Reminding student interns how to act outside of the office

June 26, 2012 at 8:21 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

It may be summertime, but the living shouldn’t be easy for your summer interns—either inside or outside of the office. In its ongoing series, Don’t Eff This Up:  The Complete Guide to Wall Street Internships, New York magazine offers valuable suggestions that you might want to pass on to your student interns—whatever their fields.  In Part 4 writer Kevin Roose says that “in addition to learning where to live, how to dress, and how to act on the job, you’re also going to have to learn how to spend your nights and weekends.”  Here are some pointers from Kevin’s article:

  • Be a joiner: If you’re lucky, your bank will have an intramural basketball team, or a running club, or some other form of athletic bonding activity. Do these things. They are a great way to impress people with your youthful vigor. If you’re a glutton for punishment, sign up for a Tough Mudder with your boss. (A Tough Mudder, for those new to the concept, is a hardcore, boot-camp-like endurance event in which you’re made to climb walls, plunge into ice-cold water, run through trenches filled with fire, and oh God I need a nap.)
  • Don’t be the ringleader: In every summer analyst class, one guy (it’s always a guy) steps up as the unofficial social chair. He signs group e-mails “party on,” organizes beer pong and trips to 230 Fifth, and keeps a photo of his frat brothers at his desk. He also doesn’t get an offer. Don’t be that guy.
  • Bro out when necessary: That said, building solid relationships with your fellow grunts is crucial. They will cover for you when you have a “dentist appointment” (read: free happy hour at Turtle Bay) or “out-of-town wedding” (read: your ex is in town for the night). So buy them a round every now and then. Just don’t “ice” anyone, ever, please.
  • Ace the booze cruise: Odds are, your firm will at some point treat you and your fellow summer analysts to an open-bar cruise around Manhattan. It’s a staple of Wall Street intern life, and by all means, feel free to drink. But don’t have too many. Here’s a good test: When the D.J. plays that “We Are Young” song, do you start tearing up while earnestly contemplating the carefree hours of your fleeting youth? You’ve had too many.
  • What if my boss hits on me? This is an actual Serious Thing That Sometimes Happens, and it is definitely out of our league, advice-wise. We’d suggest talking to a trusted mentor, going to HR, or trying to transfer groups. As we said yesterday, it’s not 1992 anymore — and it shouldn’t be for your boss, either.
  • Don’t lead with your job: When meeting non-finance people at bars around the city, don’t tell them where you work right away. It makes you sound insecure and desperate to impress. Instead, increase your mystique by holding off the reveal as long as possible.

Sharing words of encouragement with your student interns

June 22, 2012 at 9:34 am | Posted in Intern Advice | 1 Comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Summer temperatures are climbing to over 90 degrees in much of the country, and the unemployment rate is still hovering at around 8%. While some of their classmates are at the beach, your student interns are struggling to master their assignments.  They could benefit from some words of encouragement spoken by commencement speakers in the last few weeks. Though your students always appreciate your words of support, the following excerpts from speeches by well-known success stories might be inspirational:

  • Condoleeza Rice, Former Secretary of State, Southern Methodist University:  “Find and follow your passion. Now, I don’t mean just any old thing that interests you, or your career. I mean something you really believe is a unique calling to you—in other words, something that you can’t live without.”
  • Neil Gaiman, Author, University of the Arts:  “Nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either.”
  • Michael Lewis, Author, Princeton University:  “People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck, especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. . . recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck, and with luck comes obligation.”
  • Aaron Sorkin, Writer & Producer, Syracuse University:  To get where you’re going, you have to be good, and to be good where you’re going, you have to be damned good. Every once in a while, you’ll succeed. Most of the time you’ll fail, and most of the time the circumstances will be well beyond your control.”
  • Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman:  “You are the emblems of the sense of possibility that will define our new age. Now, in the past, it’s always older generations standing up on high, trying to teach the next generation the ways of the world, trying to make sure they follow in their footsteps. Well, graduate, I’ll admit, I think it’s different today. You’re quite simply teaching us.”
  • Peter Dinklage, Actor, Bennington College:  “Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it. What did Beckett say? ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. ‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’”
  • Cory A. Booker, Mayor of Newark, Bard College:  “I believe in my heart of hearts that it is better to have your ship sunk at sea than have it rot in the harbor.”

Helping your students succeed in Finance internships

June 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Posted in corporate culture | 6 Comments
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

More students seem to want internships in Finance over any other industry, which makes sense. Consider what Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks:  “That’s where the money is.” Fortunately, there are lots of Finance internships. For example, Internships.com lists nearly 600 Finance internships with many of them in the New York City region. New York Magazine has published a guide to teach Wall Street interns how to succeed in their internships.  According to author Kevin Roose, “Because most of your work will consist of indistinguishable number-crunching, the only real way for your superiors to judge you against other summer analysts is on the basis of what is called, in the corporate patois, ‘fit.”’ The following excerpts may be useful to your Finance students who are currently in internships or to your interns in any field:   

