Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cranking away in a Cubicle

This is the third post in a series about rising college seniors who successfully navigated the summer recruiting process. Find the first post here.

Here's a quick update on what the experience has been like the last few days as a new IBD intern. Over the weekend I was on call but thankfully didn't have to come into the office - a nice break before the storm!

To get a better understanding of office organization, the banking team I'm in, and office politics, I'll give a rundown of the people and describe how projects are assigned to readers who haven't worked in IBD.

There are seven interns in my industry group - five of us come from top targets (our majors: economics, history, religion, sociology, and policy) . The other two come from undergrad business schools (like NYU Stern). There's 4 guys and 3 girls. Pretty diverse in my opinion. We all have gotten along well so far. Despite how competitive it is in this environment and how badly people want full time offers, I've found that it's important to develop good working relationships with everyone, since there's a good chance we will be working together in some capacity.

There's an Associate in the group who assigns the interns to projects as they come up. Oftentimes, the MDs have a niche on the types of deals they work on (some specialize on IPOs and follow on offerings, others on M&A). The MDs also have close relationships with the management at several firms, so they do all deals for a particular client. From speaking with analysts, the assignment of interns to these deals is pretty random in the beginning. If an intern does an exceptional job on his first deal with a particular team, the MD / VP on that team could request that intern work on other deals as well. So I introduced myself to everyone the floor in the first week - I think it's good to get your name out there so people remember who you are. I would say speaking up is crucial - it differentiates those who take risks from those who shy away from hard work. When we interns introduced ourselves at the opening lunch to the industry team, I tried to speak with as many people as I could, while other interns just chatted amongst themselves.

My efforts paid off - I was the first intern staffed on a project. I was a little nervous in the beginning because I don't have any finance knowledge, but I was able to think through quickly and clearly about my responsibilites on the project. I was given select slides to revise in the master deck - which is basically the PowerPoint presentation we are pitching to the client. It hasn't been technical at all so far: I had to track the stock price data over the past 2 years on a graph and double check that the financial numbers were linked to the correct statements in Excel. (my Excel experience in my previous non-finance internships came in handy). The analysts checking my work liked that my work was right and that I had turned it around quickly. I heard from a friend (an IBD analyst) that an intern has to do two things to get an offer: 1) don't screw up on the small stuff and 2) in team meetings and project discussions contribute new ideas others haven't thought of. I've hit the mark on the first and hope to have the opportunity soon to do the second. To ensure success, I've been reading up on equity research on the company and comparing differen analysts' projections so that I can make my own contribution in our team meetings this week.

Yesterday and today has been really busy for me. Although the above tasks don't sound difficult, a high level of attention to detail is needed. I finally just got a small break. Things tend to slow down a bit around dinner time, and people in the office tend to sit together in a conference room for dinner.

When I asked people about their IBD internships in preparation for summer recruiting interviews, it was difficult for me to visualize how an intern fits in the picture - what interns contribute in team meetings, how they should approach people in their industry group that they haven't worked with, how they should strike up conversations with MDs (when they travel all the time) and so forth. I'm getting a clearer sense of what I need to do to add value here.

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