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1) What do you do now, and what did you do before?
My first transition experience is about my switch from being an investment banking analyst at Merrill Lynch to being a marketing analyst at internet startup KAYAK.com.
2) So, why the change?
The short story was that I graduated from Princeton in 2008, entered into banking, and watched my bank and role disintegrate in the financial crisis. So, I had to find a new job regardless and the finance industry wasn’t the place to be. The longer story is that I entered into college hesitant to commit to any single path and ambition took me into banking where I appreciated the skills I was practicing but didn’t really have a connection to anything of value beyond just packaging presentations to sell transactions. So, in that sense, I changed because I wanted to try working on a real product/service and have a more operational role.
3) How did you pitch yourself to the desired industry/role? What worked well? In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
I pitched myself as a new Princeton graduate who had banking experience but wanted to try something more operational specifically marketing in a start-up setting. But I wasn’t pitching myself so much as seeking information. I would apply for job openings but I also reached out to many alumni and other people I could network with to get their advice and perspective on working outside of finance / in marketing and what they would do if they were in my shoes and wanted the same goals I had. It helped in the sense it gave me conversation fodder for interviews as well as perspective in planning how I would approach roles and market myself. That worked well because people were more willing to talk to me about things once they knew they didn’t have the obligation of finding me a job. In hindsight, I think the only thing I would have done is talk to more people outside of marketing to know how difficult it might be to switch into their roles from marketing and what their career progressions were like.
4) What was the most valuable thing you did in preparation for the new industry/role?
Talk to people. Banking brought me credibility in terms of analytical skills but my conversations with people helped give me a sense of how to present myself and give proof of interest.
5) What other advice or insight do you have for readers seeking the same career transition?
Talk to people outside of the context of just getting a job. Ask for what the career will be like after that initial role and what sort of things are required to be successful long term in that type of function.
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