An Insider's View of the First Year

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Speaking to the Observer, Courtney describes being courted by the unnamed bank with dinners and descriptions of exciting work. During her 2001 summer internship, the bank treated her and her colleagues to wine tastings, pub crawls and cocktail parties. Offered a job after graduating, she started with a salary $71,000 plus a bonus of more than $14,000, attended a two-month "boot camp" in New York, then returned to London to "hit the earth with a thud." There were no more company-sponsored parties, her hours piled up, and yet - leaving before midnight and avoiding weekends at the office - she came to regard herself as "one of the lucky ones."

On top of that, Courtney told the Observer's Anushka Asthana, being the only woman on a 21-person team made her an outsider. "When directors scanned the office for an analyst, I just didn't seem to be on their radar," she recalled. "(It) was hard not to take personally comments such as 'When does your work experience end?,' 'You must have slept your way into university' or 'Sorry Polly - we would invite you along, but we're planning to pull tonight.' "

In the end, she tired of what she calls "the City lifestyle:" sleeping for a few hours on the boss's couch, showering in the corporate gym, buying a fresh shirt and settling back at your desk for another day. And, she noted, "Of the 32 graduates who joined in my year, there are three left today and all have moved out of that department."

Not everyone will feel sympathy for Courtney. As one comment on the New York Times's Dealbook observed, "Buyer beware. There was nothing new to the career she signed up for. Do your due diligence ... and you should not be surprised."

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