My boss just tore me a new one and I don't know what to do differently

I'm working with a rather large alternative asset manager in Boston - no glamour in the name, but still a pretty good place to be summer before junior year (semi target in chicago). Today, I got absolutely reamed by my effective boss (junior PM) because apparently I told the senior PM in another division (RE) that I'd like to be put on some meetings because I'd like to learn more about RE. Here is the conversation that ensued.

"Did you tell [RE senior PM] that you were bored? ...I hope you know that makes me look really bad"

To clarify, at no point did I say I was bored, or something that even slightly resembles that.

"No, absolutely not, just said I wanted to be on a few more meetings since I'm interested in RE and don't get much manager exposure. I figured it was okay since I do it with [my division's senior PM] all the time."

"Listen, I don't have a problem with you being on meetings, but, you're struggling with some tasks I've already given you. I just don't see why they're taking you that long. Like, this bond analysis* and this portfolio database**, you haven't been growing the DB fast enough -- I mean it really shouldn't take you that long."

"Well, I just like reading through all the books and actually understanding them fully before I'm done with them. And I'm waiting on Craig from MS to walk me through his model and explain to me some of the bond calculations."

"Okay, but listen, it's just not going at the speed I'd like it to be. No more calls or meetings until you're finished with these things. You should be at like, 55 books by now, but you're at --"

"36, I'm working on the ones you gave me this week as well."

"And the bond analysis?"

"I'll speak with Craig and get back to you with all the changes."

"Alright, let's talk when you do that."

*basically, he wants me to do a company analysis on this bond that they have a small stake in. Every time I send him my report he makes edits and sends them back to me, and I make the changes. But, as I do more and more, it seems like he just wants my report to be a sell-side research report. I mean, he's encouraging me to reach out to sell-side & IR analysts.

**Every single pitch book this department has ever gotten, I'm compiling into a database that gives rundowns on past funds/returns, fees, size, geographic location, and other inputs. It's just getting to the point to where it's repetitive AF. Idk, to me it seems like a running project but today he really let me know that he wants it done asap. I mean, they probably have several hundred pitchbooks-- I'll be doing it until my very last day this summer, what is the point?? I'm being asked to go through them quickly enough that I can't really spend any quality time learning, so it's basically just data entry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SO, I feel like absolute shit. I like all the things I'm learning in AM and trust me, I don't have a shitty work ethic, but honestly the work I'm doing is absolute shit. Or at least, it seems that way to me. Am I being ridiculous and I should just keep working harder? I mean, he seems pretty fed up, can I even change his opinion of me? Now, not only does he probably think I'm slow/lazy/incompetent, but also sneaky by going behind his back. I feel like I'm stuck, no matter what I do. I'm working crazy hard for this guy who is just constantly displeased, while also taking a summer class and networking my ass off in my spare time to land something in IB/PE next summer. It'd be really nice to have him in my corner as a reference, but it's getting to the point where I literally cannot stand him as a human being -- he talks shit about every other department, the other junior analyst in our division, and sucks up so hard to our senior PM. How do you deal with a person like that, as an intern, who might have a huge say in your future?

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Comments (34)

Jul 12, 2016 - 5:45pm

Can you communicate that last paragraph to him in a fair and balanced manner? Who knows, maybe you will better understand where he's coming from and vice versa. If you do and he still gives you a hard time, then he is likely an unreasonable person and it is what it is. That being said, I would advise you to look at the broader context and realize that he likely does not have a "huge say in your future."

Best Response
Jul 12, 2016 - 6:06pm

Tell yourself, "fuck him" and move on.

Your situation reminds me of my first job out of college. Here's an example of the type of shit I dealt with. I had a similar situation as yours. I got my real estate license and was transitioning from analyst to broker. Within the office there were 5 major teams - office landlord rep, office tenant rep, retail, industrial, and investment sales. When I was hired I was told that I would have my pick depending on what most interested me. When I got my license though, I was immediately slotted into the landlord rep team and thus, assigned to the above referenced boss from hell. Meanwhile, I was still doing all of the analyst work for ALL OF THE OTHER TEAMS so I asked one of the other team leads if I could sit in on some calls. Not switch teams, not betray anyone, just sit in on some calls. Previously I personally hooked his team up with the biggest lead he would have ever had. All I wanted was some exposure. In less than 24 hours, that principal tattled on me to my principal and my principal sat me down in his office, told me I was disloyal, dishonest, and basically a scumbag for wanting to learn more.

So fuck my old boss and fuck your current boss. Some people just suck. Do your work to the best of your ability, don't have a meltdown, and move on. Mid-level references don't mean shit at your age anyhow and no bank is going to base their entire perception of you on what your summer internship middle manager thought.

