June 22, 2009

The Next Chapter (Chapter 11?)

[SPOILER ALERT! This post will not be full of witty commentary and belly-aching humor, per usual. Instead, as Zhou and I begin our move out of Charlotte, this will be a reflection on my past two years here, for better and for worse.]

This week is it. Zhou and I each have four days left of work, and then it’s time to leave Charlotte and rest up before our world trip. If you amortize these four days over the next 14 months ("the life of the loan," as they say), that means we each only have to work less than one day every three months for the next year. That doesn’t seem so bad. (Oh wait, neither does working four days and then taking a year off.)

Up until about a week ago, I couldn’t have been more excited to be leaving and moving on to the next stage of my life. Then Zhou’s roommate moved out, and we started packing up stuff at both of our apartments, and I realized that no matter how exciting this next stage may be, it’s still hard to go through change. So I thought I’d take a minute and reflect on the past two years (bet you didn’t think you were getting yourself into this when you clicked on your favorite website).

Charlotte. Love the laid-back pace of the South, like the comparatively cheap housing and love the weather. There’s not a lot to do here (and golf is way too expensive compared to up North), but until recently I never really had time to do anything anyway. The best parts of the city are easily the disc golf courses and Mac’s Speed Shop. It’s just too bad that when my old roommate Matt moved out, I lost my disc golf and Mac’s buddy. If you’re reading this, Matt, you were good for other things too, but I can’t remember what.

Work. First and foremost, my advice is to not become an investment banker, unless money is the only thing that motivates you (or if the Boiler Room lifestyle intrigues you). That being said, I'm not going to dwell on the negative.

I am very grateful to be able to go on an 11-month round-the-world journey, and if Zhou and I didn’t work at Wachovia, we probably wouldn’t have been able to make these plans. Not only can we now afford this, but we also have a perfect opportunity - neither of us has a job, nor do we have any motivation to get another one.

In the past two years, I learned a lot about business and capital structures and how not to manage a company unless you enjoy bankruptcy (it sure seems like some people do). I learned about time management and how enjoyable free time really is. I remember getting off at 7PM one day last fall and not having a clue of what to do with myself until bedtime. After a few days like that in a row this spring, I quickly realized how many fun ways I could spend my time.

I learned how to prioritize - how to sift through what’s important and what’s not. I learned that even though I’m Asian, if I spend too many weeks under a fluorescent light, I will get sunburned when going outside again. And most importantly, I met a lot of people I will hopefully keep in contact with for a long time, which leads me to…

People. There are three big draws to investment banking. Two are the money. The third is the people, although this may only be true in Charlotte, as I’ve heard mixed reviews about New York. Sure, sometimes my priorities in life don’t always align with the priorities of those I work under, but (almost) all of the people who do this job are smart, driven and big sports fans. (During down times, a couple of guys in my group even organized a doubles tennis tournament and a two-on-two basketball tournament.) Plus, the floor is filled with recent college graduates who you can commiserate with when you're stuck in the office at midnight on a Friday.

The hardest part of moving is leaving behind what has grown comfortable. Yes, at one point I even got used to the weekend staffings and the repeatedly postponed summer vacation. It became somewhat easy to come home late at night, brush my teeth and go to sleep. It's nice not ever really having to look at a map, and it's nice knowing where the open places are to eat (this is much easier said than done in Charlotte, where the city's restaurants all seem to close down by 8PM). I'll miss the daily pod breaks with Katie and McGuire, morning basketball at the YMCA, Charlie, trips to the DH (our slang for the water machine) with the progressively jaded first years, and the city where we lived when Zhou and I got engaged.


As I write about what I'm leaving behind though, I then begin to think about what lies ahead*:

I guess I can get used to this change.

[* Images taken from: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6)]

Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):

When Gangster Johnny is Home Alone Anagram:

A fickle giant may help the hyena

Scrabble Games: 55 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 28; 367; 315; SENIlES
Kevin WPLB: 27; 368; 397; sETTINGS


  1. Cool way to end the post :) Enjoy the last week, guys.

  2. How come there wasn't a picture of Cleveland up there?

    I am going to miss visiting y'all in Charlotte, it was always good times.

    Keep the change ya filthy animal.

    Looking forward to you both visiting Cleveland/us visiting Columbus

  3. Shockingly Kevin, I can in fact read, which is one of the many qualities you neglected mentioning in this post ;)