Diary of an IBD intern: There is a strange, upbeat, mood on the desk
It's week three and I’m definitely beginning to feel more settled at the bank and in my team. The day-to-day work routine is kind of starting to lose its gloss; no longer is each day a surprise, but days are starting to blur. As well as the occasional monotony of the work, this is also due in part to the hours I’m working – when your free time becomes entirely synonymous with sleep, there’s little to differentiate days.
Fortunately, last weekend (my first weekend on the desk) I wasn’t called into the office. I say fortunately because both of the other interns on my team were. Without weekends, I’ve been told many times that days quickly become weeks, and weeks become months, all without any real time to unwind outside of the office. And the problem is that when there is little prospect of getting out of the office early, there’s no incentive to work hard enough to even have the chance to leave early. It’s definitely a vicious circle easily, and often, traversed by IBD bankers.
At the moment, the bank seems fairly busy and spirits are high. A team meeting earlier in the week confirmed this with a remarkably upbeat mood. It’s good to see confidence in the bank – there is a very noticeable volume of empty desks and offices around, a reminder of the pre-bust exuberance of the bank. But most, including recruiters, now seem to have changed their mindset around to the fact that the industry is on an upwards trajectory again. For us interns, all this immediately translates into is a lot of late nights, but in turn a good amount of ‘real’ work too. In fact, I’ve already been involved in multiple projects and have even been able to send some of my work directly on to clients – a real privilege and definitely a high of the internship so far.
With work, I’ve found that technical skills aren't the most difficult aspect of the job – you can easily ask for help with all of that, whether you have a financial background or not. The team mostly have low expectations of any industry knowledge we may have too. It is inaccuracy that is the most horrible thing. One intern this week submitted research which was then forwarded directly onto a client. It was later found, by the client, to contain serious and basic inconsistencies – something about recent share price movements. No doubt this caused the director who sent off the document a lot of embarrassment. But I feel incredibly sorry for that intern. Their mistake has been relayed across the whole intern class – it’s surely damaged their chances. Although everyone is aware that mistakes will sometimes happen, it just can't be you who makes them.
It’s important to be able to work very quickly and efficiently within banking. Excel shortcuts are beginning to run through my veins. Bank PowerPoint and brand guidelines are becoming imprinted into my gaze. And they are carried by means of plentiful coffee into pitchbooks each day. Although I worried about picking them up before joining the bank, I certainly needn’t have – they do become intuitive very quickly when given a deadline!
Next week I look forward to a charity and community day, a couple of networking events with senior staff and also some feedback as to how I’m doing in the form of a midterm review. So far, my internship has been enjoyable overall. Hardwork, yes, but filled with great experiences and great people. It certainly seems you’re likely to get out what you put in with investment banking. The only problem is that you don’t get much flexibility as to how much you put in.