1/12/13

As much as I love Wall Street Oasis, I can't help but raise an eyebrow at how narrow some of the mindsets on this website are. I'm specifically talking about in regards to careers; obviously, this is a finance community-targeted website, but it seems unbelievable how many students go beyond "IBD or bust." There's literally been folks who've talked about becoming psychologically depressed or even near suicidal because they didn't get a callback or subsequent offer from some target banks. Others are willing to make extremely illogical moves (like racking up six figure debt to go to a tiny business school in an attempt to gain entrance into the finance world instead of simply networking) to reach "their goals."

In expanding this beyond WSO, so many of my friends at Ivy League institutions, top state schools, and even honors colleges simply cannot fathom that there are jobs that are better than being an analyst straight out of college. For slightly lower pay, they could find something which may give them a better quality of life, a broader skill-set, and the same quality (or better) of network and exit opportunities. See the interview with Nefarious on his position as a strategy associate at a defense firm for evidence of this.

But don't worry; if you've wanted to be a banker since you were 15, have done summer internships at 3 or 4 banks, have taken finance courses throughout college, and still love it... this field may be for you. It's simply upsetting how many people are blind-sighted by the six figure pay and secretly either don't have any interest in it, or haven't yet experienced enough of the lifestyle to know.

And there's this constant talk about how great the exit opportunities are after the killer 2 years that is an IBD analyst position. What folks don't realize is that these opportunities arise because you've developed certain skills (read: excel and staying up for 3 days at a time) that are valued at other firms. That means that if you hate your job as an analyst, you're going to hate your job on a shorter-hour and better-pay basis in whatever next job you take.

I'd also like to echo a recent article I read about media company CEO compensation. Les Moonves, chief exec of CBS Corp, took in just under $70 million in 2011 and Philippe Dauman of Viacom Inc. took in $43 million. The rest simply went down the list, with these numbers simply making Wall Street CEO exec comp look tiny in comparison.

You all should know about banking's rigid hiring schedule and how much they love pedigree, prestige, and grades. Moonves is now chief executive of CBS, running a corporation that affects and influences millions of lives every day. His major at Bucknell (is that a target?) was Spanish, and he acted in a few plays before shifting to the corporate side and working his way up. Today, he's one of the happiest dudes ever: google image him and see his gigantic smirk in every pic. He has more money than he ever needs, gets to chill with celebrities all the time, and he's married-- with a prenup-- to Julie Chen, the hottest 42-year old thing on Earth.

I think that there are quite a few WSOers who are determined to go to finance and truly have a passion for it, and to them I say go for it. But passion goes beyond liking Wall Street the movie and admiring Gordon Gekko. If you do not truly enjoy what you do, you won't do it well and you'll miss the tangible benefits that come with it. If that sounds like you, perhaps take the route that many of others have taken and find something beyond wall street that interests you.

Comments (91)

Best Response
1/6/13

You're forgetting one of the main reasons why people go into finance is that it's one of the few industries where unexceptional people can get an exceptional paycheck.

1/6/13

I think there is a point to be made here, but I'm not sure comparing entry level IBD analyst aspirations to current CEO life paths was the best way to go about it.

In reply to roberto
1/6/13

Very true, but I wasn't trying to compare the two. I used the CBS CEO as someone who didn't have to feel stuck in a position he disliked to achieve great things, which is something I believe a lot of analysts feel is required for their idea of success (whether it be M7, buyside, etc.)

jacobzhang.net - my thoughts and portfolio.

"Money doesn't talk, it swears." - Bob Dylan

See my other WSO Blog posts

1/6/13

End of the day, there are many, many, many ways to make it in the world. There are very few set paths to take, and having an obsession with taking a single path is bad for your health. Because if you don't make it to the path or fall of the path, you'll find yourself unable to deal with it.

Better to embrace uncertainty and carve your own niche than to follow the tried-and-true (and overly saturated) path.

1/6/13

There are a number of problems with views and perceptions on Wall Street:

1.) The kid with a 1.9 GPA at UPenn who thinks he's going to be a banker and has people on this very forum telling him such.

2.) The kid with a 2.9 GPA in Hotel Management at SUNY Binghamton who thinks he's going to be a banker.

3.) The kids who were formerly (1) and (2) who are now part of "Occupy Student Loans" because they can't pay off $100K in student debt on a $30K/year job as a hotel worker or artist.

1/6/13

I don't get it. As you say in the first paragraph, this site is dedicated to giving advice on breaking into finance. Granted, a lot of people on this site aren't cut out for it and are interested in it superficially and for the wrong reasons - I'd say probably more than half of WSO membership in fact. But that doesn't mean that this site is the place to preach about the superiority of other fields (and the CBS CEO's paycheck - what??) either.

EDIT: Illini's comment nailed it by the way

1/6/13

Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

1/6/13

Interesting post. I've been saying the same thing for quite some time now. Happiness > compensation/prestige, bottom line. At the end of the day I don't really care what other people are doing or how they live their lives, but that has been my motto.

In reply to gammaovertheta
1/6/13

@gammaovertheta, it's not so much that the media field was "superior," but it's rather offered as an inspiring alternative, given, as you said, how many people aren't cut out for finance

jacobzhang.net - my thoughts and portfolio.

"Money doesn't talk, it swears." - Bob Dylan

See my other WSO Blog posts

1/6/13

I see your point but I don't think it was articulated in the best way.

It's hilarious to me when people scoff at a $65k salary out of college. According to some if you don't make $100k/yr you must be living in poverty. HYS or bust. IBD or your life is over. It's a ridiculous thought process.

I'm not sure what Moonves has to do with that though. He's obviously an exception, as all CEOs of huge conglomerates are. Only a select few make it there. But then again everyone on WSO is the next David Einhorn.

I think you would've been better served comparing upper management in finance to other industries or even corporate finance. With a lot of hard work and a little luck any really smart person can make it there and probably have a better work-life balance. IBD definitely puts you in a better position to get those positions though.

1/6/13

Julie Chen?

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

1/6/13

TL;DR: why would you want to become a BB IBD analyst if you had the option of being the CEO of CBS?

1/6/13

Damn. Julie chen is pretty hot.

But back to the topic. This is same thing as high school kids obsessing over Ivy or bust. They are ivies for a reason and they are the "conventional" path to success. People comforting kids rejected by ivies always mention the exceptions like even Jamie Dimon, Tufts if i remember. But these are exceptions. Just look at the bios of all the management at HFs and PE firms that are "making it." And probably even look at F500 CEOs' backgrounds. Probably top 10 schools across the majority of the board.

Same thing can be said of IBD/finance. Conventional path to success + money + exit opps will always be the proven path to what people perceive as success. Sure there are exceptions who might end up broke or never make it past VP. But the majority are still better than the kid stuck at the bottom of the F500 ladder with a DeVry degree.

The obsession with IBD specifically on this forum though is crazy. Looking through asset management forums today made me realized how in-depth the IBD forums are. I don't see much Asset management interview prep.

1/6/13

I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

In reply to BTbanker
1/6/13

BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

dude, you need to get out and social. Outside of finance industry, most people don't know who Blankfein is nor do they care.

In reply to eliteculture
1/6/13

eliteculture:
BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

dude, you need to get out and social. Outside of finance industry, most people don't know who Blankfein is nor do they care.


Right, and they care who the CEO of CBS is?
In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/6/13

TeddyTheBear:
I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

Out of college, bankers are a decade ahead of doctors, while comp starts at about the same; plus they usually have little to no debt since they didn't need med school.

The low job security and public perception of bankers does little to fase my passion for financial markets. It's laughable that people choose to be doctors, so that society will "accept" their success.

1/6/13

Coming from someone who's been in Corporate Finance for a F50 since graduating undergrad (2006), I assure you the comparison here to a CEO of a major non-finance company is completely off base. The chances of getting to be the CEO of a major company like CBS, or any major company for that matter, is extremely slim and would take the better part of a lifetime to do it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's almost impossible to make the type of money an analyst or associate will make at the age they will do it outside the IBD, VC, PE, HF, etc world. In comparisons to my company, it would take at least another 10-15 years (I'm in my late 20s) to make that type of money base or bonus. My company, and most F100-500, don't even off yearly bonuses unless you're at the director level or up. I'm all for the point that if you want a great work life balance that IBD, etc isn't the right place to be, but comparing the money, career path and lifestyle to that of a CEO is not very realistic imo.

1/6/13

I think what the OP said about kids going into depression or suicidal if they don't get into IDB is searingly accurate. I met a few people who believed that they were cut out for banking because they majored in Spanish or Russian with a 3-day boot camp from Wall Street Prep or Wall Street Training. Even though I'm okay with them setting such an unrealistic expectation for themselves, I think that mergers and inquisitions and WSO have been watering down how excruciatingly competitive it is to get into IBD and the skillsets required to get the job. I went to the WSO conference, and the people I met who are in banking were articulate, passionate, and intelligent, then there are the kids who quite frankly are just plain creepy and weird. There is also the fact that the Wall Street movies and American Psycho also perpetuate the elite social camraderie and the easy models and the rooftop penthouse suite paid for by the line-of-credit your boss handed to you for helping him make a brick-ton of money.

