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Career advice needed

Hi everyone,

This is my first time writing on this forum, but I am an avid reader especially of the CFA section. Today I am asking for career advice as I want to make sure I do not miss my chance to maximize my potential. I could really use some guidance.

Let me give you all a little background first. I was a foreign student athlete that came over to the US with a full scholarship to play sports at a D-I “non-target” school but competitive sports and great location (think beach and sunny all year long). I just graduated in May with a BBA in finance and 3.7 GPA. I  broke multiple athletic records and won some prestigious awards which I hope can help my case if I decide to go to business school one day. I also completed a financial analyst program my senior year mostly focused on business valuation and accounting which gave me local connections to get a job post graduation.

So I accepted an internship at the headquarters of a S&P 500 listed company. It is one of the leaders of their industry in the US. The internship was focused on corporate finance and investor relations. 6 weeks into the 12 weeks program I was promoted to a full time analyst position working within the executive group and enabling me to work with the director of strategy so my unofficial title would be analyst - Corporate finance, IR and strategy. I enjoy my current job working alongside smart people, most of them worked on Wall Street for a while before joining the company. I sat down for the CFA level 1 last week to increase my knowledge and beef up my resume (“non-target” school…)

I currently have 6 months of experience in the job, and I was thinking spending 2 years there would be a good idea to become an expert in the industry and learn as much as I can. I obviously enjoy IR and strategy more than corporate finance so my question for you guys would be what is the smartest career path for me if I want to become a successful executive one day? I have been advised to look at equity research or keep going down the IR path as well as going back to a “target business school” if I can get in. Do you think I would have a chance?

I encourage any feedback and opinion I can get as I am sure it will help me to decide what’s next for me!

PS: I have papers so no visa issue for me, and I did not use my summers for internship but making money at summer camps instead.

I suggest that you consider applying to a Top 7 business school after you have 2-3 years of experience. Then, try to get a job at a consulting firm. This is one of the most common paths to executive roles, and even if you don’t get that far, it seems like it would be a good fit for you.

I don’t think equity research is a great career path for someone your age. Others might disagree.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

Consulting makes sense. Thanks for the feedback. To get into a top business school my plan would be to use my athletic and leadership background and prove that I have a solid academic background by going as far as I can with the CFA Institute program in the next couple years. I still think it would be a low percentage chance for me to get into a top 7 business school, but I won’t settle for less (not worth the money).

Ok. If you ask me, dial back the athlete part a bit. It sounds like you were great at sports, and you should definitely mention that as part of any application. However, focusing too much on your past achievement in something that is not directly relevant to your career can make you sound like a has-been. Whenever I see a resume or profile from someone with a few years of experience, and “student athlete” is near the top of the document, it makes me ask why they don’t have a more recent achievement to highlight. You don’t want to be the mid 20s or 30s guy whose life highlight was Fiesta Bowl no matter what else they do - you want to show you’ve moved to even better things.

As for what business school you can get into - you’d obviously know better than anyone here. However, from my observation, it’s pretty common for people to “trade up” and get a better name business school than their undergraduate degree, provided that they are productive in their first jobs. Let’s say you get a great GMAT (750+), and perform in a stellar fashion at your job, leading to strong recommendations from important people in the company (Top 1% of people I have hired), then who knows what might happen.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

Ok that’s good feedback thank you. Long road ahead for me! 

What athletic records did you break? 

Is this like the 400m run or swimming or something?

"It is a rational thesis that we are all within a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake." - G. K. Chesterton

I was a tennis player. I broke the record for highest singles national ranking at my school and won the Arthur Ashe Award. But now it’s time to focus on finance! Feel free to provide your insight on my career path…

that is pretty impressive you must be pretty good.  I am a former athlete myself - Pac10 - and let me tell you this, you just need to meet one person who is really into tennis to reel you in.  For me, through a lot of luck, it was a founder of a small equity hedge fund out in nyc.  I played golf and went to a “public ivy” school. To answer your question on your career path…..there is really no answer to that.  Network hard and find out what you really want to do (now b/c in a few years that might change) and study that field, people, and companies so that when opportunities arrive, you will be able to capitalize on it.  I never thought I would work for a fund in nyc when i was in school.  But currently, i am in private equity - away from public equities.  Just keep chugging along champ.  Put in 80% of the work you’ve put into tennis into your career and you’ll do well.

Be yourself. The world worships the original.

infinitybenzo wrote:

that is pretty impressive you must be pretty good.  I am a former athlete myself - Pac10 - and let me tell you this, you just need to meet one person who is really into tennis to reel you in.  For me, through a lot of luck, it was a founder of a small equity hedge fund out in nyc.  I played golf and went to a “public ivy” school. To answer your question on your career path…..there is really no answer to that.  Network hard and find out what you really want to do (now b/c in a few years that might change) and study that field, people, and companies so that when opportunities arrive, you will be able to capitalize on it.  I never thought I would work for a fund in nyc when i was in school.  But currently, i am in private equity - away from public equities.  Just keep chugging along champ.  Put in 80% of the work you’ve put into tennis into your career and you’ll do well.

