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Sumass Training, ? for Flint and Hibachi-San!

Sumass Training, ? for Flint and Hibachi-San!

Summer Associate Training – This is where it all started to go wrong.  The training program for summer associates wasn’t the Cash Kushel version that every full time banker gets – this was a one week blitz taught by some disgruntled-and-soon-to-be-fired bankers at TBTNLSA.  I’ve had firehosesque training before – nuclear power school was no fucking picnic – but this shit made me legitimately look like I fell off a turnip truck and ended up in downtown NYC.

Let me take a step back.  It’s important to note that, during the first semester at B-School, I busted my ass to get good grades.  (Yes, my school had grade disclosure.  And, no, that is not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a pretty great thing: if you have good grades from a “quant” school, interviewers are loathe to ask you detailed analytical questions, figuring that you have that shit wired and will potential expose some gaps in their knowledge.  Why they believe that the B-School packet readers should be the arbiters of passage to wall street, I am not sure.)  Yeah, I got one B – fuck you Strategy 101 and your Fox Force Five Forces or whatever; you see how successful this website has become?  Who needs fucking strategy? – but in all the real classes with the classic “right/wrong” answer structure, I rocked that shit.  And I worked hard to prep for banking interviews, with repetitious interview training and memorization of Vault guides.  I had no idea about the job I wanted, I just wanted it, and knew a few of the buzzwords and concepts to get my foot in the door.  “Yes, I expect to work hard, in submarines we rarely, if ever, slept, and that was generally considered punishment.  My hobbies are teamwork, communication and building analytic models for cable companies that have working balance sheets and are sensitive to even one subscriber discontinuing his Roaderrunner service in Idaho Falls.”  I still only got a job by sheer chance and the fact that one of the interviewers loved to curse and make sexist comments and felt comfortable doing so in my presence.

So that was first semester – once second semester started, with job in hand, I loosened my academic standards somewhat.  (Translation: I let my various teammates do 100% of the work, almost every class was a team effort after the first semester.  As mentioned previously, international students generally have a bit higher fervor toward academic achievement.)  So I didn’t do shit – other than drink, go to the gym and illegally download shit from the glorious original version of Napster.  My thinking was, “I’m a smart guy, they’re gonna show us what we need to do at the bank, these cases surely don’t capture the essence of what we’ll actually be doing.”  I was 1/3 right: the cases wouldn’t have helped all that much, but the wall street training didn’t really help all that much either.  And it turns out I’m not a smart guy.

So when training starts and these guys are like go down to the microfiche room and get a 10-K for Cisco (seriously, things have changed dramatically since 2001, there was a no-shit microfiche room.  Like doing a fucking research project in the 80s.) and build a mini-model based on these estimates.  What now?  Come again?  My recollection here is pretty fuzzy, so I may have made up the part about having to go get the 10-Ks; I definitely went to the microfiche room at some point looking for something, but maybe it wasn’t that, surely they hooked us up in training.  I believe it was just a DCF model where you’d use historical performance to estimate terminal growth rates or whatever.  But I was flummoxed, that was my first time dealing with a filing.  I still remember the feeling of accomplishment when I filled in the shares outstanding – “Hey, that’s listed right on the fucking cover here!”  Too bad there were diluted shares to consider and a host of other things that were coming fast and furious.

Right now you’re thinking, “Chilly, it sounds like it’s your own goddam fault you sucked as a summer intern.”  And that’s correct, it was my fault.  The Wharton kids were zipping that shit out like it weren’t no thang – and thank god for my man C-Note, who basically walked me through everything so that I got to leave by midnight most nights.  The people running the classes were dicks (foreshadowing of what was to come) with little tolerance for rubes from the sticks.  Not that I would ask stupid questions, my hatred for the kids at B-School who wouldn’t shut the fuck up with dumb shit was well-established.  The training went by in a flash, having gone through the basic models (mini-merger, dcf, lbo?), comps and the ridiculously awful document control system.  I was completely lost, and we hadn’t even started.  The worst was yet to come.

Would Flint Hit It?

In our continuing series, I solicit commenter Flintstone’s opinion regarding sexual union with various potential partners.  As a reminder, Flint has long been a proponent of “hitting it” as opposed to “not hitting it.”  The subject in question is a fictional character, Meredith from The Office.  Flint, remember, it’s the boozy, loose-moraled character Meredith, as opposed to the actress Kate Flannery, who portrays her.  So star-fucking tendencies need not come into consideration.  Would you hit it?

If she shares the whiskey, I'm sensing he'll hit it

Fuck, I am running late, apologies for any errors or incongruencies, don’t have time to proofread.  After completing my five month resolution of not going to a casino, we are going to hit up some AC this weekend.  Do you know what that means?  Hibachi-san!

Oh, Apple spread update: currently up $424!  That’s almost an iPad right there!  Now if everything else I did wasn’t dogshit.

Have a great Memorial Day, later,


My Summer Association: Part II

My Summer Association: Part II

(Editor’s Note:  Ugh.  The combination of my post-race drinking binge, the increasing temperature/humidity/trash funk in NYC, and the daily 4% drawdown in my trading account has made me a little lethargic.  I’m gonna go with shorter chunks rather than 2,400 word opuses.  Or is it opi?  Anyway, as predicted, I finished the half marathon in a disappointing 2:10.  The organizers kindly situated the start of the event such that it was about a 1.25 mile walk to the starting line, so we were fucking frantic and sweating as we hustled over.  Started way in the back and didn’t want to waste too much energy weaving through people, the first mile took over 11 minutes and after like mile 4 I knew I couldn’t make up all that ground.

