The Struggle

The "struggling artist' has become a fixture of popular culture. Just the other day I was watching TV, and saw this AT&T commercial in which a girl who was a struggling actress is constantly on the phone telling everyone about the part she received as "Coffeeshop Patron #5" in some movie. She has one line "lattee, please", and her neurotic nature has her asking the question of whether she should pronounce it with a French accent or whether her character would prefer tea. In any case, the commercial is about AT&T's unlimited mobile-to-mobile plan.

But this commercial got me thinking, as this girl is shown to work three different jobs to support her acting career. I am very much a "struggling" investment banker, and I think with the contracting nature of the industry and the static (or even increased) number of applicants to banks each year, the struggling investment banker is a far more common phenomenon than many would think.

But what exactly am I picturing in my mind when I think of a "struggling investment banker"? No, not the kid with the BB SA from Wharton, even though I will not deny the fact that even at Wharton it's a grind, it's competitive, and the road is very much a struggle. I'm talking about the kid who is on the grind at a boutique during the summers, working hard, and working unpaid, with the hope that he or she can leverage the experience to a full-time offer at a different firm or, better yet if all things are equal, convert the summer positions to a full-time analyst role at their current place of employment. I'm talking about the kids from non-targets, or the kids who went to targets and butchered everything. I'm talking about the person who searches WSO for "how to turn unpaid SA into paid", in the hope that maybe, just maybe, after three or four months of hard work, they'll receive a check for a thousand bucks or two, just to recoup in some small fashion the absurd amount of money they likely had to spend to take on the internship.

Comments (29)

May 21, 2012

Great post.

A lot of it is because many individuals believe that their experience at XXX firm might lead to their "big break" at breaking into IB. Breaking in is no easy task, which I have come to realize the more I browse this website and it can be a very long tedious process at times, especially when you reach a plateau stage and feel like you've done everything in your power to land an offer but come up empty handed.

Just keep in mind, a large chunk of the banking field is full of overachieving, highly ambitious people who only want to make it to the top of their field but can't because its full of overachieving, highly ambitious people.

You're always competing with the next man.

May 21, 2012
Lotin:

Just keep in mind, a large chunk of the banking field is full of overachieving, highly ambitious people who only want to make it to the top of their field but can't because its full of overachieving, highly ambitious people.

You forgot to cite me but thanks for using my quote:)

May 21, 2012
Gangsta Killah Blood:
Lotin:

Just keep in mind, a large chunk of the banking field is full of overachieving, highly ambitious people who only want to make it to the top of their field but can't because its full of overachieving, highly ambitious people.

You forgot to cite me but thanks for using my quote:)

I know i got it somewhere, just couldn't remember who said it lol

May 21, 2012

Nice post. "Go where you can eat the competition" this has always been my belief. Glamor and prestige are the enemy of success. But what do I know, its still all relative.

"I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome."- Julius Caesar

May 21, 2012

Good post man, ultimately its all about the bigger picture. Why do guys toil in the minor leagues for a few hundred a week....so they might get a sniff at the big show and the big bucks that go with it

May 21, 2012

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."
-- Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

May 21, 2012

tl;dr...

Struggling musicians, artists and athletes still get laid. No one wants to bang a fat white collar finance nerd that can't get a steady job... So if you're still pursuing the financier dream, make sure you have other interests, a social life and keep in shape.

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May 21, 2012

Wow monkey shit for that post? I gave actual, real world, advice.

I guess the comment hit someone too close to home...

May 21, 2012
Relinquis:

Wow monkey shit for that post? I gave actual, real world, advice.

I guess the comment hit someone too close to home...

haha it was prolly for the tl;dr not the actual advice.

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May 21, 2012

I mean I love the struggle as much as the next guy, hell the whole appeal of IB to me was that I had no right doing it (non-target, no connections, etc.) and I love proving ppl wrong. The problem is, when something is really hard to get, i mean like REALLY hard, all it takes is the smallest little push in the opposite direction to get you to start questioning your decision. I mean point #1- have we not seen enough threads on here already about how not only are the lower levels god-awful, but how the higher levels dont interest ppl either (these from ppl on the INSIDE, btw. not some random outsider speaking theoretically). Point #2- the pay, while good it is certainly not achievable else where.

Point #3- I wanna work somewhere there is a STRONG connection between work and success. I mean IB has so much stupid shit surrounding it. Its not about what you know but where you went and what you did. Like it doesn't matter if you are MADE for a certain position, if you didnt go to X school, and have prior work experience at Z firm, and know Y ppl, and have kissed Q's ass, you're done. It wont matter that you are a better candidate for the job, the person who followed "the track" will have the up on you. I mean its one thing for college kids to be pretentious sycophants, but for grown ass men to have not grown out of it, is disgusting- and quite frankly speaks volumes on the field itself.

