Things you wish you knew when starting out in IB

Hello All- 

I am starting next week my summer analyst stint with a Bulge Bracket in NYC. NYC is a new city to me, and I have been here for a few days to adjust. I am posting this asking any analyst, associate, or anyone in general for advice that they wish they knew when they were in my shoes. Some questions I have: What is the best way to budget your new finances? How do you adjust to the strenuous work week? Are their any office expectations to know beforehand? How the hell do I make friends in this new city? What is the most satisfying part of the job I'm not concerned with my technical abilities- just my ability to adjust to this new lifestyle. 

Any input whatsoever is granted- even funny things. Thanks everyone!

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (18)

Jun 4, 2021 - 8:16pm

Hope you don't experience this but there are times when you work for a horrid senior analyst/associate that will publicly attempt to make you look bad or throw you under the bus for illogical reasons.

While to a certain extent you "suck it up" for the first few months. After that, you need to be able to politely but forcefully pushback otherwise its easy to become their punching bag (don't expect seniors to defend you).

Array
  • 3
Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Jun 6, 2021 - 7:17am

1) best way to budget your new finances - as a summer, just make sure you're able to pay rent and don't bother trying to impress people by going out to the nice spots as that'll be a drain on your account real quick

2) How to adjust to your strenuous work week - nothing much you can do to prepare for this but just take all the shit with a smile and you'll honestly get used to the hours after a few days. Not ideal but it is what it is and you've got to adapt

3) Office expectations - each office has its own dynamics but you'll be best served remembering that IB is super hierarchal so make sure you adhere to that the best you can. Feel it out during your first couple weeks and adjust accordingly.

4) Friends in new city - honestly this is tough unless you know people. Go out with your roommates and meet their friends. Go to a bar and chat up groups if you're comfortable doing so. Hang out with fellow interns. The city can be lonely forsure so make every effort to meet and socialize even if it's beyond your comfort zone. It'll only behoove you going forward

5) Most satisfying part is too subjective. You've made it to where you want to be. For me that was enough and I was happy taking shit for it. For some it's different and you may get off on telling people what you do. Everyone is different but certainly make sure you are happy internally as it's critical to your mental health. 

  • 3
Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 6, 2021 - 10:31am

There's a different set of tips for starting out and for being an employee/ once you've done the job for 6 months. For starting out I think I'd stress the below:

