Magazine article The New Yorker

The Night Shift

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Night Shift

Article excerpt

The Night Shift

There was no reason for the investment bankers who interviewed me to hire me. I knew nothing about finance and wasn't even really clear as to what bankers did; all I knew was that they wore snazzy suits and looked coolly impatient. My reason for wanting to be a banker was simple: I was a student at Harvard Law School, and I figured that, instead of working very hard as a corporate lawyer, I might as well work the same amount in finance and make even more money. Many of my fellow-students appeared to be thinking the same thing; as I remember, almost a third of the people I knew who were graduating in my year applied to become bankers.

To interview with the less prosperous investment banks, we waited in the then mangy hallways of the Sheraton Commander Hotel, in Cambridge. For the bulge-bracket firms, like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, we met in hospitality suites at the Charles and tried to hide our anxiety. When I am nervous, I become giddy and happily talkative. In the hospitality suites, I stationed myself by the sushi platters and offered advice on what was especially delicious. If there was an open bar at some expensive restaurant during a recruiting event, I'd gleefully debate with the bartender whether I should drink the Johnny Walker Blue or some rare Talisker.

The fact that I knew nothing was immediately clear. After a few interviews in which I saw my interlocutor flick his eyes over my resume and register that I had no relevant experience, I decided to start lying.

I began telling interviewers that throughout high school and much of college I had worked night shifts at 7-Elevens and gas stations. I came up with this lie because I was Indian and was used to being seen through stereotypes--used to being asked if I spoke English or if I was studying to be a doctor. The reason I chose this particular lie was that people love the hardworking-immigrant-who-makes-good narrative. It allows them to feel that they live in a benign, meritocratic world, and to believe, in a back-channel way, that they are deserving of their success. Also, bankers work bone-crunching hours. In my night-shift history, my interviewers would see evidence that I was a tireless employee.

During the interviews, as I told my story, I would almost pop out of my chair with nervous exultation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.