Banking with chronic health issues

sben3726's picture
Rank: Monkey | 49

Hey WSO,

I'm 22 and male and will be interning at a BB in NY this summer.

Yesterday, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis by an endocrinologist. Basically, having Hashimoto's means that my thyroid glands will slowly degrade to the point of failure. No known cause and i'll have it the rest of my life. Your thyroids are necessary for basically everything in your body, and so Hashimoto's creates the effect of being chronically fatigued and perpetually "burnt out" basically for the rest of your life if left untreated.

Hashimoto's has made me feel like shit for the last 6 months. I used to be the type of guy you'd expect working at a BB, but now I've hardly been able to go to class for about three months and have had to make a lot of lifestyle changes in order to live a normal life. The lifestyle changes have helped, but I still have probably 30% less stamina than I used to. My doctor is going to put me on artificial thyroid hormone to solve this, which should theoretically solve the problem but then again my underlying condition will only get worse over time, it's lifelong, and I'm only 22 now.

For obvious reasons, I am concerned about my career choices. Part of me feels like trying to be a banker or in finance more generally while having Hashimoto's is like trying to be a runner with an artificial leg. I believe in always focusing in on your strengths, and I am concerned that, even with treatment, the great work stamina I used to have may not be my strength going forward. It's possible that thyroid medicine will help me and plenty of people respond well to treatment, but I can't know for certain. Plenty of people end up suffering despite the medicine.

What should I do? Should I still pursue my career ambitions? Part of me thinks I should take the strengths I still have elsewhere in a field that is less demanding. I plan to have a good attitude about this and I am NOT going to give up easily in the face of a setback. Please give me the opinions that you feel are honestly the truth - I will not be offended and just want to hear opinions to help me make the best overall decision.

Comments (95)

Apr 10, 2014

I say keep pushing forward as long as you can balance your health with your career. I am very interested in how this thread plays out and definitely want to hear about your career as you progress.

Apr 10, 2014

I mean it's only an internship for 10 weeks max, do the internship and see how you feel/what you want to do afterwards

Apr 10, 2014

My honest opinion is don't do banking. I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and something like that might become more difficult to manage when putting yourself through the physical and mental gauntlet of investment banking slavery.

Apr 10, 2014

I agree with this. I'd complete your internship program (as it will open doors and is a good testament to your qualifications), and then evaluate things after the summer. There are lots of paths in finance that don't require ~80 hours a week and are still very rewarding and competitive. AM comes to mind.

Apr 10, 2014

If this is something you are truly interesting in as a career. I think it would be wise to speak with an HR representative during your internship about your options. I'm not sure how it works in practice at banks, but I do know that when I was in Big 4 accounting we had a partner or two that I worked with that had similar fatigue related illnesses.

The firm allowed them to take breaks for naps during the day and swapped some of their work load with others to accommodate their illness. It is definitely worth a shot to talk with them about your options, especially if this is what you want to do as a career.

Apr 10, 2014

Sorry @"Anihilist" didn't mean to write that as a reply to you.

Apr 10, 2014

As others have said, try out the internship and then make a judgement call. At the very least it will help bolster your resume for later should you decide not to pursue.

Knowing what I know, long-term I would skip all together. It's damn hard to stay healthy; especially, in the first years. I have an opportunity to jump into a boutique as an associate (spent two years in PE). After pulling three long days to get a presentation and model together I came to the conclusion I enjoy the quality of my life too much.

Apr 10, 2014

Shit man, sorry to hear. It's honestly a personal decision that only you can make - I don't have that health issue, so I can't really say. Try it out and see how you feel. If it's hell then get out - no amount of money is worth it.

Apr 10, 2014

Thanks for all the replies, I really appreciate the help from all of you.
GoingConcern: I appreciate the candid feedback. It might become too much at some point, in which case I'll have to change paths.
AcctNerd/urchin/Anihilist: I tend to agree with you guys. I'm going to follow through with your advice for the internship program. I'm not going to back out and will give it my best shot with the meds. Lifestyle changes alone have given me maybe an "average" person's stamina (taking note that the average person would definitely be unfit for banking) and hopefully the thyroid medicine will restore me back to the way that I used to be. Only time will tell.

What are other considerations you guys would make careerwise if you had a health condition like these?
- For example, I'm super concerned about telling anyone about my illness, for fear of being discriminated against in selective positions. I can only imagine that people would react negatively. Would you guys tell anyone about the problem?
- Another thought: Should I be thinking about how this effects me more long term? My goal has always been to start my own HF one day. To put things into perspective, most people who have this disease are 50 year old women and, though I know this isn't politically correct to say, it's probably safe to assume that they don't have the same generally life goals that I do. I'm super vigilant about my health generally, especially in the last couple months to overcome this, and maybe I can still have the ambitions I had before. On the other hand, I don't want to have goals that are clearly unreasonable. It might be best to take things in two year chunks, and not think long term, but then again I've always been a long term person. What are your thoughts?

Apr 10, 2014
sben3726:

- For example, I'm super concerned about telling anyone about my illness, for fear of being discriminated against in selective positions. I can only imagine that people would react negatively. Would you guys tell anyone about the problem?

Don't tell anyone you work with. People suck.

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Apr 10, 2014

I wouldn't tell anyone unless it actually interferes with your work and you need time off, etc due to the medical reason

Apr 10, 2014

Not trying to seem like a dick, but didn't that BAML intern in the UK have a similar health issue?

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Apr 11, 2014

I have a progressive kidney thing, I'm about to go into mega debt for a top business school. I figure that, sure my health will give out (probably in my 40's or 50's, will need transplant or dialysis by then), but I'd rather see how high I can climb, than spend my life regretting not trying.

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Apr 11, 2014
OpsDude:

I have a progressive kidney thing, I'm about to go into mega debt for a top business school. I figure that, sure my health will give out (probably in my 40's or 50's, will need transplant or dialysis by then), but I'd rather see how high I can climb, than spend my life regretting not trying.

Sorry to hear that, and I admire your attitude. This is why I try to avoid going to the doctor as much as possible...I just don't want to know what kind of ailments might be swimming around inside.

#KickingTheCan

Apr 11, 2014
Going Concern:
OpsDude:

I have a progressive kidney thing, I'm about to go into mega debt for a top business school. I figure that, sure my health will give out (probably in my 40's or 50's, will need transplant or dialysis by then), but I'd rather see how high I can climb, than spend my life regretting not trying.

