Difficulties with judgement from my friends

Intern in IB-M&A

I currently just wrapped up my sophomore year at a complete non-target school and I'm currently recruiting for investment banking summer analyst roles for 2021.

I go to school where my friends aren't as ambitious as me. My hometown is also similar where most of my friends aren't nearly as ambitious or hard working as me either. They don't mind working a regular 9-5 job. In other words, I've become the complete opposite of what most of my friends are. As I've become busier with summer analyst recruiting ramping up, my friends are giving me a hard time about not going out with them and being "too mature". They think that I want to leave all of them behind and go work on Wall Street because I don't think they're good enough. In reality, it's just that I want to make myself and my parents proud that I've accomplished something no one in my family ever has.

Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? What advice/tips can you give me as I try to help my friends understand what my mindset is?

Comments (11)

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Ind
May 21, 2020

I've never been in your position, but I know it can be tough for people outside of the industry to understand how dreadful IB can be (as prospects, interns, and FTs).

My mom for the past year thought I was a bank teller and asked why I was always so busy. So, I had to sit down with her one weekend and tell her, "Ma, I'm not a bank teller. I work on the 40th floor of an office building."

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 21, 2020

Too relatable. My parents still think I help customers make deposits at a local branch.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 21, 2020

hahahah yeah my mom doesn't know much about IB either, but she's very supportive.

May 21, 2020

I think sadly your hometown friends either grow with you or hold you back. Not saying completely ditch your friends - but don't let them hold you back in any way right now. If they're completely fine working a 9-5 job, that's completely OK. Just realize that unless they're encouraging you right now or at least not being negative, you can probably spend less time with them right now as you head into recruiting.

"Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

    • 3
May 21, 2020

I have experienced the same thing with my friends in the past. Although I'm in a city that is very ambitious, my best friends are more or less satisfied with a 9-5 with a flat salary. From my experience, there was a lot of pushback from my friends in the beginning after I began making the necessary life/discipline changes to be able to reach my goals. After a while though, my friends understood why I was so focused and they helped encourage me. I think my drive also motivated them to make improvements in their lives too.

Bottom line, if they are your true friends, then they will support what you want to do with your life. It can be tough for friends to see you making positive changes in your life, because it reflects on all the flaws and laziness in their own lives. Ultimately, if they bring you down with them, you're going to have to let them go for a while and focus on you.

    • 1
  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 21, 2020

Thank you for this!

Most Helpful
May 21, 2020

Hello.

I get what you're living through. It's hard enough trying to make something of yourself when you are facing longer odds than most. Facing an added psychological layer where the people around you make you feel bad for the efforts you make is all the worse.

My advice is simple. Control what you can, and ignore the rest.

The controllable part is your demeanor. Without knowing it, you may be exuding some kind of energy that rubs people the wrong way. This could be offhand complaints that someone might think are directed at them (the verbal version of subtweeting), inconsiderate remarks sharing your status updates or progress, or a know-it-all attitude based on everything you're learning and absorbing in your recruiting process.

Take some time and reflect on whether there's anything internal that could be prompting or producing this behavior in other people. Arrogance, selfishness, greed, impatience, pride, and traits like them are all things that will immediately earn you scorn and irritation from others.

If after interrogating this, you can truly say that you are approaching this with humility, patience, generosity, and a positive demeanor and still, people are pulling you down, you have a clear answer.

Move on from them. It may be uncomfortable. That's life. Part of growth is knowing when someone is net negative and doesn't deserve the space they take up in your mind.

It doesn't mean you have to be rude to them, have a blow-up fight that ends things, or carry a silent grudge against them. You actually should do the opposite of each of those.

Having standards is a good thing. If you are able to identify someone doesn't match them, you should still treat them with grace, but distancing yourself is okay.

Distancing means that when they talk about you when you're not in the room, you don't mind. When they make fun of you to your face, you don't care. When you succeed and they circle back trying to share in your success, you feel no obligation.

Picture them like a toddler. If they try to fight you, you wouldn't ever fight back. You could bowl them over without trying, so fighting would be irresponsible of you. If they try to tease you, you can smile; it's amusing, but how could it hurt you? You're stronger and have to face real shit in the real world. If they throw a tantrum or beg you for the thing in your pocket, you don't give it to them because they won't know what to do with it and might break it.

Some of your friends may never 'grow up'. There's nothing wrong with wanting a simpler life, an easy job, and lots of free time to spend on nothing financially, intellectually, or physically productive. It's a free world, we all get only one life, and there's no real rules on how to live it. So you shouldn't judge someone for having less ambition. By the same token though, you shouldn't be judged for having more.

The last point I'll leave you with is that a lot of people resent someone else's progress because it reminds them of the absence of their own. This is where the 'crabs in a bucket' phrase applies: some will pull you down rather than see you escape. When you shine, others look more dull. As you continue unlocking good things for yourself in life, people will envy you.

Be aware that this never ends.

  • When you get your summer analyst job, a good chunk of your class won't get a return offer. If you're at a big bank with one hundred interns, maybe twenty will be in a position to be mad at you for returning when they couldn't.
  • Maybe you re-recruit and get to a better bank than you interned at. Everyone from your class who returns to the firm is in a position to be mad at you for doing what they couldn't.
  • Maybe you place lights-out and get the most dope associate gig. Your whole analyst class is in a position to be mad you're getting paid $100k more and a better resume item.
  • Maybe you get into GSB and HBS. Your associate peers are in a position to be mad you went two-for-two and they struck out.
  • Maybe you make eight figures in your thirties ...
  • Maybe you do a landmark deal that reshapes your focal industry ...
  • Maybe you get on the board of a marquee charity ...

It's hard to find genuine people who will celebrate your accomplishments sincerely and support you in your journey. They may differ from you in age, gender, industry, or location. As you find those few, hold on to them. Spend time with them, stay in touch regardless of circumstances, and cheer their success as hard as you work on your own.

Good luck. Keep working. You can make your life look like what you want it to.

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 21, 2020

Extremely insightful. Thank you so much for the advice!

May 21, 2020

Who the hell cares what they think? You're not violating the law, morality, or ethics. Ironically, they appear to be on your case because you are a good citizen and not a long-armed drunk like they are--so don't let these people "judge" you. In all seriousness, who the hell cares what these people think?

May 21, 2020

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

Your situation is very relatable and too familiar. It is challenging enough to break into IB from a non-target without having to worry about how others such as the old friends think about you. my advice is to focus your energy on achieving your goal and find a support group such as the WSO community if needed.

Good luck!

May 21, 2020
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