WSO has ruined my concept of regular hours!

Last month there was a thread by one of our very own in which he expressed his concern regarding the misconceptions the WSO community has about "good" and "bad" salaries, ultimately claiming that reading this site has ruined his concept of what it means to earn good money (and in some ways, of what it means to be successful).

You can check out the thread here if you haven't already seen it or need a refresher

But has WSO also given you an overinflated idea of what "normal" working hours are?

The other day I talked on the phone to a friend of mine who has been struggling to find a job in her field of choice since graduating summa cum laude from a top program. This field is extremely specialized and there simply aren't many career-track positions, so it has, quite understandably, been a long process for her.

In the past month or two, she received an internship that is basically exactly what she wants to do, and being the diligent investment banker in training that I am, I immediately exclaimed "alright then, this is your chance to break in, you've done it etc etc etc", thinking that this was THE opportunity for her.

During our most recent conversation, however, I learned that she actually quit her internship because the workload was too heavy. She was working from about 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday, and explained that she had absolutely no free time and it was driving her insane. Granted, she was being paid a weekly "salary" that was adjusted to 40 hours, which I find to be rather questionable (but unfortunately, it seems that most internships these days are questionable to begin with...). But hey, I did the same thing, unpaid.

But, come on, 60 hours a week and it's too much? That's chump change. Weekends off? Must be nice.

If there is one trend that I've realized is true among successful people that I've met throughout my life, it's that people work WAY more than 40 hours, regardless of what industry they are in. People who want to be leaders in their field, who want to make money, who want stability in their lives work a lot -- in a lot of cases because they enjoy their jobs, and in a lot of cases because they have to.

Perhaps investment banking hours are truly the worst, but I don't think it's uncommon to work 50-60 hours in most other industries, especially at the entry-level.

What do you guys think? Has WSO ruined your concept of what a normal work week should be?

Thanks for reading.

Comments (14)

Oct 22, 2012

The other week, I met someone who I have known for quite some time and I had no idea she was the bread winner+ the number of hours she was working. She worked like 80+ hours in a sales role (not S&T). I think it really depends on what you grow up with and around.

For example you grow up with 40 hour working parents,40 hours considered the norm. That said, if you grow up with parents who work 55+ you tend to understand that work is just part of the environment. 50-60 Hours seems reasonable to me, but then again most tend to inflate the hours they actual work.

Oct 22, 2012

I agree. I really don't think you can expect to be successful clocking 40 per week. I am amazed that some people claim to be "workaholics" when that means staying at the office until 7 rather than 5.

I consider my ~65 hour per week job to be really cushy. I don't know how I would fill an extra 25 hours per week. I watch (too much) media, read avidly, go to the gym 4x per week, and am pretty good at managing my personal life.

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Oct 22, 2012

It all comes down to Parkinson's Law. Your work and expectations of happy time expand or contract to fill the space that's available. If you were working 15 hours a week you could still be pretty upset, because everything else would be adjusted accordingly. You would have so much fun and leisure planned that those 2-3 hours of work per day would be absolutely killa and plain old disruptive. The question shouldn't be whether your hours are "regular" or not. The question should be if what you do is bearable. Because if it's not, then even a minute is just too much. And if you actually enjoy what you do, then it's not really work at all, but more like play. Just some savory grub for thought.

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Oct 22, 2012

No matter what industry you're in, you're going to have to work harder than your job description if you want to make something of yourself. Some people just aren't cut out for that and are ok just punching in at 9 and out at 5. Nothing wrong with that, to each their own.

Oct 22, 2012

A headhunter was telling me about an opportunity over the phone, but he seemed hesitant to submit me because "it's pretty long hours--sometimes as long as 60 a week."

I smirked and said, "That's fine."

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Oct 22, 2012

You've all said it well: Those that strive for success/career advancement tend to work "Long" or "Crazy" hours in the eyes of others. I'm in a rotational program where the workload is highly dependent upon which role you currently hold, but hours range from 50-70 per week. In college as a real estate agent, I was doing similar hours (but much more of it just as "on call" time).

I always take the number of hours people say they work with a grain of salt though, because it comes down to work effectiveness as well. There will always be a case where Person A can complete a task in 15 hours, but it only takes Person B 10. Factor in distractions, and it comes down to drive/motivation and quality of work content.