Sorry to hear that, and I admire your attitude. This is why I try to avoid going to the doctor as much as possible...I just don't want to know what kind of ailments might be swimming around inside.

#KickingTheCan

Ya, it was unexpected, it was actually found on accident too....I went for an MRI for an old back injury, and they found cysts on my kidney. I'm not too worried, I figure in 20 years or so they'll have kidney cloning or much better anti rejection drugs, so I don't expect a drastic decrease in quality of life....just sucks because i do marathons and stuff, and they keep bleeding, so I need to be more careful with my body.

Apr 11, 2014

Shit. Sorry to hear about that. This is something the rest of us would take for granted. You seem like a tough kid. You could do it.

Don't listen to anyone, everybody is scared.

Apr 11, 2014

dude do what you want to do and do not limit yourself. You aren't doing the tour de france you are being a banker...people have done far more with far worse ailments. Seriously dont let something like this derail you, jump in there and the worst that happens is that you find out it isnt for you...but do not under any circumstances not try something you would have previously b/c u will regret it down the road. Try it and find out for yourself if you can do it.

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Apr 11, 2014

Honestly, about 6 months ago I thought I'd have to give up on what I wanted to do with my career. I went to doctor after doctor and all of them thought I was crazy. Aside from the blood tests and the feeling of burnout, I didn't ahve any of the obvious signs of the autoimmune Hashimoto's going on inside. Then, once I started doing research on my own, it took me calling up a few handfuls of endocrinologists before I could get one who would see me without a referral. I can thank banking recruiting for teaching me persistence despite all the rejection I faced through the medical system in trying to see doctors.

Once I got the diagnosis from the doc, I was shocked. I honestly thought my career was over and that I'd be never be able to do what I wanted to do. It means so much to hear that you guys honestly think that this is something that I can overcome. I felt like just giving up when I first got the diagnosis; I was probably overreacting. I think the world's a great place when you can get the sympathy and help of a bunch of anonymous folks online. Sounds kinda cheesy, but it meant a lot to me to hear your candid support. I'm planning on starting meds next week and taking some other supplements to deal with the autoimmune condition too. I think it's possible I'll be back to normal before training starts. I'm really optimistic about how it will go and will let you guys know after my summer's over what ended up happening!

In case you guys were interested or any of you are facing a similar issue, I asked the same question on quora too:
www [dot] quora [dot] com [slash] When-should-I-change-my-life-and-career-goals-based-on-a-chronic-health-condition

Apr 12, 2014

I think you should look at the big picture overall. Make a list of things that you value in you life currently, in the future, and what you hope to achieve. Just evaluate yourself as a person. With such a chronic health issue, this isn't something that you can just avoid, especially since you have faced recent trouble through classes.

Someone above mentioned that he/she would rather try to climb as high as possible, rather than live with the regret of not trying. I think that is a perfectly valid opinion, but that may not be suitable for you because you may value things differently. For example, you may be an individual that wants to prolong his life/years as much as possible, and pursuing very demanding jobs would not be the best decision. I think it is extremely important to step back and evaluate yourself - much easier said than done. The biggest mistake would be going along with something until it's too late, and realizing that you have not been making decisions that are in the best interest for yourself. As a current college student with a chronic health issue, I am hoping to achieve a balance between a long(ER) life and climbing as high as possible. Hope I've helped you out in some way.

Best of luck

Apr 12, 2014

You talked about being a runner with an artificial leg. Nothing is perfect in life but if you want it bad enough you can make it happen. Best of luck man.

Apr 16, 2014

Haha beat me to it

Apr 12, 2014

If I were you, I would do the internship and then seen how you feel. Also, an internship is 10 weeks, while if you start FT, it will be a constant, mental grind and 52 weeks (give or take vacation weeks). A study was done by USC, which you can find here http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014240529..., that found investment banking detrimental to your health; I am sure it has to do with the pressure and long hours.

If I was in your position, I would do the internship, and find something less stressful for FT. Honestly, I don't think IB is worth your long-term health. To give you an example, a good friend of mine entered IB at a top BB (GS/MS), and he started to have heart palpation's, he gained a lot of weight (easy to order shitty food from Seamless), and developed high cholesterol.

Again, will this be you? I don't know. Like I said before, I don't think IB is worth it if it can cause severe health problems or worsen problems you may already have. Also, last year, an IB intern at BAML in the UK suddenly died in his shower. I believe he had a preexisting condition, which triggered a seizure, and ultimately cost him his life.

Apr 12, 2014

be a trader? shorter hours

Apr 12, 2014

Trading is much more intense in those shorter hours though. The pressure and stress in trading is immense and I doubt it's a better alternative. sben3726, like many have said before, just try the internship. You really have nothing to lose, and if you find banking to be too detrimental to your health, just don't do it full time. And I wouldn't tell anyone even remotely related to work about it. There are some good people, but many, many, assholes.

Apr 12, 2014

Hypothyroidism is inadequately treated by a lot of doctors. Their is a lot of information out their that can help minimize or eradicate your symptoms. Check out these books.

Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution Against Decades of Inferior Treatment by Janie A. Bowthorpe
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson and Jonathan V. Wright

Apr 12, 2014

I don't know if this has said before, because I did not read the last 4 posts, but I strongly believe that you should decide what to do with a doctor and not asking people on WSO.
As you have already seen, here people tend to tell you "try the internship and see how it goes" and this is not a good advice. I strongly believe you need to understand with your doctors if going through a banking internship will affect you health or not otherwise you may strongly affect it and maybe just wonit be able to recover in the future. I don't know how it works but, what if your conditions go worst because you won't be able to take enough sleeping hours for 10 weeks? This is something that you need to clear with people that know the matter.
Obv., if they tell you that this is not going to get worse because of working in banking but only that you will have less stamina than other, then you can start and try go to as further as you can and then you could gain the chance to move to something less demanding in terms of stamina and sleeping hours but than can still open doors and make you feeling achieved (AM, Business Dev., etc.).
Please, do not take your decision based on the answers you get here. Please take them talking with doctors and it they tell you it is crazy to go through an IBD internship where you will be working 100 hrs a week because this is going to strongly affect your helth, then trust them.

