Keep Your Head Up

The past year has been rough. The pandemic has altered everyone's sense of reality. Work-related burnout has been real, in all sectors. People have been laid off or driven to the edge of insanity with their current jobs. Business school admissions continue to get more difficult. Some families and partners have been separated for months.

Take a step back. Think about what you really want to get out of your career, your life, your future. Do what you think is best for you, as opposed to getting caught up in the rat race (and trying to do what you think everyone else wants to do). While the short-term is important, try to stay focused on your long-term goals.

Tough times don't last but tough people do. If you've been struggling, vent to a friend. Talk to your family. See a therapist. Cry or scream it out (seriously). You might be surprised to find out some of the people that you're closest with feel quite similarly. It's okay to feel vulnerable. There were a couple of times during the pandemic that I thought I might break down (working extended stretches of 100+ hour weeks on live deals, getting rejected by my dream business school without an interview, family health concerns). But with the support of my co-workers and loved ones, I'm persisting now stronger than ever. 

Use this forum to spread knowledge, not rumors. You might not always think that your words are important but they may have an impressionable impact on some younger users. Don't try to lead them onto the wrong path. No one benefits from the spread of misinformation.

So keep your head up. You got this. And remember that life is more than a brand name or two.

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Comments (42)

Most Helpful
Feb 7, 2021 - 11:13pm

I really appreciate this kind of post. Most people in this community want everyone to believe that we should fight through difficult times without breaking a sweat. This year has been tough for me too having not received a return offer after my SA program cut vast majority of summer interns along with several first years. 

Having to find a job in a tough market and losing many of the fun times that come with senior year was admittedly pretty tough. I got very lucky to get a job in this time and already keeping an eye out for openings so I can get back into banking. That said, I still wish I could be going to NYC and doing some of the things that I would be doing if I had gotten a return offer. I was fortunate to be able to keep fighting with friends at my side and people around me who were willing to support me. 

OP: thanks for a wonderful post, your words ring very true in my experience and I understand the feeling of rejection. 

To everyone else reading: if you're down right now, it's ok. Try to keep going, but know it's ok to not be feeling perfect. Like OP said, talk to other people. Refocus. Keep your head up and keep going. 

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Feb 8, 2021 - 6:35pm

Long Only Asset Management, Investment Analyst (in a class of 3 people). Not the best place to be if I'm trying to get back into IB admittedly, but perhaps it will open other doors that I might not have gotten from IB. I'm probably not staying at this company long term due to location and a few other things. Plan is currently to network very hard and try and get back to a solid IB (or potentially something else) within the next year. 

Feb 8, 2021 - 3:06am

I've been burning out over the most simple shit and I hate myself for it. I can't seem to do the simplest tasks or take on the most basic responsibilities without flaking, getting distracted, giving up or procrastinating. I'm supposed to be in bed right now but I'm not because I'm a piece of shit who can't keep a schedule. I'll hate myself for it now then go on to do the same dumb shit like procrastinating and playing video games instead of doing my homework tomorrow. Then I see my friends actually get tired over pulling hard weeks when I can't even pull an easy one without giving up. My life sucks and it's all my fault and I keep refusing to change it.

Fuck this.

  • VP in IB - Ind
Feb 10, 2021 - 1:40pm

Have you spoken to a doctor? Distractibility and tiredness are less discussed signs of depression. Anger too but that doesn't seem to apply to you.

In any case, might be worth checking out.

Feb 12, 2021 - 2:58am

Exercise strict discipline in your life by writing down a routine and holding yourself to it. I.e make sure you wake up by 8 or 9, make sure you shower after waking up or exercise, make sure you dress in something other than PJs or a birthday suit and make sure you have a few things you want to accomplish during the day - no matter how menial those things may be - and make sure you follow through on those. Do this for a week or two and you'll see a drastic improvement in your mental state. It may help to have someone like a friend or family member hold you accountable. Doing so will help you regain a sense of control in your life and you can work your way up from there.

  • 1
Feb 8, 2021 - 3:02pm

2020 was rough but we'll grow stronger because of it.

Every now and then it's a good idea to take a step back and look at what you have and say thanks for it all. This site (and the industry in general) focuses on achieving and getting more (not necessarily always in a greedy way), so it's easy to lose sight of what you have when you're looking at what you want or don't have. Simply because you're reading this post and have access to the internet means you're better off than most of the world.

  • Prospect in AM - Equities
Feb 8, 2021 - 4:48pm

Great post, been struggling a bit due to the fact that I am leaving home for the first time post college (born and raised in Manhattan, but took a position in SF due to the lack of available options for me, but hope to come back to NYC within 2-3 years), so just looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Feb 10, 2021 - 12:52pm

Cool story bro........................................ JK I really appreciate your post.

Feb 12, 2021 - 12:27pm

Left my IB group as a first year to go work at a venture startup. The isolation and workload with WFH was personally unbearable, causing a challenging job to become excruciating. Morale and motivation is everything when you work 100+ hours a week, especially from home-you can't physically/mentally separate work from personal life. The job is always staring right at you.

I asked myself how much I'd have to make to put up with the job, and there wasn't a $ figure of which made sense to me, no matter how high the pay. My health and family relationships > making a lot of money the quick and prescribed way.

Do what's best for you. Consult the people that matter most. Keep in mind, other bankers are biased and will likely lean toward encouraging you to stay in banking. Try to get objective views from close professors, friends, and the people that matter most in your life. God bless

Mar 10, 2021 - 5:48pm

After the most difficult months of my life, I need a break and a gesture like this post is the small stuff that keeps me going.

My Brother. My Captain. My King.
  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
May 21, 2021 - 1:53pm

No joke - I've decided to put in my two weeks in a few days and take a much needed break.  Past 12-months have really warped my view of this industry. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 24, 2021 - 12:21pm

assuming your headline title is correct (3rd year in PE) would you mind sharing a bit about your background / why you ultimately pulled the plug? would really really appreciate any insight as I feel myself slowly heading towards the 2 week notice point...

would be very curious to hear whether you were very pro-PE before and then changed your mind? is your fund a MBA track program or allows for direct promotion? when did you first start doubting the PE track (year 1 / 2 / 3), what was the ultimate deciding factor, and etc. thank you so much!

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
May 24, 2021 - 8:28pm

Did 2 years of IB, 3 years of MM PE, and over a year at a MF.  Was pretty pro-PE until I joined the MF, for all of the obvious reasons MF PE sucks (extremely narrow experience, IB-type hardos, long hours etc.).  Really enjoyed my prior gig but left to have more career optionality and VPs there had warned me that the culture was exceptionally rare.  Having interviewed with a number of funds of varying sizes/strategies, I've gotten the sense that any semblance of WLB is very rare in the industry and I did not appreciate the advice my former colleagues gave me

Combine that with returns compression across the PE landscape, seeing friends make interesting and entrepreneurial career steps off the beaten path, and general COVID/WFH burnout, and I have decided to get out. 

I will note that friends that have taken the b-school path seem to typically avoid the mid-level burnout given the two year vacation. 

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