1/6/13

BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was.

I doubt most of my peers know who Blankfein is... or GS.

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

In reply to BTbanker
1/6/13

People might have heard the name Goldman Sachs but only a small minority would know Lloyd Blankfein. Maybe you're spending too much time solely around investment bankers?

And the only reason people know the name Goldman Sachs is that it became a figure of hate after the financial crisis. I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of.

1/6/13

Howardroark great topic. One sb for you. I was always say let society weed out itself and with time those who are truly determined to go into banking(and not only for monetary value) will appreciate their chosen career. Cheers

1/6/13

LOL. In retrospect, comparing the thousands of aspiring analysts to a (very lucky) and established CEO probably wasn't the right way to go about establishing my argument. However, my point remains that there are tons of other options out there to achieve (ridiculous levels of) success, and that finance may not be worth it if you're not 100% into it.

jacobzhang.net - my thoughts and portfolio.

"Money doesn't talk, it swears." - Bob Dylan

See my other WSO Blog posts

1/6/13

Was definitely waiting for this one to come up.

In reply to HowardRoark
1/6/13

HowardRoark:
However, my point remains that there are tons of other options out there to achieve (ridiculous levels of) success, and that finance may not be worth it if you're not 100% into it.

I hope you realize that you can say the exact same thing about every single profession. Most people become doctors and lawyers for the wrong reasons. They fall for the glamour of saving lives every day, or winning a huge court case when the real world is nothing like that. Or even those who want to become teachers to shape young minds, who eventually come to realize they are completely wasting their time while working their asses off for little pay. Architects and engineers set out for lofty dreams of designing things to change the world forever, until they come to realize it isn't very intellectually stimulating, projects move too slow -- but the aspects move too quickly, and things rarely go the way you want them to.

tl;dr - you're missing the bigger picture here

1/7/13

I'd say lawyers are even worse than some of the people pursuing banking.

The legal field is oversaturated with people that have JDs in their back pockets. People go to Chitlin Switch State and get a law degree for almost the same price as Harvard, come out of school after 3 years they could've been earning money in debt for $100k+, and expect a Big Law or relatively high-paying job.

At least in finance, especially for most coming from undergrad, you have options and no/little debt. Can't get IBD? Try back office. Or maybe consulting. Or CorpFin. Or Big4. If you have the right majors of course.

Becoming a doctor seems like such a slog and totally depressing.

In reply to darety
1/7/13

I agree with the OP and am a firm believer that if you do what you are passionate about, money will follow. Banking is not the only way to make a killing.

In reply to twinb
1/7/13

twinb:

Becoming a doctor seems like such a slog and totally depressing.

You mean having shit jobs, insane hours, no money, and taking 10 years through undergrad and med school + residency whatever is not totally amazing? I AM BLOW AWAY BY THIS REVELATION.

Seriously why banking? Because there's still a lot of money to be made and the competition to break in appeals to a lot of people, plus the gratification is pretty quick. In the 10 years it takes you to become a doctor, you can make a lot of money and the workload def. will have smoothed out in IBD or wherever.

1/7/13

i totally agree that there are an awful lot of people who do not even know what an investment bank does and yet are desperately trying to get into finance. it's really sad. same with medicine and law. high school kids watch emergency room or boston legal and then want to become doctors or lawyers. there are kids in school which hate math and sciences and nevertheless dream of becoming a doctor. and shitty movies like wall street 2 money never sleeps reinforce kids wish to go into banking. nothing wrong with wanting to enter finance, but one should be really interested in it and not merely driven my prestige and income. what we lack of are good engineers and scientist. perhaps there should be a tv show where the main characters are engineers and stuff instead police cops, doctors and lawyer. maybe then high school kids would want to explore those fields as well

1/10/13

Game Theory?

-wow1wow

In reply to BTbanker
1/10/13

BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

Howard Stern knows who Moonves is.
Howard SternHoward Stern on Flickr
In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/10/13

IlliniProgrammer:
BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

Howard Stern knows who Moonves is.
Howard SternHoward Stern on Flickr

Haha, did you read the article about him getting sued?

In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/11/13

TeddyTheBear:
I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

I think finance is a perceivable easier route. I'm in my senior year and would like to go back to school someday, but honestly just can't afford it. I can't even imagine being in pre-med and having 4 more very hard years of school to look forward to and then becoming an intern or w.e the next step in med is. You can't really start making the money in med until you're... what, 28?

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

In reply to streetwannabe
1/11/13

streetwannabe:
TeddyTheBear:
I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

I think finance is a perceivable easier route. I'm in my senior year and would like to go back to school someday, but honestly just can't afford it. I can't even imagine being in pre-med and having 4 more very hard years of school to look forward to and then becoming an intern or w.e the next step in med is. You can't really start making the money in med until you're... what, 28?

Just realized I'm the 100th person to point this out.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

In reply to darety
1/11/13

darety:
You're forgetting one of the main reasons why people go into finance is that it's one of the few industries where unexceptional people can get an exceptional paycheck.

This.

1/11/13

It is indeed a bit terrifying. I have a couple interviews coming up, and I'm quite anxious about not getting a single offer. Before that, I was anxious about not getting a single interview.

1/11/13

To say that it not going to an Ivy and getting a 4.0 means you failed at life and are an idiot is a far cry from the truth and can cause a whole mess of psychological issues in people. Are there other ways to get to a 7/8 figure net worth.. Yes, but finance is the most risk averse path to getting there. You are working for someone, you aren't starting your own company, you are still an employee, and once you get into a successful PE/HF on the partner track your chances of hitting 7/8 figures increases.

How many people on this site are running off and starting their own companies and websites? Facebook made Zuckerberg a billionaire, which dwarfs the other names mentioned... People aren't doing it because it isn't a learnable skill set and the percentages of starting a successful tech company and becoming a billionaire are a hell of a lot lower than getting good grades in high school and then working hard at an Ivy..then IB then PE

Its all about maximizing odds.. Its why people go to Harvard, its why people go to BB IBDs, and then subsequently go to PE/HF/VC firms.. It is the highest percentage chance of getting the $$$$$$ without taking on any real risk(other than student loans)

In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/11/13

The reason that careers in banking are often not looked upon in the same light as becoming a doctor is because you hear way more about the work people have to go to in becoming a doctor than you do a banker.

On college campuses just about every Tom, Dick, and Harry studying Business Administration thinks that they're going to make it big on Wall Street right out of college. Maybe 50% of them actually intern somewhere, maybe 20% of them get an interview for a mid-market/bulge bracket firm, and maybe 1-5% of business students (at your average non-target) actually understand the value of cold calling, networking, exceptional resume building, etc - everything that this site preaches and advises you to do in college.

If you talk to someone who's Pre-Med the conversation will usually go to how they're studying biology, then they have to go study for the MCATs, and ready their applications to medical school, then they'll complete that and do their residency and then maybe they'll actually be a doctor.

People pursuing a banking career would sound a lot more impressive if when asked what their plan to get their was people guided them through their life of networking, cold calling, interning, reading outside books and studying as hard for an interview as you would for a final exam.

But then again, there are a lot of career paths which can sound just as impressive as becoming a doctor if you sat down and outlined all the steps.

It could also be due to whatever school you go to. I go to a Top-tier Target school for journalism, so when someone says they're apart of the J-School that's looked at about just as impressively as someone doing pre-med.

1/11/13

I'm just kind of addicted. Reading WSO and M&I for about 6 months pretty heavily now and having put significant time into studying BIWS guides on valuation, accounting, equity/enterprise value, you really get into it. I find that the more I study the stuff, the more I like it. The adrenaline rush I get from networking/interviewing is just amazing. So, I would say I'm definitely in the IBD or bust mindset.

Haters gonna hate

In reply to hosken
1/11/13

hosken:
darety:
You're forgetting one of the main reasons why people go into finance is that it's one of the few industries where unexceptional people can get an exceptional paycheck.

This.

Absolutely second that.

Aei ho theos geometrei

1/11/13

Howard: This is a long and convoluted way to ask a rather straightforward question. I'll give you a short answer, and a longer explanation:

Short answer:
Practically no one wants to be a career investment banker. Everybody wants (1) the business education and (2) the stamp banking provides post graduation. Period.

Longer explanation:
That stamp states: I rocked my undergrad years and was top of my class (a PhD from Stanford would say the same about a student with a scientific major in undergrad; Harvard Med would say the same about a pre-med student; In a similar fashion, a bulge Bracket bank does that with business-related majors); It also states: I acquired all necessary hard skills to perform in a highly analytical, fast-paced and intellectually challenging business environment. Such environments include private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds. And banking is the gateway to such jobs.

Also, (3) looking purely at money, your comparison of corporate CEOs and bankers is weak. Here's why: How many Fortune 500 CEOs making millions are there? Well... 500 right? How many bankers making millions are there? Thousands (I would say tens of thousands pre-2008), and they are usually 10-20 years younger than their Fortune 500 millionaire peers (the average GS employee makes $750k a year FYI, from the personal assistant to Lloyd). Seeing this stat, do you now understand the rush to banking, in addition to the education and stamp aspect mentioned above?

