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.

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.

Undergrads can use LinkedIn, and other reminders

October 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Jyl McLaughlin

As a career services professional you probably find yourself regularly “parenting” students on etiquette this time of year for Career Fairs and On-campus Interviewing.   You may hear yourself in your sleep giving tips such as “be sure you shine your shoes and iron your shirt”; “be sure to get a good night’s sleep”; “ be sure to research the company” or EVEN “be sure to brush your teeth and wash your hands!”.  I know, I have had to do it myself-it does happen!

You may also be coaching on tips related to social media issues such as appropriate use or private access to Facebook pages, Tweets and Blogs.  It is important that students are regularly aware of their electronic footprint and what comes up under their name in a Google search.  And in “old technology” form, remind students to have a simple and mature email address for employers to use as well as a formal outgoing message on their voice mail.  I was working with a young college student this summer and when I called their voice mail it started first with a pause and noisy background, then went “ Hey guys, it’s me. I will get back to you when I can”.  Hey guys??…I have also had the experience of a student’s outgoing message with a recorded rap song including swear words.  Not good… be sure to test these areas.

Finally, and the focus of this blog post, is to encourage your students to start a professional LinkedIn profile.  Many undergrad age students do not have one, and they may feel they are not “old” enough for it. But in a search while writing this blog, I found over 500 intern positions posted of all kinds.  Some great contacts for students to make on LinkedIn are not just those of other friends, but those of parents, friends of parents, past co workers and bosses, etc.  These networking contacts may just lead to some internal networking at good companies with postings for  internships and co-ops.

Tips for your students on LinkedIn:

  1. Complete the profile with an updated resume, conservative “head” shot for a picture and recommendations from past supervisors , coaches, or even professors!
  2. Be sure they have an understanding of their preferred occupation and industry for use in the title and summary (Their major may not be a direct link to industry and occupation).
  3. Leadership roles:  Be sure students who have leadership roles in extracurricular groups or athletics, that this is noticeable on their profile.
  4. Skills: in the “other” section on LinkedIn is housed a Skill section that helps people identify skills and add them to their profile which also indicates others who have the same skill sets.  This could help students become more familiar with using the language that others are using in similar occupations and industries as well as develop the language for use in interviewing.

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