Thanks for the support/sympathy/offers of help. Actually Prisma, I’d love to work at Google, and may take you up on that offer.

I finally got it together to apply for a position at an investment management company** and wrote a cover letter. Proud of myself for finally getting something done, I sent it off to my parents and godfather. My godfather, whose opinion I value incredibly highly, writes back:

“ah, to be a whore for the ultimate industry that produces no goods or services. but not to worry, we’ve all been tempted to sell our souls to the gods of wall street… ”

So now I want to cry because someone whose judgment I trust has basically told me that I should do something more meaningful and worthwhile with my life. I’ve always felt a pressure to “contribute” and “make a difference” but it was formerly very abstract and far off. Now I have to figure out what I’m going to do when I graduate, and since I’ve lost a lot of idealism and self confidence in the past 10 years I’m not setting my standards too high. I’d sort of been hoping just to get a reasonbly interesting, reasonably well-paying job in whatever area I could. Gain some experience, give myself a chance to figure out what I “actually want to do”. But apparently I’m not only selling myself short (yeah don’t bother telling me, others got there first) but also potentially selling my body and/or soul to a useless/unscrupulous industry.

Talk to people at companies you’re interested in, they say. Ask for advice from someone who has the kind of job you’re looking for. Write an objective describing what you hope to do. Well you know what? I don’t know what the hell I want to do. And that’s what it always comes down to.

Anything else I’d say at this point would probably be defensive, bitter, or overreacting, so I think I’ll just stop there. And no huggles please – this is a rant, not a plea for sympathy.

**In part because it was one of the not-too-many jobs in the Stanford database which listed linguistics as a possible major, and in part because I’ve been told (by whom exactly I can’t remember) that I’d be good in finance because I am detail-oriented and like numbers.

Comments 8

  1. semer wrote:

    Okay, seriously? I know you love your godfather and value his opinion, but he REALLY needs a reality check on how he chooses to give advice. He’s being very destructive when he advises you and it’s just not fair or healthy for you.

    As for an investment managing company producing no goods or services, he’s just plain wrong. The whole POINT of that type of company IS to provide a service. It’s probably just one he’s bitter about because he didn’t choose a lucrative profession, and therefore doesn’t have investments to manage, or money to spend on said endeavor.

    In short, he’s being a bitter jerk, and he really needs to stop it.

    Posted 25 Jan 2007 at 22:28
  2. zaldreon wrote:

    I second Sandra’s point. Investment and stocks are the foundation of our modern economy. Often companies gain the funding they need in order to undertake endeavors by selling stock or (when smaller) getting venture capital, both functions which would be difficult or impossible without financial management companies. Without companies to help channel investments to the most profitable stocks (or most promising corporations), the companies with the best products and most innovative business practices would not be rewarded, and there would thus be less innovation and success in the world.

    On another note, as I once mentioned to David Green, I received the job offer I accepted on about my 50th application. That’s three and a half months of cover letters, resumes, and interviews. I wasn’t being super-picky about which jobs I applied to, as long as I was qualified for the position and the job looked decent. I believe it would have been a bad mistake for me to be more picky than I was. If I had applied to 50% less jobs per week due to pickiness, it would (on average) have taken me twice as long (around seven months) to find a job. This would have been difficult economically and stressful mentally.

    It also would be unlikely to have increased my reward. This is for two reasons. First, many entry-level jobs are similar in scope and responsabilities. It would have been extraordinarily unlikely for me to land some sort of highly unusual expert-level job straight out of college, however long I looked.

    Second, like you, I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life. This is the worst time in the world to be picky about what industry to work in, the details of the job activities, and the like. Working anywhere at all gives you knowledge of many aspects of the business world (or government), which makes it easier to decide what you actually want to do. That’s the real goal. Your entry-level job gives you a better idea of what’s out there and what different jobs are really like. If you decide you really enjoy the industry you’re in, so much the better! If not, this is a time in your life when it’s not too hard to switch.

    Sometimes you hear people say things like, “The first job you get is the most important,” or “The Xth job you get is the most important.” I think that sort of platitude is silly. The most important job you will ever get is the one you decide is leading you in the right direction. It’s the one which you ride upward, whether within a single company or a wide industry, and it leads to all your subsequent positions. Your most important job is the one you choose to make important.

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 00:26
  3. prismakaos wrote:

    I gotta say, you sound a lot like me. I still have no idea what I want to do, and with a Classics major, many people weren’t really willing to give me a chance at figuring out whether I’d be a good fit for their organization. At this point, though, I know I’m going back to school in a couple of years – I’m just still undecided in what (tho it’ll likely be Business or CS).

    I’m glad you reminded me that you’re a linguistics major. There are definitely some niche positions here that would fit that kind of temperment. I forget if you know/like programming, but again, more positions. We should definitely do coffee sometime soon (what’re you up to tomorrow? or week after next?), and talk…

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 07:46
  4. spamchang wrote:

    was he being serious? guh. ><;; what's not meaningful about investment management? there are people out there whose retirements are made or broken by firms because the govt and normal bank interest rates won't give them enough to keep them out of the poorhouse in a decade or so. and on the flip side, you're investing money into firms that deserve public backing for good economic performance. x-ref zaldreon. well. i think your godfather has a guy's problem with communication. as a guy, i probably read it differently than you do, and i've learned the hard way that careless words can cause a world of hurt.

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 09:48
  5. aliceae wrote:

    So I know we haven’t talked in a long time, but I feel like I am in a similar crisis and thought maybe I could throw in my two cents. At the very least I can tell you that you are not alone in your confusion. I don’t know what I want to do at all, and its been hard to figure it out especially as I stand here sort of on the verge of whatever comes after college. But heres the thing. You can’t say “I want to change the world” and then just find that job where you do that. People affect the world in so many different ways, even investment managers. And you never know where you will end up.

    My dad graduated from Stanford with a degree in engineering. He went straight to IBM and made more money than he ever thought he would make. And then he quit and went to Juilliard for some classes and then he went into theatre and there has has stayed.

    I think that you will find what fulfills you, you won’t be able to help it. Its hard to keep thinking ahead to the great things that may one day be there for you, especially when you’ve lost idealism and self confidence. But the things you want have a way of finding you.

    I guess what I’m saying is, its just a job. It may not be your last job, it may not be your last industry. And you may make a difference in ways you never expected to. And I think that you will.

    Also I think maybe we should try to talk more, I always love when we get together and chat. I am frequently astounded at how much we are alike.

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 11:11
  6. punkosopher wrote:

    All of Zaldreon and Spamchang’s points are true. I will add, however, that Wall Street is a den of corruption and thievery. Note that these are not inconsistent facts.

    Obviously this varies a lot from firm to firm, though. I don’t know if you’re interested in sharing the name of the place you’re looking or not.

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 11:20
  7. pandoradeloeste wrote:

    No huggles, but will you accept a smack upside your godfather’s head for being insensitive and having a broken sense of humor?

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 12:49
  8. anonymous wrote:

    you were told by your god mother that you would do well as a financial person.
    but hey, take a look at your mother: doing her part to better humanity and she’s living on less than 50,000 a year. screw contributing to the world, it’s all going to hell anyways and no matter what you do that’s not going to change so you might as well get paid and have a good time.
    love your little sis

    Posted 26 Jan 2007 at 15:25

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *