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What it's really like to work on Wall Street

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind
Daily Ticker

Wall Street Oasis is probably one of the largest and most informative finance websites that you’ve never heard of. With over 800,000 posts and a million unique visitors each month, this forum-based site has become the bastion for everything young Wall Streeters want to know. On top of job advice, etiquette, and culture guides, the site also compiles data on pay and hours and offers personalized career coaching.

The Daily Ticker spoke with Wall Street Oasis founder Patrick Curtis to get the lowdown on young Wall Street culture and to discuss how the impacts of the 2008 recession may have permanently altered it.

On Competition

“There are still less jobs than there were at the peak of 2007,” says Curtis, “and candidates are much better prepared than they were with interview guides and resume reviews.” Curtis also notes that big banks tend to recruit mostly at Ivy League and other top schools. If you don’t go to a top school, it’s an uphill battle to even get an interview at one of these firms.

Related: The best Wall Street movies

Interview questions range anywhere from mental math questions (“quick, what’s 18x45?”) to bizarre behavioral questions (“if you were a pro-wrestler what would your theme song be?”).

Which bank is the most difficult to score a gig at? No surprises here - it’s still Goldman Sachs (GS).

On Pay and Hours

“There’s a reason they call analysts monkeys,” says Curtis. “Analysts are basically stuck and chained to their cubes 80 to 100 hours a week. That’s not an exaggeration.”

Some banks are now attempting to shorten hours and require vacation time. Goldman Sachs, for example, instituted a rule late last year requiring junior employees to be out of the office between 9pm on Friday and 9am on Sunday. They also claim that all junior analysts are expected to take three weeks off each year.

Related: "Silicon Valley is the new Wall Street": Alex Payne

In terms of pay, levels are once again approaching pre-2008 levels. According to Wall Street Oasis proprietary info, first-year analysts are now making $60,000 or $70,000 in base pay. They also get bonuses valued between $40,000 and $70,000. Students in their first year out of college are making six figures as investment bankers.

The lifestyle

"The Wolf of Wall Street" movie certainly made Wall Street seem like a hard-partying industry full of debauchery -- and in some ways it still is.

“For the most part these kids are young, they like to party and they have a little bit more money than the average 23-year-old,” explains Curtis.

Related: Idea that Washington beat Wall Street is the "stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life," says Macke

“You hear that glamorous side and about the big parties," says Curtis. "But what you don’t hear is that when they get free time a lot of them just want to sleep."

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