From College to FinTech — Why I Chose to Forgo a Large Finance Firm to Enter Tech

Asa Lieberman
Dec 28th, 2017
We take a break today from investor research and tax bills to reach out to the real MVPs of December: the college students who pushed and persevered through finals only to come out on the other side and fall headfirst into resume dumps and interviews. We've been there. This is for you.

The month of December means something special to everyone. For some, hot cocoa and Mariah Carey on the radio. For others, sales emails. So many sales. But for college students, December brings with it the unique one-two combo of finals and recruiting. While the cramming of a semester’s worth of material in a matter of days is a rite of nervous passage for all students, the latter is what can really keep you up at night (aside from Netflix). It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s what a lot of your educational career has been building up towards.

Roughly one year ago, I was that college student. And though many of my friends went the grad school route or into a large bank—both fine options for sure—I chose to leap into FinTech. I couldn’t be happier with my decision, and I think all majors from various backgrounds should consider this route. Here’s why.

Make an Impact Starting on Day One

One paragraph into the “It’s Your Future” blog post and we’ve already hit a cliché. Yet, clichés exist for a reason, and I cannot stress how singularly accurate and important this one is. From the moment I arrived at EquityZen, I have been given the opportunity to tackle intriguing projects that I genuinely want to pursue. By design, you wear multiple hats, work across multiple divisions, and learn a variety of new skills faster. One day I’m piecing together a quantitative strategy to boost customer acquisition; the next, I’m helping design new facets of our website to bolster our user experience. If you’re eager to see your actions channeled into tangible results, FinTech just might be right for you.

The Future is Here (and you stare at its screen all day, every day)

At a FinTech firm, you live at the intersection of cutting edge technology and a financial system that has more or less looked the same since that guy in that musical you’ll never get tickets to. Sure, it’s fun to say words like “disrupt” and “blockchain,” but ultimately what we’re trying to do is simply bring the way we transact and communicate financially into the technologically-proficient world we all live in today. Here at EquityZen, that means streamlining an investment process down to fractions of the time it takes large firms to do the same. Tech is a sprint; you’ll learn how to move fast and (hopefully) not break things. You’ll gain a wealth of knowledge regarding how tech is changing our lives every day. Above all, you’ll learn valuable skills working with tech that will absolutely touch every aspect of your working and personal life moving forward.

Leap Without a Net

Lastly, take this risk, now while you’re young and have so much to learn. There’s nothing quite like working for an early-stage firm, especially in a field like tech. You’ll be forced to problem-solve and come up with quick, thoughtful solutions. You’ll learn how to think on your feet and grow from the experience. Be on the ground floor of a creation you build up with your own work and intuition. Get out of your comfort zone. Allow yourself a chance to make something great. No matter the immediate outcome, the skills and lessons you learn from having an actual voice in the development of a business will pay dividends tenfold.

This next step is a big one. Make it something worth the investment. Go where you will learn, where you will grow, and where you will feel compelled to keep pushing yourself. So, get a refill of that hot chocolate, watch that last episode of Stranger Things, and take a leap. The experiences you will have working in FinTech in just those first few months will teach you more than you possibly can imagine. Get your hands dirty and build the future. You won’t regret it. I know I don’t.

Stay tuned for a future piece outlining steps you can take to better your chances of landing that dream job in FinTech!

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