Should I Slow Down?


I have a bit of a predicament. I'm currently a first year with ~70 credit hours and can graduate in Fall of 2020 with a few more summer classes and winter classes. I wanted to get your thoughts on this and how going full time usually plays out after something like this. So far, I have been working with a VC for an internship type thing (not sure what to really call it but I do DD on startups), am being paid by a hedge fund while at school to conduct independent research (DD, not financial analysis), and I have an internship set up for Summer of 2020 at a well respected asset manager.

Any advice on how I can go full time at either a MF, HF, or ER after graduating early with a degree in quant econ? thank you!

Comments (25)

Apr 11, 2019

I want to imagine you are asking this question: Should I put graduation off a little bit in order to get more exposure before I make a job choice?

To that I would just say that if you know what you want to do, making $XX,XXX - $XXX,XXX is better than 0. If you do not know what you want to do, one more internship could be worth it.

If you are not asking that question, I mostly just feel like you are trying to tell us how awesome you are.

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Apr 11, 2019

Really sorry if it came off that way. To be honest, its sort of the opposite. I know what I want to do but I am worried that landing a role at a MF or HF or in ER will be difficult since I do not have any great internships on my CV yet. Any thoughts on that?

Apr 11, 2019

MF, HF, and ER are pretty different fields. Even within HF there are multiple directions you could go. I have been looking through resumes to fill an open position at my firm recently, one was from a head hunter, this guy graduated from his bachelors 8 years ago in biology, moved around the country, had 4 different jobs in different fields, got his law degree, then got his MBA and in his most recent position he is making $65,000 base.... I feel bad for him but his resume screams lack of focus. If you could ask the question this way: "I have been interested in HF, MF, or ER but after in depth research, internships, and speaking with professionals in their respective fields, I am disinterested in ER, and MF for these logical reasons and I am going to focus on HF for this logical reason, can someone help me get in touch with headhunters who focus on HF in location XYZ because location XYZ is important to me for these valid reasons. <---- someone who can answer that question will be a great contact who can give you something very valuable and it will be because you had huge focus and a very specific request, that is incredibly attractive. I understand that is hard as an undergrad, but to move toward that is the goal, and having a measure of that will help you interview into anything you want.

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Apr 11, 2019

Good point. The truth is that coming from a semi-target, I would be happy with either of the three (HF, ER, MF - in that order). I truly just enjoy bottom up fundamental equity analysis and whichever path it may be that takes me there, I will be okay with it. Not sure if that helps explain what I mean. My worry is that graduating early might not seem great because I would still be young and lacking actual experience aside from what is mentioned above. In short, my fear is that I'll graduate with a FT offer.

Most Helpful
Apr 12, 2019

What I think @REPESailor2020 is conveying is that having a convincing focus isn't a "nice to have," it is a "must have."

You won't get a FT offer or be successful in your career unless you both (1) focus on one of those avenues, and (2) be able to explain convincingly to recruiters that you are indeed focused. You have to be able to completely convince HF that you would never ever consider doing a career in ER, or vice versa. That HF is your dream, that you spend your days thinking about HF stuff, that you know exactly what you are getting yourself into, what the day-to-day life looks like, and why you love it so much and can do the job well.

I've explained this on this board before as well, but the #1 most important weed out question that I ask analyst and MBA associate recruits is "Why investment banking / why this bank / why this location?" (basically, why are you here?) So many people come across as unfocused, and more importantly, are not able to sell me that they even know what the job is, much less that they are better able to do the job compared to all the other candidates with whom I'm talking.

In short, I think given your current exploratory phase, you really should slow down and do not graduate early. You have to be able to find your focus area before you graduate or else risk making a big career mistake. Even if you're taking one class a semester, use the rest of your time to dive into recruiting and make sure you're positioning yourself best for the real world ahead. Under no circumstances should you graduate without an offer in hand already.

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Apr 17, 2019

Out of curiosity, what does that renaissance man do now that he's settled into a job? $65k base and al those unnecessary degrees sounds like a terrible position to be in. But I can see how the JD/MBA combo could help in RE in the long run.

Apr 12, 2019

I'm planning on graduating the same amount early as your considering, this upcoming December. I don't have any epic wisdom to add, just graduating early cause I don't like it lol

Apr 12, 2019

Are you going FT? or Grad school? I don't like it either lol

Apr 17, 2019

I graduated in <20 months and came to regret it, though things have mostly worked out for me in the end. I was in a slightly different position than you in some ways but think my learnings still apply:

1a) You will just not be as competitive for top shops at the age of 19 as you would be at 21. Your current internships are better than I had but are still unlikely to get you the MF/HF placements you want.

1b) Working for a name brand firm is most valuable early in your career.

2) As much as you think you would be happy with any of those paths, I want to assure you that your perspective will change as you work 100+ hour weeks. What seem like small differences will loom large and having the ability to say 'I tried that and it sucked' will go a long way to curing the grass is greener mentality that you will experience at least some of the time.

