Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kicked out of . . . McDonald's?

Today was a good day. I sold my furniture in the morning. It actually was a pretty big pain because I had to dismember my loft bed before the guy came over to get the furniture. Then, when he was here, as we were taking the last parts of the bed down, one of the metal pieces of the bed slipped and flew right into the wall. It broke a hole in the wall about 2 inches in diameter. SO now I'll probably have to pay for that.

I ended up offering to ride out to Queens with the guy to help him unload the stuff since it was a pain to load it up. Do a good turn daily, right? It made for a long morning, but at least I got rid of my furniture and I don't have to worry about that any more. It also means I'm sleeping on the hardwood floor tonight. Oh well, it's only one night and only the second time of my internship that I'll have to sleep on the ground.

At work today I got staffed on a buy side deal that is really interesting. It's looking that I'll be working in the model so that is cool too. The two analysts on the deal told me they wanted me on it because they knew I was "the most capable intern" to be on this deal. Always good to hear when the internship is winding down.

In the evening I met up with a good friend who is out here visiting for the weekend. We had some great Indian food, then went to McDonald's for some ice cream. This guy that I was with is probably the smartest kid as far as investing goes that I've ever met. He just knows TONS of stuff about all sorts of different things, so it's always really interesting to sit down and talk with him. We talked about everything from pair trades and double short ETFs to the investment banking club at school and how we want to help out rising juniors next year.

After a while of talking a security guard came over and said, "We have a table limit here, and since you've been here for like an hour and a half, we're going to have to ask you to leave in about 10 minutes." We looked at him like, "Is this a joke?" But he was serious. It was just so weird because there were tons of empty tables around, so it wasn't like he needed to clear some space for customers. He just said that we had been there long enough unless we wanted to buy some more food. Since when does McDonald's have a table limit? He came back a few minutes later and told us we needed to leave. I was still just shocked at this, but it was actually pretty funny. So yes, I have been kicked out of McDonald's by a security guard because I was there too long after ordering my food. Awesome.

We went and met up with another friend and went downtown to hang out. At about 1:30 I decided to head home because I have to move tomorrow and I'm tired. I got on the subway and started heading back to Harlem. After a few stops, I thought it would be good to switch to an express train. Bad move. I waited 30 minutes for the next train to come. Then, when it finally came, I kind of fell asleep. I woke up and suddenly forgot which train I was on and, thinking I was still on the first train, got off at 96th street because the 2 train doesn't go to where I need to go. Well right as the train pulled away I realized that I had in fact been on the A train, which would have taken me right to where I needed to be. So I had to wait another considerable amount of time before the next A train came to get me home. It was a LONG ride home.

So it's been fun in Harlem. I never really saw any crazy stuff, but I saw today that it has the highest crime rate in New York. But even though it's a tough neighborhood, how many people in Harlem can say they are so crazy and "hard" that they had to be escorted out of McDonald's by a security guard? That's right Harlem. Eat your heart out.

P.S. Can you tell it's four in the morning and I'm not thinking quite right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bonus Time

So it's bonus season for the first year analysts. It's pretty much all they talk/think/dream about these days. I think the analysts here actually made out pretty well, especially in my group. Needless to say everyone has been in a GREAT mood today. I would be happy too if I made well over $100K my first year out of college.

The second- and third-year analysts finished today. It is really weird that they are gone now. Since our group isn't huge it's like half of the analysts in the group are gone. I'm pretty sad actually - these were some great people. I was thinking today about how much I've learned from these analysts in 6 weeks. It's crazy how much you can take in just by being around smart people. We went out to lunch as a group and I felt like I did when I graduated from high school. It was weird to think that I'll probably never see a lot of these people again.

I'm not sure how this is going to affect my work. On one hand it seems like we would have more work to do since there are fewer analysts, but on the other hand it might be harder to get a lot of work because now there are more summers per analyst. Hopefully it will be the first and I'll just be slammed for these last three weeks. It's crazy to think that the internship is coming to an end! Luckily I still have a lot of time to learn and get work done.

Well it's going to be a light weekend. The group has been busy and now it's time to do the presentations. Last night I was here until 4:30am because I had two projects that had to be done by this morning. I picked up 12 books at 3:00 am, flipped them, then sent them in a car to a VP's house so he could get them before leaving tomorrow. In the meantime I was scouring through SEC filings and research reports trying to figure out what adjustments I needed to make to 9 different companies' EBITDA and EV to reflect the purchase of new vessels. Exciting stuff to be doing at 2AM.

After many hours of pulling data together and putting it into one place, we finally got it all together and the analyst I was working with told me to go home. When I got home I had to take out the garbage because it only comes on certain days, so by the time I actually got into bed it was already starting to get light outside again. I got up at 8:30 and went straight back into the office. I guess this is what it means to really be "living the dream."

