There are a couple different paths that you can take as a finance major:
- Commercial Banking
- corporate finance
- Financial Planning
- Hedge Funds
- Investment Banking
- Money Management
- Private Equity
- Real Estate
I picked investment banking...
In investment banking you will be working with companies, CEOs, CFOs, and other corporate strategy personal to help grow their business. This can be helping them with buying another company or issuing capital. They may also be interested in selling their company. It is your job to advise them and help them pick the best option. This requires analytical due diligence to guarantee that you are advising the company in the right direction. The analytical due diligence is where the majority of the hours come from. You may have to change the growth rate on a model several times and re-run the due diligence to guarantee that you are really giving the best advice.
This part of the job is basically the sole factor for burnout. If you can make it through the tedious due diligence work and constant revision, the rest is easy, in my opinion. -less alcohol, now only have a couple drinks once per week. This is assuming that the conclusion you have come up with for the client is correct, if it is not, the whole deal can blow up. The other half of the job is meeting with clients and pitching the material that you have created.
If you are a social person and can intelligently express your ideas you should have no problem. Building the model are fun and interesting, but my favorite part of the job is meeting with the clients hearing their stories and helping their business. Investment banking can be a very rewarding career financially and can be fulfilling emotionally knowing that you are helping business, which is helping people and communities. There are people who get into this business and abuse it, but they are easy to spot and usually are unhappy with their life. I have seen it too much during my interviewing and work at various banks. If you are only doing something for the money, stop, and doing something that makes you happy. For me that is banking.
Everyone ask me about my social life. Since I became a banker it is different than before, but it is better. I go out to nicer places, eat better food, and can afford to go to different entertainment events like concerts. Just the other day I saw Markus Schulz, front row, and got his autograph, stuff I could never do before. My time is much more limited than other people's time, so when I want to do something I make it happen. My time is valuable to me, so I don't waste it watching re-runs of friends or surfing facebook. Too many people waste their time doing dumb stuff, and banking has taught me the value of time and how important my family is to me. I make time to call them and I make time to hang out with my friends.
As far as relationships, I have a great girlfriend. She is extremely understanding of my career and we get along great. She also works in finance and knows the pressure/stress that I am under daily. She is very supporting and isn't out for my money. We don't live together and she pays her own bills. When we go out to eat or for entertainment, she always offers to pay half and pulls her weight. Couldn't ask for a better girlfriend, the key was building the relationship before I became a banker. I can't speak to starting a new relationship while being a banker, but from watching the guys I work with it looks very, very hard. It is also who you target, a lot of people play up the investment banking job to girls, don't do that! Meet a girl that likes you for you, not your job.
A lot of people talk about how great the money is and they buy all these things. I am saving money and paying college debt right now, but if I wanted I have the money to buy things that I have always dreamed about having, like nice cars, a house, and awesome clothing. I don't do this though, and I don't really plan to until I start a family. Right now I am happy wearing old clothes, I sold my car because I live in the city, and I have a good, but not over the top apartment. Don't get me wrong, I wear nice business clothing, but I have learned to be happy with what I have. My life style is one that could be sustained on roughly over minimum wage.
I came from a non-target west coast school and a family where I was the first college graduate. My dad and mom worked very hard to make sure we made it every month. I had no contacts in banking when I started school and no contacts in any other finance areas. When finance classes began and I saw investment banking described in a book it caught my eye. The social and analytical aspect was a perfect combination for me. Since I was at a non-target there was no information about banking or how to break-in. I turned to the only place I knew, the internet. In my searches I found Wall Street Oasis and Linkedin. I began to read all the guides about how to break-in and I began to build out my Linkedin.
Going to school during the day and cold emailing people on Linkedin at night. I was also reading everything investment banking related that I could find and studying technical questions like a mad man. At this time I also joined my school's small investment group and began to develop my analytical skills. With much effort and no luck I wasn't able to get an investment banking internship. My first internship was on the east coast working for a major bank on the community banking side. I got this internship from cold calling and emailing people at the bank.
My senior year of college was deja vu, a lot of networking and hard work that didn't land me an investment banking job. I only had two investment banking final round interviews. One at Goldman Sachs in New York, which I got from cold calling, and another at the bank I currently work at, so I won't name it. After finishing school I got a job working on the Asset Management side of the same banking I interned with previously. I still wanted investment banking and continued to network.
It was extremely difficult being from a non-target school and interviews for investment banking were basically impossible to get. I took the asset management job and continued the grind of networking. Now that I was in a major city networking was easy! I got coffee with everyone I could and grew my network tremendously. Within less than 6 months I was having interviews at investment banks and received an offer. At times I wanted to quit and give up the dream, but I knew I could do it. If you are still trying, don't give up, keep trying, you can make it!
I was a first generation college graduate, with no contacts in the industry, from a non-target west coast school, with no investment banking internships, and I made it. Hard work pays off. Keep networking, keep studying, keep trying!
We're all gonna make it brah.
Mod Note: Best of WSO, this was originally posted April 2013