Not "social" enough for banking in top group, top BB

673421's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hey guys, I'm gal at a target school, and will be at a BB this summer. To be honest, my biggest worry recruiting and now about to work in banking is that I might not be the right type of "social" (i.e. sorority girl, parties on weekends, gets along well with "bros"..etc stereotypes). Throughout my life, I've held a lot of top leadership positions and made a lot of impact by being professional, dedicated, and effective. I'm fairly confident in my intellect/abilities, but sometimes feel painfully awkward (had a really tough past), or just don't "connect" in that friend-type way with bankers a few years my senior. Has anyone else felt this way/relate?

There's lot of discussion here about being an "interesting person", and being "hardworking" - and along with being "effective" I probably have some of the most interesting activities/qualities/great work ethic - but sometimes there just seems to be an indescribable metric encompassed by "culture" that is hard to pinpoint, hard to fix, and maybe arguably not worth changing. I have a lot of dreams (in business, banking, or a top PE shop...etc) but sometimes just that "you're-not-one-of-us" look is very hard to overcome.

Anyone able to weigh in?

Comments (43)

Mar 29, 2013

Are you hot?

    • 5
Mar 29, 2013
Raptor.45:

Are you hot?

the answer to this will essentially determine your future

Mar 29, 2013

Honestly, people tend to say "cute"

Mar 29, 2013

Honestly, people tend to say "cute". In a Marissa Meyer type way?

    • 1
Mar 29, 2013
673421:

but sometimes feel painfully awkward (had a really tough past), or just don't "connect" in that friend-type way with bankers a few years my senior. Has anyone else felt this way/relate?

Anyone able to weigh in?

You need to just get over that and figure out how to connect with people. You're not better than them.

    • 3
Mar 29, 2013

You will be fine in banking as long as you pull your weight. There is obviously a bit of a bro culture, but this isn't S&T.

Mar 29, 2013

Social skills can be taught and being awkward socially can be overcome. It takes effort and practice just like anything else you want to be good at. You just have to make yourself be social, even if you're faking.

I think a couple of the books by Neil Strauss are great. He has a book entitled the pickup artist which is mainly about his story in learning to pick up girls, but he also talks about how he became a better person and better at social settings in general.

Mar 29, 2013
Quazie:

Social skills can be taught and being awkward socially can be overcome. It takes effort and practice just like anything else you want to be good at. You just have to make yourself be social, even if you're faking.

I think a couple of the books by Neil Strauss are great. He has a book entitled the pickup artist which is mainly about his story in learning to pick up girls, but he also talks about how he became a better person and better at social settings in general.

OP is female.. I don't think Strauss' book relates well to females.

Mar 30, 2013

I guess the picture and I'm a gal would give that away. Sadly, I missed both of those key indicators. There was a good article on being a dinner whore today. You could try that?

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Best Response
Mar 29, 2013

I know 3 girls from UChicago--the end all be all of "not the right type of 'social'" you mentioned--and they all killed it and got return offers from top groups in BB's (think JPM/GS/MS, and all three were at the same bank in different groups). Don't worry about it. Let your work do the talking, but don't be afraid to socialize. You don't have to fit right into the bro culture, but don't isolate yourself from your fellow interns either. It's a balance. Go in confident and get the job done and don't worry about these other things essentially out of your control.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

    • 2
Mar 29, 2013

If you can have a casual conversation without shitting your pants you'll be fine. They're hiring analysts, not friends. Being an alchoholic isn't a requirement to succeed in banking, it's more of a side effect. If your group goes for drinks after work, it's totally fine to have a water or a coke or something and just hang out. But you should go to those even if you aren't drinking.

Actually I think it's a plus if you're not a substance abuser. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum - big cokehead, good friends with lucy and molly, the works. I hack up lung cookies that deserve their own god damn area codes. I def keep that part of my life on the DL at work, and it would certainly not be viewed as a positive if people knew. Nobody trusts drug addicts, and this business is built on trust.

Worry about doing your job right, not if your personal life is acceptable to your co-workers. People care about the former, not the latter.

Furthermore - there's a bigger point here. The job is just a job. It's a means to an end. A way to support yourself. If you start changing yourself or start to feel uncomfortable with yourself because you as a human being don't fit the expections of the bank, then what's the point of the whole endeavor? You're you first, and an employee second. Don't forget that - it's surprisingly easy to.

    • 1
Apr 5, 2013
NYCbandar:

If you can have a casual conversation without shitting your pants you'll be fine. They're hiring analysts, not friends. Being an alchoholic isn't a requirement to succeed in banking, it's more of a side effect. If your group goes for drinks after work, it's totally fine to have a water or a coke or something and just hang out. But you should go to those even if you aren't drinking.

