Let me start by pointing out an obvious truth: girls who successfully receive internship offers are generally very good looking. They also have the requisite people skills and acumen required for a graduate role in a bank. And if they’re truly bright, they’ll know from day one that the only thing that matters is impressing as many people as possible.
If you’re a jaded analyst or associate (or VP with a predilection for cradle-snatching), interns may therefore appear irresistible. After sitting in front of a monitor for 14 hours a day, you’re unlikely to have the body of Brad Pitt, but the fawning attention of a 20-something desperate for a job may convince that you still have some kind of allure.
As if tempting fate, the bank will even run a series of “networking events” with plenty of free drinks and chances to impress these oh-so-easily impressible students. After nine pints, you may feel like Brad Pitt. Believe me, you still won’t look like him.
I confess that I am speaking from experience. I have been there, drunk the drinks, found myself an Angelina lookalike and indulged in secret trysts in the stairwell after staring at Excel all day.
Personally, I dated an intern from another part of the bank, on the other side of the so-called Chinese Wall. Just as in many a big capital raising or M&A deal, we showed that wall to be pretty easy to penetrate (no pun intended).
The problem is, there are no secrets in banks. If you think your boss doesn’t know you fiddled the expenses for that last client trip, you’re deluding yourself. Your colleague knows the last time you got the clap and your secretary has been listening to your personal calls. Even more worryingly, that person you hate in your team knows why you disappeared off for five minutes in the middle of the last offsite (and why you came back so chatty and cheerful afterwards). That’s banking. Like it, or work for Tower Hamlets local authority instead.
Sooner or later you’ll be spotted taking the taxi home with Angelina, or having lunch in a little cafe where you thought no-one would see you. If it seemed like a good idea at the time, in retrospect it will seem as stupid as the time, still half drunk, when you submitted a receipt from Stringfellows as an expenses claim.
Don’t go there, it won’t do your career any favours. And believe me, Angelina won’t give you a second glance once the internship’s over.
The author is an anonymous private equity professional and former M&A banker.