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Back to newsletter 103 contents | All Javva's articles

My nephew, StraightA calls me at the office. 'Uncle Javva, you're in finance, can you advise me on my intern application?' I don't bother pointing out I'm actually in I.T., everyone in my extended family seems to believe that working in I.T. at a financial institution means you work 'in finance'. I've often wondered if I.T. people who work for NASA have their family insisting that they work 'in space'. Anyway, it turns out StraightA has applied for an internship in investment management at one of the institutions that do that kind of internship. 'But I got called up by them today, and they asked can I interview on the phone this afternoon for equity derivatives - I never applied for that at all, is that usual, that they would just call up and offer something completely different?' I quickly disabused StraightA of any notion that this was unusual. 'Financial companies are notoriously chaotic, inefficient and incompetent, for good reason,' I explain to him. 'Otherwise, when they made mistakes they would lose money so quickly, none of them would last past a single business cycle. Just do your best, and don't point out they are wrong' was my closing advice. I didn't bother telling him the further actuality, that in any other business these companies would be hopeless losers that never made a penny, given the way they continually alienate so many of their customers. It's only because their business is money, and they push through so much of it creaming off a little bit with each passage, that they are historically very profitable. Not that it matters, the world isn't going to change, they'll continue taking their 'golden crumbs' and stay profitable after the current crunch passes.

I call the next day to find out how it went. StraightA tells me it seemed okay, but he didn't think he got the job. He hadn't heard back. 'Well, if anything comes of it, do tell me, I'm interested in how it goes' I tell him, I'm actually curious about how many internships are out there given the current economy.

A week later I get a call from StraightA. 'Uncle, since you asked I thought you might be interested. They called today, and asked if I could come in for an interview tomorrow!' StraightA tells me. I ask, and it turns out this is the first communication he's had since the phone interview last week. I wonder if this asking for immediate availability is a consequence of the current economy, where hundreds seem to apply for every opening, or whether it is related to being an internship.

Next day, after the interview, I call StraightA to get a report. 'It was an hour long interview,' he tells me, 'there were two guys, one was the head of something, and the other wasn't a head. They asked me about 3 questions, and spent the rest of the time talking about what they do. Oh, and they had this range of like 15 herbal teas, and they kept asking me if I wanted one.' I ask when he finds out whether he gets the position. 'I asked that at the end. And one of them says to the other "good question - oh, good grief, the internship starts Monday week! Well, we'll have to tell you before then. I think we'll decide tomorrow and let you know as soon as we can." I mean, uncle, I know you said that these guys are all disorganised, but really that much?' I tried to explain to StraightA that when the financial companies were making lots of money, they had more money than sense, and they wasted it on lots of silly things but they were making so much that the disorganisation didn't matter, and when they were losing money they cut back everything because they were too disorganised to work out what was actually necessary to keep and what not, so the remaining people were overworked and hence just as disorganised. But I suspect that he was probably listening to an iSomething within the first 10 words. My impression is that he's perfectly cut for finance.

Three days later, I get a call from StraightA. 'Uncle, just thought I'd let you know, they called this morning, I didn't get the job. They said I had done nothing wrong, they were quite impressed with me, but they had chosen a candidate that they felt was spot on for the equity derivatives role. They said they felt I would be ideally suited for an investment management role, and did I mind if they sent me some information on a career with them in that role for next year.'

I asked StraightA whether any of his fellow students had obtained internships. 'Oh yes, uncle, I know three who have. It's quite odd though, no one quite understands why they choose who they do choose - none of the ones I know who have gotten an internship are what you would consider top students. And two of them can barely talk, one is really really shy, and the other seems to think he lives on a different planet.' I inquire, perhaps they have relatives at the institution they applied to? 'No uncle, we wondered that too, and we asked. Terry - he's the shy one - he even told us that their family financial relationship advisor said he shouldn't work in his father's bank again, so he applied to other places'. An impenetrable mystery, then.

BCNU - Javva The Hutt.

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