Ever have a day that you think can’t get much worse? Take, for example, yesterday: The market spanked me like a naughty schoolgirl, I couldn’t drink (due to half marathon tomorrow, I have to ensure my BAC is less than 10% Yellow Tail), and my spec script for a Brothers & Sisters episode was not well-received. Then, just before dinner, I managed to have a critical zipper/boxer error that led to some light bleeding. That’s correct: I franks-and-beans’ed myself. (Not to the extent Ted did in TSAM, but still a horrific incident.) And yesterday was still better than the average day I spent in the summer of 2001 as a Summer Associate at The Investment Bank That No Longer Stands Alone (TIBTNLSA).
As I’ve discussed before, I got a summer gig by the skin of my teeth, despite my strong qualifications. (Full disclosure: I don’t know what “skin of my teeth” means, but I’m guessing it means slim margin. And I didn’t have any qualifications other than that I’d read all the Vault guides about banking interviews.) In a Memento-like twist, I will reveal how the summer went up front: I was perhaps the worst summer associate of all time. I’m not kidding. I’ve repressed/suppressed a lot of these memories, but will give you what I can. Given that today is (thank God, what a horrible month this has been) options expiration, I’m gonna have to make this a two (or more, depending on how things come back to me) parter.
Vignettes From A Painful Summer, Part I
What To Wear – I made the mandatory trip to Brooks Brothers – actually a Brooks Brothers outlet – to get some work clothes that were a step up from the Regis Philbin matched-shirt-and-tie look from my pharma days. One thing to note about BB outlet: they label their gear with a number (Brooks 109 or some shit), so that if someone gets a peek at the label they will know you are a cheap bastard. I’m pretty sure that outlet stores are zero percent cheaper anyway, just go to the regular store.
Helpful hint: as a beginning banker, I would recommend only buying your shirts at BB – their return policy is insane. When you blow out elbows – and you will blow out elbows, scientists are still trying to figure out why bankers blow out the elbows of their shirts – Brooks Brothers will exchange them for a brand new shirt. I shit you not. Once, I swear I’m not making this up, I took three blown out shirts back, and since they were having a buy three get one free sale, I came back with four new shirts instead of three elbow-holed shirts. Sure, they fit like shit, but the non-irons can hold up to pretty much anything but a moderate amount of stress in the elbow area. I should put a fucking BB ad on here for all the pimping. /helpfulness
So I bought a few shirts, a sports coat (with gold buttons, what the fuck was I thinking? I should’ve gotten one with a huge yacht club insignia while I was at it), and I’m struggling to recall what else. Pants were too expensive, so I’m pretty sure I went with some Dockers (TIBTNLSA was business casual, and I was a complete fool) and even a pair of American Male pleated goodness. My sartorial selections alone would explain why I was not destined to get an offer. If you find yourself in my situation, go ahead and buy some decent dress pants. But do not put your wallet in the back pocket – the only material more sensitive than the elbow of a Brooks Brothers shirt is the back pocket of any pair of suit or dress pants. That mistake cost me plenty. So anyway, I was clearly equipped to look the part of prospective universe master or whatnot.
Where To Live (and With Who) – I was initially interested in living at the NYU dorms, a popular summer living spot for those people who are complete morons and wear Dockers to work. Thankfully, some folks from B-school were looking for a fourth to join them in a summer share in the west village. The owner of the place was a pet portraist (fuck you, spellcheck, that’s gotta be how you spell portraist) who summered in Europe. This should have been where I realized that painting pets was a better career alternative than investment banking, but I skipped along, none the wiser. I was living in a room with another guy who was a summer associate, or sumass, at JP Morgan. The other two guys had their own rooms and were summer interns on trading desks at TIBTNLSA.
The apartment was conveniently located in the west village, somewhat central to where we worked, and a great place to experience the diversity that New York has to offer. This diversity is largely embodied by sexual deviance and curious outerwear selections. It was located near a subway stop, which was nice, except for the fact that this subway stop was roughly the same temperature as a blast furnace in June. (One day I had to wear a suit and I was sweating through my jacket as the train was 35 minutes late. People were literally on their knees begging various gods for a train to appear.) The location did improve my knowledge of business deals, as I could hear numerous drug/sex transactions taking place when I got home at 3:30 AM. And the neighborhood vibe prompted me to get rid of my tank top collection, which was definitely a plus.
I would say living with classmates is generally a must, but if you are into banking and are living with some trading interns, prepare for some violent jealousy as they describe their endless happy hours, sporting events and general sense of relaxation. Although sometimes they had to get people food. And at Lehman, apparently they made trading interns sit on folding chairs. So it wasn’t all smoking and joking for those kids either.
Topic to be continued. 1/2 marathon (about as lame as Dockers on a banker, I know) tomorrow, goal was 2 hours, I’m guessing will be closer to 2:10. Apple trade update: getting kicked in the grapes, down $200 at the moment. That’s like 1/3rd of an iPad. Four weeks left, let’s see how it shakes out.