I sat on a Trading floor for a few years. You know all those hot shot traders, brokers, sales people and managers? Well, they all started somewhere. Usually that place is an internship.
From my time on the floor, interns served many purposes. They were required to get coffee and take lunch orders for their teams. They performed any miscellaneous tasks that the traders required. They did not get proper seats, but were instead given little stools to carry around the floor as they were bounced around by the traders like a basketball.
If they survived the first few days of hazing and being looked at as annoyance, there was a chance that one of the traders would start to actually let them watch or learn something. If I recall correctly, they were provided temporary laptops to work on, but no real desk. Just a spot by someone’s desk. In some cases, the traders would try and bet on something involving the interns.
“Hey, how many subway sandwiches do you think this guy can eat in one shot? Let’s order 20, and if he can eat them, we’ll make him an offer after he graduates.”
The bets were usually ridiculous, and nearly impossible. Though I will say, I did win a couple of hundred dollars once due to a bet. I didn’t like that they made us buy lunch for the entire trading desk with the winnings and then you can keep what was remaining. I wasn’t that generous and didn’t see the point in doing that? “Well, we are taking their money, the least they can do is get a lunch out of it.” I went along with it, but I didn’t like it. That was probably half of the winnings! Did they do half of the work at the gym? No? FOH! But I went along with it, gotta play by their rules.
In any case, any interns who survived the summer were generally brought back in as graduates. At that point, they’d get a desk and a computer, but they were still tasked with the menial desk jobs. “Go find the I.T guy, order us lunch, go get coffee.” But as time passed, and new interns came aboard, they slowly started to move up the ranks.
During my time at Wall Street, I reached the rank of “AVP,” Assistance Vice President. By the time I left, most of those interns on the floor had made Director level or higher and were commanding six figure salaries easily. That’s not a bad deal considering that maybe 5 years earlier they were on coffee and lunch detail. The job is stressful, and I saw many of them age really fast, but some of them thrived and loved the environment.
The Wall Street Intern experience is an interesting one to observe, and it was kind of cool to see them rise up the ranks. Most of them stayed cool, while some of them started to become pompous arrogant assholes. Like I said, it was an interesting dynamic to watch.