Landing an internship or a full-time role at a prestigious bank or hedge fund is merely your first step in a larger journey on Wall Street. There’s still loads of competition internally and much to learn about complex products and markets.
Business Insider asked this year’s Rising Stars of Wall Street to give us their best career advice for those just starting out.
Here’s some of the best insight that we got.
Credit Suisse’s Mandy Xu: Take initiative early on in your career
Mandy Xu is the chief equity-derivatives strategist at Credit Suisse and a director in the global markets division in New York.
Her advice for young professionals entering Wall Street is to take initiative as soon as you can.
“Take initiative to learn as many things as possible early in your career, even if it’s outside your immediate group/product area – being able to understand different products and markets is extremely valuable in this industry.”
Blackstone Group’s Anushka Sunder: Stay curious and ask questions.
Blackstone’s Anushka Sunder advice to those starting out in their career is to remain curious and establish your own style.
“To be curious and ask questions, to develop your own style rather than imitate others, to find people who invest in you personally, and to be determined and optimistic. A bit of humour and lightheartedness can make a world of difference as well – to find humility at your best moments and resilience at the most challenging.”
Grayscale Investments’ Michael Sonnenshein: Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
Just because you make one career choice early on, it doesn’t need to define your path forever, said Michael Sonnenshein, a managing director at Grayscale Investment, the cryptocurrency investing arm of Digital Currency Group.
“You really cannot be afraid to take a chance. I think that a lot of young people that are joining Wall Street think they have to immediately go to a big bank or they have to immediately go to a startup or Google and they have to choose one or the other,” he said. “I would say that there is actually quite a bit flexibility back and forth between the two camps, between being a traditional finance banking role and also get more startup-type company roles.”
Before Grayscale, Sonnenshein worked at several banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, and JPMorgan.
Sonnenshein also advises young Wall Streeters to go to business school early, particularly if they don’t have experience in finance, economics, and business.
“I think the longer you wait, it sometimes gets a little more difficult to find time or to go back to school,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean he suggests that people get their MBA immediately after they get out college.
“It is important that they have a couple of years’ experience in the workforce before doing so, which would make it more valuable,” he said.
Cumberland’s Bobby Cho: Be a sponge and soak in as much knowledge and information as you can.
When you start out your career on Wall Street and feel like you know little about the industry, take a deep breath and don’t panic.
“I think the best thing you can do when you are just starting out, or even changing careers, is to be a sponge,” said Bobby Cho, the global head of trading at Cumberland. “Soak in as much knowledge and information as you can from the people around you. Be a continuous learner and ask questions only after you have tried to answer them yourself.”
Another piece of advice from Cho is to understand the value of relationships.
“I would have loved to have kept in touch with everyone I have met over the years, because it would mean my network today would be that much stronger,” he said. “You meet so many people at different times of your life, or career, and you never know when your paths will cross again down the line or how you might be able to help each other in the future. Value all your relationships and nurture them to be mutually beneficial.”
Carlyle Group’s Tanaka Maswoswe: Reaching out to people is important.
Carlyle Group’s Tanaka Maswoswe emphasised the importance of networking when trying to land a Wall Street job:
“I’ve tried to talk to as many people as I could. As an undergrad, you think a little less about networking than you do in business school, but reaching out to people is important, whether it’s college alumni or when you’re at a bank, other banking alumni. The more people you talk to, the more touch points you have.”
Deutsche Bank’s Tian Zeng: Be the first one at work and last one to leave — because you love the job.
Tian Zeng, senior credit-index trader at Deutsche Bank, suggested that young Wall Streeters put in long hours because they’re passionate about their jobs – not because they feel outside pressure to work hard.
“Be the first one at work and last one to leave, but only because you love the job that you want to be there early to prepare for your day and last one to leave because you have a lot of things that you want to learn outside of the job itself. Be open minded on people, products, markets, skillsets. Pick mentors to guide you along the way and be around those who you can learn different things from.”
TPG’s Katherine Wood: Practice like you play.
Katherine Wood, a private-equity investor at TPG and former college field-hockey player, said there are similarities between being an athlete and an investor.
“One analogy is practicing like you play. Everyone wants to win when you get there on game day, but it’s the months and years that go into it that matter,” she said. “That’s applicable both in a patient investing style and when you start off in your career. The work you’re doing isn’t glamorous. You have to have grittiness to do that. “
She also suggests that young Wall Streeters be on a team they like.
“A huge part of what I’ve loved is the people I’ve worked with,” she said.
JPMorgan’s Michael Elanjian: Change is constant on Wall Street — be ready to adapt.
On Wall Street, the only thing consistent is change.
That’s according to JPMorgan’s Michael Elanjian, who runs digital strategy for the bank’s corporate and investment bank
“Change is the rule, not an exception, and that applies to literally everything, whether it’s the markets themselves, the rankings, the client mix, organizational dynamics, products, people, literally everything down to the evolution of the expectation of the roles of a salesperson, trader or banker and what are the skillsets required to succeed in the future,” he said.
“If you know that going in you should keep in mind that the most successful players are the well-rounded athletes that are able to adapt, be resourceful and who can pivot quickly. They can apply past observations to new challenges, scenarios and eventually new roles and businesses that might not exist yet.”
It’s also incredibly important to understand people and their motivations, he said.
“That ability to be well-rounded is increasingly important given how frequently things are changing.”
BoA’s Kim Stolz: Ask for what you want.
Kim Stolz has an unconventional background for a finance executive.
She’s a former model, actress, and published author and now the head of America’s prime brokerage sales at Bank of America.
“Ask for what you want. Things don’t always fall into your lap, and you don’t just get them because you deserve them. You have to stand up and say what you want. Self-promotion is a necessary part of success.”
Apollo’s Christine Hommes: Don’t stress.
Christine Hommes, a private-equity investor at Apollo Global Management, says her biggest piece of advice to ambitious, young Wall Streeters is to relax a bit.
“I saw people come out of school with what you think would be the absolute best job and they have gone different paths,” she said. “In this industry, careers can take a lot of different turns. Don’t stress out too much about getting that ideal role everyone is pining for. “
Goldman Sachs’ Anna Ashurov: Find a hobby.
Anna Ashurov, a vice president in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, says her passion outside of work is education. She encourages other young professionals to find their own hobbies, too.
“As young professionals starting out in their career, they will be focused on the job,” she said. “And that’s exactly what they should be doing, but to the extent they have any free time they should embrace their hobbies and things that they were passionate about before starting a full-time job.”
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