The interns in the bank are like a group of school kids gathering together after an exam, sharing information and wincing at the merest sniff that we might have done something wrong. We cluster, sharing vague phrases handed out by managing directors or our analyst buddies that suggest we might be given an offer next week. Or, even worse, that we might not.
Our superiors now have the ability to make us glow with pride, or sicken with anxiety just by the fairly faint praise they bestow upon us. “You demonstrated what it takes to be an analyst” is one that causes particular excitement, “I think you belong here” is enough to make us rush for the toilets, while “This is what I expect from a strong intern” convinces us that we are indeed among the favoured ones.
Anxiety, meanwhile, comes from the fact that maybe they’re saying this to everyone. Praise is no good if it’s ubiquitous. Not everyone will get an offer. Even worse, we’ve heard reports that these phrases have been accompanied by a “BUT”. Imagine it. “I think you belong here, BUT Clive is not convinced”. “If it were up to me, we’d take you, BUT Sarah prefers the Excel Macro meister”.
The reality is that at this point we can do little to influence the decision in a positive way, but it’s still possible to screw up at the last minute, so most people are on best behaviour. Worst, though, are the rumours. I’ve had other interns running up to me, out of breath, exclaiming that “Lizzie from the energy team already has an offer”. That’s great, we say, through our fixed grins, so pleased for her. Secretly, we die a little inside and wonder how the hell she got her offer before everyone else.
Another camp of interns are the mopers. They have nothing to back up their claims that they’re not getting a job at the end of the internship, but are lining up excuses anyway. They complain that they’ve never had a chance to shine, that their analyst only gives them dull, mind-numbing work because they want them to fail, that the bank hired too many interns in their group, that they should have accepted an offer to intern at another bank. Even that they’re the wrong ethnicity. The list goes on, but, it’s just self-pity.
The key to securing an offer is to fall into the ‘value for money’ bucket for the banks. In a way, most of us in this bracket are chilled because we’re not desperate for an offer. Maybe the bank can smell this and appears keener to ensure that we take a job with them rather than a rival bank, PE firm or consultant. This means we’re based in Europe, that we don’t need a visa to stay in the UK, are multi-lingual and that we are studying a masters degree. In other words, we’re giving banks a lot of bang for their buck.
I’ve worked non-stop for the past nine weeks, had my life consumed by my job and barely saw the sun or my family throughout the summer. But, actually, I feel very sad to have to say goodbye to my new friends and to role that I’ve come to enjoy. Next week, I’ll find out if I’m coming back for a full-time job in 2018.
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 experience here.