Just hit the desk - feeling terrible

New analyst who just hit the desk last week. I feel like shit. I feel like there's so much coming at me all at once. New, complicated models and backups I'm trying to sift through, new admin stuff, group specific quirks and templates, all of this while trying to pump out correct slides and Excel outputs I'm barely understanding. No real help besides the few times I few comfortable asking my associate, who is extremely busy and always working on something. I can't look over another person's shoulder while they work on something because of WFH, can't just look over a cubicle wall, barely connected through text to my analyst class...

My biggest fear is becoming "that analyst", the mediocre one who no one really wants to work with, because it's such a burden to have to deal with his/her slow work rate along with the mistakes. I know the only way to way to get better is to make mistakes. I also know I put a lot of stress on myself and that it's only been a week and nobody expects an analyst to be good right away, but I can't shake this anxiety and constant dread of creating a hassle/disappointing someone above me or making others stay late to work with me, even though this hasn't happened yet (at least I hope not).

I feel physically ill at times and can't help but wonder if I'm just not cut out for this. I didn't intern at this firm but I did intern elsewhere and I didn't feel this same way. My current group isn't even considered a sweatshop by any means, and I know a lot of other analysts out there have it way worse. 

I can't tell if what I'm feeling is normal or if I need a therapist or maybe I'm just a control freak who needs to have a handle on everything to feel comfortable. Anyone have any thoughts?

EDIT: Hey everyone, finally have my protected Saturday to read all of this. Honestly, writing this was quite cathartic and helped a lot to just see what I am feeling on a page. Thank you all for your suggestions and comments; it looks like a lot of people have felt/are feeling this same way. I will definitely be looking at this for guidance. 

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Comments (41)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 10, 2020 - 5:46pm

I feel the same way. Didn't intern in banking and feel like quitting already. I'm so worried that I do something wrong and get called out for it. 

  • Analyst 1 in CorpFin
Oct 14, 2021 - 3:22am

I have the same background in that I did not intern in IB but have made the jump. Do you have any advice as to how to do your best work? I'm worried about doing something incorrectly and getting shafted.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 10, 2020 - 5:52pm

Hit the desk a month ago, the commonly used "drinking from a firehose" is pretty accurate. I've definitely learned a lot, but it's hard to pick things up when you're put on a deal already in progress, in a model you didn't build. Also, although I really want to excel on the job, how I comfort myself is that being bottom bucket just means you get less work (most analysts are likely not looking for the A2A promote anyways).

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 10, 2020 - 6:01pm

The thing is everyone rates you. Fuck up, your MD doesn't care but your Associate will and so will the VP

Sep 10, 2020 - 6:12pm

Yeah, and I am probably in a little bit of a different situation where my team is pretty limited.  But, I think you need to cut yourself a little slack. Yes try and meet everyone's expectations, but realize you just hit the desk and most were in your shoes at one point.  

  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Sep 10, 2020 - 8:00pm

Ask as many questions as you need to. Don't get into the mentality of thinking you should already know things when you shouldn't.

If you don't ask the questions now, then later you will have a hard time because you actually SHOULD know the answer but just didn't ask early enough.

Sep 10, 2020 - 8:29pm

If you don't speak up, they'll think you don't need help. 

No shame in asking for clarification or instruction no matter how busy they are. 

Associates understand that the faster you pick up stuff the better you can help.  Didn't you get paired with mentors?  I'd get with the associate you work with the most and have a chat to let them know everything you just told us.  Better to ask now than months down the road.  They will not be forgiving if you ask much later.  They'll say, "You didn't say anything.  I just assumed you already got this by now."

  • 2
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 11, 2020 - 10:20am

I would recommend trying to find a second year analyst who is willing to answer a lot of your questions. I know you might feel annoying, but second years also all had the exact same questions a year back and probably understand that you don't have the same benefit they did in being able to stand over the desk of the 2nd years and ask dumb questions in the bullpen. 

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. You're probably not staffed on too much live stuff or really important / time sensitive stuff as a first year with a few weeks experience. Spend the time you have between comments going through previous books to see how they've been done, trace formulas in excel, etc. Develop a checklist for doing quality control on your work (all page numbers are good, all footnotes match, the numbers on a sensitivity table move the right direction, hand calculate a few numbers that you can, any number that appears in multiple pages is the same on each, spell check, etc.). You'll find as you get comfortable you can turn stuff out pretty quickly without compromising work product. 