Actually I think it's a plus if you're not a substance abuser. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum - big cokehead, good friends with lucy and molly, the works. I hack up lung cookies that deserve their own god damn area codes. I def keep that part of my life on the DL at work, and it would certainly not be viewed as a positive if people knew. Nobody trusts drug addicts, and this business is built on trust.

Worry about doing your job right, not if your personal life is acceptable to your co-workers. People care about the former, not the latter.

Furthermore - there's a bigger point here. The job is just a job. It's a means to an end. A way to support yourself. If you start changing yourself or start to feel uncomfortable with yourself because you as a human being don't fit the expections of the bank, then what's the point of the whole endeavor? You're you first, and an employee second. Don't forget that - it's surprisingly easy to.

This is key. I've been in finance now for 4 years and banking for 3 (senior analyst). I'm not a girl, and while I wouldn't describe myself as socially awkward, I was definitey not a "bro" type in school. I find that a big reason I'm leaving banking (and possibly finance in general) is because the culture/who you interact with on a day to day basis ends up playing too big a part in your life in an hours-heavy job to ignore or brush aside.

I can't stand a lot of people I've had to work with over the years, and no matter how interesting I find certain aspects of the job, an environment that you don't enjoy can rapidly and completely overshadow that intellectual/analytic portion of the job.

I completley agree with NYCbandar - not "fitting in" entirely won't at all preclude you from being a competitive candidate for these positions. But, comign from someone who has been in similar shoes, don't feel compelled to change who you are to fit in at a job that you might not end up liking that much anyways because you have an idealistic expectation of what your career may look like if you just "suck it up." Obviously, experience will verify how much you ultimately enjoy it. My 2 cents is: when you do get this experience on-the-job, don't ignore your internal compass if it's telling you that this environment isn't for you. It'll just cause more suffering later on. It's MUCH better to find this out sooner rather than later, when you're committed with family/kid obligations, etc, and you're stuck in a career you don't enjoy for your entire working life.

Happy to elaborate on this more if you want to pm me.

Apr 5, 2013
echox][quote=NYCbandar:

This is key. I've been in finance now for 4 years and banking for 3 (senior analyst). I'm not a girl, and while I wouldn't describe myself as socially awkward, I was definitey not a "bro" type in school. I find that a big reason I'm leaving banking (and possibly finance in general) is because the culture/who you interact with on a day to day basis ends up playing too big a part in your life in an hours-heavy job to ignore or brush aside.

I would counter this by saying not every group is very fratty, though the majority may be, every group has different cultures (unfortunately I had to do so much interviewing to break-in, I figured this out). You just have to find one where the analysts are a good fit with your personality and you get along well with them.

Apr 6, 2013
echox:
NYCbandar:

If you can have a casual conversation without shitting your pants you'll be fine. They're hiring analysts, not friends. Being an alchoholic isn't a requirement to succeed in banking, it's more of a side effect. If your group goes for drinks after work, it's totally fine to have a water or a coke or something and just hang out. But you should go to those even if you aren't drinking.

Actually I think it's a plus if you're not a substance abuser. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum - big cokehead, good friends with lucy and molly, the works. I hack up lung cookies that deserve their own god damn area codes. I def keep that part of my life on the DL at work, and it would certainly not be viewed as a positive if people knew. Nobody trusts drug addicts, and this business is built on trust.

Worry about doing your job right, not if your personal life is acceptable to your co-workers. People care about the former, not the latter.

Furthermore - there's a bigger point here. The job is just a job. It's a means to an end. A way to support yourself. If you start changing yourself or start to feel uncomfortable with yourself because you as a human being don't fit the expections of the bank, then what's the point of the whole endeavor? You're you first, and an employee second. Don't forget that - it's surprisingly easy to.

This is key. I've been in finance now for 4 years and banking for 3 (senior analyst). I'm not a girl, and while I wouldn't describe myself as socially awkward, I was definitey not a "bro" type in school. I find that a big reason I'm leaving banking (and possibly finance in general) is because the culture/who you interact with on a day to day basis ends up playing too big a part in your life in an hours-heavy job to ignore or brush aside.

I can't stand a lot of people I've had to work with over the years, and no matter how interesting I find certain aspects of the job, an environment that you don't enjoy can rapidly and completely overshadow that intellectual/analytic portion of the job.

