I've spent this summer as an intern on the trading floor at a major U.S. bank in London. As I wrote before, it hasn't been a very pleasant experience culturally. I am also exhausted due to the hours.
Everyone complains about the working hours in the investment banking division, but far less attention is given to working hours on the trading floor.
I've spent this summer working a minimum of 14-hour days, and that seems to be norm here. It seems that most salespeople and traders are working 13 hours each day and that most structurers work 15 hours+ each day. The advantage of being in sales and trading is that our day resets when the markets close. There's no long term project work, and you have a team of people who update you on all the research and news. Structuring is much more project-based: even if you worked 24 hours a day, you won't necessarily finish a project. I've therefore seen the salespeople and traders going home much earlier than the structurers, who often seem to be in the office until 9pm at night.
Some of the longest hours this summer have, however, been reserved for the interns on the trading floor. This is because of the way the bank structured the internship. In any normal year, the interns rotate across individual desks but this year they made us rotate between multiple desks at the same time.
This made the internship far more exhausting than normal. At any time, we've had project work from three or four different desks on the go at once. We've also been networking and trying to build relationships with those desks so that we can get offers at the end.
I'm not sure who chose this arrangement, but I would have much preferred working for individual desks than these clusters. The mass of project work has been a nightmare, and we've had very little support in terms of data or resources. Most of us have felt completely overloaded. At the same time, we've been expected to participate in weekly trading and sales games, which take up even more time. It's all added up to very, very long hours.
I think HR are partly to blame. They seem to have structured the internship this way, but to have very little understanding of what the structure actually means in practice. They somehow expect you to build great relationships with 12-16 different desks, to complete all the project work assigned by those desks, and to network and play their games. It's too much to do, and it makes me think that the managers at the bank are divorced from the reality of life on the ground.
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