Most Helpful
Sep 11, 2020 - 1:52pm

I'd be more concerned about someone who doesn't realize how hard the job is.  I've seen plenty of those.  They come in, get a difficult assignment, aren't able to even see the difficulty of it, and thus they think its easy and don't improve.  A year into the job, their peers have grown by leaps and bounds and that's when they suddenly realize they're "that analyst" as you say.  That's a tough situation to fix.

Less concerned about you because you at least get it enough to know that its hard.  I think if you just keep at it you'll get faster and sharper.  

It also sounds a bit like you have Imposter Syndrome which is common among successful people.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 11, 2020 - 4:25pm

I was feeling exactly the same last year. Happy to hop on a call with you and give you some tips over weekend

Sep 11, 2020 - 6:39pm

Do the best on the task you are assigned and then ask questions as you review with your associate to gauge their preference. As long as you are showing a learning attitude and are picking up thing quickly you should be fine.

It's good to leverage your new hire role to ask question now. People will be more patient with helping you with silly questions now than 6 month later.

Sep 12, 2020 - 1:20am

Listen. You are cut out for this. The beginning is ALWAYS hard as fuck man.

However your anxiety is clearly very strong, you need to do therapy. CBT is best.

Do therapy.

Life is not that serious. You will fuck up, ask for help. Get therapy. Breathe, and people will return to the office eventually and things WILL get easier.

Sep 12, 2020 - 5:21pm

OP - you are not alone now or in just this industry. These are different times.

Doing my best not to echo others who say "chill out and ask questions" (all true btw), but your first 6 or so months is the time to ask questions, mess up and get things in order. Everyone knows you are new and that you don't know much. Having a positive attitude and being open to feedback etc is how to do it.

And this first 6 months advice isn't just for newbies or young grads. It's for anyone who is joining a new firm, switching industries etc. The timeline may be shorter, but if you are seen as nice, helpful, genuinely interested and trying hard then people will help/give you a break. Cynically it helps them in the longer run (they can rely on you to do work/bail them out etc). And that's priceless.

Good Luck

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
  • 3
Sep 12, 2020 - 5:51pm

Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it after a few months. Definitely get on the phone or email or IM if you have questions.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Sep 12, 2020 - 5:53pm

Also, don't worry about bothering people too much asking questions - it is their actual job to help you. It is a team effort.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Sep 12, 2020 - 6:34pm

I was "that analyst" until I found a set of tasks I was uniquely really good at compared to the other analysts. For me, that was stuff like turning horribly formatted reports spat out of some software into readable data tables for models and such.

If you have a hard time finding that, there will come a time when there's so many communications going on between you and a client that no one can possibly keep track of all of them at once and if you keep asking your associate and VP questions about things that look off or things your team promised to do but didn't get to or even things that should/should not go in the data room, they'll appreciate you keeping them on your toes and paying attention to the flow of the deal.

Those two things really helped me kind of dig out of my trench. I just offered to help where I was best at and kept asking things like "oh this has vendor names, do we need to anonymize it before it goes into the data room" etc etc.

  • Analyst 1 in Other
Sep 12, 2020 - 10:18pm

I think this attitude is definitely common and in some ways good to have. For your 6+ months, people expect you to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn from them so no better time to learn everything you can in my opinion. Even as you get experienced, I think it's always better to feel you need to improve versus being too confident as there are always new things to learn and the job is a grind. I would assume that it's better to have someone genuinely trying to learn everything they can and give 100% effort versus someone not caring at all about getting up to speed.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 13, 2020 - 5:26pm

I just started as well and in a bit of culture shock. I have extreme anxiety whenever I see "STAFFING REQUEST:" in my email. Banking is going to really hurt my health. Any pointers?

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 18, 2020 - 1:43pm

You're anxious because when you get staffed you barely know what to do. So you have to 1. Figure out what they want. 2. Figure out how to do it. 3. Hope you did it right. But points 1/2 will get much easier over the next few months. It's going to suck for a bit. Unfortunately, that is how it is. But just know on the other side you'll look back and realize how far you've come. 

Sep 14, 2020 - 6:31am

Hey there, you need to breathe. You're just starting, it's pretty much expected of you to suck for the first three to six months of your graduate scheme. Are you also WFH? It really is a pain to learn a new job without asking questions on the fly.

