So You Want to Work on Wall Street?
02/26/2007 1:05 PM
I get emails like this all the time from readers, so I thought I'd share one example here:
I imagine you get many emails like this daily, but I hope you might have the time to answer mine.
I am 24 years old, an avid reader of RealMoney, and have been an individual investor for several years, for myself and my family. I graduated from college in 2005 and have worked in journalism since high school.
Anyway, I love investing and trading and have pondered this career move. But I'm not sure where to start. I would like to find a job where I can continue to write, on top of trading.
Would you recommend going to business school? Is it really necessary? Should I look for entry jobs at a hedge fund? What did you do when you graduated from school? What advice or suggestions might you have?
Thank you for your time and help."
First, this is a classic example of a question for which there's no "right" answer.
I remember when I first moved to New York City. I was so excited to hit the interviews for those "account executive" positions that schlock brokerage houses advertise in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. That excitement turned to dismay when I showed up at the first few interviews and sat down with 20-something kids who oozed more sleaze than Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. My first job in this city was at a Starbucks on 86th and Broadway, where I served Nathan Lane coffee on Sunday mornings.
I ended up getting my first job in this business by doing exactly what the reader above is doing now: I wrote people whose quotes I had read in the papers, whose faces I'd seen on TV or whose books I'd read. After months of persistence and with hands that became numb to scalding coffee, I eventually got a job at Oppenheimer answering phones and filing papers. Eleven years of 80-hour work weeks later, I don't make photocopies for others anymore.
At that Oppenheimer job, I made $24,000 a year, which I'd negotiated up from the $22,000 first offer. I remember how jealous I was of the kids I met who were my age or even younger and getting cushy analyst jobs as they groomed themselves for MBAs and the standard paths to decent money on Wall Street. Some of those kids now run hundreds of millions of dollars and are wildly successful beyond their dreams. The vast majority aren't.
The point here is that anyone can indeed come to Wall Street and cut his or her own path. The only requirements are brains, guts and commitment. And more commitment. If you have some brains, a good bit of guts and are willing to commit, Wall Street is a great place to call home. Mi casa es su casa. Come on over!