Has your FT IB Start Date been pushed back? This guide has you covered!
After months of preparation, you’ve finally secured that dream full-time investment banking analyst offer. You’ve worked hard to get here, and in such a tough market, you’re feeling grateful to have your full-time role secured. Life is good – you’re looking forward to a stress-free senior year and can’t wait for summer analyst training in NYC with your incoming class! You’re counting down the months until the big move, until one day, you get a dreaded call from HR – your start date has been pushed back, and maybe even for entire months. Understandably, this is distressing news. You’re suddenly faced with empty blocks of unplanned time. You’re worried about the implications for buyside recruiting, will this hurt your chances for on-cycle recruiting? Unexpected changes can be immensely stressful and disconcerting, but what steps can you take to make the best of this difficult and unprecedented situation? The first and most important thing you can do is reframe your perspective of your circumstances – leverage this time to your advantage! The steps below and pointers here can help you figure out how just how to best utilize this time to make the most of this unexpected news.
Step 1: Reflection
Professional and Career Reflection
You’ve locked down your post-graduate job, which gives you a sense of what life will look like over the next one, two, or maybe even three years. While this is exciting and comforting news, the biggest mistake career coaches see college students and incoming analysts make is not taking the time to reflect upon their goals past those first few years on the job. Perhaps you have a vague idea of wanting to make a move onto the buyside, but have you thought through the steps you will need to take in order to best position yourself for that next role? Have you spoken to alumni or friends on the buyside to get a better sense of what types of firms or investment strategies are the most interesting to you? Maybe you want to get an MBA one day. Have you thought about what the application process requires and how you can get ahead on this? These are important considerations to reflect upon in order to assemble a successful plan of action. Take the time to speak to a career coach, tap into your internal network, and chat with your mentors to get a better sense of where you want to be in 3, 5, and maybe even 10 years. You don’t have to have a definite plan or feel entirely confident about the answers you ascertain whilst doing this reflection but taking the time to think about your long-term professional career goals is the first step toward developing your strategy going forward.
As a recent graduate who has likely been consumed with school and with recruiting over the past few years, naturally – it can become easy to forget that life and happiness, are so much more than just work. The reality is that your professional career will continue to encompass a significant part of your day-to-day going forward, and there will be very few periods of extended time to dedicate toward your personal goals and passions. Step 2 toward developing your plan of action is reflecting upon just this – what are some of the activities, hobbies, and other pursuits your hope to accomplish over the next few years of your life? When assessing this question, think as broadly as possible – your brainstorming exercise may bring forth ideas such as a travel bucket list, wellness and exercise goals, aspirations to learn a new language, or even desires to pick up new (non-work-related) skills. Or maybe, your desires are as simple as finding ways to spend more time with your family and loved ones.
Step 2: Plan of Action
Once you’ve reflected on your professional and your personal pursuits, you will be in a much better position to determine how to best leverage the extra time you have between graduation and beginning work. While this is by no means an extensive list and many of these options can be done concurrently, some potential paths forward are highlighted below.
Option 1: Utilize your free time to prep for buyside recruiting
If your goal is to leave banking for a buyside role, one of the best ways you can use the months ahead of you is to get a head start on recruiting prep. The buyside recruiting process is cumbersome, incredibly competitive, and even tougher in today’s market. The more time you allocate to preparation, the better positioned you will be once the on-cycle recruiting season comes around (and it comes around fast!). Naturally, you may be worried about how a later start date may impact your chances to participate in on-cycle. The best way to evaluate your personal situation is by speaking to headhunters and using career coaches via a platform such as OfficeHours. More important than stressing about what may or may not happen though, is taking action, and getting started on prep. A career coach can help you identify the skill sets necessary for buyside recruiting, as well as can work with you toward using your free time to ensure you’ve perfected facets such as the behavioral and technical pieces of the interview process. You can even get guidance on how to approach headhunters, how to network with buyside professionals and begin practicing case studies to get into the mindset of thinking like an investor.