Apr 12, 2014

If it were me, I would do the internship if at all possible. Long-term banking might not be manageable but if you have made it this far you can likely make it through another 10 weeks. Just be sure to clear it with your doctor first and monitor your health closely. Having BB IBD on your resume will help you a lot recruiting for full-time positions.

Also, you have obviously done a lot of independent research, which is positive. I would spend a lot of time figuring out who the TOP doctor is in the field and getting their diagnosis. Fly to Europe, pay some extra money, do whatever it takes to get the best doctor to see you. It sounds like a very complicated and rare condition so getting feedback from someone who has dedicated their life to studying it is likely your best chance at managing/treating the disease in the most effective manner. Good luck man, I admire the ambition and truly wish you the best.

Apr 12, 2014

Thanks again for all the support and feedback.

MonkeyInSchool: I appreciated the video. I hope to be like that guy, he's a boss. His case is unique because it's arguable that the synthetic legs enhance his natural abilities and his training can slowly build his strength. Most people who need hormone supplementation are far beyond the years where they need to push themselves, so it's unclear whether it would ever be arguable by anyone that this is an "advantage" (I lean towards that being very unlikely). I am 100% optimistic that I will feel better than I do now once I take care of my thyroid condition, and probably 70% optimistic that I will be as good as I remember being a year ago. I want to be optimistic as possible, but want that to be as grounded as possible in reality.

cruel3a and TargetoIBD: Thanks for the advice to see a doctor and to keep my long term health in mind. When I saw my last doctor, I told her I was worried about whether this would affect my long term career. Asked the same thing to some doctors on Quora. Both sources said that I wouldn't have to give up on my long term goals because of this, which makes me very optimistic. But, I worry that they may not understand how much of a toll IBD Analyst -> PE -> HF might take. I've read the USC study that TargetoIBD linked the thread to, but I just don't think most doctors know just how hard it is (I'm sure a good portion think that medical school is the hardest thing there is). Other problem is that people online wont know exactly how severe or mild my condition is because they don't know my thyroid blood test results. I'm going in for a second opinion from one of the best doctors in my city next week, and I'll be sure to also ask questions about how my condition might worsen if I do something that has the toll of banking.

LearningMan: Thanks for the advice not to tell folks closely related to my job. This is hard as I want to be able to get support from some close friends who know me and also know my career ambitions. But I can't risk my future coworkers knowing. It's hard for me not to be open with people, but there's no reason for them to have to know and it could hurt my bonus numbers, PE placement, and maybe even my MBA recs. I just don't want to be discriminated against for something out of my control. I told some of my closest friends, but don't plan on going beyond that.

gstackle32 and Sunny123: Thanks for the advice to find the best doctor I can and to read up on treatments on my own. I've actually been reading Pubmed (a database of medical papers) religiously to be ahead of most doctors on the field and have read both of the books Sunny123 has mentioned already. I'm not sure how to find a top doc for my condition outside of my area but I'll figure that out, thanks for the tip.

Best Response
Apr 12, 2014

Since I have dealt with a significant issue once before, (and currently) I will offer a couple of thoughts here.

First, as noted above, your Doctor should play a prominent role in your decision especially with your new medication regimen ahead. Your focus should be getting this situation under control and managed before anything else. With your health optimized you will be able to make clear decisions. Trying to make this decision without being on the medication and having the dosage settled may provide a distorted view of your capabilities or lack thereof.

Health first. Other stuff later.

Depending how your condition management goes you need to be aware that this will have some changes to your thought process and risk taking. This may not be relevant, but your decision making process will be altered by your self perception, the impact of the condition on you physically and mentally. This can be a negative in some career choices, but it can also be a positive in others.

You will have some lifestyle changes ahead, as you are already aware, and maybe more. You may want to examine a direction that allows you to maximize your lifestyle needs and choices. This may or may not involve IB.

I believe John Templeton was chronically sick in his early years, and this shaped his decisions and career choices. There are many other brilliant individuals who were able to take circumstance and shape a future rich with opportunity and insight. I would encourage you to read about them. You may find some inspiration and direction.

Guard the information about your condition carefully. You will be shocked how poorly informed most people are about things like this and how their idea of you and what is happening can be shaped by it. As one person noted: people suck. But really it's that people have their own idea about things and project them on others. If your condition is well managed, you will not have to mention it to an employer or anyone else.

I like your attitude. I would simply encourage you not to emotionally invest yourself in banking or any other direction as the be all and end all. Rather look at your situation, interests and see where there may be a fit. With the right attitude and a well manged condition, you can have a rich future ahead of you...maybe even in a direction you had not previously considered.

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Apr 14, 2014

great comment, +1

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

Apr 25, 2014

Wise words. I am an undergrad in my early twenties, just diagnosed with cancer. Rested for one year+ now, and want to go back to finish up school. I already signed with a consulting firm before I was diagnosed and I still plan to work there. Of course, I will take care of myself, but I was wondering what's your opinion on letting HR or my boss/colleague know about my situation.

Apr 12, 2014

Your decision should be based around your doctor's recommendations. At the end of the day, WSO is not a medically licensed professional, and as you mentioned, we don't know your blood test results/severity of your illness.

Last thing I would want to read about is another intern dying. Those are just sad, heartbreaking stories. Also, those kind of stories just shed bad spotlight on industry, and investment banks doesn't need any additional spotlight.

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Apr 12, 2014

I'm all about not settling but if doing IB would make you 95% happy and there is an alternative career that is less demanding that yields 85% - 90% happiness then maybe you should consider that.

If stress exacerbates your condition then I probably wouldn't do IB, when there are other decent jobs out there. IB is nice but also hyped up. I think people lose sight that there are other awesome jobs that pay pretty well.

Apr 12, 2014

Do it - it's 10 weeks, and will open a lot of doors.
Do NOT talk to HR about it, as you are not a full time employee, and although they are not allowed to discriminate, nothing tells you they won't. Once you do get full time employment somewhere, you can talk about it with HR later down the road after 6 months on the job.

IB is great on a CV. Potentially come over on the trading floor after your internship. It's all madness and you won't have time to fall asleep :) And you will get to rest and sleep properly which i probably what you need the most.

Best of luck! No matter what, an internship in a BB is a great trampoline for any job you will decide to pursue later on in life.