I completley agree with NYCbandar - not "fitting in" entirely won't at all preclude you from being a competitive candidate for these positions. But, comign from someone who has been in similar shoes, don't feel compelled to change who you are to fit in at a job that you might not end up liking that much anyways because you have an idealistic expectation of what your career may look like if you just "suck it up." Obviously, experience will verify how much you ultimately enjoy it. My 2 cents is: when you do get this experience on-the-job, don't ignore your internal compass if it's telling you that this environment isn't for you. It'll just cause more suffering later on. It's MUCH better to find this out sooner rather than later, when you're committed with family/kid obligations, etc, and you're stuck in a career you don't enjoy for your entire working life.

Happy to elaborate on this more if you want to pm me.

Yeah, I would say that the microclimate of your immediate goup/co-workers matters a lot. My team, for example, isn't what I'd call "fratty," we're a bunch of goofy nerds that likes to go for a beer together once in a while before going our seperate ways for the night. We enjoy each others' company and like to make like, topical jokes with each other about our business/transactions, but it's not fratty and the culture works for me. Some groups are outright fratty - hitting strip clubs together, constant dick and fart jokes, going out all night together... and that works for some people. Other groups are much more buttoned up - you show up, quietly do your work, and leave. That works for some people too. I don't think that ibanking as a rule is "fratty" I think you have to put a lot of thought into the microculture, You're going to be spending a lot of time with your team, make sure their culture works for you. Within a bank the culture between teams, even teams that sit right next to each other, is like night and day. For your own sanity and long term success in the industry, it'simportant that you are honest with yourself about what you want early in your career, and gravitate toward the teams that function that way.

Apr 5, 2013
NYCbandar:

Furthermore - there's a bigger point here. The job is just a job. It's a means to an end. A way to support yourself. If you start changing yourself or start to feel uncomfortable with yourself because you as a human being don't fit the expections of the bank, then what's the point of the whole endeavor? You're you first, and an employee second. Don't forget that - it's surprisingly easy to.

Here, here. Love the way you put that.

Mar 29, 2013

Just wait to see what happens, do not automatically shoot yourself down. I am still in college myself and do not have experience in banking but all I can say is just wait and see what happens. Maybe it works out better than you think.

Mps721

Mar 29, 2013

You will be a different person after your summer analyst stint, you will be a different person after a year of full time work experience, etc ... I'm sure you have had other internships in the past but the "real world" has a funny way of pulling the confidence and personality out of you, if you rise to the occasion.

Mar 29, 2013

You will be broken to the point of tears on more than one occasion. We all do. It's about sucking it up. Being social just boils down to talking to people here and there. I don't know of too many 'bro' cultures on the sell side. It's not like they wear short shorts and heckle women. Bankers are nerdy kids with the occasional frat bro. You will be fine. Just watch your weight.

Mar 29, 2013

Females rarely don't get an offer as there is a strong positive discrimination

Mar 29, 2013

Bankers are a bunch of damn nerds. There's far fewer "bros" than you'd imagine and there are definitely normal people that work in the industry. Problem is, a combination of working in the industry and living in NYC turns them into egomaniacs and assholes.

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.

Mar 29, 2013
rickyross:

Bankers are a bunch of damn nerds. There's far fewer "bros" than you'd imagine and there are definitely normal people that work in the industry. Problem is, a combination of working in the industry and living in NYC turns them into egomaniacs and assholes.

This.

Mar 29, 2013

Do yourself a favor and buy the book "7 Habits of Highly Successful People"

It will change your social life, I guarantee it.

Mar 29, 2013

I can't tell if these "I'm a girl but blah blah blah" posts are serious or just dudes with too much free time trolling

Mar 29, 2013
JDawg:

I can't tell if these "I'm a girl but blah blah blah" posts are serious or just dudes with too much free time trolling

Yeah I see a lot of posts on WSO that I can't tell if it's trolling or not. I just try to take everything at face value and give good, heartfelt responses. That way I figure if it is a troll, they'll feel bad for "trolling" people that are just trying to help people out and maybe not do it again.

Plus, these threads get read by people other than OP, so maybe those silent readers will take something away from my responses.

Mar 29, 2013
NYCbandar:
JDawg:

I can't tell if these "I'm a girl but blah blah blah" posts are serious or just dudes with too much free time trolling

Yeah I see a lot of posts on WSO that I can't tell if it's trolling or not. I just try to take everything at face value and give good, heartfelt responses. That way I figure if it is a troll, they'll feel bad for "trolling" people that are just trying to help people out and maybe not do it again.

Plus, these threads get read by people other than OP, so maybe those silent readers will take something away from my responses.

I used to be that way too. But, recently I told some kid who got a job he was excited about my conspiracy theory that he was a promoter of a website that he recommended that helped him. Total dick move.