But again, reasons (1) and (2) are the main drivers of college students: to use the banking gateway to propel them to jobs that are really interesting and highly rewarding, both intellectually and financially, and usually come with a good lifestyle.

Aei ho theos geometrei

In reply to BTbanker
1/11/13

BTbanker:
TeddyTheBear:
I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

Out of college, bankers are a decade ahead of doctors, while comp starts at about the same; plus they usually have little to no debt since they didn't need med school.

The low job security and public perception of bankers does little to fase my passion for financial markets. It's laughable that people choose to be doctors, so that society will "accept" their success.

Simply in terms of raw $$$ over a lifetime and disregarding temporary inconveniences of education, I believe IB is a better choice than being a doctor. There are very wealthy neurosurgeons for example who make double or triple the average IB analyst. But neurosurgeon != doctor. If you're smart enough and have put in enough effort to be a successful neurosurgeon then I submit you could be making more as a VP at an investment bank, working at a hedge fund, etc. However, one benefit of being a doctor is job security. If you can take the pressure of constantly making literally life or death decisions and do your job competently then you are set for life with a high salary. Not so in IB. Public perception I believe is also not a trivial advantage. The old saying about women loving doctors has some truth! It may be easy for some here to forget, but status may have higher utility than raw money. Finally the work-life balance (once you get out of residency, which might compete well in intensity with IB analyst jobs) seems somewhat superior: only 10-12 hour days with occasional nights and weekends.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/11/13

IlliniProgrammer:
There are a number of problems with views and perceptions on Wall Street:

1.) The kid with a 1.9 GPA at UPenn who thinks he's going to be a banker and has people on this very forum telling him such.

2.) The kid with a 2.9 GPA in Hotel Management at SUNY Binghamton who thinks he's going to be a banker.

3.) The kids who were formerly (1) and (2) who are now part of "Occupy Student Loans" because they can't pay off $100K in student debt on a $30K/year job as a hotel worker or artist.

Yes.

I think its important to set high but realistic expectations. It seems to me it basically comes down to three things:

1. Raw Intellect
2. Conscientiousness/Desire
3. Connections/Personality

There are a lot of people on here who routinely say, "If you have enough desire, it's going to happen." That's total bullshit. It might be true for people who graduated with four-year degrees with averages above 3.0, say. But that excepts 80+% of the population. No, you need some kind of combination of the three above things; desire is one but not everything. If you do find yourself in the category of having lots of desire but not much of the other two traits, and I know people like this, there are other jobs for you. I have a lot of sympathy for people in this position. They work hard, do everything right, but it's not enough. In an odd sort of way, although the political atmosphere here seems pretty conservative, I think the conservative Charles Murray pwnts some of the advice here when he says too many people are going to college. He seems right.

1/11/13

"The average GS employee makes $750k a year"

I am sorry but I would love to know where you got this from.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-26/jefferies...

Also my last piece of input. The people who are "IBD or Bust" are normally college kids who don't know anything about the industry. They believe that 1st year analyst drive Porsches to work and live in penthouse suits. I believe the last 15 years of the IBD industry have corrupted young minds. If you do a search on this forum, you will see the perception of the average college kid is simply out of sync with what the industry is actually like. These people believe they can be making 150k out of undergrad.

In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/11/13

TeddyTheBear:
. If you do a search on this forum, you will see the perception of the average college kid is simply out of sync with what the industry is actually like. These people believe they can be making 150k out of undergrad.

This is so true.

In the MSF/MFE program I'm in, there's a huge difference between the kids straight out of undergrad and the folks with industry experience. I tell them that perhaps 25% of the people in the program will one day make MD, and there will only be one or two people who make it to the C-suite, and they become incredulous. This is a very good program, but even among what might be a sample of the best, the odds of success are a lot narrower than people think.

There is a humongous gap between the expectations of the college student and reality. That said, I was one of those college students who quietly thought he could be a CEO one day- I suspect a lot of industry people had ridiculous ambitions as college students.

Part of maturity and adulthood is recognizing the reality of our limitations.; recognizing that we may be unique and valuable, but only one person out of thousands gets to be CEO, and there's a very good chance we're not him and we may never be him. Only one person can be the richest man in the country, and he happens to be a 55-year-old computer geek with a whiny voice.

1/12/13

Actually it works as a vicious cycle: You have college debt==> you want a FAST return for your investment, people are losing patience that's why they abolished networking...
However besides IBD, cooperate finance may also be a great choice, consulting is good as well:)

Memory since 1999.

1/12/13

If you watch Shark Tank, you'll find a lot of young people who have businesses that generate revenues in the millions, and many times the businesses are actually fairly simple like:

Ice cream chain that uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream instantly
Junk cleaning and disposal service
better tasting peanut butter

and other just very simple ideas. That's not as good as CEO but it just shows a little free time, focus, and dedication each weekend goes a long way. You'd never be able to be creative enough in IB/HF/PE to think of these things just because you're so busy and brain dead from work.

1/12/13

If you watch Shark Tank, you'll find a lot of young people who have businesses that generate revenues in the millions, and many times the businesses are actually fairly simple like:

Ice cream chain that uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream instantly
Junk cleaning and disposal service
better tasting peanut butter

and other just very simple ideas. That's not as good as CEO but it just shows a little free time, focus, and dedication each weekend goes a long way. You'd never be able to be creative enough in IB/HF/PE to think of these things just because you're so busy and brain dead from work.

1/12/13

At this point I think I'm set on banking or bust because that's all I know how to do and that's all my resume is tailored towards (two internships at ibanks). Trying hard to nail down a FT offer but we'll see how it all turns out, I can't seem to finish unfortunately, even after making it to 6 or 7 super days.

1/12/13

I think a lot of the 'IBD or bust' mentality comes from risk aversion. If you are entrepreneurial and start your own company, you might sell your company for $500 million but it probably will go under after a year leaving you broke. However, *if* you make it into IBD you're guaranteed to be compensated well (historically..who knows now). In addition, you don't have to worry about drowning in debt from med school or law school and you might make that type of money in IBD. In theory, it seems to offer all the upsides with little downside (except the whole consuming your life part).

In reply to fearless
1/12/13

fearless:
I think what the OP said about kids going into depression or suicidal if they don't get into IDB is searingly accurate. I met a few people who believed that they were cut out for banking because they majored in Spanish or Russian with a 3-day boot camp from Wall Street Prep or Wall Street Training. Even though I'm okay with them setting such an unrealistic expectation for themselves, I think that mergers and inquisitions and WSO have been watering down how excruciatingly competitive it is to get into IBD and the skillsets required to get the job. I went to the WSO conference, and the people I met who are in banking were articulate, passionate, and intelligent, then there are the kids who quite frankly are just plain creepy and weird. There is also the fact that the Wall Street movies and American Psycho also perpetuate the elite social camraderie and the easy models and the rooftop penthouse suite paid for by the line-of-credit your boss handed to you for helping him make a brick-ton of money.

I agree with this. +1

1/12/13

IlliniProgrammer:
There are a number of problems with views and perceptions on Wall Street:

1.) The kid with a 1.9 GPA at UPenn who thinks he's going to be a banker and has people on this very forum telling him such.

2.) The kid with a 2.9 GPA in Hotel Management at SUNY Binghamton who thinks he's going to be a banker.

3.) The kids who were formerly (1) and (2) who are now part of "Occupy Student Loans" because they can't pay off $100K in student debt on a $30K/year job as a hotel worker or artist.

What about the 3.9 GPA in Finance & Economics who is told that his greatest achievement will be Senior Insurance Sales for Cockblocking & Co. because he isn't at a target?

In reply to sandsurfngbomber
1/12/13

sandsurfngbomber:

What about the 3.9 GPA in Finance & Economics who is told that his greatest achievement will be Senior Insurance Sales for Cockblocking & Co. because he isn't at a target?


That's where B-school comes in.

Also, are you at a P&C firm? Do you know why insurance on a Ducati or other sportsbike is 3x as high in NYC as it is 2 miles across the river?

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/12/13

IlliniProgrammer:
sandsurfngbomber:

What about the 3.9 GPA in Finance & Economics who is told that his greatest achievement will be Senior Insurance Sales for Cockblocking & Co. because he isn't at a target?


That's where B-school comes in.

Also, are you at a P&C firm? Do you know why insurance on a Ducati or other sportsbike is 3x as high in NYC as it is 2 miles across the river?

Haha no, I'm not a Senior Insurance Lead for C&C after all. I was simply making the point about personal drive/ability compared to the over-stressed path of Target->Internship->BB IBD that is highly promoted on here. In other words, the true "Hunt for Value" being the student's ability to take in the knowledge and working towards the job they want versus following the "IBD or Bust" path like a blind horse.

In reply to UK2013plus
1/12/13

UK2013plus:
nothing wrong with wanting to enter finance, but one should be really interested in it and not merely driven my prestige and income.

