mod (Andy) note: make sure to check out fellow writer Aaron Burr's response in "How to deal with THAT associate"
September: the time of the year when hundreds of newly-minted MBAs are unleashed upon their new groups.
To those highly-educated individuals who are about to take their rightful place at the helm of the global economy: we here at WSO salute you. The learning curve is steep and your associate class is probably full of people from the same school who look, talk, and think like you do, but if you master the following key phrases, they will help you stand out from even the toughest and most prestigious competition.
When speaking to your analyst:
“The VP/director wants me to add some bullet points on the rationale for the synergies; why don’t you take a first crack at that?” Do my job, please.
“Have these numbers been scrubbed?” Have you done my job yet?
“You need to scrub these numbers better.” You need to do a better job of doing my job.
“This is no big deal; don’t let it take you all night.” I want you to think I’m a nice chill guy, but I still want it perfect and I want it now.
“Just throw something together fast and get some rough numbers on paper for now; we can sharpen our pencils on this later.” And later: “This isn’t right. The right way to do this would be X, Y, and Z.” In other words: Throw together a fast simple analysis for me right now, but the moment you turn it in I’m going to forget I told you it could be fast and simple and will instead chew you out for not doing a full methodical analysis.
“This took you all night? What were you doing? What about this took you so long? You should have called me before you let this take you all night.” Your all-nighter was your fault and if you were a halfway decent analyst you’d have found a way to get everything done and be well-rested and ready to roll today.
If actually called at 1: “Sounds like you know what needs to be done; let me know if I can help with anything.” I didn’t mean you should actually call me before you let it take you all night. I’m sleeping. Get our work done and leave me alone.
“When will it be done? Can I tell the VP/director that we’ll have it for him by the time he leaves? Am I going to have to push back on him and tell him we’ll send it over later tonight?” Hurry the fuck up because I’m scared of pushing back on my boss.
“What can I do to help you finish this faster?” What can I do to help you finish this faster, aside from anything involving the model, the, the charts... you know what, I’m just gonna go to the gym, will you be done in an hour?
When speaking to your bosses:
“I haven’t heard anything from the analyst yet; I’ll go see if I can get an ETA.” I don’t really do anything around here aside from being a channel of communication between you and the unshaven, red-eyed 23-year-old that actually does the work.
“We’ll have it for you by the time you leave the office.” Actually, there’s no way it’ll be done by then and we will ultimately have to send it over in a black car and stay up until it gets to you in Westchester County, which will be roughly 12:30. But I’m too much of a pussy to say that to your face right now, even though it would help you plan your evening and keep you from getting too pissed off at me later.
“The analyst must have overlooked that.” “The analyst’s model must be throwing out bad numbers.” I’m going to distract you from the fact that I didn’t do my job by blaming the analyst for not doing both of our jobs well enough.
“I take full responsibility for that mistake; I will scrub the analyst’s numbers better in the future.” I have the balls to take responsibility for the analyst’s mistakes... as long as I can still make it clear that it’s the analyst’s fault.
“I’m sorry that [X piece of shitty work] made it to you without being scrubbed by me first.” I want to make it very clear that I had nothing to do with the turd that just somehow landed on your desk. I blinked and it was just there. Not my fault.
“I found a mistake in the analyst’s model, so it will be another hour before the changes are finished.” Look, I found a way to prove I add value AND throw the analyst under the bus AND push back on your timeline, all in the same sentence. Now I’m gonna go spend an hour on ESPN as a reward for a job well done.