A Look Behind the Wall

Even given the current economic climate, Wall Street remains a top destination for college students and young professionals. Compared to the alternatives, exit opportunities and career paths for Wall Streeters are still compelling. Recent graduates with Wall Street jobs still top the compensation charts for their class, and it is these same individuals who are most likely to be found in the nation’s top MBA programs a few years later. Thus, while the business models of many firms are currently being stress-tested, not much has changed for the ambitious college student. The most competitive, challenging, and financially-rewarding jobs are still to be found on Wall Street.

While your average college student is well aware of this fact, it is far harder to arrive at a good understanding of what each of these jobs are like, how to get them, and what kind of long-term opportunities they present. Since many of these firms are sufficiently prestigious that they don’t need to spend resources marketing themselves to candidates, there’s a lot of information that you’re only going to get from someone who’s been there, who’s walked the halls and eaten at the cafeterias and slept under the desks. That’s why this guide is here.

If you’re tempted to say that any Wall Street job is good enough, or that you’ll try for them all and then choose once you get some offers: stop and rethink. First and foremost, each segment of Wall Street prefers to hire those candidates who have tailored their experiences and their resumes specifically for that segment. They want the job to go to the person who has done the research and made the choice. In short, they want to know that you have been as selective in choosing them as they will be in choosing you.

Second, although it may be easy to say that any Wall Street job will put you where you want to be, we here at WallStreetOasis have seen many examples to the contrary over the years. The exit opps may be solid and the pay may be great, but once you’ve got that job, you’ve got to work it every day for years. If you’re not happy, if there’s something about the job you can’t stand, you won’t be as successful as you could have been. It pays to do your legwork up front before you find yourself shackled to a cubicle for two years doing work that doesn’t interest you or making sacrifices that you didn’t know were required.

This guide doesn’t purport to have all the answers, nor does it attempt to make generalizations about the industry. Instead, each of our contributors has offered a personal and candid look into their work lives: how they got there, what it’s like, and the traits and skills that have been necessary for them to succeed. Your mileage may vary, of course; details will differ between firms, years, and geographic areas. However, our contributors’ stories provide data points that should be helpful as you do your own analysis.

If you want more details or advice, many of our contributors (as well as other Wall Street pros) can be found on the WallStreetOasis forums. If they’re not slammed and you ask politely, they may be able to help you out. And whether you’re looking for your first job or a new job: keep us posted!

Best of luck,

The team at WallStreetOasis.com

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