Intern Burnout, Considering Full-Time

I interned this summer in investment banking and got completely crushed. My hours ranged between 85-105 each week, but were usually around 95ish. I started to get really burned out. Its been over a month and I am still very stressed from this past summer and considering going back. It was not uncommon to be in the office until 4-5am then back at 8:30am multiple days in a row and then back to the regular 8:30am to 1:30am schedule for just a few days before getting crushed again. I only had 3 days off the whole summer (one full weekend and forth of July).

Emotionally I started to being unhappy. I would look out a window and see people doing things with their life and wish I was them. I felt like I wasn't really living at all and would wonder what it felt like to feel the wind blowing against my face, because I had not been outside for so long. One period where I was completely sleep deprived, getting around 2 hours a night, I felt like there was tons of pressure in my chest and my vision started to get blurry, but I just tried to keep working anyways.

As much as my experience sounds brutal above, I actually really loved the work I was doing and the people I was working with. I felt like the learning was top notch and all the assignments were interesting. The lack of sleep and working out is what scares me.

I am considering going back to work there full-time, but I do not know if things will be different. I will have a little more control over my schedule and can possibly tell the staffer if I am getting overworked. I can easily do a 100 hour work week if there were a few days of lighter work in between the assignments to recover.

Has anyone experienced this type of burnout as an intern, but been able to handle it full-time? What are ways I can avoid burnout if I come back full time? Am I just stupid for even considering going back if I am not the type of person who can do 16-18 hour days for 2 years?

Comments (41)

Sep 5, 2015

Give the job to me, I don't mind having no life and sitting inside all day. Hell, I'm doing so already, just at shitty jobs so that I may have a shot at banking.

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Sep 6, 2015

I think that if you feel unhappy and cannot support the lack of sleep, it may be wiser considering other career options. That's what I would do.

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Sep 6, 2015

How did your hours compare to others in your group? As an intern you have no real goodwill or ability to push back, but as a full time analyst you can push back on your staffer a bit more and usually don't need to be in at 830 every day. Definitely helps.

Were you working on an awesome live deal? Can't imagine you were just doing pitching. Assuming a deal, you may have sustained periods where you are getting crushed but it is hard to imagine you will do 4-5am for two years. That being said, some groups do work insanely hard - if your group was one of these but you loved the work perhaps the answer is to return to banking but at another bank/in a different group?

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Sep 6, 2015

Increased productivity is also a big factor. After a few months experience, what takes you 95 hours to do in a week can be done in 75-80.

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Sep 6, 2015

Agree

Sep 6, 2015

You already worked hard to get Ibanking and now you're thinking of leaving?

I had a similar experience where I hated banking as an intern, did another relevant internship, then ended up back in Ibanking full time. Why? Because when I decided I'm not doing banking anymore, I saw my friends and peers at school get banking and it made me feel like shit.

To me, the pain of going through 2 years (only 2 years!!!) is nothing compared to me being left behind by my peers as I watch them make more money and jumpstart their careers. Pick your poison, but as I read in another brilliant thread on this site, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

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Sep 6, 2015

This sounds like an unhealthy and miserable way to live your life. That being said, kudos to you for being able to stick with something you hated for 2 whole years

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Sep 6, 2015

Thanks for the shit. I did not tell the OP how to live his life. I just gave him perspective on mine.

And actually, when I went back for FT, I was placed in a different group with a much better fit. I actually like the guys I worked with. The job satisfaction is dramatically changed when you don't feel like ripping your coworkers eyes out at midnight when a model isn't working. I'm very happy with my decision.

Sep 6, 2015

Out of curiosity, can you share where you worked? Those hours you references above are not the norm for most (with the exception of a few firms and few groups) banks and groups. Sure, there are occasionally stretches like that (rarely lasting more than ~2-3 months), but wouldn't expect it to be a true representation of what your FT experience will be like (unless, as I mentioned above you are at a few specific places where those hours are pretty normal).

Sep 6, 2015

What are some banks/groups that do work those hours regularly?

Array

Sep 6, 2015

Full-time is usually better

Sep 6, 2015

Thanks guys. I prefer not to say the bank's name for reputation purposes, but given so many peer banks had regulated hours there are only a couple of options. I also agree that it is easy to believe "the grass is greener" elsewhere, then find out it is not. I think I am going to return and just work hard on improving my excel and modeling skills during the school year so I can be more efficient when I come back for full-time.

