Me, an ambitious 23 year old, wonders if I should just stay in my lane and forget finance


I want to start out by thanking anyone for reading this. I am a 23-year-old male who is optimistic about life even when I probably should not be. I have been lurking here for a while, drooling over the success stories of some the most intelligent and hardworking people I have ever been exposed to. I feel ashamed even sharing my story, but I figure its time to atleast get an opinion.

So I will tell you my story. I am a 23 year old college student who matured only a year ago. I entered an easy admission public state school after highschool because all of my friends were going there and we were going to party hard. We definitely did, and I am grateful for those amazing experiences even though it is truly biting me in the ass now. See, as a first gen Asian American, I was supposed to be a straight A student and get into med school. With three other older siblings who acheived this exact thing, I decided to "be different", I was the youngest so I had the flexibility to decide my own path. As I knew liked buissness just like every other dumbass I was friends with, I decided to pursue healthcare management. I did well my first two years, even though they were mostly gen eds. When I started my healthcare management courses, I realized it was WAY too easy, and then it dawned on me that I was too smart and needed to utilize my intelligence become a dentist, this would grant me respect by my family and thought I would make tons of caysh. I knew i would be atleast 23-24 by the time I got into dental school if I wanted to pursue this since I had to complete all the prerequisite science courses and take standaridzed exams.

I needed to leave the toxic enviorment at my state school, so I came back to my comfy upper middle class home. When you want to get admission to med,pharm,dent school, the place you took your undergrad classes matters ALOT less than finance. What matters is your raw GPA in science courses and your MCAT/PCAT/DAT scores. So I began taking the prereq courses for dental school at my local community college. However, I got exposed to the bitcoin bubble when I moved back and I completley forgot about my new found ambitions to become a doctor. Finance took over my life for the most part. It was not about making a crap load of money gambling on these speculative instruments, it was all about this insane new world of finance I never knew existed. First, I became obsessed with technical analysis, I could stare at a chart for insane amounts of time. After getting lucky with my trades, I gained a sense of euphoria and naturally thought I would make it as a full time day trader. The profitability quickly went downhill during the 2018 bear market and I realized what the term retail trader implied, and was quickly humbled. I was thankfully just a student so I never had any real money to lose. But, I realized ALOT about people and society in general through this experience. Alot of principles about trading reflected my own life choices and this is the time I would say I matured.

I was supposed to be getting straight As in community college in hard science classes at this time, but what I was learning from the market, was WAY more exciting to me. I still managed to get a B-C average in hard classes like anatomy, chemistry, biology, etc. But I did fail calculus because I was sitting there scalping the 5 minute TF the whole time, LOL.

Fast forwarding to the beginning of last semester, I realized that alot of my peers who were already in med/pharm/dental school had no idea about what debt they even took on, and they figured that they would make it by the time they got out. Seriously, these are super intelligent kids that did not even know what intrest rate they took their loans out on. For me personally, 400k for a degree as a dentist seemed outrageous, no matter how much I enjoyed helping others. Plus, the whole industry is being taken over by DSO's and other private equity firms, so the dream of opening up my own shop is very bleak, especially in my densley populated hometown.

This is where the real anxiety started kicking in. I struggled with the fact that I was still obssessed with markets, economics, and finance, when I should be grinding out on my science classes. Paired with the realization that dental school would be so damn expensive, I began entertaining the notion of, what if I dedicated the same time and resources to something I thought about all day, finance. I quickly knew there is no reality as a full time day trader, and I wanted to do something actually legitimate within finance. So I began my research on this field and was QUICKLY humbled by Wall Street Oasis.

Jesus, you guys SHIT on my life in terms of grades, internships, experience. I literally feel like there is no way I can compete, regardless of how bad I want it. So now not only am I worried about getting into dental school because of my grades, I now can not even ENTERTAIN the notion about getting into a finance gig like proprtietary trading, quantative analyst, and especially investment banking. This is seemingly even further out of my reach.

However, I am naturally an optimist. I know at the end of the day, whatever I truly want to accomplish I should be able to. The only limiting factor is myself. Tthe details dont matter when I am 50 years old looking back on my life anyways. Thats why I am not too worried about getting into dental school, it may take more time than others, and more money than others would have to spend, but I could still do it. I just know it.

