Summer Interns Setting The Tone For Jefferies For The Month Of August—Across the Board Winners!
Last month, we asked each of our 234 summer analysts and associates from every department around the globe to set the tone for all of Jefferies by writing their own August 1st "Jef_All" Letter to all of our Employees. We write our own note monthly as you all know and it is a privilege to address our entire firm on whatever we believe is relevant and important. The senior leaders of Jefferies (along with the two of us) read every individual entry. The submissions were original, honest, inspiring, creative, thoughtful and fun. We are proud of each of our interns, as they brought a unique perspective to our firm and hopefully many of them will become future full-time culture carriers at Jefferies Financial Group.
This year the selection process was almost impossible to judge. The quality and breadth was outstanding and there were many candidates that could have easily been chosen as “the best.” We have decided this year that there are six letters that while remarkably unique, each carry messages that are too important for us to not share. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, the winners come from all areas of the firm: Investment Banking, Equity, Fixed Income, Corporate, and Research. This bodes very well for the future of our firm as we truly are “One Firm” regardless of department, role, or geography. Rich Handler had the privilege this year of taking our winners, Andrew Bicknell, Molly Carpenter, Ava Merz, Sohail Patel, Jacob Sadowitz, and Kelly Squier to lunch on July 30th to celebrate their joint victory. We are thrilled to now share the winning letters with the rest of Jefferies. When you take the time to read each of these different perspectives, we know it will reinforce with each of you why we are so fortunate to work at Jefferies and why we should be so optimistic about our future.
Enjoy your August and thank you to all our interns for an amazing summer,
Rich and Brian
P.S. All 234 letters without the authors’ names will be posted on our intranet and each intern will be given a hard copy of all letters for their end of summer reading enjoyment. Thank you to all interns for participating.
P.P.S. On behalf of all of us at Jefferies, we would like to thank every intern who joined us this summer. You brought positive energy, new perspective, lots of intelligence and a tremendous work ethic to our company. Enjoy the rest of your summer and we look forward to having many of you influence and lead Jefferies into the future.
Division: Equity Research
From Jamaica to Jefferies
One of the many things about growing up in Jamaica that is so special is the sense of family. Your friends are your family, and just about every adult in your life is your uncle or aunt. It is a close-knit culture that sees no color, gender or ethnicity with the motto being “out of many one people”. The only time I have experienced a culture outside of Jamaica on a wide scale has been my summer here at Jefferies.
Even though it took me a few weeks to realize, everyone here is part of a big family. I like to call it a mini-Jamaica. That message might be cliché and will probably be talked about in most of these letters but that’s because it is the truth. Everyone I have met truly cares about one another, enjoys one another and willingly helps one another no matter what. Every time I asked a question, I got a thoughtful and honest answer. Even when I couldn’t understand a certain topic and had to ask my MD multiple times, he took the time out of his busy schedule to map out the details to help me understand and better my experience. That was a game changer for me and was the moment I realized I wanted to be a part of the Jefferies family.
The reason this culture resonated with me was because my experience was a little different than most. My team was based in San Francisco, so I didn’t have anyone directly on my team to interact with every day. This may seem like a bad thing, but I think it only made my experience better. First, I was on the phone with the San Francisco team all the time and whenever I had questions, they did their best to help me out, and I even got to go to San Francisco for a week which was awesome. And second, I was pretty much adopted by another team in the New York office, so it felt like I had two mini families looking out for me.
I don’t think this letter would be complete if I didn’t talk about a few things, other than the technical skills, that I have learned throughout these eight weeks that I will be able to take with me no matter where I go in life:
1. to work harder than you think you can
2. to take pride in your work and to care about the work you produce
3. that a positive attitude and a smile on your face can help you in more ways than you think
4. That caring about the people you work with and helping whenever you can along the way is way more beneficial and fulfilling, and will create lasting partnerships and friendships for life
Growing up in Jamaica I never imagined I would be interning at one of the big banks in New York. I always imagined these positions were out of reach for someone like me. There was no way I would be eating lunch with the CEO, flying out to San Francisco and going to client meetings with an MD. No way I would be working with some of the smartest people in the industry and be able to pick their brains and learn from them. And there’s no way a kid from Jamaica would be able to spend a summer in New York City and experience a whole new world. But thankfully it worked out and to whoever said let’s hire the Jamaican kid, thank you for taking a chance on me and giving me a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Division: Investment Banking
As a Woman (Interning) at Jefferies
When the rising juniors at my college turned their sights to recruiting, I saw very few of my female peers interested in finance or banking. Their reasons were valid in many respects (e.g. long work hours, competition, work-life balance), but many said plainly that they lacked any network or familiarity to the field – which are frankly the most important factors to have early on in such a competitive process. However, something I have been mindful of and even more grateful for during the recruiting process and since is how much support I have been given as a woman at Jefferies, and so I have felt compelled to share this experience in my letter.
