Terrible education record - career in Finance possible? Need advice and opinions.

Bear with me folks, this will be a long post. I’d be incredibly grateful to those of you who take the time to read it and offer your input. For those who don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to read it, summary is at the bottom. I will first give some background on myself. I am a 25 year old student studying Computer Science -B.sc in Applied Computing (Hons), to be precise. The Institute of Technology I study in is in Ireland. Its decent, but nowhere near recognized outside of Ireland. I have never been very academical. I passed everything at school, but I didn’t get better than honour level C’s. My grades throughout college, other than first year, have been below par to terrible. There are a variety of reasons why my grades were so poor, ranging from not trying hard enough from second year onwards, unsuitability to the course and bouts of depression. First year I put in effort and had reasonably satisfactory grades. Second year was largely ok too, other than failing two modules which I still need to repeat. I didn’t pass them but managed to carry on in to third year. Third year I failed three modules out of 8. One was a 10 credit module so I had to stay back to do it again. The following year, I passed all three modules I failed in third year, though I was tired of it. I deferred my course with the two 5 credit modules from second year still outstanding. This was back in the summer of 2016. I have now realised I need to get a degree. I was intending on completing my 4th year, but I found it difficult to get back in to the programming after such a long break. I’m not great at it naturally nor do I enjoy it, so I didn’t feel it would be worth the effort (which might not be enough) of preparing from scratch for a project year in 10 months. Especially to only get an average degree.Taking this in to consideration, I’ve decided to graduate after third year. I won’t get my Honours B.sc, but I will get an ordinary B.sc. Unfortunately, they judge the grade on third year alone, so because of that, I think my average would be around 45-50, giving me the lowest graded pass degree possible. As you can all see, my education has been an absolute write off. With all that said, let me now tell you a bit about what I am currently doing/want to do. I don’t have any skilled work experience or internships, though I have worked for a couple of years for a security firm. Ultimately, I would like to work for myself/be an entrepreneur, though I currently don’t have any real ideas, network of people or funds to do it successfully. As I feel the time isn’t right, I feel I should try get in to the corporate world to build skills, network and save some funds for when the time is right. In the last year or so, I have taken an interest in Finance. I have done some investing and trading in that time. I would like to learn more about these things and potentially work in these areas. I am currently studying for CFA, which I will sit in December after graduating with my B.sc. I quite like the idea of Finance as its something I’m interested in and something I can make use of for my future goal of being an entrepreneur/running my own business. I understand my education track record will greatly hinder me, even with the three levels of CFA passed. I am realistic, I don’t expect to be working in JP Morgan doing Investment Banking. I’d be happy enough getting a role as a Financial Analyst in a smaller company and being able to work my way up to a decent wage. I am now willing to make a massive effort to do what it takes. I will study long and hard for the CFA. I will learn things like Excel and Financial modeling in depth to make me a better candidate for the job. tl;dr: Terrible grades, failed modules, not a top college, ordinary bachelors degree, couple of year gap in middle of college, almost 26, no skilled work experience. With all that said, I now have some questions for you all: 1/ Do I have any chance of breaking in to the Finance corporate world with my education track record? The CFA is quite the effort to study for if my efforts will be wasted because of my poor grades. I feel it will be difficult to even get an internship due to my grades and age. 2/ Is there anything I can do to try make up for my poor education record? Would I literally have to do a degree from scratch? I’d really love your honest feedback to help me consider my options.

With your best interests in mind, do not do finance. It’s a highly competitive industry in secular decline. Very highly talented people are fighting for a shrinking pie. You will just be wasting time pursuing a career path that will reject you given your academic background. I’m not trying to be a jerk, just helpful.

Even if you got another degree from scratch from a decent school that somehow accepted you and you managed to do well, you’d be 30 and not considered for most typical entry roles and your past would still be held against you as an indication of your suitability and aptitude. Put in their shoes you’re not going to hire a 30 year old that bumbled through academics into a role meant for 21 year olds that are killing it.

Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the honesty.

I’m not delusional. I don’t expect to get a job in the big time, Likely ever - I did think however with a lot of effort and networking I could get in to a small company at a low level and get some experience. With that experience and effort, I could get to a better position. I wasn’t ever under the impression I’d be an associate for GS. I’m not even looking to do IB. I would however eventually like to do asset management or Equity research. Difficult, I know.

Do you think what I’m asking is possible? Not necessarily about the AM or ER, rather just getting a chance in smaller Finance company in an entry level job.

It’s hard to say without knowing you personally. On the surface it just doesn’t look promising, but who knows. There’s just so many people looking for those jobs. A standard research position gets probably a few hundred applications.

Moving from non-front office to front office roles like from a portfolio admin to research is borderline impossible in and of itself, it’s not like hey wow, you’ve got 5 years of spreadsheet experience we’re going to hire you into research.

Thanks for your views. I appreciate it, as disappointing as they are to hear.

I’ll try speak to some recruiters and HR people in Finance to get the final word.

I’m at a crucial stage of my life now. Can’t afford to waste any more time.


I won’t say you cant do this and that for a host of reasons or say you can do whatever you dream…I will try to give you solutions though…

Good for you on studying comp sci. That is definitely the future of everything these days. Soon, gone are the days of research analysts glued to their BBG screen and Excel screen or even lawyers reading hundreds of pages of documents etc. Read Rise of Robots, Army of None, Flash Boys for a start and motivate yourself not just into finance but also programming world. It will open new doors to your goals and vision.

You will most likely not get a job at Google or MSFT right away but you will work your way up…and who knows, some investment firm may hire you down the road to replace their research analysts - the route many banks are doing right now.

You said above that “you can’t afford to waste any more time”…you are ONLY 26 years old…I look at it like this…If you live until 75 and you go to bed at 11pm. 26 years old is equivalent to 10 am…you haven’t had lunch yet! You still have the whole day to make it a great day or a great career or whatever you want it to be.

Thanks very much for the reply. It was nice to hear after the above reality check.

While you’re right, 26 is still young, its hardly ideal to be searching for your first job with such a low GPA when there are people applying for the same job with a much better GPA, a masters , extracurriculars and work experience in the field to go with it. I’ve made a lot of poor choices in my life - I accept that. It just sucks that I feel there isn’t much room to get past it now, even if I work really hard.

I guess if I spend a year or 2 programming, do a coding bootcamp and build a nice portfolio, I could maybe get a job in IT. Not what I want, but I guess I got to work with what I have.

Thanks again.


Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. It is always possible. You just need one company or network or family connection to give you a chance.

I would rather be in finance for 20 years from 30-50 that any other profession and you will make a load more money.

Network hard and work on your skills. Practice financial modelling, get your CFA, maybe even a MBA.

Someone will give you a chance. There are a lot of M&A Boutique’s that hire on attitude and provide training. IB is not rocket science - just show enthusiasm and drive and you can’t do whatever you want to.

It will be harder and you will need to work harder than most to get in. But once you break in, it’s all good.

^^ good advice with a solution in mind. You just need one person to connect you to the right person or help you. just need one. in the meantime, continue programming, and as NewAnalyst said, learn to financial model…Be prepared to seize on an opportunity when it shows up in front of you.

I’m not saying anything is impossible, but NewAnalyst from my understanding is both young and has never had to apply from a position you’re describing. So while it all sounds nice, it’s just words (don’t mean that personally). I’ve watched a number of people with bad backgrounds try to do what you’re suggesting and wash out, just wasting time they could have applied to a more accepting career path that values demonstrable skills (like programing) over pedigree. I had to go through the process of trying to get hired with a somewhat just average academic background (not bad, not great) from a non-tier school owing entirely to circumstances of the time and it took a decade to build a strong career and I still look back at disbelief in the turns of luck and amount of work it took (years of working until 2am and getting paid nothing). In the process I also crushed out a masters with high academic performance from a good school and generally have demonstrated a very high degree of academic aptitude and it still felt like barely enough at times. If I could do it again, I’m glad to be here, but I’d have chosen another industry. I’m not trying to break you down, but just urging you to consider other paths because you’re starting from a far worse position than I did, you’re much later in life, aptitude seems to be partly an issue here and I had the advantage of entering the work force in 2006 which was reasonably strong hiring environment. Granted, I was also then managing through 2008/2009 which was a tough time to be breaking into the industry.

