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This sounds bad, but... [#permalink] New post 24 Dec 2007, 22:42
A bit of background: I work in consulting. It's a great job, I get to see a lot of different and interesting issues, and I get a lot of exposure to quite a few great companies. However, it involves a lot of unpredictability and it's a lot of travel.

I'm newly-married, and we're talking about having kids in approx. t-minus five years; this talk involved whether my current lifestyle will be able to be maintained when the kids start arriving. Probably not.

So, I decided to apply to b-school, and I was lucky to get into Chicago's full time program. Now, the only question is, what career path do I pursue?

I'm considering quite a few different options, and the ones that really stand out to me are investment management, business development, and VC. However, the main considerations of these jobs are:

1. How much it pays
2. How much free time it affords me
3. How well I enjoy the job

#3 isn't worrisome to me; I enjoy business in itself, and I could find happiness in almost any business-related role. Heck, I enjoyed being an auditor.

#1 is pretty darn important. No explanation necessary. I know this is somewhat superficial. Sorry.

#2 is also pretty darn important. The reason I'm about to go $100K+ (not withstanding opportunity costs) in the hole is so I can be there when my future offspring are growing up.

So, that brings me to my bad-sounding question: What specific career paths are out there (preferrably finance-oriented) that have a regular schedule (i.e. 8 to 7, little or no travel) that pay the best?

Again, I apologize for the superficiality (is that a word?) of the question. However, I have to think that I'm not the only person in this boat, and I really couldn't find any posts specifically relating to this topic.

Any and all commentary is appreciated. Except the kind that's intended to make me feel shallow and uninformed, which is unnecessary, since I'm already there. :)
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 01:06
Based on your criteria, I'd say Sales & Trading. Generally, traders work 10-12 hours per day and virtually never work weekends. Sales traders tend to work about the same hours, but sometimes do entertaining after hours. There is basically no travel involved. The pay is awesome and if you're good, it's possible to be promoted really quickly.

There are some drawbacks. First, almost all of the jobs are in NY, with a few sales jobs scattered around the country; this may or may not be a drawback. The work is known to be extremely intense - days will go by with no time for lunch, or even a bathroom break. If you screw up, you could be fired faster than you can say 'but it wasn't my fault'! It can be really tough to land an S&T job, as most firms tend to recruit at just a handful of schools; this probably won't be a problem for you at Chicago.

So, if you're willing to live in NY, S&T should fit your needs.
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 09:07
[quote="pelihu"]Based on your criteria, I'd say Sales & Trading. quote]

Is there any other jobs besides S&T? Esp for those who don't want to live in NYC?
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 10:16
MGOBLUE2 wrote:
Is there any other jobs besides S&T? Esp for those who don't want to live in NYC?


Well, there are plenty of jobs other than S&T, but the criteria given by the OP were big money, little travel, and a stable 11-hour work day.

Investment bankers certainly get the big money, but their work day tends to be a lot longer than 11 hours and some have to travel quite a bit. A lot of IB jobs are in NY, but there are somewhat more outside of NY compared with S&T.

Consultants get decent pay, but most have to travel on a very regular basis, and some are away from home 4-5 nights a week, every week. Based on what I know from my friends in consulting, their schedules tend to be very erratic, but they work fewer weekends than bankers (S&T almost never work weekends).

General management, marketing, project management and the like offer good hours and a stable work week, but probably don't pay at the level preferred by the OP. $80-110k is a very good salary by most measures, but pales in comparison to the $150-200k that consultants can get right out of school, and is completely dwarfed by the $225-350 that bankers get (yes, even in crappy year like this one).

Certainly, there are some other jobs that fit the criteria, but they tend to be really hard to get. Generally hedge funds and PE shops have better hours than banks, and many our located outside of NY in places like Boston, Silicon Valley, LA, Northern Virginia, Research Triangle Park etc. But I think there is ongoing misinformation that all HF/PE pay $3-500k per year to fresh graduates; that's really only true if you go to one of the big, profitable, well-capitalized funds.

I have interviews with several in the coming weeks, and really I'm only confident that one of them offers better pay than the top IBs. HF/PE shops are great places to work, but I think the bulk of them (all of the funds with less than $1B of so) pay less than IBs, at least in the early years before you earn your carry interest. Another thing is that most of these places like to hire former analysts and people that have substantial experience in the field. I really haven't heard of anyone landing a good HF/PE job without such a background, at least not here at Darden.
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 10:56
pelihu wrote:
MGOBLUE2 wrote:
Is there any other jobs besides S&T? Esp for those who don't want to live in NYC?


Well, there are plenty of jobs other than S&T, but the criteria given by the OP were big money, little travel, and a stable 11-hour work day.

Investment bankers certainly get the big money, but their work day tends to be a lot longer than 11 hours and some have to travel quite a bit. A lot of IB jobs are in NY, but there are somewhat more outside of NY compared with S&T.

Consultants get decent pay, but most have to travel on a very regular basis, and some are away from home 4-5 nights a week, every week. Based on what I know from my friends in consulting, their schedules tend to be very erratic, but they work fewer weekends than bankers (S&T almost never work weekends).

