WCM Educational Recap #12: Life and Work Principles
Recapped by Amy Dong
Life & Work Principles
This week we went over life and work principles to keep in mind as we progress through our professional and personal lives.
One of the biggest challenges of a university student is figuring out where to spend your time. The panelists Caitlyn, Nick, Kailas, and Adil discussed the lessons learned from their extensive university involvement.
There were three key highlights about being a student:
- Explore non-professional clubs. A huge part of university is understanding who you are as a person. Take the time to explore non-finance clubs and develop your interests. Consider sports, creative clubs, or cultural society to get a better handle on your identity. This will improve both your mental health and eventually your recruiting experience.
- Take a break. Burn out is extremely common as everything feels competitive; go easy on yourself. You are allowed to make mistakes and should not be too hard on yourself when they happen. The quality of work will improve as you allow yourself to refresh and tackle the problem from a new angle. Feel free to say ‘no’ to opportunities if you feel they overwhelm you.
- Take advantage of being a student. Reach out to professionals with the desire to learn and explore. You will find that many are far more responsive than you might think. Extensive conferences, competitions, and networking opportunities are in place for you to gain the experience you need and figure out what you want. Make the most of your time.
Recruiting is the biggest topic on many finance students’ minds; how do we get a job that we are happy with? What should we be keeping in mind?
The panelists had four key takeaways on this topic:
- Nothing is the end of the world. Recruiting often feels like the only thing that matters when you are going through the process; it decides your third-year summer which consequently influences your first full-time job. However, it is important to remember that nobody remembers the entry roles of the industry icons that we look up to. Keep the big picture in mind as everyone will inevitably face rejection. Know that no singular firm will make or break your career and that any starting point can be a strong one. Eventually, hard work and luck both will align for you. Keep calm and carry on.
- Never undervalue your relationships and reputation. As something intangible and hard to value, relationships and reputation slip the mind of many when thinking about recruiting. Keep in mind that the work you show others and the impression you give others on calls can easily influence how they think about you in the hiring process. Be mindful of your behaviour and let your personality shine through!
- Reach out to the unexpected. Oftentimes, we become complacent with the easiest route. However, only applying to positions made available through existing Ivey and Western pipelines shuts out a whole world of available opportunities. Take the extra step to reach out to firms that might be open to Canadians in general as well as boutiques to get an idea of what is really available to you. As a result, you can access exciting opportunities that might be less competitive and create the Western pipeline for years ahead of you.
- Take the road less travelled. Not everyone wants to be a banker and that’s more than fine. If you are interested in other areas of finance like corporate development, quantitative investing, or venture capital, look to explore any summer opportunities that could be available for someone in those spaces. Do your own research and avoid following the same path as others for the sake of it. You only get one third-year summer, so it is important you use it as best as you can. Understand that the bigger picture should not be prestige or the easiest path.
Approaching Your Internships
What should you do once you have secured the internship? We need to figure out how to make the most of our summers to remain both memorable and helpful.
The panelists had two key insights to share on this topic.
Make your associate’s life easier by taking initiative and feedback well.
- Always be cognizant of what your work is going towards — who will be using it and what will they be using it for? Whether that looks like synthesizing data collected, producing a short summary of your research findings, or analyzing trends in information, something simple can make your work much more helpful for your associate or VP. Being mindful of your work can keep you memorable in the eyes of a work superior. Feedback is also key; remember you are a student! Mistakes are okay, but a big part of being successful in learning is taking that feedback into consideration to improve on the next iteration. Try to be organized in your approach to improvement!
- This is one of the few times you will be surrounded by a group of peers your age from different backgrounds with a similar interest in finance. Finance is hard, but made easier by enjoying working with those around you. These friendships will support you through the most stressful parts of your job and last a lifetime as your career progresses. These connections can be helpful as you may choose to change your path later on in life. Take the chance to really get to know the rest of your intern class beyond a professional level.