You can always set out a year and a plan to take CFA L1 and see where you are in a year to reassess. I’m just saying you should prepare for that to potentially be a time waste into the more dead end and low paying nether regions of the industry and be working on ideas in parallel around that, because with almost 90% certainty this plan will not work.

Thanks for all the replies guys. I really do appreciate it.

I need to have a long hard think about what I need to do next I need to speak to some people as well.

I am willing to work really hard to make a career for myself, but I need to stand a chance. Thanks again.

Yeah, nothing wrong with that, and maybe you find a good break and it opens up doors for you. I just would encourage you to think very carefully and pragmatically going forward and really weigh your decisions based on skills and industry realities. Even if you choose to go the finance route to succeed with the odds against you, you’ll have to be very strategic at each move to have a slim shot so its a good exercise regardless. The only reason I had any chance at all was that I was very pragmatic and carefully calculated each move in my career progression in terms of leveraging a skill here to get a job there, etc.

I think you need a plan other than “hard work”. Do you know anyone in the industry? How will you get your foot in the door?

No. My girlfriend has contacts though (she is actually contacting some people for me today to see where I stand) and I plan on starting to network more myself.

Getting to know people won’t be a problem. I have great social/people skills and I am easily likeable. Hopefully that can in part make up for my horrific grades. In saying that, I will need to work hard before they take me seriously.

I’m just a little demotivated after some replies on various posts I’ve made. Only a third are negative. The more positive ones pretty much say I’m relying on networking, but I gather thats Finance as a whole.

I’m kind of shocked a little though. CFA is known to be difficult, requires a lot of dedication, has a high fail rate and so on, yet people are still telling me that even if I pass level III, I still have little to no chance of getting a job in a small firm. I’m not talking Wall St either.

Ok. What I was saying is that you might have to work strategically to be effective. The promise of hard work is ultimately undermined by poor grades. So, you will have to have some pitch to overcome this. Networking is the first step.

Regarding CFA - it’s not a hard test and for that reason, does not really count for that much in recruitment. Many of the people who fail, especially in Level 1, are international test takers or people who will not end up getting jobs that are relevant to the material.

However, you should still take it for the knowledge and badge benefit, no matter how incremental. In such a crowded field, you really have to do everything you can to get a chance.

do not listen to this. If you really want to do something, try your a** off, read constantly and network. Message people on LinkedIn that are in the position you WANT to be in and ask them for advice

if they are a pompous d bag, then screw em. On to the next. There are tons of people out there that will be willing to help no matter if you are 21, 30, or 50. All you need is one.

sure you will probably never land a role at a prestigious buy side shop or large bank like Goldman, MS, etc. but you will find something decent, especially if you are willing to open your geographical preferences a bit. Good luck man!

^ This clown was just unemployed for nearly a year February to January because he’s an idiot and managed to go from the hacksaw role of muni analyst to back office monkey with a $10k signing bonus. Literally the last person to take advice from.

Ultimately, you can choose between listening to the guys actually doing front office investment work and getting paid, or the guy fresh off a long bout of unemployment scraping the bottom of the barrel. Hmmm, it’s a tricky one!

you dont know he is 30

dang some personal attacks coming in hot up there.

anywho, op, just work your arse off and see where that takes you bc you just never know. like i mentioned above, your current age is equivalent to 11am on the day clock…you still have a whole day left in front of you. keep your comp sci degree going and in the meantime work on your financial modeling and read lots and lots of books.