by Brian DeChesare Comments (28)

Tips From A Former Summer Analyst And Soon-To-Be Full-Time Analyst

Today we have a guest post from a loyal reader who worked at a bulge bracket investment bank last summer and will be returning full-time this year.

He has some additional tips for everyone about to start their investment banking jobs / internships – these are great overall so I don’t have much to add, but I will throw in a few comments here and there so it looks like I did some work.

“I did a 10-week internship at a bulge-bracket investment bank last summer and will be returning there full-time in July. I’ve read a couple of the “Summer Analyst Tips / Success Guides” but I thought there might be a few additional tips that I could add.

Balance Between Being Proactive and Annoying

My process for finding this balance was simple:

1. If I was assigned a task, I got it done on time.

2. On quite a few occasions, I finished my task and was left with nothing to do. This usually happens when Analysts/Associates/Vice Presidents are busy with meetings, conference calls, attending to fire drills and forgetting about you.

I typically went up to the Analyst and asked, “Hey, is there anything you want me to do / get done?”

There’s a clear difference between that question and “Hey, is there anything I can do?”

The second one is a bit pushy and if that Analyst is busy, he/she might even get annoyed. (How do I know this? I found out the hard way because I used the second line at first and got some negative responses like “Uhh not right now.” “Umm, let me get back to you.” “Dude, come back later.”)

The first question almost always resulted in a favorable response because the Analyst was thinking in terms of how I could be of benefit to THEM, not the other way around.

Note: This is dead-on. I think of interns in terms of benefits – how can you benefit me, right now? If you emphasize this I will give you useful work.

3. On occasions where there was nothing to do, instead of browsing around aimlessly, I’d just access the team’s files on the shared folder and read about previous deals – pitchbooks, models, etc.

This actually helped when I got staffed on similar types of deals. Be careful not to flaunt this or everyone will think you’re a tool.

Note: I’ve actually done this before, mostly when I first started. BE VERY CAREFUL to keep it to yourself or else people may indeed laugh at you. I certainly will.

I also browsed the Internet and if I found any articles that could be helpful to the Analyst, I would summarize the article in bullet points and send it to him.

Note: Good idea but don’t go overboard here. If you send me 5 article summaries a day I’ll make you get my dry cleaning repeatedly.

Seeking Feedback, Especially Constructive Criticism

I received several reviews over the summer from different groups. Most of them were positive, but I sought out constructive criticism – things I could improve upon. Although they resisted at first, my groups eventually gave me the following feedback:

  • You need to listen more carefully when we’re explaining instead of jumping to conclusions.
  • Don’t be so entrepreneurial. Just execute.
  • Don’t rush your work. Review your work by printing the documents and then giving them to me.

Note: Remember when I said “don’t do investment banking for the ‘entrepreneurial work environment’? (or the models and bottles?)” Yeah, I thought you did.

I solicited constructive criticism for 2 reasons: 1) I genuinely wanted to improve. 2) When the bank decided who to give full-time offers to, they would probably discuss my “flaws.”

Knowing my flaws allowed me to fix them before offers were handed out.

I believe that I got my offer because I made constant improvements over the summer, even though I wasn’t necessarily the best Summer Analyst there.

Finding An “Informant”

When I first started, I was clueless when it came to recruiting – luckily, early on I found a mentor from my school who told me the details of how my group recruited and selected Analysts.

He told me who the key decision makers were and how I could best position myself to get an offer. I didn’t ask these questions the first time I met him, but I made an effort to see him at least once every 2 weeks to stay in touch.

Over time, he trusted me enough to share some insights. Your “informant” can be anyone – an Analyst that’s close to you, a fraternity alumnus, your school alumnus mentor, assigned mentor, or a friend you already know who worked there.

Reliability Is Key

My last piece of advice: BE RELIABLE. Your job is to make the lives of Analysts and the higher-ups easier so they can get an extra hour or two of sleep. If you screw up and they have to fix your mistakes or face the scorn of those above them, they won’t like you very much (and you probably won’t get the offer).

