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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:32 PM

How I got out of banking and saved my soul

This is not a linked article, but my own thoughts, as disjointed and jumbled as can be, about the long, strange path I have taken through life.

I started my career as a teacher for six years and using it as an excuse to travel. I lived in Japan for two years, Hawai'i for one and DC for two before moving back to NY and teaching in Syracuse for a year.

I was a proud teacher--I loved what I did, the interactions with the students, the thought of having something I could hold up as proof of a life well led. However, it was time for my wife and I to settle down and start paying the bills. I decided to leave teaching and pursue an MBA.

I was fortunate enough to end up in a program where a bank paid for my education as long as it got first crack at hiring me. The pay rate would be a lot higher than normal wages, even with an MBA, so I absolutely accepted the offer.

I was with this bank for an internship and three years after finishing my degree. The first year I enjoyed it tremendously--sure, I was working in mortgage and consumer lending right after the Recession hit, but the work was interesting. I was working on projects with heavy analytics, heavy project management and lots of exposure to senior management. Never mind how work in loans might affect people during the recession--for me, it was great. And I was well rewarded.

To put it simply, I started enjoying the attention, the feeling of being a fast-path young upstart with champions in the company. I spent more than I should have, I found my personality changing to a more cutthroat version of myself as I began playing the game of financial politics, and I started working ungodly hours to produce nothing of value.

After two years and a promotion into lower middle management, I transferred into the area of the bank dealing with how to pay and reward employees--from tellers all the way up to the CEO. Arguing the for/against value of incremental adjustments for the common worker became part of my everyday life while, at the same time, learning the ways of rewarding senior management in terms of cash and stock pay-outs. I was learning the back-office world of banking, and my career was flourishing.

And then something happened.

My wife gave birth and my first child almost died on his third day of life. I gave him mouth to mouth to bring him back within six hours of his first trip to home. I sat at his side for a week at a hospital while he was hooked up to machines to help him breathe, to flood his little body with antibiotics in case of a viral infection, and I cried every single time I looked at him thinking how much I could have lost. He is fine today (Almost 2!) but he has a little mark on his arm where the IV was hooked up that will never heal. Even as I write this, I tear up at the memory of that night.

I was out of work for two weeks, and the person I was as a teacher started coming back into my personality. I wanted to spend more time with my family, I wanted to spend my time at working doing something concrete. I began to have second thoughts about my career path.

For the next eight months my working life was hell--I hated going to work, dealing with what I know thought was bullshit and wondering how I could support my family if I quit. My projects became more and more onerous culminating in a massive bankwide initiative where I was literally working 80 to 90 hours a week to update something I no longer believed in. My marriage was suffering, my homelife was suffering. After one particularly brutal week my wife flat out told me, "You don't know you six month old son."

This was the end. To be fair, it was pretty apparent to the higher-ups at the bank that I was no longer a good fit for the company, and they treated me very well in my transition out.

But I couldn't do it any longer. I just couldn't.

To end this on the right note, I have since found my dream job. I am now a part of the marine transportation industry and working closely with unions again. I get to see my analyses and projects help people and get to be part of a world I never knew anything about six months ago. I am regaining my sanity, my wife and my child as I move back into a largely blue-collar field. Sure, I gave up some compensation that I will probably never see again, but I discovered it truly wasn't worth it. I am now involved in real industry and I have a healthy 21-month old son that is the most important part of my life day in and day out.

I have been humbled.

I have looked at myself at my worst.

I almost lost everything that was actually important.

But I did not.

And I will never forget who I really am or what I really stand for again.

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply How I got out of banking and saved my soul (Original post)
Godhumor Jan 2013 OP
RomneyLies Jan 2013 #1
riverbendviewgal Jan 2013 #2
bluestate10 Jan 2013 #3
jillan Jan 2013 #4
Godhumor Jan 2013 #5
woo me with science Jan 2013 #6
Godhumor Jan 2013 #8
tabbycat31 Jan 2013 #7
Godhumor Jan 2013 #9
sibelian Jan 2013 #10

Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:36 PM

1. K&R

 

From one simple soul to another simple soul, believe me. I know what it's like to work a job that hurts your soul.

As soon as I can, I will be getting out of mine.

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Response to RomneyLies (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:42 PM

2. I got out of mine

I retired at 57 from a non union corporation that $ mattered most over integrity. No regrets. Good for you to choose your family first.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:02 PM

3. You learned something early on that some high income people never learn. Money is relative,

how one earn that money really does matter and there are far more important things in life than money.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:59 PM

4. Former Bank of America employee right here. I could not take it anymore either. But more important

glad your son is okay
That's worth all the money in the world.

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Response to jillan (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:01 AM

5. I remind myself of that everyday

I hate that it took something so traumatic to make me realize it.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:41 AM

6. K&R Thank you for this post.

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 02:28 PM

8. I have thought about writing it ever since my transition

Glad I finally did. It was cathartic.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:17 AM

7. I am a laid off banker

Lost my job in 2008 and for awhile I was upset, but looking back it was the best thing to happen to me.

I am now a campaign staffer for Democrats all over this country (I have worked in 4 states) and would not trade it for the world. I truly love my job.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:16 PM

9. One last bump

Before letting this sink.

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Response to Godhumor (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:31 PM

10. Good for you!


Well done and best of luck for your future!

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