March 30, 2020

Battle-Tested Tips For Summer Interns & New Graduates — 2019 Edition

Summer internship season is once again in full swing. And while it may be true that finance is no longer the default destination of our best, brightest, and most ambitious, there’s a lot to be said for cutting your teeth for a summer on Wall Street.

These firms invest a significant amount of resources in developing and training prospective analysts, providing them with guidance and mentorship, and exposing them to some of the most aggressive, motivated, and intelligent people on the planet.

And irrespective of what eventual career path you choose, succeeding in such a cut-throat and competitive environment is not only great validation, it can be leveraged to land the job or career path you really want.

So, for the sake of your future, here’s the knowledge and tips you actually need (that most people are afraid to tell you) to turn any internship into a full-time position:

  • Chill with the exclamation points in emails. “Sure thing!!” “Will do!!” “Let me know if u need anything else!!”
  • If your boss smokes, smoke. Stocking up on creme brulee JUUL pods could mean an extra hour of daily one-on-one face time.
  • People like talking about themselves, so ask questions that get them in their comfort zone. A big part of your first impression is how you make people feel about themselves.
  • Read more or find someone who does and steal their ideas. Bloomberg’s Money Stuff and The Water Coolest newsletters are great places to start.
  • Show some leadership by organizing drinks and nights out with fellow interns; get them wasted.
  • Go to the gym. Intern hours are a walk in the park and no one actually prefers a dadbod.
  • Leave a jacket on the back of your desk chair so people can never be 100% sure if you’ve left early for the day or are taking a long lunch.
  • Get everything — suits, jackets, dress shirts, pants, jeans — tailored.
  • While you are at it, keep a tie rolled up in your drawer.
  • Take it off your LinkedIn profile. It’s pathetic.
  • Keep your shoes shiny, but don’t let anyone see you having your shoes shined. You have to earn it.
  • Buy at least three decent suits. Keep it simple and conservative; if a suit has too much flair, the only thing people will see is how often you wear it.
  • Don’t wear Hermes ties. You have to earn it.
  • If you are exchanging “stock tips” with friends at other firms, don’t buy short-dated, out-of-the-money call options.
  • Be discreet about social media, especially your Finance Instagram (Arbitrage Andy, Litquidity, NYFB, etc.) submissions.
  • Don’t wear a tie unless you have to. And learn how to tie a decent half Windsor knot.
  • Email as if the “Reply to All” function does not exist. And if your email says, “Please see attached,” there better be an attachment.
  • Shut up about where you go to college. Decent credentials are a given.
  • Let your boss set the tempo when it comes to rowdy nights out. Don’t be afraid to join in; just make sure you’re first one in the next morning.
  • It’s impossible to compete with female interns. And it’s not cool. So don’t bother trying.
  • Show some leadership by organizing drinks and nights out with fellow interns; get them wasted.
  • When a fellow intern leaves his desk, change his screen to Rolex.com, TMZ.com, or HuffingtonPost.com
  • Come up with dismissive and condescending nicknames for fellow interns (Chico, Fredo, Bubba, etc.). Hope that they catch on.
  • Leave the canvas bags at the ofice. You just look like a douche.
  • When a fellow intern leaves his computer unlocked at the end of the day, change the signature on his email settings. Using white font, add any variety of obscene words. No one will see it… except for IT and HR.
  • Don’t be too good to do the coffee runs. It shows confidence. Just don’t screw it up. If you can’t be trusted with coffee, how can you sell bonds or manage risk.
  • Sure, “be proactive” and “ask questions,” but don’t get in the way and make someone else’s life harder in the process.
  • Ask the secretary for the travel schedules of the senior members of the team for the week ahead. Now you know when you can sleep in, hit the gym, or beat the traffic to the Hamptons.

  • Never tell the first offensive joke, but always have a good one saved up for when your seniors finally trust you enough to share one of theirs.
  • Don’t brag about being a decent golfer. This should be a given.
  • Don’t offer to buy drinks when out with your seniors; you can’t afford them and it won’t score any points.
  • Sleep with a fellow intern, and tell the Associates about it. If they haven’t ever done it, they’ve always wanted to. Hurry up before she becomes the married LatAm MDs summer girlfriend.
  • Acknowledge the Caddyshack and Fletch references, but don’t make any yourself. You have to earn it.
  • It’s okay to make a mistake or ask a question. But don’t ever ask the same question or make the same mistake twice. If you do, just know that the world needs ditch diggers too.

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John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator, the founder of a fashion line, a podcast host, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals, currently in development as a major motion picture.

John LeFevre

John LeFevre

Former banker (NYC, London, HK), social media character (GSElevator), and bestselling author (Straight To Hell)

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