by Jerry Chi Comments (112)

48 Hours in the Life of a Sales & Trading Intern

The following takes place between 6 AM and 6 AM, at a large investment bank in Tokyo.

Events occur in real time.

6:00 AM: The alarm goes off. I really want to snooze but via sheer willpower I jump out of bed – need to impress my boss and co-workers.

6:30 AM: For my breakfast, I buy bottled tea and onigiri (rice balls) at a convenience store. I listen to the Nikkei Shimbun (analogous to the Wall Street Journal) podcast while walking to work.

6:50 AM: I am one of the first people at the office. I breathe a sigh a relief after confirming that my boss isn’t here yet – sometimes he comes in early too.

I had promised myself that I would prove to my boss what a hardworking intern I am. I hastily start the menial task of copying and passing out materials (e.g. research reports, recap of other world markets, latest rates data, etc.) to each trader’s desk. I wonder how many of the traders actually read what I pass out.

8:00 AM: The trading desk is almost full now. I am skimming articles on financial websites and Bloomberg, preparing myself to sound well-informed on the markets when talking to people for the rest of the day (Note: Many trading interns do not get access to Bloomberg since it is very expensive… to the tune of $1500 USD per month). I try to predict how the news will affect the markets for the day.

8:15 AM: All the equity traders have arrived at their desks – fixed income trading is on another floor. Everyone gathers for our morning meeting. Some of the salespeople that work with the traders float over to listen in.

Traders that specialize in each sector or type of trading – vanilla equity, options, portfolio trading, agency trading, etc. – give quick overviews of what happened the day before and their predictions for the upcoming trading session.

What happened overnight in the US/European markets is also naturally a point of discussion, since markets tend to follow each other.

Sometimes I struggle to understand all the jargon or the specific concepts underlying their comments, but overall I can grasp what they’re saying. Everyone speaks in English at the meeting, but many revert to Japanese afterward.

9:00 AM: The Japanese stock markets open. Today I am spending the first couple hours sitting next to an equity options trader, having gotten his permission the day before. I make sure to stay especially quiet right before and after the market close, since those are the busiest times for traders.

Out of his 6 monitors, he has Excel open on 2 screens, Bloomberg open (usually charts) on another 2 screens, Reuters open on 1 screen, and another screen for Microsoft Outlook. The numbers in Excel update every second. I see the trader wrinkle his eyebrows and I wonder why.

10:00 AM: I wait for a moment when the trader seems less busy, and I ask him about what happened. Apparently his gamma had not been hedged as well as he had thought – shortly after the market opened his gamma rose to a higher level than he had anticipated, which meant more risk than he wanted.

I nod in appreciation; I know that some other traders would not have bothered to answer my question.

11:30 AM: Today is a volatile day in the market, and many traders don’t feel comfortable leaving their desks for lunch. I am sent to McDonald’s to buy burgers for most of the equity traders. I’m OK with doing a bit of grunt work; after all, I am an intern, and I’m way better off than the interns in Liar’s Poker.

12:30 PM: By now my eyes and neck are a bit sore from looking at the equity trader’s 6 screens while sitting at the edge of his desk. The market is slowing down a bit now anyway, so I return to my own desk and read some articles and midday market recaps.

I work on the stock picking analysis project that my boss assigned to me, but I know I won’t be able to get any serious work done until the late afternoon.

1:30 PM: I figure I’ve annoyed the equity option trader enough for the day, so I try to find someone else on the desk that’s approachable enough to let me sit by them. I end up sitting next to an equity trader who focuses on retail stocks. Unfortunately, he is one of the more introverted types, and it’s hard to get him to say much. I see him make two trades for the rest of the day.

3:00 PM: Japanese stock markets close. Of course, there’s still after-hours trading, and much work to be done. I see the equity options trader I sat with get up and go to the coffee room. I “coincidentally” happen to go to the coffee room for a break.

There, I thank him again for letting me sit with him, and I do the best job I can of commenting on what happened in the market that day, while asking his opinion on a few points.

He comments that I am pretty knowledgeable for an intern, and it seems like I have made a good impression on him. I think to myself, “Yes…. one step closer to getting a full-time offer…”

4:00 PM: I go out for coffee with a guy from the middle office, an appointment made previously. He’s one of the junior guys, so he’s not too much older than me.

As an intern, not everyone is willing to go out to coffee with you – and sometimes you can learn a lot from people other than the managers and star traders.

I milk him for information: Which traders are more approachable? Exactly how do you interact with the traders? What happens when a trade doesn’t settle correctly? We also bond by talking about which girls in the office are cute.

5:00 PM: My manager takes me to a small conference room for my 10-minute weekly meeting. How much have I learned so far? Which type of trading was I most interested in? Did I have any questions? He reiterates that the competition is tough and that I’ll have to keep working really hard to impress everyone if I want a full-time offer.

