“Why would you ever want to major in business?” my friend interrogated me after I shared my potential major, “It’s such a blow off and you won’t have a soul.”
Shocked, I did not know how to respond to such accusations. Is it true that the work behind business is menial and mind-numbing? Is it difficult to pursue a worthy cause in doing business? Or was my friend exaggerating?
Diligently, I did my research. The first result I found was a new book: Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals written by John LeFevre, the banker behind GS Elevator. Notorious for its politically incorrect and often offensive comments, LeFevre supposedly reposts the hilarious banter that takes place in the privacy of the GS elevators. Since then, the account has evolved to include things overheard on trading floors, bullpens, lobbies and bars. One of my recent favorites includes, “Some chick asked me what I would do with 10 million bucks. I told her I’d wonder where the rest of my money went.”
Darn it, I thought, this only proved my friend right. So I delved further.
After talking to several mentors who have worked in the business field and conducting some online research, I learned about the hectic lifestyle of consulting. My mentors described the career as a “marathon” with long hours and erratic schedules.
One of my mentors said that consulting is “not for slackers or sleepy-heads. Including travel, it’s easily a 70+ hour a week job.” He detailed the need for networking with clients after deals were made, going to the bar until 2 am. The following morning, he wakes up at 5 am to catch a flight for the next business deal. Consulting is not a 9-5 job. Nor is it simply a job. Consulting and other careers in business are lifestyles, ones that social lives, family and friends revolve around. The consultant lifestyle is physically, mentally, and emotionally strenuous. Consultants are normally required to travel for 4 days a week should they be servicing a client who is not within driving distance of their “hub city.”
But more importantly, I found that a career in business can be meaningful. In South Africa, Coca-Cola is providing access to microcredit for women retailers, with initial results indicating that women who receive these benefits are earning an income three to nine times the minimum wage. In other countries, microloans to individuals and communities have empowered local family-owned businesses to sell internationally artesian-made goods. Consulting cases have helped improve hospitals, cities, and non-profit organizations. And the list goes on and on.
“My name is Jordan Belfort. I’m a former member of the middle class raised by two accountants in a tiny apartment in Bayside, Queens. The year I turned 26, as the head of my own brokerage firm, I made $49 million, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.”
This quote from the infamous movie The Wolf of Wall Street perfectly epitomizes the luxury, extravagance and profligacy that accompany the perception of the lifestyle of a stereotypical businessperson. While such perceptions may capture the public’s imagination, this outlook is misguided and has had the unfortunate consequence of turning away many students from pursuing such a career route. However, dedicating one’s profession to business can be both challenging and meaningful, as noted above. After all, business does run the world.
“Amazon Books.” Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals: John LeFevre: 9780802123305: Amazon.com: Books. Web. 05 Sept. 2014.
Kteily,, Khaled. “Quora.” Succeeding as a Consultant (Part 5 of 5): Frame... 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 05 Sept. 2014.
Kuo, Peter. “Save Our American Dream: Fight Reverse Discrimination in College Admissions.” Breitbart News Network. 26 July 2014. Web. 31 Aug. 2014.
Wales, Andy. “How Can Business Drive Meaningful Poverty Alleviation?” Homepage. Development Progress5, 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 05 Sept. 2014.
Image Credit: The Wolf of Wall Street via fair use.