Have had a full social calendar since – met up with old colleagues early Saturday evening and drank about 1.3 bottles of Lindemann’s Cab/Shiraz, then went to a housewarming party for an academy classmate and drank another large amount of booze.  Combine running 13 miles with a lot of booze, and you have an early exit for the night.  Slept 12 hours and then had lunch with a madman from b-school that evolved into a drunken mourning of Jose Lima and a full-press effort from me to rally the troops for a trip to AC.  Everyone pussed out, I called a black car (using the TARP II account and the real name of Jargon Boy) and was sitting outside on the sidewalk waiting for them to show up at 11:00 PM.  SO didn’t bother to mention to me that she canceled the damn car.  Anyway, probably best for me not to go to AC in that shape, and my resolution is still standing tall.  Back to the topic at hand.)

Vignettes From A Painful Summer, Part II

When To Start, And For How Long – There are usually two waves of interns during the summer, I think one started in early June and one in late June.  I had always heard that going last was best in any kind of performance comparison, so I opted for that second wave.  Being poor, I also opted to stay an extra two weeks, so I was to work for twelve total weeks.  In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best strategy – since there is some overlap between all the interns, one can quickly look moronic compared to the people who’d been around for an extra three weeks.  The full timers can barely keep track of who’s who, much less who started when.  So someone in the first wave might get the benefit of the doubt for doing/saying/asking something moronic in the first week (“it’s their first week, silly interns”) but someone doing the same things in their real first week three weeks later might get blackballed (“they’ve been here two months already, right?  If he doesn’t get it by now, he’s never gonna get it”).

Also, on the two extra weeks – highly not recommended. A summer internship has a risk profile similar to that of a professional sports official.  Do your job, don’t ruffle feathers, keep quiet – no glory.  All downside risk, no upside gain.  The likelihood of getting noticed for something positive is infinitesimally small, the chance of being hated for even one tiny misstep is huge.  Hanging around longer than necessary runs the odds further against you.  The ideal summer associate would have an impact akin to that of a sheet of fabric softener – a subtle behind the scenes performance that definitely added some value and left a lingering positive association (“you know, Bounce is really pretty solid”).

Where To Sit – This is extremely important, and somewhat tied to the previous paragraphs.  Since I started in the second wave, and TBTNLSA had 20! summer associates between the media and telecomm groups, I was relegated to an office two floors below the floor my group was located on.  You might ask, “Chilly, shouldn’t that help in the “be seen but not heard” department?”  While a remote office mitigates your fatal error risk somewhat, being completely invisible is actually the worst thing that can happen as an intern.  If nobody remembers you, they will chalk it up to timidity, stupidity, laziness or worse.  No offer will spring forth.

Having been in the military, I knew none of this and was a little relieved to have an office where I could figure shit out in relative solitude.  (The first wave people had cubicles in the bullpen, and were somewhat jealous of the sweet office I slipped into.)  It wasn’t a solo office, I had a roommate.  While my roommate was cool as shit and near my orbit of cluelessness, she also defied more banking stereotypes than anyone I’ve seen since.  In general, most bankers are normal-sized white males.  My officemate – let’s call her Mitzy – was a very large black female, probably about Anthony Anderson’s size when he was at his fattest.  She went to Tuck, if memory serves.  She actually liked the remote office setup and wasn’t that nervous that we weren’t getting any assignments the first day or two.  I’d read in the Vault guides that you need to be really aggressive, so I kept calling the staffer and asking if there was anything I could work on (and, soon enough, my wish would be granted in an vicious and excessive manner.)  Mitzy seemed fine with taking the opportunity to make as many international calls as she could, and to take advantage of our killer $20 dinner allowance.  She also eventually got super busy, but she was a little tempestuous and got a bad rap for complaining about the hours and some of the stupid procedures.  We didn’t know it at the time, but we were doomed from the start.

(I haven’t kept up with Mitzy since summer 2001, but I will always fondly recall our final group event from late that summer.  One of the interns was a West Pointer (I forget what B-School he was at, want to say Emory?) and he was always bragging about his super hot girlfriend and all the chicks he was banging.  (This guy was also not anywhere near smelling an offer from TBTNLSA, but he suffered a fate worse than pretty much anybody else: he went to UBS full-time and found out on his first bonus day that they were tracking his hours on the weekend – at UBS you had to swipe your ID coming in and going out.  He basically quit on the spot.)  Anyhoo, Mr. Ladies Man West Pointer ended up slow dancing and making out with Mitzy at whatever bar (salsa dancing? it was somewhere ggghhhhhheeeeeeyyyyyy) we were at.  Mitzy was pushing at least 250 lbs and probably closer to 300.  Not a strong night for the Ladies Man, but a good night for Mitzy.)

Godammit, 1100 words?  Fuck I’m long-winded.

More later,


Days Gone By: My Summer Association

Days Gone By: My Summer Association

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.

Button-downs are generally awful, but this specific one is iconic, having been owned by pretty much everyone who's ever been a banker.

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.

Later, Chilly17