5:30 PM: I start working on my stock picking analysis project once again. By downloading data (both fundamental data and technical analysis data) from Bloomberg into Excel on thousands of stocks, I try to figure out a handful of stocks that would be good long trades, and some that are good short trades. This is only one of several projects I am working on.

7:00 PM: Many of the traders have left their desks by now. I wander around the trading floor trying to find someone who’s not in a hurry to go home, and I try to start a conversation to learn something about their trading that day.

Sometimes traders are more relaxed at this time of the day and it’s easier to talk to them.

7:30 PM: I get an email with a link to 50-page economic report from the research team. I interrupt my work to skim the report.

8:00 PM: Almost all of the traders have left the office. Why is my manager still here?

8:30 PM: My manager finally goes home. Whew. I try to wait at least 15 minutes after he leaves so it doesn’t look like I am leaving right after he does.

While there’s less face time in trading compared to investment banking, you still don’t want to leave before your boss – especially as an intern.

9:00 PM: Meet up with a friend and some of her friends for dinner. Most of them are done eating by the time I arrive, but at least I get to say hi.

11:00 PM: Arrive at home. I plan to go to sleep within 30 minutes but after checking email, I end up staying up past midnight. I cringe when I think about how hard it’ll be to wake up the next day.

Then I think about my investment banking intern friends – who are still at the office – and I feel a bit better.

Day 2

5:40 AM: Wake up. I had set my alarm earlier because the day before I had trouble finishing the grunt work on time. I pummel my own head in an attempt to feel awake.

6:30 AM: I arrive at the office… and there is only one other person there. Hmmm, am I working too hard? I tell myself it’ll all be better once I am a full-time employee – which is usually true, at least in trading – and then I begin copying research materials that need to be passed out later.

7:00 AM: The copier is jammed, and I didn’t notice for 15 minutes. Crap. I start to multitask, using 3 copiers instead of 2.

8:00 AM: Today, before the general traders’ meeting, I go to the agency traders’ smaller meeting, which is only in Japanese. The agency traders are responsible for executing the large orders placed by large buy-side institutions, like mutual funds.

They talk mostly about news and overseas market movements, but they also talk about the previous day’s order flow, and about how a research report produced by our firm today might cause a lot of orders for a specific stock. The meeting lasts about 10 minutes.

9:00 AM: The Japanese stock markets open. Today I am spending the first couple hours sitting with the agency trading team. Agency trading is really different from proprietary trading because all the decisions about what and how much to trade are decided by the client – the only decision made by the trader is how to divide the order into smaller trades and when to execute them.

The trader I am sitting with has been doing this for years, and is able to constantly submit trades while barely looking at the screen and talking to me at the same time.

I pray that his discussion with me doesn’t cause him to make any mistakes. Fortunately, he doesn’t have fat finger syndrome. The trader has 4 screens – 1 for order submission and order details, 2 for Bloomberg (charts), and 1 for email / browsing. I am able to ask a dozen or so questions, which is more than usual.

11:00AM: The Japanese market closes for the lunch break (1.5 hours). I go out to lunch with the agency traders, who have less work than the other traders since they don’t have to do as much analysis.

Half of our conversation is about trading, and the other half is about Japanese celebrities. My knowledge of celebrities helps me bond with them… which might increase my chances of getting a full-time offer? I later realize that bonding with traders and being liked are quite important for getting an offer.

M&I Note: This is an important and oft-overlooked point. As an intern, people need to like you if you want a full-time offer – and the same goes for entry-level interviews as well.

12:30 PM: Since the agency traders don’t seem to be annoyed by me, I keep sitting with them until the markets finally close at 3 PM. I start to get bored and tired near the end, but I keep myself busy thinking of new questions for them.

3:30 PM: I had previously made an appointment for coffee with one of the sales traders, but he cancels on me for the second time. Maybe I just should give up on talking to this guy.

4:00 PM: The Head of Prop Trading is having a meeting with some other traders and some middle office guys and suddenly calls me and another intern into the meeting. He wants me and the other intern to help with trading commission calculations, and I have to collect some of the information necessary to do so myself.

I am surprised that a bulge bracket investment bank doesn’t precisely track its trading commissions – but later, I realize that even the biggest financial institutions are full of problems you wouldn’t expect.

I think about how I already have a big trading analysis project AND an equity research project AND grunt work AND other random stuff I have to do, but at the same time I can’t bring myself to say no. This guy is an MD, so I’ve got to impress him. Fortunately the other intern pipes up and finds excuses for why we can’t help.

