As you know for 9 weeks now I’ve been on an internship, hence my rare appearances on this blog (and more to expect within the next week and a bit as I fly off to Cyprus for a holiday); the internship is basically a 9 week interview – if you do well, the firm offers you a graduate job at the end. On Friday we all heard back from HR, my meeting was at half 8, I went into the room too nervous to ask how my recruiter had been in return to her asking me how I’d been, sat through her tell me how competitive the year has been, felt my heart sink, then felt relieved when she told me I’d got the offer. “You did exceptionally! Absolutely killed it!”
It’s funny, because I look back on my notes I took during the first few days of my internship and feel like I’ve grown a lot over just those few weeks at the firm. I used to take notes for EVERYTHING, as little as, “you may be doing a project on XYZ with person X”. It’s also funny remembering first getting to the firm, absolutely terrified to meet my desk, trying to remember exactly where I was going since I’m so terrible with directions, and by the end it just (obviously) became so effortless. The early days were mainly about getting acquainted with the team, the firm, and the other interns; we also had a lot of training.
Are the people nice?
The first thing my flat mates asked me was about how nice the people were. They were shocked to hear that people in investment banks can be… nice? Not all firms will have a great culture, investment bank or not, and you sort of hear through the grape vine those that you should avoid if you don’t want to dislike everyone around you. The firm I was at is known for having a good culture, everyone was always genuinely willing to help, you never had to fear that you’d ask a question and get told to go away. It also wasn’t massively hierarchical, for example, managing directors have their offices, but most sit among everyone else.
What were the hours like?
I decided last year that I didn’t want to do crazy long hours, it was always at the top of my priority list. My first day at the firm I left at 7.30, the next day I probably left at 8, Friday I left at 7. That next Monday, I left at half 10. And I remember thinking – “wtf! Why am I still here!” On week 3, I left at 12am for the first time, and on the way home I literally felt upset.
But then by week 4, when my business really peaked in my internship, I wasn’t ever getting out of the office before 11 (except on Friday), and you know what? I didn’t care anymore. In fact I thought to myself that I could push it even further hours wise and still be able to hack it. I guess there were a few things going through my mind; the work was interesting and there was a lot of it to do, so time flies. As long as I have weekends to see people I love, that actually isn’t a issue for me. It’s such a lucrative career to start out in, it’s interesting, you learn ridiculous amounts and your employability levels are huge. As my dad said, “there are people doing those hours in worse conditions. You do them in a nice warm office, with free dinner and a free cab home? What are people complaining about?”
I guess at the end of the day it depends on the person. The hours in banking are definitely long (maybe not as ridiculously long as a lot of people and news sources will make it seem), so if that is really not your lifestyle, it’s not. It’s also not an every day thing, sure one day you may leave the office 1am, others you may be out by 7pm.
What about the social aspects?
Drinks, like any other job, were a regular. A week would rarely go by where I wasn’t either going for drinks on a Friday, or on some day during the week. Whether that be team drinks, drinks with other interns, or drinks for a specific event (such as changes within a firm, or drinks with a specific network), drinks were a very regular occurrence. From the people I spoke to, analysts also seem to have a lot of fun, even given the longer hours.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed my internship. I say this to people all the time – but who would think you could enjoy working for 9 weeks, when you could’ve otherwise been sleeping and clubbing? It’s definitely not easy, it’s competitive and you have to start each day asking yourself – “so, how am I going to get hired today? What do I need to do and who do I need to speak to?” , but hard work is part of life. I’m excited to join my future graduate class next August and to get out there into the real world. However, it’s made me appreciate sleep more then anything, and appreciate how easy life really is in uni. I used to complain about how busy I was being in uni 10-6pm for one day of the week, what did I know.