I’m writing this diary on a Sunday evening, and the investment banking analyst managing me has just emailed. In theory, weekends are supposed to be our own, but it never works out that way. He wants a file and needs it tonight, and he also wants to check some of the work I’ve been doing that’s due early this week. Standard weekend hassle.
Essentially, this internship has made me realise that junior investment bankers are always on call, even if they’re not in the office. It’s not a vindictive attitude, it’s just the nature of the business. I haven’t left before midnight during this internship despite it being the supposedly ‘quiet’ month of August, but when I finally manage to exit the office, associates and VPs are usually still at their desks.
My theory is that investment banking is less of a career choice than it is a lifestyle choice. If you’re happy burning away long hours in the office, eating takeaway food every day, being on call every day and cancelling plans with your friends and family because of work commitments then – great! – it’s for you. If not, it’s unlikely that you’re going to stick it out for very long.
I’m already seeing this among the summer analyst class this year. People are either super-determined to get a full-time offer, or they’re quickly losing enthusiasm. There are interns in my class who began the summer convinced that they wanted to be a banker, but after a few weeks of working the brutal reality they’ve realised it’s not for them.
Not that they’ve voiced these concerns to many people in the office. Right now, there are rumours that the headcount within the team is strained and that the number of full-time offers is likely to be limited. I’ve said previously that a lot of U.S. investment banks deliberately hire too many interns and pit them against one another. It’s less gladiatorial here, but now that everyone thinks there are fewer opportunities some interns have started showing their competitive side and it’s not a particularly pleasant sight.
For me, I’m more determined than ever to end the internship with an offer. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve enjoyed even the more tedious aspects of the work. I started out as a bit of an Excel and Powerpoint luddite, but I’ve learned all the shortcuts necessary to ensure that I’m not spending every waking hour in the office. It’s a lot quieter here, so we’ve been doing a lot of analysis work – it’s not exciting, but it’s a good learning experience.
A lot of interns have been invited to networking “social events” at other banks in London. In a way, this is hedging your bets slightly, because it allows you to meet senior bankers at other firms and potentially unlock another opportunity. For me, I haven’t had any time to attend these events because I’m in the office. Time to knuckle down and secure the offer here.
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.