4:30 PM: Afternoon snack. I go downstairs and make sure nobody I know is in the room, and then I eat a sandwich while massaging my eyes and neck. I don’t want to come off as stressed or physically strained to anyone.

5:00 PM: I spend an hour trying to figure out some Excel VBA for automating organization of data in the trading analysis spreadsheet I’m making. After some trial and error, I get it to work.

The other intern sucks at Excel and is having trouble doing his analysis, so he comes to annoy me with questions. I wonder why an MBA knows less than me about Excel.

7:30 PM: I eat some ramen. Mmmmm. No matter how unhealthy or cheap it is, I still love ramen.

8:00 PM: I feel really tired, so instead of working on my project I just read tons of financial articles. Nobody is paying attention to what I’m doing, anyway.

8:30 PM: Half of the trading desk is still here, mostly junior people. What are they still doing? I go over and talk to them – they are planning and analyzing trades for the next day.

I conclude that if these people weren’t workaholics, they probably wouldn’t be here. Then again, if you’re making or losing millions of dollars every day, sometimes overnight, maybe you’d never be comfortable being away from work anyway.

9:00 PM: I go home and cook noodles with canned fish, seaweed and soy sauce and eat them while watching Japanese music videos. Actually, it’s a pretty good way to cool down. I read a chapter of Future, Options, and Other Derivatives by John Hull.

11:00 PM: I crawl into bed. Wow, I’m going to get almost 7 hours of sleep!

Day 3

6:00 AM: Wake up. Back at it…

About the Author

Jerry Chi graduated from Stanford, worked in equity research and trading in Japan, and then started and sold his own prop trading firm in China. He earned his MBA from Wharton, and then worked at Google and Supercell in Japan.

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Comments

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  1. Hi,

    I am an undergraduate. Can someone tell me if I do a Sales and Trading internship will that affect my chances of getting into a Business school for an MBA in the future because I heard top business schools do not really higher candidates with sales and trading backgrounds.

    1. I would say that’s not true at all. It mostly depends on your full-time work experience, leadership, and recommendations… plenty of traders decide to change careers and go to business school.

      1. Thanks

  2. I don’t know if it is different when you’ve actually got an offer (post-internship or networking, experienced hire etc) compared to being an intern, or on a graduate programme.

    But to my knowledge, I’m not sure if leaving at 11pm is a must. Unless you’re a more fundamental trader, or feel that the fundamentals can literally change overnight. Though I admit, I’m probably thinking about it from the perspective of a technical analyst with a more technical strategy. In say FX, since that is not as news/fundamentally driven as say equities.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  3. Hi there !

    I’m looking for some advices, and I think you can provide excellent ones as I’m learning a lot of things since i’m reading this website !

    I’m a french engineering student in finance, and I have two opportunities for a 6 months internship in London. The first is in an investment house wich deals with something like 6bn$ assets. I’ll potentially work in a desk which deals with hedge funds, classic portfolio management things etc.
    The second is in a trading room for SocGen, in the Middle Office. I’ll potentially do classic MO things like excel excel and excel again.

    On the one hand, the first internship looks the most attractive with more differents things to do (powerpoint presentations, hedge funds studies, excel …), and the possibility to build a network in finance. On the other hand, the second intership better fits my ambitions to work as a trader. And I’m not afraid to be “stuck” in middle office as I plan to do a MSc in a French Business School, after the internship, so I’m not looking for an offer after the internship.

    So the question is, what internship I will value the most after my Msc, when applying for trading positions.

    Thank you very much !

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say go for the first internship because it is hard to move to FO from MO.

  4. Hi, is there a league-table for BB S&T team as well?
    I have found it hard to find a good way to rank companies

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think so, but you may want to check out Institutional Investor for ratings.

  5. Felix Liu

    Hi M&I and Jerry,

    Thank you very much for the informative article! I am currently applying for S&T positions through Boston Career Forum. I noticed that most banks require a business level Japanese proficiency, but as Jerry mentioned in an interview on S&T, high level of Japanese proficiency is not that important in trading. I would describe my Japanese level as above conversational level but definitely quite far away from business level (I can do most daily conversations and read news at a relatively slow pace). I am wondering if that is an acceptable Japanese level to work in trading in Tokyo. Thank you very much!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d presume so, though I am not 100% sure.

      1. Felix Liu

        That sounds like a good news for me! Thank you so much!

  6. rachhhh

    Hi, I saw an earlier post on Commerzbank hence I’m posting this here. Thank you very much for this insightful website, I’ve been reading quite a few articles. I have been offered an 6 month internship at Commerzbank corporate banking division, assisting the relationship managers, and also a 6 month wealth management internship at Citibank, under bancassurance.

