Summer internship season is upon us once again. Wall Street, as a culture and as a career path, continues to be vilified and painted as an odious, unfulfilling, waste of time. But is that entirely fair?
It may be true that Wall Street is no longer the default destination of our best, brightest, and most ambitious — this year, “only” 30% of Harvard seniors are heading to positions in finance or consulting, down from nearly 50% pre-crisis.
The oft-satirical nature of @GSElevator aside, in terms of illuminating questionable or unsavory aspects of investment banking culture, an internship on Wall Street is still a phenomenal place to begin any career. These firms invest a significant amount of resources in developing and training prospective analysts, providing them with guidance and mentorship, and exposing them to some of the most aggressive, motivated, and intelligent people on the planet.
Irrespective of what eventual career path you choose, there’s a lot to be said for cutting your teeth for a summer on Wall Street – if only for the experience of three well-paid months living in New York City.
Even if you want to end up in Silicon Valley, getting an offer from a Wall Street bank is a great tool to leverage and facilitate these opportunities. After all, there’s another important statistic. 30%. That’s the number of Millennials who still live with their parents.
So, for the sake of your future, I have updated last year’s list to provide you with all the knowledge you need to turn any internship (not just on Wall Street) into a full-time position:
- People love to talk about themselves, so ask questions that get them in their comfort zone. A big part of your first impression is how you make people feel about themselves.
- If your boss smokes, smoke.
- Keep your shoes shiny, but don’t let anyone see you having your shoes shined. You have to earn it.
- Buy at least three decent suits. Keep it simple; if a suit has too much flair, the only thing people will notice is how often you wear it.
- Forget about Wolf of Wall Street; double-breasted suits are not back.
- Don’t wear Hermes ties. You have to earn it.
- Don’t wear a tie unless you have to. And learn how to tie a decent Windsor knot
- Shut up about where you go to college. Decent credentials are a given.
- As it relates to fellow interns, make no mistake about it – it’s war:
- Let’s be clear; it’s impossible to compete with female interns. And it’s not cool. So don’t bother trying.
- When a fellow intern leaves his desk, change his screen to Rolex.com, TMZ.com, or HuffingtonPost.com
- Come up with dismissive and condescending nicknames for fellow interns (Chico, Fredo, Bubba, etc.). Hope that they catch on.
- When a fellow intern leaves his computer unlocked at the end of the evening, change the signature on his Email settings. Using white font, add any variety of obscene words. No one will see it… except for IT and HR.
- Show some leadership by organizing drinks and nights out with fellow interns; get them wasted, especially in the presence of senior colleagues.
- If you are exchanging “stock tips” with friends at other banks, use the app Cyber Dust (Mark Cuban’s text version of SnapChat). #NotSponsored
- Do the coffee runs. It shows confidence. Just don’t screw it up. If you can’t be trusted with coffee, how can you sell bonds or manage risk.
- Sure, “be proactive” and “show initiative,” but don’t let that exuberance make someone else’s life harder in the process.
- Leave a jacket on the back of your chair. While you are at it, keep a tie rolled up in your drawer.
- Ask the secretary for the travel schedules of the senior members of the team for the week ahead. She thinks you are being proactive, but now you know when you can sleep in, hit the gym, or beat the traffic to the Hamptons.
- Never tell the first [offensive] joke, but always have a good one saved up for when your seniors finally trust you enough to share one with you.
- Don’t brag about being a decent golfer. This should be a given.
- Don’t offer to buy drinks when out with your seniors; you can’t afford them and it won’t score any points.
- Sleep with a fellow intern. If your seniors haven’t ever done it, they’ve always wanted to. They’ll respect you for it, and you’ll always be the guy that hit it first, before she ends up marrying that a-hole MD in Emerging Markets.
- An MDs jokes are always funny. Period. And if you are at the receiving end of a joke, laugh with it. If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will. This is Wall Street; there is no such thing as ‘bullying’.
- Acknowledge the Caddyshack and Fletch references, but don’t make any yourself. You have to earn it. And don’t initiate the fist bump that comes with “Charge it to the Underhills.”
- Let your boss sent the tempo when it comes to rowdy nights out. Don’t be afraid to join in; just make sure you’re first one in the next morning.
- It’s okay to make a mistake or ask a question. But don’t ever ask the same question or make the same mistake twice. If you do, just know that the world needs ditch diggers too.
- If you still want to go to Silicon Valley, be my guest. But the grass is greener on the other side because it’s fertilized with bullsh*t.
John LeFevre is the creator of the @GSElevator Twitter feed and the author of the soon-to-be-released Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals. He was also a summer intern for Salomon Brothers… and did receive the full-time job offer.