What are the long-term prospects for people pursuing careers in finance and what is the culture of the industry? I feel that students entering into the financial services industry don't have much of a plan (perhaps you don't really need one) except to exit into private equity or attend business school. What happens afterwards when you are 30 or 40? Are you on a sustainable career or do you milk it for all its worth until you get canned?
1) Financial services has recently been highly volatile with low job stability. (I don't know if this is generally the case)The skills you gain as an analyst tend to be more technical but success in the industry requires cultivating contacts and being highly personable. Essentially, once you're a VP or MD and you're fired or have your reputation tarnished, it's difficult to maintain your lifestyle with the skills that you actually have.
2) Undergraduate students have no idea what to do after they go to business school and/or enter into private equity. This is of course after they've exploited the numerous "exit ops" after being a 1st or 2nd year analyst. It seems that students are short-term greedy and don't have concrete plans after 5 years.
3) The more I meet MD's, the less I want to become one. I may be unlucky, but I tended to meet staid and boring individuals. I don't want to be a workaholic who puts off fun until 50. I feel that people who enter into the industry tend to just put up with a lot of crap for the money, and there is a lack of job satisfaction.
So, just some uncertainties I have regarding the industry and the people who enter. How pervasive is the attitude, "I'm going to make so much money that I can retire when I'm 40?" Thanks for any input, especially from older professionals who have a much better perspective.