Diary of a banking intern: "It all kicks off after 6pm"
Investment banks give you a little bit of time to bed into your internship, but by the second week it’s clear what you're in for. I haven't left the office before 2am.
Last week, I was out enjoying the (rare) London sunshine every day around 5.30pm, and the time I did spend in the office beyond this point was spent schmoozing with senior bankers and getting to know my fellow interns. Now, it's time to get down to business.
This is no surprise. Everyone knows that working in IBD is brutal and that the hours are unsociable, so if you’re going into an internship expecting to be home for dinner, then you’re in for a shock.
What is surprising is the unpredictability of it all. Most of my work has been, frankly, a bit basic – reading over industry research, checking the numbers on annual reports and warming up to the technology companies equity research.
This is until around about 6pm every night, at which point it’s like a new shift has started. Interns are trying to look busy during much of the morning, then by early evening – boom, it all kicks off.
There are conference calls with clients, new instructions, new modelling scenarios, Powerpoint presentations – all of which keeps analysts and interns in the office well into the small hours, conveniently enough.
But this isn't a rite of passage. The MDs aren't asking me to stay late by throwing a bunch of last minute work on my desk because it's what they had to do when they were a junior. I’m on the tech team, which is incredibly busy. The only reason that I’m not questioning whether dropping work on our desks at 6pm is a big ruse is because the senior bankers are here as well. We’re doing the number-crunching, but the VPs and MDs don’t have an easier ride.
When you're among all this stress, it's a bit intimidating to be the junior guy who doesn't know anything. I'm no Excel luddite and I wouldn't have got on to the internship if I didn't know a bit about investment banking. But I need help once in a while and stressed out analysts have actually been incredibly friendly and forgiving when I ask seemingly basic questions about Excel. The key is not to ask the same thing twice if you don't want to be greeted by a sigh and instructions through gritted teeth.
The biggest downside? I’ve been in the office so much that I’m pretty sure my flatmates have forgotten I live with them. I cooked for them on Sunday on a rare morning out of the office, but I still went back into the bank for three hours to make sure I was set up for the following week. I’m still chilled out – we’ll see how long this lasts.
James Roberts, an pseudonym, is a summer intern on an M&A desk at a bulge bracket bank in London. He’ll be writing about his internship here every week.