Obviously college students like to protest things, but this is a little much.
Every top university has an intense culture of investment banking recruitment in common. But at Dartmouth, some students seem to think it’s part of an quasi-evil plot and their school should do something to stop it.
Witness the various attacks on Wall Street recently published in the Dartmouth, the student-run newspaper:
From 2007: We Dartmouth students are elite mercenaries of the modern age. The fiefdoms of Bain and William Blair, of Deutsche Bank and Bridgewater and Fidelity and Goldman all want us in their private armies and they want us very badly… They don’t care at this stage if we’re music majors or mathematicians, miscreants or misogynists. They just need numbers. They need to take the advantage away from us, because right now, we’re the ones in charge…
From October: “I be dropping my resume like it’s hot at Bain, Goldman Sachs and Bridgewater. And you know, all those other corporate joints. Cause when I wrote my college essay about being the change I wanted to see in the world, that’s what I really meant…. Dartmouth teaches us to be leaders. To take on the world’s problems as our own. To rise to the top in companies because of our self-starter motivational skills. But I say, “eh.” I’d rather take a low-paying job where I’m actually happy and able to connect with loved ones around me, over a workaholic corporate gig where I have a beyond fashionable wardrobe, but come home every day alone to my half empty bottle of gin.”
From July: “Sometimes [we are Dartmouth are] a bit douchey. Take, for example, this summer’s chafingly copious, insincerely innocent corporate recruiting banter.
Gov-Econ Double Major: “Dude, how’d it go?”‘
Trapped and Tipsy: [Insert reluctantly honest response about a boutique investment banking interview here.]
Gov-Econ Double Major: “Sweet, man. I’m a Goldman and Bridgewater pre-select, but that’s awesome for you. Congrats.”
Should such normal basement dialogue really be NBD? Nothin’ But Douche = Not OK.
From August: “In supporting the recruiting culture, the College has undermined its credibility as one of the bastions of elite higher education and free thought. Compare the composition of our Board of Trustees with that of our peer institutions and the picture of the private equity, investment banking and the corporate stranglehold over the College’s affairs becomes more obvious.”
A surprising chunk of their criticism is aimed right at Bridgewater, Ray Dalio’s hedge fund, like this article about the billionaire’s management style:
While I am sure that many good ideas are born at Bridgewater, I don’t think that this business model can ever fully reach the ideal that Dalio envisions. True innovation cannot come from emotional stagnancy, for the most original ideas are created using the imagination, which thrives on emotion. For this reason, I think a balanced business model that promotes creativity through an honest as well as a relaxed and respectful atmosphere is one that will surpass Bridgewater in reaching its full potential. While transparency in a company is undoubtedly beneficial, I think that more laidback companies like Google are ones that truly allow for originality and innovation to take place, as they make many of their employees feel comfortable enough to call their workplace their home.
At a party last week, a friend told me that Bridgewater Associates paid her $100 to write a statement explaining why she didn’t participate in sophomore Summer corporate recruiting. The sheer arrogance and senselessness of this anecdote made me sick to my stomach, partly because, as planned, the exercise made her second guess her choice.
All of this is pretty ridiculous. According to at least one of these students, everyone on Wall Street is a douche who drinks a half bottle of gin every night because he hates his job and is only in it for the money.
In fairness, their comments seem to have root in a heartfelt place. All of their friends “hate” working in banking.
“Most of the younger alums I’ve talked to, who have come back to pitch the corporate world, disclose to me in private how much they hate it — “But, hey, at least it pays the bills.”
But the fact is that tons of Dartmouth students want jobs on Wall Street, particularly at Bridgewater. (The hedge fund was the place where students sent the most applications in 2008.) So banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms make an effort to recruit students. And because Bridgewater has its own way of doing things, their recruiting process is unusual. (The firm distributed playing cards and pong balls stamped with the company logo to recruits in 2008.)
It’s unlikely that all of this Wall Street and Bridgewater mud-slinging would induce firms that offer some of the best jobs out there to recruit their friends at other colleges instead. But it still reads a bit like biting the hand that feeds you.
Here’s an example of a more powerful reason not to pursue a career on Wall Street. It’s something Dartmouth alumn Charles Wheelen ’88, said when he gave the class speech this year.
My roommate from senior year, who remains a great [friend, John] wanted to be an investment banker. All senior winter he attended every information session, always wearing a suit. He sat in the front row. He read books on interviewing strategies. Those of us who knew him well didn’t think that he was particularly suited for Wall Street, but that is where he aimed to go.
He did not get a job during corporate recruiting. He did not get a job during senior spring, when even the people who’d been unsuccessful during corporate recruiting got jobs at less prestigious and relatively unknown firms like Microsoft. He did not get a job during the summer. He did not get a job in the fall. (Yes, this does sound like job search handbook written by Dr. Seuss.) John moved in with his mother in San Francisco and began studying Japanese, since we were all convinced that Japan was taking over the world. (The real estate, stock market, and banking collapses were all roughly one year away.)
I visited John in October after graduation, when he still had no offers on Wall Street, and no opportunities in investment banking in his home city of San Francisco. In fact, he had only one job offer at all: assistant food and beverage manager at a hotel on the island of Saipan. Just by way of background, Saipan is 12 miles long, five miles wide, and in the middle of the Pacific. When people want to have a good time on Saipan, they fly to Guam.
John was, and still is, one of the most polite and urbane people I know. So other than being a single guy on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the hospitality industry actually made a lot of sense. We told him to go. Remember, it was October after graduation and he was living with his mother.
On that little island, John met his future wife, who happened to be there working from New Zealand. And he never left the hospitality industry. He’s now CEO of Rosewood Hotels.