How to kill it as an intern

This is probably a common question but would love some more insight.

I am going to be a 2021 SA at a BB and with 2021 SA most likely being virtual, how can I kill it as an intern at a firm that traditionally has lower return rates. 

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Comments (41)

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 26, 2020 - 12:17pm

Don't ask for work too often, it comes off as annoying instead of helpful. Check in with your teams once or twice a day if you don't hear from them, but don't go around begging for work.

Respond to emails promptly (if you're sitting at your desk respond immediately, but under 15 minutes is fine)

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Sep 26, 2020 - 11:45pm

I'll second what Associate 2 - M&A said. Do not constantly ask for work. It is super annoying. If you really must, try to keep them till near the end of day. Look around your group around 11-12pm and if you see some analysts/associates grinding while you're not sure whether you should go home, only then ask if you could help. 

What I've seen a lot of SAs miss is not being available and keeping a smiley face. Might think WTF??!! but the guys and girls who ended up getting FT offers at my group have usually been those who had a smile one their faces when they were given work. If people don't feel comfortable giving you work, they won't hire you. But don't worry. You don't have to keep that façade forever - just do/fake it till your internship is over and they give u an offer. 

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Sep 25, 2020 - 1:21pm

I honestly doubt we'll be in person too much of a liability for the firm

Sep 25, 2020 - 1:28pm

be likeable, excited to learn, take notes, ask questions, go get lunch/coffee with your team, be prompt

Money can purchase freedom, if you have the guts to buy it

  • 2
  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Sep 25, 2020 - 1:35pm

Congrats on the offer, it's been a tough environment I've heard to land SA's this season.

I definitely agree with some of the other posts: being available almost all of the time (regardless of time zone) is super important in a virtual environment. This year especially, committing time towards completing assignments, responding quickly to turns and emails, and being present for those early morning/late night responses is vital. When you're selected for random projects/deals, the first requirement is simply being the first intern available. Early bird gets the worm type of deal.

Make life easier for the analysts and associates you're paired with. If it costs only a few minutes to go the extra mile (hyperlinks, spell check entire document instead of only your own section, do outside research to have a baseline understanding of more complicated businesses), it is in your best interest to push past expectations.

Communicate well. It's a little weird being virtual, but don't be afraid to ask questions or get feedback before a project is done. You can get feedback from the analyst who assigned the work, or from an analyst or associate who you have a good relationship with. You taking turns on your own assignment and getting a good product out means less time on their end fixing a bunch of mistakes. It's much faster to give you feedback along the way as opposed to getting in there themselves and rearranging everything.

EOD it's about trying to be present, attentive, and as helpful as you can be. People who work to make their boss's life easier get promoted, and an intern getting a FT return offer is the same deal. Good luck!

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Cov
Oct 9, 2020 - 4:49pm

Honestly it's anyone's guess at this point. Might depend on firm and location. Either way there will likely be more virtual components than in previous years, ie virtual training week as opposed to in person with the entire intern class.

  • Analyst 1 in 
Sep 25, 2020 - 1:48pm

Dont fuck Up. Don't make mistakes, be honest if you don't know how to do something, take ownership over your work, work quickly (but without mistakes). - to nuance this, nobody expects you to know everything, but you should set the tone early on that you're not the kind of person that makes typos or links the wrong cell on excel. 

Be likeable and feel free to speak up to a certain extent. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 25, 2020 - 3:26pm

To add onto this, if you do fuck up, own your mistake, apologize and be sure to never make the same mistake going forward. The interns that take responsibility for their mistakes and continue on with a positive attitude are likely to be respected more at the end of the day than the interns that make excuses and trudge on with a bad attitude. 

  • Analyst 1 in 
Sep 25, 2020 - 5:28pm

Oh yeah definitely. Even later in your career, I'd rather say to my boss that I made a mistake than have him look like a fool in front of a client - always be honest about this

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Sep 25, 2020 - 2:38pm

Be available (10-15 min tops to respond to emails/messages/calls) as that is most important. 

