You crushed that internship. You got that full-time offer and you didn’t hesitate to accept it. You don a suit damn-near flawlessly. You were built for this industry. It’s smooth sailing straight to the top. All aboard the gravy train, baby! Everything is falling into place. Wall Street is calling your name and everyone is super stoked for you…at least that’s what you thought.
1. People Have No Idea What You Do
If a friend, family member, or someone you just met asks what exactly you do at work, and they don’t work in finance, chances are they won’t understand a single thing you say, no matter how much time you spend trying to explain it to them. I’ve yet to find a good answer to this seemingly simple question. The most basic explanation I give is “portfolio analysis,” but not only does that answer get the classic blank stare and “Ohhhh okay, cool,” it’s always followed by “How long do you work each day?” Unless you’re working for Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley and the like, no one has heard of your firm. 85% of the time, you leave whoever asked you these basic questions with the conclusion that you’re some sort of corporate drone. Which you kind of are, but still.
2. If You’re a Female, Power Moves Make You Look Like A Bitch
Unfortunately, stereotypes exist for a reason. You could be the smartest person (not just girl) in the office. You could volunteer to lead the project that brought in a billion dollars worth of business the same day you crushed a presentation, saved the CEO from falling down the stairs while not spilling your coffee or dropping your new monogrammed planner (that’s a thing, right?) and still looking good enough to meet the Pope. People will clap and cheer, and five seconds later they’ll think “What a bitch.” Although we now see many more females in charge today (CEOs for Yahoo & Xerox, Janet Yellen, etc.), unfortunately it’s still difficult for the ladies to advance up the ladder without appearing overly cold and aggressive.
3. You’re Not Actually Creating Anything
Especially at entry level. You’re mostly used for helping solicit potential clients or running reports that’ll help allocate their money. Sure, you can win business for your firm, bring in ultra-high net worth clients, but you earn only a tiny fraction of the size of the account you just brought in. Other than that, it’s still someone else’s money. No matter what finance sector you work in, this is overwhelmingly true. You could be a trader, a banker, an advisor, a consultant, a CEO, or the head of the US Treasury Department, and you’re still managing other people’s money. Money that you didn’t earn yourself, which brings us to…
4. Strangers Assume You’re A Raging Douche
The financial world’s reputation still hasn’t recovered from 2008. Even more so now that The Wolf of Wall Street has hit the big screen (great book, great movie, terrible portrayal of brokers). Going back to people having no idea what you actually do, they also assume you’re some sort of monetary villain constantly looking for convoluted ways to take money that was earned from another person’s hard work and in put it into your pocket. You might as well be breaking into a family’s house, smack their grandma with a bag of coke, kick their dog, then steal money right out of a baby’s crib while yelling “So long, college fund!” in their adorable little baby’s face.