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Apr 12, 2014

Lone Wolf: Thanks for the inspiring post and thoughtful advice. I agree with the claim that I should wait and see how I feel on the meds before I make a decision. Moreover, I agree that I am more than just an able body to put in the hours - I should find ways of using my talents and be flexible if I find out my body needs it after my internship. I guess before I knew about the illness, I thought it was "all in my head" and so I kept trying to force myself to work hard even when I felt exhausted. Now that I know that it's a legit health issue, I'm much more willing to acknowledge it and plan around it.

Disjoint: I'm definitely doing the 10 weeks this summer, and thanks for the advice. The idea of going to an industry with lower hours probably would help a lot. I can be 80-90% functional without meds if I maintain a VERY healthy (aka not fun) lifestyle (go to sleep at the same time, eat ridiculously restrictive diet, take supplements, exercise everyday, avoid stress, spend lots of time with friends/girlfriend/family, avoid alcohol/coffee etc), and this seems more possible in other careers like S&T than in banking. Like monkeysuncle suggested, maybe I should be willing to take a few sacrifices in order to maintain my health. More than just my health: I want to set myself up to succeed. If I do something where I am compromising my health, then I wont be the very best and I just don't want to do that.

My question to WSO: Problem that I am facing right now is that I can't know how I will feel a few months from now and I can't make a decision about whether my career plans will interfere with my health until that time too. It'll take at least 8 weeks for it to kick in and for the hypothyroidism to be resolved. The problem with this is that I'll have to accept/reject the fulltime offer at the end of the internship probably, and that'll be only a very short time after I start treatment. I'm concerned that if I don't start talking/developing relationships to trading firms ahead of time, then I won't be able to land a good shop that will position me for a good HF down the line. I'm especially concerned because most of my work experience in college makes it look like I want to be a banker. I've had 1 internship with a boutique bank in my area before and 2 private equity gigs (one of them at a well-known buyout fund run by a bunch of ex-bankers). Any advice here? How would you guys handle this?

Apr 12, 2014

I agree with others on here... Use the internship as a test and evaluate after that.

Apr 13, 2014

I'm sorry to hear about the diagnosis... you're a real champ for continuing to plug through.

Were you diagnosed with this Hashimoto's Thyroiditis before or after you applied for the internship?

If before, then your position will almost 99.9% be revoked (you're employment will be terminated, even though you haven't actually started "working") because you did not state the illness on your app (unless you did?), therefore breaking the labour law... for lack a better phrase. If you were diagnosed after the application was sent in, then, legally speaking, they cannot discriminate you for this medical condition, but rather "re-consider" you for the position, or at least consider accommodations that can be made. However I can see a lot of companies getting away with just terminating your employment.

Let's be real, if your position was revoked after you told HR about this condition you were diagnosed with (after you applied) then you have two options: (1) file a complaint with NY State Dept of Labor for discrimination, or (2) never speak of this incident again, and still be in the BB's "good" books.

If you do (1): You and the BB would probably have a small arbitration hearing, if you win, you'll most likely have the offer back, with better working conditions. The judge/arbitrator will most likely not let you get re-hired at regular IB conditions, because it's the employer's responsibility to set up a safe working environment, and make the necessary accommodations if one of their employees needs it. If BB wins, you're out of luck, and the BB will remember that you launched this legal dispute (also, banks on the Street usually exchange info about candidates, so your rep may/most likely go down).

If you do (2): BB revokes position, you do not file complaint, you can re-apply for FT at that BB next recruiting cycle.

Now, if what you've stated above is correct, then your condition is due get worse over time. Therefore, trying to apply for a BB FT position will be much harder, especially if you don't find another IB internship for the summer. Also, with this condition, banks could probably make a good case for why they shouldn't hire you, therefore trying to file a complaint for discrimination during FT recruiting would not make sense.

So what do you do? I suggest you contact HR and tell them about your condition (assuming you were diagnosed after your app, and after getting hired). They would probably try making some compromises, like give you another position in the bank, or better IB conditions (less likely). You will most likely get discriminated and have your employment terminated. If this happens, file the complaint, because you have nothing to lose. If you lose the hearing, then boohoo, you don't have an IB BB internship for the summer, and your rep goes down. If you win, great, you get re-instated, most likely with better working conditions, OR you get another position in the bank.

Just remember this: Once you tell HR, they are gonna look up the legalities and see if they can get you off the books. You need to be able to convince them that your performance as an I-banker holds up, even with the condition. If they say "Sorry, the work is just too demanding, and we do not want to put your health in jeopardy", then you can come back and say, "How about Asset Management?" (or some other area you like) OR "Hey, how about x amount of hrs/week, with a x hrs of break/wk?". Give them options to work with. BUT, remember that BAML banker in London? He had a condition, and didn't tell the bank... then died. I'd say the BB you're working for will at least try to make accommodations because they know the amount of heat the industry is receiving right now, and if push comes to shove, just remind them of that kid in London.

A bit of disclosure, I'm from Canada, so I may be wrong in some (or many) areas of NY State Labour laws. Hopefully someone can chime in on that subject, and whether not I was on the right track in terms of your rights, and etc. Also, not sure if Labor laws differ greatly between internship and FTs, so check into that. If it turns out that interns don't have the same "labour rights" as FTs, then just don't mention it at all.

Anyways mate, I wish you all the best, you can get through this thing.

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Apr 13, 2014

I'm a bit troubled by what I've read above. I was in banking for 13 years and at the end was a team head. I've seen way too many screw themselves over by not telling anyone they have a health problem, and it makes it worse.

Here is my strong strong advice:

1. HR and your staffer / coordinator need to know. Obviously approach it with a positive attitude and say you are on medication and your intent is to function at 100%, but this something you felt obliged to tell them. Since the Moritz Erhardt incident, banks are super cautious about this sort of thing and it won't affect you in any way and could well help. On the other hand, if something goes wrong and you haven't told people in advance, it could hurt you as it's a reflection of your maturity

2. Take care of yourself rigorously, manage your lifestyle and put your hand up if there is a problem. People need to know and they will work with you. Don't try and play the macho game that a lot of analysts play! If you are seen as a team player and smart, competent, eager, friendly, your colleagues will work with genuine health issues.

I urge you not to heed so e of the advice above. You seem like a mature, motivated guy and transparency is best.