Good morning

Well it's 5:00 am and I just got home. It was a long night tonight. Too bad. The other analysts and interns went out to say goodbye to the leaving second-years, but I had to stay and work until 4:30. I'll write more about it tomorrow, but for now I'm going to bed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day in review

Maybe I'm feeling guilty for not posting every day, so I'm going to post three today. This is just an update of my day today, because I don't want to lost sight of the reason I started this blog - to give a look at what interns actually do every day.

Today was SLOW. All of the books got finished up last night, and today the teams are out around the country making pitches, doing road shows, and generating revenue for the firm. I, on the other hand, was back in New York with not much to do for once. So I got a hair cut. Man it was nice. This really old lady gave me a scalp massage before she cut my hair and it was amazing. Kinda weird, but really nice for relieving stress.

This afternoon I helped one of the second-year analysts pack up his stuff. He's leaving to go to Private Equity next week and is pretty much checking out. I also made some updates on a book that's due next week. It wasn't much, just creating graphs of the historical stock price for the past three years and adding in annotations of important events that have happened in that time frame. I also worked on adjusting Revenue and EBITDA numbers for a shipping company to reflect the fact that they bought ships partway through the year but were accounting for the debt as if they had held the ships since January 1. It was kind of complicated because they are not a US company, but at least it gave me something to do for a few hours.

The interns mobilized and got lunch for everybody today. It was a big ordeal to get 30 lunch orders correct, but we pulled it off. One of the associates still owes me $8.50, but he is kinda crazy so I'll give it a day before I bring it up with him.

Tonight I talked with two of the analysts about recruiting and what they are planning on doing after they are done with their two years. They both have offers to stay for a third year, but they aren't sure if they'll stay or go to PE or a hedge fund.

I spent some time reading research reports and catching up on the general news of the nation. Lots of interesting stuff happening these days. That was about it. The intern that sits next to me who is from Trinidad & Tobago taught me how to play cricket using a baseball bat (a cool deal toy if I ever saw one - it's a real bat!) and a rubber ball we found. I left at 9:45 and came home.

I'm getting kicked out of my apartment on June 30th so I'm trying to sell my furniture before I leave. It's a stressful thing to do mid-internship. I would definitely recommend that you make sure you can stay in whatever apartment you are in for the summer for the ENTIRE time you need it instead of having to worry about getting another place to stay right in the middle of your internship. Live and learn, right?

Well things are going well, and now that it's 11:00pm I'm going to go drop off my laundry around the corner. Peace out.

More Q&A

I like when you ask questions! Here are a few more:

"How many non-native speakers are there in your department? Which kind of expectations lie upon them, in comparison to the other interns?"

In my group there are quite a few non=native speakers. I work closely with a guy from Quebec whose native language is French. There are quite a few people in my group who are from South America and either speak Portuguese or Spanish. I also work with three people whose native language is Russian. So I have a pretty diverse group. I think that actually they have the same expectations that all of us do to perform and to get work done. They are expected to be able to read/write just like the rest of us. It's not like we have to produce huge documents or anything, but you need to be able to describe things in bullet point form and put your ideas onto a slide.

For Cally, you can email me at, or just post your questions in the comments and I'll respond.

"I'm curious whether having a finance background is directly advantageous for performing well during the internship/full time."

Having a finance background is by no means necessary for the job. Probably more than half the people I work with don't have a finance background. BUT, having a finance background is of course directly advantageous in this job, because that's what you're doing. I feel like I am ahead of a lot of the other interns because I know a lot about finance and I don't get lost when we start talking about deferred taxes and merger arbitrage.

I've taken two introductory accounting classes and a financial accounting class, two financial management classes, an investments class, an asset management class, and a class about investment banking. I've also taken an econ class and a few other business-related classes. I think that the more accounting classes you can take (not tax accounting, but more like corporate finance-related stuff) the better for this job, since all you do is deal with financial statements.

The non-core school

I just want to make a few comments about what it’s like coming from a “non-core” school. All of the investment banks have certain target schools that they always actively recruit from. They go on campus and make presentations, then come and interview on campus for spots in the internship. I did not come from a core school, so I want to talk a little about what it was like to get an internship.

If you are not on the core list, it means that you will have to work pretty hard to get a spot at a bank. You have to somehow prove to them that even though you don’t go to a school in the Ivy League, you are still a smart kid with lots of desire and skills to be an investment banker. I think the biggest disadvantage besides not having interviews on campus is just the fact that you have to overcome a stigma that many people have of not being from a well-known business school. But, if you are really smart and know what you’re talking about, you can impress people and still end up in a good spot.

I flew out to New York on my own dime four times in the year leading up to interviews just so I could meet people at different banks and figure out what it is that investment bankers do. I called tons of bankers and sent hundreds of emails. And it wasn’t just me. Everyone from my school who got an internship at an investment bank flew out to New York at least once before interviews started just to network and meet people. If they don’t come to you, you have to go to them.