    Which internship would be valued more highly by recruiters, and which would I be able to learn more (in relation to finance/banking)? No doubt the wealth management intern at Citi sounds good however it is under bancassurance and thus involves more of liaising with insurers, sales and marketing, etc. The corporate banking intern involves research for kyc, meeting clients with r/s managers, helping to write credit application, etc…..I do not know if I will get to help assist in credit review/analysis.

    Thank you very much for your advice and I value it very highly!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say Citi has a better brand name, and research for KYC doesn’t seem too exciting to me. If you’re interested in bancassurance, I’d go for the role in Citi especially given its brand.

  7. Hi there –
    I’m a Londoner and have been offered 2 different summer trading internships at a BB; Rates and Credit in London and FX in Zurich. What are your thoughts about where these opportunities could lead? I’d quite like to go and see Zurich but I wouldn’t want to live there for more than 3 years or so (obviously depending on whether I landed the job). How easy is it to switch from FX trading into another asset class a few years down the line? Also, with no commission in FX, can the bonus structure really be as attractive?

  8. Thank you very much:)

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Anytime.

  9. Hi M&I,
    I currently intern at the Capital Market & Treasury Solutions group (basically a sales division I guess) in a BB. It primarily deals with corporations and institutional clients, helping them to manage their money (like doing swaps, forwards, hedging, assisting cross-border transactions and etc.).

    Four weeks into the internship, all I’ve done is to update slides on market research and product info, writing credit proposals for potential deals with clients (for instance, some sort of FX business), doing some simple financial analysis with existing templates to identify the financial needs of a client, and some other random staff like KYC forms.

    Since the team spends a lot of time communicating with clients, I guess what I’ve said above is all I may be able to do as a summer intern. It seems impossible for them to let an intern to deal directly with a client or execute an actual transaction.

    I wonder if it is common for a sales type intern to be in a similar situation as I am. If that is typical, how can I talk about my summer experience in my resume? Since the works are not very technical, I am worrying they will end up looking like some random staff. (Even a credit proposal/request for a large corporation takes less than a week for a single individual to complete.)

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d say that 99% of the time interns won’t be dealing directly with a client or executing an actual transaction, even analysts may not be given the opportunity to do so. Firms generally won’t let employees interact with clients directly unless they’ve had a track record within the industry/firm and have passed the necessary licensing exams (you wouldn’t have done so as a intern). Yes it is common for sales intern to be in your similar situation. You can talk about your experience with the markets updating the slides and the financial analysis you’ve done. If you’ve had any experience interacting with clients, even with the presence of a senior salesperson, or through meetings etc you can talk about that. Even though it doesn’t seem like you’ve done “substantial” work, you’ve done decent work which you can talk about in interviews. The BB on your resume will also help.

      1. Thanks ???

  10. matthew

    what department exactly was jerry interning in? was it equities? or commodities? is there any meaningful distinction when doing an internship?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Jerry worked on the equities and fixed income trading desks of major US and European investment banks in Tokyo, specializing in credit derivatives trading (back before they became toxic). http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/about/

      Yes, you acquire different knowledge because analyzing equities versus commodities can be slightly different.

  11. Hi M&I,

    I’ve just been offered a 6 month internship at Commerzbank as a Sales intern. However, it is under the Corporates and Markets umbrella which is basically their investment banking division. From what I gather though, it has little to do with M&As or LBO.

    I’ve been told most of my work will revolve around administrative and clerical work which I am totally fine with. In my spare time I will be able to network on the trading floor too.

    Can I just ask you are the primary roles and responsibility can I expect as a sales intern. Is this an opportune internship? If so, how can I maximise my time there. Also, I understand how specialised sales is. Is there any way I can potentially break into investment banking or alternatively private banking? Thank you so much

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It really depends on your team. If you’re lucky, you will get to sit in on the morning calls, interact with traders and research analysts. It would be great if you could work with a mentor and draft his/her morning meeting notes. However, from the sound of it, you will probably be doing admin work such as arranging meetings, taking notes, etc. To maximize the value of this opportunity, I would suggest you to network a lot and try as much as you can to learn about different industries (stocks) and how sales people pitch and value the companies. Different salespeople have different styles so you may want to learn that/shadow them too. From sales to IB can be challenging because you need to demonstrate your valuation skills & deal experience. Sales to PB is probably a lot easier. http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-banking

      1. Hi Nicole,

        Thank you for your advice. It seems a real huge opportunity cost for myself given this six month stint can be broken down into two/ three other internships. I’m considering the risks here but thank you nonetheless

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Anytime! Do you have other internships on hand? If not, are you confident that you can obtain two other ones that are more relevant? Otherwise, you may be better of taking this one.

  12. Hey brian,

    I am writing an essay for business school application and would like to mention a trading intern i did in the past. However come to think of it all i’ve done is a lot of grunt work, is there any way to express them as having demonstrated leadership as intern?