Lucky you.  I also played college golf and can’t find anyone to network with that golfs. Every person I’ve met from hedge funds, private equity, or investments banks doesn’t golf…

Don’t underestimate the value of “a good story”, but also be aware that superior academic credentials and proven success in a relevant position are better than extracurricular activities 9/10 times.

“Visit the Water Cooler forum on Analyst Forum. It is the best forum.”
- Everyone

Thanks InfinityBenzo. Golf is the best sport to network and tennis is probably number 2 so hopefully I find my own PE founder! That’s actually how I got my current job, I played tennis with the director of strategy and he recommended me for an opening…

I definitely want to put my time and effort in my career, but more importantly not close any doors and make sure I am maximizing my chances to be successful. Good advice and you are spot on it’s difficult to know what I exactly want to do but if I want to have a chance to get into a top business school I will have to work for a professional financial services firm of some sort. Much appreciated feedback!

macron wrote:

I was a tennis player. I broke the record for highest singles national ranking at my school 

I thought college teams played each other. How were you ranked individually (is this a USTA ranking or something)?

"It is a rational thesis that we are all within a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake." - G. K. Chesterton

The fall is individual tournaments and the spring is team dual matches you are correct. You have team rankings, singles rankings and doubles rankings in NCAA D-I. To give some perspective there are about 2600 players playing college tennis and only the top 125 are individually nationally ranked. 

ohai wrote:

Don’t underestimate the value of “a good story”, but also be aware that superior academic credentials and proven success in a relevant position are better than extracurricular activities 9/10 times.

I agree with you. This is why I am trying to gain some credentials with the CFA. No other way for me to prove I am worthy of a better business school…

macron wrote:

ohai wrote:

Don’t underestimate the value of “a good story”, but also be aware that superior academic credentials and proven success in a relevant position are better than extracurricular activities 9/10 times.

I agree with you. This is why I am trying to gain some credentials with the CFA. No other way for me to prove I am worthy of a better business school…

Sure there is. Start a business or sell your skills to businesses who need finance help 

thanatos0320 wrote:

infinitybenzo wrote:

that is pretty impressive you must be pretty good.  I am a former athlete myself - Pac10 - and let me tell you this, you just need to meet one person who is really into tennis to reel you in.  For me, through a lot of luck, it was a founder of a small equity hedge fund out in nyc.  I played golf and went to a “public ivy” school. To answer your question on your career path…..there is really no answer to that.  Network hard and find out what you really want to do (now b/c in a few years that might change) and study that field, people, and companies so that when opportunities arrive, you will be able to capitalize on it.  I never thought I would work for a fund in nyc when i was in school.  But currently, i am in private equity - away from public equities.  Just keep chugging along champ.  Put in 80% of the work you’ve put into tennis into your career and you’ll do well.

Lucky you.  I also played college golf and can’t find anyone to network with that golfs. Every person I’ve met from hedge funds, private equity, or investments banks doesn’t golf…

There seems to be two kinds of these hedge fund, PE big shots in NYC.  The ones that live in the high rise condo and love dressing up and going out on a $400 dinners then going to a bar that sells a glass of wine for $32. These folks play golf once a year on vacation. There there is the other half who live in Scarsdale or Purchase or etc and have one or two memberships at local country clubs.  Some of these dudes also live in NJ and are members at very impressive clubs in NJ.

I on the other hand live in UWS but do have a car and play golf mainly in NJ.  Would rather spend $300 to play golf on  a fancy course with burger and beer afterwards than a 7 course meal at Per Se.

Be yourself. The world worships the original.

With that background you should have great future ahead of you. I’m sure of that!

I think Consultant would be fit for your based on your statement.

What’s your NTRP? 5.5? 6.0?

Nobody uses NTRP in college tennis or pros. We use UTR nowadays, I was a 14 my senior year. Doesn’t matter anymore, I had shoulder surgery and it did not go as expected so competitive tennis is unfortunately over for me.

I would crush you macron . You a has been. I would even put money on it. 

ohai wrote:

Ok. If you ask me, dial back the athlete part a bit. It sounds like you were great at sports, and you should definitely mention that as part of any application. However, focusing too much on your past achievement in something that is not directly relevant to your career can make you sound like a has-been. Whenever I see a resume or profile from someone with a few years of experience, and “student athlete” is near the top of the document, it makes me ask why they don’t have a more recent achievement to highlight. You don’t want to be the mid 20s or 30s guy whose life highlight was Fiesta Bowl no matter what else they do - you want to show you’ve moved to even better things.

Totally agree with this. I know a guy (senior to me) I used to work with that highlighted some high-school scholar athlete award he won prominently on his resume… in his 40’s. 

The guy bounced around from major banks but never spent more than 2-3 years at each. Turns out he is all talk and no real work. What I suspected when I saw his resume. I think now he started a landscaping firm or something…