But now here is my MAIN dillemma. The reality of the situation is that I want to become a healthcare professional MOSTLY because of the money, partly to help others (I know how rough it is sitting there all day trading the emotions of others, even when I was profitable) . They all say do not become a doctor for the money, but if there was a career that you DO go into for the money, its high finance. There is no way im settling for an corporate gig at some insurance company for the rest of my life, so that is out of the question if I did decide on this path.

So tell me if this reality sounds right (mostly on the finance side, I cant expect you all to be too knowledgable on the dental career:

Dental school (currently 23)
23- 24 finish biology degree and study my dick off for DAT
25-29 dental school + 400k debt
29-33 associate dentist, probably at a corporate DSO by that point = 150k salary in my area
33-40 gain experience as a dentist, probably 150k-250k capped salary, debt hopefully paid off by 40.
40+ real life begins

Switch to finance (currently 23)
23-26 switch to econ/finance/physics/math degree (please advise on the best one if I am not sure whether I want to be a trader or IBer), and complete meaningful EC's
26-28 shitty entry finance/econ job because my GPA will only be a 3.2 with new courseload since my previous GPA was averaged 2.7 NETWORK REGARDLESS
28-30 hopefully get into a good MBA program +100-200k debt NETWORK REGARDLESS
30-32 best case scenario I land an IB analyst offer NETWORK REGARDLESS
32-35 IB analyst, lol
35-40 Exit to PE or 200k+/40Hr a week high finance gig
40+ real life begins

So this is the idea in my head I am gathering based on everything I have read on WSO. Everyones story here is truly inspiring and motivating. I know its extremely ignorant for me to beleive I can just network my way into IB and finish my biology degree as a saftey net at the same time.

If anyone here with experience can give me some advice, where my thinking is wrong, or anything else to offer it would be SERIOUSLY appreciated.

If you have come to this point and actually read everything, I can not begin to tell you how much that means to me. I only have one connect, a brothers friend who was an IB analyst at merril lynch, and now works at a comfy PE firm. I am way too afraid to even approach him with the idea that I want to get into IB/high finance because he would probably laugh in my face and tell me to stay in my own lane.

So WSO, what should I do, is this field essentially impossible for someone in my situation? Remember, becoming a dentist is not easy either, I am fully aware of the sacrifices it takes to acheive something great. My dillemma is choosing the right sacrifice.

Thank you.

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Comments (13)

Aug 16, 2019 - 7:57pm

Stop thinking about trying to make a lot of money. In reality if you took either of those paths that you mentioned, you would be worse off financially than others who did not attempt to get a higher level education.

$200-400K in debt is almost impossible to pay off. The dentistry path is the least risky of the two options (since getting a job as an ibanker in your shoes is extremely hard and you may be wasting 200K trying to go the MBA route), but still you won't be able to pay off that debt until your 40s.

If I was in your shoes, I would forget about higher level education. You shouldn't have to wait until your 40s to start your life. Taking on massive amounts of debt is not the solution.

So I would focus on learning a real/concrete skillset. First, figure out what you are naturally good at. For example, if you are numbers / logically oriented, then learn how to code. Spend 10K to go to a coding bootcamp and get a $50-100K job right after. From there, you can learn and build upon your skillsets and be extremely valuable to companies.

This way, you don't take on massive amounts of debt, start saving money almost immediately, and can live a normal life in your 20s and 30s.

For me as a kid, I was extremely patient, very mathematically oriented, and very curious. Have worked in the hedge fund industry for some time now and absolutely love it given the work never gets repetitive (always looking at new industries and securities constantly). It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, actually quit a $500K / year job and was unemployed for some time before I found the investment style I really identified with.

I will admit though. I was lucky. I grew up in a small town far away from wall street and was fortunate to go to a good target public school and then break into finance.

However, I do not attribute my success all to luck. It was entirely due to extreme focus on where I saw myself a few years down the road.

For you, it seems as if you have too many options and don't know what path to take. It's okay. Happens to everyone. But you need to figure out what your innate skills are, and focus in on a single career path where you do not have to take on a ton of debt and then your career will progress from there

Aug 16, 2019 - 10:52pm


Thank you for your well thought out reply, you truly do not understand how much your words mean to me in these trying times.

