Discover your dream Career
For Recruiters

Just How Serious Was the Now-Infamous ‘Intern Commandments’ Email?

In yesterday’s “Buzz Around the Office,” we included a link to a Wall Street Journal article that exposed a tongue-and-cheek email sent from a Barclays’ analyst to incoming interns. It has since set the Internet on fire, both within the industry and in non-banking circles.

If you haven’t read it, click here. The email, titled “Welcome to the Jungle,” includes a list of "10 Power Commandments" that all interns should abide by. It is in many, dare I say almost all ways, satirical and self-deprecating. It was also a really, really dumb idea.

Lines like: "Have a spare tie/scarf or two around. You never know when your associate will run out of napkins,” are playful jokes. Others like: “I recommend bringing a pillow to the office (yoga mat works as well). It makes sleeping under your desk a lot more comfortable, in the very likely scenario that you have to do that,” probably didn’t have the interns who received the email rolling over in laughter.

The reactions have been polarizing. The Wall Street Journal’s own John Carney said on Twitter that if you reacted to the email with outrage “you are a humorless nitwit,” and that it was “self-deprecating…It is mocking itself.”

Gawker went the other way, bashing the “very f---ed up email” with a short paraphrase: “We sure look forward to treating you like garbage.” CNBC asked Barclays if the author of the email, second-year analyst Justin Kwan, was still employed by the bank. They declined to comment on that specifically but said they did not authorize the email.

The reaction should fall somewhere in between. Carney is right – the email is mocking itself and the perception of Wall Street culture, something bankers love to do. One former investment banker told us it was a “pretty innocent and standard joke welcome email,” and offered his sympathies to Kwan. The person who sent it to the media should be the one who is worried, he said.

However, the timing and the tone couldn’t have been worse. Wall Street is currently fighting two public perceptions: that it is a greed-inducing fraternity and that banks work young people to their wits’ end. Two bankers in their 20s who complained to loved ones about their work hours have died recently. They both fell from their apartment buildings; suicide is considered the likely cause in both scenarios.

The email is self-deprecating but it also mocks what are oftentimes true perceptions: working hours for juniors are unbearable and Wall Street still has a fraternal culture that leads to bad ways of thinking and, eventually, scandal. As a banker at a rival U.S. firm told us: “That stuff doesn’t fly here. Kid would be fired immediately.”

Perhaps the fairest takeaway comes from Bloomberg correspondent and former Goldman Sachs banker Matt Levine: “People will believe anything bad about investment bankers, and never put anything in e-mail.”

Seven Tips For Acing the Series 7 (eFinancialCareers)

The Series 7 exam is integral for any person wishing to become an investment professional in the U.S. Here's how to make it through.

What Banks Are Doing to Improve Work-Life Balance (eFinancialCareers)

In the wake of two recent deaths, banks are under renewed pressure to reduce hours for staff in their investment banking divisions. Here’s a round up of the measures they have in place already.

Nomura Growing Market-Making Team (Financial News)

Nomura is expanding its equity market-making unit. It brought back a few traders who had previously transferred to Instinet, its electronic agency brokerage, in November, and now appears to be staffing up yet again.

The Fed Has More Eyes on Insurers (WSJ)

The Federal Reserve has hired 70 people to help in its new role of overseeing insurance companies. The insurance industry is nervous.

CEO Confidence Growing (Fortune)

Roughly 82% of Fortune 500 companies plan to employ more people two years from now, according to their CEOs.

Got Him! (Bloomberg)

One of the market’s quirkier mysteries has been solved. Back in May, shares of Avon shot up nearly 20% after a fake private equity firm filed an acquisition offer riddled with typos with the SEC. The agency said the man behind the scheme was Nedko Nedev, a 37-year-old trader who lives in Bulgaria. He was reportedly behind two other bogus tender offers in 2012 as well.

We’re Hiring! (PR)

Jefferies announced in a press release that it is looking to expand its FX business in New York, London and Singapore.

Buzz Around the Office

Explaining the Summer of George (NY Post)

Why did Seinfeld writers kill off George’s fiancé Susan? Everyone hated working with the actress, Heidi Swedberg. After a difficult scene, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine, said to the creators, jokingly, “don’t you just want to just kill her?” So they did, or her character anyway.

Quote of the Day: "The parts about analysts leaving last and arriving early or instructions on who to talk to — those are what we perceive we will have to do." – an incoming intern on the Barclays’ email saga

Six charts explaining why HSBC shouldn’t slash its investment bank

Do not do this in banking interviews 

Five tricky job interview questions if you’re fleeing a bank that’s on the rocks


AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

Sign up to our Newsletter!

Get advice to help you manage and drive your career.

Boost your career

Find thousands of job opportunities by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.
Latest Jobs
Financial Advisor
New York, United States
State Street Corporation
ETF Internal Sales Desk Manager - State Street Global Advisors, VP
State Street Corporation
Boston, United States
State Street Corporation
Treasury Controller, Assistant Vice President
State Street Corporation
Boston, United States
State Street Corporation
Private Equity Core Operations, Senior Associate
State Street Corporation
Sacramento, United States
State Street Corporation
Private Equity Core Operations, Senior Associate
State Street Corporation
California City, United States
State Street Corporation
Fund Accounting & Administration (Private Equity), Senior Associate
State Street Corporation
Boston, United States

Sign up to our Newsletter!

Get advice to help you manage and drive your career.