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MBA毕业生们,去华尔街就要坚持到底

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Last week, I received a very nice email from an M.B.A. student looking for advice on how to break into Wall Street.

But when it came to tackling today's shrinking job market, I was stumped. Then I came across a gem of an article in WSJ Careers about how 'job seekers play down their credentials to avoid looking overqualified.'

I thought, well, that is just such idiocy. If there are recruiters out there telling job seekers to underplay their ambitions and qualifications, then certainly I could do better.

And that got me thinking back to an interview that clinched my first Wall Street job out of college, back in 1986. It was a second-round interview with a vice president at Goldman Sachs.

At the time, I knew little of Wall Street. My major was Russian and Soviet studies. And I remember at the time thinking, this interview is very important to my life-my first prospective 'real' job.

After the regular chit-chat and an engaging discussion - most folks loved the fact that I had lived and studied in the Soviet Union - the banker asked me, 'What will you do if Goldman Sachs or another Wall Street firm doesn't offer you a job?'

In other words, 'What will you do, if you can't do what you want to do?' It was a great question - not one that I, in my youthful arrogance, had considered.

And it is, of course, the very same question confronting many of you today.

Some of you may have been lucky enough to find a great full-time position on Wall Street or the perfect summer associate program. But many of you are still trying to find something, anything to scratch out a living or build a resume.

There is no 'right' answer to the question. But luckily, my response at the interview was probably as right as it could be. I said something along the lines of: 'I think I will get a job, but if I don't, I'll do whatever I can to work on Wall Street - I'll get a job on the floor of the exchange, do that for a couple of years. You name it and I'll do it.'

The interviewer was of the serious, taciturn type, but I could tell the answer registered. My answer showed that I had the drive and grit to serve Goldman Sachs faithfully - at least for the length of the two-year dogsbody analyst program.

Looking back, did I believe what I actually said? I'm not sure. But at the time, I certainly had plenty of moxie.

So here are my takeaways from the story:

#1:Do what you want to do - even if it isn't exactly what you want to do. Can't get a job trading distressed securities at a hedge fund or Goldman Sachs? Go to a smaller Wall Street broker. Can't find a job there? Go to a regional broker. Can't find a job there? Go to a fund that is buying up foreclosed homes in Las Vegas. You will probably end up learning more about distressed securities off Wall Street than on it.

#2:Always be selling yourself. I'm sure there may be a place where it makes sense to downplay your credentials. But I doubt that place is on Wall Street, especially when jobs are scarce. Wall Street still wants people who are hungry and pushy. It just doesn't want those who are also greedy and reckless.

#3:Know your stuff. When I started on Wall Street, there was no Internet, no CNBC and Lotus spreadsheets. Today, there is no excuse for not knowing what is going on in the markets. Read The Wall Street Journal and the FT daily. Take your registered rep exams. Be able to build Excel spreadsheets in your sleep. Be prepared or you will lose out.

#4:Make your own luck. Yes, I know - lame advice. But I have found there is truth to the cliche, that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I started studying Russian in 1982. I spent my days in Russian classes, language labs and 'intensive' summer programs. I practiced Russian pronunciation for hours, filled notebooks with countless vocabulary words and read Russian books, dictionary in hand. In the end, I was one of only a few dozen American undergraduates who got to study in Moscow in 1984. I didn't do all this thinking it would make a great resume builder for a Wall Street job. But it did. And that is how I made my own luck.

So, fellow M.B.A.s, hang in there as you go to Wall Street. Good luck in making your own luck.

上周,一个MBA(工商管理硕士)学生给我发来一封措辞得体的电子邮件,希望我能就如何打进华尔街提些建议。

不过,当谈到如何应对眼下不断萎缩的就业市场时,我被难住了。然后,我在《华尔街日报》职业专栏中读到了一篇妙文,是关于求职者如何低调对待自己的学历,让自己看上去不会资历过高。

我想,这太愚蠢了。如果有招聘人员告诉找工作的人对自己的雄心壮志和资历轻描淡写的话,那我肯定能比他们做得更好。

毕业生们发出的求职信号——学位帽上写着“雇我吧”。这让我回想起1986年我大学毕业后,让我获得第一份华尔街工作的一次面试。那是与高盛(Goldman Sachs)一位副总裁的第二轮面试。

当时,我对华尔街几乎一无所知。我的专业是俄语和苏联研究。我记得自己当时想,这次面试对我的人生至关重要──这是我有望获得第一份“真正的”工作。

在例行的闲谈和热烈的讨论后──大部分面试官都对我曾在苏联学习生活过颇有兴趣,这位银行家问我,如果高盛或是另外一家华尔街公司没有聘用你,你会怎么做?

换句话说,如果你不能做自己想做的工作,你会怎么做?这个问题问得好,是当时年轻无知的我所不曾想过的。

当然,这也是你们很多人现在面临的一个问题。

你们有些人可能非常幸运,在华尔街找到了一份很棒的全职工作,或是加入了完美的暑期员工项目。不过,有很多人仍在努力寻找任何可以养活自己、或在简历上加上一笔的工作。

在这个问题上没有“正确”答案。不过幸运的是,我在面试中的回答可能已经很不错了。我当时说,我想我会得到一份工作,如果没有,我会竭尽所能争取在华尔街工作,我会弄到一份交易所场内的工作,然后做上几年。你说什么我都愿意做。

面试官是那种不苟言笑的类型,不过我敢说我的回答很合他意。我的回答显示出,我有忠诚服务于高盛的勇气和决心,至少能在两年辛苦的分析师项目期间如此。

回想当初,我相信自己说的话吗?我不敢肯定。不过当时,我无疑勇气可佳。

我从这个故事中得到了以下启发。

1、做自己想做的工作,即便不是完全和你想做的相同。无法在对冲基金或高盛找到一份证券的工作?那就去一家小一点的华尔街经纪公司。在那也找不到工作?那就到地区经纪公司看看。在那也一无所获?那么到一家在拉斯维加斯收购止赎房屋的基金。或许你在华尔街之外学到的暴跌证券相关知识比在华尔街学到的还要多。

2、时刻推销自己。我相信在有些地方可能弱化自己的学历是说得通的,不过我怀疑这个地方不是在华尔街,特别是当工作机会稀缺的时候。华尔街仍想要雄心勃勃、积极进取的人,只是不想要那些同时还贪得无厌、不计后果的家伙。

3、熟悉自己的业务。我开始在华尔街工作时,那时还没有互联网、CNBC电视频道或是Lotus电子表格。如今,已经没有理由不清楚市场上的风云变幻了。每天读读《华尔街日报》和《金融时报》。报名参加执业资格考试。能在睡梦中建立Excel电子表格。时刻准备,否则就会错失良机。

4、天助自助者。没错,我知道这等于没说。不过我发现这句老生常谈还是有道理的──你越努力,运气就会越好。1982年我开始学习俄语。我整日都花在俄语课、语言实验室和暑期集训上。我连续好几个小时练习俄语发音,在笔记本上写满无数的单词,还阅读俄语书籍,字典从不离手。最后,我成了1984年去莫斯科学习的为数不多的几十个美国本科生中的一个。我当时想的可不是这会为我的简历增色不少,让我可以找份华尔街的工作。不过结果却是无心插柳柳成荫。我就是这样为自己创造机会的。

所以,MBA同学们,你去华尔街时要坚持到底。祝你好运,天助自助者。
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