So I've come to a realization about something and let me know what you think.
As an example, I'll compare working a top firm in Tech, IB, Consulting, Law, and Audit. So if someone gets employed at a place like Google, Facebook, etc you're most likely facing the same difficulty if not slightly easier than getting into a job at a BB, MBB or a Biglaw firm. For argumentative purposes, we'll use an example of comparing someone working at Google vs BB vs MBB vs Biglaw vs Big 4
1- Let's compare the work-life balance.
Now the characteristic all these places but Google have in common is that you're expected to not have a life. In IB, you'll work 90-100 at analyst and it'll very slowly decrease to around 65 as an MD. For consultants, at the beginning, you work 65-70 and at Partner, you most likely work 60, not much change. In Biglaw, you're consistently working 65-70 even when you make Partner unless you're a true superstar and have a huge book of clients so that you don't need to show up to work. At the Big 4, you work a 9-5 job for most of the year and then IB hours during Jan-March. When you make Partner, you work around 65 hours. Now if you look at Google, you work 9-5 forever, as you go up, your hours stay the same. Consultant and Audit Partners have an "ok" lifestyle if you compare it to the likes of BB and Biglaw but compared to Google, they're living to work.
2- Next, the long-term aspects.
So, let's pretend that everyone at all these firms are "average" performers and takes a look 10 years into the future. Everyone is gone except for the guy working at Google. To make it to Partner or MD in any of those fields, you have to continuously perform and bring in sales to move up to Partner and even when you're at Partner you could still be fired. At Google, you start out at L3 and expected to move up to L5 (if you could get a job at Google, you could accomplish this) and you could stay there as long as you aren't screwing anything up.
Now if we took someone putting in a lot of effort the outcome in 10 years would be pretty similar. The guys in IB, Law, and Consulting would have a slim chance at making to Partner/MD, the guy in accounting would have an alright chance at making it to Partner and the guy at Google could probably move up from L5 to L6 and have a chance at L7. Moving up at Google takes WAY less luck, and office politics, they base it mostly off your abilities as an engineer and as an added bonus, you don't need to kill yourself to stay at this level.
The most the Big 4, Biglaw, BB or MBB offer you is a gym, black car services and free takeout if you stay late.
Google, on the other hand, offers free food (even dinner is offered to the engineers that choose to stay past 6), sleeping areas, park areas outside their offices, built-in theatres, golf courses, gyms, music rooms and an overall more bright, colorful feel to their office.
4- Now, the compensation. (These figures may be slightly off but it's in the general area)
BB Analyst: 100-120K
BB MD: 1MM-4MM
MBB Analyst: 95-100K
MBB Partner: 900K-2MM
Biglaw Associate: 180K
Biglaw Partner: 600k-3MM
Big 4 Associate: 65k
Big 4 Partner: 350k-2MM
Google L3: 100-120K
Google L7: 500k-600k
Now, you could obviously go higher than L7 but I'd say that's even harder than making Partner in PE as you're usually required to be on a bunch of big projects which rarely happens to any Google SWE in their lifetime so I'd say L7 is the max you could go if all efforts to succeed in these 5 industries are the same. So, as you could see, from start to finish at your career in Google, your salary doesn't raise by all that much compared to other industries which is normal for any engineering/science occupation.
Though all in all, I'd think that working in a city like L.A, San Jose, Seattle and making 400k-500k while being able to go home at 5-6 to see my wife and kids, not having to work weekends as well as being able to hang out with friends is a lifestyle that anybody would choose. Does potentially making 1MM matter so much that people are willing to work 65+ hours and have worse job security as Partner of some big firm? You may not be able to afford a 8,000+ square foot home and multiple sports cars as a SWE but you're easily living a comfortable lifestyle with no worries about money in mind.
To conclude, I'm in no way insulting anyone in the other 4 careers listed here, I'm just trying to see your point of view for choosing said careers. As well as since this board is made up by many college students trying to break into finance I'd like to ask, why did you choose finance or consulting over other alternatives? If anything, I'd choose being an auditor any day of the week, 9-5 for 9 months of the year, decent money to start out with and the chance of making a lot as Partner without as many hours as other jobs seems nicer than the other options.
Anyways, I'm done talking now what do you guys have to say about my train of thought?
(Note: Are there any jobs I may have missed that are apart of business/finance could be compared here? I hear about Corporate Banking, Asset Management and PWM on this forum a lot but don't know if they are comparable. I left out PE because they're not seen as a long-term career with only around 10% of people getting back in after their MBA and less than 1% making it to Partner afterward. I also left out other exit opps like Corp Fin/Dev/Strat because in general these aren't on the same level as listed jobs as they pay less, less upward mobility, etc.)