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"I didn't take a hedge fund job and my amazing girlfriend left me"

I want to share my story as a cautionary tale for anyone who gets an amazing opportunity this year, but doesn't take it, whether from anxiety, imposter syndrome, or simply a misplaced excess of caution about their career.

I'm a London School of Economics graduate in my early 30s. I'm single, and I'm now doing a job that I don't find stimulating. I have also lost the love of my life.

If I'd taken an opportunity that was offered to me a few years ago, I think my life would be completely different. 

I grew up in a small city in Northern Europe. I come from a low income family. When I was growing up, we lived on social support. I excelled academically and attended a top tier university in my home country before joining the LSE on a scholarship. 

When I graduated, I started out by getting a job on the buyside in my home country. That bored me and so I moved back to London to look for something different. After a few months in the city I met an amazing woman and received an offer to work for a top asset management firm. For a few years, my life was amazing. 

Then, the unexpected happened. During the pandemic, my team was restructured and although I'd had top performance reviews I was let go. A month or so later, I received an offer of a position at a top hedge fund in Mayfair. It was the kind of role I've always wanted, but my confidence had been dented and I wasn't sure whether I would fit in. I deliberated, and decided against doing the role. I took the job I'm currently doing instead. 

I can see very clearly now that this was a wrong decision. It was turning point in my life and both my career and personal life have deteriorated since. I've had various other job offers in my current role - including at large banks and assset managers - but none are as good as the hedge fund I turned down, and I haven't taken them up. I feel disillusioned and stuck. 

I have also lost my girlfriend. We lived together for nearly five years, but she accused me of becoming negative and changing from the positive person she fell in love with.

I can't change the past, but looking back I think I didn't take the job at the hedge fund because I was scared of failure. And yet, because I didn't take it and went for the safe option, events happened that I didn't foresee. My advice to people reading this is therefore to take risks with your careers. Believe in yourself. Life is short.

Carl Wells is a pseudonym

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AUTHORCarl Wells Insider Comment
  • Ex
    11 January 2023


    Please permit me a few lines to share an alternative view. 

    Negativity is a psychological trait akin to addiction. No smoker who ever gets addicted say he will get addicted, instead they say the opposite. The problem is addiction doesn’t come upon you overnight, it inches away at you by the minute, hours, days, months and years. Then 20 years later you wake up and realize, hey I'm addicted. The point is that negativity is similar to addiction, in that it eats away at you a little bit overtime. It is a terminal condition that you must address promptly.  

    I had a similar desire for a dream job once too. It turned out the doors that kept closing in front of me was in actuality, guiding me down a path to a wonderful opportunity; sure, it was comingled in risk and abstract theories of chaotic dynamism to forecast price action, but if I kept doing that 9 to 5, we would never have our own neural net. Fortunately, I had 14 good friends willing to take the risk with me, and so for equivalent to the cost of a AMG GT Coupe, we got started and have kept operations as a private corp.  

    I am just saying maybe your dream job isn’t what you think and subconsciously it makes you unhappy and negative, maybe it's time for you to do your own thing.  

  • Ma
    Macro Monkey
    10 January 2023

    Don’t let up Carl, something similar, I’d say even worse happened to me in the last year. Had an offer rescinded through the miracle that is cancel culture, realized a large share of individuals I had considered friends were nothing but envious snakes. They were worth shedding (pun intended). Turned down a lot of offers for similar reasons as you. Fell into a pretty dark place, but the introspection offered by depression makes you see things you otherwise wouldn’t. We’re anti fragile, and although I’m sure people throw around jargon from finance gurus on here nonsensically, Nassim’s theory really does apply here. You’ll come out of this better, and harder to knock down. Go get the job you want; you’re the only person preventing you from having the life you want.

  • N_
    10 January 2023

    Yeah, I can identify with this. I had an interview with a top sell-side firm, at a time when it was under a bit of a cloud of scandal (it subsequently lifted). I got a tough grilling, but didn't feel like I had super-impressed some of the interviewers. BUT... I had a CEO of a client who loved me and whom I considered asking to put a good word in with me, since he knew the big boss I'd have been working for. My hunch is that could have made all the difference, but I was reluctant to call in the favor from that CEO for a firm I felt iffy about.

    Well, with the benefit of hindsight, I should have totally gone for it. The job would have been a huge boost to my CV. Interestingly, though, the guy who wound up getting the job quit after just 18 months to go do retail high-net worth brokerage. And then the guy who replaced him lasted 4 years and then got laid off.

    There seems little chance, then, that I'd have successfully advanced in that job, so maybe it was just as well that I didn't dive in. But I do wonder from time to time where I might be today if I had that credential. (I mean, where I am now is happy, at a small firm, having advanced in the same function I was interviewing for back then.)

    But in a word of encouragement, I'd also say it's never too late to rev up the networking and find a new role or a new firm. Actively job-hunting while you're doing another job is grueling, make no mistake. But with enough time investment, you always have a shot at improving your lot or, if you don't, then you've freshened up your network in a way that could lead to opportunity down the road. It just takes that one person who's plugged in about what's going on at a given firm at the right time to put you on a glide path to a really good job you might otherwise never have caught wind of.

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