To intern at an investment bank these days is to drink the corporate Kool-Aid. Successful interns go in with their eyes wide open, knowing that 10 weeks of long hours and potentially menial work could result in a high-paying full time job after university.
In the past, the biggest gripe of interns in investment banks was the long hours. This may change following Goldman's decision to restrict interns to mere 17 hour days, or it may not. One intern even went so far as to claim that “being surrounded by other like-minded and motivated individuals made them a non-factor”.
This, along with hundreds of other (largely) positive reviews of internships at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citi and boutiques like Evercore and Perella Weinberg are available on Vault.com. We’ve scoured through them to find the downsides of interning in an investment bank. These are as follows.
1. Just call me Machiavelli
“Gruelling competition for full-time positions becomes crash course in corporate politics."
2. Stop teaching me so much!
"The training program is like drinking from a firehose"
"Some of the guest speakers were unnecessary."
"There were a few too many required intern speaker events. When I was busy, they were too time consuming."
3. I'll put my sleeping back under the desk, just in case
"JPM really stresses the value of face time, which makes sense in a firm that really encourages relationships. However, younger employees often took this too far, staying late into the night for no other reason than to make it seem as though they were incredibly dedicated."
4. On call, like a doctor
"The hours are unpredictable. I had to come in on Saturdays and Sundays, on an hour's notice sometimes."
5. Even the social events are a hard slog
"One weekend commitment in the Hamptons was 7 hours on a bus for a 2-hour cocktail party."
6. Just let me be myself
"Lots of sucking up needed. It was sometimes hard for me to be myself and truly showcase me and my skills, as I felt EXTREME pressure to be what my manager wanted me to be."
7. It's like joining a fraternity
"We were asked to do numerous mock pitches and presentations which seemed awkward and forced. Our "open meetings" where we were quizzed on all aspects of the business and company seemed more like fraternity hazing than a value-added activity."
8. I want to see the Statue of Liberty
"Working 60-70 hours/week leaves little time to explore the city!"
9. Where's the overtime pay?
"Actively try to reduce the amount of redundant and/or unnecessary work so that employees can enjoy a better lifestyle. Goldman should compensate their employees better, especially when compared with other bulge bracket and top boutique banks (i.e. Goldman does not pay overtime while most banks do)."
10. Where's the free food?
"Everyone knows about the perks associated with working at places like Facebook and Google - namely, that cafeteria food is free (to reduce costs). I think the man hours lost to pay for food at the cafeteria - or to go elsewhere for lunch, which many would not do if the cafeteria were free - exceeds the profit made on food from the cafeteria (especially when you remove wages paid to cashiers). And I think offering free food to employees would help the firm keep up with the tech companies."
11. I'll take the stairs
At J.P. Morgan's New York office: "The elevators were very inefficient and slow."
12. Don't keep me waiting
"Hours were tough, but more specifically productivity - a lot of time was spent waiting for mark ups from seniors, and when you were given them you were expected to turn them around for the next morning."
13. Please, give me a hard time
At Evercore: "They were too easy on the interns. Let us go very early and attend all company events even if our team was still working."
14. Silence is golden
"People on my team didn't talk. Unless you made a conscious effort to talk to people, you'd be sitting at your desk all day."
15. Stuck in the middle with you
"The work-flow was kind of muddy and was on a project with two senior bankers who didn't see eye to eye. That made the project frustrating and led to duplicate work."
16. Does this look like 'seastorm blue' to you?
"There's a focus on minor (seemingly pointless) details - font size in presentations, colour formatting."
17. Homework? But I never leave the office
"There was a lot of homework during the internship. They were necessary, but were difficult to complete while staffed on live projects. That is the nature of the job, however."
18. Handled with kid gloves
"Seniors occasionally withhold constructive criticism in order to avoid putting someone down."
19. Next question
"It was essentially a 10-week interview, so you had to be on your game the whole time, which can be tough given the long hours."
20. I am literally staring into space
"There were a few times that I had absolutely nothing to do during the day and just had to sit at my desk and wait for something to come up. It was not acceptable to leave when you didn't have any work. At times, it did seem to be a little political too, but I doubt that is unique to my group or firm."
21. How did you even get the job?
"I was not that busy. My manager was confused."