Being driven by prestige and income is basically fine but one needs to make sensible decisions about what will lead to those instead of being guided by delusions of grandeur. You should pay attention to yourself and what you are actually good at--not what Warren Buffett or some idol is good at.

I personally have a long and sordid history of fucking up because of expectations that were just too high. My strange story is that in high school I took classes at the local college and wound up getting C's, mostly because they were ridiculously difficult and partly because transportation to the college was a problem. My GPA wound up being so low that I wasn't even accepted to the most prestigious state schools in my own state, let alone through the shining Ivy League gates that I had dreamt this strategy would open! I would have been far better simply exerting myself to the fullest in normal classes with everyone else in the school instead of trying to be like a few widely known brilliant kids. I never forgot this experience.

Actually, one reason why finance is my goal right now is because I have realized that for someone with my abilities getting into finance (and maybe even IBD/corporate finance) is a high but entirely achievable goal. Intellectual types who constantly bash financiers as materialists or greedy are often born with incredible IQs that make their road in life pretty much easy. I think to myself, how dare you bash my aspirations when you are born with such an obvious advantage? Fuck them.

In reply to BTbanker
1/12/13

BTbanker:
Blankfein is worth 500MM and just about everyone in the country knows who he is. Nobody on this forum knew who Moonves was. And again, becoming CEO as a Spanish major is an exception, not a rule. Most Spanish majors end up selling tacos and burritos.

hahaha fucking awesome , laughed my ass off

In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/12/13

TeddyTheBear:
I think this argument would have been better if you used a more realistic profession. I know in fact that being a doctor or someone in the medical field is looked as more prestigious than banking in many circles. If your a doctor, it shows that you worked hard to get where you are and enjoy helping people. I just don't understand why nobody wants to be a doctor and everyone wants to be a banker. In terms of salaries, many of my family members are in the medical field. They make much more than bankers and only work 40 hours a week and can take vacations whenever. They have huge houses and nice cars. When they asked me why I didn't go for it, I simply told them that I am not much of a science guy. However, most people here just look at $$$, if this is the case, why banking? If you enjoy then it makes sense, but if you are doing it for money, then you are missing out on much better opportunities with nicer work/life balances.

Have you been around many doctors? maybe you have, but i'm surprised at your perspective. Most physicians do not seem to care about people but care about how much money to squeeze out of the system. Also, many physicians are losing their ass out there (not saying bankers are not either) and they aren't that wealthy, especially GP's, OBGYN and General Surgeons. Same issues apply...some with 250-300k in debt, no real money until 30s, have to start in fly over states to make significant pay early...but job security is a plus. I mean, do you think being a radiologist is really interesting or treating the common cold or flu? I could not care less about removing someone's spleen either... as far as work/life, a lot of docs are all screwed up. Heart attacks early in life, not enough time with family/ kids are all f'ed up, parents divorced...so not saying bankers are better but docs are not that great man..

Finally, i think there is a good argument to be made that doctors are even bigger douches than bankers, but that's for another thread

In reply to Aston Gekko
1/12/13

Aston Gekko:

I think there is a good argument to be made that doctors are even bigger douches than bankers, but that's for another thread

If you write it, I'll read it.

adapt or die:
What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

MY BLOG

1/12/13

To address the point of this post, yea, i'd fuck her

1/12/13

To address the point of this post, yea, i'd fuck her

1/12/13

I think that comparing a doctor and an ibanker is pointless. The main thing that people should understand is that not everybody in finance can get into M&A because the type of work is scarce for a reason. People believe that their majors and their skillsets are geared only for IBD or their internships help them prep for IBD but that's not the case. There are other jobs and that require you to be on excel all day.

In reply to BTbanker
1/12/13

BTbanker:
HowardRoark:
However, my point remains that there are tons of other options out there to achieve (ridiculous levels of) success, and that finance may not be worth it if you're not 100% into it.

I hope you realize that you can say the exact same thing about every single profession. Most people become doctors and lawyers for the wrong reasons. They fall for the glamour of saving lives every day, or winning a huge court case when the real world is nothing like that. Or even those who want to become teachers to shape young minds, who eventually come to realize they are completely wasting their time while working their asses off for little pay. Architects and engineers set out for lofty dreams of designing things to change the world forever, until they come to realize it isn't very intellectually stimulating, projects move too slow -- but the aspects move too quickly, and things rarely go the way you want them to.

tl;dr - you're missing the bigger picture here

This post nails it. There are very few positions outside of being a successful entrepreneur that are so "rewarding" as to make the IB-aspiring finance major look like an imbecile. Whether it's becoming a doctor, or a lawyer, or a computer scientist, or an engineer, or an architect, or a teacher, or a sales person, or a banking analyst, or a journalist, or a fashion designer, or a PE associate - jobs generally sound better on paper than they are in practice.

Very intelligent people have a multitude of opportunities before them. Moreover, they are mostly interchangable. The girl who grew up to be a surgeon could just as well have become a MD at Goldman, and vice versa. Since most intelligent people are ardently pursuing the best opportunities and planning out their future, if there were some mystical, utopian career where you received ample pay, an incredibly rewarding day-to-day, and the reverence of everyone around you right out of college, it stands to reason that most intelligent people would be pursuing this career.

Beyond that, I think there is a fundamental problem with the way that we think about the difficulty of careers. Our most handy heuristic is to imagine immediately transitioning into a role as a surgeon - you'd be overwhelmed, and wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do. Nevertheless, I would contend that it isn't THAT difficult for an intelligent person to be a doctor. Granted, it involves years of rote memorization and several more years of apprenticeship, but neither of these tasks is particularly difficult for an enterprising young person to achieve. The statement, "I could never be a doctor," is almost certainly untrue (save for severe hemophobia). The same applies for becoming a lawyer: no, you absolutely couldn't become a lawyer tomorrow, but after spending 3 years memorizing case law, you'd probably find it unbelievably simple - perhaps even boringly easy. I could apply this same logic to becoming an architect or an engineer, or a financier, etc.

I think the reason we bash the dreams of those younger than we is precisely because we envy their excitement. After years in the field, if we aren't as successful or "happy" as we had hoped, we want so badly for everyone else to abandon their ambition to follow the same track as we, for fear that they might pursue the same career and achieve the success or happiness that we never did. It's unproductive, and probably isn't rooted in any intrinsic reality.

The truth is that we all (at some point) feel our specialty is easy and boring because of its repetitiveness. And the prospect of another career that constitutes something other than another cycle of repetition feels novel and interesting. What we fail to consider is that the very nature of a job is inherently repetitive. That is, you couldn't have a job where you did something different every day - in that case, you wouldn't truly have a job at all. After all, what does it mean to be a doctor, if not to simply repeat hundreds and hundreds of procedures the same way they have been done before? What does it mean to be a corporate lawyer, if not to repeat the same case precedent and apply it to the next tort? What does it mean to be an engineer, if not to apply the same formulas to calculate the distribution of weight in a architectural structure?

I could teach any intelligent college senior how to perform an appendectomy in a few weeks. With these skills, he could probably pick up a number of "boiler plate" procedures in a few years. The value of a trained doctor only appears when something unforeseen or unexpected happens. As does the value of a lawyer, or a banker, or a teacher, or an engineer, or an architect. Otherwise, there's nothing particularly glamorous about any of these professions. And that's the way we should expect it to be, in a competitive free market.

I believe we all just can't deal with the fact that there are happy people and their are unhappy people, and there is really no logic behind how they become that way. Two people with virtually identical backgrounds can have vastly different satisfaction with their life. That's because there is no such thing as a "rewarding, 'this-is-what-I-love-to-do' career". The person who is happy as a doctor, would probably also be happy as an investment banker. The person who is unhappy as a lawyer, would probably also be unhappy as a journalist.

Your grass will always be the same color, until you spend some time mending the weeds.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to money in the banana stand
1/12/13

money in the banana stand:
I think a lot of the 'IBD or bust' mentality comes from risk aversion. If you are entrepreneurial and start your own company, you might sell your company for $500 million but it probably will go under after a year leaving you broke. However, *if* you make it into IBD you're guaranteed to be compensated well (historically..who knows now). In addition, you don't have to worry about drowning in debt from med school or law school and you might make that type of money in IBD. In theory, it seems to offer all the upsides with little downside (except the whole consuming your life part).

I hear this "risk aversion" theory all the time, and I just don't buy it. There's a simple reality: most people cannot take rational risks without first building a track record of success and a network of friends in high places. Although we're so often berated with 25 year-old billionaires by the media, the truth is that most entrepreneurs (yes, even in technology and internet companies) are in their 30s or 40s.

There's a difference between having a risk appetite and jumping off a cliff without a harness. People don't start billion dollar businesses because they are "risky". They start billion dollar businesses because they had a great idea, the means to implement it, worked hard, and built or already possessed great connections. It wasn't "risky" for Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook - he didn't need "guts" to build a website. He's not some genius that knows something or appreciates something that we all do not. He was in the right place, at the right time, and he had just the right skills to get something done.

