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Memo to Columbia MBA students: bankers are also human beings

Posted by Josh Rothman  October 28, 2010 09:14 AM

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If The Social Network chronicled the victory of awkward geeks over the well-mannered Ivy League overclass, then the Geek Empire has now entered its decadent phase. Witness this email from Columbia Business School's Investment Banking Club to its members urging them to attend to "personal hygiene basics" during recruiting events:

To: [IBC Members] Subject: [IBC] Personal hygiene

Dear 1st Year Members,

It has come to our attention (through complaints from IBC board representing firms they are going to full time) that some of you may not have followed personal hygiene basics during recruiting events. We understand that it is an incredibly intense recruiting period, and is very hard to find time for yourself, but this is a friendly reminder on some dress code and personal hygiene basics:

§ Brush your teeth regularly, or have a mint/mouth refreshers before going to recruiting events (avoid chewing gums)

§ Carry anti-perspirant with you if you are worried about sweating. Don’t wear too much cologne/perfume

§ Carry a sewing mini-toolkit, in case your suit hems need an emergency sewing

§ Professional haircuts

§ No backpacks with you

§ Men – no tacky cufflinks or watches (with no crazy patterns, silver is preferable to gold)

§ Women – wear (preferably skin colored) hosiery and always carry an extra pair in your bag

§ Women – if it rains, do not show up in rain boots, no matter how cute you think they are

And again, if you have ANY concerns, please do not hesitate to share with the IBC Board!

In fact this email is a sequel of sorts to an earlier message accusing MBA students of smothering the bankers, chock full of advice like this: "Do not overwhelm bankers with questions when they are taking a small break (i.e. chewing food) – remember they are also human beings and have had a very long day at work."

If this sorry spectacle makes you yearn for the days of Ivy League style and gentility, it's worth remembering that Ivy League dress and behavior have always been, purposefully, a little rough around the edges. Bill Stephenson, a 77-year-old preppie who lives in Princeton, NJ, writes at Ivy Style about the "Boston Cracked Shoe" look - the habit, among men of Ivy League pedigree, of wearing shoes that "looked like they had been soaked in a barrel of salt water for a couple of weeks." There's even a statue of Adlai Stevenson sporting the look in Central Illinois Regional Airport:

adlai_stevenson_statue_at_airport.jpg

One assumes, of course, that Adlai Stevenson meant to dress this way. But who knows - maybe he also got a few memos from the Princeton Future Governors of America Club.

Photo from Ivy Style. Memo via Dealbreaker.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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