General management, marketing, project management and the like offer good hours and a stable work week, but probably don't pay at the level preferred by the OP. $80-110k is a very good salary by most measures, but pales in comparison to the $150-200k that consultants can get right out of school, and is completely dwarfed by the $225-350 that bankers get (yes, even in crappy year like this one).

Certainly, there are some other jobs that fit the criteria, but they tend to be really hard to get. Generally hedge funds and PE shops have better hours than banks, and many our located outside of NY in places like Boston, Silicon Valley, LA, Northern Virginia, Research Triangle Park etc. But I think there is ongoing misinformation that all HF/PE pay $3-500k per year to fresh graduates; that's really only true if you go to one of the big, profitable, well-capitalized funds.

I have interviews with several in the coming weeks, and really I'm only confident that one of them offers better pay than the top IBs. HF/PE shops are great places to work, but I think the bulk of them (all of the funds with less than $1B of so) pay less than IBs, at least in the early years before you earn your carry interest. Another thing is that most of these places like to hire former analysts and people that have substantial experience in the field. I really haven't heard of anyone landing a good HF/PE job without such a background, at least not here at Darden.


Were you in finance prior to B-School? Just curious how difficult it is to even land interviews at HF/PE without an analyst role on the resume.
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 11:33
I think it's really difficult to land an interview without prior analyst or PE/HF experience. Most of the funds that come on campus tend to interview 5-8 people and generally have just a single opening. Many funds do not have any formalized recruiting so students must make contact on their own.

I didn't work in finance prior to business school, but I have some other stuff that I think they find interesting. I attended a top law school and worked as a lawyer in real estate and capital markets transactions, and there are definitely funds that focus on these things. I was also an entrepreneur and did business on the ground in China for years, and I speak Chinese fluently, and this is obviously very popular subject matter right now. I've also got a full fellowship through the institute for entrepreneurship here, and I think that's a huge factor in landing interviews. I also have a high GMAT score, which is a very big factor to some recruiters.

I think the bottom line is that these jobs are in high demand, so they want to see things identify you as a top candidate, and experience that could be applicable to the fund. Prior analysts are popular because those jobs are extremely competitive; and a few years at a top IB is hard work and good training. If you weren't an analyst, there are other ways to stand out, but realistically most funds are probably interested in the top 2-5% at a place like Darden. At Harvard or Stanford they might be interested in the top 20% or something like that. In addition to being a top candidate, relevant experience can be very useful as well.
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 [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2007, 11:42
Thanks for the replies!

Maybe I overstated my penchant for wanting to earn huge money. While it's certainly an important factor, I don't need to conquer the world. Starting at approx. $150K with room for advancement is ideal for me (I'm lucky in the fact my wife has a well-paying job that she's really good at).

I want to stay planted in the Chicago area, so the whole sales/trading thing might be a stretch.

I might be open to taking an IB or consulting job in the short-term, provided it opens me to opportunities better-suiting my long-term goals that wouldn't have been previously available had I not initially done IB/consulting.

As for PE/HF, I know it's a bit harder to break into, esp. w/o an IB background...but exactly how difficult would this be coming from Chicago? Also, isn't the viability of these business models taken a big hit since the subprime...unpleasantness?

Finally, I became interested in investment management using the MBA Authority site (I'd post the link, but apparently I'm not allowed to post links for 5 days).

This sounds almost exactly what I'm looking for. Can you (or anyone else) please comment on this particular career path?

Thanks, everyone.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2007, 18:13
hayobs11 wrote:
Thanks for the replies!

As for PE/HF, I know it's a bit harder to break into, esp. w/o an IB background...but exactly how difficult would this be coming from Chicago? Also, isn't the viability of these business models taken a big hit since the subprime...unpleasantness?


I can address that point. First year at GSB, serious interest and networking to date for PE w/o an IB background.

It's an uphill battle and you have to have the stomach for a great degree of risk, but the school puts you in a position to succeed. The alumni in the industry have been very willing to speak, and there are a good number of students that you can trade information with as you get up to speed. Most importantly, they have a lab class with lecture and 15 hours a week for a firm. It's intended for people like you, not filled with people that came from the industry. Last year 40 students participated, and they expect around the same number this year.

Can't comment on HF opportunities.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2007, 18:30
My interviewer for LBS was a PE guy (in fact the interview was at his lavish office). He mentioned that PE is difficult to get into straight out of b-school. The normal path is b-school , 2-3 years of MC or IB and the PE. Its all very personality and connection oriented.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2007, 19:23
bsd_lover wrote:
My interviewer for LBS was a PE guy (in fact the interview was at his lavish office). He mentioned that PE is difficult to get into straight out of b-school. The normal path is b-school , 2-3 years of MC or IB and the PE. Its all very personality and connection oriented.


