Internships in investment banks are like summer camps for high-achieving insomniacs. Such is interns' eagerness to work ridiculously hard that banks like Goldman Sachs have been compelled to introduce rules commanding them to go home at night and interns themselves have reflected on their inability to make time to use the toilet.
This being the case, you might think that a summer in an investment bank would be like Lord of the Flies without the conch or the beach. But you'd be wrong: speaking entirely off the record as banks forbid them from speaking to the press, this year's interns say it's been quite lovely. More importantly, they say that everyone's been incredibly nice.
"Fantastic," "humble", "intelligent", "supportive," "friendly", "down-to-earth," "intellectual" and "motivated" are just some of the words this year's interns at Goldman and Morgan Stanley use to describe their colleagues this summer.
"I know it's a cliché, but the best thing about Morgan Stanley is the people," says one recent Morgan Stanley intern. "Every bank on the planet likes to say their people are the best, but I've now had the chance to work for varying periods at a few different banks and meet people from pretty much every single major investment bank. The people at Morgan Stanley are so much friendlier and down to earth than others elsewhere."
At Goldman Sachs, it was the humility of the staff that struck another intern. "What surprised me was how humble people were," he tells us. "I was lucky enough to work with incredibly smart people who showed a lot of humility, which was a breath of fresh air. People across all levels were willing to take time out of their schedule to speak to me as a summer analyst – I was, and still am incredibly grateful. "
What about the crazy hours and sleepless nights? Apparently it's not at all that bad. "In my division, all the employees ensured interns worked reasonable hours so as not to put their health at risk," says one Goldman intern, who nonetheless admitted to working 90-120 hour weeks. The Morgan Stanley intern was even more enthused: "Everyone in my team was really supportive of each other. When I did have to work a really late night, which did inevitably happen on occasion, then everyone made an effort to help me get out early the next day." Even better, the MS intern said the late nights are actually fun because the people are so good to hang out with: "The late nights would be completely unbearable if it wasn't for having a great bunch of people around you."
What about the cutthroat competition for full time job offers? Again, this is seemingly a misnomer: it's more like gentle camaraderie. "They've made it very clear that we're not competing against each other - it's down to the individual, so if you're good enough then you should translate that in to a full time role!," the Morgan Stanley intern said. At Goldman, an intern did detect a frisson of competitiveness: "Some of my fellow interns just wanted to impress and make the most and/or better contacts within the firm," he says, adding that they disregarded other interns in the process and didn't help them out as much as they could have. Vicious. Or not.
Lastly, it seems that bankers aren't all materialists with a thing for the accoutrements of success. They're actually pretty modest and understated. "No one is extraordinarily flashy and even though everyone’s incredibly intelligent, it’s very subtle," said one Goldman intern.