Here is some advice I have for you: create an operations manual for every task that is asked of you. Make sure to improve it over time so that you know what the best practice looks like for all your operations. You will forget information over time so you will be bound to ask the same dumb questions over and over. Writing a guide and perfecting it over time will ensure you ask these dumb questions less frequently. Bonus point if you share this with all the other new starters (either during your first year or after your first year), you will then become that one grad who is on top of their work and is helping other people succeed too. 

Sep 14, 2020 - 9:41am

Analyst --

This discussion below assumes you are NOT in need of medical treatment / therapist / psychiatrist / etc.  If you think you need one, immediately call someone who can help you through the process.  I suffer from mild depression (no drugs, just hugs...not kidding, BTW) as well and will occasionally go dark...very dark.  My wife and kids know when Daddy is "cranky", it's lots of hugs and pizza for a while.  So please, if you really need help for OCD, Anxiety, Depression or another mental illness, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.  There is absolutely no shame, weakness or dishonor in doing so.  None.  No one is going to think you are weak because you reached out for help (theme?). I do not want to hear of some "analyst at bank x" jumping out of a window.  Capeche?


Wait for it....


Now, assuming that you are just a coddled, millennial, whiny little snowflake with major confidence issues, we can get to the heart of the problem.

Bottom line:  YOU KNOW NOTHING

You are an investment banking analyst.  You're lower than whale poop on the banking grand scale.  Did you get this job because you KNEW everything about banking coming in?  Probably not.  Did you get this job because your resume showed you are willing to subjugate yourself in order to be in banking?  Probably.  (C'mon, how much did you actually learn at those summer internships.)  The reason you got the job is you are willing to work harder, be hungrier and give more to the bank than other candidates.  You are fodder.  You are a meat puppet with no life. 

Now, here is the secret everyone is trying to tell you and unfortunately have to quote Harry Potter.

"Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now: students. If they can do it, why not us?"

or for modern times...

"Every Managing Director in history has started out as nothing more than what you are now: Analysts. If they can do it, why not me?" 

You, Analyst, are afraid.  Scared.  Scared of LOOKING like an ass.  Scared that the thin veil you covered yourself with all of these years will be pierced by people who may be better than you.  Who knows?  You are probably 100% correct in that view.  So what are you going to do?  How will YOU make it better?  Read the above comments for some help / ideas, but the answer doesn't lie in whining incessantly like a baby about it.  Fear is a great motivator.  Embrace it.  Make it your own.  Otherwise, you will be like the rest of the chumps on here wondering about your career choices and how to make lateral moves to a place (HF, BB, alphabet soup) where the grass is usually NOT greener.

Be strong.  Be proud.  Get help if you need it in and out of the workplace, but do not post on a message board like a Karen looking for salvation.





  • 5
Sep 14, 2020 - 3:44pm

Hey man, I really feel for you right now - I had a really rough transition into banking, I had a really bad time personally but was able to be successful professionally (and get to a comfortable place in my personal life too)

My number 1 piece of advice: keep your head down and keep pushing forward. Being a first year analyst SUCKS, and I can't imagine starting it remote... but that's really the secret, just understand that things are just going to suck for a while. Therapy helped me a lot, I spoke to my family much more often, I leaned into new hobbies and friends, etc. Also remember that it gets better... the hours ease up a bit, but you figure out how to manage them MUCH better pretty quick. Then past that, life gets much much better when new first years come in lmao

Shoot me a message if you want to chat on the phone at any point, happy to give you some straight talk form my experiences that might help.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 18, 2020 - 1:32pm

First. I understand how you feel. Investment Banking is weird that they expect you to think you know everything "technicals" when interviewing for the job and yet you know nothing. 

Honestly, WSO isn't going to help you with this. There's enough toxicity on this forum and most people aren't going to make you feel better about yourself. 

The first six months were incredibly challenging for me. And yes...sometimes I was "that analyst." But ultimately, this is just a job. Some of us are good at it, some of us aren't. We aren't saving lives, we aren't doing surgery, we aren't fighting in wars. When you're at work a small mistake can feel like everything.... but understand it really isn't. Try your best and after a few months, you will improve. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're asking for help and not getting it, that's on the team not you. 

I have some very good days where I love the job and find it incredibly interesting and engaging, and I have days where I feel like an imposter who has no idea what they're doing. That's normal, and anyone who isn't acknowledging that is lying to you. 

Happy to hop on the phone to chat. 

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