I always wanted to know more about investment banking as an undergrad. The work, the ambition it requires, and the thought of being around a bunch of intelligent, hard-working individuals attracted me.
Then I took a different path and studied English in college instead of finance. But, although I wouldn’t seriously consider pursuing this field now like I did before, investment banking is still fascinating to me.
So when I thought of interesting and successful people to interview for you, I knew I had to text this guy I know at an investment bank and see what comes of it.
Fortunate for us, this investment banker agreed to slice out time from his busy schedule to do the interview with me, as long as it remained anonymous.
I wasn’t surprised about his one condition to go anonymous, because it’s pretty typical for Wall Street and the big banks to dislike attaching their name to anything. And I believe you readers gain more raw information and honesty because this person had the freedom to share without holding back.
So from me to you, it doesn’t matter if you’re convinced you’re working in investment banking or a completely unrelated field. This is an excellent read, regardless. Trust me.
Brian: What are the career benefits of working in investment banking?
Investment banking is a really great start to your career in finance. It teaches you to work hard and how to value a company and determine the best strategic option for the company. It also teaches you how to succeed in a competitive environment, and there really is never a dull day.
As far as long-term career benefits, it is the most flexible option you can have. Every field of finance values the skill set that investment banking provides and makes investment bankers highly sought after candidates for jobs ranging from private equity to corporate finance.
Brian: And some of the negatives or sacrifices?
Sacrifice is the name of the game. I’ve been working at the job for 6 months. It’s like being a doctor; you’re always on call, your social life comes second, and hobbies go out the window. Those looking at working in the industry have to be prepared for 80-100 hour weeks regularly, all nighters and having to miss concerts and other gatherings with friends in order to hammer out pitch books on the weekend.
That’s not to say it’s all bad, as the compensation helps make it worth it. You do have to work like some kid is trying to take your spot (which is true) and do as your boss says, as there isn’t much room for creativity as other fields.
Brian: I read about the 100 hour work weeks as an investment banker. Do all the hours require intelligent, focused work or do some of the total hours include just being there at the office, doing busy work?
It really depends. There’s different levels of investment banking banks: bulge brackets (Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, etc.), middle market banks (William Blair, Raymond James, Houlihan Lokey, etc.) and boutiques (Everhill, Greencore, Moelis, etc.). Hours can differ by type of bank, and especially by type of group (real estate, consumer, healthcare, FIG, consumer, etc.).
Personally, I work less hours but cram more work into those hours (let’s say 75-80 hours) than some of my bulge bracket friends (90 hours, but more down time). It really varies. The best thing someone can do when exploring banks to go to is find the right fit for them, figure out how you operate and pick a bank that fits. Otherwise, you will be MISERABLE.
Banks are working on “junior banking initiatives” to improve work life balance. Citigroup has Saturday’s off (unless you are on a live deal), JP Morgan offers a “protected” weekend once a month (phone out of pocket).
Brian: How crucial is it to know what you’re doing on Excel as a banker?
It definitely, definitely helps. It makes your job so much easier. When your job is easier, you work faster and make your boss happier. It definitely is not required though. I would say get some experience with different functions in college or take a Wall Street Prep excel course if you want to make yourself a better candidate.
Brian: What type of personalities, traits, or background do you think lead to people entering and excelling as an investment banker?
I think ambition plays a huge role, as well as an appreciation for hard work. I’ve always strived to challenge myself, and investment banking is definitely one of the most challenging fields coming out of college.
If you can’t imagine working more than 8 hours a day, then this field is not for you. For me, I don’t mind putting in work and bettering my skillset for 80 hours a week. It is definitely not for everyone, but those who are ambitious and continually look to push themselves should look into investment banking.
Brian: What are the action steps you would give to an undergrad who wants to break into this field?
As far as studies go, being a business major obviously helps but isn’t a requirement. If you don’t study finance, get involved with some sort of finance club on campus. It also helps to take a financial modeling class if your school does not already have one.
Also, make sure you’re a well-rounded person. Investment banks love seeing that you’ve worked in a team before, so clubs sports or things like debate teams are held in high regard. It is also important to work somewhere that’s not just your local pool’s snack stand during the summers. I worked for free at a family friend’s business, and that experience helped me in my interviews. And lastly, research the field. Make sure this is what you want to do before giving it your all and trying to break in.
