Falling Down

About a year out of college, I was working in quantitative finance at an investment management company.  The path at the company was to work a year or two and then either get your MBA or CFA.  Without either of those, it was pretty much impossible to move up to either an analyst or portfolio manager.  After two years of working and watching my coworker fail the Level 1 CFA exam twice (the pass rate averages around 30%), along with a friend of mine I decided to try the exam.  Studying for the exam took up the better part of half a year of blowing off my family and friends because I was busy studying.  It was awful.

Eventually, I took the exam in June and failed.  It was the first time I really failed at anything in my life and it was embarrassing.  I ended up taking the exam again but it was really pointless.  My heart wasn’t in it and I lost my motivation.  It killed what I loved about following the markets.

My other option was to go get my MBA and try the CFA again afterwards. I went to a few local part-time MBA information sessions.  Going full-time was out of the question because I was already married, owned a home, and couldn’t forgo two years of pay to get an education. I seriously considered going to an MBA program but it just wasn’t for me.  Getting an MBA was the smart choice.  It’s what all my colleagues were doing, but it would have been a mistake for me.

I was lost.  A year out of college I felt like I had a solid career plan: work a year or two, get my MBA or CFA, and then move into an analyst or management position.  That’s not how it worked out.  It turned out to be something I didn’t even want. I was caught in a deadend.

There were only two things I could do about my situation.  I could either complain to everyone about my circumstances, which a lot of people at my company did everyday, and that’s a dangerous spiral, or I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I choose to take another look at what I needed to do with my life.  It took me about a year of research but I eventually figured out that I wanted to do a few things more often.  I wanted spend more time reading, writing, and learning about technology.  This lead to a Master’s degree in technology and number of experiences I would have never done if I would have chosen to stick with my old path. It’s lead to a new career with a brighter future and refocusing my passion to concentrate on two keys areas of my life, data and code, which I’ll write about more on Monday.

A few years ago, I fell down.  There are only two things you can choose to do in those situations, either stay down and complain about your situation and the unfairness of life or find out what you really want and move forward.

Which path will you choose?