  1. People mentioned how hierarchal it is, but it's worse than that. You need to understand the dynamic you are walking into. Most people in the industry (and especially analysts) are super sleep deprived, competitive, and constantly facing stressful bs from people above them in the chain. As a result, many people are looking for reasons to hate individuals and be angry. So, when starting out, you want to make sure you are careful to not give people reasons to hate you. This can mean at times doing something that makes 0 sense or is wrong just because someone above you told you that's the way it's done. It also can mean not pushing back or just accepting that you are going to do a task that is deeply irrational. The industry doesn't work based on good ideas or being as efficient as possible, what matters more is respecting the hierarchy. The hierarchy really looks like this: summer intern>analyst>associate>vp>Director>MD>client. Remember where you are as an intern and remember also that you will not get brownie points for jumping the chain and looking smart to a VP. Instead, your goal in this job is exclusively to make the person directly above you in the chain look as smart as possible. If you are smarter than the person directly above you or try to "show off", they might and likely will resent it, so you need to remember the dynamic and at times you may even need to dumb yourself down in order to avoid conflict.
  2. Goes with the above, but this job is client services. Starting out you are in client services as well. Your client is not the client-your client is the analyst/associate/ MD on your deal. I've heard the expression, "eat your shit with a smile" and you need to do this. Don't ever complain, be positive, and treat the people you directly work with like they are a client. Mirror their behavior and dynamic, but also be very careful to never offend them. So, go easy on the college stories, details about your personal life, etc.
  3. Your work colleagues are not your friends. This one is hard and brutal, but very true. This website and what you have heard about camaraderie in the bullpen can make it seem like you will be buddies with other interns and analysts. Unfortunately, a harsh lesson is you can't be friends with work colleagues. The reason being, people in IB are very competitive and ultimately you all will be competing for being top versus middle versus not bottom bucket. Someone severely struggling might resent those doing well, someone doing really well might resent those who aren't putting in as much work. This creates a weird dynamic. Also, you don't know the lengths at which people will go. I.e. someone could pump drinks into you so you get drunk then later comment to a VP about how you got sloppy at a happy hour. Or, you could mention how you are getting railed on a current project and they might later talk to a director about how you were complaining about the job. You need to keep your guard up because I promise at least one of your fellow interns/ analysts will act like this. 
  4. Every office kinda sucks, but if you get in a really bad office leave ASAP. I had my internship in an office that was abusive. What this means is behavior like name calling, a general lack of respect, extreme Facetime (everywhere has this to a degree, even if they claim they don't), and a culture of people not helping one another out and an indifference and at times even enjoyment, of the hazing aspects of the industry. Not all offices/ groups are like this. The point of this job upon entering is to become a confident finance professional. If you spend 2 years constantly getting undermined and abused, you will lose self-esteem and I would argue the job will not be worth it. 
  5. Sleep does weird things to your brain. Be very careful and make sure you acknowledge when you are sleep deprived. I remember during my internship I had slept 3 hours over the span of 4 days and I looked at an open window and thought about jumping out. I'm not an unhappy or depressed person /  the behavior was completely unlike anything I had ever experienced. Lack of sleep combined with the stress of this job can cause weird emotions so, be careful.
  6. Since interns or really new analysts aren't going to be given responsibility to do real analysis, your performance starting out is largely going to be defined/ evaluated on two things 1) your attitude 2) Your ability to create a deliverable without any errors. 2 means that your performance will quite literally be based on you having a period or not having a period in a footnote, or having a blurry logo or incorrect page numbers. It's stupid, but that's what people will be looking for when evaluating you-"did this intern remember to double check for periods in footnotes etc." 
  7. On the above, it's also important to note: reputations become self fulfilling. Developing a personal brand is really important and can largely define your experience in the job. If you make errors early on, you can be classified as the sloppy intern and people will look harder for mistakes when receiving work from you which will have them finding more mistakes and this goes in a circle. It's much easier if early on you set a reputation for being the person who doesn't have errors or who is always on their game.
  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 6, 2021 - 7:53pm

You can't be friends with your work colleagues? Jesus, man! Show me who hurt you?

I am not saying banking it's a sorority where you try to like each other, or at least fake like you like everyone but you can absolutely make good friends in banking.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 6, 2021 - 10:59pm

You can't be friends with your work colleagues? Jesus, man! Show me who hurt you?

I am not saying banking it's a sorority where you try to like each other, or at least fake like you like everyone but you can absolutely make good friends in banking.

I have ex colleagues who I am friends with, i.e. you become friends after working together, I also have friends in alternate groups who I was friends with during my stint. But no-you can't be friends with work colleagues, it's a truth of the working world in finance. You can be friendly and still have great conversations with people, but they aren't truly your friend until you don't have conflicting interests and you interact with them post work.

Edit: I will die on this hill-the people monkey shitting just haven't been in the industry long enough, the advice I'm giving isn't jaded, it's pretty understood by older individuals and something younger kids learn over time.

Funniest
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 7, 2021 - 3:51am

You can't be friends with your work colleagues? Jesus, man! Show me who hurt you?

I am not saying banking it's a sorority where you try to like each other, or at least fake like you like everyone but you can absolutely make good friends in banking.

I have ex colleagues who I am friends with, i.e. you become friends after working together, I also have friends in alternate groups who I was friends with during my stint. But no-you can't be friends with work colleagues, it's a truth of the working world in finance. You can be friendly and still have great conversations with people, but they aren't truly your friend until you don't have conflicting interests and you interact with them post work.

Edit: I will die on this hill-the people monkey shitting just haven't been in the industry long enough, the advice I'm giving isn't jaded, it's pretty understood by older individuals and something younger kids learn over time.

Lmfao ok 1st year analyst. 

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jun 6, 2021 - 11:19pm

Do you have experience with people you were friends with in college who are in you bank/group?

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

June 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (205) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (116) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (97) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (27) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (424) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (340) $82