So, What Will I Do As An Investment Banking Summer Analyst (Besides Get Abused)?

60 Comments | Investment Banking - Summer Internships

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At the top levels investment bankers are just miniature versions of Ari Gold.

But are summer interns just miniature versions of Lloyd?

Is the internship just a matter of getting abused repeatedly, fetching coffee and running around fixing printers? Or do you ever get to do anything interesting (or NOT use Excel in a given day)?

I’m afraid you’ll be buried in Excel most days. So forget about that one for now.

But what you’ll be doing as a Summer Analyst is very simple: you’ll be acting as a full-time Analyst who just started, except you’re only there for a few months.

Types Of Work: Deals, Pitches, And Random Stuff

There are three types of work as an Analyst: 1) working on actual transactions where a company is going to get sold or buy someone else or raise money, 2) pitching for those transactions, and my personal favorite, 3) the random stuff category.

As you might have surmised from this site, you want to be doing the most of #1 and as little of #2 and #3 as possible. Deal experience will be the most important part of your private equity resume, and will be the key point of all your interviews for other exit opportunities as well.

As a Summer Analyst, you won’t get as much deal experience as a full-timer would, simply because you’re only there for a few months. It’s extremely rare for a deal to start and finish in only 2-3 months; normally it takes 6 to 12 months or even years (yes, it’s harder to close a deal than it is to have a child).

So senior bankers will be reluctant to staff you on as many deals as the full-time Analysts.

Still, even as a Summer Analyst you should try to work on deals as much as possible. If you interview at other places in the fall, deal experience will be the best kind to speak about.

Why You Should Avoid Pitches And Random Stuff

There’s a misconception out there that deals are all “real work” and that pitching to win deals and doing random administrative tasks is “grunt work.”

I hate to disappoint, but this is not true. Everything you do as an Analyst has a high degree of “grunt work” in it. On deals, you do a lot of meeting scheduling, note taking, and formatting Excel files and presentations so there’s “stupid work,” even on transactions.

The real reason you should avoid pitches and random stuff is because they are not good to talk about in interviews.

Many pitches will only take up a few days, and random administrative tasks such as doing research on companies or pulling reports for senior bankers take up even less time.

It’s very difficult to make work that only took up a few days sound significant in interviews, and if you do too many of these, you end up sounding like you were a glorified secretary (which, let’s face it, sometimes you are).

Ok, So Those Are The Types Of Work… But What Will I DO?!

Within those wonderful 3 categories of deals, pitches, and random stuff, there are 4 main tasks an Analyst will complete on a daily basis:

  1. Excel work. Valuing companies or modeling a merger or acquisition or financing.  Sometimes it goes beyond this, but that’s the bread and butter of what you do in Excel.
  2. Writing (PowerPoint or Word).  For pitches you’ll write slides on industry trends, executive summaries and explanations of your analysis… for deals you will create marketing documents that “sell” your client in Word or PowerPoint.
  3. Research.  This can be finding reports for senior bankers, doing industry research, or Googling for hours on end trying to find the adoption rate of cell phones in a southern province of Kazakhstan.
  4. Administrative Tasks.  I hope you like scheduling meetings, taking notes, and sending out status updates to your team, because you’ll be doing a lot of that.

As a Summer Analyst, you won’t be doing too much writing of documents.  You’ll spend your time mostly supporting full-time Analysts – that’s especially true when the market is poor and there’s not enough work to go around.

What You Should Be Trying To Do

You want to focus on #1 – Excel work – during your internship.  Push to learn as much modeling and valuation as you can – those are the best topics to talk about during an interview.

Volunteer as much as possible and push to do as much Excel work as humanly possible – you may get lucky one day and have some bleary-eyed, full-time Analyst who has pulled one too many all-nighters ask you to do an LBO model for him.

If you have a deadline, you’ll find a way to make it work and you’ll learn a lot in the process.

What NOT To Do As A Summer Analyst

Every year there are always a few lazy summer interns who try to leave at 6 PM every day without doing anything substantial.

What do you think this is, a normal job?

If you do this you will be pigeonholed into constantly doing stupid work, like administrative tasks and stuff that has nothing to do with finance.