One day, I had to carry 5 boxes in 98 degree weather from building to building at 2:30 PM. I didn’t go to a great school to be a UPS boy and I hated this kind of work. But I did even grunt work and manual labor like this reliably, so I had a chance to do more meaningful work as well.

On another day, I was the lead guy on a conference call with MDs and executives to examine a potential purchase of a large international finance company. The reason I was the lead guy? Because what was originally a “project” to keep me busy turned out to be a potential deal for the group and no one had worked on it but me.

So you never know.”

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hey M&I,

    How important is an “Investment Banking” Internship in the eyes of people who screen CVs? I have an equity research internship under my belt, but it is not “investment banking” (M&A or Capital Markets) per se. I am sure interning at an investment banking firm before going into an IBD SA interview would lend much more credibility to the interviewee, all else equal. It would be great to get some advice on this.

    1. It matters, but anything that is perceived as “front office” (IB, PE, HF, ER, etc.) is fine for a first-year or second-year internship.

  2. I recently received an offer to be a summer analyst with a BB. As part of my 10 week program, I must complete a week of training. I was wondering what does the 1st week training consist of and how can I excel at it before hand?

  3. Hey M&I,

    Just a quick question- how can I best network within the firm as a summer intern? Should I send cold e-mails or should I ask my colleagues to introduce people they know from the firm to me?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Just email and ask people out for coffee. Asking for referrals help too

  4. Hi M&I

    I am starting an internship soon with a large global IB (non-BB). I think i might face up some scary competitions. How do I avoid being screw over by another SA and make good relationship with analysts/associates? BTW the group is small.

    Thanks in adv.

  5. Hello Brian,

    How does an Analyst go straight up to Associate?
    Are they offered or does the Analyst have to sit and talk with someone higher up before his contract expires?

    I know that most Analysts get so fed up or burn out after 2~3 years of work.
    But what about those unusual species who enjoy 140 hrs/week and want to carry on w/o going to B-school, etc?

  6. Long term intern

    Hi. I have been doing a long term internship in the M&A department of a BB bank, since February 2010 (we are in October 2010 as I write), at a regional European office.

    The M&A team here is generalist and covers a specific geography. We are #1 in our geography (that’s at least what senior people say, although I think it is more less true), and there’s only execution work. These guys are really good here and get one deal after another. Being an intern 8 months, I have already closed 3 deals, doing from day 1 the work of an analyst and working closely with associates without other analysts in the middle.

    I will become a full-time analyst only in Summer 2011, which means I will have done 1.5 years of internship. I am completely burnout from day 1, but know that after 1.5 years, 3.5 additional years of analyst program are awaiting. This means that I’ll be an analyst for 5 years.

    All analysts in this regional office have done this before (1 or 1.5 year internships before being analysts–no way you can be an analyst after a summer internship or directly, as it happens in our London/NY offices). If I had ended uni in june, I would have only interned for 1 year, but as I ended in February, I am getting 6 additional internship months.

    First 6 months I was paid only 25k€ a year, which means that I worked literally for free (taking into account taxes and rental expenses), and I had to rent a dirty room. Then I asked for a salary increase, and they offered me 40k€ for the next 4 months of internship.

    I know that I will get my offer + nobody gets fired in this office given that there’s little headcount and senior people are really good bringing in deals. The cons is that you have to take 1.5 years of internship, working till 3am on average all 7 days in your week.

    At the time I took the internship offer here, I could have gone to GS London as a full-time analyst, but I wanted to stay definitely in my country at a BB bank, and my bank offered me the chance to start working in February instead of in June as in GS, plus they said that my internship would last for 3 months, or maybe until summer 2010, but no longer than that, and that if I did it well, although there weren’t any analyst positions available, the bank would retain me as it is effectively happening. By that time, I didn’t know much about the industry + didn’t know the difference between being an intern or an analyst, the analyst entry windows only in the summer, etc.

