January marks the beginning of the second semester for college students nationwide; it also marks the beginning of internship recruiting season for the world's top investment banks -- which each year at this time comb through reams of resumes at the nation's top public and private universities in search of summer employees who can be groomed into full-time professionals.
As a result, there are currently thousands of college sophomores and juniors preparing for internship interviews, dreaming of working on Wall Street this June, July and August
To put it mildly, the competition to be hired for the summer by a household-name bank like J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse or, of course, Goldman Sachs, is fierce. There are few spots and countless applicants, and given that summer internships, more often than not, lead to full-time positions, gaining a bulge-bracket summer job is, to some, do or die.
Which means if you're gunning for one of these coveted spots, you better be prepared for the all-important interview. Of course, part that prep should involve research about what a summer intern's duties are -- and aren't.
To that end, for the investment-banking-internship-minded student, below is a list of "do's and don'ts" taken straight from the Goldman Sachs "Summer Intern Toolkit" (along with brief explanations of my own that should shed further light on Goldman's recommendation to its interns-to-be). After memorizing the list, you should, I hope, have a pretty good idea what you'd be getting yourself into. Good luck!
• Be eager for a challenge (that is, be ready to work all night every night even Saturdays, Sundays and the Fourth of July)
• Be yourself (but if by being yourself you'll risk sounding ignorant, please be someone else)
• Be open-minded (to working 100-hour weeks; trust us, there are 100 hours in a week)
• Be on time (please arrive two hours before you're required to arrive and if you're not busy before your manager arrives, shine something, such as a pair of shoes or the floor)
• Know the dress code (don't let us catch you wearing Dockers -- ever)
• Observe and ask thoughtful questions (there is, indeed, something called a 'dumb question,' and if we have to tell you which questions are dumb ones let's part ways now rather than later)
• Treat everyone you meet with respect and professionalism (shake like a man and please don't shed any tears when an MD rips you a new one)
• Understand that everyone makes mistakes (except you)
• Carry a notebook with you at all times (in case a client needs to blow his or her nose; you won't need a notebook yourself, as you should be able to memorize everything we tell you and everything you hear -- you are, after all, working for Goldman Sachs)
• Pay attention to the details (don't F*&% up)
• Be proactive (if it's past two in the morning and you think you're done for the day, think again)
• Show energy and interest (if you're tired, caffeinate yourself; if you're bored, you've been fired)
• Set goals for yourself (aim high, unload higher)
• Let a bad day get you down (the first time we even hear of you complaining about anything -- the hours, the elevators, the slow Internet connection, the weakness of the flush of the toilet on the 12th floor -- you're done)
• Take on more than you can handle (if you must, puke -- then work some more)
• Pretend to know something you don’t (you just better know it)
• Have nothing to do (other than being our beeahtch for the summer)
• Ask everyone the same questions (if you didn't understand the first time we told you, you're fired)
• Take yourself too seriously (because we sure don't)
• Talk negatively about co-workers (unless, of course, they've been canned and then you're free to call them quitters)
• Focus all of your attention on senior management (no eye contact with VPs and above)
• Bring your personal life into the office (no visitors -- we never ever want to see your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, cousin, aunt, uncle or parents; in fact, we prefer if, for the duration of the summer, you pretend as if you have no friends or family)
• Surf the web all day (FriendFrinder in the privacy of your own studio, please)
• Spend working hours on social networking sites or texting friends (unless you're pitching a specific social network to our European investors, or these 'friends' are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and Goldman has been contracted to advise them on a deal worth more than $500 million)
(The Summer Intern Toolkit)