So don’t be that guy – or that girl.

There are some other Summer Analyst Tips as well, but in general be extremely eager and don’t say/do anything stupid.  Remember that saying that “there are no stupid questions”?

That is not true in banking.  So don’t ask any.

If you have any questions at all, always ask another Summer Analyst first, then a full-time Analyst.  Resist the temptation to go up the chain because you will regret it when the Associate or VP laughs at your question on how to format something in Excel (and then decides not to give you a full-time offer).

Learn To Deal, And Learn To Model

That sums up what you want to do as a Summer Analyst: deals and modeling.  And if you do get stuck doing lots of admin work, get out… as soon as possible.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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60 Comments to “So, What Will I Do As An Investment Banking Summer Analyst (Besides Get Abused)?”

Comments

  1. hi says

    Being a full time analyst is pretty bad, but nothing can compare to being a summer analyst. Not only are you the lap dog for the MDs, Directors, VPs, and associates, but to top it off you are essentially the 2nd and 3rd year analysts’ bitch for the entire summer.

    That’s right – you are going to be working MORE as a summer intern than as a full time analyst. You aren’t going to be staffed on one or two deals, you are going to be staffed on anything. Did the person you’ve been working with the past week go home early because by some stroke of God the VP didn’t spring some BS last minute change on him at the last minute? That’s great, right? You can go home early too… until you see the 2nd year managing analyst stroll in and tell you to do research something for him that he may or may not read 3 months from now.

    The hardest part about this whole ordeal is definitely the managing analysts. It’s pretty easy to know your role and stfu when it comes to dealing with associate and above. But when you have to listen to someone that is one year older than you talking about how easy you have it, and how back in their day things were much tougher and you actually had to work hard for your bonus, it really takes some serious restraint not to slap them in the face.

    • says

      That’s very true – you do get a lot of “managing analysts” in the summer. :) That is why I try to never abuse summer interns, in fact I often do a lot of work myself just because it’s faster and I hate checking work even more than doing work.

      • Spencer Crawford says

        You sound like a great mentor and I love reading your articles. I’m a new subscriber and I was wondering if there are any summer internships available that you are offering for your company or if you could provide me with a connection for one. I’m a finance and economics double major with a 3.9 and a lot of enthusiasm and diligence. I would love to work for you!

  2. totaln00b says

    Thanks for the article.

    About that returning offer and asking questions. I’ve been told that it’s good to keep asking questions… But, I annoyed the HR person by asking apparently too many questions, before the start of my summer internship. They gave me some constructive criticism in a formal email, and I apologized and recognized my error. I’m afraid that this might destroy my chances at a full time offer… it seems terrible to be known as the “over-eager person who asks too many questions”. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Yeah I would be careful about asking too many questions… sometimes it can get annoying.

      Honestly it won’t affect your chances of a FT offer at all – they will forget about it by then, so I would focus on doing well during your internship and you should be fine.

      • hi says

        For the FT offer and offers in general, is it true that it’s a collective group decision, or just one person (ie. the staffer) that decides? In which case, is HR just there to collect all your responses and tally up the ‘yes’ and ‘no’s? Perhaps this varies from bank to bank…Thanks.

        • says

          It’s a group decision, never made by just 1 person. HR basically just collects response, they don’t know anything and can’t make decisions because they have not actually worked with the interns.

          For summer interns, everyone who worked with them will weigh in on whether or not to give them FT offers – even Analysts can have a large impact on a yes/no decision because they often work most closely with summer interns!

  3. jarrick says

    so since summer analysts do so much work like full time analysts do they get paid around the same amount. I read somewhere that summer analysts at BB banks get a prorated salary of a regular analyst for those three months plus a housing allowance. Is this true? Also, are internships done after sophomore year and junior year of college? How competitive is it to get an internship at a BB?

    I know I’m asking a lot of questions in one post so thank you in advance for your time

    • says

      yes its generally pro-rated so you might make $10-$15K. Housing allowances can vary.

      yes, after 2nd/3rd year of university… and it’s quite tough to get one, especially in a poor economy. You need really good internships, strong resume, and great interview skills… and a lot of networking if you’re not at a top school

  4. intern says

    Great blog! Have been following it for the past 5-6 months. Very helpful.