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Sep 6, 2015

great, but were you on all live deals? like 3 mna transactions all at once? were all the other interns crushed like you? were all the first year full times crushed like that too?

were other groups like this too? when you stood up at 3am and maybe took a walk, was the rest of the office empty?

these are all things that have affected my mental health and will very likely affect yours too, and are just a few things you need to consider when deciding if you want to go back or not.

Sep 7, 2015

my group is also pretty sweatshop - but keep in mind, you only really need to perform well for your first year (assuming you're planning on exiting banking after your analyst stint). push back on all new staffings your second year once you got top bucket locked in and start letting your work quality slide, if need be.

Sep 7, 2015

How team-oriented are Investment Banking analyst programs? You have experience in M&A and the OP didn't mention anything about camaraderie. I read the book 'an astronaut's guide to life on earth' this summer, which is great by the way, that talks about how having an extremely positive group mentality is make/break in hyper-competitive environments.

Sep 7, 2015

I worked in a group that was similar in terms of hours and determined it wasn't worth it and lateraled. I wasn't a summer there but was hired on full time. The summers we had worked the same hours and the FTs weren't far behind.

For the people here saying you get work done faster as you get more experience are obviously correct, but at least from my experience, it just meant you were assigned more work so your hours didn't really go down. Obviously the juniors all burnt out very quickly and many did not last very long.

It might be worth looking at opportunities on other teams or banks to find something more fitting to what you're looking for, but obviously your experience isn't the same as mine.

Sep 8, 2015

There are so many juvenile idiots in this thread. "Ohhhh, you moron, why are you leaving this job you want to be respected and models & bottles make so much $$$$"

My recommendation - get out now. You have IB experience on your resume - that's incredibly valuable and can get you on the inside track on pretty much any entry level finance job. There's so many things out there you can do with reasonable hours, from buy-side roles for a mutual fund or insurance company, to sell-side roles like equity or fixed income research, to other things like corporate finance and development. Or you can do what I do - real estate finance.

Find out something you're interested in, interview well, and you'll have it.

People who measure their lives in terms of how much better off they are versus their peers and how prestigious their job is will always be unhappy.

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Sep 8, 2015

I experienced something similar and I continued to stay on. It is a hard decision to make as you would have worked quite hard to get to the internship and you don't want to give it all up. To an extent I was attracted by the prestige and the money and the defined path in banking. (Great post in the grass is not always greener thread)

And it doesn't really get any better until about 6 months in when you've broken yourself in and have ingratiated yourself with the team. At that point I think it's a combination of having adapted and having people being a bit more flexible in terms of respecting you going to the gym or taking more regular breaks in between pieces of work. Obviously as you would know, the work does not necessarily slow down as it's a function of the client/MD and honestly, the only thing keeping me going is the exit ops and being able to work on more things means you get more on your resume.

I don't think there's much blanket advice for something like this. The industry is simply good for some people and bad for others. Weight the pros and cons and assume that your experience during the summer will persist and whether you can hold it out for the next 2 years.

Hope this helps

Sep 8, 2015

dang thats crazy. I thought those hours weren't real.

Sep 8, 2015

Not all banks and groups have these terrible hours. If I were you, I would definitely interview around for FT and then come to a decision. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Sep 8, 2015

If you dont mind sharing can you tell a little more on what assignment or tasks you worked on?

As an intern, it is a general consensus that interns are given grunt work but what were some of your tasks and projects?

Sep 8, 2015

I'm going to be honest with you, and it's going to be harsh, and it's going to come off as an asshole.

Soldier up.

You need to understand that you're in an amazing position. Literally on the verge of having one of the most prestigious types of careers in business. The knowledge you will learn from this experience and from an IBD role for 2 years will set you up for life in most ways.

Going from IBD to anything else is much easier than vice versa. The 'prestige' of banking alone will help carry you along throughout the rest of you adult years. Now don't get me wrong, those first two years will suck and you will want to quit and you may hate life, you may literally become marginally depressed.

However, after two years of IBD from 22 to 24 you'll be able to experience the rest of your 20's in a way 99% won't and then your 30's in a way 99.5% of people won't.

If you CAN suck it up and do it, and you did since you made it through the internship. In my honest opinion I would suggest you take it.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

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Sep 11, 2015
UTDFinanceGuy:

However, after two years of IBD from 22 to 24 you'll be able to experience the rest of your 20's in a way 99% won't and then your 30's in a way 99.5% of people won't.

