Did I underachieve in life?

You’re only 32. I lot of things can still be done. Although, what I have seen, it’s even with a Master degree, most people are not interested what they studied and do know that much on topics they studied.

If you really master a subject, try to apply to positions in this field, maybe in smaller companies first. Some recruiting manager will give you a change, especially with someone really motivated.

Btw: if you would like to follow “hard” courses have a look at https://www.edx.org/search?q=epfl&level=Advanced&tab=course


To add on wapiti’s reply, social skills, which you seem to have since the promotions you’ve scored were so based on them and your performance, from your own accord, are really useful to score that potential position where you have the skillset but not the paper.

Networking and frequenting events/conferences in the fields that interest you might help. From my understanding, the labor market is still tight in engineering fields (at least civil, environmental and electrical) if that’s something you want to go for (you’d probably have to pursue part time studies to get a Bachelor in the relevant field still, though).

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This is already a huge success.

It is never a good idea to compare yourself against others.

Just compare yourself against you from a year ago if you need to. And set goals for what you want to achieve.

Everybody has their own needs and looking at others typically distracts you from your real goals.


HSG may be a prestigious business school - but I don’t think it’s particularly academically rigorous or demanding with regard to maths (can’t speak about their MiQE/F though).

How so?
You’re enjoying a very good life and successful career.

Seems you just can’t totally rid yourself of that nagging feeling of having had much greater academic and scientific potential - and which will remain untapped and unused in your current career. But as you concluded - or rather decided - yourself: you’re too comfortable with your current career (and its perks).

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You should try the “software engineer” way. When a SE has this “itch” for doing something, being better and so , he/she usually try to do it in their free time until it becomes big enough to maybe start a company.
Find a topic you love more than other, study it until you can find a goal in it and see if it’s marketable. I think the guy who started the ocean cleanup from plastic did it this way.
If you are just interested in topics that won’t see a practical invention soon or are too expensive maybe it’s a bad idea.

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I was a 6.0 student and science graduate

Good school marks open doors for your first job. Thereafter career progression is mostly determined by soft skills.

Exception is if you want a career like a scientific researcher


And if you want to work in a law firm, especially in Geneva. They will ask you about your grade for an internship. And also after the internship once you got the bar exam. Moreover, they will continue to ask about your grade for the gymansium, bachelor, master, CAS in legal profession (speciality in Geneva) and bar exam despite having X years of experience. This is ridiculous.

I guess they’d rather have a competitor than an employee? Unless there are big hurdles to opening a new law firm on the cantonal level, of course, which there might very well be.

No, it’s relatively easy to open a law firm once you’ve passed the bar exam. Most of the time, new candidates try to get 2-3 years’ experience and then open their own firm. Some prefer to go straight into business for themselves.

As for the rest of the law firms, they are always looking for more prestige by recruiting the most highly-qualified candidates (based on grades) in order to appear more important and serious. In the world of law, it’s all about appearances.

To be back on the subject. For someone who’s had a bit of a hard time at school, I think you’ve achieved a lot of great goals (house, great relationship with your girlfriend, knowledge of personal finance, interest in this field) and are still trying to improve by studying for a bachelor’s degree while working 100%; it’s admirable.

I can only wish you all the best for the future, and that you continue to improve and become the best version of yourself. I think that’s the most important thing in the end. There are many roads and comparing yourself to others is human. Don’t forget that those you admire or envy may also be admiring and be envious of your life :wink: (but we don’t know that).


Don’t forget that those you admire or envy may also be admiring and be envious of your life :wink: (but we don’t know that).

This is very true. I realised some time ago that a friend of mine was a bit jealous of my situation, while I was a bit jealous of his. The thing is, they’re a couple working part-time, owning a little house for which they spent almost all they had, and having kids who only go to daycare once a week (thanks also to their parents helping frequently). Due to this they are quite low on cash.

On the other hand, my wife and I work full time (each of our salaries easily rank #1 and #2 among our friends), rent a tiny cheap place and live a frugal life, so money is flowing well. However we’d like to have kids, but have both a huge commute, zero parent nearby (all of them abroad), poor work life balance, and live in a region where all the money we have seems to be barely enough to buy a medium size flat (near Geneva/Lausanne).

