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There’s this friend BC whose only goal in life is to get in a prestigious financial services firm. As he reads about more financial firms, he changes his goal.

He’d read a post on Wall Street Oasis about BlackRock.

“I’d give anything to work at BlackRock!”

Then he’d read an article about Blackstone’s exclusivity.

“No, Blackstone! That’s the one that only admits 0-2 people a year, right?”

etc.

Sometimes, I’m even surprised by what this guy asks:

BC: “Hey, which Morgan Stanley internship am I interested in?”

Me: “Well, what do you like to do?”

BC: “What should I be interested in?”

At the end of the day, he hopes he will work somewhere prestigious enough that his name card speaks for him (Ok, as much as I’m trashing him, I still love that guy. He’s a great friend). Unfortunately, this attitude sounds exactly like what will make finance the new law, an industrial complex where factories churn out law students in quantity and quality.

This slowly devolves into this sort of scenario:

“Hmmm, I want to a secure job that could let me live a good life.

Kids become tools. The word tool has a double definition: it defines both people who regard everything in life as just tools to help them achieve their goals, and also people who are willing to be used as tools so they can achieve their goals. The vicious cycle just continues, as tools use tools, and pull each other up in the game of gaining affluence and influence.

Starting from high school, kids work for a prestigious university. A prestigious university degree then becomes desired enough that kids go through college just for the piece of paper, and are willing to go through underhanded means to get it. Then, to get a prestigious job, you have to pick the right stepping stones. The problem with stepping stones is that sometimes the best stepping stones are noble organizations like Teach for America, Peace Corps, etc. Despite having impure motives, it isn’t quite so hard to fool the interviewers that you’re interested in say, teaching in poor neighborhoods, and then using them to achieve your ultimate career goal.

Then, at work, you still have an under performing individual because they don’t really want to be there. Sure, they are on the winning team, but are they there as a mindless tool, or a player who is loving what they do?

So next time you see this ad (and as a bank, next time you post an ad like this), think to yourself, why do you want to join the winning team? Because you love what the firm does? Or because it helps you reach an end?

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