is the New Yorker essay that has inspired me not to become a business guru. In a nutshell, it's about how McKinsey became, in the nineties, the next prize for high achievers to win after an Ivy League education. The writer, Nicholas Lemann, explained how the consulting vogue followed the 1950s high achievers' vogue for working for the CIA, the 1960s vogue for joining the Peace Corps, the 1970s vogue for working for Ralph Nader and the 1980s banking boom. Pretty comprehensively banking returned in the 2000s. Lawyering and civil servicing never went away, but the others were the most competed-for jobs in each era. I only have his word for it, and I'm sure he's simplifying, but I've no reason to doubt him.
The thing that fascinated Lemann when he wrote in 1999 was that while Ivy League universities had always sent alumni into a narrow tranche of jobs, they had until fairly recently selected from a similarly narrow tranche of schools. By the nineties, however, they were national institutions which gathered talent with fanatically scrutinised dedication to merit and diversity, and STILL were sending them out, via a sort of funnel, into vogue professions, and especially consulting. It's a really good essay.