This really did make a difference and I feel like it proved to people in New York that I was meeting with that I really was serious about this job and I really want it. Plus, it helped me a lot to understand how banks are set up, what analysts do, and how you get from Lehman Brothers in mid-town to Goldman Sachs downtown and back to Morgan Stanley without going the wrong direction on a subway train.

Some banks are pretty closed to outside recruiting, especially in tough markets. Others seem to really emphasize finding the best people regardless of what school they come from. No matter what though, you just have to get your name out there, make sure your resume is perfect, and make sure you can sell yourself and tell your story in 5 minutes or less.

I work with quite a few people who didn’t go to “core” schools, but honestly most of the people I work with went to the Ivy League. Summer Associates just joined my group last week and they are from the following schools: two from Penn (Wharton), one from Harvard Business School, one from Duke, and two from NYU (Stearn). So even with the MBA students it’s mostly just people from the top-10 B-schools. It’s possible to get in from a non-core school, but it’s a lot of work and time to get in the door.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Question from Megan:

As a girl, I'm curious--roughly what proportion of your colleagues are female? Do you know any female bankers who are married and/or have families?

Also: what's the dress code in your group?

Actually I was pretty surprised how diverse it is out here. There are the same number of female interns in my group as male interns. Full-time, there is probably about a 2-to-1 ratio of guys to girls. So yeah - probably 33% are girls. The other thing is that the more senior you go, the fewer girls there are. I don't know any female bankers that are married or have families. I'm sure they exist, but I've never met or even heard of a female banker with a family.

Dress code pretty much depends on the bank. When I interviewed at all the different banks this is something that I noticed. Where I work it's business formal every day except Fridays (during the summer), and I like it that way. It helps me to remember that I'm supposed to be getting work done and not messing around. I know other banks are a lot more casual too, so it just depends on where you are.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Long Walk

So tonight when I left the office I didn't feel like taking a subway home so I decided to start walking. I walked for a really long time and got to Central Park. I decided it would be cool to see how long the park really is, so I walked all the way along the park. That's from 59th street to 110th street. It was actually really nice to walk up there. You can tell that the apartments on the west side of the park are occupied by really rich people.

So it was really crazy because as soon as I crossed 110th street at the top of the park, it was like walking into a totally different world. Everything was dirty and run down and I was a minority. It was crazy how quickly things changed.

All in all I walked about 100 blocks. I didn't make it all the way to 142nd where I live, because after a while things got really sketchy and a guy started following me so I just got on the subway at 112th street. It was like 11:30 at night and I didn't want to take any chances.

The lease on my apartment is up June 30th so that means I'll have to be leaving and going to a new apartment. I think it will be kind of a pain to have to move right in the middle of my internship, but since I'm only paying $350 a month in rent, I can't complain.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back in Action

Well sorry it's been so long. It's been a good week. A few good friends from BYU were out here this week for training before starting at a different office. It was really great to see somebody familiar out here. We had a good time talking about how to excel in our internships and I think they're both going to be really good. One of them started a blog similar to this one and you can check it out at Good stuff.

So today we had a (mandatory) volunteer service project. It was really fun actually. We went out to the Bronx to a school and taught kids about malaria and other diseases around the world. They made flags, posters, and played basketball. For each shot they made, the bank donated a certain amount of money to help fight disease. It was cool to interact with hundreds of 7th and 8th graders from the area. They were really energetic and lively, and it was very fun to be out of the bank and doing good for other people.

The other thing that everybody talks about right now is compensation. This is the time of year when the analysts find out their bonuses, and when somebody from JP Morgan in London sent out an email telling what their bonuses were for the first-third years, it was immediately forwarded all over the street. I got this email from three different people, and the email chain had people from JP Morgan, UBS, Lehman, Credit Suisse, Goldman, Lazard, and other places. I of course perpetuated the chain and forwarded it on to another bank. Pretty crazy how interconnected the Street is. Most first-year analysts have about a $60-65K base with anywhere from a $35-80K bonus depending on where you are and how you do. It's a lot of money for your first year out of college.

Well I'm going to get back into the day-to-day flow of things and the posting will be daily again. Sorry for the hiatus. Back to banking!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One more question...

Another question:

What I would like to ask you is, how often you encounter people with no educational background in business/finance? Did you meet any career changers so far?

I think it is fairly common for non-business majors to end up in I-banking. Generally they are very smart people and learn the finance quickly after starting here. Actually most of my group did not study business in college, but they are all extremely bright and know a ton about how companies work.

The first associate I worked with out here used to be in consulting. He worked as a consultant for a major firm for a few years, then went to business school and wanted to switch to banking. It's really common for people to change careers from consulting to banking. I think it's generally harder for somebody like an accountant or engineer to switch over without doing an MBA, but I'm sure it happens.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Attention to Detail

I just want to comment on what "attention to detail" really means. I thought that I understood it coming in, but that's something that I've actually learned a lot about.