My first interaction with the firm was seeing the smiling and encouraging face of a recent alumna at my on-campus interview, and that has (in subtle ways) set the tone for my time interning at the firm. In the haze of finals, right before leaving for this internship, I was sent a warm welcome by my assigned mentor, who was kind enough to grab lunch with me before I even hit the desk. Despite working in different groups, she has been accessible and encouraging consistently, even texting me on the weekend to let me know she’s heard great things about my performance. At every networking event I have been to this summer, successful and high-ranking women at the firm have been happy to field all of my questions and eager to get to know me as a person. Even some of the most challenging parts of this internship have been when I have made mistakes for an analyst who has subsequently pushed me to work harder and be better. Her direct and comprehensive feedback to every deliverable of mine has truthfully made me improve the most meaningfully at this job and become more accountable, responsive, and focused.
I don’t believe that these experiences are more than any woman entering this field should ask for. Rather, I think that these networks and interactions should exist uniformly, but I know from speaking with my peers elsewhere that my experience is not always the norm. So, I wanted to share my perspective, because I believe I have felt the benefits of what has been a long and ongoing effort at Jefferies to be more inclusive. I have only begun my time in this industry, but without exception I have felt respected, taken seriously, and empowered with a meaningful network. When considering the direction a growing firm like Jefferies is heading, I would argue that there are few better ways forward.
Tips, Advice, and Things I Have Learned As A Sales & Trading Intern
1. Job security is not given. You must earn your spot and prove your worth every day.
2. You must find what makes you valuable and what your edge is in this industry in order to survive in a world where technology advances every day.
3. Do not assume anything. Ask. Confirm. Repeat. Make sure you understand what someone is asking you or telling you.
4. Jefferies’ employees (no matter what title/status) are there to support, help, encourage, and teach you. It is rare to have support like that in the typical competitive, “cut-throat” industry that exists today.
5. Jefferies challenges you in ways that will only strengthen you. The intimidation of S&T Intern Morning Meetings makes you more intelligent. They do not exist to show failure, but to improve and work on your weaknesses and personal challenges.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Getting a job done correctly is better than getting it done as soon as possible.
7. Listen, listen, and listen some more. You must have good listening skills to be in this business, whether that be listening to your clients’ needs or listening to your peers’ trades and requests.
8. Arriving on time is arriving late. Be at your desk before your peers. Be prepared for not only yourself but for your desk as well.
9. In a time where S&T divisions are shutting down, Jefferies looks to find where they can become smarter, more efficient, and more accurate for their clients. Jefferies is not motivated by the fear of the unknown (future) but by client needs and works towards improvement.
10. The experience Jefferies’ interns get is unique to the industry. Getting invited to client lunches and meetings, working directly with Managing Directors, and assisting in discovering investment opportunities (i.e.: researching, finding new launch hedge funds/leads) are not to be taken for granted. This internship is meant to be both a learning and personal growth experience.
11. Once given the opportunity, your job is not done. It has just begun. Take it and run with it. Use your opportunity to get to the next level.
12. Make sure you enjoy the people you work with and believe in the culture/values they strive to implement. The better you connect with your peers and superiors, the better you’ll work, the more success you will have, and the happier you’ll be. The culture at Jefferies was a huge selling point for me. It makes me want to come to work every day, meet more people, and make a difference.
13. Come to work with a good attitude. A smile truly does go a long way. Find positivity in all you do. It makes a difference in your work and the way that people perceive you.
14. Accept the fact that you don’t know everything and own up to it. If you do not know something, admit it and ask for help/clarification.
