An Honest reflection from my first Summer Analyst role: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (mainly bad and ugly)
I come from a target West Coast school. I say target because being on the West Coast, there are only three name-brand schools you can land a job on at an i-bank on the West Coast. Those name brands from my POV are Stanford, Berkeley, and USC. I go to one of the first two. Hats off to the Moelis - Claremont McKenna guys and gals but you wouldn't know their program unless you knew it (which is why I didn't put them at West Coast target)
This shop I end up was a smaller operation. One analyst, two Associates, two VP's (in the begging) one Director, a Managing Director and an MD's exec assistant. - Nearly everyone has an important role in this story, yes even the MD's assistant.
Week 1 - Already Slammed
Week 1 of the i-ship and the other intern and I have been straight slammed, apparently the week before we started my firm got engaged with a pitch and they were boots on the ground working, we didn't get out until damn near 10:30/11pm every night for that first week - all the while the other intern and I think we're supposed to be getting trained for at least the first day, like how to use MS Outlook, the infrastructure tools needed for communication such as Slack, OneLogin, expense possibly etc….. none of that happens and all we are left with is a half baked 3 paged welcome guide from our 'IT Strategist' as he liked to put it from London. I remember one of the VP's saying on our first night 'welcome to Investment Banking' with an ever so sly smirk on his face. I think ok, cool so the stories are true, the hours are rough but manageable and since we just got this engagement, the work next week might be lighter and we can have a formal introduction to the processes of our internship.
To top day one off, the battery in mouse died at around 8pm and I look to my associate and tell him my predicament (I was not even shown where the office supplies were.) He tells me to look in the cabinets behind me and try and get some batteries - to my luck there were one and I report back to him. He then curses and tells me the MD's Exec Assistant was supposed to order some last month (apparently this caused some tension before the internship started) and he tells me to grab the battery out of the Exec Assistant's mouse and deal with it later. Tired, and confused I do so as told and end the night WITHOUT RETURNING THE BATTERY TO IT'S ORIGINAL MOUSE. The next morning we're all at work and the PA returns to open her setup, and low and behold her fucking battery is gone and she is like WTF. I sit across from this woman and I'm shitting bricks, I apologize and the Assoc who guided me to take the mouse handles the situation. I go back to my desk and think fuck, not even one fucking day into this shit and I've already fucked up a relationship with someone.
Weeks 2 and 3 roll along and the other intern and I finally get trained on proper expense protocol other than 'hold onto your receipts until you're shown how to expense.' We get the ball rolling and work is flowing, the other intern and I are getting staffed on different projects, taking notes on calls, creating tear sheets for mgmt presos and soaking the info like a sponge. All the typical monkey shit that we're expected to.
Week 4 - Shit hits the fan
Then week 4, the shit hits the fan, apparently, before we came one of the senior bankers got bad client reviews and had a terrible attitude. I mean worse than shitty and our MD let one of the two VP's go. Typically the office liked to staff VP 20%, 60% Assoc and 20% Analyst on every deal. So every project we had, the Assoc was doing the bulk of the day to day transaction work, VP did the client management and the analyst was staffed on doing the prep work for nearly every deal and providing support on admin tasks like data room, note taking, first edit revisions etc.. However on this particular project there was no analyst for whatever reason and the VP that got axed left the Assoc high and dry right at the sweet kick off of due diligence.
Never fear, you have two able-bodied young Summers at your disposal to work right? Unfortunately for me, yes. I offer myself as tribute to help this fellow out on closing this deal literally just as the LOI was signed and we are about to enter exclusivity with the buyer. What a great chance to learn how to read literature like a Stock Purchase Agreement, spend hours on the phone with RR Donnely setting up a data room and of course everyone's favorite, funds flow analysis.
Final 6 weeks - My new staffer
The remainder of my six weeks was spent with one of the scariest people I had ever worked with. My new staffer (Associate) was a master of efficiency, analyzing every pixel of every email draft, financial model turn, pie chart, logo you name it. If it was out of line, one extra space, if you were taking 2 minutes too long I heard it.
Conveniently, the purchaser of the company we were engaged with was based out of a different time zone. That week 6 or so I spent in the office every morning at 5:30 /6am taking notes of kick-off calls or talks with the CEO. Remember when I said we weren't fully trained? Well when you're in the office at fucking 5am with some snot-nosed intern like myself, the LAST thing you (as the staffer) is thinking about is teaching him how to dial out internationally. When he's already dialed in, I lean over and say my office phone system isn't working…he says use your own fucking phone, I do so thinking not much of calling from California to Germany that day. Then we get slammed, data room needs to be set up, files need to be organized, MS Outlook contacts of 8 different buy-side fuckers need to be made, a needed C-Suite member of the company we are selling quits so it's balls to the wall getting the vF's in for the data room.
