Perspective needed

First off, I’d like to thank the contributors who often give their time to help others. It’s difficult out there, and good advice is always appreciated. Like most grads, I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding work in this economy; however, I recently interviewed for a bank teller position. The pay is really bad (60% of what I made as an intern), and the branch manager wants me to spend between 12 and 18 months in this role before he’ll move me into anything else. I’ve never been interested in retail banking and only reason for taking this job would be for the bank name on my resume. An alternative would be to go to law school. I have done some research and I think I would be a candidate to get into a good Canadian law school (possible some scholarships as well). I’ve decided against MBA, and M.Fin since I do not have a lot of work experience and can’t get into a good program. In essence, I am asking: To continue my hope of working in finance, should I take a job that I do not like and will make slave wages, or go to law school and retrain myself for something else? p.s. lets say I become a bank teller, I assume this work experience would not get me into a good mba program would it?

Bank teller job will not really help you get a good finance job. I’m not sure why people are considering bank teller jobs over accounting jobs, especially when even the entry level accounting jobs pay a lot more than minimum wage. You will probably have an easier time leveraging into finance with an accounting background moreso than with just bank teller experience. Are you interested in law? If so, do it. If not, I would seriously think about it because it’s a big commitment. You’ll be sacrificing 3 years + a lot of $$$. How come the company you interned for didn’t offer a position? Have you considered interning for a big finance company that can offer you a position? If you apply to MBA with bank teller experience, you will not get in to top 25. Even if you graduate with a MBA, it does not guarantee a job. Prime example: Girl went to MBA to a top 25 that used to work for my firm. I did not pursue MBA and worked on getting a license. 2 years later… Girl graduated from MBA school and is unemployed. I got promoted. Oh I forgot to mention, my firm doesn’t hire MBA grads for entry level positions and would most likely not hire the girl again (unrelated to MBA though). The point is, if you’re awesome, you will be hired regardless of MBA. Sure, it will help you get your foot in the door… but even this is questionable to a degree because if you have the network, they would hire you over some schmuck they don’t know. The ironic thing I’ve found regarding the top MBA schools is that they admit candidates that are already successful to begin with, not so much to make a rags to riches dream to come into fruition. How long have you been looking for jobs? I know it can be disheartening to be unemployed for a long time, but if it’s been less than a year, I would continue searching (even if it’s a unpaid internship). I once read this one guy’s blog about how he had to network like crazy and be rejected over 100 times in order to crack the IB field. Yes, it sucks to be unemployed right after you graduate, especially when you have friends that secured jobs prior to graduation, but it’s reality. It’s natural to get desperate, but don’t act on desperation unless you’ve been unemployed for a year or longer. If you need the money, that’s another story and you should take any job you can. However, if you don’t need the money and the bank teller position requires 1 year commitment… seems like a no brainer to me.

I still have a lot to think about, but thank you for the perspective. It’s always useful to bounce ideas off of others. “I’m not sure why people are considering bank teller jobs over accounting jobs, especially when even the entry level accounting jobs pay a lot more than minimum wage.” Yeah, this is an option as well. My biggest concern is that I will have to go back and complete my accounting pre-reqs, because I am having a hard time finding accting work without it. The tempting thing about taking this teller job is that I can finish level 3 next year, given I got l2 done. “How come the company you interned for didn’t offer a position? Have you considered interning for a big finance company that can offer you a position?” I interned with government, and government agencies. There is a hiring freeze where I live so its pretty tough to get back in to government until things start to thaw. I have applied but haven’t heard “How long have you been looking for jobs?” About 8 months. I saved a bit in undergrad so I could probably be okay for another 6 months but I feel pretty useless sitting at home, sending out resumes, networking, and kissing ass. I went through 3 channels to get a total stranger to pass my resume on to the hiring manager. Unfortunately, the interview was for the teller job.

you shouldn’t even be qualified for a bank teller role if you have a decent undergrad degree in Canada. Far as I know anybody with a university degree is automatically ruled out as they know you will hate the job. my advice, do NOT take a teller job. that is the lowest level job at any bank and gives you zero experience in finance. A financial advisor role would be better. i would aim for that or an advisor assistant role. it really depends what you mean by “finance” role. if you thinking ibanking in Canada, get an MBA. right now,you have no shot if you looking at teller jobs.