Mar 29, 2013

if a book changes your social life you're not doing it right...

    • 1
Mar 29, 2013
BunkerBuster:

if a book changes your social life you're not doing it right...

+1, might be the best first post of all time ... you're batting 100% on SBs/Posts

Mar 29, 2013

Hey, thank you all so much for your awesome advice, and reassurance. I bought "7 Habits" and I'm definitely just going to go in and do a great job. I love talking with people and I'm generally very upbeat and energetic; as for the rest you're right, I'll focus on work, probably change a lot this summer, and "fake it till I become it".

Does anyone know much from a buy-side perspective?

Mar 29, 2013
673421:

Does anyone know much from a buy-side perspective?

I interned as a research associate at a fund this summer. The buy-side is much more of a "wild wild west" in terms of culture due to buy-side firms being smaller and therefore far less/lower quality HR/oversight. As a result, people get away with a more subtle version of a sort of "old wall street" hazing, misogyny, etc. There are things people do and say at small buy-side shops that they could never get away with at a big bank with modern high quality HR. I won't go into any more details however.

Mar 31, 2013
Raptor.45:
673421:

Does anyone know much from a buy-side perspective?

I interned as a research associate at a fund this summer. The buy-side is much more of a "wild wild west" in terms of culture due to buy-side firms being smaller and therefore far less/lower quality HR/oversight. As a result, people get away with a more subtle version of a sort of "old wall street" hazing, misogyny, etc. There are things people do and say at small buy-side shops that they could never get away with at a big bank with modern high quality HR. I won't go into any more details however.

There's a lot of illegal shit going on at some buy-side firms that has nothing to do with profit.

Mar 30, 2013

OP, my advice to you based on my experience last summer is to work on your shortcomings before you start. Ibanking workspace is a competitive workspace and interns, from my experience, were under constant scrutiny. It's mostly juniors doing all the judging and such, but it depends on the culture at the end of the day. Also, just be humble, smile and work hard. Don't say too much or the wrong thing and do your best to connect with people on a casual basis when going for coffee and such. It's all easier said than done but you have to play the game as well as you can.

P.S - I hear there are social coaches nowadays, maybe see one before you start?

All the best!

Mar 30, 2013

It has been said already, but the most important thing is your work. I'd rather have a socially awkward analyst that I can depend on, than a bro or outgoing sorority girl I can grab beers with, but who can't be trusted with the simplest of tasks on my deal team.

Try and overcome the social awkwardness as much as possible, as cultural fit is huge. It would almost certainly be a deciding factor in hiring if your work product is equal to that of a more social peer, but it's nothing to stress yourself about.

Mar 31, 2013

top groups at top BBs are overflowing with nerds/geeks. not sure why you would think they are especially social.

Apr 5, 2013

Any thoughts on how Booth really stacks up against Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford in the recruiting world? Businessweek ranks Booth the #1 Full-Time program this year, but I find it hard to believe that, all else being equal, a Booth grad gets picked over a Harvard grad. The prestige factor that comes along with a Harvard MBA has to tip the scale in that direction. Thoughts?

    • 1
Apr 5, 2013

Just as a quick follow up: keep in mind that almost all the responses in this post are suggesting that you change who you are to fit in at a job. That, unfortunately, is the type of culture that banking tends to breed, and tends to create a banking archetype that is, in my experience, very often incredibly close minded and incapable of thinking outside of the box (regardless of what they say in interviews, position descriptions). If you don't fit the mold, there is a good chance this sort of work will be more difficult for you regardless of your intellectual prowess.

Think critically if this sort of an environment is really a good thing.

Apr 5, 2013
echox:

Just as a quick follow up: keep in mind that almost all the responses in this post are suggesting that you change who you are to fit in at a job. That, unfortunately, is the type of culture that banking tends to breed, and tends to create a banking archetype that is, in my experience, very often incredibly close minded and incapable of thinking outside of the box (regardless of what they say in interviews, position descriptions). If you don't fit the mold, there is a good chance this sort of work will be more difficult for you regardless of your intellectual prowess.

Think critically if this sort of an environment is really a good thing.

Ibanking is not the kind of job a lot of people love from having worked in this industry before. Most people were always miserable and depressed under the surface. I would suggest you choose what you enjoy doing over the whole finance thing if you are not enjoying it at all and you feel like you do not fit in. I agree with echox comments above.

Apr 5, 2013

I'm a bro and a banker too. When I'm not grindin', i like to pump. You should too. It will pump...you uP.

Apr 8, 2013
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Apr 12, 2013