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Diary of a back office intern: We haven’t stayed past 5.20pm

A man in a suit

This week has been gruelling. Monday 9PM. Tuesday 12AM. Wednesday 3AM. Thursday 4AM. Friday 11PM. Saturday 1PM. Sunday, lots of sleep.’ 

My sympathies are with my ‘Diary of an IBD Intern’ counterpart, as well as my front office friends in the intern pool. I haven’t really stayed in the office past about 5.20 pm so far, but that seems to be the norm for my department when not rolling out a new product. The long hours aren’t routinely part of the culture or requirements for the back office because we don’t suffer the same market sensitivities. We have internally set deadlines and structure our work to meet them. I’ve experienced first hand some of the negative attitudes some front office folk have towards us; indeed ‘frontofficeforlife’ generously took the time to comment on my last submission with ‘why is a back office intern allowed to post on this site?’ In my view, this is quite a closed minded perspective on how the investment world actually operates.

As I mentioned last time, our intern pool is small – 15 of us across all departments – and we’ve stayed a close group. It’s a well structured programme; alongside my individual project this summer, we have structured “lunch and learns” every week to learn about a diverse range of topics and roles within the organisation to understand the bigger picture and how we all work together to provide the best experience possible for our clients. These insights into other roles also help us learn about where we think we’d like to start off our careers in the graduate programme, as interning in one department doesn’t necessarily offer the diversity of insights that someone new to the industry would like.

Alongside these, we’ve had a tour of the Bloomberg office, a curry evening, and a team building afternoon doing manual work on a farm. I think most of us safely concluded we were better suited to financial services; indeed one equity intern went as far as to observe that instead of spending two hours stripping paint off a bench he could just spend 20 minutes of his salary on a new one from Ikea.

Every BO intern has their own project for the summer. I like this approach as it really allows each intern to tailor their experience towards their own interests. At the moment I’m doing a lot of data analysis… attempting to apply theory from my university courses (from operations to applied econometrics) and learning that examining data sets is a lot easier when you don’t have to send three emails a day trying to chase up the data you’ve been promised. The next stage will largely be a competitor analysis, which will give me the opportunity to go and visit some other major investment managers to learn more about how they work.

The combination of this responsibility and industry exposure is helping me gain a lot of confidence which, regardless of the outcome of my internship, will surely stand me in good stead for other applications come September.

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