Taking 10+ vacation days as an Associate?
I wanted to collect thoughts and opinions on taking a long (~10 biz days) vacation as a (high-performing) junior banker. Below I summarized the relevant context for my situation (tried to keep as short as possible).
Any and all advice / personal anecdotes would be extremely appreciated. I've dreamed of exploring New Zealand since I was a kid, I want to propose to my girlfriend there, and I hope to make it all happen (without committing reputational suicide...)
- Work: Associate at a BB (joined ~1 year ago)
- Have a strong reputation for having a great work ethic and producing high-quality work
- My year-end review was overwhelmingly positive
- I've taken 5 vacation days since joining
- I am "entitled" to 25 vacation days, so that's not a limiting factor whatsoever
- The Vacation: Ever since I was a kid, it's been one of my life's dreams to travel to New Zealand
- I am tentatively planning a 14-day (10 biz days) trip with my girlfriend for Summer 2023
- I would not want to spend <10 days in New Zeland, given the extremely long flight
- I plan not to minimize work during the trip (I want to actually enjoy it)
- I plan to check/respond to emails, but if I had to spend 8+ hours each day on my computer, I'd rather not go
- P.S. I am also planning to propose to my girlfriend on this trip
Questions I'm struggling with...
- If you were (or have) planned a similarly long vacation while working in banking, how did you pull it off and what advice do you have?
- How can I mitigate potential damage to my reputation for taking a long trip like this?
- Would the fact that I'm proposing to my girlfriend help people understand?
- What other ways could I proactively manage expectations / mitigate reputational damage?
- How would you (or your VPs / MDs) react to an Associate taking a 2-week vacation? (realizing t will be firm / group dependent)
- In my group, I've seen people take 7-day vacations, but not 10+ so I don't have any good "comps"
- Normally, I would ask people in my group directly, but I don't want to "let the cat out of the bag" and have it get to the higher-ups
If you are such a top performer, you must have some rapport with the staffer and some MDs.
I would "ask" their advice on taking a long trip in order to propose to your gf. You don't really need their advice obviously, but it's a good way to kind of ask for permission and also give them a heads up of what you will ask.
I would lean heavily on the proposal aspect, and people tend to generally respect weddings and honeymoons, so I feel your proposal trip would fit the same bill.
I think as long as you socialize the idea before hand and schedule it months in advance, you should be fine. Real life isn't like WSO comments, people are okay with top performers taking vacays.
Just take the vacations and don't look back. If not you'll regret it later in life
I took a 7 business day trip when I was a year onto the job (never updated WSO title).
I communicated it far in advance which definitely helped. I was also on deal teams I had good rapport with which helped significantly. If you're going during the summer, I'd try to go the back half of august when a lot of seniors go on vacation
I would absolutely do it. Flag it to your MDs and staffers before you book it (so like start discussing it now, do it as far out as possible so you are basically the first one with vacation on the calendar) and make sure they know you're proposing, this is the trip of a lifetime and not an every year thing
How busy is your group in summer? My group has a no summer vacations policies for juniors due to low capacity (analyst 2 class leaves, analyst 1 class doesn't start/ramp for a while - associates often staffed as analysts for the summer months) and summer is also not a good travel season in NZ. If you could do this between Nov-Jan, you'd catch the best NZ weather and also get a lot more leeway from group given little work gets done around the holidays
IMO you may need to hold the line a bit (insisting things get re-staffed before you depart) but I can't see this impacting your standing if you're top bucket and using this as a proposal trip. Tell people you will have your work phone for emergencies only, check it once a day (make sure your email auto-response says you are in NZ and have no access to work phone or email) but I've actually had decent luck with people respecting time off.
Good luck man. New Zealand is incredible.
Hot take: taking a 2-week trip to propose could tank your reputation in a shaky economy
I've worked in corporate and know many others at different large corporates - most have not taken 2 weeks off straight.
my banking teams would not have been ok with it but maybe there's some out there that are.
there's probably more support from your seniors if it's 1 week.
Who gives a fuck. Life has to be lived man. What's the point of all this slaving away if you can't enjoy yourself every once in a while. This will be a core memory for this guy, and on the flip side do you really think it's worth foregoing this trip so that some corporate losers don't side eye your vacation? That's not someone I'd want to work for anyway
Im saying do a week instead of 2 weeks.
claiming you need 2 weeks off to propose is a bit ridiculous - most people do that in a weekend
Wholeheartedly disagree. OP is perfectly rational for wanting to go to NZ for more than a week to make it worth it. He should go for three weeks if he can afford it. Fuck it.
