Inside a college student’s ‘abusive’ summer from hell on Wall Street

  • A college student shared his experience as an investment banking intern.
  • He lost 10 pounds and was afraid to leave his desk, he said.
  • It opened his eyes to the finance industry’s demanding and ‘abusive’ culture, he said.

Every year legions of optimistic college students vie for a chance to work for an investment bank. These jobs are famous for long, often grueling, hours. But the big bonuses and glamorous lifestyles (ie: putting together multi-billion dollar deals in bespoke suits) can make it all seem worthwhile.

Insider recently spoke to an intern whose dreams of working on Wall Street were squashed after he spent the summer of 2022 working for a midsize investment bank in Chicago. The bank offered him big bucks to return full time, but the experience had left such a bad taste in his mouth that he said no.

Wall Street’s culture — even without the screaming and yelling of yore — is just too “abusive,” he said.

The analyst recalled seeing a full-time analyst on his team get reamed out by an managing director on email for a mistake that wasn’t his fault. It later turned out that the analyst had just been following orders. But despite having disciplined the analyst over email with whole deal team copied, the managing director never apologized, the intern said.

“It was like he was above reproach,” the intern said.

The intern also complained of being chained to his computer out of fear. He recalled, for example, being at the gym after 8 p.m. one night when a managing director emailed him to start work on something. He said yes and had planned to get to it as soon as his workout was done. His apartment was right upstairs from the gym.

But the MD dinged him again about 25 minutes later asking “What’s your status on this,” the intern said. “He didn’t sound pleased to be kept waiting.”

After that, the intern found himself “obsessively” checking his phone every five minutes to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. “The need to be available became so bad that when my roommates wanted to go on walks to explore Chicago I would say no or refuse to venture far from home. I thought I needed to be within close physical proximity to my apartment in case I needed to run back and do something.”

He lost 10 pounds that summer, in part because sometimes he couldn’t get up from his desk to eat. He didn’t sleep well, he said.

The junior analysts he worked with were aware that they are being mistreated, even though they rarely did anything about it, he said. “Across the board, the analysts know it’s wrong. At the end of the day, many of them are just like, ‘Fuck this.'”

“The word ‘abusive’ comes to mind,” the intern said. “Viscerally, I’d say that word sounds harsh, but when I think about it … it sounds right. Abusive.”

He told his story to Insider reporter Reed Alexander on the condition of anonymity for fear that speaking out could hurt his future career ambitions. Insider has verified his identity and work history.

To see more on his story, including the soul-crushing nature of his work, and how people reacted to his decision to turn down a six-figure offer, click here to subscribe.