And before anyone brings it up, it also wasn't "risky" for Zuckerberg to drop out of Harvard. With the backing of Sean Parker, the interest of billionaire VCs, and an idea with a valuation well into the millions, anyone would have dropped out of Harvard. More importantly, it isn't as though he couldn't just return to Harvard if he fell flat on his face.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
1/13/13

NorthSider:
BTbanker:
HowardRoark:
However, my point remains that there are tons of other options out there to achieve (ridiculous levels of) success, and that finance may not be worth it if you're not 100% into it.

I hope you realize that you can say the exact same thing about every single profession. Most people become doctors and lawyers for the wrong reasons. They fall for the glamour of saving lives every day, or winning a huge court case when the real world is nothing like that. Or even those who want to become teachers to shape young minds, who eventually come to realize they are completely wasting their time while working their asses off for little pay. Architects and engineers set out for lofty dreams of designing things to change the world forever, until they come to realize it isn't very intellectually stimulating, projects move too slow -- but the aspects move too quickly, and things rarely go the way you want them to.

tl;dr - you're missing the bigger picture here

This post nails it. There are very few positions outside of being a successful entrepreneur that are so "rewarding" as to make the IB-aspiring finance major look like an imbecile. Whether it's becoming a doctor, or a lawyer, or a computer scientist, or an engineer, or an architect, or a teacher, or a sales person, or a banking analyst, or a journalist, or a fashion designer, or a PE associate - jobs generally sound better on paper than they are in practice.

Very intelligent people have a multitude of opportunities before them. Moreover, they are mostly interchangable. The girl who grew up to be a surgeon could just as well have become a MD at Goldman, and vice versa. Since most intelligent people are ardently pursuing the best opportunities and planning out their future, if there were some mystical, utopian career where you received ample pay, an incredibly rewarding day-to-day, and the reverence of everyone around you right out of college, it stands to reason that most intelligent people would be pursuing this career.

Beyond that, I think there is a fundamental problem with the way that we think about the difficulty of careers. Our most handy heuristic is to imagine immediately transitioning into a role as a surgeon - you'd be overwhelmed, and wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do. Nevertheless, I would contend that it isn't THAT difficult for an intelligent person to be a doctor. Granted, it involves years of rote memorization and several more years of apprenticeship, but neither of these tasks is particularly difficult for an enterprising young person to achieve. The statement, "I could never be a doctor," is almost certainly untrue (save for severe hemophobia). The same applies for becoming a lawyer: no, you absolutely couldn't become a lawyer tomorrow, but after spending 3 years memorizing case law, you'd probably find it unbelievably simple - perhaps even boringly easy. I could apply this same logic to becoming an architect or an engineer, or a financier, etc.

I think the reason we bash the dreams of those younger than we is precisely because we envy their excitement. After years in the field, if we aren't as successful or "happy" as we had hoped, we want so badly for everyone else to abandon their ambition to follow the same track as we, for fear that they might pursue the same career and achieve the success or happiness that we never did. It's unproductive, and probably isn't rooted in any intrinsic reality.

The truth is that we all (at some point) feel our specialty is easy and boring because of its repetitiveness. And the prospect of another career that constitutes something other than another cycle of repetition feels novel and interesting. What we fail to consider is that the very nature of a job is inherently repetitive. That is, you couldn't have a job where you did something different every day - in that case, you wouldn't truly have a job at all. After all, what does it mean to be a doctor, if not to simply repeat hundreds and hundreds of procedures the same way they have been done before? What does it mean to be a corporate lawyer, if not to repeat the same case precedent and apply it to the next tort? What does it mean to be an engineer, if not to apply the same formulas to calculate the distribution of weight in a architectural structure?

I could teach any intelligent college senior how to perform an appendectomy in a few weeks. With these skills, he could probably pick up a number of "boiler plate" procedures in a few years. The value of a trained doctor only appears when something unforeseen or unexpected happens. As does the value of a lawyer, or a banker, or a teacher, or an engineer, or an architect. Otherwise, there's nothing particularly glamorous about any of these professions. And that's the way we should expect it to be, in a competitive free market.

I believe we all just can't deal with the fact that there are happy people and their are unhappy people, and there is really no logic behind how they become that way. Two people with virtually identical backgrounds can have vastly different satisfaction with their life. That's because there is no such thing as a "rewarding, 'this-is-what-I-love-to-do' career". The person who is happy as a doctor, would probably also be happy as an investment banker. The person who is unhappy as a lawyer, would probably also be unhappy as a journalist.

Your grass will always be the same color, until you spend some time mending the weeds.


+1
1/13/13

Best posts I've read in a while, NorthSider.

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

1/13/13

Anybody have any advice on a career in Engineering? Possible executive positions if you put in the work for a company?

Mps721

In reply to advantageplayer
1/13/13

advantageplayer:
I'm just kind of addicted. Reading WSO and M&I for about 6 months pretty heavily now and having put significant time into studying BIWS guides on valuation, accounting, equity/enterprise value, you really get into it. I find that the more I study the stuff, the more I like it. The adrenaline rush I get from networking/interviewing is just amazing. So, I would say I'm definitely in the IBD or bust mindset.

This.

1/13/13

What is wrong with being "IB or bust"? Yes, there are a few that want to commit suicide or become a hermit in the Alps if they do not get in, but other than those few extremists, most simply want IB more than any other career path. That should be seen as a positive rather than a negative. In fact, you need that drive to get into IB in the first place, unless you are lucky enough to have the last name of Blankfein or Kravis. Even if you are at Harvard, you still have to make it through the interview.

The drive that gets some people to believe in "IB or bust" should be lauded, not made fun of.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/13/13

IlliniProgrammer:
TeddyTheBear:
. If you do a search on this forum, you will see the perception of the average college kid is simply out of sync with what the industry is actually like. These people believe they can be making 150k out of undergrad.

This is so true.

In the MSF/MFE program I'm in, there's a huge difference between the kids straight out of undergrad and the folks with industry experience. I tell them that perhaps 25% of the people in the program will one day make MD, and there will only be one or two people who make it to the C-suite, and they become incredulous. This is a very good program, but even among what might be a sample of the best, the odds of success are a lot narrower than people think.

There is a humongous gap between the expectations of the college student and reality. That said, I was one of those college students who quietly thought he could be a CEO one day- I suspect a lot of industry people had ridiculous ambitions as college students.

Part of maturity and adulthood is recognizing the reality of our limitations.; recognizing that we may be unique and valuable, but only one person out of thousands gets to be CEO, and there's a very good chance we're not him and we may never be him. Only one person can be the richest man in the country, and he happens to be a 55-year-old computer geek with a whiny voice.

Illini, you nailed it. Great post and great advice.

Most posts seem to attack the one or other example or comparison made by OP, pointless to great extent (and not because of the counter-arguments, which are mostly valid).

The core of the topic relates to the worrying levels of people frustrated by not "achieving their dreamt goal". That's the real issue here.

It is sad that for whatever reason loads of young minds end up in this state. Blame it on their expectations of money & prestige, (biased) definition of success, lack of other interest, maximising outcome with limited risk /resources or even on Hollywood .

OP tries to give example of people who "made it" through other paths. Defyning thereby "Making it" with the same goals as most: power to influence people, money, status, lifestyle, women...

Valid point, perhaps using exceptions. Please, don't get stuck just there and criticise that.

And that's where Illini's point is so refreshing in this discussion: let's be realistic, objective with our views and specially, validate them once in a while.

We all want to succeed in life. The issue is, whose definition of success are we applying to our lives? Is it perhaps: Society's? Our peer's? Parents?

.... Or ourselve's? By the latter, more time or a fulfilling job may count more than $. Or moving millions, making it to Forbes billionaires list, or saving lives is our leading motivation. Excellent, just be clear and frank.

The key is to understand the intrinsic value or whatever proposition we are making to ourselves, to our lives, for the investment of our time/effort. The same applies to our expectations and views.

That's, in my opinion, where many kids are struggling. They are not fully aware of the why behind their dreams. Consequently, they are not aligned with reality or let them open their eyes to see the range of options to achieve them... The multitude of hows

To illustrate:

First, a simple question to you guys: Just for a second, Would any of you reconsider your job in finance, if they would pay you say national average salary for your age and same projections until retirement (I.e. no carry)?

if no, congratulations, as on top to doing what motivates you is well rewarded (monetarily). Or do you start to mentally tweak equations (less hours, less travel, less responsibility).

Had this knowledge have influenced your decisions before? (Path, study, sacrifices, costs of opportunity and choices)

Second idea. Some people achieve "the path": good education>IBD>PE/HF and find themselves somehow empty. Why? Well, everyone should have a look at themselves, but perhaps is the other side of the story: people with certain (perhaps biased) idea of what it is to "make it", who actually made it (unlike the kid without a FT offer or entry to ivy ) to later find out his fundament wasn't on proper ground.

Hmmm, while financially ok, these people can also get into a serious depression, not to be sub estimated.

