It’s seemingly a rite of passage, and one that doesn’t make all that much sense on the surface. A class of elite college students accept jobs at banks and consulting firms, complain about the hours and the toll it takes mentally and physically, and then eventually burnout and quit. Or at least a lot of them do. Then, the next year, the same thing happens again. Why?
A new study offers a few possible answers, all of which suggest the decision to join banking or consulting has little to do with the students themselves.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego interviewed 60 students and recent graduates of Harvard and Stanford. What they found, according to Quartz, which first dissected the study, was that many students joined the Ivy League with no real dreams of a career in banking or consulting. Some even entered college resenting those industries.
However, at the time of graduation, that sentiment had changed. One reason is the aggressive nature of the firms’ recruitment programs. They would pay the schools for premium access to elite students, including obtaining email addresses, renting out the most impressive banquet rooms and the best tables at career fairs.
Banks and consulting firms would even receive “bundled delivery of applicants’ resumes” from the schools, according to the research paper. One source told Business Insider earlier this year that her firm now spends around $50,000 per recruit (note: recruit, not hire).
Banks and consulting firms also have a way of using peer pressuring against elite students, whether advertent or not, due to their recruiting schedule, which begins incredibly early, likely before many students are ready to commit to a career path. Some who may not have dreamed of becoming a banker may feel pressured to hop on the bus before it takes off, the report suggests.
Surely the prospect of money and prestige add into the equation as well, but maybe there is more manipulation at play during the recruitment process than we all thought.
It makes some sense though. Elite students have been proven to be more “sheep-like” than your average shmoe, according to a separate study.
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