My relationship with my old boss ended in absolute flames in the most dramatic fashion and various people in that company still write me letters of recommendation and still talk to me to this day.

Some people just suck.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 20, 2016 - 8:34am
billbelichick69:

Do you still work at that firm?

Hell no

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Jul 12, 2016 - 8:28pm

It sucks to have a boss who isn't interested in your professional development, but he also sounds a little insecure/nervous since it could be viewed as a test of his managerial skills. I wouldn't take it personally, but I would try and get a reasonable gauge of what his expectations are of you on your projects. Try getting your work done in a time that he thinks is reasonable. Hopefully he isn't expecting you to do all the pitchbooks, maybe "x" amount per day. This way you get a balance, like what the above poster was talking about.

There's still a bit of time left in the summer so it's possible you can turn this around unless of course you hate the guy's guts with a passion.

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Jul 13, 2016 - 8:56am

Echo the above sentiment, but at the same time, you are an intern. You do the shitty work without complaining. Showing that you can get through that stuff with a good attitude can go a long way. It sounds like you are still getting some good exposure, but trying to prioritize your learning over the work they need won't help. There is a balance you need to find here.

Array

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Jul 13, 2016 - 10:13am

Am I the only one that read this and thought why on earth would you want to be a fly on the wall in meetings instead of working on this?

"*basically, he wants me to do a company analysis on this TMT stock that they have a ~3% stake in. Every time I send him my report he makes edits and sends them back to me, and I make the changes. But, as I do more and more, it seems like he just wants my report to be a sell-side research report. I mean, he's encouraging me to reach out to sell-side & IR analysts."

Sure you have to do some work that stinks, but this portion is far more substantial work than many interns get and directly applicable to any kind of future corporate analysis role. I have found people overate "listening to hot shot finance folks- i.e. alternative asset managers" over gaining get your hands dirty experience. Guess which one is more valuable in future interviews? There are other ways to satisfy intellectual curiosity. Lastly, reaching out to sell-side and IR is part of any kind of normal investment process...

Array
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Jul 13, 2016 - 12:37pm

Keep your head down and make sure you earn the respect of your group. If you really are not interested in going back to this shop, and at the end of the summer this is still a problem, on your way out and write a very honest exit review of your manager and hand it to somebody senior to him and use somebody who likes you as a reference. It's a shitty spot to be in but I had a very similar experience recently. Above all though, work your ass off and earn your respect or else you can't do shit.

Jul 13, 2016 - 3:32pm

I agree with what's been said, but you seem to really want to do a good job and impress (a good thing), which I think can be accomplished despite the situation.

Just my $.02 but this seems to be a communication issue. Without context, I guess your boss is great at what he does but lacks managerial experience. Ideally, he would let you know exactly what he wants and when he wants in by, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

While it's not really your responsibility as intern, I think it's in your best interest to "manage up." When he gives you an assignment, immediately ask any question you have and specify exactly when he wants it by. If possible, set-up (a) check in time(s) to ensure you are on pace and performing the work how he wants it. For example, if he wants the database done in 4 days, see if you can schedule even 15 min on day 2 to have him check a couple of entries. This gives you time to fix the other entries and make sure the outstanding ones don't have the same mistakes. Also this is the perfect time to adjust the deadline if you need more time. It is so much better to ask for more time and explain why several days out, then missing a deadline and offering an excuse- regardless of validity.

Then, tell him you are going to send him an e-mail with the notes from the meeting, just for everyone's reference. Send him a couple of bullet points with the next steps and major points. I like to put dates in bold. As someone who has managed and been managed, I've found this helps keep everyone accountable and prevents any miscommunication issues. I know it is a little tedious, but it's worth it.

Assuming your boss isn't a complete ass-hat, your boss should recognize and respect you are being solution oriented and pro-active about fixing your mistakes, which in turn should give him the confidence to advocate for you both internally and externally.

I hope that's helpful.

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Jul 22, 2016 - 4:28pm

.

One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.
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Jul 24, 2016 - 10:19pm

Well said. Every intern should read this before they start their first internship

Array

Jul 15, 2016 - 12:50am

I don't agree with your bosses approach. But it will behoove you greatly to learn a bit of office politics out of this. As a new employee (intern, first year, w/e) your boss expects you're going to give it all for them in some way or another. It could be that your boss felt like you're already looking for outs while he is trying to keep you engaged with relevant work (even if you don't feel as though it is).