Totally agree that personality and connections are very important. Bulge bracket IB or big 3 MC are good backgrounds to have. Other banking or consulting probably isn't much of a factor; I have friends from smaller IB's Booz, Deloitte, etc., and none are made any traction. Aside from bulge bracket and big 3 I'd say relevant experience can open some doors. If have experience as a real estate and capital markets attorney and landed an interview with a real estate PE/HF. I was an entrepreneur and made a lot of contacts on the ground in China, which was probably a large factor in landing an interview with a HF looking to start a new fund investing in businesses in China.

So, I'd say if you're interested in PE/HF, try to leverage any unique experiences you've had. If you're interested in VC, go to Stanford :lol:.
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 [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2007, 19:33
hayobs, i PMd you...

For what its worth, getting into PE or VC without any IB or other rigorous finance background seems very difficult regardless of what school you hail from.
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 [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2007, 08:32
I'd add something else about Sales & Trading...

* I think the "You work 35 hours a week" thing is probably only sort of true. The people I know that move into that space say that while they only "work" 40 hours a week, they often have to spend several hours a day reading up on different strategies, methods, quantitative analyses, industry reports, etc and in the end, they work pretty hard. That said, it's not IB.

* It is insanely stressful. Heart attack inducing type stuff. 98% of the crazy stories you seem to hear about the banking world always seem to start off with a trader.

* Supposedly, its the easiest job on earth to loose. I've heard the stories of people literally walking off the floor into and office and being escorted out. You screw up, you leave. The stakes are high, the payouts big, the risks are also big.

* The skills are not especially transferable. If you end up hating it two years down the line, the diversity of choices at your doorstep may be limited.
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Re: This sounds bad, but... [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2008, 08:03
Very interesting discussion everyone.

Similar concerns are leaving me shaky on whether or not to even get my MBA at this point. I work in corp dev in industry and make in the higher range of the $80-$110K that seems to be typical of post-MBAs in this occupation. I'm compensated well because my employers know I'm good, but if I were to switch jobs I would either take a big pay cut or have trouble finding a similar job because I don't have the MBA.

So then I'm stuck with having to pay $120K to get an MBA and missing out on salary and promotions over those 2 years just to be able to get another job just like the one I have now! And I'm not really interested in the MC/IB world, so it's not like I should expect a big pay increase immediately post-MBA. In fact, I might experience a pay cut!

It's very frustrating for me and I seem to change my mind on the subject every other day. I'd like to get an MBA and I think that it would provide greater career stability and opportunity for me, but it just doesn't seem financially prudent given my current situation.

Argghh. :x
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Re: This sounds bad, but... [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2008, 13:07
Everyone has a different decision to make when considering business school. For some people, the choice may be easy - they might be at a low-paying dead-end job. Others might seriously have to consider whether they want to give up a great high-paying job. Some people want to break even in 5 years or something like that; others want to set themselves up for a long career in management.

If you currently have a great job, it might only make sense to go to Harvard or Stanford. If you plan to return to the same profession, you consider a part-time program where you don't have to leave work.
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Re: This sounds bad, but... [#permalink] New post 04 Jan 2008, 15:28
pelihu wrote:
Everyone has a different decision to make when considering business school. For some people, the choice may be easy - they might be at a low-paying dead-end job. Others might seriously have to consider whether they want to give up a great high-paying job. Some people want to break even in 5 years or something like that; others want to set themselves up for a long career in management.

If you currently have a great job, it might only make sense to go to Harvard or Stanford. If you plan to return to the same profession, you consider a part-time program where you don't have to leave work.


Yeah, considering the financial and opportunity costs, it's a tough decision to make. But it sounds like a lot of fun! And I'm sure it will open up tons of new doors.

I'd definitely go the part-time route, but where I live (Cambridge, MA) the top schools are only full-time. :(

Good luck everyone!

(holy crap there's a lot of smilies here)

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Re: This sounds bad, but... [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2008, 18:05
rca215 wrote:
Very interesting discussion everyone.

Similar concerns are leaving me shaky on whether or not to even get my MBA at this point. I work in corp dev in industry and make in the higher range of the $80-$110K that seems to be typical of post-MBAs in this occupation. I'm compensated well because my employers know I'm good, but if I were to switch jobs I would either take a big pay cut or have trouble finding a similar job because I don't have the MBA.

So then I'm stuck with having to pay $120K to get an MBA and missing out on salary and promotions over those 2 years just to be able to get another job just like the one I have now! And I'm not really interested in the MC/IB world, so it's not like I should expect a big pay increase immediately post-MBA. In fact, I might experience a pay cut!

It's very frustrating for me and I seem to change my mind on the subject every other day. I'd like to get an MBA and I think that it would provide greater career stability and opportunity for me, but it just doesn't seem financially prudent given my current situation.

Argghh. :x


Not too dissimilar to me.
The financial cost for me is considerable, but the long term is the key. It's all about the big picture. The way i see it, having a career you enjoy is essential. If you enjoy your work, you will probably be good at it, in which case the rewards will come.
The opportunities developed by an MBA in both networking and skillset where the key factors. This means i can become armed with flexibility and allow myself to diversify my capabilities.
Re: This sounds bad, but...   [#permalink] 07 Jan 2008, 18:05
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