Yesterday, two important events happened.
1) i started this posterous so i can postulate relentlessly, and
2) i got my bonus number (to be funded in my bank account next friday).
Citi, like most bulge bracket investment banks, promises glory, allure, and prestige; you just have to have the gaping, desperate, corporate hole to withstand ‘taking it’ for the majority of your existence in order to achieve them. The bank reminds you everyday that you want it–the models and bottles, the envied lifestyle, the slim chance that you will make Managing Director by the end of your career and enter the exclusive world of the cultured elite–by hanging a glamorous carrot in front of you in the form of a performance compensation (which the bank keeps you in the dark regarding the entire process: when you will get your review, when you get your bonus number, and when it will be funded, that i honestly thought i would find out my bonus number first through popular wall street blog, dealbreaker); allowing you, an underqualified recent graduate struggling to maintain a laundry schedule, feel a false sense of self-righteousness by giving them absurd responsibilities (‘should we lend this company $1Bn?’), all at the same time raping you senseless and numb. You will feel priviledged for having a job and prestige for being so close, yet so far, from working with corporations that essentially run the world. Finally my mom can engage in conversation proudly to other asian moms when the topic turns to their children (which i would say conservatively is 90%).
Due to my dichotomous sentiment towards banking, I watched the 2008-2009 financial and economic crisis partly with a sort of twisted, perverse glee, vindicated briefly from my dirty pursuit to join the ranks that are so motivated by short-term performance to throw recklessly into the wind the long-term stability of the public, yet at the same time felt hopeless, seeing the value of my nyu stern-banker-technical school finance degree and my future career crash into the ground as fast as people were selling their lehman positions.
But i tried it anyway, the big game of wall street. It was the masochist in me, that pushes me to my limits, that see if i had it in me to withstand hours of excel spreadsheets and word documents. First, determine your objective: long term career, short term bonus. Then play accordingly.
It tests a wide range of human tolerance: emotional (‘why the fuck doesnt EBITDA match the one in the model?’), physical (‘i need to find the one restaurant on seamless that has at least one redeeming nutritional aspect’), and mental (‘you need to complete three credit approval memos by tonight. Client needs a response tomorrow’). All at the same time, knowing whose cock to rub in the office.
In the short to medium term, your performance (read: the size of your bonus) is not a close indicator of your skills. Your performance rests solely on how the managers perceive you. You can deceive them, so long as you dont get caught (by completing or volunteering for tasks that are high visibility, but ignoring behind the scenes work). However, in the long run, your performance is tied to your abilities. The success of a career depends on the person.
So i played the game and did allright for myself. I learned a lot, not just about financial markets or structuring a transaction, but about working with other people, managing expectations, and drinking myself senseless to stay sane (bear fights: jager bomb then irish car bomb). It has been a wildly (boring) year and i think i am ready for a change.
Or so i (incorrectly) postulate.