When people don’t know about something, trust me when I say that it doesn’t matter if they’re a CEO or a budding analyst; they usually turn to Google. Probably most of my job in consulting was quite literally googling stuff until I found the right thing that would please the client. Not exactly what most people think of when they think of an “elite” job, but effective nonetheless. But let’s change the subject for you. When you first hear of “Wall Street”, you probably think of sales and trading, The Wolf of Wall Street, lots of guys with balding hairlines in black suits and red ties running around frantically, with facial expressions drastically changing depending on the color of the S&P graph. Confused about how to break into this field, you decide to Google “Wall Street”, and after skimming Wikipedia, you find resources like Reddit and Wall Street Oasis. Are things like these resources good or bad? Is anonymity a good thing when seeking career advice? There are some pros and cons to both sides of the argument, which I will outline below:
- The Good of Anonymity: Now, when we think of anonymity, we have been conditioned to think that it’s a bad thing. We were raised with the “stranger danger” mindset—that those we don’t know are often out there to set us on the wrong path, make us fail, or bring us into a dangerous situation. However, in terms of seeking career advice, there is some upside to avoiding having your name tied to the advice that you give. Let’s think about it: when are you most honest? Probably when you’ve got a little alcohol in your system. You’re talking to people that you know you’ll never see again, and you lack part of the hesitation that usually penetrates our lives in one way or another. This is similar to what happens with career advice forums. I know that, personally, some of the advice I give about banking, consulting, corporate, etc. wouldn’t necessarily be the best reflection on my firm. There were some things that I truly despised about my experience in banking that I wouldn’t have said on a networking call while I was working with my investment bank several years ago. The illusive walls at our investment banks and consulting firms have ears, and they’re not necessarily ears that you want to feed. However, when you are on an anonymous website, you can pretty much say whatever you please, good or bad. This gives you a benefit as a learner, as you can truly learn the benefits and downsides of a specific career without management breathing down someone’s neck and giving them scripted answers. When using career websites, forums, etc., you can usually expect answers to be unfiltered, for better or for worse.
- The Downside of Anonymity: Piggybacking off what I just mentioned about anonymity and people being “unfiltered” might lead you to get more negative views of the industry or responses to your inquiry. In my humble opinion, this is the biggest downside to online forums: people love to complain, and they are more likely to channel their inner keyboard warrior when they are dissatisfied with their firm than when they are happy with the status quo. Additionally, there will be a lot of flat-out dishonesty or hearsay on these forums; many posts begin with “I know a guy” or “my friend’s roommate”, quickly deteriorating the authenticity and credibility of many of the statements made on these forums.
- Mitigating the Downside of Anonymity: When reviewing career advice from forums, there are certain steps that you can take to work around some of the uncertainty with the advice that you may be seeing. Particularly on Wall Street Oasis or Reddit, it may be in your best interest to directly or privately message an individual who seems to know what they’re talking about. While this is not as reliable as our coaching program here at OfficeHours, it can give you a greater opportunity to verify the individual that you are talking to, as you can request their LinkedIn or work email to assure that their advice and identity are legitimate.
- Using Verified Resources: This is perhaps the most important and effective method when it comes to preparing yourself for your career. If you can verify the information you are using from the get-go, you will be saving yourself a lot of precious time and energy and can rest assured that you are moving in the right direction. For example, everything on OfficeHours is verified; all of our coaches are former and current finance professionals, and the blogs are written by individuals like myself who have your best interests in mind. Additionally, paid guides and coaches tend to have greater legitimacy; these individuals and services want to maintain you as clients and ensure your success, rather than a random individual who has no stake in the game. Trust me, I was a student myself and will soon be going back for my Masters in Business Administration. I completely understand the frustration of having to pay out of pocket, especially when some of these “free” resources are on standby, but as someone who has run (and now leads) multiple recruitment processes, when it comes to your career success, you can’t put a price on getting your foot on the gas both properly and early. A few hundred dollars invested today can mean thousands, if not millions, in earnings growth in your career later in life. From a purely financial perspective, this is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t feed yourself cheap junk food every day just because it’s easy and cheap, right? Apply this same thought process to the knowledge you consume.
You have a lot of options when it comes to looking for help online; while clicking on the first or sponsored Google result might save you a few minutes of your time, it will seldom be the best resource for you to use to prepare yourself for your future. Instead, check out some of our top coaches here at OfficeHours to get some real insight into the industry.
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.
You can also check our various course curriculums for different careers (i.e. investment banking, private equity, VC, etc.) and how our process works.
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