Posts tagged with career

Investment banking neither seeks out nor requires the allegedly “best and brightest”—whoever the f― they are supposed to be—for its employees. All we seek are aggressive, ambitious, smart enough young kids to process our ridiculous pitch books, update our standardized models, and generally take our sh_t while we senior bankers do whatever is necessary to bring in enough revenues to ensure our continued employment and the consequent support of our dependent wives, children, mistresses, and bartenders.

The core premise of my industry … is uncompromising customer service. The entire f―ing point of working 24 hours a day, for days on end, and canceling weeknight dates with Kate Upton, Las Vegas bachelor parties with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, and Christmas holidays with the Pope of all Christendom at the last possible minute is that the entire investment bank works at the pleasure and whim of clients who pay us a small fortune to do so. That is why successful senior bankers never tell the client no. That is why we agree to impossible deadlines for ridiculous requests at the last minute. Why we therefore ruin our junior bankers’ lives with all-night and all-weekend work on a regular basis. Because that is the f―ing job.

The Epicurean Dealmaker, The Invention of Leisure


He adds:

[I] mean the wet-behind-the-ears tyros who join investment banks straight out of college (known, grandiloquently, as “Financial Analysts”) or business school (“Associates”) to provide the blood, lymphatic fluid, and gristle which lubricate the grindstones of a large, multinational investment bank such as Goldman Sachs. Note that the moniker “professionals” is applied only to those naïfs who join an investment bank with some pretense or ambition of making widow and orphan cheating their long-term career, rather than the far more numerous, better-treated, and far less dispensable folks known as “support staff” who actually make the world go around.


I loved being a rifle company commander. Having the responsibility for 211 men. Being totally in charge of their welfare and their training. That was the happiest period of my life, professionally, looking back on things.

Estonians are amenable to marriage. They have a liberal, “eh, what the heck” approach to it and see it as a manifestation of romantic love, as opposed to the US where it has been viewed as a phase in life that occurs sometime after a big promotion at work.

Tyler Cowen says that super hackers will benefit from improving computer technology and reap the high wages of the post-recession economy.

I’m sorry to say I too have used the lazy robo-programmers metaphor. That was uncareful non-thinking on my part.

Trying to be more logical, what should we really conclude from the assumption that observed ↑ growth in “computer stuff” will continue apace?

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What jobs do the 1% have? by Bajika, Cole, and Heim

BCH and the US government did all the work here. My only contribution was to highlight

  1. professions I didn’t expect to see like pilot, farmer, government, teacher
  2. some “standard narratives”:
    • the one about “lawyers and doctors”
    • (I don’t know why these two get grouped together, since one works in abstractions and the other works in gore…but whatever, that is a narrative)
    • the one about “study hard and you’ll get ahead” (scientists, professors, computer, maths)
    • and “real estate developers”

Obviously the top 1.5M earners aren’t important to the exclusion of the other 311M Estadounidenses, the 145M employed Estadounidenses, or everyone else.

Equally obvious is that

fraction of lawyers in the one percent is not the same as fraction of one percent who are lawyers

(some lawyerly deeds are more lucrative than others … same for doctors.)

Still, if you’re 

  • choosing a career
  • thinking about social justice
  • trying to understand how the world works

then you might want to find out about rich people. It might be better to do so with, you know, actual facts, rather than for example listening to a bunch of programmers b*tch about how much money lawyers and doctors make.


Back to Bajika Cole & Heim. Why is it that this basic information wasn’t known? BCH, Pikkety Saez, and a few others who have bothered to parse data to answer simple questions seem to get fairly good citations. Are economics researchers so bent on complicated research that they won’t “arb” citations by doing something a non-PhD could do?

It is well known that the share of US income going to the top percentiles has increased dramatically over 1986–2006.  Piketty and Saez found that the top ¹⁄1000’s share of pre-tax income (ex cap gains) in the United States that was received by the top ¹⁄1000 rose from 2.2% to 8.0%.

But we don’t know what these people typically do for a living. Kaplan and Rauh (2010) looked through publicly-available information on top executives of publicly-traded firms, financial professionals, law partners, and professional athletes and celebrities. Despite making various extrapolations beyond what is directly available in publicly-available data sources, they were only able to identify the occupations of 17% of the top ¹⁄1000 of income earners.

We tabulated individual income tax return data from the U.S.Treasury Department on what share of top income earners work in each type of occupation. Through this method we are able to account for the occupations of almost all top earners – for example, for over 99% of primary taxpayers in the top ¹⁄1000.

(I liberally edited without [] or ….)

They also looked at spouses of the well-paid, computed income shares, computed growth rates, and broke down the incomes into

  • 1% ex ½% (rank 1,500,000–750,000)
  • ½% ex 0.1% (rank 750,000–150,000)
  • 0.1% (rank 150,000–1)

. All of this is at the end of the PDF, after the bibliography.

Anyway let’s give BCH a hand for providing us with useful information.

"Theory is easy. Data are hard."


Most advice for young people is so terrible it makes me want to throw heavy objects at the adviser. Like

But the founder of Wikipedia has chosen advice related to (a) making money and (b) other people trying to get you to give it to them. Maybe it’s his experience with diverse Wikipedians that helps him think outside the rich-person bubble?

In my experience, costs are easier to control than revenues.

Wales’ advice to young people is also similar to advice my great-grandfather gave to my grandfather about work and money.

And it’s similar to my favourite equation from economics, which I summarise as:


I know many of you tumblr readers are young and some of you are interested in hearing advice from older people. If you read Wales’, let me know what you think?