At the start of the internship, and back when I was interviewing, I figured that I had good attention to detail. I could pay attention to things, double-check numbers, and make sure that things looked right. I figured that I was good at getting things right and that I would be just fine.

I guess I just never actually thought about what it means to have attention to detail until I got out here. Watching the other analysts, I've learned what they think it means. For example, every bank has a certain format that they use for everything they do in Excel and PowerPoint. We always have "Total" cells double underlined and single overlined, bold, and the lines are in grey. The first cell in a column of many cells will have a dollar sign, while the others won't. When we are listing multiples, the "sales" multiples will have two decimal places, while the margin multiples will have one. These little things are easy to miss, and I've made many formatting mistakes since I've been here. But these analysts don't miss a thing - they take one look at a slide and immediately see when things aren't in the right format. This is attention to detail.

I was working with an analyst on making a chart and putting it into a presentation. Before the formatting, the analyst checked every cell's formula to make sure the correct cells were referenced. He checked the data in the cells against the data in the 10-K. It was crazy - it was like re-doing the work, just faster. After he had gone through cell by cell to format everything correctly, he put it into Powerpoint, printed it out, then went back through and checked everything again. For some reason when you print out pages and look at them, mistakes pop out a lot quicker than looking at it on the screen. He changed a few things, re-read the slide a few more times, then printed it out again to check it again. When he was satisfied, we put it into an email to send out to everybody.

It took him a minute to write out the email, and then he re-read the email probably 3-4 times to make sure it was ok and nothing was misspelled or out of place. He put the people he was sending it to in order of seniority and alphabetically. After all of this was checked, he attached the slide. He then opened the link to make sure the slide opened ok when it was clicked. Finally he sent off the email.

Before the internship I would probably have just put the slide together, thrown together an email, then sent it off. More than once I've sent emails to my friends before where I am supposed to attach something and I send it without attaching it. This just wouldn't fly out here. That's what it means to have attention to detail.

You don't make those kinds of mistakes because you double and triple-check everything before you pass it off to somebody else. You print it out and look at it to make sure it doesn't print weird. You make sure that if you say on Slide 3 that LTM EBITDA is $245.9, that on the comps page it also says that LTM EBITDA is $245.9.

All of this is vital to doing well as an analyst. You don't get a ton of responsibility on deals, so the parts that you "own" need to be perfect. It's almost like everybody out here has OCD and they are almost paranoid to turn something in that has a "bust" in it. It's funny, but also good to get to that level.


Today I'm going to answer a few questions that I've received about what it's like out here.

1) Do analysts go out together ? If they do, how often ? Where (bar or club) ?

The answer is yes, but I think it really depends on the group that you’re in. Each bank has its own “culture” or “feel” to it. This on a global sense is very true. You can get an overall feel for the different banks by talking to people who work there and visiting the banks. But within each bank there are tons of groups, each with its own sub-culture. Some groups like to “work hard and play hard,” while some emphasize face-time.

My group is definitely one that likes to go out together. We have a family feel in our group and everybody works really well together. Every Friday our group goes out for drinks together to a different bar in the city. I don’t drink, but I go anyway because it’s important to be a part of the group. A few we interns from my group have gone out together to different places in the city. So the answer is yes – I think most groups do go out together.

2) Do you sometimes talk with analysts about non business related topics ? If you do, when do you do it ? (lunch I guess)

We talk all the time about non-business related topics. Definitely at lunch, although a lot of the time at lunch we just talk about people in our group and stories that have happened. During the day you often don’t have time to be telling stories or talking about the NBA finals because you are jammed and have a deadline to meet, but when things slow down all people do is talk about stuff outside of the deals we’re working on. I’ve had conversations about French poetry, Big Brown, traveling in Greece, religion, and tons of other things.

3) What are your relations with the other interns ? You don't seem to talk with them much!

I guess I didn’t realize that I don’t talk about the other interns too much. There are six of us in the group and we all get along really well. The other interns are from east-coast schools and are all pretty sharp. Not all of them have finance backgrounds, but most do. I sit right next to a guy from Trinidad and he is awesome. All of the interns usually eat lunch together every day, and like I said, we’ve gone out as a group of interns a few times.

It doesn’t feel too much like we’re competing for full-time jobs against each other. I think it would be detrimental to have that kind of mindset because you would always be out to get people. Instead we help each other a lot and rely on each other a lot. I feel like if we just do well and work hard, each of us could get an offer to come back. We probably won’t all end up back here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see most of these kids back here a year from now.

4) Do you sometimes work together with another interns on a project ? Or is it always 1 analyst + 1 intern ?

