Is the extreme work culture worth it?
Across the entry-level positions at many of the world’s leading financial institutions and consulting firms, there are no illusions of nine to five or summer vacations with phones left in. the hotel room. From the start, junior employees are aware that they are entering a trial by fire – and it is up to them to survive the flames.
However, just because these entry-level workers have a sense of what they are going to face does not always mean that they are properly prepared or that their expectations match their eventual reality.
In March, 13 analysts from first-year Goldman Sachs – the lowest group on the corporate totem pole – carried out an “ investigation ” into their working conditions at the prestigious multinational bank, in a document seen by the BBC. The survey, modeled on Goldman Sachs’ official pitchbook template, detailed the group’s 95-hour work weeks, poor mental and physical health, deteriorating personal relationships, and conditions one respondent called of “inhuman”.
The content of the investigation was, in some ways, shocking. But, in others, some of the results were not entirely unexpected. For many branded jobs, this is how it can work for younger people – and it has been for a long time.
The prevailing narrative: It’s just the price you pay for a longer term reward of power and prestige at the big paycheck institutions. But for young people just entering the workforce, is the hard work worth the epic reward, even if it can come with worrying side effects? Some may say so.
‘A boot-camp mentality’
This nose-to-grind culture in these types of jobs has been around in one form or another for years, says William D Cohan, author of a bestselling book on the history of Goldman Sachs, Money and Power, and who has also worked on Wall Street for 17 years.
For example, in finance, when big banks went public, the amount of work employees had to do “increased exponentially,” Cohan says. “The demand for what they did skyrocketed, and the demand from employees then exploded.