I spent Summer 2014 interning in Fixed Income (Investment Banking) at Credit Suisse. The internship was structured as a week training followed by rotations on 4 different desks on the Fixed Income trading floor (mine were FX Forwards Trading, FX Options Trading, Credit Sales, Rates Sales).
During the internship I learnt a lot about the financial markets and the intricacies of the products on these desks – certainly more than you would learn by just reading/studying these things. However, the three biggest lessons from my experience are far more widely applicable than just the realm of finance, but to life and work in general.
1. Say what you’re going to do and then do it
Simple but so important. When you say you are going to do something, you must always follow through and stay true to your word. This is a hugely important characteristic of successful people in general. If you say you will complete Project A by Tuesday, make sure it is on their desk by Tuesday 8am – or even better, Monday night. If you take someone’s business card and say you’ll send them an email, don’t let it “slip your mind”. Follow up as soon as you get the opportunity. Being true to your word – with attention to detail – is being authentic and integral.
If you want to earn trust, be true.
2. Execute everything like it was the best piece of work you ever produced
You should take pride in every single piece of work. If you produce something that is sub-standard, you are sub-standard. There should never be an excuse for submitting something that you know you didn’t complete to your best ability. Put it this way, if you’ve just finished a piece of work and you’re not genuinely proud of the final result, you need to go back and improve it or seriously question what you are doing. Attention to detail is often what differentiates mediocre from extraordinary.
3. Punctuality is not optional
It’s required. Punctuality can never be sacrificed. Never be late. Not once. Not even by a minute. At CS, they drilled this into us in the first few days of training, but I noticed in the subsequent weeks how making this part of the culture of the organisation has had a phenomenal impact on how effectively they operate. Additionally, it is quite simply insulting to be late. It demonstrates that consciously or subconsciously you value other people’s time less than your own. Young people tend to have lost sight of punctuality since terms like ‘fashionably late’ became the norm. It is crucial that we re-establish it.