Apr 13, 2014

To add, I'd say in my career I've deal with probably 10 juniors who had some form of chronic health issue - I've had one myself which medicine has been able to control. As long as we liked them and valued them, we always worked through their issues and found solutions

Apr 13, 2014

GS_McK: Thank you for letting me know about all these legal issues. I was diagnosed a few days ago, far after when I received my offer. I had an offer from another really stellar firm that expired around the time I got the BB offer (this other firm wasn't a bank). Had I known about this illness at the time I received my offer, I would have 100% accepted the firm with the shorter hours over the BB. Alas, timing did not work out.

I appreciate the thoughts about litigation. At least personally, I'd rather not deal with the stress of a legal battle, but I appreciate you mentioning it.

In the long term, every word of advice from reputable sources and/or doctors is either (a) that I will be totally fine or (b) that I will most likely be fine, but I should withhold judgement until after I am on my meds for awhile. IMO advice B is probably wiser. I overreacted in my initial post, and that may be where your thoughts on my long term outcome came from. My thyroids will be gone you're right. But medicine can replace the function of thyroids pretty effectively. Everything I have read suggests that the perma-burnout tired feeling should go away with the medical treatment, even in the long term. This is great news and it looks like I overreacted initially when I made my first post. Non-respose to the drugs is definitely possible and, if that happens, then banking's not for me. But, non-response is the anomaly from what I understand and so I shouldn't make a judgment about it in advance.

Re: BAML banker who died:
The key takeaway from the Merrill intern last summer clearly was not if you don't tell the bank then you suddenly die. My case is clearly different from the Merrill banker as there is no indication that I will suddenly die due to my condition. If we may, let's avoid discussing this since it seems outside of our scope here.

mergersandacquisitions78:
Thanks for the advice here, transparency is super important especially when safety is involved. Your point that the staffer "needs to know" is a good one since I am sure that better staffing decisions would be made if they knew I probably had a bit more variability/risk from a management standpoint. But my thought here is that "people suck" and hence that telling the staffer probably wouldn't be in my best interests professionally. Even if higher ups and HR deal with this issue properly and are as conscientious as you, I do not think that associates or analysts will be which could cause serious problems professionally. Even if I am transferred to a different group, it would be a very red flag on my resume if I have internships a buyout fund and a bank on my resume and then suddenly I am in a back office position.

My happy medium as far as transparency is concerned is to put up my hand if there is a problem, e.g. to let people know only if it becomes an issue. I appreciate you bringing this up. Because my issue is sensitive and has some risk, I appreciate you helping me plan out for the worst case.

The worst case scenario for the internship itself is if my dosing is wrong over the summer or needs to be readjusted. Dosing thyroid meds initially is not an exact science and often times the initial dosing is not correct. It's pretty much trial and error from what I understand. From what I have read, it seems like there's a 25% chance that this calibration period would extend into my internship period. This worries me because it may be hard to see an endocrinologist over the summer given the nature of the internship. My way around this is to schedule appointments with endocrinologists or physicians on Friday evenings around dinner time for every other week in advance of the internship. If I have no symptoms of a mis-dosing in the 3 days prior to the endo appt,then I will cancel it out of courtesy. But, if I need it, then he's there waiting to come to my aid. There may be a genuine need to raise my hand in case I need to make these appointments, but I am sure I could skip dinner and just go to an appointment if I tell my associate a couple days in advance that I have an ear infection or something.

Apr 13, 2014

One pretty permanent negative effect from what I have read is that I wont be able to drink alcohol again. Apparently, most people on thyroid meds can't tolerate it without throwing up. This is definitely the worst news I have heard, especially since I have no idea how to give up social drinking.

Apr 15, 2014
sben3726:

One pretty permanent negative effect from what I have read is that I wont be able to drink alcohol again. Apparently, most people on thyroid meds can't tolerate it without throwing up. This is definitely the worst news I have heard, especially since I have no idea how to give up social drinking.

I know people that have this - they're full of energy and they are able to drink a lot. In fact, someone very close to me has the disease, and the doc says diabetes is actually much tougher on a person's life, for most cases.

Unless you're an outlier, I think you'll feel great once you get the meds calibrated just right. AFAIK, this is much more akin to light asthma or light ADD than to grave illnesses that may screw up your life. Take it easy and good luck!

Apr 16, 2014

I take thyroid medication and drink like a fish. I'm 2.5 years into my analyst program, you'll be fine, don't worry.

--$$--

Apr 14, 2014

Talk to the doc and do the internship if possible. I also think transparency is probably best. Not all your fellow analysts, but HR and whoever they think is appropriate.

Also, why considered capital markets, corporate banking, private banking, etc. All finance related with a better balance.

Apr 15, 2014

The kid from BAML had epilepsy, which is a million miles from what the Op has got so people need to stop making the comparison. The guy could have been at home in bed watching Game of Thrones for 3 days straight and died just as suddenly.

OP: 100% do the internship as it will open doors in so many different industries so if you decide that after 10-weeks sticking in IB is going to be a bit much given your condition, you'll be in a great place to go forward from there.

Good luck and keep up the enthusiasm. If you treat your body as well as you can during your 10-weeks that will help.

Oh and your point of this being like being a runner with artificial legs is no excuse - Pistorius was doing pretty well until he decided to shoot his Mrs!

P.s. It would be so good if you did a blog post at the end of your intern or during if you find the time/energy - I for one would love to read up and hear how you get on. Good luck!

Apr 15, 2014

The first portion is not true. Did the BAML intern have epilepsy? Yes. However, epilepsy is exacerbated by a lack of sleep, and in the report, he had pulled some all-nighters that week.

Even if you have epilepsy, you can't die from watching TV.

Apr 15, 2014

The point I was making is that someone with epilepsy could have reached the same fate if they'd been doing something mundane for three days rather then pulling all-nighters. Eg. He could have watched TV for three days straight, or worked at the check out at a supermarket 9-5, got in the shower, had a seizure and drowned as a result.

Yes tiredness is a factor but you don't have to be tired or overworked to have an epileptic seizure - you can have them at any time.

The key take-away was that it's a completely different ball game compared to what the OP is suffering from and shouldn't be compared.

Apr 15, 2014
GMG:

Good luck and keep up the enthusiasm. If you treat your body as well as you can during your 10-weeks that will help.

Oh and your point of this being like being a runner with artificial legs is no excuse - Pistorius was doing pretty well until he decided to shoot his Mrs!

P.s. It would be so good if you did a blog post at the end of your intern or during if you find the time/energy - I for one would love to read up and hear how you get on. Good luck!