The group size depends on the size of the deal and the amount of time it takes to get through things. Usually it’s just 1 Vice President, 1 Associate, 1 Analyst, and 1 Intern. On all of the projects I’ve worked on it’s just been me and the analyst or me and the associate working on the parts that I’m given. I think there have been deals where more than one intern worked on it, but it’s not how it normally is done.

5) What kind of guy is the typical analyst ? More like a social person, more like a hard-worker who stays focused and doesnt go out ?How about their humor ? Do they often joke ? Can you make jokes or is it not a good idea ?

A typical analyst around here is smart, a quick learner, funny, outgoing, and pretty type-A personality. There are very few people who are introverted and shy – banking is a pretty open lifestyle. People joke around all the time, but I think that also is a function of what is normal for the group you’re in.

So hopefully that adds a little color to the life out here. I'm not doing too much today, just checking some work to make sure the numbers are right. It will be a nice weekend.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More Competition

Today the Summer Associates arrived. A little more on that later. I came in early this morning to finish a book for an MD. It turned out pretty well beacuse I did the whole book by myself, made some changes, and hand-delivered the book to the MD. He actually remembered my name and we talked for a while. The MD's are all pretty cool guys, they just don't have the time to spend talking with summer interns.

Later this morning that same MD came over to my desk and asked me to come up with a few more slides for him. It was good that he came straight to me instead of going through an analyst. Hopefully this will continue to happen.

All of the analysts (except for one who was slammed) went out to lunch today with us interns. We had to keep it short because everybody is busy, but it was fun to be out in the beautiful weather as a group. It turns out that I just ordered last night from the same place we went to for lunch, but I still liked it.

So the summer associates are here - all of them from major MBA programs. I probably won't be working with them very much. They are going to be depending on the analysts a lot to teach them the ropes because the real associates still have to do their jobs and don't have time to sit around and train all day. The analysts don't have time either, but it doesn't matter - they just make time!

Well tongiht all I need to do is put some slides together for a pitch for next Wednesday, so it's not a high-pressure situation. It should be a pretty light weekend for once!

Mid-Summer Reviews

Well today I had my half-way point review. I came in and sat down with my staffer and a woman from HR. About a week ago I was asked to submit to HR a list of 5-6 people that I had worked most closely with. It was kind of hard because I've only been here for three weeks, but I just put down all the analysts and associates that I've worked for, and that was it.

So today the staffer went through five areas that I was rated on by each person. It turns out that everybody thinks I'm doing really well. I was pretty surprised at some of the comments. I knew that BYU prepared me well to be here, but the comments were things like, "top of the class in finance/accounting skills" and "very smart - picks up things quickly." It was all good news. Some of the things that they really liked about what I've done are things like not making the same mistake twice (the staffer said this one is HUGE), not asking too many questions, being proactive in seeking out work without being annoying, and having a passion for the work. I was surprised that the analysts saw all that in my work, but I definitely wasn't going to say it wasn't true!

As far as things to work on, the staffer said he didn't have anything for me to work on. He said, "You've set the bar for your second half really high, but I expect you to at least perform as well and hopefully much better than you did in the first half. You still don't really know anything compared to where you could be, so keep asking questions, seeking work, and we'll see you back here full-time!" He warned me not to get complacent just because I did well in the first half. He said, "You still have half the internship to prove yourself, so keep doing what you've been doing and you'll be just fine." I was pretty happy with how it went, and I'm determined to do better for the second half.

I'm feeling a little better after constantly downing Dayquil. I'm pretty sure the problem is lack of sleep, but can't help that much. Tonight I was working on a project and was wrapping things up at about 8:30 when another analyst that I work for a lot asked if I could help him with something. I hesitated, then thought about what the staffer said, and decided I would do it. It ended up being a good thing because he basically asked me to work through a deck on my own. He went to a meeting for three hours and I worked through it. He of course checked all my work when I got back, but it was cool that he trusted me to get the job done on my own. It wasn't anything too hard - just comps and a few charts, but I like the feeling of ownership over my work.

I left the office at about 1:15 and have to be back at 7:30 to finish up a book that the Creative Department is modifying for me tonight. Well, the internship is halfway over already and it's going really fast! I'm looking forward to seeing some of the interns from school and full-timers coming up in the next few weeks at other banks. Good luck everybody!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Well this will be quick because I'm sick. My body is rebelling because I won't let it sleep. Tomorrow we have mid-internship reviews. It will be good to hear some feedback on how I've done so far and what kinds of things I can work on. As far as I can tell things will be mostly positive, so I'm not too worried.

I worked through the Accretion / Dilution model today. There was some crazy stuff in there, especially trying to calculate pro forma diluted shares while taking into account convertible notes. Good thing the analyst I was working with knew what he was doing . . . not. We kind of worked through that part together and hoped for the best. It was also too bad that the deal ended up being massively dilutive, but the company doesn't really care since it's a strategic deal.