A week goes by of literally zero bandwidth from my staffer as we're in at 5/6am everyday on the phone… yet I still wasn't able to sort out the international dial out issue from our ops team or anyone at the bank. All of these international calls were being made on my cell phone and I was getting charged up the ass only to get a bill of $500 in September after my internship ends.
Week 8 - And I am about dead
Week 8 rolls along and I am about dead. The other intern I mentioned actually only worked a whopping sum of 12 days, MWF for four weeks as he got the internship from a daddy connect who apparently knew one of the directors, so he was of no help this whole time. Everyone at the firm knew he was temporary which is why I was chosen to work with the Associate on the DD project, while also managing two outreach trackers for different projects, drafting Q2 research for our annual report and occasionally checking off the kids work before we'd submit it. Continuously drinking from a fire hose thru week 8.
The Capstone moment finally hits. For unrelated reasons, the PA has to leave the firm by date x or else she's gonna be in some serious shit. Senior Banker approaches me (one of the maybe three times we have spoken) and says, I'm forwarding you a bunch of my bills from these past two months, organize them by date and category to send to our ops team, I need them 'asap thx'
Ok..shouldnt be too hard right? Well I can't prioritize expenses over DD work, but he's also my Director and I need to deliver. I ask my associate if I can end my work with him a little later so I can complete the work of our superior. He then starts venting to me about how shitty the Director is and ever since other Senior Folk went on vacation, he's only in the office for 1 day out of the week etc…etc… I think to myself holy shit this is right, he used to start not coming in on Fridays, but it seems like this guy does not even come in at all now that our MD was gone. Reluctantly, I am given some time do my task, analyze the expenses, organize them and scan them to the computer to be sent to our ops team.
Need to make good on my promise
Well our scanning function on our printer decided to go toast on us just at the right time where our Exec Assistant/Office manager is pretty much being given the boot so she's mentally checked out and doesn't want to help me and of course I need to make good on my promise to the Director. I stay till nearly 2am that night trying to figure out the printer, waiting for the time zone to change so I can get on the line with our 'IT Strategist' who is in a different time zone to get help on this thing, all the while the clock is ticking on my due date.
I am now getting yelled at of course for things beyond my control - asking why it's taking so long to get this scan done to that I reply the ops team is not helping, or the Exec Assistant either. I pool together a group chat with the exec assistant, Mr IT Strategist, my Associate staffer and Director I need to deliver the good for. I tell them the situation and how I need this done asap. They all get into this multi-dimensional argument about why person X is not doing their job while persons x and z need to do their own things, and why does this need to be done now and 'my work is more important than yours' - I'm finally told to go use the printer from our friends next door. I'm like shit, this is over 70 documents wtf am I gonna do - it's the only way out at this point.
I spend about an hour at our buy-side friends printer (of course they have 3 on site) and thank them very much for letting me use the printer to only go back and finish the last week of my sentence out.
Exit Interview & Looking Back
I was able to pin down a proper exit interview with the MD who came back from his trip and I thanked them profusely for the opportunity to learn how an M&A process works, how to build out a deck and to analyze a financial model.
I really learned a lot from my time at that sweatshop and chose to expose myself to nearly everything I could in the short time I had there (DD, the weekly calls, the coffee breaks, owning two outreach trackers, constantly going above and beyond service).
I came into the job with little PPT and Excel knowledge, and had never logged into the MS Outlook Calendar and coming from that internship you know damn well I'll never have another logo misaligned, I can send out a calendar invitation with dial-in details faster than moss grows on a Mississippi haystack and that I, of course, fell in love with La Croix.
It was 100% worth it
For all the bullshit I had to put up with (not to mention the fact that I was promised a deal toy at the end of my internship for the work I did on the closing side) it was 100% worth it. Shadowing those guys for 10 weeks was an experience that was worth its weight in gold…even though they didn't pay me ( I try and not think about what I would have made over the 10 weeks but at least my Uber rides and Dinners were paid for) I grew tremendously during the time.
The group is a smaller one and I hope they stay that way. For only having 6 people, that office absolutely crushed it in terms of operating in their 'sweet-spot' - A few firms I interviewed with for my next SA role even mentioned they read our reports on the industry they cover. The MD /Dir that brought in the client engagements had great hands-off typical 'Senior Banker leadership' styles which really allowed the Juniors to grow and give our VP that true client/project management experience that I think every VP wants to have.
To those of you who made it to the end of the article, and are still on the hunt for a Summer Analyst role, especially as a Sophomore like I was, my advice to you is do it. Keep on pushing through recruiting, do just one more LinkedIN reach out, one more coffee chat because you never know who you'll meet and who will want to give you a chance like they did me.