Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Changing First Jobs Out of College for the Ivy League Elite: From Banking to Startups
Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Changing First Jobs Out of College for the Ivy League Elite: From Banking to Startups

Each year, college graduates from Ivy League schools and comparable fine institutions search for meaning and their first jobs out of college, it is well documented that many of them turned to investment banking and management consulting. Work that requires long hours, travel and dedication befitting their overachieving status. See recent literary works such as  William Deresiewicz's Excellent Sheep or Marina Keegan's The Opposite of Loneliness.  (This writer has seen this phenomena up close and personal)

They are perfect candidates for these banking and consulting jobs, because it leverages their basic attributes of being able to work long hours and sacrifice a proper work life balance for a delayed gratification result.

It is common for these entry level bankers and consultants to complain-brag of their 100 hour weeks, their 4 all nighters in a row, and not seeing daylight for weeks at a time. If it were any other profession or job, they'd be the labor outcry of the terrible working conditions that are destroying our elite youth.

(By the way, how could you have a 100 hour week? - even at 12 hour days x 7 days that's only 84, still another 16 hours in there some where)

So where's the high? Why do they do it? Don't get me wrong, the jobs are prestigious and intoxicating. Where else can you have a 24 year old tell a 55 year old business owner what to do with themselves? They pay handsomely for a young man or woman who's only claim to life may be that they mastered the ability to do well in school. And yet, at the high 5 figures or low 6 figure salaries versus the annual hours worked, and they're getting minimum wages (We use to say, McD's wages, but now even McD workers get $15/hr in many states).

(Don't get me wrong some of my "best" friends are Ivy League wall streeters).

Inevitably the attrition is high and after a two to three year stint, these high achieving elite move on to other professions, graduate school, (Although, some do remain and eventually go on to rule Wall Street and the corporate world). At least this has been true of the previous generation of overachieving ivy leaguers and comparable institutions entering the workforce.


Fast forward to today, where the new generation of graduating seniors of elite institutions have been told they are "special", they will do something "big," and they matter. They've now migrate to the new entry job - Startup Founder. 

As a startup founder, master's of their own universe, when asked how they're doing, the answer is inevitably "crushing it." They sport the same complain-brag of the entry level banker-consultant, "Yeah, it's 24/7." "We're at it 12 hours a day/7 days a week." Much of this is self-induced, part of this is because they believe this is what their investors want to hear.

But wait. . . there's no pay? And even when they are successful and get their funding that gives them those fancy aero chairs and Macbook airs, when all is said in done, they exit with little of their original company. Profits to be made by their new masters who made the risky investments and bet on their success. 

The final act of this story is yet to play out, but it is definitely food for thought as to what's becoming of these educated elite youth and how they fare in the long term.