    I have talked to them explaining that if I had gone to GS, I would be analyst 3 by the time I would be analyst 1 in my current bank, and they said that you’ve got to work hard to deserve your analyst position, that everyone else here has done a 1 year – 1.5 year long term internship in the past, that I’m in the best bank and so on. They don’t want to understand that in any normal bank (even in ours in London/NY) you are analyst from day 1, or worst case, after a summer internship, there’s no need to fight for the position for 1.5 years. I want to do real investment banking and accepted to come into this bank to stay in my country + to start working in February instead of in the summer, which was not the case in GS.
    My boss says that when I’ll be analyst 2, I might be promoted to associated given my goodwill in the bank, which according to other analysts is impossible.
    What should I do?

    I can apply to other banks and get in there as an analyst 1 or even 2, but have literally no time to send applications and interview. My only chance is to leave this job now, apply to other banks/PEs from home and see if can cover any vacancy in any other bank with the 2010 full time analyst program.

    What would you recommend me to do?

    Being an analyst for 3 years is painful enough, there’s no need to do it for 5 years, working till 3 am all 7 days in the week, surrounded by really crazy people (senior bankers are really crazy in this office), although I am getting some serious execution experience here (3 deals closed in 8 months as an intern – not sure I could get this anywhere else)

    1. I would move to a London office ASAP and avoid those shenanigans… sounds like it’s a terrible setup and 5 years of being an analyst is ridiculous. If you really do not have time to do anything, quit and apply to other jobs.

      1. Long term intern

        Thanks for your answer.

        My staffer just offered me to go to London to DCM, do there a 3 month internship, and then be what he calls “an analyst” in February, although I would actually be a pre-liner analyst, without a bonus, with a lower fixed salary, and wouldn’t be an analyst 1 until summer 2011, post NY training.

        What do you think about DCM? I think that all that bond stuff is not as useful as M&A if you want to go some day to PE + most likely obliges you to stay in banking as I feel it is something really specific to banking.

        I also have heard that bonuses are much lower in DCM.

        I am thinking seriously of leaving this bank, applying to other banks again and getting a decent analyst position at any M&A BB firm at last if vacancies are available in their 2010 programs which just have begun.

        But there’s also the risk of finding nothing / having to go to tier 2 BB banks.

        Plus I don’t know if it is possible to get back to M&A once in DCM. I’ve also heard that they work less (which has not been quantified… is it only til midnight?). It also looks like DCM is a lot more technical and has a lot more client interaction…

        1. DCM is still good for PE, though arguably not as good as M&A or LevFin. Not sure about bonuses. I would try the DCM placement in London and then if that doesn’t work well, think about applying to other bulge bracket banks. Hiring is still tough in the current market so you may not want to jump ship at the moment if there’s a better option at your existing bank.

  7. Great blog. I go to a target school and I’m working in IBD at a great firm this summer, but think I want to rerecruit in the fall just to see what else is out there. Maybe you can do a piece on what to write on your resume after a banking internship… how do you spruce up “modeled,” “prepared pitchbooks,” and “listened in on conference calls”?

  8. Hi, I’m interning at an investment bank this summer and there’s a lot of downtime since the analyst I work for is away on a meeting. I was wondering if it would be unwise to directly approach the associate/vp/md and ask them if there’s anything they need help with, or if i should just wait it out.


  9. Hi, very insightful blog!

    I’m interning in an asset management firm this summer. People in my team are all male fund managers who are about 10 years old than I am. I’m an outgoing girl, but I feel that sometimes I don’t really connect with the rest of the team. What should I do to better fit in?

    1. See what everyone else is interested in (Sports? Travel? TV/Movies?) and try to read up on it / get interested in those yourself so you have something to talk about with them.

  10. Hey, great website!
    There is a typo/missing word in the above section “Finding an Informant.” A possible correction is inside the brackets:

    “Over time, he trusted me enough to share some insights. Your “informant” can be anyone – an Analyst that’s close to you, a fraternity alumnus, your school alumnus mentor, assigned mentor, a friend that you already [know]who worked there, or anyone who you befriend.”