Show interest in the work you are doing as that definitely gets noticed (I personally used to chat with the analysts on the project after meetings/deliverables getting done to understand the bigger picture - everyone will be happy to help and answer questions)

Get your questions cleared upfront - I know you might think not knowing something can show incompetence (at least I thought that at the start) but trust me it does not. Speak about what you don't know and get things cleared. It is better to not know and ask a question 20 minutes after being assigned work rather than you struggling for 3 hours without getting anywhere and just delaying everything.

Don't be afraid to communicate if you have a lot of work on your plate (this is even more important in a virtual environment since people will not be able to see if you are busy. I was always messaging analysts that I am working on deliverable A currently so can your deliverable B be begun later.

Take the time you think you will take to do the work and ask for a deadline 1 hour on top of that (if it takes 2 hours say it you will get it back in 3). Use the extra time to check and re-check, you will be surprised at the amount of mistakes that can be caught this way (pro tip- Always check footnotes I got caught out so much on those; another important thing is to see if numbers tie - the sales multiple that reads 8.5x on page 6 should not be 8.4x on page 20)

Sep 25, 2020 - 3:47pm

Don't think that SA 2021 will be virtual. For reference, London is already having off-cycle interns in person in the office, with a one week in one week out structure. Same thing with other large European cities. As long as NY can manage to not have another atrocious wave come through in spring 2021, would be surprised if it was virtual. 


  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 25, 2020 - 6:30pm

Don't think that SA 2021 will be virtual. For reference, London is already having off-cycle interns in person in the office, with a one week in one week out structure. Same thing with other large European cities. As long as NY can manage to not have another atrocious wave come through in spring 2021, would be surprised if it was virtual. 

LDN has started to have 1 week in and 1 week out however that was planned prior to the change in govt's approach. The govt has said clearly started asking people to WFH again and frankly lockdown 2.0 looks inevitable.

Tbh, a second lockdown may actually bring about cuts. Not sure how many consumer facing companies can keep on going like this despite the (watered down) stimulus 2.0 offered by Exchequer. And by consumer companies it is not just about C&R... things upstream and downstream in the value chain suffer.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 25, 2020 - 4:40pm

I was a virtual intern this summer and I'd recommend setting up a calls/zooms with as many people on your team as possible early in your internship. It's super hard to get to know people in the virtual environment even with virtual happy hours and whatnot. If you reach out it shows you want to be a part of the team and it gives you the opportunity to tell them what you're interested in and they can loop you into calls or screen share things they think you'll like. If your team likes you as a person it will be easier to get an offer, especially because some banks (including mine, I mainly just did the intern project and listened to calls) didn't give virtual interns much responsibility and it sets you apart.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 25, 2020 - 6:24pm

Everything listed above is great. I'd like to add additional emphasis to how difficult it is to get to know the team and for the team to get to know you during a virtual internship.

Make this easier on yourself. Set up quick calls / zooms and actually get to know who you work with. Talk about sports, bars, working out, whatever. Obviously don't be overbearing with this, but make an effort.

At the end of the day, you may be just as competent as the intern next to you, but you get the return offer because you demonstrated a willingness to get to know the team and the team got to know you as a person.

Don't be a faceless virtual intern.

Sep 25, 2020 - 7:19pm

Mistakes - Don't make stupid mistakes again and again. Nothing pisses snr ppl off more when juniors make the same mistake over and over again. If you make a mistake the first time, fine, but understand what went wrong and don't do it again. If you hear the words "I thought we discussed this already..." Again and again, you have a problem. 

Timing - Read the room, if you have a question or comment and something important is going on, it's prob NOT the best time to bring up the rando task you were asked to do. 

Attitude - Be positive, no one wants to work with the negative Nancy intern who complains all the time or brings down the room. 

  • Prospect in Other
Sep 27, 2020 - 11:32am


How to kill an intern

You give him a job as investment banking analyst. Lure him with great salaries and "exit opportunities". Don't let him think for a second that life outside of work or finance is important at all. Mentality of work and money is everything here. By the time the poor bastard retires, you have practically killed him. Or at least, the exciting part of his life.

