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Advice for summer interns on Wall Street

For most people, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season. However, on Wall Street the summer officially begins when the interns arrive. Intern season means lots of networking events, mentoring and hangovers. When hordes of "Wolf of Wall Street" wannabes infiltrate the trading floor with their deer-in-the-headlights looks, it can be a distraction for the professionals. However, an intern doesn't have to be a distraction. Follow these rules and you'll make a positive impression — and have a shot at that highly-coveted full-time job on Wall Street.



Hey, can you spare five minutes to tell me your thoughts on the Fed?
Source: Raj Mahal
Hey, can you spare five minutes to tell me your thoughts on the Fed?

1. Your most important job is to get lunch right. I have a philosophy about getting lunch orders right. It can't make your career but it certainly can break it. How can a senior trader trust your decision-making with a trade that can make or lose millions, if you can't correctly order lunch for 15 starving traders from Shake Shack? Trading the markets can be cruel, but not as cruel as a bond trader can be when he is down millions, and you order Egg Drop instead of Hot and Sour Soup and forget the hot oil. It's about attention to detail. It is so important on Wall Street and what better way to show your attention to detail than lunch?

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I once had an intern who thought that it was OK for Blockheads to charge me $60 for lunch for one person. I don't know how they came up with that charge, but if I am paying $60 for Mexican take out, it better include a bottle of Cafe Patron and a mariachi band singing Guantanamera. Needless to say, that intern didn't make it.

2. Give them a reason to talk to you. Remember that, other than human resources, nobody really cares about interns being around. Think of it like a six-week Tinder meeting. You can be "swiped left" at any time. So when you approach your trading-floor idol, come prepared. Introduce yourself because he won't know your name. (I thought all interns should have been required to wear name tags but human resources wouldn't allow it.) Give your idol a reason to talk to you. Offer him gum, Mentos, your sister's phone number — anything of value to trade for 60 seconds of his valuable time on why he is shorting BJ Services.

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Also, you won't be doing anything important but be pleasant and attentive. Offer to do research on a company he is looking at. Offer to do spreadsheets. Offer to pick up his dry cleaning. Also, it's very important to just watch. Write down your questions and ask them after the market has closed. And when surfing the web, make sure it is work-related. Getting caught spending time on Facebook or Hollywoodtuna.com is a sure way to get a one-way ticket to Main Street.

3. Keep it together at the networking events. The reason most professionals are at these events are for the free booze. Don't be a tool. Don't start challenging a managing director to a chugging contest and call him a pus*y if he declines. If he challenges you, then by all means you had better win. Don't get rowdy and know your limit. If you've had enough, order a club soda with lime. It looks like a drink. Wall Street is all about appearances.

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Don't offer up your services for extracurricular activities. Don't tell a managing director, "If you are looking for XYZ, I've got a guy." This is Wall Street. He has a guy and certainly doesn't need you. Unless, of course, your father works at Blue Star Airlines and they are getting exonerated for a plane crash.

Also, don't make this a place to hook up. This isn't Tao in the Meatpacking district. You are going to see every one of these faces again — and sober — tomorrow. Don't give them a reason to talk about you. The only exception would be if you're going to pull V. Stiviano. Hook up with a managing director, pretend like you are some innocent soul who cares about your prey, then sue him for sexual harassment, extort money from him or have him sell you the Clippers.

4. How to dress. This is very important advice. Don't stand out with what you wear or your "look." Don't think you are Jim Rogers and wear a bow tie. Don't wear suspenders because you want to be Gordon Gekko. Don't wear a flashy belt buckle because you want to be JR Ewing. Dress like everyone else and blend in so someone from the outside can't tell you are an intern.

Wall Street also has casual Fridays in the summer. Never EVER, under any circumstances, wear khakis unless you want a job at Old Navy. I advise wearing a button down but if you are going to go with a golf shirt, make sure it's solid with a cool logo like Pebble Beach or Rolex. Don't wear the same color pants and shirt because your favorite golfer is Rickie Fowler. Don't wear big stripes unless you want your nickname to be Fatty Stripe Boy.

Dubious of any of this advice? You haven't been on Wall Street long enough to doubt ANYTHING. Shut up, keep your head down and learn the rules. You can't break a rule until you know what it is.

You're welcome.

Raj Malhotra (Raj Mahal is his stage name) is a former Wall Street trader-turned-stand-up-comedian. He has worked at Wall Street firms covering three continents, including at Bank of America, BNP Paribas and Nomura. He draws from his unique ethnic background and Wall Street career to entertain audiences nightly, highlighting the struggles of the 1 percent. He can be seen at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, NY Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, and the Tribeca Comedy Lounge. Follow him on Twitter @RajMahalTweets.

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