During my first two years at college, I was ahead of the game. I obtained junior standing by sophomore year. I applied for internships and entry-level finance jobs and got my fair share of interviews. I applied to be an assistant resident advisor and made it to the final round of interviews. I didn’t land anything, but I was given a fair chance, and I knew something else would come up. By the time junior year began, the market tanked. The financial industry and job market were in pieces. I was just finishing up my finance major, so I was applied for advanced positions in addition to the jobs I was already applying for. But something changed. The same resume and experience that earned me interest before was no longer useful. I no longer could get a response, not to mention an interview.
Here are some rough estimates for the last 5 years:
Serious applications to entry-level finance jobs and internships I am qualified for: 800
Since I graduated college with a B.S. in finance: 700
Unpaid positions: 90
Applications to places like Barnes & Noble, JC Penney, Walgreens, Best Buy, coffee shops, medical supply couriers, and anything else under the “Etc.” category: 220
Jobs applied for this year: 200
This summer: 120
Temporary agencies and recruiters I have been in contact with / worked for: 7
Here are the results from the 1000+ total job applications:
No response: 860
System-generated “We’re not interested”: 110
Real person “We’re not interested”: 20
Face-to-face interviews: 3
Phone interviews: 2
Jobs: A graduate assistant position and a three-month unpaid internship
Yes, I have tried networking, and people have put in a good word for me for an open position. This at least gets me a phone call or an email, but it ends up with “You seem smart, but we’re looking for someone with more experience” every time.
I thought once I got graduated college, things would change, but they didn’t. I thought once I got a graduate degree, things would change, but they haven’t.
If I were at least getting interviews and responses like I used to get, I wouldn’t mind the “just keep trying” mentality, but let’s face it: I’m not even close. 0.5% of the time, I get an interview. So far, I have had two very good experiences, but only one single interview from a real entry-level position. That is 0.1%
I have not restricted myself to a specific location or hours. On the contrary, I have applied for overnight and weekend positions, positions in North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Europe, Australia (besides almost every city in Illinois, Florida, and California) and many more.
For those of you who are facing a much better job market, or who grew up when things were much easier, please stop saying I am looking for that “perfect job,” because I’m not. Yes, I have been very confused, but this kind of success rate will make a person question things, will it not? Yes, I have been lucky enough to get to travel and do some fun things. When you’re constantly stressed and depressed and tired of failure, it is okay to take a break and actually try to enjoy yourself, is it not? For those of you who think I’m enjoying “funemployment,” that lasted about one week. It’s not fun. I am not happy having this much spare time. Most of my time is spent trying to make myself more marketable or applying for jobs or stressing about life and trying to find some sort of peace in this crappy situation. I get more worried every day that goes by that I don’t have experience, that I haven’t even started the career path yet. I’m going to be 140 years old by the time I have enough “experience” if things continue like this.
To those of you facing a similar situation, I empathize with you. This really sucks. To those of you who think you have it bad but really don’t, you’re lucky. I envy you.
Almost 5 years of this, and I have been in and out of school and states and countries to delay the inevitable reality of trying to pierce this veil, but there is no more hiding. I am as ready and eager and willing as I can possibly be, yet absolutely nothing has changed.
I just passed Level I of the CFA. Congrats, Curtis! The pass rate was 38%, and I truly didn’t think I did my best, but I am happy to have been successful in something that I worked so hard for. Registration and books for Level I amounted to $1,300. I just paid $1,100 for Level II, which is offered next June. If I am lucky enough to pass that, there is a Level III the next year. If not, I wait another whole year to take the June Level II exam.
I started an LLC to manage investments, but in order to make even a little money in this industry, you have to manage millions of dollars. I have to obtain licenses and pay lawyer fees and register in multiple states and fill out hundreds of pages of paperwork. It is almost impossible for a small fund to make money in this industry since 2008, and I don’t expect to make my costs back anytime soon.
My point is this: the finance job market tanked in 2008, right when I was looking for jobs. I didn’t gain experience in this time because there wasn’t any to be had. Now it is impossible to find even a finance internship, and when I do finally get to talk to a real person, they tell me I don’t have enough experience.
At what point am I supposed to call it quits? I’ve been “hanging in there” for years to no avail. I am wasting valuable time for something that isn’t there. I have to face the reality. Should I say goodbye to finance? Should I continue paying thousands of dollars and spending months intensely studying for a well-known designation that is not gaining me any attention? I don’t even know what to say about the Panera interview I can’t even get.
I am close to giving up. Many of my problems and much of my spontaneity and transience have resulted from this job situation. I am tired of it – anyone would be. I do not feel like a real person when I’m continually treated like nothing.
I will give finance just a little bit more time; I think two weeks will be a good gauge as to where I stand. If nothing has changed by the end of those two weeks, I am re-evaluating my life and placing finance much lower on the priority list.
I don’t have many strengths that easily translate to careers, but I do have many strengths. I can’t change myself overnight, if that is necessary. I would like to work with what I have, yet that is just not working. I wish there was something I could just go do right now, and I would do it.
Yep, I’m complaining, and I have a right to. I am weird and crazy and different and shy, and I have brought some of this upon myself. I deserve more, though. The next two weeks could determine the rest of my life.
Just a rant.