I've learned that life gets better if you clue your boss into these things and make them an advocate. Before a meeting, not after. Just when you check in with him on work and he says "anything else?", you can reply with "An aside - I met partner X the other day and we have a conversation scheduled to learn more about xyz. Any ideas on questions I could ask/etc?". 90% of bosses, and 99% of good ones will be supportive of you building a network like this. If they're not supportive they're either a bad boss or you really are underperforming to their standard. Both are red flags.

in the first case, schedule the meeting anyways and fuck them, but know that you're going to have to find some way to bring your boss around for your performance review (or write the firm off in the long run).

In the second case, it's time to bust some ass. You shouldn't write off networking but you need to show that you're absolutely dedicated to the job.

Jul 19, 2016 - 2:55am

Hey I was interning in an insurance department at a retail bank and all i did was scanning papers and saving the files in a folder, every day, for four months. Then in my review I've got a comment that I was not interested in the work I did. So, yeah, that's life, suck it up.

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.
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Jul 19, 2016 - 9:28am

Not sure what part is considered "tearing (you) a new one", seems like he was justified in what he said and you need thicker skin. Much MUCH worse is said on a regular basis. Also, those "calls" you want to be part of and listen on are 95% percent worthless. Maybe 5% of what is said in those calls actually has any value, the rest is just going back and forth on trivial shit (in my experience at least). Also, youre an intern, stop thinking that there is work beneath you or not interesting enough, put your head down and finish those pitch books as fast as you can and find ways to become more efficient. The work you described actually sounds pretty interesting and prob more valuable than listening to a bunch of PMs measure dicks.

Jul 19, 2016 - 12:31pm

If he's measuring your value in terms of the number of pitchbooks, then something is wrong. Either the story is fabricated or your boss is a dillhole. You're (presumably) an analyst, not in the presentations department. Yes, pitchbooks are a big part of your job, but no one sets targets for the cumulative number of pitchbooks analysts should have done at a given point in time.

Anyhoo, you're an intern so who cares. Just put the name of your rather large alternative asset manager on your resume, and next fall apply elsewhere and say "I don't want to work in that part of finance, so I decided not to go back". That's the whole point of an internship, both you and the employer have an exit ramp after 10 weeks.

Jul 19, 2016 - 11:07pm

Before I get into my advice, I can tell you that I definitely relate and have had shitty manager during summers before. I worked my Junior summer at a BB and worked with a pretty awful associate who made it pretty clear he didn't care about helping me at all. I kept my head down and worked as hard as I could, but this guy was a fucker. Sometimes you'll get guys like that, I just do my best to take notes and try not to replicate any of the behaviors they've exhibited. Dealing with stuff like this is part of life, so get used to being diplomatic and smart about it.

Now to my advice.

1st off this is a great internship to have before your Junior Year and will set you up nicely if you want to continue on in Finance. So as hard as it is (and I'm not being condescending) try to remember that its a great opportunity and just take the learnings you get.

2nd I would work super hard on all the stuff the Junior PM has assigned you, go back at the end of the week, present it all and then apologize to him and say you're sorry you've been distracted by other meetings etc and that you're really trying to pick everything up quickly, that you want to do better etc etc. So you're probably thinking, why apologize to this guy who is 1. Wrong 2. Someone I dislike/disagree with. The point is that the Junior PM obviously has some insecurities and you'll only make him hate you more by trying to undermine him. Put away you're pride, give him an apology even if it means nothing and he'll feel like he's back in control. Then crush your work and he won't even remember this blip at the end of the summer. Hey and if you're really killing it and the rapport is good, ask for permission from the Junior PM to sit in on a few meetings. Then tell the senior PM how the Junior PM is being a fantastic mentor and how much you love working with him. Then everyone wins. Often times in Finance you need to work the people more than the actual job.

Jul 19, 2016 - 8:13pm

You sound like a little bitch. I got shit on harder than that at 10 years old and I'm your age. He didn't tear into you at all, in fact he did your job for you-prioritized actual work over spectating a meeting.

Jul 20, 2016 - 2:49pm

Just wait until they break a phone or keyboard in front of you!!!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
Jul 22, 2016 - 3:22pm

The guy you pissed off is unhappy with his life. He got angry because your expression of interest in RE reaffirmed the poor choices he made with his career. If you can figure out another decent internship in Boston, consider leaving that firm. If not, hold on for a few more weeks with this jerk but do NOT use him as a reference, ever.

Jul 22, 2016 - 6:18pm

Enter the data, then familiarize yourself with the pitch books afterwards. If the dude that is supposed to help you with your analysis isn't coming to you, go to him. If he is that impossible to get a hold of, go to your boss and make sure you understand the changes he wants. There are going to be plenty of days when you are going to feel shitty at work, it is a part of life, gears are grinded all of the time. Rock the rest of the internship, be thankful, and see if you can get a reference or your boss can help you towards where you want to go.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.
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Jul 25, 2016 - 10:42pm

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