5 Easy Steps To Piss Off Your MD And Become The Laughingstock Of Your Office

30 Comments | Investment Banking - Random Misfortune & Mistakes

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What if you knew the exact steps to ensure you’d never be put on good projects, not learn anything in your first year, and always be resentful once you start working as an investment banker?

Ok, now you probably think I’m crazy.

You don’t want any of that to happen to you.

But knowing how it happened to one of my co-workers when I started a few years ago – now that might be something you’d be interested in.

A Long Time Ago, In An Office Far, Far Away

The place was my former office, and the time was my first day of work as an investment banker.

Everyone had just finished training, and we were about to begin our journey into the land of all-nighters, pitch books, and (hopefully) some deals as well.

Despite the frantic pace of the investment banking lifestyle, your first day is usually calm as you introduce yourself to everyone and learn how your office works.

If you’re smart you take advantage of it and get in some quality internet surfing time, maybe even picking up some furniture for your apartment along the way.

But not everyone is smart.

Step 1: Get bored and start incessantly instant messaging and calling your friends, asking for work.

One of my new Analyst friends just couldn’t take the slow pace of the day.

So rather than indulging in leisurely internet surfing, he started asking everyone around the office for work.

Hint: I mentioned previously that as a summer intern, you want to be proactive and take on responsibility.You should tone this down a bit as a full-timer, especially on your first day, or else… well, just keep reading.

Step 2: Get really, really bored and start asking the staffer for work.

My friend couldn’t extract enough work from the Analysts or Associates (and why would they give the new guy anything substantial?) so he went directly to the source: the staffer.

If you’re smart you avoid the staffer, especially when it’s Friday at 4 PM.Or when it’s your first day.

But not everyone is smart.

At this point, my friend almost saved himself simply because the staffer was on a call and his door was closed.

Step 3: Email the staffer and let him know you’re bored and want to work on “Cross-Border China Deals.”

Not taking the closed door as a cue to stop his quest for more work, my friend decided to email our staffer instead and not only ask for work, but also indicate a preference for type of work.

Yes, that’s right – he wanted to work on “cross-border China deals.”

Forget about just standard cross-border deals or just one Chinese company buying another… it had to be cross-border.

Step 4: Sit idly by and eat lunch while your pissed off staffer contacts your MD and lets him know about you.

Having not received a response from anyone and starting to think that there were no cross-border China deals to go around, my friend panicked and did the only thing he could: eat lunch.

(This was before we discovered Starbucks)

My friend was still under the impression that everything was ok – see no evil, hear no evil, right?

Right?

Step 5: Take call from pissed off MD and explain to him that you don’t want to get fired.

It would be embarrassing if you managed to get laid off before layoffs started, but my friend almost did it on our first day.

It’s quite awkward to explain to one of the most senior bankers in your group that you are, in fact, enthusiastic about working on their team and that you’re interested in more than “cross-border China deals.”

But it’s even more awkward for everyone else to find out about the conversation 10 minutes later and keep talking about it for weeks afterward.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Unfortunately, this one didn’t end well for my friend.As a result of this one incident, everyone formed a negative impression of him from day one.

It’s possible to fix early gaffes (just wait until I recount some of my own mistakes when I first started), but it’s easier to avoid screwing up in the first place.

Lesson Learned

So if your first day of work as an investment banker is coming up soon, make sure you:

  1. Don’t ask for work on day one. It’s supposed to be slow at first.
  2. Don’t harass your staffer asking for work.
  3. Don’t mention anything about cross-border China deals. Not even if you’re working in Beijing.

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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30 Comments to “5 Easy Steps To Piss Off Your MD And Become The Laughingstock Of Your Office”

Comments

  1. Go Navy says

    So if it’s that slow, do you go home early? Or do you surf the internet for 16 hours so you don’t look like a slacker?

