Ah yes, you have received your Investment Banking Analyst offer for next summer. You have accomplished the impossible. Climbed the unscalable. Out-prestiged Prestigious Pete! You are AWESOME.
Except not everyone is going to react the same way when you proudly proclaim to them that in only a few shorts months you'll be a minted banker. Indeed, some will act offender, bewildered, or ignorantly when you tell them of your triumphs.
The interaction goes something like this...
New Acquaintance: "Hello John Doe, my name is Jane, so nice to meet you. What do you do?"
You: Perfect! This is a chance to tell someone that I'm going to be a banker! "Well, Jane, I am in finance." Not coming off to strong, we'll wait for out new friend to prod further.
New Acquaintance: "Oh, that's where the money is at, haha. What in finance specifically?"
You: If I had a dime for every time someone told me that finance was where the money is... "Funny you should ask Jane, I am an investment banker and advise companies on such things as mergers & acquisitions and capital raises."
Now Jane can have one of 3 responses.
1. Why don't you do something that benefits society?
Ah yes, these can come in many shapes and sizes. In some cases, the person may be angry with you for your career choice -- you know, because by being anslave, you're directly keeping down the 99%. Or the person can act very shocked in a patronizing way, as if to say "Wow, you really chose THAT over Peace Corps???".
In either of these cases, you have to put the over-aggressive tendencies you have into your pocket and appease the interlocutor. "Yeah, I know I know, but just for a few years" -- getting off Scott Free and making yourself seem like an _actual_ good person might work here. This doesn't seem to be the place to argue with anyone, no matter your stance.
2. Wut's tht?
Depending on the circles you run in, this one is probably pretty uncommon, but it will happen. Liken investment banking to a real estate brokerage, just instead of selling houses, you sell companies or pieces of companies. You also help people to refinance companies, much like realtors can play a role in refinancing mortgages (not usually, but close enough).
The other thing to do, which requires tact (most of you lack that), is to just say you're a financial advisor and move the conversation in another direction. No one really wants to hear you describe investment banking to someone. Really, no one.
3. Can you help me break in?
Boy this one happens a lot if you're around people 1-2 years younger than you. It's kind of unbelievable, actually. For most people, this will be phrased differently, such as: "Tell me about how you got into banking", or the ubiquitous "I'd like to learn more about your firm".
At this point you, although having so far accomplished nothing as an investment banker (you haven't even started yet), have a bit of leverage. You can quickly try to figure out whether this is someone who knows what they're talking about even ever so slightly or just wasting your time and crying "investment banking" because the kid next to them in Econ 101 has a Goldman MD for a dad. If they're not wasting your time, and although you don't REALLY have the capacity to help them much, you can offer to check out their resume and push it forward once you start working.
If they are wasting your time, and don't actually know that investment banking isn't stock-picking, smile and explain that you have no clout yet, but would be happy to follow up at a later point. You won't really follow-up though, but why make things awkward. This ability will certainly come in handy later on.
What do you guys think? What sorts of responses have you received when asked the ever-popular "so wut r u doin nxt yr?" questions? Let's hear it.
Thanks for reading.
Check out my blog!