Tips to stop chasing prestige (and be grateful)?

Hi all,

Non-diversity at a semi-target who recently received a SA 2023 offer. Obviously very grateful to have made it this far, least of all a job that guarantees six digits out of undergrad. However, its not an EB/BB and gets regularly shit on on this forum and by ppl at my college. I understand how ridiculous this sentiment is, but it still makes it difficult for me to celebrate the work I've put in. I feel ashamed to tell my recruiting buddies about it, considering 90% of them landed much more respectable offers. 

I'd like to know how someone in my position (understandably young and clueless) can get over the need for social validation. Would love to hear from those that didn't end up where they wanted to be / underperformed relative to peers, but found ways to overcome their insecurities

Comments (39)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Jul 3, 2022 - 5:32am

I honestly think these types of insecurities can't be resolved overnight. Eventually, as you mature, I believe you'll get over it when you realize it's just a first job and most likely won't be the ultimate driver of your fulfillment in life. And although a great career can be fulfilling, your first junior role is just the start of a long journey and the brand name of your first job will matter less and less as you become more senior. What will matter will be your competence, industriousness, diligence, will-power, etc. over a 30 year or so stretch. Somewhat of an example is the fact that some non-target kids out-perform ivy-league kids on the job. I.E. there will always be run-way to prove yourself over the years if you work hard enough.

My time as an analyst in a BB was a lot of rote boring work, late nights, a bad social life, high stress, etc. Wasn't flashy and I'm sure analysts at MM banks had a somewhat similar experience with similar pay maybe working on slightly smaller deals.

People also don't really give that much of a shit where you work. Name-dropping a BB won't make women's panties drop (unless they're awfully shallow) or make people worship you. Most people don't care and even if you do get some validation from time to time, it only feels kinda good the first 2-3 times. Then, not really once you realize vapid validation won't improve your life. What will are health, wealth, family, friends, hobbies, an interesting career. Concrete stuff, not some random guy or clueless college undergrad stroking your ego for 2 seconds.

P.S. take a second to look at all the people struggling out there and realize what an opportunity you have vs the median American earning 30k per year. Corny but I think the top 1% tend to look up in frustration and envy at the top 0.1% without ever looking down at the massive 99% below them. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - CB
Jul 3, 2022 - 3:28pm

First try to ask yourself why you care so much about prestige. Really be true with yourself as to why.

Once you have your answer, perhaps it's for social validation as you mentioned above, then ask yourself why that matters to you personally, and why you need to have it.

Then, ask yourself why the above matters to you, and why you need that, and keep asking why and why. Perhaps at some point, you may learn something about the way you view yourself, the world around you or alter your sentiment towards prestige.

Just something to think about.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 3, 2022 - 7:16pm

This ^. I also use this exercise when I have unresolved internal conflicts. I found this helpful in discovering the root issues or contributing factors to why I hold certain beliefs or opinions about various topics. Personally, I like to jot my thoughts and reflections on paper for coherence and would recommend this form of self-reflection to anyone.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jul 3, 2022 - 3:32pm

Yes, once you are in work-world, it won't seem that important to you. And if it is, you should take solace knowing that the experience you're gaining at the "lower tier" firm will help you lateral into a "better name bank," if that's what you ultimately want. That thought alone should give you some peace of mind -- knowing that by working at your lower-tier bank, you'll be doing what you need to climb up that ladder.

Also, when you get out of college, you'll be amazed at how what your "college peers" think of you means nothing -- you are not going to see 98% of these people anyway for the rest of your life. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't maintain a network; you should, but the random a-hole's opinion about you in your frat or your investment club isn't going to effect your life at all.  

  • 2
Jul 3, 2022 - 3:58pm
BreadCo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There have been some great pieces of advice here.

My advice is to also look into developing yourself outside of your career. While it might be sacrilegious to state on an IB forum like this, you should always remember that you work to live, not live to work. 

I find that when I am building something with more tangible progress milestones, I feel better. I have read books about MD's who have hobbies of building motorcycles, heard stories about David Solomon night-lighting as a DJ, and many analysts love the active lifestyle of endurance and strength training. Find your hobby, and don't be too hard on yourself!

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Jul 3, 2022 - 5:06pm

I was in your spot for a while. Had a BB offer but in a non-NYC city. Whenever I feel like I'm not happy with the offer because of "prestige," I always put myself in the time before I got any offer. Man, when I didn't have an offer, I'd kill to have an offer from even some random boutiques. I then realized that my obsession over prestige only developed once I got an offer. This helps me gain back my perspective and be happy with what I got because, in the end, I achieved what I wanted: an offer.

Jul 3, 2022 - 5:52pm
whereisthealpha, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. Once you actually hit the desk, you realize that nobody cares about this bullshit prestige shit besides college kids who relied on GPA and SAT scores or their uni to source their self-esteem. At the end of day, you are still collecting a check from someone else every other week. That is not nor ever will be prestigious.

