Now that Fourth of July weekend is behind us the summer is in full swing, your interns are finally getting settled in.
In fact, they've probably adjusted to the good natured hazing they've experienced on the trading desk — like testing their resourcefulness by asking them to bring you a root beer float.
Perhaps the time is right to sit them down for a little heart-to-heart chat about the perils and opportunities that lie ahead of them.
With a little time and effort, you can be their Virgil in Wall Street's underworld: The Internship.
By Ash Bennington
Posted 5 July 2011
We all know it because we've all done it. Asking strangers for money on the phone is probably the worst thing you'll do in your career, but it builds tenacity and forces you to develop an enormous tolerance for rejection. If you're perceptive, cold calling will teach you the one sacred truth you need to succeed in this world: Life is a straight-up numbers game, baby.
Lots of people on Wall Street have enormous egos. When they talk to you, an intern, they don't actually expect you to speak to them in return. You just need to listen and nod attentively—like you're hearing the great riddles of the universe solved for your benefit. This may sound demeaning but it isn't. Not having to talk much or commit to anything is one of the biggest benefits of your internship.
It sounds shocking, but it's true. Not only that, he'll feel good about it because it will make him feel powerful and strong. (For an explanation, see next item.)
Almost everybody on Wall Street is overextended. Your boss may have no idea how he's going to cover the 40K he owes American Express next month—but it will make him feel better about his own situation to peel off a dozen twenties and hand them to you. To him, it's literally taxi fare: To you, it's a month's worth of groceries.
Speaking of groceries, you should sign up for one of those fancy online grocery delivery services. Yeah, it's a little more expensive than shopping in a discount grocery store. But—and trust me on this—you'll never actually make it to a discount grocery store.
If you don't keep food in your apartment, it will always be easier to go to Brother Jimmy's for a burger and a beer than to go grocery shopping. Especially when you're really hungry. The problem is this: As far as I know, no one under thirty has ever left Brother Jimmy's after one beer and a burger. By the time last call rolls around, you'll have blown through your food budget for the week. (Really, trust me on this.)
If you've never had to think about buying groceries in New York, it means you're still living with your parents and commuting into the city. Dude, pony up and move out of your mom's basement. There are lots of desperate people on Craig's List who are stuck with huge rents they can't cover by themselves—and that's a major opportunity for you. You don't want to be the person who always has to leave early to catch the last train back to Jersey.
Speaking of Jersey, when your buddies from high school get a ratty shore house in Seaside Heights, tell them you'd love to go in on the share—but you're working so hard at the bank that it doesn't make sense for you to buy in this year.
Then, you stay in the city for the first few weekends in July—and make them feel really guilty when they tell you how awesome their weekend was. The beauty is this: When you start showing up at the beach later in the summer your friends will actually be thrilled to see you. Best of all, it will be free. Just bring beer—nobody likes a freeloader.
Never make eye contact with anyone on the street carrying a clipboard. Even if you come from one of the really polite sections of the country, like the South, you'll eventually adjust to it.
Just stare at the sidewalk when you walk by anyone who looks like they may be conducting a survey or collecting signatures. (Note: You'll know when you've gotten it right when you're walking to Penn Station and you get ignored by the guys handing out discounted tickets to the Empire State Building: With enough practice, they'll know you're not a tourist from a hundred yards away.)
Come to think of it, there are lots of other people you should be avoiding as well. Fortunately, NetNet has your back : Review our list, in case you missed it the first time around.
Drinking with your managing director on a Thursday night will only create a false sense of intimacy and equality: Your MD will feel compelled to overcompensate for drunkenly telling you about his fraternity days by icily shunning you on Friday morning.
Nobody buys it when you're throwing up in the bathroom on a Friday morning with the "Stomach Flu". Not for one second. We were young once too.
If you're ever really losing a debate about economics break out this line: "What you're saying is totally irrelevant—because all complex phenomena are inherently non-linear." (No one will understand what it means—but that's ok because just about nobody really understands economics in the first place.)
When your boss tells you "It doesn't really matter what your role is — it just matters that you're part of the team" he's struggling to keep a straight face.
In fact, if your boss tells you job titles are irrelevant he's almost begging you to call him on his bluff. Telling him it's total nonsense may get you fired, but you'll have the satisfaction of seeing his face when you suggest that he spend the next 12 hours staring at a pivot table while you head out to the Hamptons to play the back nine at Shinnecock.
Some people will dislike you if you look like you were one of the cool kids in high school—especially if they weren't.
People do judge you by where you went to college. (Paradoxically, this is especially true of people who are a little ashamed about where they went to school. Those who attended elite liberal arts colleges typically harbor no illusions about the practical value of their education.)
Circulating a "comical" email that makes fun of your coworkers as an homage to Bess will get you fired nearly as fast as showing up to the office drunk.
When Carney takes an outrageously contrarian position, he's got a file cabinet full of GAO statistics and case law citations to support his argument. When you take the same heterodox position, you'll sound hopelessly uninformed—or just plain unhinged.
After 2 a.m. nobody will remember to text you the address of the bar they're meeting at.
If you don't believe in hell, you haven't waited for the 6 Train in August.
The women on CNBC are actually more beautiful in person—but knowing this will only break your heart.
Old people may not read your Tweets — but if you say anything scandalous the social networking rumor mill will deliver the news to your boss almost as fast as Wi-Fi. (Seriously, I think Julia La Roche is Facebook friends with every third intern on Wall Street: She's so plugged in it's scary.)
As hard as this may be to believe, people are actually being nice to you. When you return as a first-year associate—and they're paying you real money— it will be a different story because then they'll own your soul.
If you stay in this crazy business long enough, someday you'll have interns of your own. Hopefully, you'll have learned something by then—and you can give them better advice than I've given you.