Enter your phone number and/or email and we’ll send you a message when there’s an update to this question!
Financial Economics student and an advocate for minority rights, female empowerment, sustainability & financial literacy.
Hello! As a recent graduate of financial economics I would love to answer your question as I am still on the job hunt to find a career path for myself, and truth be told there is absolutely so much to choose from which is why I am still confused as to where to begin my career!
Firstly, as a finance student you don’t only learn number crunching in college, but rather are well rounded in all other business, accounting and economics aspects which gives you a grasp of various fields early on, long before you even begin your career.
Now once you have graduated is when you realize how vast this field really is. You are not limited to just the financial field, you can go into sales, accounting, insurance, assurance etc. If you love helping people and are extroverted, financial consulting is a wonderful field for you. Similarly if you like numbers and how statements work, jobs like being a financial analyst, credit analyst etc might be for you. You can go into corporate finance, commercial banking, investment banking, hedge funds, private equity, financial planning etc. The options are endless, it only depends on what piques your interest. Best of luck!!
Your question reflects my specific background. I majored in engineering in college because, at the time, that was one of the fastest growing job markets in the country. However, later I earned my "graduate" degree (MBA) in finance. With that major I had a lot of job opportunities for recent college graduates. The field of engineering is broad in terms of jobs regardless of the specific type of engineering major to take in college. This is because every engineering student takes the same core math, science and technical courses in their first two to three college years with the focused "major" courses in the last one to two years. Long story short, you are prepared for a broad path of technical jobs, a lot you may not have even known existed.
After five years in a technical profession, I went to graduate school to earn a degree in finance. Why? Because after learning how the technical world is funded and managed, I had a choice (a) continue to advance my career as a technical professional or (b) move to the business side of the technology world. With my finance degree I am able to understand how the financial markets view technology opportunities as investments. With my fundamental knowledge...and "practical" experience in technology, I have successfully communicated with entrepreneurs seeking my assistance in raising capital for their ideas and also spent time as Chief Financial Officer of a young technology company.
Jordan, the field of "finance" is enormous, and almost all the jobs in finance pay very well. When I was starting out as a recent college graduate with a major in English, I answered that question for myself by buying and reading two entire books on that topic ("Choosing a Career in Finance"). We have the internet now, and I see that Investopedia has a good birds-eye-view article on the topic at https://www.investopedia.com/university/financial-careers/financial-careers2.asp. Another great resource for choosing a career is the book "What Color Is Your Parachute" by Richard Bolles, or its sibling "What Color Is Your Parachute - for Teens". This is a book you don't just read, but "work", and I worked this book intensively right after graduating from college.
I have never worked in an engineering firm, but I have met several former engineers who now work in finance or technology. I have also met technology students who had recently graduated with degrees in engineering, started careers in engineering, hated their engineering jobs, and by their mid-20s were already transitioning into a second career in technology. I also know retired engineers who loved their careers! It is much easier to change your career from engineering to finance than from finance to engineering. For example, as a recent graduate with an English major, I easily got a great job in finance by taking two accounting classes at community college. I would not have been able to get a great job in engineering by taking two classes! I know a Corporate Controller (an accounting position) who originally wanted to be a teacher, but could not get a teaching job during the Great Recession, so he accepted the next best thing that came along. There are plenty of finance professionals who landed in finance accidentally; I don't think any engineers land in that field accidentally, because the required training is specialized and intense.
In addition to considering the "what" of a career, in other words, "what will I be doing day to day?", I would also consider "who" and "where". "Who" meaning, is there a personality type and set of values that is attracted to this field, and do I match that? To answer this question, I would suggest that you drop in on professional networking society events in your fields of interest. I think the members would be thrilled to meet a young person just starting out! See if you gravitate toward one group of people or another. You might be able to do this in school as well -- join both the finance and the engineering clubs, and see which one has the people that you like better. To share a personal example, I was working in an accounting job but sitting directly next to the technology group in my company. It turns out, the technology group laughed a lot and invited me to their group lunches, whereas the accounting group that I belonged to were "heads down" and never even went to lunch. I just fit in better with the people who worked in technology, and shortly after that, transitioned into technology from accounting.
Another important consideration is "where". If you want to have a high-flying career in finance, you need to be in a major city, preferably New York. I once dated a guy who knew from childhood that he loved cars and wanted to be an automotive engineer. Although he grew up in San Francisco, he attended the University of Michigan and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering, then went to work for one of the Big 3 auto manufacturers. But guess what? He hated the cold winters in Michigan and he hated the culture at his new job. After a couple of years, he got an MBA in Los Angeles, taught himself computer science, and started a technology services firm (that became successful). So a really important question for you is, "where do I want to live, does it matter where I live? Do my career interests match the opportunities available in the place I want to live?"
Finally, I would like to suggest that you research a new field called "fintech", which is the combination of finance and technology. You might find that it has aspects of both finance and engineering. Finance is increasingly merging with technology.
I hope this helps. I think it is great that you are asking these questions and reaching out for help. I might not look like it today, but I too was underprivileged as a young person, and I found that most everyone was eager to help when I asked.