You're right, mankind has advanced too far to let something like this get in the way. It makes me really happy to be alive to know we live in a world of synthetic legs and hormones for people like Pistorius and I. I've done a lot to take care of myself and to learn to be functional despite the persistent fatigue, and it's possible that some of what I learned may be useful to others. Writing about my experiences is a great idea and I'll definitely do that after the summer for the benefit of others.

Improving:

I know people that have this - they're full of energy and they are able to drink a lot. In fact, someone very close to me has the disease, and the doc says diabetes is actually much tougher on a person's life, for most cases. Unless you're an outlier, I think you'll feel great once you get the meds calibrated just right. AFAIK, this is much more akin to light asthma or light ADD than to grave illnesses that may screw up your life.

Improving: Thanks for that. I can't wait to feel normal again, because right now it's hard to live a normal life. It would be wonderful if I knew of a very successful man in finance or business with Hashimoto's who I could look up to, to know that all of this is still possible. Since the disease is so rare among young men, I have been unable to do this. Online and in-person support groups are all comprised of 50 year old women who I cannot relate with. For right now, I will have to make due with looking up with people who have overcome illness in general. I am trying to ignore Pistorius's recent trial so that I can look up to his dedication to sport despite his illness.

Apr 15, 2014

Just to add my two cents - big caveat: I'm not in IB, but do a lot of work with other time zones so have some issues with hours.

I have epilepsy and was officially diagnosed over six years ago but have struggled with prior. People have completely different triggers (but rarely random) and is usually very different from the OP's issue. What is applicable though, are the changes that people make to deal with any medical issue and how it affects career goals.

The bottom line is that you need to maintain a positive attitude and refuse to view this as a prison sentence. If you get the all-clear from the doctor, give the internship a shot (docs will probably have a good idea of shitty hours from their time in residency etc.).

Your health is more important than anything else, and I'd echo what people have said in terms of telling your staffer and an HR rep. I've had seizures in the office so the decision was made for me - but every person I've dealt with has been extremely supportive. I think you'd be surprised by their reaction. As for drinking, check with your doc to be sure - thought it was a big one for me but going from all nighters to 2-3 beers has been manageable.

Good luck - stay positive - didn't Larry Page have this?

Apr 15, 2014

Don't over exaggerate your situation. There's plenty of people with your conditioning all types of high pressure, long hour jobs. Make sure your doctor puts you on T3, NOT t4 and you'll be fine.

Apr 15, 2014

I don't think discussing this with HR rep is an issue as along you have a positive attitude and great work product.
Just carefully think how you deliver that message to HR / your staffer. "I have a health issue and I can't work past 5 PM" is not the right way to do it.

Good luck

Apr 15, 2014
sben3726:

Part of me thinks I should take the strengths I still have elsewhere in a field that is less demanding. I plan to have a good attitude about this and I am NOT going to give up easily in the face of a setback.

"I think I should quit, but let me assure you... I will NOT quit."

I say go for it. If the treatment plan is successful and works the way it's supposed to work, hopefully the effect on your work will be muted. If after a couple weeks or months you find that physically it's just too demanding, it's not like discussing it with your employer and/or looking for a new job is going to kill you. You've got a great opportunity lined up in something I assume you're at least somewhat interested in doing, so there's no need to throw it away until you've at least tried to make it work. To put it another way, you'll never regret having tried it and found out you couldn't deal with the hours, but if you never do it and end up underemployed somewhere because you decided not to pursue it... you'll definitely regret that at some point down the road.

    • 1
Apr 15, 2014
BlackHat:
sben3726:

Part of me thinks I should take the strengths I still have elsewhere in a field that is less demanding. I plan to have a good attitude about this and I am NOT going to give up easily in the face of a setback.

"I think I should quit, but let me assure you... I will NOT quit."

I say go for it. If the treatment plan is successful and works the way it's supposed to work, hopefully the effect on your work will be muted. If after a couple weeks or months you find that physically it's just too demanding, it's not like discussing it with your employer and/or looking for a new job is going to kill you. You've got a great opportunity lined up in something I assume you're at least somewhat interested in doing, so there's no need to throw it away until you've at least tried to make it work. To put it another way, you'll never regret having tried it and found out you couldn't deal with the hours, but if you never do it and end up underemployed somewhere because you decided not to pursue it... you'll definitely regret that at some point down the road.

Listen to the married man!

Apr 15, 2014

Sorry to hear about the diagnosis. I am not familiar with your situation, but I do have family member that has (on a higher level) a similar issue in terms of how the disease effects her stamina and health. She is a 3.9 science student at a top university and initially wanted to pursue nursing, but realized that she would be sacrificing her health >> get sick more often >> lower quality of life if she went that route. This was crushing to her when she realized the grim reality but fortunately, she takes a really positive attitude with with her and has set herself up for a very successful career in genetics research. My point is, you can probably find an area of finance that will allow you enough flexibility to take care of yourself while also killing it career wise. My $0.02.

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Apr 21, 2014

Maybe you should take a break; you probably just burnt out.
I had a similar experience. In high school, I was playing basketball really nicely; then, something went wrong. I was not that fast and excited; was acting like a man who is disappointed by life and about to kick a bucket. Then, I took a break, and spent almost one year away from the basketball court. Of course I kept myself fit during one year break (swimming 1hr and running for 20 mins a day 3 or 5 days a week). Almost one year later, I came back and hit my career bests. My stats increased by 2.5 times, almost. BTW, don't just relax and have fun, you should do some mental tasks. Read great books; I would highly recommend Think and Grow Rich 1 and 6. Get motivated !!! But read in quiet place, go as far as you can from humans. Yeah, some sort of exile :)
My advice - take a break, then get back and see how things work out of you. If I am wrong, then you can switch to something else. However, if I am right, you will be back on track.

Apr 16, 2014

I shot you a PM, but I've got a similar issue and have no issues handling a banking workload for the last few years. Definitely go for it, you can always quit if need be, and people would understand, but it's not every day you get an opportunity such as this.
EDIT: Just noticed that you mentioned that your thyroid is necassary to live, that's not so. I had mine completely removed and rely solely on the types of artificial hormone you mentioned. I believe that they took thyroid hormone from pigs and figured out how to get it into pill form, either that or my Dr. was full of B.S. but who knows.

