Knowing when it's no longer worth it to circle back to IB / Big 4 IB thoughts

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Rank: Chimp | 11

Hey, guys! Long time, first time...

So I'm back home for Thanksgiving during my second year on the job out of college and am doing some late-night reflecting. In fact, lately, I've been thinking a lot about my job and how it ties into my happiness and sense of fulfillment and that's what's driven me to write this post.

First, some background (and I plan to be intentionally vague at times for anonymity purposes): I went to a target school, but between figuring out I wanted to do IB too late and just generally enjoying college life I ended up botching my opportunity to work for a legitimate IB out of undergrad, though that's what I had eventually committed myself to doing. I ended up stumbling onto a role at a large bank outside of IB and was lured to it because the pay was surprisingly not too far from the IB range (made ~$115k first year out in an extremely low COL city relative to NY/Chi/etc.). Fast forward to 1.5 years in and I now realize the gig is something that pays much better/looks much better on paper in comparison to the experience I'm receiving. Naturally, this has led me to begin evaluating my exit options and a large part of me feels as if I'd be much more fulfilled in IB where analysts are "thrown in the fire" and certainly not dealing with the issue of not receiving enough experience/exposure.

I suppose my main question here is when do you know it's no longer worthwhile to circle back to IB? I realize the answer to this question differs wildly for every individual and I'm not looking for "if you are truly passionate about IB, you'll never think it's too late"-type answers. I'm looking at this from a much more practical perspective because A) I realize just how hard the process is through my own experience in undergrad and B) I have seen colleagues at my current firm try to do so and fail and thus, I have reason to believe if I were to successfully break into IB from where I'm at now, it'd likely be at a pretty low-level MM or boutique.

That brings me to the second question of this post: what are the IB groups like at the Big 4 accounting firms (deal flow, pay, prestige, exit ops, etc.)? I ask this specifically because though I'm generally not a very well-connected person in the financial world, I do have two rock-solid connections coincidentally both at these types of shops (specifically, Deloitte and EY). Would joining one of these groups as a first-year analyst be worthwhile after already spending two years in banking? I've haven't heard great things, but at this point I don't know if I could do much better. In terms of what else I'm considering, I'm wide open at this point:
* Ride it out at my current firm because it pays well enough and the hours are very manageable. Go to B-school in a few years and reevaluate from there. Of course, at the risk of my lack of fulfillment continuing to haunt me in the meantime...
* Lateral into something that requires a similar skill set as banking. RE (development or investment sales) is top-of-mind because I have lots of genuine curiosity/interest there and what I've been doing in my current role could actually be helpful to get me there.
* Exit finance altogether and pursue whatever I think would be fun and fulfilling. I grew up wanting to be a sports writer and learning to code is on my bucket list, so maybe something related to one of those.

To conclude, I certainly don't expect any magical prescription to fulfillment or specific advice to my situation at all necessarily. I realize that's not what this forum is for, though I also realize that I ended up including more details of my personal situation that I originally intended to. Guess I just thought the additional context would help. Instead, I figured there's bound to be plenty of other people out there in my shoes - people who went pretty hard after IB in undergrad and fell short, maybe now have settled into something else, but still have that itch to make another run at it. I haven't seen too many threads out there for those folks, so I wrote one.

Thanks for the time.

Comments (5)

Nov 25, 2018

Do you like your current job? Do you think you would be satisfied with life if you were stay in that role for the next 5 years? Let's say you get fired tomorrow, will you be able to find another job?

I think these are some questions to consider.

Nov 25, 2018

Thanks for the response. All very good things to consider. In short, no, no, and yes, but maybe not one I'd want.

I don't like my current job much, but I know that's primarily because I don't feel I'm gaining much experience at the moment. I could see this changing in the future, but I don't know if I have the level of patience required.

The second question is a more clear-cut no, simply because I'm someone who is very hard on himself. I've witnessed many of my close friends from undergrad go into IB, crush it, and already move to PE. I'm not saying my primary motivation to move to IB would be to match these friends' success, that's clearly not a healthy motivation. Instead, it's more of a personal thing like "I've seen them do it and I know I can too". Or at least I feel like I owe it to myself to try again. This goes back to what I said about figuring out I wanted to do IB a little too late in the game. I did attack it pretty hard from that point, but knowing what I know now, I was wildly unprepared and that's why I find myself in the situation I am in now. With more perspective and maturity, I know I could prep 10x better this time around. But then again, I'm already a ways out of college and realize how that limits my options. I suppose what I'm wondering is will I feel more fulfilled in my current role if I try again only to fail again because at least then I'll know I gave it my best effort? Would I feel more satisfied if I do end up landing at a lower-tier IB, even if I then dislike it because then at least I'll have scratched the itch? As I sit here and type this, I'm beginning to think the answers are yes, but I'm hoping to hear from someone who has experienced this firsthand.

And finally, yes. Unemployment is not something I fear necessarily. I do have a solid overall resume and a top 1% GMAT score to fall back on, but if I were to hypothetically get fired tomorrow, I don't know if I'd necessarily find something else within finance that wouldn't be at least a small step backward.

Nov 26, 2018

So you should pursue a job that will give you a better skillset, even if it means getting a MBA. Sounds like you will hate urself and ur life in 5 years.

Nov 26, 2018

No doubt about that- more technical skill is what I'm looking for. Hence why I'm wondering whether it's worth it to try IB again, given my expectations for where I could land, or perhaps lateral to something related to banking. Regarding the MBA, I'm not opposed, but I just don't think I'd get in anywhere too worthwhile at this point. Do candidates with 2 years work experience, a solid undergrad degree, and top flight GMAT scores stand any chance at an M7?

Nov 26, 2018
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