This year's banking interns are turning up at the worst possible time

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With less than 72 hours to go until what may be the most monumental event to hit markets since Black Wednesday in 1992, guess who's turning up at investment banks? Yes, it's the summer analysts. 

Interns at banks like Citi and Morgan Stanley have been in the London office since Monday. Analysts at Goldman Sachs are due to start next Monday - on the second working day after referendum results are in.

With senior traders preparing to work through the night, SocGen warning clients that it might not be able to provide them with liquidity, and British chancellor George Osborne suggesting that the London Stock Exchange may need to be suspended if Britain leaves the EU, it's hard to conceive of summer analysts turning up at a worst time.

"It sucks for their "welcome to the firm" perspective," says one senior macro salesman. Citi and Morgan Stanley might have the biggest problems, he suggests. Most banks park their interns in classrooms for the first week, so Goldman's are likely to be out of the way, but at Citi and Morgan Stanley, securities interns could be underfoot on the trading floor. Even if they're not, they're unlikely to get the exposure to senior staff that interns are usually treated to: "It might dull some of the excitement," says the salesman, predicting that interns will spend more than the usual amount of time on mundane tasks as traders try to keep them out of the way.

"I've heard the first two weeks of my internship will be training, led by an external team, so I'm guessing the dust might have settled by the time I get to the desks," says one intern who's arriving next week.

Some interns already appear to be in the thick of it, however. One sales and trading intern at a U.S. bank in London told us he'd just attended a meeting on this week's impending event: "We will be monitoring our counterparties, exposure levels, and the general market's reaction very closely these of couple weeks.

"They've just kind of thrown me in the deep end and I'm very glad of it," he adds. "I'm lucky to have been placed with a great team and have been fully included in all meetings and projects thus far (even if it was just for the exposure), so hopefully these few weeks won't be any different!"

Although things may be balmy now, ex-Goldman trader who now works on the buy-side, said interns usually panic when things get tough. "In my experience, kids get fairly freaked out by volatility. You have to send a lot of emails calming and comforting them and providing some perspective."

The head of recruitment at one international bank in London cautioned interns against getting too excited though: "The interns aren't going to be affected by the European referendum at all. They're at such a low level, that they won't even notice what's going on really. There's still going to be plenty of project work for them to do and it won't be any different to usual."

Photo credit: Ivan Bliznetsov

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