Posted By: Zeya Yang on November 22, 2011
This past weekend, I attended the Queen’s Finance Association Conference for my second time. Between the two experiences, the biggest difference from a personal perspective was what I planned on taking away from the conference. Last year, I was pretty set on going into investment banking, so I saw the conference primarily as a networking outlet for potential employment. This year, I’ve switched over to consulting, so I saw the conference more as an opportunity to hear what the speakers had to say about the current state of the industry, as well as talk with the company reps at a more personal level.
There were some interesting themes prevalent throughout the weekend that gravitated about the idea of pursuing a career in the finance industry. What I found was that many of these themes are directly relatable to the university decisions process. At the core of it all is the idea that you shouldn’t be doing something simply based on how others will perceive your actions (ie. don’t pick a university because all your friends and people in year above have gone there).
Here are some takeaways from the speakers, and my adaptations for university selection:
- You have to love what you’re doing. You should enter a program of study that you’re really going to enjoy. Whether this means choosing between sciences or business, or choosing between finance or accounting, you have to find something that you’re going to have fun doing. If you don’t know what you love yet (which is likely the case), you should set yourself up with the opportunities to explore a diverse range of studies to figure out what you really enjoy.
- You have to enter a career for the right reasons. You should choose your program of study for reasons that are important for you, and not for your friends or parents. A criterion that one person finds important may be immaterial for someone else, so make sure you’re not lying to yourself to try and rationalize something that’s not right for you.
- Innovation is needed in the finance industry. This is less directly related, but essentially it means you do something different. When it comes to university applications or job resumes, the truth is that a lot of people have similar profiles because they pursue extracurricular activities they think will “look good”. You want to “look different” by doing something that makes you stand out.
- Hard work trumps dependence on innate talent. This is the cookie cutter perseverance lesson, but I’ll offer a twist. If you work hard and you’re good at what you do, you don’t have to follow some “predetermined path” to be successful.
On a different note, just over 2 months until I leave for exchange!
Zeya Yang ‘13