TLDR - Go for the job, you'll be feeling better once you get going on those thyroid pills.

--$$--

Apr 18, 2014

You can work in Finance or Banking but be in the product side like a Product Manager

Apr 18, 2014

B12 is good for energy too

Apr 18, 2014

Couple thoughts.

1. Yes, you can take Thyroid medication (Synthroid, glandular extracts, etc.) and "power through", but you also have to look at the long-term implications from a lifespan perspective on what this does to your body. I don't know the specifics, but it could be a situation where you end up living hard and dying young -- kind of how steroids effect athletes. You need to understand the long-term implications of whatever treatment course you put yourself on. When you change an organism's metabolism, very odd (and even dangerous) things happen long-term.

2. I know a guy with a perfect SAT score, Ivy league graduate who was headed to banking and came down with chronic fatigue (CF) syndrome of an indeterminate cause. He passed on banking and works in the CFO's office of a major bank. He is brilliant (more so than the average banker, even), but simply cannot do the hours. He is extremely happy, working in finance, and does not spend his time going "what if, what if, what if". Finance is a big world and banking is a great experience, but overrated.

Apr 19, 2014
prophets:

Couple thoughts.

1. Yes, you can take Thyroid medication (Synthroid, glandular extracts, etc.) and "power through", but you also have to look at the long-term implications from a lifespan perspective on what this does to your body. I don't know the specifics, but it could be a situation where you end up living hard and dying young -- kind of how steroids effect athletes. You need to understand the long-term implications of whatever treatment course you put yourself on. When you change an organism's metabolism, very odd (and even dangerous) things happen long-term.

2. I know a guy with a perfect SAT score, Ivy league graduate who was headed to banking and came down with chronic fatigue (CF) syndrome of an indeterminate cause. He passed on banking and works in the CFO's office of a major bank. He is brilliant (more so than the average banker, even), but simply cannot do the hours. He is extremely happy, working in finance, and does not spend his time going "what if, what if, what if". Finance is a big world and banking is a great experience, but overrated.

Thanks for the thoughts, and yes I've been thinking about things from a lifespan perspective as much as I can. Many of my goals are things that will be done when I'm 40 or 50 and so this is on the top of my mind. But definitely thanks for the reminder to think in these terms.

In the long term, the best evidence doesn't suggest that this particular condition affects lifespan. Two doctors I have visited in person both suggested that my lifespan will be unchanged and all the sources I've read online suggest the same thing. The meds aren't a stimulant and aren't injecting me with extra "oomph" like steroids would - they just replace what's missing in the body. If I don't take the meds then, yes, I will have a far shorter life, but everything I've read says that my lifespan on the meds should be normal. It's possible that the evidence I am using is rosy-tinted because (a) doctors want me to feel comfortable/happy and (b) drug companies want to promote the meds I'm taking. I recognize these possible biases, but it's the best information so it's what I'm going to go with. As a check against these sources, I compared the average age of my relatives with Hashimoto's against those that don't. Their age is roughly similar (even controlling for the fact that women live slightly longer than men and all of my relatives with this disease were women).

It's possible that Hashimoto's + Banking would reduce my lifespan more than just Banking would. I have no evidence to make evaluate this possibility other than that my doctors have suggested that, once my thyroid activity returns to normal with the medication, I'll live a normal life. Surprising is that, though many people intuitively claim that stress makes the disease worse, studies on the relationship between stress and hypothyroid has routinely shown that stress does not worsen hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's. My standing conclusion is that having a stressful career while having Hashimoto's will likely shorten my life, but no more than just having a stressful career without this disease would.

Apr 19, 2014

Now that your life conditions have changed, I think that you should reconsider your previous ideas. If you really enjoy the work that IB offers, go on and rock on it. Althought, as people has said the internship it's a very good oportunity that will open you many oportunities.
I think that it's a decision that you can only do.

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Apr 21, 2014

See if you can do the internship and bring it up to your supervisor if it becomes an issue during the 10 weeks but try to get it done without bringing it up. HR will only tell your supervisor so you may as well control the conversation yourself then tell HR if you need to. Think in terms of what you need, a laptop to take work home, fewer deliverables, more breaks and see if you can't ask for that without going into too much detail about your condition. What do you want out of the internship a job? A good reference on the quality of your work? Worry about disclosing your health issues only after you have a full time offer and then only if it becomes an issue AND you have the FMLA -family medical leave act paperwork filled out by your doctor. Sadly as a woman it's hard to get promotions or interview while pregnant and a lot of places will find a reason to lay you off. I think if you tell them at the internship phase they will accommodate you, they aren't idiots, but you won't get a FT offer and it could hurt you from moving on to other areas in a large bank. Hide it til the 5th month is what pregnant women do all the time

Apr 22, 2014

Congratulations on getting this internship. I think that you have to try to get through it, it's a tremendous opportunity and in all likelihood you will be feeling much better once you are getting meds. If you can land a full time offer, you will be in a much better position with more options.

I was diagnosed with a chronic condition (ankylosing spondylitis) which has caused me horrible back pain and made it impossible to get a good nights sleep over the past few years. Do I regret choosing higher stress jobs over lower stress ones - which may having in part triggered or at least aggravated this disease? Absolutely not - I can always choose to work less, I have great health coverage, and plenty of money for doctors and medicine beyond my coverage.

For all intents and purposes, your life expectancy with Hashimoto's and thyroid supplementation is normal and the prognosis is quite good, as it is in general with Ankylosing Spondylitis. If you were going to die in a few years or be disabled in the short term, the answer might be different, but I think with this type of chronic illness which can be treated well (if not cured) there's no reason to change your goals.

Apr 22, 2014

PM me if you want to talk about this. I have a rather significant health issue that I've been managing while working in finance. I'd rather not discuss it on an open forum.

Apr 23, 2014

@sben3726 You are making this into a huge issue, which it isn't. Hashimoto's is hardly even considered a disease, 20m people have some ford of thyroid disease. You take one Synthroid pill a day and voila you are as good as new besides for feeling a little tired on occasion. I've had it for five years, on top of other more serious issues, and it hasn't affected my life in any way and it shouldn't affect your career or internship choices either.