Brian: Can you tell me as much as you can about the investment banking interview process?
As far as selection for interviews, I’ll break this down into two different sections: target schools vs. non-target schools
These are your schools with a strong business school as well as alumni network in investment banking/Wall Street (Ivy League, Michigan, NYU, Notre Dame, Indiana, etc.). Biggest thing at these schools is differentiating yourself from the pack but also getting your foot in the door. GPA is highly regarded; some banks will barely look at you if you don’t have a 3.5. GPA doesn’t make it impossible though, as I did not have the greatest GPA in college. Networking with alumni, talking to people who work at the banks, and crushing those interviews are very important. These banks have been recruiting at your schools for years so they know everyone is smart; they want to see who wants it badly enough and who has taken initiative to make their dreams a reality.
The biggest difference here is the standards are raised. You need to keep your GPA high (above 3.5) and network your ass off. That means reaching out through your sister’s ex-boyfriend’s brother to get contacts at some of these banks. That means maybe paying your own way to get to Chicago or New York to meet people for coffee and become more than just a piece of paper. It is much harder, but not impossible, to break in.
There are a few things that investment bankers look at:
1. KNOW YOUR RESUME
When I had my first interview, I thought I knew my resume backwards and forwards. I do not work at that bank. You do the math there.
2. Technical Questions
The dreaded technical questions. Honestly this is just a checklist and a way to see how you work under pressure. Look online for investment banking question guides to prepare yourself. Know how to walk through a DCF, how depreciation flows through the 3 statements, how to value a company, debt vs. equity, different valuation multiples. And if you don’t know the answer, walk your way through what you know with the interviewer and where you would look for the answer. NEVER guess.
This sort of goes with knowing your resume. Practice in the mirror telling your story, how you came to investment banking, and what you have done to break into the field.
4. Research the company
Another bank I did not know the CEOs name, which didn’t help my status. Don’t do a deep dive but have something to talk about when they ask if you have any questions.
Overall, you have to be comfortable in there. These interviewers will only hire kids they like, kids they can see themselves working with for long hours every week. Relax, treat the room like a conversation, and ask intelligent questions at the end. If there are two interviewers, split your questions among the two and make sure you address each person with your answers. Also, when interviewing at specific banks, ask around or research to see if they ask certain technicals in order to prepare yourself accordingly.
Brian: What’s the most insane story you’ve heard on Wall Street involving a co-worker, analyst at another bank, client, or deal?
As far as deals go, A coworker had a friend who had to fly to Germany and drop off a pitchbooks for a meeting. He literally flew there (working the whole time on the plane, naturally), met his boss in the airport with the books, and flew home.
Another kid had to stay up two nights in a row (60 hours) to finish up a presentation to give to the group internally. As soon as the lights went off for the PowerPoint presentation, everyone in the room heard a THUD. The kid had immediately fallen asleep when the lights went off (he’s ok, no issues there).
Deal closing/holiday parties are also pretty awesome. Everyone is just blowing off steam, you get to drink with some of the older guys and hear their Wall Street stories from “the good old days”, awkward coworker hookups and money being spent in large quantities.
Brian: How prevalent is cocaine in investment banking? I imagine the crazy work hours, high stress, and sleep deprivation make cocaine a desirable drug for some.
It’s honestly not that prevalent, as the risk just far outweighs the reward. I know kids who do it outside of work (investment banking provides you a lot of cash to spend). I’d say Adderall would be more prevalent but even that isn’t used much. Coffee, Red Bull, 5 hour energy drinks are huge.
Brian: If you had to give an estimate based on your anecdotal evidence, what’s the percentage of jerks on Wall Street? And why do you think this is so?
It really depends. Bulge brackets overall the industry views as having more “jerks” then middle market where culture is more valued. But it’s really on a group by group basis. It’s an industry full of highly ambitious individuals, so some bosses with ride their analysts so that they can impress their own bosses in turn.
This ambition, coupled with some people thinking money makes them better than people, really makes some people assholes, but there are assholes in literally every industry. So I would say 20% are assholes but many are congregated at the bulge bracket level vs. middle market level.
Brian: Any last words you want to share?
