Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street?


(a) is very good at school; (b) has been very successful by conventional standards for his entire life; (c) has little or no experience of the “real world” outside of school or school-like settings; (d) feels either the ambition or the duty to have a positive impact on the world (not well defined); and (e) is driven more by fear of not being a success than by a concrete desire to do anything in particular.

  1. 勉強ができる
  2. 一般的な基準に照らして常に成功してきた
  3. 学校やそれに近い世界以外での経験がほとんどない
  4. (なんとなく)社会のためになりたい・ならないといけないと思っている
  5. 具体的に何かをやりたいというよりも成功出来ないことを恐れている


Their (our) decisions are motivated by two main decision rules: (1) close down as few options as possible; and (2) only do things that increase the possibility of future overachievement.


  1. なるべくオプションを減らさない
  2. 将来成功するための可能性を上げる


Money is far down the list; at this point in their lives, if you asked them, many of these people would probably say that they only need to be middle or upper-middle class, and assume that they will be.



The recruiting processes of Wall Street firms (and consulting firms, and corporate law firms) exploit these (faulty) decision rules perfectly. The primary selling point of Goldman Sachs or McKinsey is that it leaves open the possibility of future greatness.


The idea is that you will get some kind of generic business training that equips you to do anything, and that you will get the resume credentials and connections you need to go on and do whatever you want.


And to some extent it’s true, because these names look good on your resume, and very few potential future employers will wonder why you decided to go there.


The second selling point is that they make it easy. Yes, there is competition for jobs at these firms. But the process is easy.


For people who don’t know how to get a job in the open economy, and who have ended each phase of their lives by taking the test to do the most prestigious thing possible in the next phase, all of this comes naturally.


The third selling point — not the top one, but it’s there — is the money. Or, more accurately, the lifestyle.



Your expenses grow to match your income. As the decades pass and you realize that no, you’re not going to save the world, the money becomes a more and more important part of the justification.


And when you have kids, you’re stuck;


More importantly, you internalize the rationalizations for the work you are doing.


And individually, I have nothing against them, although I do think they should do their best to keep their expenses down so they will be able to switch careers later.