I’d go to law school. If you are still interested in finance, you could work in finance related law when you are out of school. There is (almost) as much money to be made there long run as there is in IB. If not, there is plenty of work available in law if you are bright and hard working.

My advice…and take this with a grain of salt… Take the bank teller job only if you can do it while living at home, rent free. Make and save as much money as you can. In the mean time you should network with alumni and easily pass level 1 of the CFA in December. Tell your manager that with Level 1 under your belt, you think you deserve a promotion, or a big fat raise. If he says no (which he probably will), give him your 2 week notice. Then, hit up the old alumni you’ve already contacted. They may be even more receptive after you’ve passed level 1, and with the money you’ve saved up, you’ll be more mobile than you are now and able to support yourself through a possible unpaid internship.

You should go to law school if you’re interested in practicing law – simple as that. If you’re not interested in making a career out of it, why set yourself back so much in terms of finances? As for your bank teller role, that in and of itself will not translate into a front office finance role. However, you still need to do what it takes to pay the bills. Your prospective manager might want 12-18 months, but if you need the money, I say just take the job and interview elsewhere and then just move on as soon as you can. In general, I find that as long as you can explain why you took a certain job in the past (i.e. you need income) and you’re the best candidate for the position you’re interviewing for, the employer will likely overlook the amount of time you may have spent in prior roles. Plus, since you’re a recent graduate, I think it’s fine.

If you take the bank teller job you can always leave it off your resume and just say you are unemployed. FYI still plenty of BO jobs out there so in this environment I would get a BO job pass the cfa and try to work your way up.

Others have given you good advice, but I just want to underline one point. Do not go to law school. I can’t speak to Canada, but there are 40,000 new JDs minted in the U.S. every year and only 32,000 new law jobs created. There is a massive over supply, as people think that going to law school will ensure them a place in upper middle class America if they just work at it. Third and fourth tier university systems have created law programs that shouldn’t even exist just to exploit this trend and capture some value from aspiring lawyers with poor credentials who shouldn’t be going to grad school to begin with. Most lawyers struggle to get a decent job and pay off their debt and they’re lucky if they make more than the bank teller who worked his way up to branch manager without taking debt. If you go to a top 10 law school, it might be different. Additionally, law is the only profession I am aware of that has support groups called “Leaving the Law.” You can google it if you want to know more. You don’t see people banding together around blogs to “Leave Medicine” or “Leave Finance.” Law is a pretty atrocious career for the most part – mind numbingly boring for most, and often times abrasive and confrontational, which erodes a person’s quality of life and tends to eat at their soul unless they have a very particular disposition (i.e., sociopath). If you’re the lucky 1 in 25 that happens to be a sociopath (or for some crazy reason you actually like law), you might be a good fit for the career. Overall though, I would say definitely avoid it – most of my friends from college went into law and at least 50% of them have said it was the worst decision they’ve ever made and they basically feel like they ruined their lives (the other 50% are in denial, I think). Don’t do it!

I wanted to be a lawyer when I was in high school because lawyers always had interesting stories to tell and I liked their ability to analyze things. Then I worked for a lawyer in his office one summer helping him with computer stuff, and I realized that, despite the fun stories, the day to day work was mind-numbingly boring. I can attest that there are lots of lawyers that are struggling out there, and many are bitter that there’s all that effort they put into getting a JD and passing the bar that barely pays the rent. Yes, there are lots of rich lawyers, but as a percentage of legal grads, not as many as you’d think. Severe representativeness bias. So from a financial point of view, it’s not as good as you’d think, and from an intellectual stimulation point of view, it’s not as good as you’d think. So do some more due diligence if you’re not sure lawyering is for you.

  1. Keep at the job searching for a couple months, do all the prepwork so if worse comes to worst and you still have no offer in several months you can apply for a law school. 2) As for the bank teller job, would concur with those above: these are only good for uni students with no internship. Low pay and the career path is unclear. It also doesn’t sound like you have an issue with income yet either. Refer to #1 and tough it out. Source: I worked as a retail banker for a little more than a year before I got somewhat lucky and got into our bank’s asset management arm… 3) While we’re on the topic of retail banking experience, I’d like to ask if anyone has successfully gotten their retail bank experience approved by CFAI? Currently have 32 months of experience approved by CFAI but my earlier 14 months as a mutual funds salesperson / retail banker was rejected. Thank you !