If this investment banking is truly what you want, don’t ever give up. I was rejected countless times before getting anything when I went through recruiting. Keep having faith in yourself, and keep pushing and grinding to get your opportunity.
I personally loved this interview. The honesty, insight, and advice about working in investment banking came out in a phenomenal fashion.
Since the majority of readers don’t go to target schools, I want to focus on and reiterate what this investment banker said about it being harder to land an offer from a non-target school, but not impossible.
If you do find yourself in this position, it’s possible if you’re extra prepared and go above and beyond target school students.
By this, I mean you need to be ready with answers to overcome objections about your school, GPA, or work ethic. And in the job search you have to hustle harder by being more persistent than anyone else and getting creative to find connections.
For example, ask your university’s alumni office if they have a list of alumni in banking. Find contact information for investment bankers on their firm’s website. Or call the firm’s main line and ask to speak to a specific associate, VP, or someone in hiring. If you can’t find an email, investigate the firm’s email format (like first name and last name @bankname.com, or first initial and last name @bankname.com) and use the name of the person you want to contact in that same format.
If you don’t do these things and more, you have virtually no shot compared to someone at a target school like Harvard or Penn.
And reread the last answer in the interview if you’re serious about working in investment banking. Because I agree that the opportunity is there if you really want it.
When you know what you want and why you want it, that’s enough motivation to power you to find a way.
Are you interested in working in investment banking? Do you want to know more about what does an investment banker do? If so, comment below and I’ll do a follow-up piece.
10 Careers For People Who Love Helping Others
Know you’re someone who loves serving others and is naturally inclined to that kind of work? A career that allows you to live your passion is just what you need.
For a lot of people starting off in the working world or looking for a new career, financial rewards are not the number one thing they are looking for.
Instead, they want a job that provides a sense of personal satisfaction through the feeling of helping others. These jobs are out there.
You have a whole host of jobs that put you in direct contact with those in need, whether this is through healthcare, education, charity or another option.
And then there are the jobs that provide a broader contribution to society including science and engineering.
So, let’s go through a list of 10 potential options if you are looking for a job that prioritizes helping others.
1) Teaching and Education
Education is a broad field that gives you the opportunity to impart your skills and knowledge onto others, whether these are children or adults.
Beyond the traditional primary and secondary school paths, there are also opportunities to teach at further education colleges or else children with special needs.
To qualify as a teacher, you will need a degree and a further year of hands-on training, but there are also opportunities such as youth work, childcare or becoming a teaching assistant.
Essentially, the knowledge that you are having a direct impact on people’s lives and you are helping them to develop themselves is immensely rewarding.
2) Nursing and Healthcare
As well as being able to serve others, nursing is a field that is always looking for new staff members so there will be no shortage of job opportunities. Just take a look at https://www.staffnurse.com/ to find out more.
Beyond the range of hospital jobs that you can choose from, you could also find yourself working in a GP surgery, adult care centres or people’s homes, to name a few.
The launch of the nursing degree apprenticeship has been designed to make the career easier for people to enter, but obtaining a degree is still required to progress in this field.
Otherwise, there are plenty of other careers in healthcare apart from being a nurse including physiotherapy, midwifery or pharmacy.
Although it takes a great deal of hard work and commitment to enter this career path in the first place, there is no doubt that working in medicine is one of the most rewarding options out there.
After all, you are helping people with their most important commodity; life.
As well as becoming involved in the day-to-day treatment of patients, there is also the option to go into the research side of the field and help develop groundbreaking medicine.
And there are also a wide range of medical specialties to choose from so you can decide on one that perfectly suits your interests.
On the down side, this tends to be a very demanding option that requires a lot of dedication to the role which can often impact work-life balance.
4) Social Work
Social work is a career that brings you into direct contact with some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Some of the most common include elderly people, adults with mental health issues and people with learning difficulties.
You will probably be required to get involved in some very tough situations including child protection, adoption or working with offenders. To become a full social worker, you will need to obtain a degree, but there are other non-degree options that give you the opportunity to work in this field in other capacities.
Be in the know that many of these jobs come along with high levels of anxiety and the need to work in some very challenging situations.
5) Emergency Services
Comprising of the police, ambulance and fire and rescue, the emergency services are three different career paths.