Somehow, their main source of stress is money, for which we have no worries at all. Our main source of stress is wondering how we can build a family in our situation, for which they have no worries either since they are lucky enough to both have a job few minutes away from their place, in a LCOL area.

I see their situation as a huge success, while they focus on their current financial struggle. They see our situation as a huge success, while our focus is not really on the finances at the moment.

None of OP’s friends probably care about this academic thing, perhaps they even question their own choices while OP who followed a different path seems so successful.


If one day, you have a kid or OP, they will not give a shit about all these considerations before they will be 15 y.o. so you have time to all figure it out.
Kids also won’t care if you are renting a small flat or owning a large house.
The first 4 years they care only of having their parents available as much as they can and sharing a room should not be a blocker of it allow you to have them sooner (and ultimately spend more years healthy together).


Totally agree with this. I was pretty un-materialistic and frugal to begin with but managed to get a positive mindset/perspective shift when kids came along.

I actually prefer to not spoil the kids - heck even a trip to the supermarket was the most amazing and exciting experience when they were small.

Conversely, I’ve seen kids who, when on holiday, instead of enjoying it for what it was asked “how much did the hotel cost?” and sneered if it was too little or turn their noses up if a phone was not the latest iPhone version - the focus on status and brands at such a young age (from 7!) was shocking to me.

Quick update: I got promoted and will leave the retail banking business. New position is relationship manager in Wealth Management.

I‘m slowly starting to be happy about my career path.


@Cortana Thank you for sharing your personal story.

I am most impressed with what you have accomplished from a difficult starting position. Congratulations to the move to wealth management. Having seen the RMs in Private Banking develop their books based on shared interests with some of their clients you are well placed to support people who share your passion. Maybe you will have the occasion to work with clients who are highly successful in your field of choice and learn from, share and maybe even contribute a rare sounding board for them.

Than you also to everyone who contributed to this interesting thread. Your emphasis on appreciating what you have and prioritising quality time with children and partners made my day. Life is too short to look backwards.


I‘m wondering what I should do after I get my BSc degree? CFA, CIIA or a Masters degree? Is it even of any use at this point in my career?

I am sure all will be useful for your career long term even if it is only to tick the box. Banks normally pay for the CFA and CIIA. If possible doing an executive MBA from renowned university would be great.

Try to find a mentor in the bank who can advise and help you navigate your career. Speak to HR about further qualifications and don’t be shy to approach someone high up for advice when you have the occasion.

Your path is admirable and you sound like a much more interesting person than the regular banker which will be appreciated. Take your time to get to know the environment and the characters before you approach a possible mentor who will help you network cross departments and banks. Maybe you find someone who shares your interests in physics and chemistry.

Capitalise on the fact that you are healthy, young and don’t yet have kids. You are used to study hard on top of a full-time job now so don’t loose that discipline. Once you have a family, bigger house, aging parents, more toys etc life has a way of diverting your energy making further studies challenging.

Most of all, please take a breath and enjoy all what you have accomplished and never compare yourself to others. Your journey is unique. Keep on building on that positive momentum. :clap: :clap: :clap:


At this point none of these will be of use for your career. However it might be interesting for yourself.

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What you wrote is true for me too. I have MSc and PhD from ETH. Now working in big pharma.

Would I do MSc and PhD given another chance? Hell yeah! But not for career reasons. More for the wonderful unstructured unsupervised time of exploring and learning.


So he is finding happiness
in a role that is similarly meaningful
but serves a wealthier clientele
and is being paid more

My conclusion would be that everyone’s “successful” path is probably different. Down to the individual level.

I am equally glad I did not pursue my PhD as I am glad I finished my “Diplom” (I am that old), both for career reasons as well as for personal reasons.*

Striking a balance between the two - or several other completely different paths! - is what I would recommend with the benefit of hindsight. Living in the moment, it’s not always that easy to find that seemingly “right” path. In fact, it is and was probably quite challenging, at least for me personally. Also, of course, not all desirable paths are available at the time of choosing.
It’s complicated.

Anyway, all the best to you, @Cortana!

* No witty or unwitty footnote today.