I graduated in 2018 as an econ major from a small liberal arts school that has virtually no finance clout/alumni presence, and generally doesn't have a record of sending people to finance jobs straight out of undergrad. I've had an academic interest in finance for a long time but never saw myself in a client facing/FO role, was never interested in any internships, and overall have just never been on the traditional finance "path" both by choice and circumstance. Instead I thought I'd probably work in non-financial research before getting a master's or MBA, or find something in media/entertainment (e.g. talent agency, production company) because those were more in line with my core competencies/interests/background. Bottom line is I know myself and I knew I wouldn't "fit" in the traditional analyst path right out of college, and didn't have a problem with that.
About a year ago while applying for jobs, purely by chance, I happened to come into contact with a small boutique advisory firm that had recently spun out of a BB (Citi/BAML/CS), focused on a niche industry that I've had a deep ongoing interest in. The founding team had a demonstrated track record and a history of leadership in the space, including rigorous and compelling thought leadership that stood out to me. They also showed good synergy with each other, were extraordinarily committed to the project, and I instantly clicked with everyone in initial interviews. Basically, I saw the opportunity to take a big risk while working with a competent team that I liked, building relationships with them, covering an industry that I found interesting, getting real experience and mentorship both in banking and building a business, and getting FINRA licenses. So I decided to take the plunge and signed on to be the first full-time analyst at a small no-name startup boutique with an extremely narrow focus on a highly volatile emerging industry.
Fast forward to the present and I'm now looking to move on. It's been a wild ride and roughly lived up to my expectations, but I don't see any more room for growth. I've been intimately involved with the development of the business and all deal processes, have contributed to some interesting research, have built some solid relationships, and have a handful of licenses to my name. Yet I'm also aware that by most measures I'm not really competitive for lateral hiring (which I've corroborated through networking phone chats), at least on paper, because I haven't had the same volume of broad quantitative experience as the typical first year analyst, and the rest of my background still doesn't scream IB. Adding to that, I suspect that lateral openings will be few and far between given that fresh analysts just started, at least until January/February. And beyond that, I think it'll be hard to find the same level of fit elsewhere that I've found at my current shop.
This is all to say that I'm wondering if it's even worth it to pursue a lateral move, given that it'll be such an uphill battle, or if I shouldn't waste my time. I've had a lot of conversations with coworkers and alumni, I've read all the "lateral from no-name boutique" posts and I've been in the process of networking for a little while now, so I have a good idea of how to continue down that path. I know it's possible in theory, but only worth it to me if I end up at a place with decent name recognition (i.e. not another no-name boutique), and if I'm being realistic I'm not sure how likely that is.
So I'm posting to ask: what do you think my chances are? Is it worth pursuing a lateral move, or should I look into other roles/careers? What would you do in my position?