Sep 26, 2020 - 12:59pm

Don't overthink it, just take as many people as you can out to coffee and be able to carry a conversation when you do so. People are saying don't screw up, but the truth is, as an intern, the full times will be checking everything you do precisely because it's expected you'll screw a lot of things up. Just be willing to learn from your mistakes, admit when you don't know something, ask good questions, and always be grateful to be there. A good attitude and baseline competency can go a long way, especially in situations when you might be in the office at 2am on a Monday.

  • Analyst 1 in 
Sep 26, 2020 - 3:11pm

Yeah that Works but tbh as a FT I'd rather not have to tell an intern to correct typos and double spaces at 2am... that's one part where you're definitely not expected to fuck up a few weeks in. Same for formatting, no big deal but best if it can be right upfront. Same goes for analysts 

Most Helpful
Sep 26, 2020 - 9:05pm
  1. Take initiative
    1(a). Be thorough
  2. Make you boss look good
    2(a). Make your boss' life easier
  3. Be a team-player
    3(a). Have a good attitude
    3(b). Be humble
    3(c). Take feedback/criticism well
    3(d). Ask for feedback often, from any senior folks you interface with; don't be a fragile/pathetic little brat if/when you're criticized (see #3(b))
    3(e). Be flexible/adaptable; opt into additional responsibilities being delegated you (ONLY if/when you're VERY confident you have the bandwidth - see #5)
    3(f). Don't be afraid to ask for help; you'll look like a much bigger dipshit if you don't ask and send off your deliverables with errors on the very things for which you had opted not to ask questions
    3(g). Have an opinion*
  4. Don't make stupid mistakes
    4(a). Don't be afraid to make (non-stupid) mistakes
    4(b). Make a few (non-stupid) mistakes; if you don't, you're not pushing yourself hard enough
    4(c). Do NOT make the same mistake twice
  5. Under-commit; this way you can over-deliver
    5(a). Manage your workflows efficiently
    5(b). Do NOT be late
  6. Once you get your feet under you, try to anticipate what's next; do that thing (hint fucking this up is one of those "non-stupid mistakes")
    6(a). If you've had positive feedback on your work to this point AND have an idea to improve and/or optimize a process, solve a problem, or otherwise add value: go ahead and put together a proposal (don't go nuts, just draft something, pitch it as a draft and be prepared with your "good feedback taking ears" that day)

It's not rocket science and no one expects you to be an expect (yet). The internship process is really (primarily) an exercise in grit, adaptability and emotional intelligence; if you're the unicorn summer analyst/associate who can check all those boxes AND add material value to the team's workflows, congratu-fucking-lations, everyone thought your kind was extinct yearssss ago and you've just secured either (a) an offer, (b) the most aggressively enthusiastic support/endorsements your colleagues have ever given anyone, even their own kids or, better yet, both.

*be careful with this one, really depends on the culture of the team you're on; the best/highest performing teams on the street, by and large, are going to have a flat(ter) culture that emphasizes an entrepreneurial "see something, say something" approach to their work. On these teams, your title doesn't matter so much, if you've noticed something that's not been mentioned by your colleagues, speak the fuck up; whether or not they agree with you, they'll respect that you had the audacity to share your thoughts. Also, don't overdo it; it's like tequila benders, every once in a while they can be refreshing, but in becoming commonplace they become an absolute abomination.

"In order to be a really good investor, you need to be a little bit of a philosopher as well." -Dan Loeb


  • 10
Sep 26, 2020 - 9:36pm

For sure, been in your shoes, it's a lotta pressure trying to go make the most of a gig you've dreamed of for a long time. When in doubt, ask yourself: "if I were [whoever the fuck I need to ingratiate myself to rn], what would I want me to do/be looking for in this situation/perceive as a value add?". If you can stop yourself in the moment and ACCURATELY carry out that internal inquiry, you're gonna be a lethal weapon professionally/it'll lead you to a highly fruitful career.

"In order to be a really good investor, you need to be a little bit of a philosopher as well." -Dan Loeb


  • 2
Sep 27, 2020 - 3:07pm

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