Bay St. is looking to adopt a hybrid work approach for employees: Toronto Finance International CEO
Fourteen-hour workdays followed by late-night dancing at Phebe’s Tavern and Grill, the notorious intern bar. Coffee with the boss on JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s ground floor. Impromptu rooftop gatherings with colleagues. Analysts shouting stock prices across a busy trading floor.
The Wall Street internship is back.
After a year of Zoom meetings and awkward virtual happy hours, New York’s youngest aspiring financiers have returned to the offices of the city’s investment banks, where they’re making the most of the in-person mentoring and networking they’ve lacked throughout during the pandemic. It’s the start of a broader return to normal for New York City’s finance industry as firms grapple over how to bring back workers safely.
Though the coveted summer analyst program -- a rite of passage for wannabe bankers -- is still virtual for many, hundreds of Wall Street’s youngest recruits are working in-person at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Next week, more than 550 Citigroup Inc. interns will spend time at one of the bank’s offices and the majority of them will be in New York, according to a person familiar with the matter. And at Morgan Stanley, some remote interns are working in-person for two weeks, according to a spokesman. Firms including Deutsche Bank AG also have a hybrid program.
Working in the office means experiencing the energy of a trading floor. On her third day at JPMorgan’s office, 21-year-old environmental science major Anna Albright learned how worked up traders can get.
It was June 16, and the Federal Reserve had just shocked markets by signaling two potential interest-rate increases in 2023. The seventh floor of the largest U.S. bank was a flurry of chat pings, ringing phones and cross-floor shouting as analysts pored over Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference diction for an explanation behind the abrupt change in the Fed’s dot plot.
“It was like the Super Bowl, but way more intense,” said Albright, a trading and sales summer analyst. “We were like ‘Oh my God, what world have we entered?’”
For others, New York’s reopening is an opportunity to bond with fellow interns after work. One popular spot is Phebe’s, the downtown bar known as a “haven for NYU kids and Wall Street interns,” according to bartender Lauren Ramirez, 28. It’s clear the summer analysts have arrived when you see “anything Vineyard Vines, pastel button-ups and boat shoes,” Ramirez explained.
By 10 p.m. on a Friday in June, interns crowded a packed dance floor, screaming along to an electronic remix of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” and the line to get in was the only thing visible outside the entrance. By 10:15 p.m., the queue stretched down the street, crowding the sidewalk and blocking the entrance to neighboring apartments and businesses. Black cars double-parked to let out packs of young men and women as they headed inside and assumed a place at the bar.
No more naps
Back in the office, interns are now able to work directly with their supervisors, an experience that can be essential to landing a full-time job in finance. Wall Street leaders have lamented how junior staff has missed key mentoring opportunities during the pandemic. And now, firms are split about whether all employees should return to the office. While lenders like Goldman Sachs are pursuing a more aggressive stance, others like Citigroup are advocating a flexible approach.
“It’s been really exciting to be here and put faces to names and get to build a relationship that’s not via email or via zoom with the more senior members on the team,” said Isabel Guerrero, 21, a summer analyst in the technology, media and telecom division at Goldman Sachs who worked remotely at the investment bank last summer. “You walk around the building and nobody necessarily knows who’s an intern and who’s a full-time, and getting to interact with the firm at-large like that has been really exciting.”
It also means the end of napping between conference calls and mid-day yoga breaks. Young employees say they are motivated and engaged when they’re close to their supervisors and have more opportunities to get feedback.
“My manager literally sits right behind me,” said Helena Ong, 21, a credit trading intern at JPMorgan. “When I want to ask him a question about my project, or check in with him, I literally just swivel my chair around.”
There are still lots of interns who are working remotely and looking forward to future in-person opportunities.
“A lot of times people do get busy with the projects they’re working on,” said Will Choi, a 22-year-old risk management intern at Citigroup working remotely.“GroupMe messages don’t exactly do it all the time. And having those kind of events, like happy hour, where you all kind of bond through that experience. So that’s probably what I’m most looking forward to for that return to office setting.”
Some are already planning ahead to next summer. Felicity Diamond, 20, who has a summer analyst position lined up next year at a Wall Street bank, is capitalizing on the warm weather and populated city to create what she hopes will be connections that propel her future career.
“I love meeting people who work in the same field,” said Diamond, who recently met up with other aspiring financiers at a private rooftop patio overlooking New York’s financial district. “You could really feel the excitement.”