A Day in the Life…of a Career Switcher

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By: Caroline Kirwin, ’15

As most people heading to business school, I was looking for a change. Although we all believe we know what the change will be, whether career industry, function, geography, etc., rarely does that initially clear path prove to be easily navigated. As we begin recruiting what seems like a few short days after beginning school, the path not only forks, but rather splits into about 10+ different trails. Should I focus on jobs with a defined hiring cycle along with half of my class? Do I need a higher paying job to cover my student and growing travel loans? Is now the time to launch my tiaras for dogs line? The rapidly growing decision tree is overwhelming. Eventually we blink and find ourselves halfway down one (or somehow straddling two) of the paths without even realizing how we ended up there.

 My story isn’t much different but at least thus far, it has resulted in me returning to that initial path I wrote about in my application essay (and I can’t even cross my fingers when typing this post). I was unsure I would be able to make the leap to the energy industry without having had much prior energy experience, so I also pursued investment banking and finance rotational programs. After some hard work and probably a bit of good luck, I was able to land an internship in GE’s Energy Financial Services group doing exactly what I had hoped – financing energy projects.  Although I tried to prepare as much as is possible prior to starting in early June, the reality set in on the train to Stamford my first day: I really don’t have much of an idea of what I am doing.

After five weeks, I am appreciating the steep yet exciting learning curve and taking it all in.  I spend my days helping those with years x years of experience justify their decisions to buy, sell, recapitalize or lend to energy projects and get those deals across the finish line.  As everyone who wants to make their job sound interesting states: there is no “typical” day. But, my days generally involve some combination of making slides for internal investment committee meetings, calculating returns on everrrrrything, freaking out about my final presentation to senior management and eating Sodexo lunches (for those thinking of working in Stamford – get a car!).

 To where this path continues, only time will tell. It may split 10 more times and then converge at the end of next year or it could stay straight and narrow all the way through.  Either way, I am going to enjoy the journey and keep that travel debt growing.

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About cwib blog

Columbia Women in Business (CWIB) is an organization that strives to provide Columbia Business School women with resources and contacts to assist them in their academic, professional, and personal development. CWIB is committed to working with faculty, administrators, alumni and the greater business community to promote the role of and opportunities for women in business.
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