Career Corner: March-April 2006

Writer: 
March 31, 2006

I'm coming to the end of my two-year investment-banking analyst position, and I'm totally confused. I have a job offer from one of my clients and the opportunity to go to a good business school, but what I'd really like to do is run a nonprofit organization.

You're not alone in your confusion. Hundreds of grads go into fields such as finance because they have good grades, and employers come on campus to woo them. The downside is that having a good job offer makes it less likely that you'll think about where your interests and values really lie. The busier your job, the more inertia there is to stay in a similar field.

If you go the nonprofit route, you're looking at a significant pay cut--especially since you won't start out running the place. But you don't want to dip into your savings every month just to pay the rent and put food on the table. If you're really serious, you've probably already considered making adjustments. No, you're not reverting to your student "ramen noodle" days, but it's not a bad idea to invest in a cooking course. Consider organizations in small cities, where your finance experience might be truly welcomed and where the cost of living doesn't eat up 95 percent of your salary. There's no substitute for checking out assumptions about your new life with fellow alumni and friends in the field.