    Thanks!

    1. Say that you helped traders become more efficient and find ways for them to improve their processes.

  13. Hi M&I,

    I just got a summer S&T intern offer at a BB bank in Tokyo, and I was wondering what the work environment would be like. Basically, as a non-native japanese speaker, I am worried about my limited ability to use keigo extensively. Would that be a problem? Also, I am a liberal arts major with limited knowledge in finance. What would you suggest someone from a non finance background to do before his summer S&T internship?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Congrats on your offer – I wouldn’t worry too much

      Yes if you don’t speak Japanese that might be an issue but if you’re in S&T dealing with int’l clients I don’t think it’d be a problem

      Read up on the markets and understand the basics of investing/finance if you can

      http://www.investopedia.com/university/beginner/#axzz2AZzKTwIG
      http://www.investopedia.com/university/fundamentalanalysis/#axzz2AZzKTwIG
      http://www.investopedia.com/features/industryhandbook/

  14. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about IB before coming across this blog but mostly I thought (from what I read) that most investment bankers create products and sell them like CDO’s and all. I rarely see much about that on the blog. It’d be great if you could a an article on that part of IB and how to break into it, lifestyle, working hours, exit opportunities et al.

  15. Hi.

    I have recently finished my undergrads from Monash University double majoring in Econ & Finance with a pretty decent GPA. Its an Australian University if you didnt know where it is. Thing is, I am planning to do any kind of S&T internship over the summer of 2013 in the US as I also plan to do my Masters in Finance/Quant Finance there next fall. I am a US resident so there are no issues of work permit here. I was wondering whether it would be worth if I try for an internship there or would my having an Australian degree hamper chances? I have some work experience interning at other i-banks in South Asia too if that helps you answer my question.

    1. You would be better off with a US degree but you can still do it as long as you’re working toward some kind of degree… biggest obstacle will be networking to find the internship, which is tough to pull off remotely.

  16. Hello M&I,

    I am a reader from Japan. It’s recruiting season for summer internship here now, and I am applying to internships on the trading side of S&T at banks. I talked to some alumni from my school and asked them about tips writing a resume for S&T roles. One of them told me to leave off my experience trading my personal account on my resume as it doesn’t help much and could give a wrong impression. How is that so? I thought I am supposed to show my interest in the market and trading with my own money and profit from doing that would be the best way to show the recruiters that I am really interested. So I guess my question is whether I should mention my personal trading on my resume. Thanks in advance. This site is great and I learned so much reading it!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, if you have experience trading on your personal account (and hopefully have achieved a certain level of return) I’d put your experience there because it shows your passion and experience in the markets.

      1. Thanks so much for your prompt reply, Nicole. That really was fast! I will include the results of my personal trading on my resume then.

  17. Navarro

    This was a great article! Really appreciate your insights of the experience you had there. I just have a question regarding an internship I got offered:

    1. Currently I’m working with RBC Dominion Securities in their wealth management division. I can stay at this internship till about September.

    2. I have been offered an internship with Deloitte in their Corporate Finance division( pretty much investment banking) , but the only thing im iffy about is that the internship is in India. Will that be viewed differently in terms of quality of experience in the investment banking industry?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Which city do you want to work in? Yes, I think it will be viewed differently …

      1. Navarro

        Well currently I’m in Vancouver, BC and the internship with Deloitte is in Bangalore for about 2 months. I got the internship through my career centre and this internship was a chance to gain global experience. But I still don’t know if it’s worth going there….

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Do you have the inclination to go to India? Do you want the experience of 2? If you are already with RBC, you don’t have to worry about having 1 on your resume. The question you should ask yourself is (1) do you want to experience 2? (2) Do you like 1. enough to stay?

          1. Navarro

            I wouldn’t mind going there and experiencing investment banking on a global perspective. The reason I’m considering it is because Although I’m at RBC, it’s in their wealth management division which Dominion Securities( its more private client potrfolio management). I just have a feeling that working with Deloitte(in their corporate finance division) will help me get a better internship for next summer with BB firm. By having experiencing in both, will this not be more appealing than just one?

          2. M&I - Nicole

            I think so though you may run a risk of interviewers thinking “you can’t stick to one place”. It might be interesting for you to work in India if you want global experience, and yes I think having experience in both can make you stand out

  18. Hey!

    Is there something like “Breaking into Wall Street” that is tailored more to Sales & Trade than to IB?
    Something that prepares you for the kind of tasks you will do as a job beginner/intern (as described in this article) and will give you an edge over other newbies?

    Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      To have an edge over other newbies, I’d suggest you to
      a. Pick up a copy of an equity/credit research report from a bulge bracket and read it to have a feel of how analysts analyze the market
      b. Read the WSJ & FT daily
      c. If you are looking to be a trader, I presume you’re able to think on your feet and do calculations fast. If you’re looking to do sales, learn to read the research reports and sell stock ideas. This require you to have at least a basic understanding of how to analyze the markets (i.e P/E ratio, P/B etc)

      1. Thanks for the answer! What about excel skills? I worked with bloomberg/excel before and I know that my low excel skills cost me lots of time…

      2. So there is no good lerning programm out there like BIWS for traders?

        1. To my knowledge, no. The problem is that it’s more difficult to generalize about the skill sets that are required for traders since different desks are quite different. And there aren’t necessarily as many different concepts to learn as in banking / PE. We have thought about creating something for trading before, but have never found a good way to do it.

          1. Thanks for the answer!

          2. M&I - Nicole

            On a side note, outside of classroom/modeling training…The best way to learn, in my limited experience, is to get an internship (paid or unpaid) and sit on the trading floor with the very good salespeople/traders who can mentor you. When I first started, I sat right next to two heads in sales and I listened to them “broke” stories day in and out. And yes I got yelled at almost daily for all the mistakes I make but you learn a lot and need to have very thick skin (and very aware of your emotions i.e. not let daily P/L affect your thoughts) to succeed in S&T I think.

  19. Hi, this is my situation. I did interview with a small prop. trading firm last week. I realized I could not make it to the next round. But I got one of the interviewers’ email address. I have sent him an email asking for some feedback. I was planning if he replied to my email, I would keep asking and asked him for a coffee. And hopefully I can show him my motivation to work in the firm and that I was misjudged and deserve another chance. But the only problem is he didn’t reply. What should I do? Should Ikeep sending him emails? Or should I just move on. But according to the HR, the firm actually has no limit in the number of interns recruited for summer internship. I think I stand a good chance if I am able to impress him by my motivation. What else can I do as I don’t have his number?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Call the firm’s switchboard and ask for him. If he has the hiring power (VP level and above) he may be able to help

      If he’s junior, I don’t think he has much say in this matter so I would suggest you to move on and speak to someone else in the team/another firm

      1. He’s the head of one desk. I guess he has the power. But what should I say if I call him? Probably he doesn’t even remember me since the interview only lasted for 5 min. (which is set by the firm.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Just tell him you interviewed with him and pitch your case again. Short sweet and brief. When you call him, ask if he has a few mins first. If he says yes, go ahead. If not, tell him you’ll call back later

  20. Hi, I have an offer to do prime brokerage at a BB and was wondering if this is front office? Thanks

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Depends on what you do in PB

  21. Can you explain exactly what a associate in asset management does at a BB firm?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It really depends on the team and the role..and your boss

  22. M&A, I’m at a relatively unknown school. Its actually quite good academically(Top 3 in VA), but doesnt get any real recognition outside the DMV region. Anyways, I’m thinking of transferring to a top school for my junior year(still a long time away). Meanwhile, I want to get an internship for sophomore year—junior year. At that time, I’d still be in my current school or just about to transfer. Will it be harder for me to get internships because I’m not in the top schools. I have a top gpa so far(3.8+)

    1. M&I - Nicole

      It depends on how you pitch your story

  23. awesome man… fabulous

  24. Hey Brian,

    Interning at top BB in HK right now, through both FICC and Equity… So just volunteering to share some experience from a perspective from someone who’s still an intern, as well as from a different location. Let me know what you might need!

    A.H.

    1. Awesome, can you contact us on this form? http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/interview-contact/ Thanks!

  25. John Smith

    Hi Guys,

    Although this question may seem naive, I’m wondering where the “happy” or “fun” part of finance really exists. Will anyone tell me from experience when this time is? (I’m guessing deal-making is one part, as it allows people to be paid).

    While the great professions of our age (i.e. medicine, law, and finance) definitely pay well, I’m wondering if there’s any time to actually be happy?

    Thanks for the consideration

    1. Not really, no. Closed deals and closing dinners can be fun, but other than that the process is a grind.

      1. John Smith

        Thanks for the reply.

        1. Just for confirmation, can you confirm to me that the most important motivating force is money in finance?

        (I find it ironic that they are so defensive against stereotyping them as such, even though it’s most likely true).

        2. While M&A.com is known for being cynical (yet nobly honest), do you have any anecdotes or examples of why your predictions are true?

        (Many I-Bankers I know love to argue, and will find ways to try and one-up that statement, no matter how true it is).

        3. I have often been told that there is a dichotomy between people who are “learners” and those that are “doers/performers”.

        Will finance allow me to find a middle-ground? (I.e. learn a lot on the job and make a good living)

        Many I-Bankers say that their job is a “lifelong-learning” position. But, I think that does not compare to consulting or academia.

