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Techies on Wall Street: Rewards & Discontents

"I mean, no one was being held with a gun to their head and forced to work at Morgan Stanley." So begins Leon Neyfakh's article in the New York Observer on the tech life on Wall Street.

Smart tech guys live to work on complicated technical problems — and are often motivated to take jobs by a desire innovate and build intellectually satisfying solutions as much as for the money. Many are sold on an employer on the basis of its street cred as a "hacker-oriented shop"

But after a while on Wall Street, disillusionment can set in.

"At my workplace, I did not know one single person who was happy with what they were doing-not even one," said Puneet Mehta, who was a VP of technology at Citi .

Former Morgan Stanley engineer Andrew Montalenti expresses it even more bluntly: "Why should I really work hard on this, when all I'm doing is making some extra money for some rich guys who are investing in a bank?"

Not surprisingly, quite a few abandon their careers on Wall Street.

"I'd just like to be able to point to at least one thing after 15 years of working as a software engineer and say, 'I built that thing," Montalenti goes on to say.

Both stories would seem to have happy endings: Montalenti left Wall Street to run Parse.ly, a personalized recommendation service, while Mehta went on to cofound the mobile app start-up MyCityWay with two other “Wall Street refugees”.

Both love the intellectual stimulation of their new roles, now that they’ve been liberated from Wall Street — but sometimes the financial realities of separating from the deep pockets of a big bank set in.

"Back then I was actually getting paid really well, I didn't have to worry about health insurance-all that stuff. Nowadays I make close to nothing and just scrape by," Montalenti concludes.

Programming for Dummies: Dissatisfied, Some Wall Street Technologists Flee for Start-Up Life

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