Today I had lunch with another analyst and a VP. The VP paid for my lunch but not the analyst's. It was pretty funny/awkward. I gave the analyst a hard time later on about it. It pays to be an intern.


So today it was over 100 degrees in New York City - pretty much miserable. I left the apartment at 7:45 and was instantly overheating. I can't believe how warm it has been the last three days. I can't sleep at all because I don't have AC or a fan. It's terrible. I guess tomorrow it's supposed to "only" be in the 80s. Thank goodness.

Today I think I finally really saw the fruits of the hard work I've done since I got out here. The analysts are starting to trust me more, and so today I had work all day long. This might sound like a bad thing, but when you're only here for eight weeks and your getting an offer is based upon the work that you do, you want to be working all the time and not just sitting around. I usually have things to work on, but lately the quality of the work has been increasing. Today none of the other interns were staffed (which is very rare), and I was working on two deals at once. It was stressful because both deal teams had deadlines and wanted me to be getting them their stuff right away, but it was also a good experience to work under some pressure and perform well.

I just got staffed on a live deal and was told tonight that I'm in charge of modeling the accretion/dilution. Sweet! Of course it will be checked over by the analyst and then the associate, so there's no chance that what I do will eventually come back to me, but it's cool to be the one building it out. This also came about because I took some initiative last week. I worked on an M&A deal and I asked the analyst I was working with to walk me through the Acc/Dil section of the model. He showed it to me and we talked about how it works, and that was it. Then I stayed late a few nights and re-built the accretion/dilution model from scratch to make sure that I knew how to do it and that I could actually see the moving parts coming together.

So today the analyst that I'm working with told me that he had heard that I rebuilt the acc/dil model and asked me if I felt like I could do it for real on this deal that we're doing. I told him that I knew I could do it (you always have to be confident in yourself even if you don't feel like you know what you're doing). So tomorrow I'll be working on some acc/dil. Cool stuff.

Thursday is my mid-way review. Basically they survey the people that you've worked with and then talk to you about what you've done well and what you can improve. I think that I already know what they'll say. I just need to pay even more attention to detail. I need to think, "What is the analyst going to have to do with this when I give it to him/her?" and then go and do that one-off task.

Well it's late and I have to be in early to get a book to an MD. He's pretty old-school and likes to just draw slides on a paper with a pencil and then say, "Make this happen." So with the crazier slides we usually ship it to the production people and they do it, since I don't have time to build out a multi-variable bubble graph, but the production people do it in their sleep. Anyway, the book is due by 8AM and I told the analyst he could sleep in and that I would take care of it. Sacrifice for the team.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Answering a few questions...

One of you asked about Excel 2003 vs. 2007. To my knowledge nobody on the Street uses 2007 at all. It would really screw things up around here if we suddenly changed to 2007. Lots of the firms have Excel add-ins that are proprietary to the firms that work through 2003. For example, our firm has lots of custom shortcuts so that you can set cell formats in specific ways with one shortcut. It saves a lot of time and is pretty helpful. I don't think that the banks will be shifting to Excel 2007 any time soon.

As far as things that I wish I would have done more/less of to prepare for the internship, here are some thoughts:

I wish that I would have done even more in Excel to learn the shortcuts and just be comfortable working in it. I actually did a lot of work and knew most of the shortcuts that we use here, which has been REALLY helpful and has set me apart from some of the other interns. But you can always do more to prepare. It's just good to know how to do things like group/ungroup columns and rows, navigate around cells/sheets/workbooks, and especially how to audit cells (things like F2, Alt [, Alt TUT, etc).

As far as learning finance and accounting, that's another thing you could never get enough of. They don't expect interns to know anything, but the more you know the easier your life is. If you know how to calculate EBITDA or find the diluted shares outstanding, you'll be able to just bust it out instead of asking an analyst how to do it. Then when they see that you know how to do it, they give you better stuff to work on. The Vault Guide is a good start, but it's only a start. Learn as much finance and accounting as you can and you won't be sorry.

Exercise! Since you work all the time out here, it's pretty hard to get time to go running or work out, so take advantage of that all you can before you come out. Seamless web is great but it's not good for the waistline to eat a $25 meal every night.

PowerPoint. Basically everything I do in PowerPoint (which is a lot) is automated by the Firm's software. It wouldn't really help to become a whiz in PPT because you don't have to build the slides yourself anyway. You just do the calcs in Excel, then import it into PPT and use the Firmware to gin it up and make it look nice.

Financial Modeling. I have to be careful here because it is very important to know how a model works and what is behind it, but I'm talking about paying a ton of money to learn to build a simple DCF. It seemed like a really important thing to do before I came out here to learn how to build a DCF model. It's just funny now thinking back to that because you don't really get to just build a model from scratch as an intern unless you're just practicing. If you do work on a model, some analyst or associate has already been working on it for a while and just needs you to work on a specific part of it. I guess I can say that any experience working with financials, looking up 10-Ks and Qs, and then putting it into Excel is good practice. The models out here are way more complex than the ones I built at school, but I guess it was good practice.

