Companies And Industries Where College Grads Work The Most

It’s no secret that Wall Street can be miserable. High-pressure deadlines. Pecking orders. And long hours. Now more data shows that recent college graduates going into investment banking are more overworked than in any other industry. New data released exclusively to Poets&Quants reveals that recently graduated college students entering investment banking work more than 77 hours a week on average. The self-reported data to Transparent Career‘s online jobs platform is substantially higher than the next industry — private equity — at about 65 hours a week. Recent graduates going into accounting and audit reported the next-highest work-week hours at about 58.

Investment banking and private equity both outpaced all other industries by quite a bit. Of the 23 industries included in the data, 17 had averages between 47 and 57 hours per week. Some 15 industries reported working fewer than 50 hours a week. All of the data is self-reported by users on the Transparent Career platform. Formally TransparentMBA, the startup, which is a little over a year old, was founded by MBAs from the Chicago Booth School of Business. To get access to the aggregated data, Transparent Career asks users enter their own data. At the undergraduate level, the data skews heavily toward business majors, but other majors are included.

In addition to the aggregated industry data, Transparent Career reported company-specific data. Young professionals at Chicago-based investment bank William Blair reported working more hours than any other company at just over 74 hours per week. The reason the total is lower than the industry level is that some companies didn’t have enough data to be reported on an individual level, but were nevertheless part of the aggregated industry averages. For example, investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs was not included in the company data but was likely represented in the industry totals. Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company were the two next-highest companies with 70 and 66 hours per week, respectively.


At the other end of the average work hours was aerospace and aviation, where recent graduates reported working 45 hours a week. Recent grads going into nonprofit, social impact, transportation, and retail all reported working just under 46 hours per week, suggesting those industries enjoy the best work-life balance. Only two organizations — United Airlines and Peace Corps — had recent graduates working the typical full-time 40 hours per week. Progressive Insurance and Adobe had recent graduates report working just over 41 hours per week.

According to Rebecca Cassidy, associate dean of the undergraduate office of professional development at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, the data is not all that surprising. Cassidy says about 75% of McDonough’s graduates typically go into either banking or consulting, with about 50% of that being banking. According to Cassidy, the continued interest of business students in investment banking has a few causes. First — and as reported last week by Poets&Quants — large banks and consulting firms are coming to campus earlier and earlier. According to Cassidy, they are almost in the dorms. When younger students see juniors and seniors walking around campus in suits interviewing for financial services internships and full-time positions, Cassidy explains, many assume that is the job market for business majors. A lot of students assume that is the job market, period.

Those banks and consulting firms are also often flashing around high salaries. When staring down a mountain of debt, those high salaries look a little better — despite the number of hours that will be worked. Also, Cassidy explains, seeing friends and peers going into banking and consulting creates a “push and pull” to look at those industries.

Cassidy believes the “adults in the room” have a responsibility to inform interested students exactly what going to the large firms entails, and to let them know that there are industries and companies looking for business talent outside of the traditional paths. “First and foremost, there is an education component that the adults in the room need to provide,” she tells Poets&Quants.


At the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, Velma Arney, director of undergraduate career services, says McCombs also sees “quite a few” graduates going into investment banking despite knowing the hours will be brutal. “They see opportunity,” Arney says. “It could be a platform to move forward and move on.”

Kevin Marvinac, co-founder and the chief operating officer at Transparent Career, says recent business grads often use their experience at investment banks to transition into graduate school or a different career path. Late last month, Marvinac told Poets&Quants that many recent graduates see spending a few years at an investment bank as a “long-term play.”

“There’s a significant trend in both investment banking and consulting to stay for two or three years, then pivot to something else,” he said. “The skills and credibility you can build in a banking or consulting role command a lot of respect across many industries — tech, CPG, financial services, health care, you name it.”


Marvinac believes work-life balance and “impact of work” are both highly correlated between recent graduates and job satisfaction. Arney and Cassidy both agreed work-life balance seems to be valued more by this generation compared to previous ones. Larger companies have noticed and tried to respond accordingly. Large banks from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America to Citigroup have recently set policies forbidding interns and recent from working all weekends.

“I think they have to keep modifying that piece of work-life balance,” Arney says.

Still, it’s tough to see big banks continue to compete with tech upstarts. Banks are already competing for — and often losing — top talent to the Googles and Facebooks of the world. And as more hot tech companies grow and develop needs for business roles, Georgetown’s Cassidy believes top business majors will fill those roles.

“As the firms mature, they have to realize they need the business help,” Cassidy believes. “I think the smaller firms need more help in positioning themselves and more help on the sales side. The interest on the students’ part is definitely there.”

(See the next pages for a full list of the industries and companies where recent college grads work most.)

  • Teddy27

    Is there a reason why Poets & Quants neglected to post McKinsey’s work week hours? Is it because you’re now partnering with McKinsey? They make their consultants work just as many hours or more than Bain and Boston Consulting Group. Not Fair Poets & Quants!!!

    • Nathan Allen

      Hi Teddy27,

      I can assure you we don’t have any “partnering” with any outside entity. This data comes from Transparent Career and is what recent college graduates self-reported to them for their first jobs out of undergrad. The Transparent Career folks only reported to us companies with enough data points they felt comfortable publishing. I’m sure they have data on recent graduates at McKinsey, and I’m sure you’re right, it would reflect that recent graduates at McKinsey work just as much as recent grads at BCG and Bain. But with the thin data, it wouldn’t be responsible for them or us to report when one outlier could skew the data in one way or another.


      • Teddy27

        Understood. I have a cousin who works at McKinsey and a son who works at Bain. They both work very long hours. I thought I saw on P & Q website that you now partner with McKinsey. My mistake.

        • JohnAByrne

          We hold a Pre-MBA Networking Festival in New York every year for incoming MBA students. McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, Accenture, PwC, A.T. Kearney are among the consulting firms that will welcome these MBA admits on our behalf.

        • Nathan Allen

          John’s right. That might be what you are thinking of. But none of that at all influences who, what, or how we report. If you take a look at the job satisfaction article (linked to in this article and published a couple weeks ago), you’ll see most recent grads at consulting firms work almost the same hours as investment bankers but have higher job satisfaction. Generally speaking, consultants seem to be happier than investment bankers, despite working similar hours.