I had coffee today with a top 5 liberal arts grad MD at a top. I explained my story, my rationale for wanting to go into investment banking, etc. My pre-packaged interview questions responses, insincere as they may have been, had worked on most senior level bankers I had encountered. But this guy was different, and tore my entire pitch apart. He ultimately concluded his lesson with:
" Maybe it's your generation, but there seems to be some stigma against saying 'I don't know' to a question. But to me, those words say much more about you as a person than anything else"
At first, everything he said make sense- be honest, do what you enjoy, say what you mean, etc. But then I fought back and gave what I believe to be a valid excuse for why I had devolved from a free-thinking intellectually-minded college student into a toolish parrot- because I've been dinged for being honest: for admitting that I thought there were more long-term opportunities in Asia than in the American South; for admitting that I wasn't entirely sure of the IB-> PE route was for me; for admitting that I'd rather spend my time reading books alone than "making it rain" at a sketchy strip club; for admitting that there was something I didn't know. I told him that in a perfect world, I would be myself. But in one as judgmental as this, there are simply too many rewards for bullshit.
At the end of the day we agreed to disagree, and he actually respected me even more for voicing my opinion. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, most individuals in this industry won't be coming from the same perspective and I will have to resort to the old-fashioned prepackaged verbal diarrhea that everyone wants to hear.
Honestly, what do you guys think? Is this the culture of investment banking, or corporate culture in general? If you can't tell, I'm pretty disgusted.