BANKERS SOUND OFF: Here's What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Working On Wall Street

It’s the time of year when college seniors around the country say goodbye to their carefree childhood and get ready to join the real world.

And if that real world is going to be Wall Street, they’re about to experience a totally new way of life — long hours, intense bosses, hard work etc.

But they know that. No one makes it to Wall Street blind.

There are some things, however, that aren’t obvious before you start the job. That’s why we asked some current and former Wall Streeters what they wish they had known on day one.

It’s coming.

Attitude is 80% your first year.

You don't know anything yet, so your boss is going to want you to be happy and engaged go-getter/team player more than anything else.

Male, 26, private equity.

Don't get sucked into the salary.

Banking pays well at first, but you may want to take a medium term pay cut after a while to take your skills to another industry where, in the long term, you can make more money and be happier.

Maybe you want to be the COO of a company in an industry you really love, for example.

Male, 28, former Goldman Sachs employee

Get a black belt in accounting.

You can learn all the capital markets things (M&A, arbitrage, derivatives) you need for Wall Street as an apprentice. Accounting requires classroom time, so learn the basics in school if you can. It will help you with everything you do on The Street.

Male, 41, portfolio manager.

It's all politics.

Wall Street is like any other job -- you can't just work hard and not play politics. You have to brown nose, you have to suck up, you have to make people like you.

Male, 26, private equity.

Lose weight.

Do it before you start the job, because once you do, you'll be sitting at your desk and working unbelievably long days. You will gain it back.

Mortgage trading analyst, bulge bracket bank

Remember that for some people, this job is everything.

So don't belittle the job or be lazy, even if you know you're going to move on. It's disrespectful and people will resent you.

Male, 26, private equity.

Don't take things personally.

You may not like what you do all the time, but you are hired to do a very specific function and you need to do your best to perform that function. It's not about you, and it's not personal.

Male, 26, private equity.

Dress the part.

It shows you're taking the job seriously, and that makes people take you seriously.

Male, 26, private equity.

Consider the big fish, small pond question.

Wall Street has a way of sucking people in because you're surrounded by people competing for the same things all the time. It starts to feel like the only thing you could be doing, but consider taking your skills somewhere where no one else has them.

'If you keep following the banking crowd it can be different to differentiate yourself.'

Consider becoming a big fish.

Male, 28, former Goldman Sachs employee

You will be isolated, and as a result...

You're going to be locked in your office without seeing the sun for days. Time goes fast and you'll really have to make an effort to maintain your relationships. You have to remember that a world outside finance exists.

Female, 29, private equity.

You have to stop yourself from thinking can't relate to your non-finance friends.

'That's nonsense and ego. I see it in a lot of analysts still.'

Also it makes you really susceptible to group think. Not good.

Female, 29, private equity.

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