  11. Thanks for the reply.
    I feel the same too. It’s just that I’m a rising senior from a small non-target LACs, and currently interning at a small boutique in NYC, so I know this summer I have to be extremely aggressive in networking, meeting new bankers and setting up informational interviews etc. It’s already late May and FT recruiting starts in Sep so there isn’t much time left. Plus, I’m sure the boutique won’t offer FT position. The people there have experience on the street and once worked at BB, so it’d be great if I can get some contacts from them.
    Another question though. The boutique is a capital market firms. They say they do S&T, equity research and I-banking, but they mainly do the first two. My responsibilities are doing equity research, writing reports, contacting hedge funds…not creating pitch books, building models or being staffed on deals like official SA. Can I still put “IB Summer Analyst” on resume?

    1. If you’re mostly doing equity research I would not write IB Summer Analyst, just write Equity Research Summer Analyst

      1. I would say to write down whatever your firm calls you. That way, if a potential employer calls your previous employer, what you say matches up with what they say.

  12. Hey Brian,
    Just a quick question. I just started interning at one boutique, and I was wondering when should I start asking about references or industry contacts from the people there? And what is the appropriate way to do it? Most of them used to work at BB before switching, so they might still have some connection.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. I would wait until you’ve proven yourself and get to know them better. Personally I would only do it at the end of your internship when you’ve already found out about your full-time offer status – otherwise it’s too risky to ask people at the same bank.

  13. Congratulations on the offer. Sounds like your mentor helped out a great deal. How did you kick off your relationship with your mentor? I ask because at the beginning of a potential mentorship, the banker and I don’t know each other and he probably doesn’t care very much about me. He doesn’t want to hear about my personal life, likes/dislikes, and hobbies so I can only ask him professional questions. The problem is that I can get through those very quickly (most questions are variations of 1) tell me about your career and 2) recruiting advice). I asked the Inquisitor this question as well and got some very good advice, but I’m hoping you can shed some light on how you approached your relationship. What kinds of questions did you ask in the first couple conversations? What about followup questions in the several months afterwards? I can’t keep on using variations of the same two questions. Also, if the mentor lives far away, how often would you suggest I keep in contact through phone/email? Do you have any advice for such a “virtual” mentorship?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Guest Writer

      Dave: It all comes down to one thing: make your mentor like you, and ideally you like him/her, too.

      1. Mentor (in person) – When you first meet your mentor, in the first few minutes is the usual – background (family, school), what you’re studying, etc. But then, you have to read the guy/girl and decide “what type of person he is.” For me, I had two mentors (my bank assigned me one and my school assigned me one). The first one was more laid back, sociable, energetic, so you match that energy and we went out for drinks for the first time we got together and just talked about random things – work, school, social life, good restaurants, good bars. My second mentor was more introverted, so whenever we got together (for cofee or lunch, not the bars), we usually talked about the market and what’s going on on Wall Street, how work is going, what kind of deals I’m working on, etc. There’s no formula for this — your goal is to have a good conversation with your mentor and build a relationship (which means get the person to like you). It will take a couple of weeks to build. As a rule of thumb, I’d suggest that you try to see your mentor every 2-3 weeks, and email him weekly to update him on how everything is.

      2. Mentor (not in person) – I’m not sure I’ve heard of this, but if this were the case, I’d email the mentor once a week to “keep him posted” (but don’t write 1-page essays, 2 or 3 paragraphs should do), and maybe call him once every 2 weeks.

      Note: The mentor does care for you. I can tell from personal experience and stories, that a mentor really looks forward to meeting his mentee. It’s a very satisfying thing to be able to “mentor” or “take care of” your mentee and help out a summer intern because the mentor’s “been there.” As long as you’re not a tool and unlikeable, I’d expect the relationship with the mentor and mentee to be great. It’s very satisfying for a mentor to have a mentee who works hard, is likeable, motivated and gets the full-time offer and feel like he had a part in the process. In neuroscience, it’s proven that helping others trigger a part of your brain that’s related to “pleasure” so it’s biologically proven, too.

      After the internship: I’d stay in touch with your mentor by emailing or calling him about once every 3 months. I personally contacted mine once in the fall and once in the spring to let him know how he’s doing. Staying in touch is key.

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