Point is, if you're gonna go all in- balls to the wall to achieve something, you have gotta be completely sold on the idea that its worth it. If you're not, you simply wont give a 100% and will go nowhere. Nothing would suck more than spending years to get to the end of the rainbow, just to realize that pot of gold isnt there waiting for you. You better make DAMN sure it will be b4 you set off. At some point you gotta realize that finance is a forest, and you're just standing there infatuating over one particular tree (that was a corny ass line, but the point is you'd b surprised how relevant your skill set is elsewhere under the finance umbrella if you gave them a chance)

GBS

May 21, 2012
GoldmanBallSachs:

At some point you gotta realize that finance is a forest, and you're just standing there infatuating over one particular tree (that was a corny ass line, but the point is you'd b surprised how relevant your skill set is elsewhere under the finance umbrella if you gave them a chance)

Honestly, even outside of the finance umbrella. Most people who do IB are smart, driven, and can be successful anywhere -- I've definitely thought a lot about doing something that that will be more meaningful to me internally, but then I remember that all of those things will pay $35K.

May 21, 2012

Yo Yo

Always a role for bankers, but it ain't where shit's headed.

There's a reason entry level people at Google make (( 120,000 / (52x55)) = 42 bucks an hour and bankers make ((120,000 / (80 x 52)) = 29 bucks an hour if weze assumin' 3 weeks holiday.

And if the Google folks fill the extra (80 - 55) = 25 hours per week with some bartending, they're prolly gettin' 10x pussy per year. That's a big pussy flow multiple

May 21, 2012
Tommy Too-toned:

Yo Yo

Always a role for bankers, but it ain't where shit's headed.

There's a reason entry level people at Google make (( 120,000 / (52x55)) = 42 bucks an hour and bankers make ((120,000 / (80 x 52)) = 29 bucks an hour if weze assumin' 3 weeks holiday.

And if the Google folks fill the extra (80 - 55) = 25 hours per week with some bartending, they're prolly gettin' 10x pussy per year. That's a big pussy flow multiple

The first statement is not true in the long run. A banker's total comp increases at an exponential rate compared an IT guy's total comp down the road.

The second statement is erroneous because money has no direct correlation to success with women. If money were the only way to get beautiful women in bed, life would have become a lot easier.

May 21, 2012
Human:

The first statement is not true in the long run. A banker's total comp increases at an exponential rate compared an IT guy's total comp down the road.

The second statement is erroneous because money has no direct correlation to success with women. If money were the only way to get beautiful women in bed, life would have become a lot easier.

Dawg, i knew someone would tryda roast me.

Girls like guys who smile, and bankers work 80+ hours, which means no smiling - unless weze talkin' about the psychopath variety. Grab a 55-hour gig with a fund after a few years, then maybe we can talk.

If you have what it takes to get a Google gig and have half a personality, you can meet people and start a company / join a startup, which means bitches and den more bitches.... if you fail or the money's less than a senior banker, at least you didn't live for nothin'

May 21, 2012

My calcs be all wack though, there's 52 weeks not 55, but y'all know what i'm sayin'

May 21, 2012

"Honestly, even outside of the finance umbrella. Most people who do IB are smart, driven, and can be successful anywhere -- I've definitely thought a lot about doing something that that will be more meaningful to me internally, but then I remember that all of those things will pay $35K"
35k is definitly on the low end, most of the non-IB finance jobs ive been looking at were the same salary (just not the same bonus...at least not what they used to be). Besides arent you making -1k a month now?

GBS

May 21, 2012

Yeah, I'm $-1K a month now, but I wasn't talking about non-IB finance, I was talking about non-finance strictly.

Sometimes I just want to blow all of my savings on a piece of land and farm. Does anyone else have this desire or am I nuts?

May 22, 2012
Vontropnats:

Yeah, I'm $-1K a month now, but I wasn't talking about non-IB finance, I was talking about non-finance strictly.

Sometimes I just want to blow all of my savings on a piece of land and farm. Does anyone else have this desire or am I nuts?

I'll one up you. Pretty much everyday I consider packing up my shit and hitting the road with no destination at all. Thats what a 1 yr job search and "personally" knowing zero like-minded, ambitious ppl will do to you. The most thought provoking conversation I've ever had with my "friends" was whether to buy a 6er of michelob or miller from the gas station. Anyway you're not nuts at all, I (and many others our age I'm sure) hear that....its a completely natural result of disillusionment which comes with the territory

GBS

May 22, 2012

I interned in a similar situation during college. My commute wasnt as bad but was still soul destroying. Lookin like a pimp in a nice suit walkin down Madison Ave with 3 bucks in your wallet for lunch after that pricey metrocard.. suckss! It only adds to the hunger though.

Having said that, it will put hair on your chest and you will forever be grateful for a "meagre" 15%-20% bonus when you find something.

