As summer winds down, many would-be professionals working Wall Street internships will be focused on turning their experience into permanent NYC finance or accounting jobs. But there's not enough room to hire the whole intern pool, and their judgments will no doubt be critical. Even the smallest misstep or inadvertent mistake could make the difference between an offer letter and unemployment. Follow these five tips, and make sure your full-time colleagues go to bat for you when it comes time to decide which candidates will earn careers in finance.
Show up early – and don't be afraid to work late
No matter what part of the field you're working in, Wall Street internships are sure to demand you work many hours. The analysts above you who are assigning you topics are usually working tirelessly, day and night – and it's your job to match them. Maybe nobody complains when you're the last one to arrive in the morning, and the first one to leave in the evening – but that doesn't mean they haven't noticed. At the end of the summer, the interns who displayed the strongest work ethic will be the ones who end up receiving the coveted offer letters. Be sure they know you're willing to put in long hours, and not just because they're required. You're going to want to get used to pulling all-nighters anyway, if you expect to end up with a career in finance.
Network, network, network
The difference between a job offer and a "thanks for your help this summer" could come down to who you know. You won't want to be overly friendly – this is a work environment, after all – but take every opportunity you have to meet new people, or to socialize with the crew after hours. You never know, one random handshake and introduction could be what wins you a full-time gig, as opposed to a spot in your parent's basement.
Don't forget to respect the chain-of-command
At the same time, nobody wants to think that you're solely there in hopes of earning a full-time position, even if that's the case. Going above your analysts' head to try and create connections with higher-ranking execs may seem like a great idea, but you run the risk of coming off as crass and opportunistic. Figure out your place in the office, and understand that as an intern, it's mainly your job to support the 1st years, and the low-level analysts or associates. If you treat them well enough, you'll soon be in their position, getting help from interns of your own.
Speaking of those low-level jobs, you should be ready to spend all day staring down Excel documents and Powerpoint presentations – don't expect to be organizing a buyout on your first day. You'll be doing a lot of data entry and stat checking, and it's important to know that accuracy is your best friend. Some mistakes may seem slight, but in the world of finance, they make all the difference. Triple check any and all documents you submit to a superior – a single misplaced decimal point is the difference between a job well done and complete incompetence.
Your enthusiasm should extend to every task, every job is worthwhile
And lastly, make sure you check your ego at the front door. You may think you're "above" doing coffee runs for the team – but you're the lowest ranking person on staff. Show the same enthusiasm for running errands that you do for your most fulfilling tasks. They won't think less of you for committing yourself to "lesser" work, they'll admire your enthusiasm – and they'll remember that when they gather in the boardroom to select which interns will be getting contract offers, and which will be receiving nothing at all.