Let me know if you have any other specific questions about the internship or life in NYC.

CFA > The Analyst

Hey everybody. Sorry I haven't posted in a while - I took a day off (from posting - not the internship) for the CFA and then the internet in my apartment wasn't working over the weekend. I'm waiting for the research guys to send me back some information about past deals, so I have a few minutes to give an update of what's been going on for the past few days.

So the CFA Exam was a beast. I was stressed out because I hadn't studied as much as I would have liked to for such a major exam. I went on eBay two weeks ago to buy a calculator that is allowed for the exam, and it was supposed to come in 2-3 days. It never came. I borrowed one from one of the analysts here, but I only had one day to figure out how it works, so that was a little annoying as well.

We took the test in a huge auditorium at some events center down by Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. There must have been 3000-4000 people there all sitting for the Level I exam. Most of the people looked like they were in their 20's, but I saw quite a few peope who had to be over 40. I sat next to an Australian and a Romanian, so there was a good international showing.

So the exam was pretty tough, and I wish I would have studied the statistics stuff more. It seemed like there was a lot of calculating standard deviations and variances. I really have no idea what my overall score would be or if I will pass. I would say that on about 55-60% of the questions I felt confident that I had the right answer. On another 20-25% of the questions, I had it narrowed down to two chioces and I don't know if I chose correctly or not. on the remaining 15-25%, I either couldn't narrow it down to two or I just guessed because I had never heard of what they were asking about.

All in all I think that most people I talked to got nailed on the exam, and we'll just have to wait and see how it turns out. After the test I went back to the office for a few hours and worked on some company profiles. It feels good not to have that test hanging over my head, and now I can just use my "free" time to re-build models. I'm working on a simple accretion/dilution model right now.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Late Night Jammin

So it's 1:30 AM and I'm basically waiting on another analyst to finish one last page of a deck so I can get out of here. Things were pretty slow all day today until about 4PM, when I got staffed on a deal that has to be done tomorrow. I basically just had to profile some companies, gather financial data from 10-Ks, 10-Qs, and research reports (for the forward-looking estimates). The problem is that the formatting is sometimes really tricky to get just right. Little changes mess up the formatting and that's where I spent the majority of my time tonight. It's really frustrating when some Office program won't do what you think it's supposed to be doing.

I thought for a little while that tonight might be my first all-nighter, but it ended up that I got through the second half of pages much faster than the first. Once I figured out where to get the data and how to put it together, things went really fast.

I'm already getting faster at Excel navigation. It seems kind of funny to make a big deal of it, but seriously it saves you so much time not to use the mouse. About six months ago one of my friends and I decided to start only using Excel through the keyboard. That was a great decision. I learned tons of shortcuts that are really helping now. That's one area that I am WAY ahead of the other interns on. Of course, the bank does have its own special shortcuts which are really nice, but if you already know all the other shortcuts then learning a few more is no big deal. It is pretty amazing to watch the second-year analysts getting around in Excel. They go so fast that things just pop up on the screen - you can't even follow what they're doing.

Well I'm tired and I don't have much of anything important to write about, I just thought that since I have a few minutes I could write some things down while I wait. This is the second night in a row where I've been here pretty late. I can't complain though; I would much rather be busy than be sitting around out here. This is exactly what I want to be doing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Craziness on Wall St.

So Lehman Brothers has been hitting some hard times and it has made me reflect on how weird it is out here sometimes. When you think about Lehman or Bear Stearns, it's strange because for most of the bank, it's just business as usual. In the IBD nothing changes - you just keep on working and you have no idea that somewhere on some other floor there are traders trying to pull off hedges against your bank's huge mortgage-backed security exposure. You have no idea that your job is on the brink as you sit there and spread comps.

It's just crazy to think that at a place like Bear, all of the analysts felt like things were going well. Everybody looked busy, deals were getting done, pitches were being made. Then all of a sudden you start to hear that some crazy stuff is going on with lenders, hedge funds, short sellers, and everybody else. Before you know it, JP Morgan is there paying $2 per share and you're out of a job.

The traditional investment banking divisions are strong, but they don't bring in nearly as much revenue as the prop desks and trading departments do. Huge trades can bring in a ton of revenue, but they can also cause you to implode.

It's just weird to sit here and read about stuff going on at banks on the Street and realize that at any moment, somewhere in the bank, some trader could cost me my job, no matter how strong my group is or how many deals we're doing. What a crazy place this is!

Seamless Web

Well it's 1:18 AM and I just got home. I guess tonight before I go to bed I'll write a little about Seamless Web - every analyst's best friend. First though, a quick run-down on the day.

