The Future's Not Goldman


It's widely believed that everyone in banking aspires to work at Goldman. Everyone? Not me, and I surely can't be the only one....

In the ranks of investment banks there is one that stands head and shoulder above everybody else. The Ferrari to your Ford Focus. The Miele kitchen to your Whirlpool appliances. Goldman Sachs. Such is the reputation that everyone thinks that the ultimate goal of any banker is to work there. Worse, everybody at Goldman thinks that as well, which leads to a slight feeling of superiority one could also call flat-out arrogance.

Let's get the groundwork clear. I have never worked for GS, but I have to admit that on occasions I have interviewed there. Once I came close but didn't make the cut, and once I progressed to later stages and decided to pull out for personal reasons.

What reasons could those possibly be? Was it the fear that again I wouldn't make the cut and I wanted to preempt this personal defeat? No. I was in my mid-thirties and had just become a father. I realised that a job at GS would amount to sacrificing all personal interaction with my offspring during the week in order to put in the necessary and expected hours. After brief consideration I decided that no possible riches would compensate for the lack of being home for bathtime.

Besides, those famous riches are far from being certain anyway. Knowing people who work there (and who I don't rate) as well as people who work their butts off (and who I do rate very much), I know for a fact that not everybody is a genius. Nor is everybody a millionaire. And just like in any other bank, that the set of geniuses and millionaires does intersect, but most certainly does not coincide.

As a friend of mine once put it: Don't worry about not being hired there. They generally prefer hiring fresh faces in their twenties who enjoy signing their lives away. It's ultimately not worth it. Proving that point, a date I once went on with a GS employee ended at 9pm when her boss texted that their morning meeting had been rescheduled to 5:30 the next morning.

Of course, those who have made the cut and have taken home the golden paychecks might beg to differ.

But for the time being, I enjoy knowing that my early mornings are best spent wiping up Cheerios that my boy has spilled all over the kitchen floor.