They all have in common the responsibility to directly respond to people in their most urgent time of need. And these tend to be very community-oriented jobs, as well as ones in which the tasks vary greatly.
There are a wide range of different options and entry levels for each of the three sectors we have mentioned.
The downside is that the working hours tend to be unstable and you are also likely to find yourself working on call.
But there is also a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a genuine difference to society.
6) Charity Work
There are all kind of career paths that are directly linked to the charity sector from fundraising to marketing.
You may find yourself directly interacting with people or you may be in a more office-based role, but either way, you will have the knowledge that you are closely involved in helping others.
Jobs are open for both graduates and non-graduates, and there are also plenty of voluntary opportunities as well.
If you know that you are directly involved in a field that you are passionate about, this is a fantastic and motivating feeling that can give you immense job satisfaction. Keep in mind you may have to work your way up from the bottom to get there or come into the sector from a different career path entirely.
You may not naturally associate a career in law with one which is helping people, but there are some options which give you the opportunity to give a voice to people without one.
For example, you could go down a career in criminal defence in which you support people who have been accused of crimes.
You could also become involved in the child protection side of law in which you help children in very vulnerable situations. Solicitors and barristers are the jobs that grab most of the headlines, but there are also plenty of entry-level positions that all you to work your way up.
Ultimately, you need to be selective about the type of job you are going for so that you have the feeling that you are helping people and making a genuine difference to their lives.
8) Science and Engineering
Though a lot of science and engineering careers are less about helping people on a daily basis, they are often involved in making the big societal changes that make all the difference in the long run.
For example, in a science career role, you could be involved in protecting the environment or developing new health treatments for people.
Plenty of engineering paths also lead to positive changes for people such as developing renewable energy sources.
Again, it is all about being selective with your career choice so you go for one that provides you with the maximum amount of job satisfaction and the feeling that you are really helping people.
9) Public Service
Though people who work in politics often have a bad reputation, many people do enter this particular career path because they want to help others.
The work that you are doing could impact the entirety of the country, even though whether you are in contact with them directly or not depends on what job role you go into.
So, if you are particularly passionate about the community you live in, a career in local government could be the ideal solution.
Alternatively, you could work in central government and choose between all the different major areas such as pensions, healthcare, education and justice. Job roles are varied so you could be coming in from a wide range of backgrounds.
But if you progress high up the career ladder, stress levels can rise accordingly as you are having to make the decisions that really impact people’s lives.
Psychology still remains a rapidly developing field. And the increasing focus on mental health in society means that there are more options than ever before becoming available.
Some of the most common branches of psychology that people enter include health, clinical, counselling, educational and forensic.
Like other job roles we have talked about already, you have the reward of knowing that you are directly helping people who are struggling with a range of complex issues.
The 10 career paths we have talked about are just some of the potential options you have if you are looking to get into a career that involves helping others.
While some require a great deal of training and study, others can be entered at any stage.
Essentially, you should think about where your passions lie before matching yourself up to one of these options.
It may be that you want to come into contact with people directly and feel like you are helping people in this way. It may be that you like the idea of contributing to wider societal changes that help people in the long-run.
Whatever the case, many people find that personal rewards and job satisfaction from one of these types of career outweigh the financial incentives of other paths.
Though if you work your way up, you still have an excellent opportunity to strike the perfect balance of finding a job that is rewarding in both senses of the word.
High Risk Career Choices That Could Pay Off Big
Are you the type of person who enjoys adrenaline and high-risk, high-reward opportunities? You’ll probably fit perfectly in one of these risky career fields below.
Career choices are never easy. Whether you’re a high schooler, a college kid, a young professional, or a middle aged adult, it’s difficult but crucial you find the right job.
A large portion of your happiness and future depend on it.
While there’s advice all over about how to find the right career based on your personality, sometimes this can lead to overthinking and feeling paralyzed on what to do next.
It’s best to know yourself and trust your gut when it comes to making the right career choice.
Since every choice you make in life will come with its own risk that it may not pay off, sometimes the ones with the most risk are the ones worth risking everything for to be happy.
For the risk-takers out there who need to have a sense of fulfillment in their work, the following high risk jobs could be right up your alley.
