Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's Your Pain Tolerance?

How committed to working in the investment banking division are you?

I've been searching around the internet looking for other investment banking resources to share with you and I came across the email below. The email was written on a Sunday morning, apparently after an all-nighter, by a analyst in the Healthcare group of a bulge bracket in New York.

Warning: Read at your own risk - you might find yourself second guessing your commitment to working in the IBD


Sent: Sun Sep 16 07:02:32 2007
Subject: Sorry everyone

I'm leaving the bank now.

I'm not made to do this. If I put my mind to something as much as I do
here to mindless text editing, copy and pasting, and getting yelled at
for stuff other people can't/won't/don't do, I would be much better off.
It's 6:43 a.m. on a Sunday, and I have at least 14 more hours of work to
do today that will not be fulfilling, useful, appreciated, recognized,
or paid for.

Sorry this is last minute, but it's just not worth doing more

My blackberry is on my desk

Apparently that failed staffing request was fatal (no, not as in I'm
going to kill myself, hehe, I'm just going to go enjoy life). There is
no happiness here.

I took all my personal stuff. No one needs to contact me for anything
(except for a drink for those of you with my personal number). I will
only be at my New York address a few days longer.

Good luck y'all,

Global Healthcare Group


As you're aware, investment banking is very demanding. I thought I knew what working 100 hrs/wk would be like but I didn't. No one knows what working 100 hrs/wk feels like until it's experienced first hand. As Jonathan alludes to above, you should be prepared to spend every waking hour sitting in a cubicle. Every week will not be like Jonathan's. There will be times when the workload consumes all of your energy for weeks at a time but there will also be periods when things are slower and you can enjoy a weekend with friends.

Before you spend one more second preparing for interviews, ask yourself if you are committed enough to persevere through the scenario above. If you're not, that's ok - your life will be far more enjoyable if you don't find yourself in a situation like Jonathan's. If you are committed, then keep pushing! You can land your dream job as long as you make the effort.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interview Question: Why Investment Banking?

This topic has shown up in several places during the last few days so I've decided to take a swing at providing our readers with insight on how to effectively answer this question. One of the most important questions you will be asked in a banking interview will be some form of the question, "Why are you interested in investment banking?" We've discussed this issue before but I'd like to take a deeper dive on the topic.

For obvious reasons, you should never tell the truth when answering this question; "The compensation, you ignoramus!" Or "models and bottles," usually don't fly well with bankers, or anyone else for that matter. There are plenty of wrong ways to answer this question.

On a more serious note, there are numerous ways to answer this question effectively. In fact, creativity is highly valued by bankers so your unique answer to this question may be better than any response found here. The list below is not exhaustive but probably contains a reason that you can relate to and will present during interviews:

- The transactional nature of the business

- Investment banking is the pinnacle of the financial system

- Working with some of the world's smartest people

- Analyst/Associate positions are extremely challenging

- The educational experience and world class training

- Develop fuller, more well-rounded business acumen

- Investment banking is the next logical step in my progression

- My long-term commitment to banking

There you have it! There is our short list of reasons why investment banking. I personally used several of these answers in my interviews that ultimately led to an offer. When answering this question, and all interview questions, it is imperative to speak in concise statements that quickly and intelligently communicate your message. Be prepared to list these reasons quickly and consecutively without thinking about it.

Please leave a comment if you have something to add to this list.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Sisyphean Challenge

"As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge rock up a steep hill, but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down again, forcing him to begin again" (thanks Wikipedia).

As markets continue to decay, you might be feeling the pain from this Sisyphean task of securing a job on Wall St.. You are not alone. You and me, along with everyone else on the Street, are wondering where we will be in a year from now. How is this credit crisis and economic recession going to shake out? Which bank is next on the chopping block?

I left my crystal ball back in my cubicle at the bank I interned with last summer - so my apologies for not answering these questions. Many of us will have to accept the reality that Plan A is not feasible and turn our energies to Plan B and C. Unfortunately, in a game of musical chairs, no participant can control when the music is going to stop.

I can't tell everyone that their hopes will be fulfilled, but I can say that pushing the boulder upwards will make you stronger. Keep pushing but find a way to hedge your efforts. Start exploring Plan B and Plan C. There is plenty of opportunity to come back to Wall St. as an Associate after an MBA.