On The Job
You got the dream job or internship, congrats! Now it’s time to perform and make sure you meet (or better yet, surpass) expectations. The nuances of work culture are just as complicated as, if not more complicated than, interviewing. However, with a little prep and awareness, you can learn to navigate a successful internship or job in an otherwise challenging and demanding environment. Implement the best practices below and you will be well on your way to a successful career in finance.
“The nuances of work culture are just as complicated as, if not more complicated than, interviewing“
Want Further Advice?
The following links also provide guidance on how to be the best worker. Most of the advice is very similar, but that just shows how important these items are to standing out and getting a return offer. Reaching out to somebody older who works at the company or group can also be a great way to learn about best practices. Do your best to follow all of the items and your chance of success will definitely increase.
1. Respond To Emails And Calls Promptly
The general rule in finance is that you should respond to emails and calls within 15 minutes, unless it’s the middle of the night and you are sleeping. Carry your phone at all times and check it regularly; your phone is one of your most important tools.
2. Over Communicate With Your Team
The most important thing is communication. Always let your team know your status on projects, vacation, if you are coming into the office late, and your other deliverables. On bigger projects, it is always helpful to provide an end-of-week update with the status of various diligence streams. A good litmus test is that nobody on your team should ever be wondering what is going on with item X or project Y and assuming the worst because you haven’t updated them on the status. It will reflect poorly on you if you do not communicate.
3. Pay Attention To Details
Everyone will make mistakes in their first few assignments, but you will be expected to improve accuracy over time. Having even one number or title wrong can raise questions about your work product and reliability. Make sure you print things out and check everything by hand. Use a red pen and mark up your own slides before you turn your work in. The difference between a good and a great analyst is the small details.
4. Be Curious And Ask Questions
Asking questions and being curious about work is a great way to learn and also show interest in the job. Your superiors will appreciate you trying to learn about a company, industry, product, or transaction. While there are no stupid questions, people will be far more patient with you in your first few weeks than later on – so ask questions early and often. Additionally, asking questions to make sure you understand the broader process will equip you to be a better analyst, position you to grow your career in the firm, and give you all the context you need to provide the best possible work product by going above and beyond on your deliverables
5. Always Take Notes!
Always take notes on calls and meetings. You will be asked to send them around. The more detail the better, but make sure to keep them organized. If the notes are really long, put a list of key-takeaways at the top. It is very stressful when you are getting asked for notes but do not have them.
6. Try To Finish Work Early
Always try to over deliver. If you say you will have your work done by Friday, try to get it done by Thursday. Don’t over exert yourself but do your best. Your VP/MD will always appreciate the quick turnaround; it leaves more time for revisions, ensures you are not the bottleneck in the broader team, and gives you the best chance of having time off.
7. Have A Good Attitude
Everybody works hard in finance, often into the late hours of the night. Nobody likes when somebody has a bad attitude or is grumpy. Even though it is hard, try to stay upbeat. You will be penalized if you project your negative attitude. Always keep in mind, you are in a competitive industry where you tried very hard to secure your position and there are several others knocking on the door vying for your spot.
8. Arrive Early And Plan To Stay Late
This advice is tailored towards interns. Being one of the first people in the office always looks good and it helps you get your day started before everybody else. Also expect to stay late. People notice when somebody leaves early. Make sure you are available to help out on additional work even if you are done with what was assigned, and walk around to ask everyone if you can help out with anything – this reflects well on your work ethic and shows you are a team player. For full time employees, sitting at your desk to show face is less important. You should focus on continuously communicating, responding promptly to emails, having a good attitude, working hard, and being accessible after 5pm and on the weekends.
9. Make Your Boss’s Job/Life Easier
Try to go above and beyond to support your boss. If your boss feels extremely well supported by you, he/she will always root for you. This doesn’t mean doing your boss’s job as they might object to that, but do whatever you can to support them. If you know there is a company-wide presentation that needs to be made, take a crack at making a first draft or at least creating an outline. If your boss has to speak about a diligence matter, send over some summary notes with key takeaways to give them some talking points. Anytime you have the opportunity to make someone else’s live easier, do it. Additionally, if you have a view or opinion that might help the team, speak up. There will be times when you state the obvious, but people will appreciate your willingness to contribute and there’s always the chance you have a valuable insight or observation – after all, you are frequently closest to the numbers and analysis.
10. Dress Well
Your work product matters a lot, but if you dress poorly it will hurt your reputation. Dress the best you can; even if you are tired – make sure your shirts are ironed and clean, wear neutral colors, and spend the few extra dollars to buy an appropriate wardrobe. This does not mean buying designed brand clothes, but it is a formal job, so appearance is important to project professionalism. This also means shaving regularly for men, getting haircuts, maintaining good hygiene, wearing clean fitted clothes, and having polished shoes.