By now you must be sick of my 7 Steps to Land and Investment Banking Job…after all how much effort do you need to get one measly job?! Well you’ll be glad to know that we’re now at the final step. The final test before you land that coveted graduate job and the real hard work can begin! By now you have done everything you need to do to first land the interviews and then to nail the interviews for that all important investment banking internship.
Once you get the internship though…the graduate job is not a guaranteed outcome! The internship is one very very long interview. In fact the whole reason that Investment Banks hire interns isn’t to get free labor…it is to make sure that their future pool of graduates is up to the standard that they require.
With that in mind I have put together a brief guide to help you nail your internship and to land that graduate offer
Nailing the Investment Banking internship…the short version
OK I know you don’t want to read 10 posts on how to nail your internship. You want the short summary version so here it is. There are a few things you need to do to make sure that you get the job:
- Be enthusiastic about and interested in the work you are doing
- Never EVER complain (even if that’s all you see the analysts doing)
- Remember where you sit in the totem pole (right at the bottom)
- Try to get to know the bankers on a personal level
- Always deliver what you promise you’ll deliver
These are pretty generic job tips which could could apply to any job or internship about there but they are especially relevant for investment banking internships and I’m going to explain why in a bit more detail below.
Be enthusiastic about and interested in the work you are doing
This seems like a no brainer but it is really important and there are various ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest. One thing to always keep in mind is that investment banking analysts and associates burn out. They are tired and a lot of the time they wish they were doing what their friends or ex-comrades are doing. This makes them seem less than interested in what they are doing. Don’t get sucked into this vortex. You are the breadth of fresh air and people really enjoy have interns around because it gives the whole office a buzz and energy.
So how do you demonstrate that you are enthusiastic and interested in the work you are doing?
- The simplest way is to ask questions.
- When you are being briefed on task you are about to do ask a little about the deal you are doing or how what you are doing fits in
- If you already know the answer to that question then ask something (related to what you are being told) that you would like to know the answer to
- Enthusiasm is harder to show without being over the top but if you can pull it off…10 points to you
- Honestly I wasn’t going to put this one in but I remembered an intern that I worked with closely. A director told me to give him a particularly mind numbing and terrible job…at 6pm no a Friday…for him to do before Monday
- Normally I wouldn’t but the job was so bad that I apologised to him profusely about what I was asking him to do. He cheerily took the work and basically said “don’t worry…I’m happy to do this and I’ll get it back to you ASAP”…I can’t tell you how many brownie points he earned that day
- A little face time doesn’t hurt as an intern
- It’s pretty rare for an intern to get slammed with work on their first day or week in the job. They simply don’t know enough and analysts don’t want to spend extra time checking their work
- Normally I hate face time and I have written posts about how you should avoid it like the plague
- As an intern though…face time works…the analysts may not have anything for you to do at 6pm…but at 7 or 7.30 (when they really know what they want to get done for the night) they will find work for you to do
Never EVER complain
Complaining is the easiest way to ensure that will NOT be landing that graduate offer. In fact I know several people who did not get internships because they “didn’t have the right temperament”. But surely it can’t be that hard right…after all why would you complain?
The thing you have to fight against is actually the office culture itself. Analysts are tired and they often complain and complain loudly about anything and everything. They complain that the work they are getting is crap, that they could get paid more elsewhere, that they have to do face time, that their director sucks…anything.
You do not want to get dragged into this way of thinking. I worked with an intern who complained about the long hours and how much she hated it. You know what we thought…”if she’s complaining now…and she hasn’t seen the worst of it…how is she going to last as an analyst?”. You never want to be that person. Don’t give the bankers a reason to think that you are not up to the job.
Even if the hours suck…don’t complain about it. At least in 3 months you get to go back to college or university. The other bankers are there for the foreseeable future
Remember where you sit on the totem pole (right at the bottom)
Investment banks are incredibly hierarchical places. The Managing Director tells the Director what to do and the Director tells the Vice President etc. etc. until you get all the way down to…you. If you get told to do something don’t argue about it or tell them that it can be done in a different way. Chances are that you are wrong and even if you are right the analyst you are pushing back against probably knows this but has been told (from above) that it needs to be done this way anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify what you need to do but arguing is a waste of time.
Keeping in mind where you sit on the hierarchy can be important in other ways too. Your best friends during your internship will be the analysts and the associates. Stick to them and take your cues from them. Being chummy with the Managing Directors and more senior bankers is going to get you nowhere. In fact they have far less influence or interest in which of the interns gets a graduate offer than you may imagine.
Try to get to know the bankers on a personal level
The thing that sucks about an internship? The fact that you’re in a months long interview. The only good thing about the interview being months long? If the bankers like you on a personal level they may forgive other misgivings they have about you.
So what do I mean about getting to know them on a personal level? Well investment bankers basically live at the office. They know everything about each other and their private lives. Don’t be afraid to get to know the bankers on this level as well. But treat it as you would a normal friendship…not too soon too fast and don’t make it fake at all.
A word of warning about this approach. Don’t be inappropriate and gauge how well you are getting to know someone before saying something controversial. Chatting about your girlfriend…fine. Telling a banker you met for the first time that you and your girlfriend have an open relationship and are really into threesomes…no. And before you tell me that is a ridiculous example…that is exactly what one intern told me.
Always deliver what you promise you will deliver
Being consistent and reliable is one of the core traits that bankers look for in their analysts and delivering what you say you will is important both as an intern and as an analyst. Here is a rule of thumb I used tell all interns and new analysts
- It will take you 3 times as long to do any piece of work than you think it will (or that the senior bankers think it will)
- When accepting a new piece of work always let the banker you are working with know what else you are working on
- If you accept a new piece of work that pushes other work to one side check in with the bankers you are working with on that other piece of work and let them know
- If you are getting overwhelmed with work it is better to let people know early rather than as the deadlines get closer
It’s all about setting expectations. The very best employees are ones who manage expectations the best. They don’t reject work but they make sure everyone knows exactly what they are doing
About to start your Investment Banking internship and have more questions? Contact me and let me know how I can help!