Starting Your Own Business
If there’s one career move that a lot of us will want to make, but can often be afraid of, it’s starting a business from scratch.
Starting your own business will always be a risk. Even when you have the capital, a solid business plan, and a lot of experience in your field; you can never guarantee that it’s going to work out.
But if you’re willing to work hard and work at it, it’s a risk that can often pay off.
Becoming A Freelancer
Similarly, choosing to leave job security and go freelance can also be risky business (albeit less than starting your own business), but it’s often worth it.
The risk of going freelance is real and it will also depend on how well you are at adjusting to freelance life. Work won’t always be handed to you; you have to chase it. The investment you need to give here is both your heart and time.
By putting everything you’ve got into going freelance, you should see success.
Working In Another Country
When you do own your own business, or if you have a side project that you’re working on, there may be a time that you decide to go international. And there are always risks associated with this move.
When you’re moving into a market that you don’t know and that you have no experience in, there is a greater chance that you fail.
If you can do your research and plan your entry carefully, the potential successes will always be worth the risk.
Real Estate Investing
There’s always the option to turn to real estate investing.
If you’ve wanted to start a career for yourself that you can operate alongside your work, for the time being, property investment is a strong option.
Whether you look into buy to let options, BTO, or decide to start flipping properties, you have the potential to earn more money than you know what to do with on your own.
Many beginner investors need to first just build up capital, and then be willing to patiently wait until the property and price is right.
Becoming A Professor
When you’re starting out on your career path and still in college, or considering going back to study for your graduate degree, you may consider becoming a professor.
This is a risk for two reasons.
Firstly, the cost of getting your doctorate can’t be ignored. Debt and risk go hand in hand together.
And secondly, the idea that you’re missing out on being in the working world and getting paid a high salary for your skills.
Now if you make it through academia to become a professor and earn tenure, then your job security will be at an all-time high and career risk at an all-time low.
Becoming A Doctor
For those considering becoming a doctor, you may wonder if it is entirely worth it.
Medical education is long, challenging, and expensive.
So you have to be able to analyze the cost vs. the reward relationship when it comes to training to become a doctor.
If you’re skilled, passionate, and willing to work hard, you should be able to both out-work and out-earn your student debt before you know it.
Training As A Pilot
As far as adventurous careers go, if you want to enjoy job security and a good salary at the same time, you’re often limited with choice.
However, a strong option would be to train as a pilot.
Of course there are risks with any kind of job like this, but you should find that although the training is costly, the salary you receive in return will repay your investment, and your security will shatter any risk.
You’ll also gain the flexibility to fly commercial or private, which can’t be said in many careers.
Joining The Army
An army job does not need as much of an investment upfront in terms of experience or money, but it does require a few years of your life.
Although some positions will require a college education like an army officer, it’s not required across entry-level positions. Out of all the options on this list, this one may be the easiest to begin.
Keep in mind a career within the army may prove a risk to your life at times, but the security, skills training and experience may make it the best investment you could make.
Working For The Government
You may also want to consider joining the government.
Working for the federal government, although not a risk in itself (depending on your role) can be worth the investment in your education that you may need to make.
You will often benefit from great working rewards and enjoy a varied working day, especially if you decide to go into an intelligence field.
At some point in your career, you may also want to think about going into mentorship.
Mentoring is often a great way to give back to the industry and encourage bright talent for the future, although it can mean you have to give up your time with very little financial gain in return.
Often times mentors find that the personal rewards make any risk you take entirely worth it.
5 Best Future Careers, And 5 That Will Disappear
If you’re going to look for a new career, why not consider the best future careers to make sure that job is going to be as profitable in 20 years as it is now?
There’s a whole bunch of careers that are set to disappear as organizations become more dependent on computers and automation to do the heavy legwork for them.
Some experts think that somewhere in the region of 47% of jobs might be lost over the coming decades. That’s absurd if you think about this for a minute!
If you’re looking for a career that will stay relevant, you’d have your head on straight if you considered picking a field from the five we’ve listed below—and avoiding the five industries listed below them.
Good Future Careers
1. Cyber Security
The world’s going to be even more reliant on internet systems than it is now. With the arrival of the “internet of things”, it’s going to be all around us, a part of everything we do.
