An intern working at Bank of America's London office was found dead in his apartment, likely due to overwork. (Source: Reuters)
What does it mean to overwork? As we continue to work more for less, especially in times where the jittery actions of management more concerned for their own backs than their employees' well-being, the trenches are often the places where people suffer the most: The lowest rung of the ladder, where entry-level workers or interns are fighting for scraps, working excessive hours for the chance at some stability, tends to be where people are utterly destroyed if they so much as slip up a little. In one intern's case, he paid with his life: An intern for Bank of America in London was found dead after working for 72 hours in a row.
The intern, Moritz Erhardt, was a German exchange student studying business at the University of Michigan. Erhardt was working for the London office of Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's investment banking division, on a summer internship, and had died about a week before he was to complete the internship. After his death, an anonymous poster on investment banking forum wallstreetoasis.com reported that Erhardt had been working at Merill Lynch from 7 AM to 7 AM three days in a row, with no breaks save to shower and maybe eat. Furthermore, reports indicate that Erhardt was an epileptic, and likely suffered a seizure prior to his death in the shower of his student apartment in east London.
Despite the handsome pay that Erhardt received at Merill Lynch, which was approximately $4200 per month, Erhardt was clearly being overworked as an intern, as is evidenced by several stories from interns in the financial industry. It is common to see investment interns work 14 hours per day, and many investment bankers even admit to pushing interns to work 100 to 110 hours per week. The worst scenario for many is to have to be driven home by a taxi at 7 AM, only for it to wait so that they can shower, change, and then drive back to the office to start the next shift.
While it's arguable that working in the financial sector is hard work, and working in the trenches as an intern is expectedly draining, the efforts Erhardt had to make is deplorable. That Erhardt had a medical condition that clearly required him to not work 14-16 hours a day and there was little concern for that questions the rationality of the financial sector. If they cannot take care of their own, how can they be trusted to run an entire industry?