    • 2
May 2, 2014
ikemblem:

@sben3726 You are making this into a huge issue, which it isn't. Hashimoto's is hardly even considered a disease, 20m people have some ford of thyroid disease. You take one Synthroid pill a day and voila you are as good as new besides for feeling a little tired on occasion. I've had it for five years, on top of other more serious issues, and it hasn't affected my life in any way and it shouldn't affect your career or internship choices either.

I appreciate the intention in trying to help me put things perspective. That said, it might be a bit much to make the claim that "Hashimoto's isn't even considered a disease" since there is a wide spectrum of Hashimoto's sufferers out there. Hashimoto's is a serious disease for the record and isn't to be taken lightly.

Oct 22, 2014

Hey guys. Just wanted to update you on things.
- I got the offer during my summer and I'll be in NYC after graduation working for a top-tier BB (respectable group at GS/JPM/MS). Pretty happy about that and glad I stuck with it. I also got really favorable reviews from the people I worked with. I feel like I actually liked the work and I didn't feel excessively stressed out (at least not moreso than others). The way that I look at it, the next few years will be hard on my health, but I'll leave after a few years toward a job with better hours anyway. It's not forever and I think I can hack it for a couple years.
- I'm pretty glad I listened to people's advice about not telling anyone about my illness. Nobody in my professional circles know, not even some of my closest friends. My current roommates don't even know. Honestly, there is only downside in telling people about chronic illnesses, other than well-known illnesses like cancer. The biggest thing that I've learned about having a chronic illness is: nobody has sympathy for people who suffer from chronic illnesses. I can wax philosophically about this, but generally speaking my finding is that people are much more sympathetic about having a cold than having a permanent illness like autoimmune disease. It's irrational, but that's just how people are.
- I read a few biographies of people who successfully pushed through illness, like Lance Armstrong. He's an inspiring guy. Following his lead, I have literally spent 100s of hours reading PubMed and medical journals to know everything I can do to better my health in the long run. I've read a few textbooks on endocrinology too. I've also become pretty much a health junkie. I feel like 90% fine now. It took some experimentation, but a combination of thyroid replacement, various health supplements from GNC, as well as lifestyle factors (regular meditation, exercise, sleep hygeine, healthy relationships, healthy diet) have made me OK. I have a few more things to optimize, but honestly I think I can be healthier and more alert than a lot of my peers.
- The only concern is potentially how I'll feel in the future. There's some risk that my autoimmunity will spread to other parts of my body, like my pituitary gland, which may cause hormonal issues in the future. It could spread to pretty much any organ and fuck me completely. Most people get this illness when they are 60, so the problems of the illness spreading is pretty minimal. For me, it's a matter of when since I'm still pretty young. It's scary, but honestly it sounds like its basically luck whether or not that kind of thing happens to me. It's out of my control so I don't think about it.
- All in all, thanks for all your support WSO.

Oct 22, 2014

-

Oct 22, 2014

Take the job. If you're body breaks down, and they fire you, talk to a lawyer. It may be illegal to fire someone over a medical condition (I have no clue, but people win lawsuits over bullshit over all the time).

Good luck. I hope you remain healthy.

Oct 22, 2014

My advice is to not do banking. Seriously. This job does not warrant the attention that it receives, and in your case I would do something that allows you to have free time.

Best of luck to you, I wish you well.

Oct 22, 2014

pretty sure they can fire you if you can no longer perform the job, as all financial employment is at will. Obviously, hope to stay healthy, but as long as you're making money for the bank and people like you, I'd assume they'll do what they can to keep you around. And if you are no longer able to perform because of medical conditions, you'll presumably go on disability - it isn't work-related, so won't be workers comp, but your insurance should still cover you. if it doesn't, i'm pretty sure the government does. but good luck man, and hopefully it doesn't come to that

Oct 22, 2014

Ask you doctor about it. I think there are 2 ways to look at it:

1- working long hours on little sleep, weakens the immune system... which is bad, unless you have an autoimmune disorder, in which case you're probably taking medicine to do just that, weaken your immune system

2- working long hours on little sleep, will only exacerbate the illness, causing your condition to deteriorate at a faster rate than if you were to be in a less intense field where you're not constantly over-exerting yourself

I think #2 is probably more likely. Would you rather have 3 'normal' years in banking? or 6 normal years elsewhere?

Oct 22, 2014

That's really unfortunate. I dont think they would dare deal with the legal consequences of dismissing you over illness. But other than that watch over your health carefully; it's what matters the most.

Oct 22, 2014

is it ms?

Dont take the job, its not worth the trouble unless you're taking meds to deal with it (Obviously I dont know what you have so can't advise you there).

Most companies have sick leave and extended disability etc.. + the good insurance that comes with the job. I know of someone in a similar situation, takes leaves all the time, he hasn't progressed in his professional life though. He also is back office so maybe after a stint in FO, you can move elsewhere.

Get your health straight, think positive (disabled and unemployed??) and just take it day by day.

Best of luck.

Oct 22, 2014

I hope for you that everything is ok, but you used the term "maybe" which implies you may not know yet. I would not go jumping to any conclusions until you find out exactly what the issue is.

I wish you all the best.

Oct 22, 2014

As you might imagine, when you come to a forum like this, people are going to be pre-occupied with their careers and do whatever it takes to move their career forward. However, I ardently believe that you always have to put your health and your family first, especially if you've got a debilitating condition. There will always be work to do somewhere, somehow -- and you can still be a productive member of society and earn a good living doing something else other than banking. The last thing you want to do is to put yourself in a stressful situation, as that'll only make matters worse.

Take care of your health first. I'm sure you've got the ability and talent to do well in whatever field you decide on. If you're inclined to give your job a shot, then go for it -- who knows, maybe your health will hold up better than you think -- but as soon as your body tells you that things aren't going as well as you'd like, listen to it. Money's only good when you're around to do something with it.

Oct 22, 2014

i am sorry for your problem, but can't get past your first line. There is no Ivy League university in the UK. The Ivy League is an athletic conference in the Northeast US.

Oct 22, 2014

My mistake.... I thought top unis in the UK were called Ivy League.
Well spotted nonetheless!

Oct 22, 2014

[double post]

Oct 22, 2014

Bring a bullhorn to interviews.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Oct 22, 2014

Have you considered Equity Research...? Similar line, except I get the sense that they're a lot more forgiving of people who are a little less... loud.

Oct 22, 2014

Tell them you're transgender and if they don't give you the job its discrimination. DONE

Oct 22, 2014

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