With this attitude, your banking career will go far
If you're working hard in finance, maybe you feel a bit sorry for yourself? Maybe you feel like those 55-80 hour weeks aren't worth the money? That you'd have been better off in fintech or consulting? Maybe you think...you're a slave?
Stop this now. You will get nowhere in finance laden with negativity. Finance isn’t for weaklings. The environment is tough, the work is hard, and the hours are long. But while some would like you believe otherwise, junior bankers aren’t slaves.
You chose this path and it's not an easy one. I've trodden it, and there were many times I wondered if I'd gone wrong. To succeed in finance you need to be committed. If you're not, stop now. It's best to learn this early on.
To make it, you need to embrace the toughness. See it as a positive. Think of it like the U.S Marine's crucible - the harsh 54 hour training exercise that makes them true soldiers. Except that in the case of finance it lasts two years, or more.
The main thing is that you will learn in this environment. While you're working 70 hour weeks, you'll have far more opportunities to develop professionally than people in other occupations. Whatever you choose to do eventually, this will make you more effective in your career. Because you have been exposed to a highly-pressured, highly challenging environment that encourages you to think on your feet and develop and utilize skills, you'll be a better banker.
While all this is going on, you also need to learn how to make people like and trust you. My biggest piece of advice is to identify the issue your boss is facing and to offer him solutions that will help relieve his stress. This way, you'll not only gain his favour but his respect. Your boss holds the key to your success in this industry. If you can make yourself special to him or her, you will stand out in the sea of bewildered newcomers who - like you - might be wondering if they've made the right choice. Junior bankers are commonly viewed as more easily replaceable than their more experienced counterparts - there will be plenty more like you joining next year, so you need to be memorable.
Most of all though, you need to keep going. Stop telling yourself the bad stuff. Don't make the same mistakes twice. Manage your time by prioritizing the most important tasks. Start looking forward and finding ways to differentiate yourself in the eyes of your boss. The analyst programs at many banks last two years. That's not long in the context of a life. I failed many times before I succeeded. Keep at it. You're not a slave. You're a warrior. Remember that.
The author is a former Goldman Sachs managing director and blogger at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.
Photo credit: Self by juliankoh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.