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Weird and depressing items to bring to your internship at an investment bank

With intern season already underway at some investment banks, anecdotes are starting to flood in from students who are new to the hours, if nothing else. One intern who recently started at a boutique investment bank said he worked until 2 a.m. on his first day, despite doing nothing more than reading a book on compliance. When nighttime rolled around, he noticed several full-time junior bankers pull out something fairly depressing: a toothbrush.

“If you’re working 15-hour days and eating three meals at the office, a toothbrush is a no-brainer,” said a former intern at Deutsche Bank in New York. “No one is going to make an offer to someone with bad breath and yellow teeth.” With that in mind, we reached out to a host of former and current bankers to put together a list of must-have items for interns and other juniors who are now spending more time in the office than at home. Are there any we are missing? Let us know in the comments.

Toothbrush/toothpaste – Bring a plastic travel cover so you can slip your toothbrush into your pockets or purse, said the former Deutsche Bank intern. Purchase a bunch of small, travel-sized tubes of toothpaste as well. Don’t worry about looking strange, she said. “I’ve seen lots of people brushing their teeth even if they’re not working late.”

A backup tie and shirt – Just in case you spill on yourself or need a crisper look for a meeting.

A razor and mini bottle of shaving cream – Call it a backup plan if you don’t find time every morning and something comes up. A former VP at Barclays said he learned the hard way to bring a styptic pencil as well in case you nick yourself shaving. “I sat in the bathroom bleeding for 15 minutes while we were setting up for a big meeting,” he recalls.

Deodorant – Self-explanatory.

Vitamins – Believe it or not, most young bankers eat healthy these days, even if dinner is delivered to the office (be prepared for lots of sushi and salads). Still, vitamin B and vitamin D are good to take if you’re logging extremely long hours. “B vitamins play a crucial role in brain function and supporting natural energy production…and can be very supportive in replenishing the battery,” according to Dr. Laura Chan, a licensed naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist. Vitamin D can help when you’re not getting much natural sunlight, as you likely won’t.

Gym bag – And not just for exercise. “Join a gym close to the office,” said the former Barclays VP. “Worst case, you use it as a home base to shower and shave if you don’t have time to go home.” You may also want to pack spare underwear.

Headphones (maybe) – If you’re trying to put the finishing touches on some numbers or a pitchbook late at night, headphones can be a good option for concentration. But do you due diligence first. Some people hate seeing interns wearing headphones, no matter what time it is, said the former Deutsche banker. “Scope out what others in your group are doing first,” she said.

Water bottle – Some banks have already banned paper and plastic cups to help eliminate waste. You also won’t need to get up from your desk as much and are more likely to avoid dehydration, which can quickly lead to “brain fatigue,” Chan said. Also, try to avoid stimulants like Red Bull and copious amount of coffee, if possible. “They actually deplete long-term energy reserves,” she said.

And two final tips for interns: “Walk fast everywhere people will think you are busy,” said the ex-Barclays VP. And “don't ever, ever ask for more work.” 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: btuttle@efinancialcareers.comBear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by actual human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t).  

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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