To summarise: be clear and objective to your "whys" for the fundamental "whats" in your life. Be open to the potential "hows", be flexible and work hard...because: "Part of maturity and adulthood is recognizing the reality of our limitations; recognizing that we may be unique and valuable, but only one person out of thousands gets to be CEO, and there's a very good chance we're not him and we may never be him. "

I can fully relate to Illini, most of us think of ourselves capable (some even "entitled") to be CEO or whatever. For some of us, getting into finance was a "obvious step". Time and experience tells you there are few "obvious" things in life.

For people making decisions in life , particularly those still in school or in college, I can only encourage you to inform yourselves, look deep into you and what is driving you. Thereafter go for it and work hard, because it is a decision made from inner conviction. And if turns out to be finance, it is a great a beautiful field, just as any other.

"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to like them."

In reply to NorthSider
1/13/13

NorthSider:
money in the banana stand:
I think a lot of the 'IBD or bust' mentality comes from risk aversion. If you are entrepreneurial and start your own company, you might sell your company for $500 million but it probably will go under after a year leaving you broke. However, *if* you make it into IBD you're guaranteed to be compensated well (historically..who knows now). In addition, you don't have to worry about drowning in debt from med school or law school and you might make that type of money in IBD. In theory, it seems to offer all the upsides with little downside (except the whole consuming your life part).

I hear this "risk aversion" theory all the time, and I just don't buy it. There's a simple reality: most people cannot take rational risks without first building a track record of success and a network of friends in high places. Although we're so often berated with 25 year-old billionaires by the media, the truth is that most entrepreneurs (yes, even in technology and internet companies) are in their 30s or 40s.

There's a difference between having a risk appetite and jumping off a cliff without a harness. People don't start billion dollar businesses because they are "risky". They start billion dollar businesses because they had a great idea, the means to implement it, worked hard, and built or already possessed great connections. It wasn't "risky" for Mark Zuckerberg to create Facebook - he didn't need "guts" to build a website. He's not some genius that knows something or appreciates something that we all do not. He was in the right place, at the right time, and he had just the right skills to get something done.

And before anyone brings it up, it also wasn't "risky" for Zuckerberg to drop out of Harvard. With the backing of Sean Parker, the interest of billionaire VCs, and an idea with a valuation well into the millions, anyone would have dropped out of Harvard. More importantly, it isn't as though he couldn't just return to Harvard if he fell flat on his face.

I agree with everything you've mentioned and I suppose I haven't used the best example. I meant more in terms of earning potential. What I mean is that, for example, if you join a F500 company as a finance analyst, accountant, engineer, etc. the chances of you earning as much as you would in IB/PE in your 30s are slim. If you start as an engineer in an average F500 company, it might take you 5 years to make 100k versus a year or two in BB IBD. Only a few people make it to senior level positions in major companies and it takes longer to reach that earning potential than in IB/PE.

1/13/13

Money,

I think one thing you need to consider about people in IBD is that even though SOME of them are earning salaries as first year analyst around 100k, keep in mind they are working the equivalent of two jobs. So here in houston there are petroleum engineers working 40 hours a week making over a 100k, these kids are recent graduates. So you need to understand its not an apples to apples comparison. On an hourly basis, its not even worth it. Now if you are talking about future potential, sure IBD will come out on top, but the engineers will do pretty damn good for themselves too. Also, contrary to what this forum believes, MDs are not driving Aston Martins and living like complete ballers, in fact they are stuck in fairly miserable lives such as divorces,etc. What you need to ask yourself is are you willing to work double the hours, have no life, a broken family, etc. for having that extra pay.

In reply to hungaroe
1/13/13

hungaroe:

Illini, you nailed it. Great post and great advice.

Most posts seem to attack the one or other example or comparison made by OP, pointless to great extent (and not because of the counter-arguments, which are mostly valid).

The core of the topic relates to the worrying levels of people frustrated by not "achieving their dreamt goal". That's the real issue here.

It is sad that for whatever reason loads of young minds end up in this state. Blame it on their expectations of money & prestige, (biased) definition of success, lack of other interest, maximising outcome with limited risk /resources or even on Hollywood .

OP tries to give example of people who "made it" through other paths. Defyning thereby "Making it" with the same goals as most: power to influence people, money, status, lifestyle, women...

Valid point, perhaps using exceptions. Please, don't get stuck just there and criticise that.

And that's where Illini's point is so refreshing in this discussion: let's be realistic, objective with our views and specially, validate them once in a while.

I'm not sure that I'm following everything you're saying here, but for the most part, I agree with you here. We're all very often guilty of self-exceptionalism. But I don't understand that to be the OP's point. I read this thread as much more a discussion about whether a strong desire to go into investment banking is any more "valid" or "organic" than the desire of a peer to go into medicine.

hungaroe:

We all want to succeed in life. The issue is, whose definition of success are we applying to our lives? Is it perhaps: Society's? Our peer's? Parents?

While I see what you're saying, isolating the effects of society and individual is impossible. We adopt goals for a number of reasons, and I see no argument as to why considering your friends when making life decisions is problematic.

hungaroe:

.... Or ourselve's? By the latter, more time or a fulfilling job may count more than $. Or moving millions, making it to Forbes billionaires list, or saving lives is our leading motivation. Excellent, just be clear and frank.

The key is to understand the intrinsic value or whatever proposition we are making to ourselves, to our lives, for the investment of our time/effort. The same applies to our expectations and views.

That's, in my opinion, where many kids are struggling. They are not fully aware of the why behind their dreams. Consequently, they are not aligned with reality or let them open their eyes to see the range of options to achieve them... The multitude of hows

Again, I don't think I understand a good chuck of this, but I take issue with the suggestion that wanting to make a steady, ample income couldn't possibly be a natural, individual goal. Even if people were able to make career decisions in a vacuum, I doubt that would meaningfully alter the number of intelligent people that pursue difficult, but financially lucrative careers.

hungaroe:

To illustrate:

First, a simple question to you guys: Just for a second, Would any of you reconsider your job in finance, if they would pay you say national average salary for your age and same projections until retirement (I.e. no carry)?

if no, congratulations, as on top to doing what motivates you is well rewarded (monetarily). Or do you start to mentally tweak equations (less hours, less travel, less responsibility).

Had this knowledge have influenced your decisions before? (Path, study, sacrifices, costs of opportunity and choices)

Second idea. Some people achieve "the path": good education>IBD>PE/HF and find themselves somehow empty. Why? Well, everyone should have a look at themselves, but perhaps is the other side of the story: people with certain (perhaps biased) idea of what it is to "make it", who actually made it (unlike the kid without a FT offer or entry to ivy ) to later find out his fundament wasn't on proper ground.

Hmmm, while financially ok, these people can also get into a serious depression, not to be sub estimated.

To summarise: be clear and objective to your "whys" for the fundamental "whats" in your life. Be open to the potential "hows", be flexible and work hard...because: "Part of maturity and adulthood is recognizing the reality of our limitations; recognizing that we may be unique and valuable, but only one person out of thousands gets to be CEO, and there's a very good chance we're not him and we may never be him. "

I can fully relate to Illini, most of us think of ourselves capable (some even "entitled") to be CEO or whatever. For some of us, getting into finance was a "obvious step". Time and experience tells you there are few "obvious" things in life.

For people making decisions in life , particularly those still in school or in college, I can only encourage you to inform yourselves, look deep into you and what is driving you. Thereafter go for it and work hard, because it is a decision made from inner conviction. And if turns out to be finance, it is a great a beautiful field, just as any other.

"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to like them."

Maybe this is more of a personal issue, but I hate this argument.

I can't understand why the goal of making more money is an unacceptable factor in the career decision making process. Most people in this world struggle to have a comfortable lifestyle. I find it entirely natural for an enterprising young man or woman to pursue a career that they would enjoy, but also provides a cushion against money problems.

I don't think that many people make career-path decisions based solely on money. We're all keenly aware of our interests, and those of us that are fortunate to end up at great schools have a plethora of opportunities. Compensation is a factor that can tilt the scale in favor of one path or another, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Where did we get the idea that it was righteous to make everyone select a career without even considering the financial implications? Prices and salaries are indications of what society demands and they create incentives to pursue those careers from which we collectively benefit the most.

Those people who would have you believe that money shouldn't be a factor in your decision at all are trying to enforce their potential envy upon you. I simply don't believe that people are so emphatic about disregarding salary just because they have your well-being in mind. The same people who tell you to make a career choice without considering income turn around and make decisions almost entirely based on money. More importantly, it is very curious to me that the people who are so quick to offer this advice are often employed in well-paying, less-than-incredibly-interesting professions. I suspect that they didn't become a software engineer at SAP because that was their childhood dream. Somewhere along the line, other considerations came into play - and for good reason!

This is the classic socialist problem: given the same salary in all professions, you would undoubtedly have a glut of writers, artists, photographers - careers that involve nothing more than leisurely self-expression. You'd have very few doctors, lawyers, financiers, consultants, engineers - careers that involve a lot of work studying, preparing, and performing less obviously desirable tasks. I don't see this as utopian at all!!