Things for me were pretty slow through the morning. I got in right at about 9:00 AM, which is pretty late for me. I spent most of the morning studying options, swaps, and other derivatives. For lunch I went out with my mentor to a really nice place and got the best steak I've ever had. It was amazing. We talked a lot about college and I realized more than ever how different my college experience has been from the "normal" colleges around the USA. Thank goodness!

In the afternoon I got staffed on a sell-side M&A deal with a short fuse. It was pretty intense because I had to work quickly and not make any mistakes. We got through the book pretty quickly and without too many problems. At about 9:30 the book came back with comments so I made the changes and double-checked everything. That took a while because some of the changes were formatting things that took a while to figure out how to fix up.

Sometimes it seems like the MD's and SVP's think that you can just move everything around on a slide as easily as they can draw it on a piece of paper. It's almost funny the things they have you change. When we were hearing how to fix one slide, I was thinking in my mind, "He probably has no idea that what he just drew on that slide will take about 30 minutes to update."

So anyway, it was a good night. When you have work to do, time flies and you wish you had more time to get things right and triple-check everything before you have to turn it in with your name attached to it.

So about Seamless Web. Every big bank on the street has this system. It's basically the way that you get food every night. It kind of depends on the bank, but generally if you stay in the office after 7:00 or 8:00 PM, you get $25 to spend on dinner. That doesn't mean that you have to wait until 8:00 to eat, it just means that if you get dinner at 6:30 then you better stay until at least 8:00 (but seriously, as an analyst, will you ever NOT be in past 8:00?).

Everything is done online. You have a list of 200+ restaurants in New York that you can choose from. When you pick a restaurant, you see their entire menu and you just add whatever you want. Seamless Web automatically adds a nominal tip for you, plus tax, so you can see a running total of how much it will cost you as you add things. It's awesome! Any kind of food you want is on there. Last night I just got a sandwich and a little tub of pistachios. Tonight I got a wrap, plus a sandwich for lunch tomorrow (so I don't have to spend $10 for lunch). You can basically get any type of food and dessert imaginable, every night of the week. If you work weekends, you get two meals per day.

The more senior analysts and associates will sometimes have the interns order for large groups of people. Because Seamless Web will just split the overall costs with everybody equally, usually it ends up that everybody owes $22 or so. The analysts will then order cases of Life Water or Coke to stock up their mini fridges using the $3 per person that's left over. It's funny how you learn all the tricks of survival out here.

Anyway, that's Seamless Web. Along with late-night car service, it's one of the few perks of staying so late in the office. Well, I just got an email that I'm needed back at the office, so see ya later!

I added the options to receive updates on the blog by email or for you all to subscribe to Atom feeds, so enjoy! Thanks for the comments.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Interns and I-banks

I had an interesting insight today. Being an intern is like being an investment bank. You want all the (quality) work you can possibly get, and there is competition to get it. I'm up "against" other interns who are all smart, driven, hard-working, and ready to do whatever the analysts ask. All of us interns talk with the analysts a lot, work with them, and are becoming their friends. But, when it comes down to getting work done, that's where you start to work like a bank.

Bankers get business through relationships. What they want is that whenever a client has any type of financing/deal making needs, they are the first bank to come to mind. Bankers want the client to actually feel bad for turning to someone else before them.

In a like manner, you want to be in the front of the analyst's mind. As an intern you want the analysts to think of you right away when they need something to get done right. You want them to know that if they only have 15 minutes to get this done, you will get it done in 13 and you'll refill their coffee with your remaining two minutes.

Although it's hard to distinguish yourself from other interns, especially since we all do basically the same things and we all have about the same relationships with the analysts/staffers/associates, I've started thinking more about how I can move myself up the line. It probably has been on my mind a lot today because none of the interns have really had much to do. I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage because I don't sit by any analysts, so I can't just look across to the opposite cube and ask a question. I actually have to leave my desk and go looking for somebody. But today I went around and asked, "What can I do to get you home earlier tonight?" The analysts really seemed to like that kind of attitude.

It's true though - you are basically here to make the analyst's life better. You want them to be happy and you want them to be successful because they have you working for them.

Anyway, it's an interesting connection. As an analyst I'm doing the very thing that the banks do - getting into the front of the line and trying to get work.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Summer in the City

Today I saw two friends from school that are out here doing internships with me. It was interesting to compare and contrast our internships so far. It seems like things are generally the same. I've actually worked less than one of my friends and more than the other. I'm guessing that by the end of the summer it will all even out. The workload seems to ebb and flow even on a day to day basis.

Well I'm gearing up for a long week of CFA study and finally the big test on Saturday. I'm nervous because I feel like there's still a lot I don't "own" but I'll do the best I can. It's hard to find time to really study out here, which is why I should have studied more this past semester. Oh well - live and learn, right? Luckily a lot of the stuff on the exam is stuff I've learned before, so it will be a lot of review.

Well good luck with the week everybody!