The seven deadly sins of investment banking interns

eFC logo

Investment banks are about to start handing out offers to their summer interns. The summer internship is most banks' main recruitment vehicle, but this doesn't mean all interns make the cut. If you're pondering why you didn't receive an offer, I'll be frank - it's because you simply weren't good enough.

As difficult it is to accept, some summer analysts just don't impress enough. It's not all down to the work you present, it's partly about attitude. You want to get ahead? Don't let these emotions get the better of you.

Pride: deflate your head

Be proud, but not a prat. Recognise you’re mostly useless and deflate your head; there’s nothing worse than an intern with a big ego. On the other hand, when you deliver a piece of work, you’d better be proud of it because believe me, when I write your review I’ll find it much easier to recall the time you sent me typo-riddled, half-baked rubbish than the time you did something well.

Envy: Let it drive you 

The best interns who work for me are the ones who want my job - or my boss's job - the most. If you aren’t listening to the MD telling you about his house in Mayfair or new Porsche and thinking “I wish I had that”, you’re in the wrong business. Because when it gets to 4am and you’re alone in the office, you might just find that envy is the only thing keeping you going.

Gluttony: Feed the masses 

I don’t mean your gluttony here, but mine. If you turn up on Friday with doughnuts, the chances are I’ll like having you around. If you can drink with me, even better - just be prepared to down pints and still be in a fit state to go back to the office when I go home.

Lust: Let egos be stroked 

Don’t get too excited - I’m not suggesting you get yourself involved in a sexual harassment suit. Don't expect praise from your manager or your buddy. In investment banking, thanks and feel-good comments come from the bottom up, rather than top down. Make your boss feel good and he'll be more prepared to tolerate your presence. Don't be a sycophantic brown-nose, but choose a few well-placed comments. And get used to not hearing anything back.

Sloth: Make my life easier

I may give the appearance of being driven and happy to be in the office as long as is necessary, but when you're here it's your duty to let me do as little work as possible and go home early. Everyone above you wants to use the summer as an opportunity to be a bit lazy. This is where you come in - be useful, do the work we ask you to do and then some. There's then a reason to keep you around.

Greed: You're in it for the money 

Money is a big motivator to any graduate coming out of university with a huge amount of debt. Banking pays well and to deny this is the reason for you going into banking is ridiculous. You need to want that money, and you need to want it bad, or you’re going to have to convince yourself you just absolutely love being tired. Be greedy, because greedy people are motivated - just stick to the rules.

Wrath: Endure, don't emit 

You messed up, you're only human. It's fine, we all make mistakes. This is not something you will hear in an investment bank, nor is it something you should expect. You screw up and you boss will go nuts. You're here for the experience, but you're doing real work and being paid well for your time here. Your MD is the one who will hand out the dressing down, but those further up the tree will quickly stab you in the back. Expect an associate or VP to take a fall for you when you make a mistake? No - they will immediately point the finger. Take responsibility for your own actions.

Follow these rules and you might make it into a full-time banking job. Maybe.

Arun Jones is the pseudonym of an analyst in an investment bank

Related articles

Popular job sectors


Search jobs

Search articles