    • says

      Depends a lot on your office and group, but generally you don’t want to leave early on your first day. I think I stayed until around 9 or 10 at least and tried to help out some other people a bit. No need to stay til 2 AM surfing the internet, though…

  2. Michael says

    While probably not appropriate for this particular post, I was wondering, what technical knowledge is expected of interns? I’m a rising systems engineering sophomore but have taken a finance course over the current summer and have enrolled in similar courses for the coming semester.

    I am interested in interning at an investment bank in the coming summer and while I understand it is ultimately more important to be a “fit” for the position, what technical information should one know as preparation for internship interviews?

    And I know you’ve heard it before, but this site is truly a great resource! Thank you!!

    -Michael

    • says

      I would know the basics of accounting (how to tie the 3 statements together, revenue/expense recognition etc.), valuation (trading and transaction comps and DCF) and perhaps a bit of LBO/merger modeling.

      In general they don’t grill you too much on technicals if you have no previous finance experience, but if you want to be prepared I would focus on those 3 areas.

  3. Summer Banker says

    I know this post does not have any coorelation to my question but I am wandering when banks give out their full time offers.

    Do they wait till the very end? Or if they like you, would they have already given it to you?

    • says

      Answered this one on the other thread, but sometimes they do it mid-way through or between halfway point and the end, but never before that.

  4. intern says

    I think it might not be a bad idea to ask for work more actively in your fist week. Email the staffer once or twice, ask few people if they can involve you somehow – but after that keep it low. In this way you form a good first impression as being enthusiastic and eager to work. And as pointed out on this website – first impressions are important. If you don’t ask for work then there’s another side of the coin – people can assume you are not motivated since it’s common for interns to ask and be proactive. I remember on my first day when I met my MD – he genuinely said I should ask the staffer for work to make a good impression.

  5. intern says

    “Email the staffer and let him know you’re bored and want to work on Cross-Border China Deals” is an absolute killer.

  6. B135 says

    What should I do if I really piss off our MD due to “unsatisfactory work delivered”? Should I apologize again the next day after he’s cooled down?

    OMG, it’s bonus time this week….

  7. mindsnatch says

    lol. I start in Beijing as an analyst very soon. I will make sure to not ask about cross-border China deals on the first day. Thanks for this website, I’ve been reading it religiously and going through your courses during my job hunt.

    • Jaime says

      Hi, I just started my PhD at Tsinghua, and would like to land some internship in IB in Beijing. Next semester I wont have ant courses and would like to take advantage of it to know if I really want to work in IB. The problem is that doesn’t seemn that banks have internship for PhD students, just last year undergraduates. Do you know if banks accept first or second year PhD students for internships? Can you recommend me any company with office in Beijing?
      Thanks!

  8. AE says

    Why did you mention cross-border China deals? Is he from China or only interested in cross-border deals? otherwise, it sounds weird.

    I’m just concerned sth’s worse than that,like his attitude or sth.

    • says

      Because he was stupid and couldn’t take a hint / had trouble reading social cues. But yes he was from China originally so that played a role.

  9. c_z says

    An interesting read.
    Anyway, I was directed to this post after reading the latest one on 2011 bonus predictions. Since some of us are starting as first year monkey this summer, I am wondering if you guys can write something on training period, dos and donts, fun time, etc.

  10. Ahsan says

    Sorry I cannot quite catch your point about cross-border china deal.I agree with all parts of your post though I’m just wondering why you just mentioned this type alone. Is CROSS-BORDER CHINA DEAL too difficult or annoying or whatever to any teams?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      No to your last question. it was just an example illustrating that the analyst might want to work on a particular type of deal which is difficult to staff. voicing such opinion might piss people off is the point

  11. Sam Chong says

    This is an off topic question, but do you know if they hire entry level analyst or associate even if it is not hiring season yet? I am graduating February 2013, and I would love to get a full time offer from an IB firm right after graduation.

  12. Kevin says

    “Cross-border china deals” is my new favorite thing. I will be forwarding this to all my friends in hopes that it comes an inside joke.

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