The idea that we should restrict ourselves to only a few vacation days a year to "not displease our colleagues" has to be the most beta shit ever. It is literally in our contracts that we have vacation days that we can use, right next to where it says how much we get paid. We give the company time and work and in return we get money and some days off. There should be no questions in my opinion - everyone should be using all their vacation time. This is just a job. Op will remember this trip for the rest of his life but I doubt he will remember that week in the office doing the same menial work he does single every day.
Honestly, nothing screams beta more than an unreasonable 'tough guy' stance from behind a keyboard. Just some advice. You're telling on yourself.
Correction: nothing is more beta than someone calling a man beta because he wants to take his PTO
Not taking 2 weeks off when you want, as long as you communicate it sufficiently far enough in advance, is ridiculous.
The key reason IB is haemorrhaging talent to tech and consulting is because of the fucking terrible culture. This has to be up there with the worst aspects of it.
This is a rare time where if you're not part of the solution, you really are part of the problem.
Ah the false bravado of an analyst telling everyone to live life to the fullest when he's already secured his next gig. Gotta love it.
This comment speaks volume about your character.
Please be better.
Holy fuck I refuse to believe there are people who actually think like this
Agreed. In over 20 years working at investment firms, and corporates - I have never ever taken 10 straight business days off.I have made long trips to Israel and Tahiti (honeymoon) and they were each worth it as 10 calendar day trips. 1 day of travel each end + 8 days in country.
If you play it smart you can even make a 12 day trip (2 days travel + 10 days in country) only take 7 business days.
Schedule over a holiday, leave on a Friday so you get 2 weekends - you can get away with only 7 business days off and still have an amazing trip to remember your whole life. Very Worth it and doable without hurting your reputation.
Bro, take the vacation. God this is sad people even have to ask. It's just a job man, you're talking about proposing to your soon to be future wife.God this industry is sad
This isn't the first time I see a post like this on WSO that people are "afraid" of taking PTO days clearly listed in their employment contracts due to fear of reputational damage. I just don't believe the absence of a junior banker would severely undermine the workflow of an entire group.
i agree with this. incredibly sad this is how it is
Agreed. If they would be pissed about this do you even want to work there?
Literally cannot believe the advice here. What's the point of life if you can't have a vacation?
Finance such a waste of an industry I can't wait to quit.
Take the vacation bro
Why did you even get a job in finance in the first place
but then you get money and realize it doesn't make you that happy. And then the real soul searching begins
If you want any tips for NZ, hmu
Is finance in the US really this dystopian? This wouldn't even be blinked at in London.
For all of the shit that we (deservedly) get in Europe, one thing I am thankful for is having mandatory vacation days.
The thought that an associate with good reviews could see his career hurt because he is taking 10 days to propose to his gf is dystopian. The "no summer holidays for juniors" a commenter mentions above is equally ridiculous. We are just as busy with the same issues in the summer, and we manage just fine. You just ensure there are no more than 1/2 juniors OOTO per week.
The funny thing is the only people that perceive this to have the chance at ruining a high performer's reputation are folks who 1) Are middle / bottom of the pack and worship their MDs (the "mY JoB Is sO PreSTigIOUs" types) or 2) Old fuck career bankers / MDs that might care but definitely won't care enough to "ruin your reputation" elsewhere (take the couple % hit on comp and leave if that's the case)
Fly out Friday night, take the full week off, come back early the following week. Clip both weekends. Fly Polaris and ignore your staffer.
New Zealand is worth it
Totally fine if you've been there for a year. Just communicate in advance. Better if done during August slow period or around July 4, but not necessary.
Company does not owe loyalty to employees. You can be replaced next day. Employee shouldn't owe any loyalty to company.
The fact that this is even a thread for discussion is fucking sad...
I'm surprised by the discourse on this thread. I remember when I started, the "standard" was a week off between christmas and new years and a week one of the last 2 weeks of august (the slow times). That way you are also able to get the most out of your vacation. Obviously as you scale up in rank, the flexibility increases, but 2 weeks for a junior associate was something that people would basically say "what do you mean, that's unheard of." I've never seen someone not in a senior position (director or MD) take more than a week (or a week + a friday). Except one person who's family is in Asia, and it was the last 2 weeks of December. So I understand why OP is asking the question and I'm surprised others in the thread don't empathize more with it.
