The Legendary Sallie Krawcheck Has Some Advice For Young Bankers

Bloomberg TV screencapThis summer thousands of kids will start Wall Street jobs or internships for the first time, and they need to know that it’s going to be really hard. The hours are long, the bosses are demanding, and the lives they knew are going to disappear.

That said: There are people who’ve conquered Wall Street, so Business Insider reached out to a number of them to get their take on what they wish they knew when they were first stepping into the ring.

Pay attention.

At the pinnacle of Sallie Krawcheck’s career she was arguably the most powerful woman on Wall Street. Over a couple decades she went from top ranked analyst at Sanford Bernstein to president of Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America. Now she’s writing, advising on regulation and sitting on a number startup boards.

So what does she wish she’d known?

“I wish I had known that Wall Street is not just one business and that careers can be built along an array of different paths, depending on one’s interests and skills,” Krawcheck wrote to Business Insider in an e-mail. “There are jobs, such as wealth management, that involve building long-term relationships with individual and families….which are very different from businesses in trading, for example. I started in investment banking and thought it fine. After several years, I switched to Research and thought it was GREAT. Very different jobs and it took me some time to find the right career track for myself.”

So kids, the point is that you should try everything and see what fits if you can. Makes sense that Krawcheck would say that. She spent her youth trying everything. She was a track star, a cheerleader, a homecoming Queen, a Tri Delt and a journalist among other things.

Before all that, though, she was awkward (which ended up helping her when she started at Salomon Brothers as an analyst in 1987).

Here’s what she told Fortune about that back in 2006:

“[In middle school] I had the glasses, the braces, the corrective shoes. I was half-Jewish, half-WASPy. I couldn’t have been further outcast,” Krawcheck told Fortune magazine.

“There was nothing they could do to me at Salomon Brothers in the ’80s that was worse than the seventh grade.”

There you have it. Nothing they do to you on Wall Street could be worse than middle school.

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