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Fresh grad job dillemma

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Old 31-07-2014, 09:51 AM
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Default Fresh grad job dillemma

Hey all,

I'm a local law grad, projected to grad with high 2nd upper (currently easily above the 20th percentile) in 2 years or so. Lately I've been thinking of starting out in a non-law industry for the following reasons:

1) The legal job market is an employer's market. I estimate around 800 law grads (from local and UK unis) competing for around 300 spots in big4 and reputable medium firms by the time I graduate. What this translates to is relative difficulty in picking the right firm and right practice area.

2) I never had an interest in law. This means that I'm driven to law primarily by the ROI. Unfortunately, the ROI in law isn't as good as people may think. The hours in big4 corporate are extremely long (9am - 12am + weekends) and the pay is ~6k starting. The progression is something like ~1k increment and 4-6 months bonus PA. Thing is, I only know of IB and MBB consulting that can beat this kind of pay.

3) I really enjoyed finance and consulting. I did a few finance modules and I quite enjoyed them as I found they made much more 'sense' than law modules. I've also done consulting work for actual companies and found such work to be very enjoyable as well.

So here comes the questions:

1) Are my impressions of the legal/non-legal job landscape accurate?

2) What other industries/specific jobs that I have a reasonable chance to enter, and that will provide a better or comparable pay package? I'm open to most industries, but was looking at IB, consulting, and management assoc programmes.

I've been asking round my contacts and career counsellors but would like as many perspectives on this as possible. Thanks so much for reading through this post!

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Old 31-07-2014, 10:56 AM
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Hey all,

I'm a local law grad, projected to grad with high 2nd upper (currently easily above the 20th percentile) in 2 years or so. Lately I've been thinking of starting out in a non-law industry for the following reasons:

1) The legal job market is an employer's market. I estimate around 800 law grads (from local and UK unis) competing for around 300 spots in big4 and reputable medium firms by the time I graduate. What this translates to is relative difficulty in picking the right firm and right practice area.

2) I never had an interest in law. This means that I'm driven to law primarily by the ROI. Unfortunately, the ROI in law isn't as good as people may think. The hours in big4 corporate are extremely long (9am - 12am + weekends) and the pay is ~6k starting. The progression is something like ~1k increment and 4-6 months bonus PA. Thing is, I only know of IB and MBB consulting that can beat this kind of pay.

3) I really enjoyed finance and consulting. I did a few finance modules and I quite enjoyed them as I found they made much more 'sense' than law modules. I've also done consulting work for actual companies and found such work to be very enjoyable as well.

So here comes the questions:

1) Are my impressions of the legal/non-legal job landscape accurate?

2) What other industries/specific jobs that I have a reasonable chance to enter, and that will provide a better or comparable pay package? I'm open to most industries, but was looking at IB, consulting, and management assoc programmes.

I've been asking round my contacts and career counsellors but would like as many perspectives on this as possible. Thanks so much for reading through this post!
I suppose you are from NUS or SMU?

Your thought process is rather confusing. First you say being a lawyer does not have a good ROI because starting pay is only $6k and the hours are long. Then you listed down your wishlist of jobs where every single one of them demands hours that are the same or even longer and the starting pay likely to be around that region as well. Not quite sure where is the logic.

Anyway I donít think you have much of a chance to get in either IB/MC/MA of Tier1 MNCs unless you have the right connections. A 2nd upper in local law school might be impressive compared to the average Joe, but it really is peanuts when you want to compete on a global level.

For example, the big 3 management consultancies hardly ever take in even FC honors from a local university as they prefer top business grads from the global Ivies. Investment banking also aims for the best of the best in Finance especially those with MBA or MSc AF, so chances are not good for someone who is trained in law. The management programs from the mega cap companies have tough competition and very stringent screening and it doesnít help when your honors isnít first class and the discipline of your studies is irrelevant to the job.

That leaves you with either graduate programs from the smaller MNCs or local GLCs or other more mid to back office banking jobs. This is a market you are likely to excel in and secure a good offer, but the problem is they generally donít pay $6k for a gresh grad (you will be lucky to get 4k) though the working hours might be better.

At the end of the day, you need to understand reality. A legal firm pays you $6k (double that of an average fresh grad) because you have a set of skills which you spent 4 years training for and they expect you to put in the commensurating hours. Unless you are really cream of the crop in the global talent space, nobodyís going to pay you big bucks to sit around with work life balance for something which you have neither experience nor formal education on.

You have a good start with a good degree and you will likely do well above average over the long term, but you need to adjust you expectations in terms of salary, work hours and doing something you like. A 2nd upper honors from NUS/SMU is far from being that golden card that allows you to open any door you want.

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Old 31-07-2014, 11:10 AM
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Hey,

Thanks for the reply! What you've said mirrors what I thought as well, that top bracket jobs in IB/consulting/Ma will naturally attract the best. I'll still apply, but I do acknowledge that I don't stand much of a chance.

I was wondering whether there are options other than the above 3 that can have good returns as well. Seems to me that they are rather conventional options that every grad thinks about, which naturally entails more competition.

