Intern, Moritz Erhardt has died after working extraordinary long hours for investment bank Merrill Lynch in the East London offices. The University of Michigan student’s death comes after he had recently gone on to tell of excessive pressure to succeed.
In the midst of a seven week internship where the German born student had hoped to secure an eventual placement with the investment bank, it is said the young man collapsed in shower after another grueling slog.
Friends of Moritz Erhardt had gone on to tell that he had recently been forced to work through the night eight times in a two week period.
In an online portfolio the UK’s dailymail goes on to tell how Erhadt told prospective employers that his upbringing taught him to always be driven to be good at everything.
Wrote Erhardt: ‘ I have grown up in family that expected me, in whatever respect, to excel in life.
‘By implication, I felt somehow pressurizes [sic]. However I did not intend to blie my parents’ expectations.
‘Therefore I have become highly competitive and ambitious nature from early on.
‘Already during my times in elementary school I began playing soccer as well as tennis, I engaged in track and field athletics, and I started ski racing.
‘Sometimes I had a tendency to be over ambitious, which resulted in severe injuries.
‘With respect to my performance in school, I was striving for excellence and trying to be the best all the time.’
Went on to tell the head of PR Peter Augstin at Otto Beissheim School of Management business college where Erhardt studied: ‘We are all deeply shocked. He was a wonderful person and a dedicated student. He will be sadly missed. We are still trying to come to terms with his death.’
It is said that Erhardt was a regional leader of the Junge Union, the youth organisation for the political party of the Christian Democratic Union and also a regional champion tennis player who won school awards in maths, English and French.
Erhardt had also visited Israel to try to ‘understand’ the Arab-Israel conflict and donated English book to Palestinian teenagers at an international school in Bethlehem.
He was also said to be planning to apply to the MBA program at the Ross School of Business in Michigan and was also considering a graduate degree in public policy, foreign affairs or philosophy.
A friend of Erhardt’s went on to tell the following:
‘He was working in investment banking and apparently he pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks.
‘They get you working crazy hours and maybe it was just too much for him in the end.’
Paid interns at the bank normally earn £45,000 ($70,550) a year pro rata – around £2,700 ($4,200) a month.
Reflected one commentator on the forum wallstreetoasis.com of Erhardt:
‘We typically work 15 hours a day or more and you would not find a harder worker than him.
‘He seemed a lovely guy an was very popular with everyone. He was tipped for greatness.’
Told another user: ‘He was found dead in the shower by his flatmate. Intern at BAML who went home at 6am three days in a row.’
Which is par for the course for some interns who are often found slogging up to 100- 110 hours a week.
Read a notice at the housing complex for interns where Erhardt stayed:
‘Some of you might be aware that the emergency services were called to Claredale yesterday evening.
‘The reason for this is that we were made aware of an incident involving one of our residents. Sadly the resident concerned had passed away.
‘To avoid any rumours or misinformation, we would like to inform you all that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.’
FinanceInterns, a careers advice group, condemned the long hours culture. A spokesperson went on to tell the UK’s The Independent: “Young people who jubilantly accept a Summer Internship, thinking they’ve landed a chance at their full-time dream job, find themselves declaring that, what should have been a summer full of hope, is in fact the ‘worst three months’ of their lives due to the exhausting combination of regular all-nighters, weekend work and the Magic Roundabout.
“In the toughest job market experienced in recent times, competition is even higher. Consequently these talented, diligent, young people are ever more willing to work hours which more senior staff would not.”
A source at Bank of America Merrill Lynch has gone on to say Moritz Erhardt had completed previous internships at other investment banks but could not confirm or deny claims he had worked exceptionally long hours.
However the source did go on to insist that staff are given both ‘mentors’ and ‘buddies’ when they join the firm and are monitored by staff from the human resources department.
The source added Mr Erhardt was very well-liked by members of staff and there will now be a post mortem examination and inquest into his death.
A statement from BAML said: ‘We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Moritz Erhardt’s death.
‘He was popular amongst his peers and was a highly diligent intern at our company with a promising future.
‘Our first thoughts are with his family and we send our condolences to them at this difficult time.’
Because making it sometimes now means literally working yourself to the death for the pivotal chance to be a master of the universe.
And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder as well:
What I don’t understand is why no one questions the hours these people work. What are they actually doing? Are they mostly just punching the clock? Are they seeking the secrets of the universe? Are they just scrambling to join the ‘masters of the universe’? I know competitiveness is part of the human condition, and from it great things can come, but does it even make sense in the circumstances here? What is it he would have been doing that requires all those hours of work, or is it just to appear the keenest intern?
These guys know that they will have to work hard, in return they get to play with other people’s money and amass obscene wealth. He was motivated by greed and paid the ultimate price.
No one dies from too many work hours. He had something else going on. Didn’t eat or drink or take his meds. Or he took meds. It will come out.
If there is any “blame” it is on all of us for allowing this greed driven, hyper consumption, financial prestige economy to continue. It didn’t just kill this young man, but is surely killing all of us.
I’d imagine it’s either a case of overdosing on stimulants, an underlying medical condition he wasn’t aware of or possibly a combination of the two. The coroners report will reveal the cause of death soon enough.