Throwback Thursday: This was originally posted July 2012
This is all representative of commonsense (but ultimately bad) advice I got during undergrad and followed blindly during. I sorted it all out by the end of my analyst program, but this was frequently accompanied by discomfort, late nights, and general suck.
You might disagree with my stance here. In fact, if you do, feel free to tell me in the comments. I'd very much like to hear that there are workplaces where the following work habits are rewarded rather than punished.
1: Turn changes as quickly as possible.
This is sometimes a recipe for disaster. The earlier you finish, the more time your boss has to second-guess everything. If you know your boss will iterate until the last moment and beyond, it often pays to build in a small amount of downtime for yourself. The finished product will be just as good (or bad), and you'll be slightly more rested for the next shit show they throw at you.
2: Never turn down a project.
Good general principle, but don't be dumb about it. It's nice to accept projects and workstreams up front from a wide variety of people so that your big workload is evident to all. This reputation can last a lot longer than the workload itself, giving you a chance to pick good projects and do well on them. On the other hand, use this reputation to parry anything likely to turn into a fire drill.
3: Read the WSJ and have informed opinions.
At the analyst level, few people want to hear your opinions on the economy. If you have opinions, don't share them unless asked, or unless you are 100% certain you don't sound like a douche. (Hint: In your early 20's, you can never be 100% certain you don't sound like a douche.)
4: Work through lunch.
Sometimes, nothing is going to save your ass. Just go. Find a friend in the same boat and drag them with you. Life will be better afterward.
5: Fire on all cylinders all the time.
Recipe for burnout. If you're chained to your desk 90+ hours a week and pushing yourself the whole time, you are going to make a bad mistake or fall asleep during a meeting. You have to carve out small nonobvious breaks. Critical part of being a good analyst.
6: Search for work to do when you're not busy.
No. Search for high-impact work to do. If there is none, go home and rest.
7: Follow directions exactly.
Wall Street is full of people who'll give you a recipe for making a shit sandwich and then complain when they don't like the taste. Once you know what you're doing, do it the way it should be done. The boss will like this better than the sandwich.