  • Show up early, leave late: Most analysts and associates at big investment banks work long hours — sixteen-hour days are normal. You should, too. For much of that time, you won’t actually do anything (analysts and associates don’t, either!). But showing that you’re willing to sit in your chair until midnight is part of that elusive “fit” thing, and people will judge you if you don’t.
  • Learn “LDL”: At your internship, you’ll talk with your fellow summer analysts over e-mail and instant messages, both of which will be monitored by compliance officers whose job it is to keep you from saying stupid things that are read back to executives by members of Congress when your firm is investigated. (This is especially true at Goldman Sachs, where even typing “WTF” sends up a red flag.) To avoid getting dinged for gossiping, learn to type “LDL” — Wall Street code for “Let’s Discuss Live” — before making fun of your MD’s hairpiece.
  • Befriend the staffer: On your floor, there will be a person called the staffer. Other than your direct boss, the staffer is the single most important figure you will meet this summer. He or she will decide your hours, your assignments, and which groups you end up working with. Being in this person’s good graces can mean the difference between being a boss in FIG and toiling in PWM. (Know who can teach you what those acronyms mean? The staffer.)
  • Be a good gofer: Do everything that is asked of you faster and better than expected. (Except, like, grand larceny.) If the group head wants you to take his tennis racket in for stringing, have his overgrip replaced, too. Your associate sends you out for Shake Shack, bring back a few extra shakes. Morale on Wall Street is at an all-time low right now — layoffs, deal slowdown, and the impending implosion of Europe will do that — and any bit of joy you can bring to your godforsaken colleagues will be met with childlike enthusiasm.
  • Lose the Liar’s Poker shtick: The days of bacchanalian Wall Street culture are over. In 2012, with a few exceptions at the more old-line firms and hedge funds, no boss is going  to ask you to go to a strip club and pay in quarters, or bring him a cheesesteak from Philadelphia, or any of those legendary Wall Street hazing rituals. If you expect those things — or worse, if you ask for them — you’ll look naive and stuck in 1992.
  • Don’t screw up: Wall Street internships are essentially ten-week mistake avoidance tests. As a summer analyst, you are not expected to do well — you are expected not to do badly. At the end of the summer, when your supervisors gather to decide which interns get full-time offers, no one will remember the comps model you pulled an all-nighter on. Everyone, though, will remember the reply-all you sent about the hot Asian girl in sales. So don’t do that.
  • Master non-obvious flattery: A wise man once told us that people enter into conversations with one of two goals — either we want to make the other guy think we’re the most interesting person on Earth, or we want to make the other guy think he’s the most interesting person on Earth. Perfecting the second kind of interaction is the single most important piece of advice we can possibly give you for your summer on Wall Street. If, by displaying appropriate humility, and by nodding and laughing at the right times, you can make your analysts, associates, and MD’s feel funny, worldly, and incisive, it will remind them of the times in their lives before Wall Street, when they actually were all of those things. They will love you for it, and you’ll be one step closer to making it rain $1 bills all over Bar None.

Keeping current on internship developments around the globe

June 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Current events | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

We may think that the boom in internships is unique to the U.S., but countries worldwide are also dealing with similar growth. Since summer is a prime time for establishing internship goals for the Fall semester, it may be helpful to look farther afield to study how other countries are managing internships.  Understanding global development is important because more and more international students are choosing to come to American colleges. The following examples are representative of new international trends: 

  • China:  “College students should be banned from taking internships because they cannot focus on their studies while working for companies in positions of little significance,” said Huang Guitian, an assistant to the president of Peking University. Not all Chinese students agreed with him. A reader, Linyi, Shandong province, wrote, “I think it is necessary to do an internship while at university. As a college student, you cannot learn the business trends if you spend all your time in school. If you only learn from books you will not connect with reality. An internship can help a student learn more about the needs of employers. By combining theory with practice, young people can develop better.” 
  • Ireland:   The JobBridge programme is to be extended after a successful first ten months, with a number of internships currently available in Longford, Ireland. Last week, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton announced a further 1,000 places would be made available on the programme and widened the eligibility criteria for the scheme due to its success since its introduction on July first last year. According to the Department of Social Protection, the scheme has made significant progress to date. In the ten months since the scheme was launched 6,840 internships have started. The initial target provided for a maximum of 5,000 places at any point in time but this announcement will increase that to 6,000.
  • Canada:  Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government in British Columbia will commit $5M toward scholarships and research internships as it unveils details of how it plans to attract 47,000 additional international students into the province over the next four years.  Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto said, “We want to increase the number of international students that come to British Columbia (B.C.) by 50 per cent.” That target means B.C. has to increase the number of students it attracts by 47,000 over four years. It says almost half of that increase will come from enrolments in private-language schools, 30 per cent from public post-secondary institutions, 12 per cent from private post-secondary and 13 per cent in K-12. In an effort to achieve those targets, the province will give a one-time $700,000 grant to a program that helps attract and support international students to do research internships at B.C. universities.
  • England:  As the graduate employment market becomes increasingly competitive, we need to make ourselves stand out from the crowd – good grades and experience are a must. But we also have to pay the rent, according to an article in the Guardian newspaper. So, when juggling student life, which do you prioritise: your degree, unpaid CV-boosting extras – or a part-time job? The answer may lie with your university’s guidelines. Oxbridge advises students not to take work during term-time, while the University of Nottingham recommends no more than 16 hours a week. There’s no national data to show how many students take part-time work, although the University of Warwick estimates that over 50% of students do so.
  • Japan:   Four leading Japanese corporations are offering summer internship opportunities for UAE national students in Japan, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology announced. Five UAE national graduates from the Foundation program and First year M.Sc. have been selected to participate in this program that runs from 27 May – 9 August. The students have begun their internship with the Japanese International Cooperation Centre. Dr. Amy Wohlert, Executive Director of General Education and Student Affairs, Masdar Institute, said: “The internship program in Japan provides the students with an opportunity to gain access to some of the global leaders in technology, especially in the environment and engineering sectors. Such programs equip the students with special expertise and help them to become full-fledged professionals.”

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