Thursday, June 4, 2009

Starting to Bank

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

This week has been training for all of the summer analysts in IBD at the bulge bracket I'm working for. It's been interesting meeting everyone so far - there are 8 other students from my school, and around 80-100 in the entire class. And surprisingly there is good representation beyond the Ivies, Stanford, and MIT. There are some from BC, UC Berkeley, UVA, UCLA, BYU, NYU, GW, Georgetown, UTexas, UGeorgia, UMich, and the liberal arts schools (Williams, Amherst, Wellesley, Colgate). I'm sure there are lots that I am forgetting to include here but the point is it's a diverse class!

The first day we received our assignments - either a product or industry. I'm excited to be part of the industry group I was assigned - it's in a field that's busy right now, which hopefully means that I'll get to work on cool deals.

Most of our training has been about spreading comps, getting acquainted with banker-speak, learning about the presentation templates, and some standard orientation stuff like "this is harassment" and "this is against the law." We also became acquainted with Excel. I guess the most important thing I learned was that as a summer analyst, I really need to work with experienced analysts to be successful. The top analysts in the bank were the ones guiding the training sessions, and really knew their stuff. Honestly I slacked off a bit during these sessions; my mentor mentioned to me that the most important thing to being successful is learning on the spot.

That said I have found my preparation useful in some areas. I'm glad I worked through an accounting program on my own before this week - knowledge of accounting gave me a leg up in terms of understanding the basics of valuation. I'm sure many of the business-background kids already understood valuation, but those coming from a target picked up the basics quickly. My impression was that those without a business background were the most open to learning and asking questions during training. And there are more people with non-business/non-finance majors.

I guess there are different pros and cons to learning business as an undergrad. If I had to generalize, this is what I would say are the main differences between the business and non-business majors, according to my personal experience and what I've gathered from recruiters (note: there are exceptions):

1. Those coming from a top business program really know their stuff and clearly are interested in banking for the long-term. It's clear to a recruiter that they want the job and are willing to work feverishly hard for it.

2. I'm a policy major and have seen people who study international relations, government, english, and even music in my summer analyst class. It's a bit harder to generalize our answers to "why banking?" When we broke off for lunch, a group of us were talking about our interview experiences. In her interview, the music major had a hard time convincing some recruiters why she should be chosen over others; however, in her interviews, she answered that she could engage in conversations on any topic with people from any background - which is crucial in a client-facing business where bankers need to not only work for the client but also have their trust. I think this story goes to show that personality is just as important as academics.

It will be interesting to see if there is a difference in performance of an intern based on their field of study. Everyone here is more or less very smart. Again, from speaking with my mentor, what separates those with full time offers at the end of the summer from this without will come more from personality (a leader, ability to work in teams, interpersonal skills) rather than straight academic success. Coming from a target was a huge leg up in recruiting but now it's all about the results and value added that I bring.

If people have any specific questions on the composition of my analyst class or anything I've covered in these two posts, leave a comment and I'll answer! As a preview, I'll be making another post(s) on what bankers actually do; I've found that there's only so much you can learn about the industry from reading industry books and periodicals. So hopefully the examples of the work I'm doing in my internship will be helpful to prospectivte bankers!

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