Jul 3, 2022 - 7:34pm
WOWOWOWOW, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, congrats on the offer. Not everyone at your school landed an offer.

Second of all, at the end of the day, banking is banking - you're doing the same shit at every bank and maybe working on deals that are smaller and less known at your current bank. So what? Outside of finance, nobody gives a single shit about those things. What people really care about (especially your loved ones) are your health (both physical and mental) and your relationships w your loved ones. Life is short, money will always be there but your loved ones won't.

Lastly, once you break into the industry, you're in. You can easily lateral to a "better" and more "prestigious" bank after a few years on the desk. But that's up to you.

Enjoy the next two years of college - you've earned it man

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 3, 2022 - 9:09pm

I struggled a lot with this too. Went to a top target and saw many others end up at "better" firms, which generated some envy for sure. After a few months working in the actual job though, I realized we're all doing the same job, getting paid about the same, and that money is overrated above a certain level anyway. Think about it this way, when you're working til 3am multiple nights in a row, the fact that you work for Goldman Sachs / Evercore won't miraculously make you feel any happier than if you worked for any other firm.

Eh, but what do I know. Maybe I'm just coping with the fact I work at Nomura.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 4, 2022 - 1:44pm

I'm in the same boat as you (top target, likely will end up at Nomura). Have you enjoyed your experience so far? How's the deal flow and are there any groups with significantly more (other than greentech since I know they're well respected)?

Jul 4, 2022 - 5:51am
DCM_Monkey_11121, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Who do you think cares about the prestige of your bank? Girls couldn't care less. You can call yourself an investment banker. The only people who care are College students 

Jul 4, 2022 - 11:00am
Friedmaneconomics, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here's what's gonna happen - eventually you'll fall and face a huge hurdle in life, as we all do. You'll be stuck down and out and trying to figure out what to do. In that time at the bottom you'll naturally think about work, friends, family, health, and which of it all has been true in life. The longer you spend at the bottom before clawing yourself back up the more genuine you'll become. Your desire for truth will grow and eventually you won't give a fuck about the name of the bank that cuts the paycheck. You may even question the role itself. Is this really my dream? Am I happy in this role? What is my purpose in this life?

The longer you play the devils game of envy and superiority the harder the fall will be. And it's in those falls that man is made. He either turns away from that attitude of being or doubles down and continues on his wicked ways.

You'll find out what you're really made of when you have nothing and everything seems to be falling apart.

Good luck

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Jul 5, 2022 - 11:55am


This should be permanently posted on the top of the forums. This advice is so true but it's one of those things that people have to experience to totally understand. Most young people don't appreciate that there will certainly be a couple rough patches in their careers and that it's ok. Most people by the time they are midway through their careers either have gotten pushed out of a company/team, laid off, or out right fired at least once if not twice. Moreover, they might have worked for a terrible, potentially sadistic person on top of that at least a once. And to your point, clawing back to a healthy job and mental state is when you really solidify what's important to you. A lot of kids in IB have never truly failed at anything in life. They were amongst the smartest in their high school. did well in college, held leadership positions in clubs, and were excellent at one or two EC's. Then they think they failed because they got into Wells but not Goldman for example but don't realize it's not an actual failure. These people can still make it to Goldman or whatever if it's important but are caught up in short term career comparisons amongst their peers. These kids, including myself until recently, don't understand what they value until they hit an actual career roadblock.

For me my first career setback was being removed from a team and then working for a cruel, deceitful, and ineffective exec that had multiple lawsuits filed against him. I will never allow myself to be in that situation again no matter how much prestige or money is associated with the job.

You can only truly measure your career against your own goals and not others progress. I work in Silicon Valley and a number of my friends have have made a few million to multiples of that through equity that was monetized. I'd be miserable if I compared myself against them. Instead I focus on myself and hold myself accountable against my own goals and most importantly what's controllable.

Jul 6, 2022 - 2:57pm
Friedmaneconomics, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks man I appreciate that. Great addition to my original thought as well. Living in comparison of others, in any aspect of life, will only make you miserable and less fulfilled.

I played the prestige "big name on my resume" game a few times and it burnt me. I'll never do it again.

I'm a very logic based person overall and I enjoy reasoning. I began to realize though that we all have 3 brain like sources of information in our bodies:

1.) The brain itself

2.) The "heart"

3.) The gut

The brain is your source for logic and reasoning ability.

The heart is your spirit that guides your passion and fulfillment.

The gut will sometimes warn you of impending danger or discomfort.

Apprehension often times begins with a tightening in the gut. I use this now as an indication of whether this is healthy position to be in or whether this is causing stress.

Slowing down and getting in tune with my body has really free'd me in my career and with other life decisions. I've been able to let go of certain things that on paper, and in my reasoning, are great while my heart and gut told me no. It's a relatively new approach for myself but so far it's been great.