  • copy editor
  • anti-trust economist
  • "international development" (anti-poverty, microfinance)
  • fair-trade certifier
  • logistician
  • bookie
  • statistical data analyst
  • (web) venture-capital business development / strategy
  • assistant domain-specific language (DSL) programmer
  • research potential new markets for industrial petroleum products
  • novelist
  • bank analyst
  • government statistician
  • (financial) trading assistant
  • (oil rig) roughneck
  • musician
  • casino attendant
  • distressed debt investor | liquidator | manage companies temporarily in receivership
  • miner
  • dockworker
  • OTC derivative synthesiser
  • computer engineer
  • (oil-drilling) mud log analyst
  • machine-learning quant

I cringe whenever an old person asks a young person "What do you want to do in life?" As if the answer could ever be simple. I’m sure I can’t remember everything I ever thought I might want to do but failed to. (And I’d guess it’s the same for most people.) Each of the above represents a potential alternative history now, and at the time, a superposition.

Girl in an expensive American city tells me to travel often and quit my job.

Chuck Palahniuk holds a gun to a man’s head and makes him promise to follow his dreams.

Paul Ryan Spending Final Day Of Campaign Reminding Homeless People They Did This To Themselves

(As I tried to submit this to @pastabagel, I saw an ad by an institute of higher learning suggesting that I further my career by giving them money. A nice coincidence made possible by the fact that ads for higher degrees are more ubiquitous than weight-loss ads.)

(Beware: some of the images beyond “Read More” are violent.)

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Functional programming jobs salary estimates by Indeed
(had to use “Haskell programming” rather than “Haskell” because of Haskell, TX, Haskell Corporation, Haskell Law offices, etc)

scala $98,000

haskell programming $106,000

erlang $105,000

clojure $108,000

ruby $90,000

python $92,000

fortran $81,000

rails $84,000

View Larger Salary Graph


The universe is receding behind you every second. One of the lessons of special relativity is the −ct term:
(− + + + )

  • you can stand still where you are,
  • you can run away as fast as you can,
  • you can stop and go and wander around,
  • you can focus like a nail and pound deep into something,
  • you can get bored or be excited,
  • you can build something & raise the Lagrangian or veg & leave it low,

time is still flowing past you, that metric subtracting −ct ticks at a rate of one tick per tick.

I think about the Eagles song Desperado.

"Your prison is walking through this world all alone"

In other words, freedom and independence, too, have a cost, perhaps exactly equal to the cost of

  • never leaving your village
  • or spending your “best years” raising children instead of “achieving” career-wise.

A tumbleweed sees more but also less than a tree.

The Taking Tree

old man sitting on the tree stump, even in death the giving tree still gives and he takes, takes, takes, takes...

If you want to think about lifetime as being a fixed length (ignoring that its length comes from a probability distribution, which itself is conditional on your choices) then you can derive my favourite equation:


the tradeoff between work, leisure, and wealth. That idea as well is symplectic. And many other such tradeoffs ∃. Symplecticity is the theoretical basis of all budget constraints. It’s another way of talking about all the tradeoffs that make choice meaningful and also unavoidable (even not-choosing is a choice). You can strain and strive as much as you want, all you will do is slide amongst alternatives and never do everything.

economic decision paradigm

If you want to use a picture of the form of Christopher Alexander’s


and just substitute in names of various other things that you want—then the “metric signature”, due to time flowing over and beyond us like a river always, is in so many of the pursuits one might like to do, such as

  • making money
  • learning algebraic topology
  • spending time with kids
  • learning to do a backflip
  • travelling in Asia
  • playing guitar
  • starting a(nother) business
  • writing an opera
  • living so you get to Heaven after this life (ok, I said I wouldn’t bring in any probability distributions but I had to cheat on this one. It’s an interesting measure theory question, isn’t it? If there is even a finite chance of getting an infinite payoff, then unless the utility function becomes flat above a certain payoff, then the only logical thing to do is make 100% sure you get the infinite payoff. OK, /rant)
  • making the sex, many times. Or, not:

Sure, sometimes one lucks out and there is a positive association between two things, like learning mathematics and being a quant—but the magnitude might be less than you expect. (Pure maths alone is insufficient and unnecessary to finance.)

In terms of the 10,000-hours-to-expertise paradigm—despite some complementarities (+)—there are only so many 10,000-hour blocks in your life. And the Type A personality who squeezes out the most 10,000-hour blocks, gets the most toys or becomes the world’s best cyclist or visits all the countries, learns the most languages, or whatever, still miss out on something.

Leaving aside that the human encyclopedia and Tony Hawk also will turn back to dust, just even evaluating only the finite path [0,1] life , that busy body necessarily misses out on

  • the down moments,
  • the still time,
  • the zoning out,
  • the chilling,
  • the doing nothing and being OK with it,
  • the taking in instead of forcing out,
  • and perhaps those have some value as well.

In English it sounds so obvious to be trivial: you can’t do everything, because nothing is also something and if you’re doing something you can’t be doing nothing.

Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

But the mathematical language, in addition to sounding more exotic and smartypants, adds something real, at least for me—which is the sense of those signs attaching me to everything. Every time I do something, I’ve lost some other opportunity. Every person I become, I drift further away from the possibilities of who else I might have been. Every commitment loses a freedom and every freedom wastes a commitment. Every nothing wastes a something and every something forgoes a nothing. Everything is receding, decaying, entropying, with or without me, until eventually the waters will cover my head and I never surface again.

Raistlin's eye 

Sufficiently convolved with the


all the paths sum to a constant and that constant quantity eventually runs out.