Today my guest blogger is a senior at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania pursuing concentrations in Finance & Management and top contributor to WallStreetOasis.com, Wall Street Oasis is one of the largest and most entertaining finance communities online. This Ivy Leaguer has a lot to say on the topic of work life balance even though he hasn't even graduated college. He didn't want me to print his name because he's in the proccess of applying for full time positions. He says he plans to pursue a career in investment banking after graduation because he finds the field of work fast-paced and exciting.
Here is his take on work life balance:
In the spring of 2011, I was accepted into my dream college. After meticulously double-checking (no, triple-checking) the word “Congratulations” on my acceptance letter, I broke into tears of joy and relief. As I cried like a baby, I recalled the years of leadership activities that I hoped would make my candidacy stand out compared to that of my peers, successful and failed SATs & AP exams, varsity sports, and the amount of studying I had to do while balancing the other aspects of my life. I thanked my parents for their Draconian teachings and God for standing by my side. Like any other immature high school student, I thought my life was set.
As I glance back now in retrospect as a junior in college (still immature), I realize I was so wrong.
Since coming to college, I have felt like an ant in a world overrun by giants, a soldier in a war-torn battlefield, and David standing in front of Goliath. Every peer was intelligent, cunning, and built for success in the field of finance. As a prospective student interested in pursuing a career in investment banking, I had to stand out once more against my colleagues. In order to do so, this past fall I decided to pick up a an investment banking internship in addition to juggling my academics, on-campus activities, and my social life. Quite frankly speaking, the work/life balance was difficult at first.
My typical day started with classes at 9AM that concluded at around 2PM. Afterwards, I ran back to my apartment to switch into my suit, pick up a banana or a yogurt for a quick snack, and left to catch a subway that would take me to a train transit station. After a brief train ride, I would walk twenty minutes or so to my office that was located in suburbs outside of my city. All in all, the commute took approximately an hour. In between my train rides, I would study for my classes or brush up on my outstanding work for my firm. On Friday’s when I did not have any classes, I would spend the whole day at the office from morning to evening.
Unfortunately, the work of investment banking varies quite frequently, making the work/life balance all the more difficult to maintain. At times, I would get off work on time at around 7PM, but if the office were flooded with transactions, I would have to stay until much later to finish the work. Once I left the office, I went straight home to change, and try to pick up dinner with my friends. If not, I did whatever I could to study with my friends in order to make sure my social life was still intact and separate from the work itself. Of course, I would miss weekday lunch/dinner reservations at times because of work, but that naturally made my weekends more valuable and time for friends.
In regards to my academics, I knew falling behind would be so easy. In hindsight, this aspect was the most difficult one to maintain in my work/life balance during this period. I made sure to attend every one of my classes, put in my utmost effort to stay awake through every single one of them, and write copious amount of notes for review. After I had dinner with my friends, the remaining amount of time was left for study. Even then, I did not perform well on certain exams at times. However, once I got accustomed to the schedule, my grades did not fluctuate.
Within this strict routine, I still kept one hour of each day for myself to watch my favorite TV shows, workout, nap, cook, or even just bum around as a couch potato. The hour was no one else’s, but mine. It was truly a time that allowed me to get away from everything and focus on myself. In a way, it was a sanity check.
Throughout the three months, I questioned myself frequently why I am putting myself through the routine. Of course, I completely understand that many professionals or full-time parents who are reading this post may feel that I am just a fragile college student complaining of another day at school. However, at least for myself, the three months were difficult and rigorous.
Nevertheless, I do not regret them at all.
While I may have complained back then, in retrospect, I really enjoyed the work, the people I was with, and the routine that I set for myself. Again and again, through the experience, I matured and grew. Everyday was a challenge, and overcoming it in and of itself was exciting. As I gear myself ready for my full-time summer investment banking internship, I am not worried because I am going to do the same thing I did for the three-month work: live everyday to the fullest, but not forget to recount each and every moment.