        Thanks for the consideration

        1. 1. Yes. 2. See the “Day in the Life Accounts & Stories” section under “On the Job” at the top. 3. Yes you can make a decent amount while learning but the learning curve flattens out after 6 months or so.

    2. I do say that there is jobs in Finance that can actually make people happy. Of course, this often depends on your talents and innate abilities.
      Just imagine a guy that is good at presenting and selling – I know quite a lot of them that are happy to work in sales as they interact with people, have to analyse complex products and explain them in an understandable way. And they are passionate about it!!
      Or think of the quants in the back office – the people I know that work there like mathematics, programming and problem solving. They go to the industry and not research, because they prefer to do more applied work.
      All in all, I do believe that many finance people have genuine interest and even passion for their work. Of course, money always plays a role, but this does not automatically imply greed. Frankly, in almost other fields people trade off one job for the other, often opting for the one that pays more. This is not wrong per se. And if you can work in your field of interest and are well paid – isn’t this what we are all striving for?

      1. M&I - Nicole

        Thanks for your input! Yes, most definitely – some people in finance really have a passion for their work so I would have to agree with you!

  26. Bobby D

    Hey There,

    Awesome site, the best I’ve seen for people looking to jump into finance.

    I’m a tax attorney working for a Big Four accounting firm. After working the tax side for so many transactions where I see people getting rich, I’m considering a jump into finance. I initially thought equity research, but I’m not quite sure. I have a lot of intellectual curiosity, writing and research skills, however my strongest suit is my personality–which is a rarity at an accounting firm.

    Not sure where I can fit in with Finance…I have a liberal arts background and a strong law school GPA. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.

    1. From a tax background you probably stand a better chance getting into IB than you do getting into equity research as they’re mostly looking for industry experts. http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-into-investment-banking-accountant/

  27. I am curious about how much computers are running the show these days as well as into the future. I understand that with proprietary trading it really depends on the strategy employed by the fund/bank, but for market makers within BBs, couldn’t they easily be replaced by computers? If I hate programming, should I stay away from trading?
    Thank you!

  28. Hi Brian,

    It seems like from this article, what an intern would do comes down to two or three things: just watch what the traders do (ask questions), do market/stock research, and working with Excel.

    It seems like you won’t be doing that much from an experience like this and doesn’t leave much to write about things on resume (whereas for ib, you can talk about transactions you worked on, projects, doing analysis etc)

    So my question is, are there any other things that an S&T intern might be given to do and what kind of things would you highlight to write on the resume?

    Appreciated

    1. You would just write about those – how you helped traders, what you observed on the desk, and so on. Nothing wrong with that as everyone knows how S&T internships work.

  29. What are the salaries like in S&T?
    Are the year-end bonuses entirely performane-base?
    I hear the base salaries are lower than investment banking

  30. Hi M&I,

    Just wanted to say thanks for such a great site. I used it a lot in the lead up to my interviews for a Sales & Trading role with the many BBIB’s.

    I wouldn’t normally write up a thank you note online but this site has helped me that I feel compelled to.

    I am happy to report I landed an internship in a HK/Singapore rotation (I am from Australia) with one of the top banks.

    Now I can stop reading all the interview preparation articles and move on to the ‘On The Job’ section.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. Awesome, glad to hear it.

  31. do S&T analysts ever move banks? Going to Citi S&T for example and moving to GS S&T?

    1. Yes that happens, though probably not as frequently as for banking analysts

  32. u recommend against jap banks, but how about nomura in nyc for equities?

    1. Don’t know much about them in the US. It’s a good option but probably not as good as a US or European bank.

  33. Wouldn’t the experiences be different at a NYC bulge bracket firm? I think people come in way before 7am, such as 5am and so. Also there are no “japanese” lunch breaks or any of that and it seems intern networking events are more common along with drinks with the team.

    1. Sure it would. That’s why this is labeled “in Tokyo” at the beginning.

  34. Hi there

    I have a question: I applied for a junior research analyst position at a PE firm & they gave me a financial model/integrated CF/P&L/BS to complete as part of the application process. I’m pretty weak at accounting but I gave it my best shot & sent it in – I think I should’ve gotten my P&L & BS correct, though I think my CF is off. Anyway, they were meant to contact me the next day (Thurs) & they haven’t. I was thinking of ringing them late Mon arvo. I feel since this position wasn’t heavily advertised & I only found out by chance by ringing up that I may have a shot but as I mentioned before I’m pretty sure my financial model was off.

    Do you think its worth mentioning when I ring up & assuming they say no on the grounds of my incorrect model, that I have just started a sort of informal internship at a boutique corporate advisory firm where I’d be learning about valuation, research etc & doing proper financial models…so as to say I won’t be starting off exactly from scratch & wont be burdening them too much with newbie questions if they take me on; and to ask if they’d be willing to take me on on a trial basis?

