A Bank of America intern literally worked himself to death. Moritz Erhardt, age 21, was found dead in his London apartment. The intern had just completed 72 hours of work.
Erhardt would have completed his seven-week internship this week. He was working toward a full-time position with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
As reported by Chicago Tribune, an internship is required to land full-time employment with the firm. Interns often spend up to 20 hours per day in the office.
The long hours are not required. However, interns often push themselves to remain competitive. Bank of America interns frequently work through the nights and weekends.
The internship can be brutal. However, starting pay is close to $80,000 per year. For many interns, the salary is worth seven weeks with little sleep.
Although Erhardt's cause of death is not official. His colleagues report that he worked 72 hours straight, without sleeping.
Erhardt's death has raised questions about the brutality of internships. The firms contend that the hours are not required. However, the interns only have a few months to impress their superiors and stand out from the crowd.
As reported by Reuters, a former HSBC London intern explained the culture:
"If you can follow instructions then they will like you and that often means staying very, very late doing ridiculous things. It's partly a culture of intern trying to impress."Erhardt's attempt to impress his prospective employer apparently went too far. He was described as a hard worker, who was well-respected in the office.
The hours were not required. However, they are expected. Investment banking companies are often criticized for "exploitation of youth."
Ben Lyons, co-founder of Intern Aware, suggests that it is up to the firms to make sure the interns are not overworked.
The Bank of America intern gave his life to land the "perfect job." Intern rights groups hope the tragedy will lead to regulation of internship programs.
[Image via Flickr]