That said, I agree with Smoke Frog. When talking to staffer or MD, try to mention thinking of a trip for proposing, trying to understand what she's looking for, can talk about ring shopping, etc., and then try to weave into the conversation potentially taking 2 weeks and gauge the reaction, and if the conversation gets more "real," can mention being available, etc. etc. The truth with these types of things is (i) if you are well liked, you can easily take 2 weeks and people will be supportive and ask how your trip was and (ii) if you aren't liked, people will be annoyed if you take a 1 week trip and when you get back ask where you had been
Take the days off dude. I took 2.5 weeks off last November to travel to Asia. No one gives a crap and I'm still on track to become a VP by the end of this year.
Some of you are out of your minds (thankfully, also some really good advice on this thread).
Just think about it this way... Analysts / Associates quit all the time across the industry. MD's have managed, VPs have managed, peer Associates have managed, staffers have managed. They've all fucking managed with someone QUITTING.
You're going on a 2 week vacation for an important life milestone, are willing to keep up on emails (careful, slippery slope), have historically been a high performer, and can likely give ample notice. Say it with me buddy... THEY'LL MANAGE.
Why are you planning to be plugged into emails?
Threads like these are why I am glad to be doing IB in Europe, will gladly take a bit less for six weeks and take them with 0 guilt or harm to my career.
I am actually shocked reading through the comments. While I wholeheartedly agree this trip deserves two weeks, I understand the pause behind asking for two weeks off. I have never asked for two weeks off straight and I dont even work in IBD. My friends in IB have a hard enough time getting a full week off.
Let me be clear, I think the ask is reasonable and really hope you get the time off you deserve. However, I completely understand and relate to your hesitance to ask for two weeks off.
Same here. It's totally reasonable to ask for vacation and it's also totally reasonable that OP is being thoughtful about how to approach this. 2 weeks is decently long. As long as OP flags this way in advance, isn't choosing a terrible time to do this (e.g., others on the team already out during that time, or 1st week new analysts and associates hit the desk, etc.), and doesn't from the get-go say they refuse to ever log on while OOO, it should be fine.
That said, group and bank dependent and I have friends who definitely would have felt that it would negatively impact them to take so much time off (neutral at best). I personally would've never even thought about taking this much time off unless it was for a wedding + honeymoon, but to each their own. And this is obviously a different scenario if OP is already taking a bunch of other days off right around that time for other travel already. Some hardcore bankers won't care this is a proposal - think about the very realistic scenario somebody thinks "why do you need 2 weeks to propose in NZ"
More plausible during the August slowdown. If that's when you plan to go, I'd mention it in advance when travel is casually raised as a topic. And also throw in there that you're holding off on other travel because you know you'll be gone longer. So it's like February and your MD just came back from that "mid winter break" that NYC kids get . . travel is mentioned and you say "oh yeah, I won't be doing any traveling til August because I'm hoping to take a 2 week trip to NZ, always been my dream" etc.
I think there's value in signaling that you understand it's longer than normal and you are willing to sacrifice elsewhere.
TBH I don't think anyone will care that you plan to propose, it just doesn't relate to the length of the trip. Truth is you want a long trip bc the flight is long. Keep your case logical: (1) strong performer (2) traveling during slow month (3) not going to take time off for a while leading up to the trip.
Lots of sad comments here. Just a few thoughts below. All of this assumes you are a good performer with solid rapport.
1. Anyone who is actually good (read: that you want to keep working for) should understand that this is a human capital business. Would they rather lose you for two weeks, or lose your knowledge / training forever when you burn out and quit? Anyone good should prefer the former…
2. You're an associate, so assume you want to remain long-ish term. This is a marathon, not a sprint. What is two weeks in the grander scheme of a years long career?
3. If your firm's culture doesn't support 1 and 2, then find senior bankers who are actually good to work for (after the recession probably…)
Tl;dr - go get 'em and congrats!!!!!
If they get pissed/retaliate/get annoyed by you going on vacation for over a week, it's probably not the best place to work.
