The small, unstructured learning pathway is a double-edged sword; it allows for incredible learning and career development if taken advantage of, and it can be soul-sucking and miserable if not.

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Feb 2, 2018

Are you working VC?

Feb 2, 2018

Why on earth are you complaining? Seems like you can't make anyone happy these days. I love my job because I have a lot of downtime and can browse whatever I want while getting paid. It's a dream come true and you want to bitch about it. Study the CFA curriculum, read the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, or just surf LinkedIn. Your getting paid and as well as a brand name on you CV. You said you don't want to study for the CFA because you'll be busy later on...then why would you consider changing firms to be busy?? You just said yourself you are going to be busy. Shut up and enjoy life.

Feb 3, 2018
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Feb 4, 2018