I fully understand that my avg. 60 hour week is less than the norm here, but I'm in corporate finance so I'd be looked at oddly if I was putting in 100 hours and working every weekend.

Oct 22, 2012

I worked 70 hours a week in a factory for my high school summers. If I can stand on my feet for 70, I can probably sit in a chair for 100 while making roughly 5x as much money.

Oct 22, 2012

40 hour work weeks is too short but what the hell do you people do for 100 hours at work? Granted I've only ever been in trading but I can't imagine working anything over 80 hrs, and that's stretching it. I just don't have that much stuff to do at work...

Oct 22, 2012

obviously your "hours" are very subjective, + so many variables. 45 hours of efficient intense work in theory would have more output than 60 hours of sporadic work that includes non-related convos with coworkers, checking your fantasy team (and wso) every hour, "email and facebook masturbation", and other inefficiencies

it's not about your total hours, it's about your output. Don't work harder, work smarter. If you're able to get the same job done in 2/3 the time by working smarter, then do it.

sometimes feel sorry for people that just have to put in the hours (first in/last out) just to impress his/her boss when all that really matters is OUTPUT. I know it's important when you're just starting out, and a lot of traditional bosses will like to see this, so again depends on the situation.

What else... marginal efficiency of your work drops down after a certain point, everyone is different, but say after 50 hours in a week your output/hour starts to drop considerably, that's where you need to cut it.

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

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Oct 22, 2012

In my opinion, people work (read: stay at work) for longer hours to make up for their lack of output. This could be dependant on the job function or themselves, but either way if you have excellent efficiency and are able to get all your work done, your boss should and will not care if you are there for 50 hours instead of 70. Its a persons attempt to make up for their mediocraty. A guy I work with stays probably 2 hours longer than everyone ALWAYS but thats because he has side conversations through out the day that last a half hour.

Oct 22, 2012

When I was an IB analyst I was dating my now wife. I was working pretty standard BB analyst hours ranging from 80-100/week. She was working as an editorial assistant at a major book publisher. We'd meet for dinner when she'd get off work at 11 or midnight. Afterwards I'd go back to work for a couple of hours and she'd go home. Her weekends were somewhat more free, but she'd inevitably have to read some manuscripts for a few hours each day. She was probably working on average 8-10 hours/week fewer than I was....and her all-in comp was like $35k. She ended up progressing much quicker than normal in her career because she was willing to put in the extra time. I certainly wouldn't have been willing to work that hard for that comp. There are plenty of people (at least in NYC) that work just as hard as bankers for nowhere near the potential comp upside.

Oct 22, 2012
TechBanking:

When I was an IB analyst I was dating my now wife. I was working pretty standard BB analyst hours ranging from 80-100/week. She was working as an editorial assistant at a major book publisher. We'd meet for dinner when she'd get off work at 11 or midnight. Afterwards I'd go back to work for a couple of hours and she'd go home. Her weekends were somewhat more free, but she'd inevitably have to read some manuscripts for a few hours each day. She was probably working on average 8-10 hours/week fewer than I was....and her all-in comp was like $35k. She ended up progressing much quicker than normal in her career because she was willing to put in the extra time. I certainly wouldn't have been willing to work that hard for that comp. There are plenty of people (at least in NYC) that work just as hard as bankers for nowhere near the potential comp upside.

^^This

My roommates work in fashion marketing (2 years in) or something along those lines. They probably work 10 hours a week less for, I imagine, way less salary and even worse exit ops. No idea how they do it. I'm a second year..working ~75-80.

They do get to go to way more work functions, dinners etc. though vs eating seamless over a keyboard..but still

Oct 22, 2012

I've seen that work hours are more a function of the demands of the job. (Not saying IB is the most demanding job) but look at it this way, a Line Cook at a restaurant may work 40 hours a week, a Sous Chef 60, while the top chefs at Michelin starred restaurants- such as Marcus Wareing- work an average of 105 hour weeks. And that's manual labor. But 2 Michelin stars don't come easy, and it's the same thing with any other job. The grunts may work 40 hours, but the CEOs of successful companies are on call all the time and working a ton. Look at Jack Welsch talking about how he sacrificed his family life for GE.

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Oct 22, 2012
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