Hope this helps.

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Apr 17, 2019

It does help. Thanks a lot for this. If you don't mind, how did it work out for you? I can see how it may be difficult being 19 applying against 21 year olds, so how did you overcome that?

Apr 18, 2019

To give you some detail without giving away my identity:

1) where your profile and mine differ - I had significantly less robust internship experience and was an econ major (liberal arts). I took some finance classes and did well but it sounds like you are ahead of where I was.

2) To overcome my lack of expertise, I had to take a very, very lackluster role (not investing or IB) at a small finance company for a year and then go to a name-brand MSF program.

3) 5 years later, I am not ahead by much relative to my peers that stayed for four years at my (solid) state school undergrad and have less optionality to pursue an MBA. Especially if you were to adjust the difference based on some measures (i.e. my test scores), I think you could make the case that I'm behind where I would have been if I'd been less deadset on getting out of undergrad ASAP.

4) To give you a sense of outcomes, my post-grad employment has been: MM IB => top-tier FOF => VC.

So, to restate my original point, I've done fine but I'm not sure that my graduating early helped in any way and there are obvious costs (UG is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop as a person, I took on debt for my MSF, etc.)

Happy to chat via DM etc. if you want to know more.

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Apr 17, 2019

Unless you have monetary concerns I wouldn't recommend graduating early. I know no one your age wants to hear it, but there's something to be said for putting your full time in and maturing a bit before you move on to the next level. If the opportunity cost is 50K in loans a year then it's probably worth it, but if that isn't an issue I think it's best to do your four years and make the most out of the time you get in undergrad.

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Apr 17, 2019

Thanks for the input, but what if I genuinely do not enjoy undergrad? The argument of enjoying your time there is a good one for people who have fun, but my Uni's academics are insanely difficult even though it's barely a semi-target. I am being paid already for financial research and DD, working free for a VC, managing a decent sized personal portfolio, and taking 3 years of academic coursework in 2 years while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. That does not leave much time for fun.

Apr 18, 2019

Enjoyment is ancillary in undergrad. You should definitely try, but my point is moreso that you should be weary of ever thinking that you're above your current situation. You sound remarkably talented and hardworking, and your achievements are far beyond what I ever did as a 20 year old college stoner, so there's no reason you can't stick out four years. I think if you do you'll be even more proud of yourself and will have gained some additional grit, polish, maturity and persistence from learning to stick with the grind and going through the full system. Intelligent people are always quick to challenge the system and sometimes it's a good thing but other times there's no substitute for paying your dues. Think of it as a challenge.

Regardless you're gonna do well. With hustle like yours you can't fail as long as you stay humble and don't convince yourself that you're too good for the traditional channels, which I'm sure isn't the case. Keep on persevering my man!

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Apr 18, 2019


Apr 18, 2019

I am all for hurrying if it's going to take you more than four years to graduate, but I wouldn't be in an enormous rush to graduate in 2.5 years.

How much is tuition for you? Are you at a state school? Is it possible for you to get an MS and graduate in 3.5-4 years? Or maybe double major in CS, Math or Computer Engineering? There are some classes you can take now that will leave doors open for you in 10 or 20 years.

If you decide to stay in school, I have some ideas for making the MS more tax efficient, at a minimum. If you're working part time, and your employer's accy department is willing to wheel-and-deal, you should be able to apply your salary towards MS tuition without any taxes to you (FICA, federal, state), and they still get to expense it like salary for federal tax purposes.

If you're at a private school and tuition is costing you $25K/semester, I could see you graduating in the fall of senior year and shaving $35K off of your bill for college. Or maybe even getting enough credits out of the way so that fall semester is part-time.

But you're only in college once.

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Apr 22, 2019

Yes. Slow down.

Your goal should be to secure something you think you may enjoy doing. Once you have that, you can graduate whenever you want. There's plenty of advice on this site about networking for each of the roles you've listed.

College provides a safe launching pad for job hunting where you have the benefit of being a student. There is no rush to graduate until you secure the job that you want; 1.5 years may seem like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it's very little that you're giving up. Find the right opportunity first.

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May 11, 2019

I'm not going to comment on graduating early since I loved my college experience and I would add nothing substantive there.

About FT offers.. You are interning with a VC and a HF. Do you know the bosses there? Do they like you? Because if they can't hire you full time or effectively apprentice you (pay some peanuts post grad while you get better), surely they must know other friends at other shops who they know, like and trust? Get a referral and that's the easiest way to get in.

On this whole focus thing. I'm going to go against the wisdom here, since I've had a few different jobs, and because you are like 19 years old. Go explore and try different things so that you can figure out what you like or don't like. Sure some lame people will think that you are unfocused if you have done like 3 different jobs by 26, but if you explain it well then many will totally get it and it won't be a problem.

Good Luck

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May 12, 2019
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