I work as a long/short equity analyst at a large hedge fund. I've been lucky enough to be more than just a model monkey early on in my career, but have also been exposed to the stress of being measured on returns. I primarily cover consumer and TMT names. I went the typical path (target school --> IB -->), but have insight for those that have to follow more non-traditional paths.
ps I did one of these last year that you can see here: "Finishing 1st Year as HF Analyst - Ask Anything"