May 22, 2012
technoviking:

I interned in a similar situation during college. My commute wasnt as bad but was still soul destroying. Lookin like a pimp in a nice suit walkin down Madison Ave with 3 bucks in your wallet for lunch after that pricey metrocard.. suckss! It only adds to the hunger though.

Having said that, it will put hair on your chest and you will forever be grateful for a "meagre" 15%-20% bonus when you find something.

Oh please tell me more how you bought something for lunch with only $3 in NYC...and kept your techno viking ways

Best Response
May 23, 2012

I have never worked for free and I believe that is a dangerous trap to fall into.

You are nothing more than free labor to these boutiques.
They offer unpaid SA positions but don't hire for FT? That means the Partner / MD left a larger firm and is trying to run his shop with minimal expenses. He gets a free worker that he can dump all his bitch work on, and if the intern complains who cares? A fresh, eager face is coming in next summer. Or winter. Or semester. In many cases, they are preying on your desperation.

Don't fall into the trap. Intern / work at a real job over the summer where you get paid. As I've said many times, I worked at the PARK DISTRICT SHOVELING MULCH my first two summers. Worked 40 hours, got a tan, got paid, and was done by 3:30. Twenty minute commute. Perfect.

You ask, what about the banking learning experience? The learning experience is a fraud. Cold calling and CapIQ screening are not skills that are specialized or unique. Sorry. You will learn more in your first day of training at a real bank. And by the way, real banks pay you.

But what about the almighty resume booster? If you work a non-banking job, you will likely have more free time. Use this to network. Stay up to date on financial news. Do something cool. (How many resumes do you think bankers see with no-name boutique internships? How many do they see with competitive paintball player or certified skydiver?)

Now, by no means is this indicative of every unpaid internship at a boutique bank. But I would be extremely cautious of accepting unpaid SA positions at banks that do not hire for FT. If you find yourself bending over backwards to accommodate one of these internships, I would highly suggest you reconsider. Especially if this is Freshman or Sophomore summer.

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May 23, 2012

^ Really good post, thanks

May 23, 2012

OP, Great post. Currently in nearly exact same situation as you. Starting June 3rd, wake up at 4.30am; commute 1hr drive to train, 1hr train ride to NYC, start at 7.30am, work till "you're done" (that scares me).

But fortunately like IP said, it is recruitment for full time even though it's a boutique, and they pay stipend. Good luck Vontropants! Hope it works out for you.

Jun 4, 2012

OP, that was like a sad, sad poem and while I read it I wanted to yell PREACH. It's horrible what these firms try to do to interns in getting free work for the promise of working in IBD; it's borderline finance slavery. And unpaid internships are a slave trade...okay perhaps an exaggeration.

However, @illiniPride's post described a situation that I was almost fell into for the prestige of working in WS. Luckily, I live in a city where all the finance internships pay pretty well, the cost of living doesn't suck you dry, and there is actual deal flow-on the buy & sell-side- because our city is an industry capital. Also, to use @GoldmanBallSachs words, there are less "pretentious sycophants" obsessed with the "right" track.

So instead of working in NYC at a boutique, I'll be getting paid to work at a MM PE, which hopefully can turn into a full-time offer because they like to hire straight from undergrad. Screw New York and their unfulfilled promises! My city is the best in the world.

Jun 4, 2012
mokey1234:

OP, that was like a sad, sad poem and while I read it I wanted to yell PREACH. It's horrible what these firms try to do to interns in getting free work for the promise of working in IBD; it's borderline finance slavery. And unpaid internships are a slave trade...okay perhaps an exaggeration.

However, @illiniPride's post described a situation that I was almost fell into for the prestige of working in WS. Luckily, I live in a city where all the finance internships pay pretty well, the cost of living doesn't suck you dry, and there is actual deal flow-on the buy & sell-side- because our city is an industry capital. Also, to use @GoldmanBallSachs words, there are less "pretentious sycophants" obsessed with the "right" track.

So instead of working in NYC at a boutique, I'll be getting paid to work at a MM PE, which hopefully can turn into a full-time offer because they like to hire straight from undergrad. Screw New York and their unfulfilled promises! My city is the best in the world.

Oh the humor -- I am not in NYC either!

Jun 7, 2012

Wait what? Saw on your profile you go a target school.. and you got an unpaid internship at regional boutique firm with no promise of full-time????

That doesn't even make sense. Did you not utilize OCR? Alumni network? I mean I go to the most nontarget of schools ever. You've probs never heard of it...we have more hipster musicians than business students...and still. You must be trollin' or these are apocalyptic times for ibd recruitment!

Jun 8, 2012

Yes mokey, all of that is true.

I graduated in 2011 (before I knew I wanted to do IBD) with a liberal arts degree. Utilizing the Alumni Network to the extent that I can, but it's tough out there. I'm also focusing on living in the Southeast whereas the school I went to is far more represented in the Northeast...

In any case, yeah, it sucks, and I guess it's kinda hard to believe, but all true.

Jun 9, 2012
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