Investment banking is one of the most competitive fields a fresh college grad can try to get into.
Applying for a job at Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan means going up against hundreds of Ivy League-educated peers who all have an eye on the six-figure salary prize.
Of course, most of the people applying have no idea what the job will actually be like once they get there. According to former investment banker Hayden Williams’ post on PandoDaily, the reality is kind of like being “the most overpaid assembly line worker in the world.”
It shouldn’t be news to many that bankers work an insane number of hours each week. But if your only impression of Wall Street comes from glamorized Hollywood movies and salary statistics, you might not realise just how boring the job really is.
Here’s Hayden’s description of what his job really consisted of:
In reality, my time was spent building financial merger models, with inputs like “cost savings” (fancy word for firing people) then producing a text bullet-riddled 80 page PowerPoint presentation to present our findings to the client. Wash, rinse, repeat for each client meeting.
So what kept him around? The money, of course:
When I got a signing bonus, a used BMW suddenly seemed an appropriate purchase. Similarly, while I was perfectly happy living in decrepit houses with my buddies in school, my new income surfaced a need for amenities like skylights and marble counters.
Afraid that he was going to be trapped forever by the appeal of his cushy income and an increasingly specific skill set, he decided to get out. Unfortunately, neither he nor his partner knew how to make the move from the world of banking to the world of tech startups. Their difficulty in finding someone to talk to actually led to the idea behind their startup: Treatings, a “community of professionals open to talking about their work over coffee.”
Rather than working on endless client presentations, Hayden now spends his time “learning Twitter,” and learning to code so that he can help his technology-savvy co-founder, blogging about the issues he’s facing as a beginner in the startup world, and occasionally celebrating the little victories, like improving his sleeping situation by moving from mattresses on the floor to bunk beds.
While he realises that the future is uncertain, Hayden says he “wouldn’t trade the experience for anything”:
I’ve developed a resiliency that makes it easier to get up and dust myself off every time I fail — and that happens a lot. Am I glad I quit my job to build Treatings? Yes. Was it a good decision? To be determined. The things I’m surrounded by every day — the bunk bed, the library, the dwindling savings account — are a constant reminder of how transient my lifestyle is.
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