Ivy League Grads & Finance/Consulting
Warning: this will be of interest to a microscopically small number of people. Ezra Klein recently wrote an insightful column on why so many Ivy League graduates go into finance and consulting, that rings very true to me as a recent Ivy League grad and newly-former consultant.
The fundamental thing these firms have to offer applicants, and what they’re really selling, is maximum security and flexibility. The idea is that you will work hard, and in so doing learn how to work really hard in high-pressure, demanding, nothing-like-college environments. You will have exit opportunities unmatched in any other profession you could choose to enter after college, and if you don’t like it you can just drop it and leave with a stupendous name on your resume. It’s easy to apply, and the path to greater wealth via business school is very clearly marked. And on top of all that, you get paid real money to do so!
The thing is that unlike so much of what these firms have to tell each other, their clients, and the US Congress, it’s pretty much true. You will gain valuable general-employment skills, and if you want to leave you really will have a stupendous name on your resume. Even grad schools are highly inclined to take someone who has gone through the pressure cookers of investment banks and big 3 consulting firms, according to a friend who sit on an admission committee. While I think it would be better if finance wasn’t sucking up so much of the best and brightest*, but one must realize it is a truly mutually beneficial relationship.