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Surprisingly, investment banking is not always about killing yourself at all times of the day and night and suffering without remorse all in search of those elusive investment banking salaries. There’s a lot of downtime, where you’re sitting around surfing the internet, going to Starbucks or thinking “this job really isn’t so bad.” So what breaks this downtime and makes your peace come crashing down like the Hindenburg?Friday at 4 PM.
In normal jobs people usually dread Monday mornings. Recovering from the weekend’s hangovers, contemplating the purchase of a new alarm clock once you’ve smashed your existing one into pieces after it went off one too many times and hearing that Friday is Hawaiian shirt day all contribute to the universal loathing of Monday mornings.
But in the world of investment banking no one does anything in the morning, and especially not on Monday mornings. There might be meetings, 567 unread emails to answer and a stack of markups on your desk, but nothing substantial happens before 12 PM.
When the afternoon rolls around, there are even more conference calls and meetings, but you still haven’t received most of your work yet.
No, night is when work actually gets done at an investment bank. When your VP is on his way out the door at 6 PM he’ll stop by your cubicle and dump a few bricks on you, all of which must be polished and turned to gold by the next day. Most nights you’re working on stuff that has already been assigned to you days ago (and it is currently in revision #41) or sometimes hours ago.
But it all starts on Friday at 4 PM.
All the senior bankers do their planning for the next week on Friday at 4 PM. Suddenly, they’ll remember those Monday/Tuesday meetings they had planned the whole week but somehow forgot to tell you about. And the pitch or board presentation on Tuesday that they also conveniently forgot to tell you about.
Every time I’ve had a painful weekend it has been because of work received on Friday at 4 PM. Sometimes they’ll try to make it less painful by going straight to voicemail and not calling or emailing you directly (credit to Monkey Business here). But no matter how painful or painless it is, the work always arrives at the same time.
If you’re doing an investment banking internship this summer or have landed a full-time investment banking job, I have one recommendation: always be on vacation on Friday at 4 PM, every week. If that’s not possible, at least don’t walk by the staffer’s office.
And especially not if it’s anywhere close to 4 PM.