To clarify, I do not want to be in IB. Most of this forum speaks on IB so I figured I would just put that down. What truly drives me is my passion for trading. Whether or not I possess innate talent in trading, is not too important to me. What I value about trading is this "rage to master" that I honestly have not experienced in my entire life. I understand this career is "easy to have a passion for", given all the adrenaline and reward associated, but to me, there is something else. Something about making meaningful decisions and being truly accountable is what drives me to forget everything else.

Imagine I were your son. Imagine if you could not give any money or connections to me, your son. What would you honestly tell me?

Thank you

Aug 17, 2019 - 10:16am

Hate to be blunt, but the reason you think you have a passion for trading is because of the thrill of gambling. It's not a career you should pursue given your current experience.

Stick to what I said in my prior post. Focus in on your innate skill sets, build upon them through real work experience (ie. coding boot camp), and go from there. Don't get sucked into paying hundreds of thousands on an education and racking up student debt.

Most Helpful
Aug 17, 2019 - 10:29am

I mean someone who has been paper trading for the past six months, tracking every statistic and learning every useful data analysis tools on MS excel, journaling performance diligently -- all while in extremely difficult upper-level science courses, does not seem like someone who is doing it for the thrill of gambling.

The only reason I have turned to this forum is that most kids here were fortunate enough to have figured out their career path while they were in high school. Great for them, but I know there is someone else out there, 23, thinking damn: these IB kids literally just realized freshman year of HS to just make sure they did really well in HS school courses (god I wish I wasn't a skateboarder) because once they got in to a good public college, all it took was a bunch of brainless 3 credit courses in econ/finance to land a SA gig, then get a IB offer, pay some dues for two, three years, and exit as a top 1%er.... Prove me wrong. What a difference ten years can make... That's why I am under the impression if I spend the next 10 years doing everything I can to make something happen in finance, I too can be a 1%er. Also save the "stop trying to chase money" I am a mentally happy and healthy person, no matter what circumstances life throws at me careerwise. Not a materialistic person but if there is a system I can game, that is enough fulfillment for me to get after.

Either way, I respect your opinion and I would like to thank you for the advice and replies.


Aug 17, 2019 - 11:46am

Honestly just trying to give you advice. When you talk about trading bitcoin and the euphoria you got from it, I see that as gambling.

Trading is a bad habit to get involved in. It will suck up all of your time.

If you think you found an edge trading and can make money consistently doing it, then by all means you should pursue that. Paper trading doesn't show that you can consistently make money. For the vast majority of people, they will lose money doing it. You get lucky one day, then lose it the next. Personal trading is not a career path, it's an addictive habit.

If you think you've built a skillset trading, then focus on getting a job that pays you to do it.

And yes, you are completely right about most of us here. We were fortunate to study hard early on, set goals and go after them. You are still young and can accomplish a lot, but you need to focus on a specific skillset that you have and get a real job doing that so you can build upon that skillset.

Going to dentistry school or getting an MBA without any real world experience is not a good option. You are just delaying working in the real world and will saddle yourself in debt, which will stress you out for a long time.

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Aug 18, 2019 - 3:28pm

Suggest you figure out what you really enjoy.
A good way to do so is through experience - generally through internships.

All these paths you listed will make you "enough" money.

Any of these healthcare paths are going to be enough to give you a comfortable middle-class lifestyle or better. As will finance, most likely.

The tradeoff of finance vs. healthcare is not one of money.
Both ways will give you money.
The key is to figure out which way gets you the most enjoyment/satisfaction, and where your skills lie.

Aug 23, 2019 - 11:41am

similar to what has already been said, passion is what matters, try stuff out, learn to hustle, go talk to some dentists and see if you can help them in some way and get experience working for them, see what the life would be like, do the same for finance, do the same for whatever else you are interested in.

You are talking about two completely different career choices. This tells me that you need more information and insight on what makes you tick. You need more experience and you need to learn more about yourself.

Passion is the number 1 thing to focus on, money is important, but what you make early on is really a silly thing to focus on, most of your earning power will be in your late 40's and 50's ... that is when passion pays off and you have built a career based on curiosity and natural interest.

Aug 23, 2019 - 8:02pm

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