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Just some advice as we are getting a bit closer to intern season. Hopefully people will start adding more in the comments, I wanted to stay away from the obvious ones.

The Do Not's
1) Do not screw up a lunch order: I know, this is quite obvious, but I can't stress enough the importance of this. A key trait that is looked for is reliability. Until you are trusted you will not even get to do a booking unsupervised. And trust is built up slowly through increasing stages. First stage is menial tasks like food delivery or in general stuff that isn't actually related to the business and therefore the max downside is inconvenience for the trader.

Next comes things that are to do with the business but do not affect pnl i.e. bookings and spreadsheets. Next step is simple hedging tasks and cash product execution. This is a big step as at this point you can affect pnl. Specifics differ by desk, but for example on a flow derivs desk this includes delta hedging intraday and on the close, and hedging the rho of the books. After that comes some responsibility for pricing under supervision, then pricing unsupervised, and finally sole management of a book. But it all begins with the lunch order.

2) Do not ask simple questions: everyone always says there is no such thing as a stupid question. Maybe that's true, but there is such a thing as a simple question. A simple question is one that can be googled. For example you are on an options desk, don't start asking about simple characteristics of call and put options (i.e. whats the div or interest rate risk), these things can be easily learnt in 2 mins. What you want is to know things like this that can be easily researched and then use that knowledge to actually ask smarter questions.

When you learnt the basic knowledge yourself you can actually have a discussion with the traders on how they run their books, for example what kind of div risk he is running, how he is hedging/managing it. From a traders perspective you will get a lot more points from a 30 min discussion about the persons book than being taught basic things you should have already learnt.

3) Do not think you can get involved with office banter that is about the people on the desk or anything/anyone in the office: this is a classic mistake. Especially in the current environment there is a lot of "gallows" humour regarding the state of a company, bonuses, firings etc. I have seen interns try to get involved and crack jokes and it never gets taken well. As an intern you are not an "insider", so don't pretend to be one of the guys. Now this does not mean to not get involved with general banter, just don't try to be part of inside jokes where its actually disrespectful on your part. Gallow humor is only available for people in the situation.

4) Do not at any point come in last on the desk, even after a night out: Doesn't have to explained, be the first one in. After a couple months working you will get the hang of things but as an intern and grad you want to get in early and make sure you are up to speed with everything.

5) Do not wear your extremely expensive watch until you are 100% sure it won't be an issue: even if it rubs one person the wrong way it's not worth it.

6) Do not take a seat at any meeting table until you are sure every person more senior than you has one: This one makes me laugh, if you have a morning meeting and theres a table, don't go in thinking you will sit down. Any chair is for senior people, interns stand.

The Do's
1) Make it your mission to talk to as many people as possible: My first rotation was on a sales desk that really didn't interest me, and the project I was set was hugely out of my comfort zone. I was ordered to sit with every desk on the floor. Turns out this might have been the key for me to getting hired. By the end of the three week rotation I had sat with almost every area of the floor, which a) helped me get exposure, at a lot of places the hiring process is almost like a vote so you want as many MDs to know you as possible and b) really helped me find the desk I fit in the best, and then allowed me to network to make sure I got a rotation on the desk I wanted.

2) Whatever you get taught during the day, review your notes before the next day and make sure you can answer questions on the topic: One of the things you are judged most on is how you pick up information. If you learn something, you should be able to answer questions on that stuff from then on. Its not university where you have an exam at the end and you just need to learn it before the day, but you need to be able to absorb information like a sponge. If a trader teaches you something, 10 minutes later you should be able to answer questions on the material.

3) Always act humble: general life advice, but the second you get cocky people will want to try and knock you down a peg if you are an intern.

6

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Comments (29)

  • Sandhurst's picture

    Good stuff. Note that this stuff is broadly applicable. You may not need to put yourself out there as intensely in ibd, but you should certainly strive for exposure.

    "There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat."

