People talk about getting the freshman 15 from too much beer in the 1st year of undergrad...when in reality, if you don't make it into the gym at all when you have basically 12 free hours a day, you probably deserve it and should be mocked for laziness.
Compare that to your 1st year of sell-side(or sales/research). Not only are you going to be dining out with clients and going out for drinks, but you'll also be working 60-70 hours a week on top of that. It might be excusable to let yourself go...and become 'skinny fat'. Skinny fat is when you lose your muscle, your shoulders become narrower, and yet you get a bigger gut. At the same time, you need to go out and drink/eat with clients so you can build your network and meet your clients/potential employers on the buyside. Its a tough balancing act, so here are some tips from someone who did just this for many a year, trying to stay in shape while working from 6:30am-7pm and drinking 20+ drinks a week (half work related).
Don't let yourself go and gain the sell-side 15, but make sure you take advantage of networking that comes alongside client events... here are some quick tips on how to stay fit and fit in with the S&T guys, who are some of the wildest drinkers on the street, and some examples of what happens when you don't do things the right way
If you are in sales/trading you are expected to usually go to one client dinner a week at the least (usually steak), and go out for 'casual drinks' at least one or two other nights. Its hard to balance this with not getting obese and getting to the gym, yet its a big and necessary part of what your job as a junior trader/salesperson is.
Pro-tips on casual drinks with clients:
- When you are going out for drinks with senior people from your team, always hold a beer so you don't seem weird, because if you aren't drinking, you will be given one. If you are on a market-making desk with clients, no one wants someone stuck up and boring ("Oh, I have to wake up early tomorrow." will be met with angry yelling because everyone is waking up early tomorrow).
- If you are the junior person, you will likely be expected to stay out the latest with the clients, so suck it up and do it. No one wants a junior person who can't handle it, never be the first person to leave, and always use your one-on-one time with your clients to build a personal relationship.
- Don't be the life of the party unless you are asked - its not college, you aren't social chair of your fraternity anymore - don't demand people to take shots with you unless you know them from prior events and have a relationship with them. Also, no one cares about how awesome the Beta house was at your school.
- Clients want to talk about themselves, so get them to open up. Ask them about college or where their favorite bars are. Thats usually a good way to get things started.
- Meet your junior counterparts on the buyside - most junior buyside guys are probably going to be 3-5 years older than you if you are a 1st/2nd year analyst, but are going to be the people who have the most in common with. Keep in mind a lot of the buyside guys are in investment research, along with trading, so they might be on the quieter or 'intellectual' side of things.
- Have things to talk about - SPORTS is a big one. People can always relate over sports - its the most egalitarian conversation topic. College basketball is pertinent, but NFL usually takes the cake. NBA and MLB are secondary.
- REMEMBER NAMES AND FOLLOW UP - shooting someone an Bloomberg message or e-mail the next morning after a night out with something as simple as 'great seeing you, lets do it again' or even 'man my head hurts' if appropriate. It helps create a relationship that extends beyond meeting 1-2 times a quarter.
Tips on client dinners:
- Most of these dinners will occur at a steakhouse in Tribeca or Midtown. I can't explain it, but for some reason no one takes any risks when it comes to new restaurants - you'll probably go to one of 3-4 steakhouses every couple of weeks for the entirety of your sell-side S&T career. So be prepared for that.
- Get veggie appetizers to offset the red meat. Bacon strips are great, but you need fiber.
- You don't have to scarf everything down when you eat.
- Don't talk with your mouth full, and if there is a lull in a conversation, order a round of drinks - particularly if you are the lead on the dinner (smaller account, or covering for more senior guys)
- DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING TO GO
So now that you've constrained your 'inputs' (alcohol, red meat) its time to work on the 'output' - working out is tough because if you go out on a Tuesday, not only is Tuesday night terrible but Wednesday night is for passing out immediately. So you lose 2 days with one event. The key is to use your weekends - I always made either Friday/Saturday a big night, but tried to work out on Saturday/Sunday mornings. And outside of that, Monday nights and Wednesday nights were the most likely. If you can get 2-3 workouts in during the week, and a bonus one if you have time, then you are doing great.
What to do at the gym? Hit the weights for 30 minutes. Your goal is to maintain as much of your muscle from college as possible. Don't be one of those people that goes and runs on the tread milll at 5mph for an hour. Do 1-2 heavy weight exercises, and then 3-4 other exercises with lower weight/higher reps. That should be an optimal mix. As for cardio, running at a high speed on the treadmill is key. Also have yogurt/fruit/veggies at home.
Why is the above advice important? Let me give you three examples of people who came to Wall Street and should have gone about their first few years differently:
- The junior sales person who was hired out of undergrad and ended up sucking. His school was a non-target, and was considered more of a party school. People expected him to be the life of the party when he first started. Turns out, this kid would absolutely NOT drink. He would openly leave events as the first person to call it a night, he was so shy with clients that he would not interact with anyone and would huddle up with his seniors.
Since he went to a school with very strong college football, people would ask him about his team, and he would know NOTHING. If you don't drink, and you don't like sports, and can't start a conversation, why are you getting a sales job? He was 'demoted' to an internal operations team, and I think currently going to a web designer school which I guess is a good fit for him.
- The former lacrosse player gone sumo. He was actually in my analyst class though we didn't work together too closely...but I did party with him at work events. This guy was awesome. He was the life of the party - he would always stay out late, and in fact senior guys let him organize dinners with groups of clients all the time. He was always accurate with his trades, and a naturally smart guy and a smooth talker. It also helped that he was like 6'3 and ripped when he started.
Sadly, in about 2 years of him starting, he was almost unrecognizable. The bags under the eyes is a given, but the guy probably gained about 50 lbs. He had a massive gut, terrible posture, and had taken up smoking cigarettes. He's gotten better since then, and has taken a big step back from the partying - but unfortunately, his reputation as being the party guy has stuck with him, and he can't seem to shake it. Its a vicious cycle.
- My favorite: The junior trader who talked too much. This guy went to a top target, and was a math whiz. Actually a very well-meaning person. Unfortunately, he clearly didn't socialize that much in college. He had the unfortunate habit of cornering people at work events and talking to them about the worst thing possible - work. Working on a trade or investment pitch for 12 hours, and then having some 1st year analyst come ask you questions about it and grill you on it, trying to stump you, is an enraging experience.
Pretty soon, even clients asked our senior traders/sales guys what the deal with him was. One example was when we were out with a hedge fund PM, and for some reason this kid started talking to him about some of his trades, which was all good and well. But when the kid basically started implying that he 'would have done it differently' the PM got visibly irritated. Again - the goal of client events is to make them like you...not to make yourself seem smart.
His nickname soon became 'The Whiz' - based off of Seinfeld's 'I'm the Wiz' episode. If you are reading this and it sounds familiar, you probably know me so send me an PM. He was soon relegated to a risk role, and last I heard he was in graduate school for something. I was always cool with him, but when we went out, I also had to keep my distance from him. The trading floor is a lot like a middle school cafeteria sometimes, and you just have to go with it.
So I hope these few tips might be helpful, particularly to the kids who are starting their summer internships or FT this upcoming year. Building your reputation is a key part of sales/trading - you have to make people trust you, but more importantly make people like you. And you have to do all this while making sure you don't become terribly out of shape. In many ways, this is harder than banking work - numbers are easier to understand than people.