Option 2: Pursue a short-term internship
Depending on how much your firm has pushed back your full-time start date by, perhaps you may want to consider pursuing a part-time or full-time internship to fill our time and prevent a gap on your resume. This could be at another investment bank (assuming your FT employer is on board with this), at a private equity firm or another buyside role, or even something entirely different altogether. Maybe you’re interested in tech or healthcare and have always wanted to gain some operational experience – your time off could be a fantastic opportunity to try out a business development or strategy role at an established corporation or even a start-up. If pursuing a short-term internship is a route you are interested in exploring, start by reaching out to your internal network and contacts to see if any firms could use a hand for a few months. Speak to a career coach to get advice. Apply for interesting roles through LinkedIn, chat with your university career services, and reach out to alumni to ensure you are always networking. If you do decide to go the short-term internship route though, make sure you clear this with your FT employer to ensure you are abiding by any contractual agreements you may have signed when accepting your offer.
Option 3: Volunteer with a nonprofit
Is there a cause you’ve always been particularly passionate about and want to find ways to get more involved with? The free time ahead of you could be an immensely valuable and impactful opportunity to do some nonprofit work, either on an ad-hoc volunteer basis or via a short-term project. The best method for pursuing this route of action is starting by researching nonprofits that focus on the causes you care about, and then reaching out to their trustees or board members directly. Introduce yourself, explain why their cause matters to you, and explain that your full-time start date has been pushed back – giving you some time that you’d like to dedicate toward helping the organization work toward achieving its mission. For me, encompassing myself with nonprofit work is a big part of my personal life, and through doing so, I’ve found that organizations can be open to both ongoing volunteer work and shorter-term more targeted projects. Reaching out to relevant nonprofits and asking for a short call to discuss potential opportunities is a great way to learn more about ways you can use your time to get involved and have a real impact on a cause you feel strongly about.
Option 4: Start thinking about business school
Is business school a potential long-term goal of yours? If in your initial brainstorming, you identified it as an area you’d like to explore in the future, one of the best things you can do now is get started as early as possible. Studying for the GMAT, and getting a high enough score for top business schools, can take anywhere from three to six months – and juggling this with a full-time banking or PE role is an incredibly challenging endeavor (Affer months of 5am wake-up times to get in some GMAT prep before work, I can speak from personal experience!). A few months of time to yourself is a fantastic opportunity to get the GMAT out of the way (your score lasts 5 years). Business school consultants often offer free consultations to assess your personal circumstances and can also provide guidance as to what steps you can take over the next few years to position yourself as a top candidate. Take this time to reach out to friends who are currently pursuing, or have received, their MBA to learn more about the process. Identify potential weak facets in your application and develop a strategy toward working to build upon improving those over the next few years of your career, and get that painful GMAT out of the way!
Option 5: Pursue your personal hobbies and goals
Regardless of what path, or combination of options, you choose going forward – make sure to take some time for yourself. Your analyst years are going to be cumbersome and tiring, and that won’t change much as an associate on the buyside either. Life is short and extended periods of time to pursue the things you want to do are rare. Take that trip you’ve always wanted to take, maybe pursue that part-time internship or nonprofit work remotely so you can travel concurrently, or perhaps spend some time with extended friends and family you’ve not had the chance to visit. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish – could you use this time to travel and immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and language? Perhaps you want to learn photography or how to cook – a few months is more than enough time to build up a base skillset or get started on a new hobby!
If you have been given a few months of unexpected time before your full-time start date, utilize coaching resources to come up with a plan, and then shift your perspective to view this as a blessing rather than a setback. Once you start full-time as an investment banking analyst, the concept of free time will be far and gone for quite some time – so it’s to your advantage to view a delayed start date as an opportunity for some of the things you’ve maybe always wanted to do in life and never found the time for. Or maybe it just means spending a few months at home with your family. Whatever it means to you – make sure to prioritize self-care and don’t let yourself forget that there’s so much more to life than the next step in your career!
Are you preparing for the buyside? Schedule a call now with our top coaches or submit your application directly here and we’ll be in touch! Our experienced coaches will work with you to set and achieve your goals and provide support and guidance along the way.