How Can I Turn Things Around?

I’m a 26 year old undergraduate in a top Canadian University. I’ve taken seven years so far for various reasons - mental health problems, taking two years out of school due to covid. My current major is history and philosophy. GPA isn’t great either. I originally intended to double major in math or computer science but may do so after this degree. The rationale is that the added tech and quant knowledge might be an asset and that I could perhaps combine the two skillsets in some way. I’m looking to get a job in finance and want to break in via becoming a CFA Charterholder. Now I have a four month summer ahead - no internships (though I have done some before, most relevant one was in financial journalism). I currently plan to do CFA I this August. A little more about me - I have had previous involvement in somewhat interesting clubs - climate and cutting edge tech.What suggestions would any of you have for me regarding the path ahead?

If you want to go into finance - You could go into the military for a few years and then apply for MBA programs and then try to work your way in. Or you could apply for masters in finance programs, and then try to get into their recruiting cycle. Or you can try to get into a large company in a less desirable role, for instance a middle office role, and then lateral into another role. Or you can try to go work for a small firm doing what you want, and then work into a better firm. Or you can network and hope you strike a jackpot.

So you have a few options. I’d probably go with the military.

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Thanks @birdman12345. I’ve been told that so much extra education is actually unnecessary and that the CFA teaches you the bulk of what you need to know, at least for asset management/equity research. I’m also female identifying so I would rather not join the military - do any paths for pursuing the master track come to mind despite the GPA? for example publications, extra curricular activities…

Generally people get told to either do an mba, or the cfa, after a few years in research or AM. So it is kind of useful in that regards, especially for people who were not finance majors. I studied philosophy for example, and did the CFA. But I also passed level 1 and 2, then was a level 3 candidate, which I failed a couple times, before I finally got a minimum wage internship in ER. I had multiple years of unpaid internships in finance at that point. So it’s not a sure thing. It was the same for my boss, who did multiple years of unpaid internships, was unemployed for multiple years, who did the CFA and a masters in finance before getting into a shitty investment bank (we’re at a much better one now).

All that matters is that you get into the best possible masters, if you want to go that route, and work your ass off on using the networking opportunities and on campus recruiting to get a position. It’s a gamble, but everything in life is, and finance as an industry sucks trying to break into if you don’t follow the very rigid structure of getting a summer analyst gig between junior/senior years, then getting a return offer. We’ve even brought on multiple people to our team who didn’t have prior finance experience, or much of it. None lasted more than 6 months. So it’s a ■■■■■■■ meat grinder, even if you do get a shot. I’m the only one who has lasted any substantial length of time (been in since 2017 now). Hell, we even had a guy who was a former D1 athlete, eagle scout, 4.0 GPA in a masters. He was asleep at his desk on the first day and was out in 5 months. We had a guy with a phd, multiple masters, who just wasn’t a good writer, and who wasn’t good at modeling. Multiple 3.5+ gpa people from good schools who couldn’t make the cut. One who we couldn’t trust to not do something incredibly stupid, which I won’t go into, but it was apparent less than an hour into his first day. One guy was terrible, and spent years after trying to get another position. So the failure rate is high even for those who get a chance. I think finance is a shitty industry, tbh.

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I’m a long-time CFA charterholder. I’m also a CPA.

If you “plan to do the CFA this August,” I think you have a big challenge ahead of you. For starters, why, praytell, do you continue to major in “history and philosophy”? And “climate” certainly doesn’t fit into the CFA curriculum, at least not the last time I looked.

How do those subjects help you gain even some of the knowledge that you need to be successful in your effort to obtain the CFA designation? I’m not trying to be critical, but I’m unable to ‘connect the dots’ in the fact pattern you’ve given. Help, please.


I attempted the CFA in 2019 and failed by one percent because I only spent about six weeks preparing, but it helps I’ve taken some economics and accounting courses before. The reason why I’m staying put in this major is that it might be difficult to transfer faculties this late in my major but it’s worth a think. Climate is more of a personal interest…but perhaps useful for the ESG designation?

I’m glad that you studied philosophy as well - I’m happy to go that frontloading route before getting an internship tbh. Thanks for the bit of advice on the masters - with my GPA, it might be hard, but maybe a couple of internships can make up for it…which may have to be obtained through networking or the frontloading. I was told that GPA isn’t actually that important though.

Last time I hired a new person onto my team, we got 75 resumes for 1 spot. I think the HR must have just thrown away everyone under a certain GPA since pretty much everyone had a 3.5+. Many had 4.0. So maybe it doesn’t, if you network. But it is something that will get you dinged.

Disclosure: My gpa was 2.2.

How did that one person who got hired stand out (and when you were in the same position with your GPA, how did you overcome the odds?)

4.0 gpa in a masters in STEM, D1 athlete, eagle scout, experience in scientific work. Not everyone had such high grades or experience. I wanted to prioritize people who had what I thought were the best financial and scientific backgrounds, and really wanted to just wait for someone with a PHD in a hard science, since neither my boss nor I have one. My boss was more looking for people he thought would be well rounded and sociable. We didn’t agree on most of the people to interview, but that guy was one of the ones we both agreed on. He’s the one that was asleep at his desk first day. One of the worst hires we’ve ever made. Maybe the worst. I hate that he wasted his opportunity, which could’ve been given to someone else who would’ve used it better and appreciated it more, and used it to better themselves more.

We took on a guy as an intern who had just emailed my boss and expressed interest. He was way better. He also was a bartender. So I’d definitely lean into networking. Unfortunately there were mass layoffs and he just got cut. We’d have liked to have kept him.

I just got lucky and had applied to an online posting for an internship that paid minimum wage at a shitty firm (the subsequent ones have been far better) with a guy that likes people who have been through hardship, because he thinks they’ll work harder. People like him are rare. And yes, we did go an alternate route with the 4.0 guy, and that’s what convinced us to not do that again.

ok good , thankx for telling

Hey i have some CFA practice material. Let me know if you’d be interested in purchasing in nominal prices Drop me a message if you’re interested.