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Jacob Wren

Guest blogger and former personal trainer Jacob Wren explains how he overcame his fear of failure to bag a City finance job. Read on to discover more about Jacob’s inspiring career story.

After completing my A Levels, I pursued a successful career as a personal trainer for five years. As well as enjoying keeping fit, I’ve always been good at motivating others to follow suit so at the time personal training seemed like a perfectly good fit.

But, as much as I enjoyed my life as a personal trainer, I always had bigger goals and wanted more of a challenge as well as a better salary. Not having gone to university, however, I wasn’t sure about the realistic alternatives open to me.

My then client Sanu (the founder of CheekyLittlecareers.com and who has worked in banking for many years) and I had many conversations about my aspirations in life and making a potential move into finance.

My biggest hurdle was believing I wouldn’t be able to get my foot through the door due to a lack of university education and relevant work experience. Thankfully, Sanu helped me realise this was purely the voice of doubt in my mind and the reality was that people changed careers all the time.

After much deliberation, I began applying for entry level finance roles with the word “sales” in the job description as I wanted to join an investment firm and do something sales related.

Roles I explored included sales support, FX phone sales, junior broker etc. I started making progress and learned how to tailor my CV dependent upon the type of position I was applying for. As I was very out of practice, I treated every call and interview as an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the finance industry and related jargon, using my newly acquired knowledge to continue sharpening my responses.

Luckily, I secured an interview at a high-net-worth investment management company, so spent a few days researching the company and thinking about how my skills matched their requirements. As I had no direct finance or ‘sales’ experience, I focussed on my transferrable skills, elaborating on how I grew my personal training business over a five-year period. This included winning new clients and holding onto them – both key skills in sales!

My first interview went very well and the second even better, with my interviewer asking me to stay for a little bit longer to meet the managing director. I received a call the next day with a job offer and was over the moon.

Even though it had taken a few months (despite all the setbacks I never gave up) I was so excited about finally landing my first job in finance. My future suddenly looked much brighter, but I knew it was now up to me to make the best of this opportunity. In the early days, I worked hard and consequently three years on I am pleased and proud to say that I have had two promotions and aiming for my third – a senior sales role.

Looking back, I am pleased to have been able to overcome my initial fears. I now appreciate they were purely my own negative thoughts holding me back; thinking I would fail if I took the risk of trying to change careers.

Nothing worth having is ever easy to grab. I enjoy every day of my work and can honestly say that I love my job. What’s more, I’m also earning almost four times more than as a personal trainer. Changing careers has literally transformed my life.

My main advice to anyone considering a career change is to not let fear of failure, a negative mindset or lack of qualifications put you off. These can be overcome if you’re willing to take a leap of faith and work hard. Make the mental shift into thinking only positive thoughts, remind yourself everyday of exactly what you want and why, stay motivated and don’t give up.