FM got a peek into the life of a summer intern at Goldman Sachs. FM’s subject gave the minute-by-minute rundown of her sleepless day.
I hit my alarm and groggily climb out of bed. As I shower, I am still half asleep, but slowly begin to acclimate to the morning as I throw on my clothes. For the 100th time, I wonder why I am doing this to myself: six hours of sleep and 15 hours of work a day seem obscenely off-balanced. And what about the eight cups of coffee a day that just barely manage to keep me awake? This can’t be healthy, can it? But, as always, my adrenaline rushes as I think of 9 a.m.—that all-important time of the market opening. This far outweighs the negative thoughts that always manage to creep into my brain when I’m awake before many of my friends have gone to bed.
I sit down at my table, my first cup of coffee in one hand, and the most important tool of my job in the other, The Wall Street Journal. Referred to at work as the Bible, the Journal is the key to any aspiring i-banker’s success. I flip through the pages, relying on my well-trained eyes to spot the important stories, figures, and reports. I scan through the entire paper, hoping to retain as much information as possible, and by 5:40 a.m. I’m out the door.
From my car, I can see the gleaming letters of Goldman Sachs. I park my car and hurry to my desk in the investment-management division. The room is still relatively quiet with just the junior employees like me, scurrying around preparing for the arrival of the seniors. I sit down and am greeted by an overflowing inbox. Before I even look at it, I have to check the foreign markets, some of which are already well into their day. I jot down some notes and try to make sense of the hundreds of numbers flashing across my computer screen. I smile as I see that Japan’s is up today, an indication that we too will have a strong day.
I spend the next two and a half hours just like this, constantly monitoring the markets, dealing with client issues, and preparing for the day’s action. I don’t get up from my desk even once: there is never time for water cooler discussions in the i-banking world.
I can feel the anticipation and tension building in the office. This is my favorite part of the day, the time when I know all the sacrifices that I make for this job are worth it.
I take a few deep breaths, mentally preparing myself for the next seven and a half hours, that critical period when the market is open. I know my tasks for the day, which rarely vary. I will have to constantly monitor the markets, help clients with trades, and listen for breaking news stories, such as company mergers or financial statement releases. Missing a big story could really hurt Goldman Sachs, and if we want to stay on the top, we cannot afford any such error. These responsibilities obviously do not all fall upon me. Like most other employees, I work on a team of five, ranging in rank from an intern like me all the way to some of the firm’s top senior employees.
My desk phone rings, and as I pick it up, I hear the sound of my boss on the other end. “How does the Mexican peso rank right now?” he asks, as always making sure that I’m on track. I silently applaud myself for having just checked this figure and answer my boss as confidently as possible. “Very good,” he says and abruptly hangs up.
I quickly devour my lunch at my desk. Very few people here have the time to take an actual lunch break.
I breathe a deep sigh of relief, proud of my team. As usual, the day’s work is already catching up to me. Just four more hours, I try to convince myself. That’s nothing.
As the seniors start to file out, I cannot help but feel a little envious. But staying later is just part of the job description for the juniors. I look through a few portfolios of my team’s long-term projects and finish a lenghty company evaluation that I started yesterday.
I’m in my car, driving home from the gym. My friends cannot believe that I make time for an hour workout every evening, but it’s the best way for me to clear my mind of all the day’s stresses. As my driveway approaches, I am thinking only of a big dinner and then my oh-so-amazing bed.
I’m completely exhausted and not at all comforted by the knowledge that I will be heading back into work in a mere nine hours. I know I probably won’t pursue i-banking as a long-term career. I might follow the typical path and work for a few years, get an MBA, and land a job where I can lead a semi-normal life. I don’t have much time to ponder my future, because within seconds of my head hitting the pillow, I’m fast asleep, preparing for yet another day on the job...