1) I agree that OP should be able to take 2 weeks off - at my old (bigger) bank it would not have been a big deal for a high performing ASO. In fact, one of them did exactly that - 2 weeks abroad for his honeymoon (ASO2).
2) I want to pushback on the idea that this culture is unique to banking. Vacation / work culture is bad in the US, period. Most juniors who work normal 9-5s also can't take 2 full weeks (10 business days) off in a row.
A lot of comments along the lines of "if they won't grant you this, you don't want to be working for them anyways. Take your talents elsewhere."
Did I miss some news? Honestly, is there some sentiment shift I'm unaware of. Market had a good January so it's legitimately possible that I've missed something.
But last I checked, there's been a lot of layoffs, and slowness in deal volumes, concerns about a looming recession and nervousness about more layoffs. So it feels very 2021 to be seeing this sentiment of demanding accommodation from employers.
Bro why are you meat riding so hard in this thread
I'm asking a question. If you have the answer, I'd love to know. Thanks.
Do it and do it early in the year. If you come back and crush, it's a wash. At BBs, this wouldn't impact you much. Guys will make comments / clown on you and vps like me will be bitter. While unfortunate for the hard workers at BB, associate bucket game is much more about downside protection then it is about upside / "being amazing" and the ultimate grinder. I took a total of 5 days of vacation when I was an associate and it was dumbest thing I did.
Obviously, you need to be ready to cancel if needed and/or be available to support on any accounts/live deals.
I took 30 business days of vacation in 2022 not counting the week between Christmas and new years, it's totally chill?? Of course we deployed $0 of capital and returned $0 of capital so there's that
Most banks in a Europe have a 2 week mandatory block leave requirement for regulatory reasons!
Some are actually penalised/forced to take it if not taken within a 12 month period. Just
Posts like these are why IB/PE is such a shitty life.
It's simple. Does your bank have a mandatory block leave policy? If it does, that makes this easy - you're taking your 2 weeks as part of the mandatory block leave. HR Policy trumps all here. That said, email your MD, VP, and staffers that you are planning a 2-week vacation for the summer. I'd shoot for July/August if you're dead set on Summer 2023 in order to make sure that you've given ample notice (4 Months is a ton of time considering we're only 3 days into February). Let them know you plan to take two weeks vacation, include that you plan to propose to your girlfriend during the trip just to make sure that they are aware of it, and that you want to be cognizant of the group's needs leading up to your trip. I would decide your dates ASAP and get it on their calendars so they know as well as put in your days. The more lead time you give them, and the more awareness that they have, especially in writing, coupled with a few reminders that it's coming up, the more protection you have if they come back a less than a month out and try and screw up your plans.
Case and point - I was at a small company at the time and had to take a long weekend for a wedding Drive out Friday and drive back Monday kind of thing just cause it was college buddies and that Sunday I'd want to recover. I knew about the wedding months in advance, got my vacation approved in writing (taking a long weekend) about a week after the save the date arrived, made my travel plans, and reminded my manager about 6 weeks out, and 2 weeks out. Both reminders were met with "noted". So the Friday I'm driving out, I get a call from my manager as I'm about 2 hours into a 4-hour drive asking me why I haven't come into the office. I tell him that I have the day off and he approved it. He tells me he didn't and I tell him there's nothing I can do today and we can discuss this on Tuesday. He tells me that I need to be in on Monday otherwise he's going to have me fired. I tell him that if the company wants to reimburse me for my expenses to come back early, we can work with that and he tells me no, so I tell him I'll be back on Tuesday. He calls me again on Sunday and leaves 3 voice mails reiterating that he expects me back in on Monday. He calls me on Monday demanding to know where I am and tells me that we're going to discuss this on Tuesday because it's unacceptable and a firable offense. That Tuesday, I met with him. When I presented my case (and showed all the notice and approvals), he backed off but denied approving it because he had to cancel my time off at the last minute (read Friday morning) since he needed me to work. He let me off with a warning and said that I should never be taking more than 1 day off regardless of why I wanted to use my vacation time. I mean the guy was an utter scumbag, but if he fired me, the paper trail would have been slam dunk enough to protect me in the event of unemployment.
Either way, the big takeaway - give them enough time and make sure it's all in writing that this is coming up, they approved it, and everyone knows once you have the dates. The more you can protect yourself, the better. No matter how good the team is, you have one duty - to yourself - to make sure that you're covering your ass with approvals.
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