Are investment bankers human?

Summer isn’t over yet – hell, classes haven’t started yet – and we’re already talking about summer internships for next year over here in b-school universe.

Our career services office is trying to help us find the career that fits our lives and personalities. To that end, they sent out a list of five general career paths. Under each path is a list of “life themes” that fit with that career path — and a list of them that don’t.

The lists shake out pretty much how you’d expect. Finance folks and investment bankers should like working with numbers. People in marketing should enjoy being creative. Entrepreneurs like to be in charge. You get the gist.

But the list of negatives is a wee bit scary.

For instance, these are the things you should be willing to give up if you want to be an i-banker:

–          A balanced lifestyle

–          Focus on friends and family

–          Outside activities

–          Social interaction

And, as an added bonus, you should be willing to “sacrifice almost anything to be financially successful.” (Side note: Check out this New York magazine cover story. The headline: Is Goldman Sachs evil?)

Consultants don’t fare much better. In addition to the above sacrifices, they also better not want “to build long-term relationships with others.”

The list freaks me out, which probably means I’m not well suited for investment banking or consulting (no shocker there). But putting it in those black-and-white terms makes you think, who would want this life? Most folks I know like spending time with family and friends and having at least one activity outside work. Most human beings need social interaction.

When you get down to it, according to these lists, these careers seem to take us away from the very things that make us human.

I realize not everyone is like me or wants what I want. And, furthermore, I’ve never worked in either of these fields so I can’t accurately judge how true to life these lists are. I’m sure there are consultants who have wonderful family lives and i-bankers who participate in lots of outside activities.

But these lists weren’t generated out of thin air so there has to be some truth in there. I’ve also met a handful of consultants who’ve confirmed that building a successful career and a successful personal life seemed all but impossible.

The entire picture makes me wonder if there is a way to find some balance in these fields so they allow for smart, creative, tenacious people who have a life outside the office.

Naïve, right?


About missmba

What happens when a language-loving, mathphobic liberal arts major goes jumps on the MBA train. Follow my adventures at a top 20 business school.
This entry was posted in Career, Career decision, Consulting, Investment Banking. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Are investment bankers human?

  1. Lizzie says:

    Ha. I love that list for marketing because it says the main thing you have to give up is “making a lot of money.”

  2. Jenny Williams says:

    Steph, absorb all that b-school has to offer, shun their business paths, and then go out and use your forces for good and not for evil. Don’t join the dark side!

  3. missmba says:

    Thanks Jenny! I think I’m going to need constant reminders of that. There’s a lot of pressure here to pick a path yesterday.

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