The pressure to succeed can take its toll on some interns who have about eight weeks over the summer to prove themselves. Working around the clock is seen as part of the job, something that can remain brutal for years, with young bankers swapping stories about working for three days without sleep and negotiating to get time off for their weddings.
But while some burn out and quit, the financial rewards are a major incentive, with new recruits at investment banks in London starting on a salary of about US$80,000 (NT$2.4 million) a year. "Even if you don't have any urgent work, you are required to stay late. The culture feeds itself," said a former intern at Merrill Lynch who secured a job but quit after a year with work-related repetitive strain injury.
With interns unlikely to rebel against working "all-nighters," Professor Andre Spicer from London's Cass Business School said the banks themselves need to question just how productive long hours are. "If large firms hope to be sustainable and attractive to employees, they need to tackle the culture of extreme hours," Spicer said.