Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Want a Job in Investment Banking

Sometimes, I miss investment banking. Well, not really, just some aspects about the job. The paycheck was nice, and so were some of the perks, but what I really miss is the ridiculousness of others trying to get into the business while I was working there.

As a college graduate from a state school, I really had to differentiate myself throughout the investment banking job application process. I had to create an amazing (amazingly ridiculous, more like) story about why investment banks should hire me. The competition was cut-throat: each bank put candidates through two or three rounds of interview "super days." A super day is a day-long session of interviews with anywhere between five to ten interviews. That means that if you received just one offer from an investment bank, you very likely went through at least twelve interviews to get it. This rigorous selection process may be part of the reason why this job appears to be so glamorous.

Exhibit A: A rare instance captured on film: an investment banker standing in the office. Clearly constipated.
I nearly spent the entire month of October of 2006 traveling back and forth between my university and New York City, on the bank's expense of course, interviewing with nearly every major Wall Street firm. By the end of each super day, I felt like I was a contestant in The Bachelor: either I got the "congratulations" phone call at night, or I didn't and felt like a complete piece of shit. A total rejection. A waste of space on Earth. An incompetent dick who majored in finance and got into the most competitive business-engineering minor program from a top-ten engineering school.

When I received a rejection e-mail or phone call, I often felt so worthless that I would imagine how dreadful life would be in a few months, doing corporate finance at a regular Fortune-500 company that wasn't investment banking. How boring. I cringed. A fire began to grow from the deepest part of my heart. I couldn't let this happen, I'd come from nothing and worked too damn hard to let this drop. I wanted prestige. I wanted to work where the "best" worked.

My hard work eventually paid off, as it typically does. I pushed through the interviews and finally nailed some full-time offers. By August of 2007, I was living the investment banking dream. And it was not everything I'd imagined it to be. As days in my cubicle become weeks and weeks became months, it became increasingly clear this gig was trying its best to keep me miserable. This certainly didn't feel like it was the most-super-awesome-high-flying-job in the history of ever. Looks like I got "got" as they say.

In my misery helping rich people get even richer, I did manage to laugh sometimes at other peoples' expense. I laughed when other college students would send me their resumes and cover letters telling me how fucking amazing they were and how they craved to be in an industry that was glamorous, prestigious and fast-paced. I would go to college career information sessions and laugh my ass off in my head when I would get surrounded by 20-something ivy league undergrads, male and female, asking me anything and everything there was to know about me, what I did, and what I did to get where I was.

"So tell me about the analyst role, is it really as exciting as they showed in the movie?"
My secret, mental response: "Yes. I'm working on some super exciting paperwork and I get to have ridiculous amounts of sex with all of the not-so-hot female secretaries. It's just like the movies man, maybe even crazier. You have to apply!" Not.
"Yes, please do tell. Do you work on live deals? Or just pitches? Have you ever made a financial model that was used for a live deal? How many live deals have you actually worked on?"
I'm thinking, "Here's a deal: shut the fuck up and stop being so annoying. You aren't even good looking, shouldn't you be like, you know, trying harder?" Banking brought out a real ass in me sometimes, I'm not proud of it.
"Is it true that you really work 80 hours a week or more? Is it as exciting as they?"
"Yeah man, don't even get an apartment. Why pay rent for a place you'll never be at when you can impress your managing directors by being at the office before they even get there?" That's really what I should've done.
"You know, as president of the finance club at [insert university here], I designed a finance case study competition based off a deal your bank executed."
"Uh... That's not even a fucking question, bro. Seriously, are you just going to talk about yourself during this whole session? You realize I'm not the one who hires you right? Wait, no, I am. Go get me some coffee - whole milk, one sugar."
I loved meeting super-excited undergrads. I loved it when my firm would hire these bastards as summer interns, they were great: hungry for bitch work and not a peep of a complaint if I tell them to make 30 color copies of something I could easily print from my own printer. I would often put these interns in charge of an entire project while I worked out at the gym. Hey, it didn't matter what sort of work they did because in five days the entire presentation would get shat on anyway by an overly ambitious VP looking for a promotion. Why bother?

A few weeks ago, a managing director forwarded the cover letter below to his analysts. Now, it's making its rounds across all of the banks and has even made it to some newspapers. The writer of this cover letter is an undergraduate from New York University seeking an investment banking job.

You made my day, future miserable asshole.


Anonymous said...

That's not all that you did with your interns - Shash

Sherry said...

It wasn't all bad. I miss the satisfaction i get when i nailed a seamless order <$20.24 (pre tax, pre tip) from a high end sushi place that I'd then eat out of a plastic container at my desk getting soy sauce on all the markups. Oh and the thought that i was getting thinner when in fact the 24 hour sitting in one place was actually just stretching out my waistband. ::sigh::

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! Anyone else notice that he says Morgan Stanley instead of JPM in the bottom of the 3rd paragraph? Whoops! Hope you are doing well :)

-Leigh M

Yo Mista said...

Mmm interns...

Hahaha! Getting free food every night was definitely cool, but not so much when you had to scarf it down as soon as possible out of a plastic container... Thanks for your comment!

Yeah I noticed too... There are actually quite a few grammatical errors in that piece of garbage. I bet this kid still landed an offer. The world sucks. Thanks for your comment!

Yo Mista said...

@ Sherry:
Check this out:

Investment Bankers said...

They represent both sides of the transaction (at least for many of the investors), so ethically there seems to be a conflict of interest in solely seeking the highest selling price. Thanks!!

Joan Price said...

When I was working with J.S. Oliver Capital Management, it always seemed like they were pulling crazy hours. It's so helpful to have people in finances when you're in business, but I'm not sure I could handle what you guys go through!