Hopefully this helps you or others. Best of luck to you, feel free to give me a shout PM if you wanna connect further. Best of luck

  • Teller in Non-profit
Jul 4, 2022 - 11:26am

Embrace the idea that you're selling yourself short by placing your self worth in one single measurement. 

Jul 4, 2022 - 4:49pm
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

if somebody tries to give you shit for working at smaller company, tell them you got a bigger dick and that's what really matters in life

Jul 4, 2022 - 5:01pm
cocopuffbanana, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You'll realize later on that it really doesn't matter. You have a roof over your head and food on the table. You won't care as long as you and your family are taken care of.

  • Intern in Consulting
Jul 4, 2022 - 6:57pm

You're working the same shitty hours for the same insane comp as everyone else regardless of the prestige of your firm (unless you're one of the very top bankers exiting). Prestige in finance isn't paradise and doesn't matter to anybody outside of finance, so once you start full-time and experience that you will stop chasing prestige.

  • Associate 1 in AM - Other
Jul 4, 2022 - 7:13pm

I've worked at several banks / funds people on this forum think are shit and others think are great. The way I've dealt with feelings of insecurity have been to position my career to maximize learning - sometimes people make more than you do and sometimes people make less, but in the end what people have always valued in a conversation has been that I have good points to offer and being able to convey ideas well.

People almost always reward those they find to be reliable, especially in this industry, so be the guy that people come to for a second thought or and learn what it takes to get there. It's both humbling and gratifying to have people to aspire to know as much as, and it goes so much further than your current role since it becomes the edge that makes your career last longer. Having that drive is the reason people have helped me get jobs, resources, into nice restaurants, whatever.

7/10 chance you end up at an unheard of fund or a new startup after you do your banking, PE, or whatever gig - you want to be the guy whose calls people pick up because you're smart, not because you went to some ivy for undergrad or worked at some amazing bank out of college - shit only goes so far when literally half the street attended pedigreed universities and worked at nice banks.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jul 4, 2022 - 11:03pm

I might get MS for this: if you are already pondering about this, PE is not probably not the answer for you. Most MF/UMM/even MM PE firms consist of brand name chasing douchebags. You don't/won't like the people/culture/environment.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jul 5, 2022 - 1:51am

I'm about to start at a similar bank. It's a bit of a meme on WSO and gets shit on (think Tobin, Nomura, Citi). Don't let it bother you or take any of the ribbing too seriously. At the end of the day it's just a job and the difference between individual banks is much smaller than the difference between investment banking and something like audit. I broke in from a non core school myself and feel grateful to have gotten one offer. Give it your best shot in your internship and lateral for full time if that's what you need to feel successful. Chasing prestige probably won't scratch that itch for you, though.

Jul 5, 2022 - 2:08am
Ozykiel, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm about to start at a similar bank. It's a bit of a meme on WSO and gets shit on (think Tobin, Nomura, Citi). Don't let it bother you or take any of the ribbing too seriously. At the end of the day it's just a job and the difference between individual banks is much smaller than the difference between investment banking and something like audit. I broke in from a non core school myself and feel grateful to have gotten one offer. Give it your best shot in your internship and lateral for full time if that's what you need to feel successful. Chasing prestige probably won't scratch that itch for you, though.

damn bro i dont think those 3 r remotely the same tiers LOL

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Jul 6, 2022 - 1:14pm

bro Tobin is a whole different story. That place literally a scam and a joke they don't pay their analysts

  • Associate 2 in ER
Jul 5, 2022 - 6:15am

If I were you I seriously dont know what I would do. Maybe take a few months to figure out your future. Your entire career is defined by the perceived prestige of your first firm. And every aspect of your life is defined by the prestige of your career trajectory. Pack it up and move on, I just don't see how you overcome this. 

Jul 5, 2022 - 10:26am
Angus Macgyver, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Get rejected from name brand firms, work for some no/lesser name firms, realize that you're getting paid and advancing a bit slower than your friends who went to name brand firms but you're still friends and nobody cares, also you work fewer hours than they do so on an hourly basis you're making similar money, and also also at the end of the day they're getting paid bigger bucks but you're still getting paid big bucks relative to 99% of Americans, 99.9% of the world.

Yeah, that's how.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Jul 5, 2022 - 1:04pm

Was once in a similar situation to you. For me, it helped to realize what you already knew, that making the 6 figures that analysts in IB make is much more than 99% of college graduates and even Americans as a whole. Even at a low-tier shop I would have earned more money than my entire household would have EVER made. Go on Reddit or some other forum where people talk about compensation that is not heavily skewed towards a high paying and high prestige industry, and you'll see countless people ecastic at being able to make $70k a few years out of college, sometimes in HCOL areas. We are all in incredibly fortunate positions that we need to be happy about.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2022 - 2:39pm

I just think about the fact that 99% of non white collar professionals couldn't tell you the difference between a bank teller and an investment banker.

If you wanted traditional societal prestige, then you should have become a doctor/lawyer.

Jul 5, 2022 - 3:17pm
Whateverlooksgood, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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