  • RichardPennybags's picture

    Managing a book at intern level? Don't think so

    Everything else is good and useful, thank you

    "Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"

  • In reply to RichardPennybags
    ricky212's picture

    RichardPennybags:
    Managing a book at intern level? Don't think so

    Everything else is good and useful, thank you

    As an intern, an MD was so impressed with my trading he just gave me his job so...yeah

    Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

  • DBCooper's picture

    DO: Show initiative by putting on your best trade ideas while your MD steps out to get coffee.

    Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

  • In reply to RichardPennybags
    derivstrading's picture

    RichardPennybags:
    Managing a book at intern level? Don't think so

    Everything else is good and useful, thank you

    Think it reads the wrong way, that is not the progression of an intern, but the progression of an intern to grad to AD and so on. You will not be taking any risk as an intern a) because they are not trusted and b) dont have the regulatory exams

  • naumanEIG's picture

    Awesome Article !!

  • naumanEIG's picture

    Does this apply to engineering internships aswell??

  • Bondarb's picture

    the questions thing ias key...do not ask alot of questions...u r there to help other not to be tutored. write down your questions, figure out the ones you can answer yourself, and only ask the rest of them if you are 100% sure the time is apropriate and the person will be receptive. To me there is nothing more tone deaf then an intern asking a bunch of questions when we are trying to work...this isnt college, the task at hand is making money not learning.

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  • Monkeyfaces's picture

    Thank you for your article! Are there any differences for a sales internship?

  • Working9-5's picture

    I'm saving this for our incoming interns. Thanks

    CNBC sucks

    "This financial crisis is worse than a divorce. I've lost all my money, but the wife is still here." - Client after getting blown up

  • In reply to Monkeyfaces
    derivstrading's picture

    Monkeyfaces:
    Thank you for your article! Are there any differences for a sales internship?

    Id say for sales the point about getting to know everyone is absolutely crucial. Being a salesperson is being a peoples person. The most successful sales interns are usually the ones that can walk into a row of sales people for the first time and just be at home.

  • CornTrader's picture

    Your comments about questions are on point

    In my experience there are two general types of interns that fail:

    The know-it-all type (particularly true for interns from targets). Can't be wrong and make it a general point to openly demonstrate to the desk their intelligence. Take issue with lunch orders and grunt work. Act like they know more than they do and thereby hinder any real learning over the course of the summer. Dooming sense of entitlement.

    Nervous Nelly type: Worked so hard to get where they are they don't want to screw it up. Have no confidence in their work and have to double and triple check everything. Get all nervous and tangled up and ask stupid questions to the wrong people. Get down on themselves fast and take everything personally. Eventually lose confidence and piss away opportunity.

  • In reply to derivstrading
    Monkeyfaces's picture

    derivstrading:
    Monkeyfaces:
    Thank you for your article! Are there any differences for a sales internship?

    Id say for sales the point about getting to know everyone is absolutely crucial. Being a salesperson is being a peoples person. The most successful sales interns are usually the ones that can walk into a row of sales people for the first time and just be at home.

    Thanks! Would trying to network in advance help? I'm still in contact with many of the salespeople from the interview process, and one of them even told me I'd be welcome to join him for a day if I'm ever in London before the internship starts. I was afraid of coming of as overeager, but it sounds like fun to see how a experienced salesperson works.

  • Walkio's picture

    I can't stress the 'trying to fit in' enough. I don't work in S&T, but this also applies to other divisions of Finance. If your boss cracks a joke, laugh but not too much. Just keep your head down and work.

  • marcellus_wallace's picture

    One key thing is to really enjoy your life and learn to balance work/life. Seriously as an intern it is one of the few times you will have cash, free time, energy to do that very thing. Do not try to stay late every night to kill it or learn something new, this ain't banking if you do not have shit to get done go home and enjoy your life. Get drunk, party, play sports, gym etc...

    Yes get your stuff done, yes be efficient but do not try to be the dude stays late every night for some reason. Unlike banking it is perfectly reasonable for a trading intern to hit the bar early on a Thursday/Friday when their work is all done. Likewise if you are killing it you do not need to ask for work over and over, just sit back take in the atmosphere sometimes, again this is not banking, sometimes sitting quiet and learning is the best thing you can do.

