Sunday, October 08, 2006

Career choices

One of the very frequently asked questions on campus is "what do you want to do after your MBA" or in my case "are you going back to consulting?" Some have a very clear and consistent answer to this, others don't know and therefore don't like the question. In my case, the answer is usually quite clear but not very consistent. Ask me now and the answer might be very different from two months ago.

I came here with the aim of working in global currency and commodities markets. Though I'm still very interested in these markets, I have also become very interested in equities over the last weeks. Then I read an excellent account of the hedge fund industry – Hedgehogging (Penton Audio) by Barton Biggs, founder of the hedge fund Traxis Partners. It is very insightful and truly hilarious and generally made me very interested in fund management.

As if this wasn't enough to keep me distracted, I am unsure if leaving consulting at this moment is smart. Leaving now, I would enter the field of finance as an associate and I'm not sure how I could progress from there, especially in more specified fields such as investments. At the same time, I am constantly receiving good bye emails from colleagues who are about 2 years ahead of me and they seem to move over to very interesting jobs in private equity/venture capital and investment management. So now I'm exploring this option. I know some partners in the corporate finance and private equity practice so it would be quite easy for me to work on projects in this field to prepare for the move.

To make this decision, networking will help a lot. I am currently reaching out to colleagues, business school classmates with consulting background facing the same choices, alumni of my company who moved over to investment banking and hedge funds, as well as classmates with finance background. The common consensus among most I've talked to so far is that it makes more sense to stay in consulting for a while longer, at least in terms of career.

The problem with consulting is that, since it is a quite accelerated path, the longer you stay the less attractive outside options become. The good thing is I really like the people from my company. We are a group of 8 ex-analysts in our class and I like all of them very much. On Thursday we are invited for a dinner by the London office and in two weeks I'll help out recruiting undergrads from Oxford/Cambridge/LSE for the German office (this is a challenging task since competition from London-based consultancies and investment banks is fierce). So I'm reminded a bit of the book Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle. In it an ex-ibanking-analysts goes to business school convinced he will never go back to M&A. But then he is lured into a summer internship on Wall Street by a more prestigious bank thinking there it will be better. He hates the summer internship and returns to the 2nd year convinced he will not return. But then school starts, he's invited for dinners and events, receives an offer with a nice bonus and suddenly finds himself back where he didn't want to be as a fulltime associate.

There is no conclusion to my post. I could write a conclusion now and next week the conclusion could be different. I think once I've talked to about twenty people hearing their thoughts, opinions and experience I will advance. There is still about half a year to make a decision.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems like this is an often overlooked issue and gains importance once you get into the B-school life. Looking forward to you giving us an informed conclusion soon. Will help a lot.

Anonymous said...

why not become an entrepreneur? why always want to work for somebody even after completing MBA?
i feel MBA's should look entreprenurship as a most desire option.
lakshminarasimhan
from India

angie said...

lakshminarasimhan, you're absolutely right! Becoming an entrepreneur is the best of course - but hard work! You're right to point it out. I don't think I'll become one straight out of the MBA but it's good to keep it in mind.

reshma said...

Hi Angie,
came to your blog after several rounds of 'search' for information about LBS :) I hope you would be able to give me just one information and help me to a great deal.I just wanna know if LBS provides stipend for International students during any summer internship or not. It would be really helpful for me if u cud gimme this information.
Looking forward to a positive reply.

thanking you
Reshma (India)