    1. Btw, I’m still in uni – final year, so for the corporate advisory one I’d be doing 1-2 days/week & hopefully for the PE one, also 1-2 days so I’d be able to fit both in.

    2. Um, no, never make excuses for what you did wrong, that just makes it worse. Don’t even bring it up unless they mention first. Just say, “Just wanted to follow-up” and take it from there, offer up unpaid or a trial if they raise objections.

  35. Summer Recruiting is over and I get nothing. I interviewed with BBs and boutiques. I interviewed for all positions I can think of:trading, risk, asset mgmt. I am probably gonna waste 100K tuition and end up with nothing. Maybe finance isn’t really for me. I am out.

    1. I would think about positions outside finance, e.g. sales/marketing or even business development at F500 company, working for a startup in a business-related role, and so on.

  36. How do get yourself promoted? THere doesn’t seem to be alot of leadership opportunities when all you do is grunt work. And how do you get your boss to notice any good work you’ve managed to do? I know i sound like one of those wide-eyed newbies but i’m just curious

    1. This is just an account from an intern, so there isn’t room for “promotion” here. As a full-timer you do more hands-on trading work and you get promoted when you make a lot of money.

  37. college junior

    currently, i have 2 choices:

    1. asset management internship @ local boutique PE

    or

    2. wealth management internship @ Merill Lynch

    My view is that asset management = more prestigious, and more attractive on resume.

    But Merill is something that cannot be overlooked as well.

    so what are your suggestions/ what would you do if you were in my shoes?

    1. I would do Merrill because asset management and wealth management are not all that different, and Merrill is a better name.

  38. Hey, I throughly enjoyed the article, and great site overall!

    So if I’m currently a sophomore, and I’m looking to get S&T SA gigs next summer, what sort of internship do you think I should shoot for this upcoming summer? Ideally I would like to get on a trading desk, but those opportunities seem to be very competitive. Do boutiques (with a S&T department) take trading interns? Should I just be cold calling them? Are there other positions I should take a look at?

    Thanks for the help

    1. Most boutiques don’t even have trading departments. Think about asset/wealth management or related fields that have you doing something with the market if you can’t get S&T.

  39. Hi Brian, your site and Networking Ninja Tool Kit (I highly recommend it) has been really helpful in getting me summer opportunities.

    My question is, as a junior, should I choose to intern at a boutique PE or IB firm? I would like to work at a BB investment banking firm after I graduate. Which internship would put me in the best position for a full time offer?

    Thanks for your advice.

    1. Either one is fine if it’s just an internship, but I would probably go with the bank just because you can write “investment banking analyst” on your resume, which will catch their attention slightly more than “private equity analyst.” We’re talking about a 1% difference at most here, so if you like the PE firm more for some reason you could certainly go with them.

  40. Positive Carry

    Ridiculously good article. Is it weird to get turned on by this?

    1. It means you’re destined to be a trader!

      1. Positive Carry

        What does Jerry do now, besides co-write on M&I? Does he abuse interns at a BB, make small country GDP-size bets on market fluctuation and front run his clients, or was he brave enough to get out and actually do something good for this world?

        1. See the About page (http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/about/). He started his own company in China, sold it, is now studying at a top university in Korea, and is about to attend Wharton in a few months.

  41. Add an extra zero to the cost of that Bloomberg my friend.

    1. All units are in thousands, forgot the footnote…

  42. Hello M&I,

    what are some appropriate subject lines for cold calling/emailing?

    1. Subject: Summer Analyst – [School Name] Inquiry
      (or: Subject: Full-Time Analyst/Associate – Inquiry)

  43. how did you go to japan

    when you don’t speak japanese like natives. will they still support you with visa and work permit?

    1. Depends on how you go about it… if you go through official channels and move to an international bank, it’s much easier than if you try to go to an actual Japanese company.

  44. Whose article is this?

    1. As with everything else S&T-related on the site, Jerry wrote it based on his experiences working in trading at a bulge bracket bank and I edited / reviewed it.

  45. It’s people like this that made me give up on banking.

  46. I get headaches just by reading that. Btw I heard from a friend that for internship selections work experience is generally irrelevant (since most dont really have “relevant” work experience) and they look mostly at academic performance and extracurricular activities esp Leadership potential. Just asking for a heads up if this is true because I have gotten some varied responses. I really love this website btw, lots of “useful” information that you wont find anywhere else.

    1. It’s very, very random but brand-names from either work or school definitely help. Honestly I don’t think activities matter that much unless it’s something amazing. More on randomness:

      http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/interview-selection-random/

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