I'm curious as to what you mean by this - how would it be drastically different?

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Sep 15, 2015
jackblack2129:

UTDFinanceGuy:
However, after two years of IBD from 22 to 24 you'll be able to experience the rest of your 20's in a way 99% won't and then your 30's in a way 99.5% of people won't.

I'm curious as to what you mean by this - how would it be drastically different?

it seems pretty obvious to me - $$$

Sep 12, 2015

This thread basically encapsulates the problem with how young people view IB, specifically at BBs and EBs. They think it's all about "prestige". This leads countless number of kids into having miserable lives because they either had false assumptions or were under (social, peer, familial, etc.) pressure to go into IB. People don't realize that IB is just as much of a "rat race" as a standard corporate job, albeit the intensity is ratcheted up 10x. Yes, there are potentially some amazing rewards at the end of it if you can survive the hours, office politics, asshole bosses, etc. However, none of those rewards are work destroying your physical and mental health over.

Fuck prestige. If you feel that the hours in IB are killer and are making you depressed, then don't do it. There are MANY other high paying jobs that will fulfill you and give you plenty of opportunities in the future. Look into AM, ER, F500 corporate finance, F500 Business Operations/Corporate Development, working for a startup, consulting, real estate etc.

Also fuck this idea that you spend your time in college/internships "working towards IB". You work hard so that you can have a variety of options, and don't end up like those lazy fuckers who end up being GameStop store managers.

Kids these days need to finally wake up and stop pushing this "models and bottles" view of IB and instead find themselves a career path that pays well, is challenging, and won't destroy them (whether that is IB or not).

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Sep 15, 2015
UTDFinanceGuy:

I'm going to be honest with you, and it's going to be harsh, and it's going to come off as an asshole.

Soldier up.

You need to understand that you're in an amazing position. Literally on the verge of having one of the most prestigious types of careers in business. The knowledge you will learn from this experience and from an IBD role for 2 years will set you up for life in most ways.

Going from IBD to anything else is much easier than vice versa. The 'prestige' of banking alone will help carry you along throughout the rest of you adult years. Now don't get me wrong, those first two years will suck and you will want to quit and you may hate life, you may literally become marginally depressed.

However, after two years of IBD from 22 to 24 you'll be able to experience the rest of your 20's in a way 99% won't and then your 30's in a way 99.5% of people won't.

If you CAN suck it up and do it, and you did since you made it through the internship. In my honest opinion I would suggest you take it.

For some context, if this poster truly is UTD Finance, as in The University of Texas at Dallas, they likely have no chance of getting an IB job. At UTD we engineers called the business school "engineering drop out" where all our buddies who couldn't cut it went. If there's some other UTD with prestige then my bad, but there's no program at UT Dallas where more than 1 or 2 incredibly outstanding candidates would expect to even get an interview at a top IB or Consulting gig. So just take this advice with a grain of salt, it reads like someone who doesn't actually know what they're talking about and that is likely the case.

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Sep 15, 2015
David__D:

UTDFinanceGuy: I'm going to be honest with you, and it's going to be harsh, and it's going to come off as an asshole.
Soldier up.
You need to understand that you're in an amazing position. Literally on the verge of having one of the most prestigious types of careers in business. The knowledge you will learn from this experience and from an IBD role for 2 years will set you up for life in most ways.
Going from IBD to anything else is much easier than vice versa. The 'prestige' of banking alone will help carry you along throughout the rest of you adult years. Now don't get me wrong, those first two years will suck and you will want to quit and you may hate life, you may literally become marginally depressed.
However, after two years of IBD from 22 to 24 you'll be able to experience the rest of your 20's in a way 99% won't and then your 30's in a way 99.5% of people won't.
If you CAN suck it up and do it, and you did since you made it through the internship. In my honest opinion I would suggest you take it.

For some context, if this poster truly is UTD Finance, as in The University of Texas at Dallas, they likely have no chance of getting an IB job. At UTD we engineers called the business school "engineering drop out" where all our buddies who couldn't cut it went. If there's some other UTD with prestige then my bad, but there's no program at UT Dallas where more than 1 or 2 incredibly outstanding candidates would expect to even get an interview at a top IB or Consulting gig. So just take this advice with a grain of salt, it reads like someone who doesn't actually know what they're talking about and that is likely the case.