Do you know of niche areas that have similar prospects, perhaps areas in which having a law degree may be advantageous in applications? I think there is a considerable degree of groupthink in undergrad job applications, and I'd like to take advantage of that if possible.

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Old 31-07-2014, 03:27 PM
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Hey,

Thanks for the reply! What you've said mirrors what I thought as well, that top bracket jobs in IB/consulting/Ma will naturally attract the best. I'll still apply, but I do acknowledge that I don't stand much of a chance.

I was wondering whether there are options other than the above 3 that can have good returns as well. Seems to me that they are rather conventional options that every grad thinks about, which naturally entails more competition.

Do you know of niche areas that have similar prospects, perhaps areas in which having a law degree may be advantageous in applications? I think there is a considerable degree of groupthink in undergrad job applications, and I'd like to take advantage of that if possible.
There are alternative paths, but paths that instantly yield >$6k starting pay, have good work life balance and donít require relevant education? No, I donít think such a job exist unless you have the right patronage or you take up a commission sales job and be real good at it.

A few possible areas are analyst roles in small boutique consultancies, contracts and procurement roles in MNCs which might make use of your legal knowledge, junior legal counsel / paralegal specialist in a corporate setting and maybe public comms / marcoms jobs that will appreciate your strong language capability. But the main thing is none of them will give you your $6k+ starting salary. What you want simply does not exist and even if it does, you will need special connections rather than just rely on a normal job application process.

You need to make a choice between joining a law firm vs going outside of your expertise, high starating pay vs work life balance, long term career progression vs fancy title and branded co. in your CV etc. There is no such thing as best for everything. For the minority who really get the ideal career, they did it by years of hard work, office political manuvering, professional networking and smart critical decisions; definitely not by whacking some local degree and then followed by a cushy relaxed high paying job for the rest of their lives Ė unless you are parachuted into your fatherís business.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:11 AM
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For example, the big 3 management consultancies hardly ever take in even FC honors from a local university as they prefer top business grads from the global Ivies. Investment banking also aims for the best of the best in Finance especially those with MBA or MSc AF, so chances are not good for someone who is trained in law. The management programs from the mega cap companies have tough competition and very stringent screening and it doesnít help when your honors isnít first class and the discipline of your studies is irrelevant to the job.
it is not that hard lar, my g/f was from NTU engineering with 2nd lower also can get in PWC.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:28 AM
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You are a top 20% guy with a top 0.1% expection. Time to come down from heaven to smell the coffee.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:38 AM
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it is not that hard lar, my g/f was from NTU engineering with 2nd lower also can get in PWC.
Who did she sleep with?
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Old 01-08-2014, 06:07 PM
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it is not that hard lar, my g/f was from NTU engineering with 2nd lower also can get in PWC.
Just to clarify, by Big 3 I meant McKinsey, BCG & Bain. Not referring to the big 4 accounting firms that do mass campus recruitment with minimal screening and offer 2.8k/3k a piece to anyone with a degree by the busloads.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:17 AM
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Just to clarify, by Big 3 I meant McKinsey, BCG & Bain. Not referring to the big 4 accounting firms that do mass campus recruitment with minimal screening and offer 2.8k/3k a piece to anyone with a degree by the busloads.
As what some other posters had said, it is almost impossible to get into those top 3 consulting firms with just a local bachelor degree. Even with first class. They usually take in top students from Ivy League Universities, or fresh MBAs (from reputed institutions). Exceptions include direct experiences in consulting, or connections.

I am also somewhat puzzled by your contradicting statements. There are actually very few jobs that offer a high starting salary for fresh graduates. And even if they do, none will be cushy jobs. Unless of course, you're working in family corporation or your own business (think investment). So a starting salary of $6k for a lawyer is pretty impressive; that's about 4 years work for any other fresh grad to hit in general.

I noticed that you're still only in year 2. That means you've yet to take higher level mods, which will be more competitive (due to natural selection, harder topics, and smaller classes). Unless you've reached FCH already, don't bet your horses that you will remain 2nd upper and above.

My advise would for you would be to take more business modules, to enter financial institutions. Think Chen Show Mao.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:15 PM
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Thanks so much to all of you for the excellent advice!

Apologies for the confusion I've caused. I'd just like to clarify that I don't have any issue with working long hours (law school hours are something like 8am - 11pm, and I understand that law firm hours are worse).

Its pretty clear also that its (almost) impossible to get a job with a similar starting pay and better hours. But I think the key here is starting pay. I was wondering if there may be professions out there that (despite having a lower starting pay) may outstrip law in terms of pay in the long run. From the associates I've asked, annual increments in law range from 800-1200, with 3-6 months bonus per year.

As an example, I have a friend who graduated 2nd upper (without distinguishing accomplishments) who secured an analyst role in an AM firm as a fresh grad around 3 years ago, and is now earning 5 digits PM.

I understand that I may be being unrealistic with my outlook. I've moderated my expectations accordingly, but believe that there is no harm trying to get the best position I can.

Thanks again!!!
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