    Again once you go full-time you will miss all that free time you had. The last thing I want to hear is some intern who was stuck at the office. I want to hear how you had an insane night passed out at 3am in some random house somehow made it in at 6ish again and getting your shit done.

  • In reply to Bondarb
    Maximus Decimus Meridius's picture

    Bondarb:
    the questions thing ias key...do not ask alot of questions...u r there to help other not to be tutored. write down your questions, figure out the ones you can answer yourself, and only ask the rest of them if you are 100% sure the time is apropriate and the person will be receptive. To me there is nothing more tone deaf then an intern asking a bunch of questions when we are trying to work...this isnt college, the task at hand is making money not learning.

    I think this is spot on. It's not about asking or not asking questions, it's about the timing. Don't go every 10 minutes to ask a question. You need to learn how to read the floor and how busy people are. Traders tend to be more free towards 10ish, after lunch and after the close. Use those times. When in doubt, ASK FIRST if they're busy but again, don't do it all the time. If you ask every 2 days it will be fine. If you come every 30 min asking something that can be found on google you'll get killed.
    If you are assigned a project, ASK EVERYTHING when the guy is explaining to you what you have to do. That's your moment, that's when he is free and that is when he is receptive. Make sure you understand what's required of you perfectly, and also ask for sources of info so you can look future questions up without bothering him. For example, when I did this as an intern the guy actually gave me a book, so I was able to find the answer to everything in there and complete the project without further help instead of annoying everyone in the desk.
    Also, don't go around the desk asking the same shit to everyone. I've seen people do this, so if you go to a guy and he's busy, chances are everyone is as well. Don't go to every guy asking "Are you busy?" until someone says no.

    Also be very careful with number 3, people tend to go overboard, specially when they are on very fratty desks.

  • meabric's picture

    Also, if you are reasonably athletic try to get some basketball/soccer in depending on geography (hockey I guess if in Canada). People care way too much about pickup and IM leagues.

    As far as banter, never someone on the floor. Clients are iffy too. Aim to call out jokers on CNBC and the like.

  • In reply to meabric
    Bobb's picture

    Write everything down and do not ask the same question twice.

    meabric:
    Also, if you are reasonably athletic try to get some basketball/soccer in depending on geography (hockey I guess if in Canada). People care way too much about pickup and IM leagues.

    As far as banter, never someone on the floor. Clients are iffy too. Aim to call out jokers on CNBC and the like.

    Do Canadian banks have IM hockey leagues? I am moving to Canada if so

  • Green_Bananas's picture

    So would wearing my Hermes tie on the first day be classified as a "do" or a "don't"?

    "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

  • In reply to Maximus Decimus Meridius
    RichardPennybags's picture

    Maximus Decimus Meridius:
    ...

    out of curiousity - what kind of projects do you do during an s&t internship?

    "Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old"

  • In reply to marcellus_wallace
    Working9-5's picture

    marcellus_wallace:

    Again once you go full-time you will miss all that free time you had. The last thing I want to hear is some intern who was stuck at the office. I want to hear how you had an insane night passed out at 3am in some random house somehow made it in at 6ish again and getting your shit done.

    This. Way more fun to trade war stories than be stuck with an insecure shit. +1

    CNBC sucks

    "This financial crisis is worse than a divorce. I've lost all my money, but the wife is still here." - Client after getting blown up

  • meabric's picture

    I know a guy in Toronto who got a concussion playing in a beer league with the guys from the desk. HR was tripping over themselves to point out it was unofficial and made them stop wearing the sweaters they had ordered with the bank's logo for reputation risk management purposes.

  • turtle's picture

    off topic but...I know an MD that always hits up a boxing gym and he would always let you go early/didnt staff you with things if you went in the ring with him... Ass whooping by your boss or a late friday night on your desk?

    "If you survive to my age and you rack up a CV like mine, you can look at HR and say, "Fuck you. I don't try out."- Eddie

  • In reply to turtle
    Mike Bolton's picture

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  • In reply to Mike Bolton
    turtle's picture

    "If you survive to my age and you rack up a CV like mine, you can look at HR and say, "Fuck you. I don't try out."- Eddie

  • rm1234's picture