You're exactly right on the school, and in lieu of pursuing IBD I've gone the route of B2B SaaS sales in order to maximize my chances of obtaining offers coming from a small non-target.

Despite your ad hominem attack, my logic prevails. Brand name matters, you proved my point. The difference between UTD and UT and Harvard are similar to the difference between IB @ Goldman vs FPA @ Holly Frontier vs Business Analyst @ a name name shop. I wouldn't be considered for almost any BB Analyst position even though I probably have a higher ACT, IQ and EQ than some of those accepted just because of my school name. Same goes for looking for second jobs or graduate programs.

IBD is considered prestigious by association of the average person who has a job in that role. It's not magical or holy, but to assume that you have the same opportunities if you're IBD @ GS or FPA @ even F500 is fallacious.

Everything else equal, the guy with more prestigious job experience beats out the no name almost every time when seeking out the more interesting or selective job experience.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Sep 8, 2015

Work at a boutique. Hours are better but pay isn't as good most of the time. But if it makes you happy leaving before 8 most days, definitely look into it.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 11, 2015

Interning is so much better than full-time. During your internships, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you don't know enough to actually be value-add. If you don't like it now, just imagine yourself 6 months in knowing you're nowhere close to getting out. I enjoyed my internship, hated full time ib and pe.

Sep 12, 2015

If you're burned out after internship, then you're going to hate full time.

Internship really is like 4-6 weeks of working (other weeks are training and getting up to speed). Full time is same hours but then you become responsible for the work which carries greater responsibility and stress.

if you really don't like it, don't rough it out. Banking isn't some super job any more - def not a bad place to start but not something to be worshiped like some of these guys are saying.

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Sep 12, 2015

Hopefully this can serve as a thread to set the record straight for all the kids I see who think "working 100 hour weeks is badass" or the likes of that kind of mindset.

Anyone who's worked hundred hour weeks knows that nothing about it in any shape or form is "badass".

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Sep 12, 2015

for god's sake, don't do it.

Best Response
Sep 12, 2015

I feel for you, man. It's a tough call. And ultimately it comes down to what matters to you.

After my summer internship at JP Morgan (back in 1997...) my body was so run down that I contracted a severe virus that kept me bed-ridden for a week. But that never deterred me from going back after it the next year landing the two jobs I wanted--Goldman and Morgan Stanley.

My first two years at Goldman were even harder. As one of the comments said, there's nothing badass about working 100 hour weeks, yet those first few years of working around the clock dramatically changed what was possible for me. It is a tough profession. It demands more of you than is reasonable. It pushes you to the brink, and that's what forces you to keep growing stronger and better.

That's not for everyone, but it is what happens when you pursue an elite profession--Look at what doctors do to make it through residency and elite soldiers do to make it through special ops training. That's not to say that banking "should" be this way, but it is how it is.

Having worked on Wall Street for 17 years, including one year as the staffer managing hundreds of analysts and associates I've seen it all. Some people revel in working around the clock. Some burnout and get out before their program is through. Some suck it up just to make it through knowing it is worth it for them. But those who truly excel are the ones who want to be there, not those who want to just get the job done so they can get out of the office. As you said you loved the work and the people, and it's a matter of whether you love it more than watching the people working their 50 hours a week in a less challenging profession enjoying their life.

In the end it's all about what you want and what you really value. Truth is. While IB is extreme, look to your friends who work at Google or indeed Amazon or many other hard charging places. They are working crazy hours under tough conditions and not rewarded like IB. And it's not just comp I'm referring to. A couple of years at a top investment bank and you create options that can set your career and life on a rocket-ship trajectory.

Having proven yourself in this tough profession, doors to other jobs on Wall Street and corporate, and of course business school are open to you. There is no "right" answer, but the truth you see from other comments is that if you take the job full-time you must expect it to be as "tough" as your internship.

As you get more productive it might get better, but the hours will be long and the stress will persist. The best thing you can do is train yourself to become more mentally and physically resilient. Focus on your health. Exercise. Take supplements. Optimize your sleep. Train yourself for hardcore performance. And train your time management and other skills to get more done in less time.

No matter what the pursuit, to really go for it requires extraordinary efforts. It's just a question of what you want and what you are willing to do to get it.

Former banker and investor, advisor to senior Wall Street pros. Learn more at geoffblades.com

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Sep 13, 2015
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Sep 14, 2015