A creative girl in the world of Investment Banking - Kemi’s Career Story.

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A creative girl in the world of Investment Banking.

I would say I have, and have always had, two sides to myself. On the one hand I am pretty academic and a classic number cruncher – growing up this manifested into being super competitive and super focused in school, with a sole focus and expectation to ace all of my exams. On the other hand – I’m quite creative. When I was 5 I would fold up papers and scribble down stories that I would show to my parents, by the time I reached my early teens I was typing up hundreds of pages of words for I what I would like to consider to be semi-novels onto Microsoft Word. Away from this, I got into webdesign when I was 10 years old and taught myself how to code basic HTML and create graphics on Paint Shop Pro (Photoshop before there was a Photoshop); when I was 15, I started charging others to let me do this for them. I lived in my own bubble. I very much lived in the “now”, pursuing whatever I enjoyed at the time, but the thought of even thinking about a long term “career” or “work” of any sort made me feel like throwing up in my mouth, the entire prospect completely terrified me.

Unfortunately, and as much as I wanted to do so – you really can’t run away from your responsibilities forever. Once I’d blinked GCSEs had rolled about, and I was being pressured to choose subjects that would align me well with what I wanted to do in the “future”, whatever that was. At the time I thought I was destined to be a famous Hollywood actress, so I fought for my right to take GCSE Drama, and let me parents handle the rest. Two years later, GCSE Drama tanked, and I had collected As and A*s in the more studious routes of triple science, maths, IT… you get it. Now I was being pressured to pick my A Level subjects, and these were super important as these genuinely determined what I could do at university. Around this time, I was getting questions left right and center asking “what do you want to do when you’re older?!” and honestly, I didn’t know.

I decided in the end to play at what I was good at: I was still at the time running my own webdesign services as well as having a mini blog centered around all things petty-school-drama in parallel; in school I took up Economics, Chemistry, Maths and English Literature to leave the university-choices-door as wide open as I thought I could. When it came time to decide what I actually wanted to study in university, I debated on everything from Pharmacy, to English Literature, to Economics and Accounting and Finance.

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By this time I had dropped English Literature and given I wasn’t quite enjoying Chemistry as much as my other subjects, I decided to charge head first down the Finance route. After looking around a few universities, I had it in mind that the London School of Economics (LSE) was perfect for me. The Accounting and Finance course had a good balance of the former two along with Maths and Economics, plus it would mean mean I could move out of my family home bordering greater London and Kent and full time in the centre of London (where I’ve lived ever since).

If you know anything about the LSE, you’ll know that it is a very career-centric university. Even before I started university I was being invited to careers fairs, and once I’d hit halls and had only clubbing on my mind I’d constantly hear whispers from people around me discussing their internship applications. After avoiding the topic for long enough (a good 18 years or so…), I finally sat down and had a think about what I wanted to do. The thing is – I still really didn’t know. I surveyed the routes that those around me were taking, and decided I could possibly suit a career in either Investment Banking or Consulting. The next part wasn’t necessarily very philosophical – a huge US bank (probably one of the best investment banks in the world), was closing their applications for a spring internship in a few days, so I put my fingers to a keyboard and sent off an app. Whilst I was waiting for them to get back to me, I sent off a few more applications, and of all that I sent off, I probably heard back from maybe 25% (I realised then how competitive it was, and what a tough industry it was to break into). That said – I only needed one response, and luckily, I went on to interview for the US bank (my first application), and completed that internship in April of 2014. The internship went well, and I did enjoy it – so they invited me back to interview in September for a 10 week summer internship the following year.

Once I’d hopped on this “internship train”, it just sort of carried me down the line. Following the April internship at an investment bank, I then took on a 12 week part-time summer internship at a “commodities pricing” firm (mostly to pay off the huge hole in my account that had been brought on by paying the deposit for my second year university flat). After that, I did two September interviews for long term 9-10 week internships at investment banks, and I secured one of them. Now that I had settled on starting my career in banking (primarily as I felt it was a good opportunity to open lots of doors for the future, and a great “training ground” in my early career), I spent much of my summer internship networking with different teams to figure out which would be the best fit for me. After my summer internship (now 2015), they offered me a full time job. A year later, I hit the desk. Two years later, and here I am. As you can see, I didn’t grow up and from age 9 proclaim I must be working in an investment bank. Perhaps by age 18 I had gained starry eyes over Canary Wharf and hoped I could work there one day – but for the most part, I just sort of fell into it by constantly re-evaluating what suits my skillset whilst maintaining what I’ve always been very passionate about – my more creative side and my online work – in paralell.

These days I spend most of my time in an investment bank, talking all things markets and debt raising (a whole lot of financial jargon); in two years there I’ve learned a lot, had the opportunity to travel, and honestly, it’s really shaped me as a person. On the weekends and evenings I blog and focus on other projects I’m working on. I guess in that sense – not too much has changed. I’m still pretty much splitting myself in half on the creative side and the number crunching side and honestly – at least right now – it works. What do I want to do going forward? I get asked this a lot. I know and I don’t know, I take each day one step at a time but at the same time I have big plans and ideas for the future. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey, rather than race to the finish line.

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Written by: Kemi.

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