Costs/Benefits of this unpaid work I'm currently doing?

Some background info: I’m a final year business student in Sydney. I didn’t secure a job in banking during the last recruitment phase (a mixture of ordinary academics and a tight job market) and as such am probably going to do a Masters degree. A few months ago I started in a ‘work experience’ role for an online retail investment advisory company. (I don’t know if I’m using the right terminology - they research stocks and derivatives and issue buy/sell/hold ratings to their website subscribers who are mostly financially illiterate individuals). I am unpaid but took on the role thinking it would help me out with applications. For the first couple months it was mostly doing research tasks in my own time on various equities and emailing my findings to one of the analysts. I probably received about 15 mins of feedback total for all the work I have done (3 ‘major’ pieces and several smaller pieces). I did go into the office a few times as well, but still not much feedback was provided (so basically, no improvement in my learning) Now they are asking I come into the office with more frequency. On my most recent day I did another research article (yet to recieve any feedback) and also spent 2 hours doing data entry. The data entry task was pretty annoying as one of the analysts kept looking like he was holding back laughter while explaining to me what to do (as if he was laughing that I’d actually do the task for free). A couple of my friends feel I am being taken advantage of. I made a bit of $ playing online poker but now that’s running out (I quit playing) and the ‘cost’ of not having a paying job is becoming more apparent to me every day. My current plan is to find a job (any job) and leave this place. I feel I haven’t learned much, if anything, from the analysts, although I have learnt a lot just through my own research. The benefit of doing the job I guess is that I can list them on my CV and refer to the research I have done rather than saying I just did research on my own. Their research involves no modelling or anything by the way - the reports are mostly qualitative information. I understand if I havn’t provided a great deal of information but what does every one think I should do? Keep the job and tough it out or pursue my current plan? I think what my situation comes down to is how value-adding this experience will be on my resume (apart fromt his I would say I have good to great ECs anyway). Keep in mind that recruitment is over now and I’m going to have to do a post-graduate degree anyway. Thanks

I think starting your career on the wrong track is one of the worst things everyone should try to avoid. There is also a question of ethics on what you are doing since you admit that “your clients are financially illiterate”. I would run away from such an employer. I am not sure what you mean by “Recruitment is over” - I have seen alot of new jobs coming up over the last three months across Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane for entry level positions. The market is not good - but unless you are limiting yourself to ER/IB - other closely related roles are available in Corporate Advisory, Credit Analyst - which are much better than what you are doing. Probably if you have an open mind you can land something. Post graduate study is good, but in business it makes more sense when you have some experience (Speaking of which, most of Hungry Jacks, KFC, Caltex Service Stations and McDonalds are probably MBA/MPA international students from India or East Asia. Going to the University of New Southwales the other day made me feel like I am in Asia). I hope that is not what you are talking about. You can not discuss Corporate Strategy and Change Management when working in such an environment, theory has to meet practice at some stage. I would probably pursue the CFA as I continue looking for a job. My 2 cts.

I go to UNSW haha. I never planned on working with these guys (although there was a vague mention that there is/was a small possibility of a grad job if I work hard, or something like that). I haven’t seen any entry-level jobs you have described mate? Where are you looking? I am resigned to doing another degree because the graduate recruitment phase of most of my ‘preferred’ employers is well over.

What sort of work are you looking for?

I mainly applied to work in the markets side of most IB and retail banks, with a view to evenutally getting into prop trading (although I woud be satisfied with any market orientated role that provides some day to day variability). From what I can gather the few prop desks that take graduates in Sydney prefer students from a quantitative discipline, so I am considering doing a Masters in Actuarial Studies (UNSW) or Quant Finance (UTS). Thankfully either of these degrees will open up a lot of options for me in prop trading, structuring, portfolio management or risk management - they all interest me. On the advisory side I know I would like Corporate Finance because of the impact your advice can have on a firm’s performance, so a Masters in Commerce from UNSW would help in that area. Right now I’m looking for a bar job to save some $ and go travelling/start investing in the market. I checked up on by the way - I can’t believe there’s so many entry level jobs now (although they are mostly sales and operations focused). Atleast I’ll have something to fall back on.

Well, that makes sense. The job market down under is showing some signs of improvement. Good luck.

Would you recommend I take a small-tier accounting firm grad job (and do my CA), or do a masters degree? This is with a view to move into banking eventually

I think it all depends with what you want to do with your life, but any time work experience is better than additional paper qualifications. I have noticed CA is widely recognised even in finance jobs so I would go for it. Or still later undertake CFA.