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

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Investment banking internships are starting now. shironosov/selensergen/iStock; Jenny Chang-Rodriguez

  • 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.  

(Editor’s note: This story was originally published in September 2022 and updated in June 2023 as the next wave of investment banking internships commenced.) 

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 large pay packages 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.

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

The intern complained of being chained to his computer out of fear. After being called out by a managing director for not jumping on a project ASAP one night, 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, partly because sometimes he couldn’t get up from his desk to eat. He didn’t sleep well, he said.  

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.

And click here for tips on how to crush your investment banking internship, including who to turn to with questions, what to wear, and when to leave the office. 

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