This, naturally, will make the criminals of the world pay attention – and as such, as our reliance on these systems grows, so will the importance of staying one step ahead of the people looking to hack and causing mischief.
If you know how to keep these attacks at bay, you’ll be high in demand in the corporate or government sector.
2. Tech Development
Well now, the whole world isn’t going to become dependent on technology just by chance: there’s going to be people behind those systems, working hard to find the next great breakthrough and push the world forward.
It’s important to note that not all IT based jobs will be safe; the market for app development jobs, for example, is likely to wind down.
However, if you can train yourself in advanced technology systems and make sure you’re always at the cutting edge of what’s happening, you’ll find plenty of work.
3. Data Analyst
Data is already used to influence companies much more than you probably realize, but it’s set to become even bigger in the next decade and beyond.
There’s already more data than any company could need, but there’s a problem: there aren’t enough people who know how to interpret the data.
If you’ve got an eye for spotting trends and can make sense of large quantities of information, then look at becoming a data analyst. Computers won’t be able to make sense of it on their own (in the beginning at least): it’ll need the human touch.
And talking of a human touch; healthcare is another industry that will be kept safe from computers.
Of course, automation and AI will form a significant part of healthcare, but it’ll work in conjunction with health professionals, not replace them.
Don’t worry if you don’t like the thought of dealing with blood and other healthcare hazards; there are plenty of specialized jobs available that are just as safe.
If we take a look at the job prospects for a radiologist via wikiprofessional.org, we can see that it’s a future proof career option; demand for this job, along with other physicians, is due to grow by 24% over the next few years.
Some jobs just can’t be performed by a machine, and healthcare is right at the top of the list.
5. Social Care
There’ll also be plenty of jobs in an industry that can be considered the cousin of healthcare, social care.
Again, there will be elements of technology incorporated into the industry, but it’ll be working alongside the core workers, rather than replacing them, as the very essence of this type of work depends on human interaction.
And this market won’t just be safe because computers can’t take over: it’s a growing industry in its own right.
In the not too distant future, people aged 70 and over are going to form the biggest age group in the country, and there’ll need more people than there currently are to take care of them.
Bad Future Careers
1. Number Crunching
If you’ve got a knack for mathematics and producing reports and paperwork, then look away now, because this is one surprising career that is likely to shrink in importance in the forthcoming years.
While it currently requires a high degree of expertise, a slew of applications that will more or less automate the entire process are already here, and there will be more on the way, too.
Though traditional companies still rely on human hands to take care of these jobs, modern companies are using machines to take care of their account, bookkeeping, tax returns, and so on, and it’ll be these companies who dominate the future.
2. Global Knowledge
The rapid globalization of the economy has meant it’s been a golden age for workers who were able to navigate different cultures and languages.
While we’re still a ways off from not needing tour guides with specialized, in-depth knowledge, the abundance of apps and other smartphone related tools will shrink this industry over time.
At a more immediate risk are translators, who will have to compete with software that automatically translates languages. The tech isn’t quite there yet, but it is coming, and from then it’ll only be the highly sensitive translations that are done by humans.
3. Non-Artistic Writing
Now, there’s little chance a computer will take the place of a novelist anytime soon. That’s just not going to happen because art is inherently human.
However, writing that isn’t obviously artistic, such as web content, technical reports, and (gasp) newspaper articles will increasingly be written by machines.
Some news outlets already use bots to write their weather reports, and it has been reported (by humans) that robots are more and more responsible for what we’re reading online and in our newspapers.
The entire logistics industry is about to be turned upside down, as nearly all components can be performed by a robot. Machines will be responsible for the running of warehouses, packaging, and delivery, with little to no human hands helping them along the way.
For a glimpse into the future, look no further than Amazon’s delivery plans. Welcome to the future!
According to studies, broadcasters score some of the lowest when it comes to job growth, stress, and work environment.
This makes sense since competition has to be high for these limited roles and job security is not going to be strong when a media company can quickly fill a broadcasting role with another talking head.
It’s also difficult to find that first broadcasting job as radio stations become syndicated and the Internet gobbles up more music and sports positions.
These are just a few of industries where humans will have more or less importance in the future. So if you’re looking for a change of career, make sure it’s one for the future!