The odds of landing ANY job at an investment bank are slim. In fact, as you've probably already famously heard, the acceptance rate to Harvard undergrad is multiple points higher than all bulge brackets. i.e. Goldman 3%, JP Morgan 2%, Morgan Stanley 2% etc... Harvard ~6%.
I'm one of the "lucky ones." I managed to secure a position in operations (back office) at a major bulge bracket bank and I'm here to help you. Over a series of posts, I plan to tell you as much as I can about what its like working in the back office and giving you the REAL story. I won't bullshit you and for obvious reasons I and the firm I work for will remain anonymous. Let's get started.
There are, with rare exception, exactly four types of people who work in Ops.
1) People who are working (actually, currently trying) to get out and move to the revenue side; ~20%
2) Those who wish they had the motivation and networking skills to be in category number 1; ~40%
3) People who started in #1 or #2 but waited too long and got comfortable i.e. had kids, settled down, etc.; 38%
4) Managing Directors; 2%
Starting from the bottom at #4 - Not relevant to us as their motives for staying are obvious. Work minimally and collect $500k - $1mm paychecks. #3 Colloquially referred to as "lifers." They might have had potential at one point but they got married or had kids or both. Their paychecks are good enough not to quit and they all know they probably aren't going anywhere at this point. The investment banking journey for them has ended. #2 Oh how I despise the number twos. Most of them think they are in category #1 and they are the ones sitting around complaining about being overworked and underpaid but are not doing a damn thing about it. You see, most of these people genuinely are smart, talented individuals but they just can't seem to figure out the world of finance. They prefer to carry on with their daily repetitive tasks, never learning meaningful skills, and thinking that taking a 15-minute lunch break as opposed to an hour is going to get them promoted. Finally, the #1s - the go-getters. They know where they stand and probably worked incredibly hard to get where they are. These people network their ass off and look for any route to the coveted IB jobs. Most will still fail, but by virtue of their dedication are setting themselves up for success at some point down the line in some position with a great job.
I want to have a conversation with all you #1s out there. Maybe you are a student trying to break into a finance role any way you can. Perhaps you too live in the world of operations and want confirmation of your viewpoints and/or to share your stories. Maybe you were one of the ones who made it to a true investment banking team and would like to shed some light on how you view your respective operations counterparts.
Whether you want guidance on getting into IB from Ops or even just getting to Ops I've seen it. Its not a bad role and its not for everyone, but for some it's one of the only routes into the industry you crave to work.
There is certainly more to come - but I want to know what YOU want to hear. Think I'm way off base? I want to hear that too. Comment below