    One question though. I have BB internship to start 3 months and I was wondering, what’s the best way to practice spreading comps ?
    In my previous internship I didn’t really have the chance to spread comps from scratch while some interns did this on a daily basis.

    Do you think a modeling online package can be of any help ? (and for modeling in general)

    Any help is appreciated. Thx.

    • says

      It can be, but if you just want practice with comps it’s probably overkill. I would just look online or ask around and see if you can get any example templates if you don’t want to sign up for a full course.

  5. Miranda says

    To prepare for the summer analyst position as a sophomore, would it be better to do an internship at a private firm where I’d spend a lot of time modeling on excel, even if the valuations will mostly be hedge funds, or to do an internship at a trust in the structured products group? Which of the two is more relevant and which sounds better an investment banking interview?

    • says

      Probably the private firm, because as a sophomore work tends to matter a bit more than brand name, unless of course you’re choosing between something unrelated vs. working at even a tiny boutique.

  6. Senior says

    Brian- a couple of questions,
    – I’m working at a small boutique in NYC. Seriously, all I’ve been doing are random research, updating spreadsheets and randomly screening stocks using bloomberg terminal…obviously, I have to spin on resume but how does this hurt during interview?
    – If the alumni you network with promised to forward your resume internally when time comes but he doesn’t work in IBD (VP at middle or back office), is it gonna help?
    – Is it possible to land FT offers at BBs (lower tier ones, not GS or MS) or good boutiques (Perella, Moelis etc) coming from an absolutely non-target with just one SA internship at a no-name boutique? Did you see anyone pull it off?
    Thanks!!!

    • says

      Just be careful not to go too far… some stretching the truth is ok but don’t say that you worked on deals or did much modeling.

      Alumni promising to forward resumes can help, but you need to follow-up because they forget all the time unless you remind them.

      Yes you can get offers at the places you mentioned but it takes a lot of networking, some of the interviewees on this site have done it before.

  7. Brian says

    Hi Brian,

    I have a similar issue to the poster above me. I feel like I’m constantly stuck with random work such as doing research or plugging data into spreadsheets. I’m afraid I won’t get into any modeling or deals during this internship since I’m nearing the end. Does this mean my internship will have mostly been a waste? How, if it’s even possible, can I spin this into any relevant experience for my resume or next interview?

    Thanks for all the help you’ve given so far.

    • says

      Just spin the marketing work you did into “potential deals” and say that nothing solid came together despite several potential clients. Not a waste at all because you can still write “investment banking summer analyst” on your resume.

  8. UKStudent says

    With regards to SA positions in S&T, especially Sales, is the general consensus regarding work still based around Excel, copying numbers, presentations?

  9. Mike says

    Quick question – what does my position have to entail before I can call myself a “summer analyst” on my resume?

    • says

      If you are a summer intern at the undergraduate level at an investment bank then you are a “Summer Analyst” it has nothing to do with the work you actually do.

      • Keith says

        Does this term “Summer Analyst” apply only to investment banking? Would it be appropriate to refer to yourself as a summer analyst if you are a summer intern working at a merchant bank or even in S and T?

  10. Paul says

    Hi Brian,

    Just a quick question. What do you think of interning at an investment banking department of a commercial bank?

    Thanks.

    • says

      It’s fine? Not sure what you’re asking but banking is banking if by “commercial bank” you mean JP Morgan, Citi, etc.

      • Paul says

        Sorry for the vague question. I’m in a country where there are no truly ‘pure’ investment banks. Tha ones that get the most deals tend to be investment banks backed by a strong commercial bank. That being said the focus is more towards debt and not much equity. I was wondering whether an investment banking department in a commercial bank does the same things or is perceived the same way as a typical bulge bracket investment bank (GS, JPM, UBS). Sorry for the lack of clarity.

  11. Ashley says

    Hi Brian,

    I started at a big 4 corporate finance team 2 months ago. Until now, 80% of my work is administrative tasks, such as scheduling meetings. I hate doing these and want to take roles doing excel modelling job. However, most of modelling work has been done through other offices. One of my collegues who started 6 months ago still doing this type of administrative tasks. I am wondering if you have any advice on this? How can I be involved in more real work?

    Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Speak to your manager and see if he/she can assign you more “real work”. Perhaps you could transfer offices too.

      • Ashley says

        Thanks Nicole. Actually my manager is not in my office neither. Should I go to speak with MD directly? Besides, since I haven’t been in my team for long time, I am a bit concerned that my manager will think negatively about me if I talk this to him. Do you have any advice?

        In addition, I am interested in your coaching and resume service. Can you share more information on this one as well?

        Thanks.

  12. Alexxxx says

    hey,

    There is a lot of talk about merger models and lBO models. But what essentially do they consist of? What is it in these models that make an analyst have to be ‘entrepreneurial’ and a ‘creative thinker’?

    thank you in advance

      • Alexxxx says

        So this ‘creative’, ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘problem solving’ qualities they often talk about in an intern prospectus comes from the fact that an analyst will have to create financing solutions in different market conditions (caused by the euro-zone dept crisis for example), e.g, deciding which package (high yield, or syndicated loans) in leverage finance would be most appealing to the company, the sponsors, and the ultimate debt investors?

        thanks

  13. says

    Hey,

    I was wondering what color ties would you recommend. I didn’t see it on the investment banking wardrobe post you made and I wanted to put this question there but was unable to on the comments.

  14. AJD says

    My supervisor at my boutique summer internship is asking what kind of exposure and experience I want to get (they are being flexible). Obviously Modeling/Valuation is tops, but what else should I push to learn in order to best prepare myself for FT interviews in the fall? Thanks for the help!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Try to be staffed on as many live deals as possible. Also network across the firm & build solid relationships. Find a mentor.

  15. jimmy says

    hey, could post a new article on how exactly an analyst works. i read the articles on what they but i would like to how exactly. like analysts go through BL P/L modelling and all but kind of modelling.

    just wanna know the devil before i face him

    PS- landed a summer intern job at a boutique IB (engineering background). if you could advise what can relevant things i can learn before my intern like LBO etc.

      • jimmy says

        ya i take up those modelling courses :D

        Another thing. this middle market IB where i’ll be doing my summer intern is basically a stock-brokerage that offers its clients financing services. The thing is my dad gave them a big deal so the CEO was more than willing to take me in. the HR dept. there wants to know which specific dept. i would like to join Capital Issues/ M&A/ Debt-Equity etc. I do know what exactly these dept. deal in but in this post recession market which one do i opt for?

        And could you elaborate more on working on deals and avoiding pitches? what exactly is working on deals? isn’t pitching what an entry level analyst gets? working on deals: that is what VP & MDs do right?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Good question – which one interests you most? I’d suggest you to ask HR to refer you to peeps in those divisions so you can chat to them and see which one fits

          You can say so – quite a lot of grunt work goes into pitching as an analyst but its hard to avoid such work in general

  16. Malik says

    Hello,

    I am currently a first year student at Michigan State University. Thanks to all the great articles here at M&I I have been able to figure out that Investment Banking is what I want to go into. With that being said, since I am not at a “target school” what types of things can I do as far as extracurriculars to build my resume for when I apply for internships with IBs? Also, how do I get in contact & network with recruiters from Bulge Brackets seeing as how I know no one in the industry?

    Thanks for all the help!

  17. D. Danger says

    Hello,

    I have started working at my IB internship since Mid-April, and have mainly done administrative tasks (asides from writing industry reports & formatting). My questions are:

    1) What’s the approach for the summer lateral process? How would that differ from a typical lateral process

    2) Since I have not done anything significant, how would I explain why I should be hired?

    Thanks,

    D. Danger

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. I think candidates may rotate across various divisions over the summer, though I don’t think they lateral to other divisions because it is too short to do so over the summer.
      2. I think you should just network with people and approach a team which you like the most. Tell them you’ve been working at XX team for a while, and you’re interested in trying something new and that you’re willing to learn. They shouldn’t expect too much from you since you’re just an intern; most interns don’t do much significant tasks

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