As should be expected, the market has priced everything at a level where making a career decision is very difficult. Sure, I could make a lot of money as a banker, but I have to put up with working 80+ hours a week working in Excel and Powerpoint. Sure, I could make a lot of money as a doctor, but I would have to spend years in medical school and in residency to get to the point where I made a significant sum of money. Sure, I might be more carefree and be paid to express my own views on the world as a journalist, but I would have to spend years writing unattributed blogs at large news organizations before I got to that point, and even then I would probably be making the minimum amount possible to live a comfortable lifestyle in NYC.

These are tough choices! You don't get any easy answers this way. But that's what's so great: as a society, we have priced all of these jobs in such a way that to a perfectly objective observer, it would appear that all of these career paths are equally attractive (some require more hours and less glamorous work, but involve more pay; others involve less stress and fewer hours, but commensurately less pay).

But to me, I see a number of arbitrage opportunities! As I don't like dealing with blood, nor do I like the prospect of being in post-secondary schools for more than four consecutive years, doctors appear to me to be hilariously underpaid! Though I enjoy math and science, I can't imagine the prospect of evaluating personal risk formulaically all day as an actuary or evaluating a structure as an architectural engineer - these careers also look underpaid to me! Working in finance, which involves a lot of tasks and experiences that I enjoy, looks overpaid. And suddenly this decision becomes a whole lot easier. Unsurprisingly, my friends in med school or law school felt differently, but that's the joy of this system.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to TeddyTheBear
1/13/13

TeddyTheBear:
Money,

I think one thing you need to consider about people in IBD is that even though SOME of them are earning salaries as first year analyst around 100k, keep in mind they are working the equivalent of two jobs. So here in houston there are petroleum engineers working 40 hours a week making over a 100k, these kids are recent graduates. So you need to understand its not an apples to apples comparison. On an hourly basis, its not even worth it. Now if you are talking about future potential, sure IBD will come out on top, but the engineers will do pretty damn good for themselves too. Also, contrary to what this forum believes, MDs are not driving Aston Martins and living like complete ballers, in fact they are stuck in fairly miserable lives such as divorces,etc. What you need to ask yourself is are you willing to work double the hours, have no life, a broken family, etc. for having that extra pay.

I know plenty of happy, successful MDs that could drive Aston Martins and live like complete ballers if they wanted to. I know others that are miserable and have been through multiple divorces as well.

In the same way, I know dozens of successful doctors that retain the passion for helping their patients. I also know many that resent their parents for pushing medicine upon them, hate their jobs, and feel powerless to switch careers because they already have families reliant on their high income.

In fact, I know both happy and miserable people in just about any field.

We're so quick to blame individual problems on society. "My friend in banking is so unhappy, he is considering suicide. That must be because society put too much pressure on him to be financially successful." "My son isn't performing well in school, that must be because society puts too much emphasis on standardized testing and isn't willing to appreciate the talents that he possesses."

Without getting political, observe how both Republicans and Democrats are pontificating about what the Sandy Hook shooting says about society (typically, that we have too many guns, watch too much violent TV, have too few guns, or don't offer enough treatment for the mentally unstable).

It's amazing to me that we are so confident that these are systemic, society-wide problems. Sure, we may have some facets of society that we could improve, but I suspect that for the most part, this whole "blaming society" business is rooted in our belief that "big problems have big explanations". We're uncomfortable with the thought our best friend is unhappy in his profession just because of his own outlook on life, or his heredity, or because he made a bad decision along the way. It must have to do with this abstract third-party force of "society", which forced him into unhappiness.

I restate what I said before: though there are some exceptions, for the most part, there are happy people and unhappy people. The people I know that are perfectly happy as MDs would probably be perfectly happy as a different kind of MD. Likewise, those that are unhappy as lawyers would probably be unhappy as journalists as well.

Most problems don't require explanations with far-reaching implications. They just reflect the fact that we are human beings.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

1/14/13

Northsider, you're way too good to be on this forum. Seriously.

1/14/13
1/14/13

Certain segments of society "looking down" on the pursuit of money is really just the newest manifestation of social stratification.

Think about it.

Those that become a photographer, artist, journalist (per your examples) and don't worry about the financial repurcussions are probably those that are already wealthy. They actually consider "self actualization potential" as an overriding factor when making career choices because financial compensation doesn't matter. They then go on to criticize those that are trying to break into upper society as "greedy". Simply put, they're simply one step ahead in the game, and by already amassing a self-sustaining amount of economic capital they can focus on developing social and cultural capital through humanities research, Fulbright grants, senior theses, and all other sorts of fun intellectual masturbation- and don't want anyone else in on the party.

A lot of people at my college looked down on bankers, lawyers, and even at times doctors for "chasing the dollar'.. most of these kids' educations were actually financed by parents in said professions. Thus, they have the leisure of criticizing those that pursue money. Wealth is made through generations, and often through social sacrifice. Jay Gatsby made it through bootlegging; the Kennedy's made it through what would now be considered insider trading; nouveau riche in China and Russia... through who knows what. Someone somewhere down the line had to endure the societal stigma of pursuing wealth and jumping social classes so their kids didn't have to.

Whatever. Just give me cash, beer, fast cars, attractive women, and I'll be happy. My kids will be the ones that save the world.

1/14/13

The people I know that are perfectly happy as MDs would probably be perfectly happy as a different kind of MD.

+1/2

Whatever. Just give me cash, beer, fast cars, attractive women, and I'll be happy. My kids will be the ones that save the world.

+1/2

In reply to Culcet
1/14/13

LEGENDARY COMMENT OF THE YEAR.

Culcet:
Certain segments of society "looking down" on the pursuit of money is really just the newest manifestation of social stratification.

Think about it.

Those that become a photographer, artist, journalist (per your examples) and don't worry about the financial repurcussions are probably those that are already wealthy. They actually consider "self actualization potential" as an overriding factor when making career choices because financial compensation doesn't matter. They then go on to criticize those that are trying to break into upper society as "greedy". Simply put, they're simply one step ahead in the game, and by already amassing a self-sustaining amount of economic capital they can focus on developing social and cultural capital through humanities research, Fulbright grants, senior theses, and all other sorts of fun intellectual masturbation- and don't want anyone else in on the party.

A lot of people at my college looked down on bankers, lawyers, and even at times doctors for "chasing the dollar'.. most of these kids' educations were actually financed by parents in said professions. Thus, they have the leisure of criticizing those that pursue money. Wealth is made through generations, and often through social sacrifice. Jay Gatsby made it through bootlegging; the Kennedy's made it through what would now be considered insider trading; nouveau riche in China and Russia... through who knows what. Someone somewhere down the line had to endure the societal stigma of pursuing wealth and jumping social classes so their kids didn't have to.

Whatever. Just give me cash, beer, fast cars, attractive women, and I'll be happy. My kids will be the ones that save the world.

In reply to NorthSider
1/14/13

NorthSider:
TeddyTheBear:
Money,

I think one thing you need to consider about people in IBD is that even though SOME of them are earning salaries as first year analyst around 100k, keep in mind they are working the equivalent of two jobs. So here in houston there are petroleum engineers working 40 hours a week making over a 100k, these kids are recent graduates. So you need to understand its not an apples to apples comparison. On an hourly basis, its not even worth it. Now if you are talking about future potential, sure IBD will come out on top, but the engineers will do pretty damn good for themselves too. Also, contrary to what this forum believes, MDs are not driving Aston Martins and living like complete ballers, in fact they are stuck in fairly miserable lives such as divorces,etc. What you need to ask yourself is are you willing to work double the hours, have no life, a broken family, etc. for having that extra pay.

I know plenty of happy, successful MDs that could drive Aston Martins and live like complete ballers if they wanted to. I know others that are miserable and have been through multiple divorces as well.

In the same way, I know dozens of successful doctors that retain the passion for helping their patients. I also know many that resent their parents for pushing medicine upon them, hate their jobs, and feel powerless to switch careers because they already have families reliant on their high income.

In fact, I know both happy and miserable people in just about any field.

We're so quick to blame individual problems on society. "My friend in banking is so unhappy, he is considering suicide. That must be because society put too much pressure on him to be financially successful." "My son isn't performing well in school, that must be because society puts too much emphasis on standardized testing and isn't willing to appreciate the talents that he possesses."

Without getting political, observe how both Republicans and Democrats are pontificating about what the Sandy Hook shooting says about society (typically, that we have too many guns, watch too much violent TV, have too few guns, or don't offer enough treatment for the mentally unstable).

It's amazing to me that we are so confident that these are systemic, society-wide problems. Sure, we may have some facets of society that we could improve, but I suspect that for the most part, this whole "blaming society" business is rooted in our belief that "big problems have big explanations". We're uncomfortable with the thought our best friend is unhappy in his profession just because of his own outlook on life, or his heredity, or because he made a bad decision along the way. It must have to do with this abstract third-party force of "society", which forced him into unhappiness.

I restate what I said before: though there are some exceptions, for the most part, there are happy people and unhappy people. The people I know that are perfectly happy as MDs would probably be perfectly happy as a different kind of MD. Likewise, those that are unhappy as lawyers would probably be unhappy as journalists as well.

