Kendra is majoring in both Finance and Management Information Systems and is graduating in May 2018. This summer she worked as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City. Kendra lived in the NYU dorms with another Eller student also interning in the city.
How did you land this internship?
Toward the end of my sophomore year, after taking Arvind Signh’s Introduction to Wall Street class, several coffee chats with seniors who were graduating and starting their careers on Wall Street, and months of thinking, I decided I wanted to pursue an internship and start my career in Investment Banking. I applied for and was accepted into the Investment Banking arm of the Wall Street Scholars program. From there, I knew alumni and Wall Street Scholars would provide incredible mentorship; however, every student pursuing a career like I was would be using those resources and I wanted to find a way to differentiate myself. LinkedIn was the answer. I used LinkedIn to reach out to more than 500 Investment Banking professionals at every bulge bracket bank across New York letting them know I found their contact information via LinkedIn and would appreciate just 15 minutes of their time to learn more about their career path and the industry. I had no idea that more than 50 cold emails would turn into relationships and mentorships that over a year later are still going strong.
Throughout the summer prior to my junior year, my most memorable phone calls and meetings were with individuals from Bank of America Merrill Lynch–it made sense that earning an internship opportunity there was something felt like a great match leading into interviews. Because I had an internship in Boston the summer before my Junior year, I took advantage of the location to jump on a train and take a couple of days having get-to-know-you meetings with people I had talked to on the phone. Then, 2 weeks before school resumed, I returned to NYC to meet with over 30 of the connections I had made in person and make a final push to get invitations to Super Days.
Fast forward to September 16th: I had my first ‘Super Day’ at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (my top choice bank), which consisted of 3 thirty-minute interviews with Investment Banking professionals. One day later, September 17th: I received a phone call at 7:30AM Arizona time from four Bank of America employees. Out of these four employees, two were alumni and have been wonderful mentors to me from the beginning, the third was someone I cold-emailed who had turned into an amazing coach as well, and the fourth was a woman who had met me the for the first time during an interview the day before. They were calling to let me know they would like to extend me an offer–I accepted on the phone.
After months of cold emailing professionals I found on LinkedIn, phone calls, in-person meetings, interview preparation, and so much learning, I received an offer from my top choice bank. To this day, I am so thankful for every single person who answered the random email they received from a University of Arizona student they had no connection with, and I try to invest enough time to stay in touch as it is a very small and close community.
What was your favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part of the experience were the nights we were at the office until 2 or 3am working. I know this might seem weird to some, but that was the time we really got to know our team members and no longer felt like interns. It was hard work and some sacrifice that helped me feel I had gone from being an intern to being just another analyst there to get the job done and get the job done well. Looking back, it was not easy working those long hours, but it was really when some of the best memories of the summer were created. Those late nights taught every intern what the job would be like post-graduation. It also showed us who the individuals were that we would be spending 85+ hours a week with if we came back as full time analysts; we got to know some really great people and learn each other’s quirks. I can wholeheartedly say those long nights working on intense projects with my teams proved to me that I would be happy post-graduation coming back to work for such a great team.
What did you find most challenging about the internship?
The most challenging part of my internship was learning to accept the fact that work that was “75% accurate and fast” was much more beneficial to the team than work that was “99% accurate and slow”. In school, we are taught that the higher percentage of accuracy results in a greater amount of success. Unfortunately, in the Investment Banking profession, that just is not exactly true. It is true in a way—the more accurate one’s work is, the less work there might be to do later. Still, we work with so much detail that no one person is going to catch everything. I had to be very demanding of myself on both time and accuracy, and then learn to trust my teammates that things they found and fixed would not be viewed as shortcomings in my work.
In Investment Banking, each project goes through many, many drafts, each of which is checked by multiple people before it is finalized. If a round of edits takes someone 12 hours to complete, the project must be finalized in less drafts, but the best product isn’t always produced. Instead I learned to go through more, faster iterations to get to a much better final product.
I had to adjust my thinking, continue to drive myself very hard and then remind myself perfection was something we would produce as a team. There would always be more changes and it was not personal to my work. It took some time, but this adaptation, along with an appreciation of how much better our teams were at creating great work than any one individual could produce, were the most valuable thing I learned this summer.
How did Eller prepare you for your internship?
My classes in Eller gave me an academic and intellectual foundation, but the college has done so much more. Alpha Kappa Psi prepared me for interviews, both in how I hold myself and how I view the individual(s) in front of me. Investments Club taught me how to converse about current events, market trends and more with professionals whose daily work revolves around these things. Wall Street Scholars taught me how to compete against myself. It showed me that there will always be someone smarter and someone who is more successful as I go through my career journey; however, those people are the people I want to spend my time with. Wall Street Scholars also taught me how to learn from others’ success and use those lessons to grow, both personally and professionally. Eller has taught me so much more than just in the classroom and for that I am grateful.