Career advice - would really appreciate your insider knowledge

Hello!
I am a 25 yo Swiss woman, about to finish a master in applied economics (Spring-early summer 2022).
I am really struggling with what my options could be and how to best prepare myself in the coming months.
By January I will have much more free time and I wonder what I could do to improve my possibilities. I thought of getting back to C1 level in German, improving my big data knowledge or python skills…

My Skills:

  • For economics I code with R and Python. I have some basics in machine learning and big data analytics.
  • Economics knowledge (more public etc than banking or finance).
  • Native level in English, French, Spanish and fluent in Italian, German.
  • Great in teams or organising projects

My Wants:
What I love in econ/would want in a job is this mix of human and analytical skills. I would like to work in a team.
Possibility for advancement, good compensation
I am happy/curious so most topics are fine by me.
Consulting? Tech? Fintech? I am lost!

I would really appreciate any advice on career options or on how to best prepare!

I guess either tech or finance could be the best ways to maximize income while keeping you interested. Finance in particular quantitative analysis, risk management etc may be of interest. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a junior position with that profile!

You do not say where you live but making an hypothesis based on your language skills I would say Suisse romande? If so you’re slightly out of luck because the big banks are in the Zürich area and we only have private ones here. They still do asset management, there are also independent asset managers and then there is also the cantonal banks.

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Thank you for your answer! I will look into such positions.
I am currently in Suisse Romande but study in Bern. I fully expect a move to Zurich/region in the coming years… it seems to make the most sense.

You have an impressive skills set already. With your languages and multiple interests, it looks more like you just got to start somewhere. If you like numbers, I recommend going deeper into ML, AI and big data. Those are coveted skills globally. Don’t restrict yourself to Switzerland, i.e. there are well-paying jobs in investment banking, commodities trading, crypto, pharmaceutics and tech around the globe. Generally, Switzerland is a very good location for FIRE-related income and savings, especially with the company contribution going straight into your pension fund.

I understand you like human touch, but with the pandemic, it could take a while for teams to re-meet in the office. I guess you might have to be patient in that regard. Good luck!

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@Swissbananas reading in your other intro that you want to have children, I recommend to look into Luxembourg as a 10-year home. I’ve been there for 3 years and my social life had not been very satisfying given my age, my partnership status and the pandemics.

But - here it comes - for a young family, it is a very different story. Generous maternity leave, paternity leave, affordable day care, workers’ unions fighting for more holidays, less work and automatic adjustments of salary could make you very happy financially and socially. If you get to land a high-paying job.

Your Spanish husband could work with an European institution (very low taxes) and you could get hired by Amazon which could give you a solid training in anything work-related. Let me know what you think of it.

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Hey
I relate to your question as i posed it myself a few years ago (although i was 30+ at that point)

for me stuff worked somewhat out, i am basically happy about everything. I ended up at a large Tech consultancy. here is my thought process applied to you:

You need to find for yourself what you want, and it is ok if this takes a couple of years. You only have a chance to make well established decisions after you have some experience. So for a start you will just have to try out something based on what you wrote above. If your first job turns out not to be what fits you, no prob. If it does, the better :slight_smile: but with 25, you have a few years for carreer-experiments. Most bigger companies will have some trainee-enty-programs which usually are pretty cool. In the end you will have to answer some questions for yourself, about work-life balance, carreer ambition, work style, etc.

Your skillmix of solid economics with added technical stuff would give you a head start in consulting. Anywhere between IT and Management consulting. Checkmarks for human/analytics, team, fast carreer and compensation progression. With a later switch to corporate management positions, you are all set up for an impressive CV. From my experience consultancies (at least not-small ones) deal rather well with maternity breaks, in case this is relevant for you. I have no touch points with Tech/Fintech, so I cannot contribute much here.

apart from this, i’d suggest you to

  1. actively building your (linkedin) network. meet everyone you know for coffee and talk about this. All your former study mates, any contacts outside of academia, go for some networking events (check out meetup.com, for example). you will be amazed on how much insight you gain from talking to (many) people

  2. start practicing applying now with third-choice companies to get a feel for how recruitment works. This way you will tune and fine-tune your CV & cover letters over several iterations. You will have it quasi-ready if your dream position pops up on short notice. make use of all the carreer-counseling, cv-check & company presentation offers from your university or other institutions. I largely benefited from ETH Carreer Center back then

  3. German C1 is a good idea, I’d invest here if there is a chance you stay in Switzerland for a while. Continue taking courses until your German is not an impediment in everyday conversations anymore

  4. keep your eyes out for mentors/ coaches. I immensely benefited from a rather senior persons with whom i now have a mentor-mentee relation in carreer regards. This is on a voluntary basis, not a commercial setup. I found them by chance over beers with random people in my company

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I didn’t know about Luxembourg. It does sound interesting!
At the moment we are anchored in Switzerland because of his PhD but we are quite open to moving around in the future.

From what I have heard big companies are increasingly interesting… definitely would be interested by work-oriented training (love uni but it’s hard to see how it translates in a work environment sometimes).

Thank you!

Thanks for the thoughtful answer! You’re right that there is time to find a good fit.

I have mentors in university for an academic career but I have decided against it - in part thanks to their honesty -. I found it very helpful and nice, it really opens a new perspective. Nothing beats talking directly to someone, so I like your suggestions to get out there more.

I will start applying and see what works or not with recruiters :slight_smile:

Thank you!

Depending on your aspiration and how fast you want to grow. While in Switzerland you will get paid most at junior level, the fastest career progression could happen in London within Europe. Anglo Saxon culture (work a lot / get a lot of responsibilities / higher roles).

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