Most problems don't require explanations with far-reaching implications. They just reflect the fact that we are human beings.

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

In reply to Culcet
1/14/13

Culcet:
Certain segments of society "looking down" on the pursuit of money is really just the newest manifestation of social stratification.

Think about it.

Those that become a photographer, artist, journalist (per your examples) and don't worry about the financial repurcussions are probably those that are already wealthy. They actually consider "self actualization potential" as an overriding factor when making career choices because financial compensation doesn't matter. They then go on to criticize those that are trying to break into upper society as "greedy". Simply put, they're simply one step ahead in the game, and by already amassing a self-sustaining amount of economic capital they can focus on developing social and cultural capital through humanities research, Fulbright grants, senior theses, and all other sorts of fun intellectual masturbation- and don't want anyone else in on the party.

A lot of people at my college looked down on bankers, lawyers, and even at times doctors for "chasing the dollar'.. most of these kids' educations were actually financed by parents in said professions. Thus, they have the leisure of criticizing those that pursue money. Wealth is made through generations, and often through social sacrifice. Jay Gatsby made it through bootlegging; the Kennedy's made it through what would now be considered insider trading; nouveau riche in China and Russia... through who knows what. Someone somewhere down the line had to endure the societal stigma of pursuing wealth and jumping social classes so their kids didn't have to.

Whatever. Just give me cash, beer, fast cars, attractive women, and I'll be happy. My kids will be the ones that save the world.

Great post. SB for you.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to streetwannabe
1/14/13

streetwannabe:

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

Right, I understand where this train of through originates. I meant to keep politics on the other side of the wall and merely make the observation that we are so quick to begin debating the systematic problems of society that lead to disasters / tragedies. I make no claim to know whether Sandy Hook was an individual problem or a society-wide pandemic, but I do believe that we are far too quick in assuming the latter in most situations.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
1/14/13

NorthSider:
streetwannabe:

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

Right, I understand where this train of through originates. I meant to keep politics on the other side of the wall and merely make the observation that we are so quick to begin debating the systematic problems of society that lead to disasters / tragedies. I make no claim to know whether Sandy Hook was an individual problem or a society-wide pandemic, but I do believe that we are far too quick in assuming the latter in most situations.

I completely agree, most people use society as a crutch for their own problems and downfalls. I grew up with relatively little money in a small hick town in Montana. Didn't choose my school correctly and didn't even know what IB was at the time. Yet, even if I don't acquire the coveted IB analyst, I'll still be much more successful than many of my peers (hopefully, still to be determined).

Just out of curiosity, have you ever read The Black Swan?

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

In reply to streetwannabe
1/14/13

streetwannabe:
NorthSider:
streetwannabe:

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

Right, I understand where this train of through originates. I meant to keep politics on the other side of the wall and merely make the observation that we are so quick to begin debating the systematic problems of society that lead to disasters / tragedies. I make no claim to know whether Sandy Hook was an individual problem or a society-wide pandemic, but I do believe that we are far too quick in assuming the latter in most situations.

I completely agree, most people use society as a crutch for their own problems and downfalls. I grew up with relatively little money in a small hick town in Montana. Didn't choose my school correctly and didn't even know what IB was at the time. Yet, even if I don't acquire the coveted IB analyst, I'll still be much more successful than many of my peers (hopefully, still to be determined).

Just out of curiosity, have you ever read The Black Swan?

Sure have, I find Taleb's viewpoint somewhat refreshing, even if I don't always agree with his flair for the dramatic.

I think Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is particularly applicable to this discussion.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to NorthSider
1/14/13

NorthSider:
streetwannabe:
NorthSider:
streetwannabe:

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

Right, I understand where this train of through originates. I meant to keep politics on the other side of the wall and merely make the observation that we are so quick to begin debating the systematic problems of society that lead to disasters / tragedies. I make no claim to know whether Sandy Hook was an individual problem or a society-wide pandemic, but I do believe that we are far too quick in assuming the latter in most situations.

I completely agree, most people use society as a crutch for their own problems and downfalls. I grew up with relatively little money in a small hick town in Montana. Didn't choose my school correctly and didn't even know what IB was at the time. Yet, even if I don't acquire the coveted IB analyst, I'll still be much more successful than many of my peers (hopefully, still to be determined).

Just out of curiosity, have you ever read The Black Swan?

Sure have, I find Taleb's viewpoint somewhat refreshing, even if I don't always agree with his flair for the dramatic.

I think Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is particularly applicable to this discussion.

Still working on the Black Swan, but will read Outliers someday (one of my friends actually suggested it to me). Black Swan does get a little obnoxious and he probably could've boiled the book down to half its size, however cool to read about those in contrast to books like Freakonomics.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

In reply to streetwannabe
1/14/13

streetwannabe:
NorthSider:
streetwannabe:
NorthSider:
streetwannabe:

In regards to Sandy Hook, while you cannot always completely blame "society", I think it is a much delayed examination of our (American primarily) civil and social ethics. These mass shootings have happened multiple times over the past few years here and it is astonishing to me that problems in our youth and regarding violence haven't been more closely scrutinized before.

You have a very valid point regarding the individual, I think in America it is a lot more of an issue with our society. The incident in Utoya, Norway is testament to the illness of individuals who act in these roles, however in my mind these shootings, and violence in general, is becoming less of an anomaly and more of a general occurence.

However, on the whole, I am in complete agreement. Many people try to create narratives to justify tragedies (or any event for that matter) and is becoming a fallacious misconception that we have the power to dictate future events and circumstances.

Right, I understand where this train of through originates. I meant to keep politics on the other side of the wall and merely make the observation that we are so quick to begin debating the systematic problems of society that lead to disasters / tragedies. I make no claim to know whether Sandy Hook was an individual problem or a society-wide pandemic, but I do believe that we are far too quick in assuming the latter in most situations.

I completely agree, most people use society as a crutch for their own problems and downfalls. I grew up with relatively little money in a small hick town in Montana. Didn't choose my school correctly and didn't even know what IB was at the time. Yet, even if I don't acquire the coveted IB analyst, I'll still be much more successful than many of my peers (hopefully, still to be determined).

Just out of curiosity, have you ever read The Black Swan?

Sure have, I find Taleb's viewpoint somewhat refreshing, even if I don't always agree with his flair for the dramatic.

I think Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is particularly applicable to this discussion.

Still working on the Black Swan, but will read Outliers someday (one of my friends actually suggested it to me). Black Swan does get a little obnoxious and he probably could've boiled the book down to half its size, however cool to read about those in contrast to books like Freakonomics.

Agreed re: the size of The Black Swan. Taleb could have benefited from an editor more willing to push back against his occasional pretentious flourishes. Not to keep adding to your reading list, but I really enjoyed Superfreakonomics, which I felt was a much, much better book than its predecessor. Levitt remains sharp, and their second book has more direct applications to the real world, with a more coherent message to boot.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."

In reply to Culcet
1/14/13

Culcet:
Certain segments of society "looking down" on the pursuit of money is really just the newest manifestation of social stratification.

Think about it.

Those that become a photographer, artist, journalist (per your examples) and don't worry about the financial repurcussions are probably those that are already wealthy. They actually consider "self actualization potential" as an overriding factor when making career choices because financial compensation doesn't matter. They then go on to criticize those that are trying to break into upper society as "greedy". Simply put, they're simply one step ahead in the game, and by already amassing a self-sustaining amount of economic capital they can focus on developing social and cultural capital through humanities research, Fulbright grants, senior theses, and all other sorts of fun intellectual masturbation- and don't want anyone else in on the party.

A lot of people at my college looked down on bankers, lawyers, and even at times doctors for "chasing the dollar'.. most of these kids' educations were actually financed by parents in said professions. Thus, they have the leisure of criticizing those that pursue money. Wealth is made through generations, and often through social sacrifice. Jay Gatsby made it through bootlegging; the Kennedy's made it through what would now be considered insider trading; nouveau riche in China and Russia... through who knows what. Someone somewhere down the line had to endure the societal stigma of pursuing wealth and jumping social classes so their kids didn't have to.

Whatever. Just give me cash, beer, fast cars, attractive women, and I'll be happy. My kids will be the ones that save the world.


There's nothing wrong with pursuing money, but you need to know what the endgame is. How much is enough?

For me, a farm on Lake Michigan, a Red '66 Mustang GT Convertible, a Northwing Hang Glider, and the money required to pay the property taxes and comfortably raise a family of four without needing to work is enough for me. Such a lifestyle works out to about $150K/year and would require about $5 million in savings to bankroll with a reasonable margin of conservativism.

People who don't have an endgame- people who keep looking at folks who are richer than them- and saying "I want that" will never be happy. In order to maximize our expectations of happiness, we need to set reasonable, attainable goals and focus on those. Then when we achieve them, we need to stop worrying

So I think it's perfectly reasonable for young college students to want money. But they have to set their goals in terms of what's reasonable, what's attainable.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/14/13

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1/14/13
1/14/13
In reply to IlliniProgrammer
1/30/13

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