So my experience at Orion Bank drew to a close. I left London, England (I can vividly remember the flight back, painful) and returned to Canada. Having arrived back I needed to figure out what I was going to do. Given that I only had a BA Honors degree in Economics, I believed that my formal education wasn’t over. I would have to go back to school.
Most of my classmates applied for law school, medicine or dentistry, the traditional no worry about your future careers (these were the most risk averse people that you’ll ever meet. In addition, they were the most capable of studying long hours) before completing their undergraduate degrees. So like them, I also applied to law school before making my decision to go abroad. I was accepted by the best law schools in Canada at the time. But given my dream of investment banking, law school was not an option that I wanted to exercise.
Taking a break between university degrees
In looking back, one interesting observation pops out. It’s the question of taking time off between university degrees. Many will tell you that it’s a good thing, that you’ll become a better person through travel and other life experiences that you will encounter during your year off. In my opinion, it’s all nonsense.
Taking a year off from school put me out of sync with my peers. Now it might sound silly, but in retrospect, that was a disaster. Why? For me, I always needed a bit of a push from my peers while in school. We studied together, hung around together, arranged carpools together. Let’s call it a support group. Once I deferred my studies, I would be with a new group of peers, strangers with no personal history. I didn’t realize how important this was to me until it was too late. Others may not need this support group, but I did.
It also put me almost two years older than the group of students I would now be studying with. I was also always aware of the fact that while I was just starting my second degree my peers were almost done. They would be working full time and launching their careers. I was still in school. Yuck!
What did I do?
I should have gone for my MBA. But I reverted back to my decision-making rule – cost. So law school seemed the logical alternative, lower cost and more secure from a potential employment perspective. I applied to a number of law schools, was accepted at McGill University in Montreal, and headed off to school.
Three months later I had enough of law school (I didn’t have a head for the law, it was finance that I was interested in). Repeat performance for me on choosing to switch horses when it came to school.
The pattern remained intact (start, stop, start, stop). Perhaps there was more to it than just not following the plan. More on that later.
So I returned home one more time! This time, I decided that I should register in the Chartered Accountancy program. The program allowed me to study, work and earn at the same time. But ending up in the CA program was ironic. A number of years earlier I dropped out of the Commerce program (accounting) and now I returned to an even more difficult accounting program than I left.
Getting lost – again
One more time, I took my eye off the ball. I was still looking for my ticket into investment banking, but budgeting considerations ruled. One more “off the map” decision.