Tips for Success in Your Finance Career
While there are many aspiring young professionals venturing into the world of finance full of hopes and dreams, few of them will actually become successful.
To make things even more fun, the industry is very dynamic and the rules that you have spent so much time learning change constantly without anyone bothering to give you a shout about it.
Here are, however, several tips which could help you on your way up, regardless of whether you end up in investment banking, private equity, hedge fund or some other field. While the list is by no means exhaustive, it could still help you plan your strategy for a successful career in finance.
THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM
While not exactly phrased as a tip, this means that you should start preparing for your career in finance as early as possible and ideally, before graduating. If you know that finance is your passion, there is no reason to delay seeking a degree which would give you an edge and selecting the appropriate subjects such as business, economics, finance and accounting. This is especially true if you’re looking to land a high paying investment banking job. An investment banking training course is an excellent way to brush up on your finance skills.
While you’re still at the university, don’t simply settle for the minimum required for you to graduate but seek extracurricular activities which will look good on your resume. While you’ll probably feel like you’re missing out on life, extracurriculars might one day tip the scales in your favor when some grumpy investment banking recruiter sifts through a huge pile of CVs.
Also, don’t limit yourself to what you’re required to read in class; seek out books yourself and start monitoring financial press which will help you get a better understanding of the underlying trends in the ever-changing financial industry. In addition, you will be up-to-date with the lingo.
DIVERSIFY YOUR INTERNSHIPS
While still at school, try to find an internship at a financial institution. Investment banks, for instance, tend to offer summer internships where students get first-hand experience and acquire practical knowledge unattainable elsewhere.
Experts advise taking as many and as diverse internships as possible, meaning that it’s good to try investment banking, asset management, hedge funds, so that you get a better idea where you actually would like to work. Internships also look pretty good on resumes.
FOR FINANCE JOBS: GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR!
You can’t have a successful career in finance without landing a job first. Attend events where you can potentially meet recruiters and show initiative by seeking them out yourself. Take a finance boot camp to update your modeling skills and network. Use each and every opportunity available to make valuable contacts which could not only help you get your first job in finance, but could also be useful later on if you decide to switch the institution that you work for.
Use your internship to land a full-time position, especially if you find an institution where you could see yourself working. Even if you don’t particularly like the organization, still use the time you spend there to establish contacts which you could use at a later point during your career in finance.
FIND A MENTOR
Once you’ve landed a job, one of the things that you should do is find a mentor. There are no set rules as to who that should be; it could be your manager (if you’re working as an analyst or associate), an investment banker, or simply someone who has worked at the company for some time. Ideally, your choice will be someone who is influential in the organization.
A mentor will give you practical advice and could also make suggestions based on your personality. Ultimately, a mentor will help you gain credibility in the institution and will make it easier for you to move up the corporate ladder when the time comes.
BUILD YOUR OWN FINANCIAL NETWORK
In addition to finding a mentor, you should also build and expand your professional network. Attend as many industry events as possible and try to target the right people. You should, however, keep in mind that successful networking is a two-way street, meaning that you should try to establish relationships where the other party feels that they can also benefit from being part of your network.
After you’ve established a network, keep in touch with those people even if you don’t need them at present. This will make it much easier to contact them when you actually have to.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES
While in a perfect world being successful in the finance industry (in any industry, for that matter) should depend wholly on your knowledge and abilities, in real life too much hangs on the politics within the organization, on the personalities of your superiors, etc. Learn to read into the dynamics within the institution where you work and focus on developing your soft skills.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE
The bad news is that there is no ultimate recipe for success in the finance world. The good news is that, as with pretty much any other job, working hard (or very hard, in the case of finance) and believing in yourself can get you very far.