15. As an intern, you should be working as hard as an analyst. Work as if you have a higher title.
16. Become an asset. Take initiative. Find the projects that need to be done that people don’t realize need to be done.
17. Find people who want to help you and utilize them (this is most people at Jefferies).
18. Always have questions to ask. Most importantly, know when to ask them and who to ask them to.
19. Jefferies strives to showcase each person’s potential, whether that be challenging you or giving you opportunity and responsibility (i.e.: be prepared to be given responsibility as an analyst).
20. Rich Handler is as “one of a kind” as people say. His desk is steps away from me (even as an intern). He offers time out of his day to have lunch with interns and invites them into his home. This is not something to take for granted.
Division: Fixed Income
Throughout my internship at Jefferies, I have heard a lot of different pieces of advice. The best advice I received was something that seemed trivial at first: “Be a decent human being”. I did not know how to respond to that advice. My first thought was “Is that not something that we all learn in grade school”? It seems that in this time, people lack the ability to be decent human beings. My time at Jefferies has shown me that the people at this firm embody kindness and helpfulness.
Being a decent human being is hard to explain in words. That is why I choose to explain this piece of advice with my experiences at Jefferies. During my second rotation, someone from a completely different desk saw me, an unknown face, and decided to come up to me and introduce themselves. They were friendly and truly wanted to help me succeed. That is a decent human being.
During my time on another desk, I was struggling to understand the concepts. It turns out that learning about negative convexity and prepayment risk is a rather difficult concept when you first learn about it. A mentor on the desk sat with me and helped answer every small question I had. Someone who invests in you and helps other succeed is a decent human being.
At the annual intern event at Richard Handler’s apartment, I had several conversations with upper management. It was remarkable having a regular conversation with someone who in our eyes, would normally never be visible to interns at another firm. It turns out that no matter how high up the management structure you go, you will always find a decent human being wanting to help you at Jefferies.
Being a decent human being can be tough. Sometimes we might deal with clients who do not reciprocate the same decency we provide to them. It is our role, rather it is our firm culture, to be decent human beings. We should learn to smile, laugh, and be positive in the face of adversity. At the end of the day, we want to be remembered as those who are good people.
Division: Investment Banking
Words to Live By
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you can miss it”
This idea of cherishing every moment seems to be a common theme that I am growing more conscious of as I get ready to graduate college. It seems that the older you get, the faster the time passes. Issues that seem so prevalent and so unmanageable are nothing more than blips on the radar in the grand scheme of things; until before you know it, you are 21 and choosing a career path. I have tried to be present in every moment this summer, and this has opened the door to many special experiences and opportunities as well as friendships that will last for years to come. One moment this summer will stick with me for the rest of my life and I am still in disbelief that it actually happened.
In June, a few interns were invited to a networking event with the Financial Sponsors Group. I spoke to an MD and mentioned that I was a student-athlete at Penn. We began talking about sports, including a few sports equipment companies. The next day, I followed up with him with some additional insights, and that email turned into a 1.5-hour call with a VP in the group regarding an upcoming pitch for a sports company, including my experiences with one brand. After that discussion, I asked if I could be involved with the pitch, and immediately after asking, I was staffed on the deal.
Over the next two weeks, I helped to structure the positioning section of the deck and provided additional insights. The team had flown out for the pitch and I was tied up with work on all my other deals. At 9:30 pm, while working on a separate project for a media deal in the M&A group, I got a call from the analyst traveling with the team. He explained that since I was the only one with first-hand knowledge of the strategic positioning segment of the pitch, the MD wanted me to fly out for the pitch, which was scheduled for the next day at 1 pm. I pulled up Concur and searched for all flights to get to the meeting and found two viable options, both of which involved a lay-over in Los Angeles before getting on a connecting flight to make the meeting. The earlier flight left at 11 pm from Newark Airport, so I dropped everything, grabbed my suit and Ubered there. I pulled up to security and ran to the gate. I flew to Los Angeles and landed at 3 am, with 3.5 hours before my next flight arriving at 12:11pm, giving me 49 minutes to get to the pitch. Right before we boarded, the flight was delayed and I wouldn’t land until 1:50 pm, missing the meeting. I began looking for alternatives and found a flight that left in 20 minutes, so I ran across LAX, made it through security again and got to the gate with 3 minutes to spare. I boarded the plane expected to arrive at 12:17- leaving me just 43 minutes to get to the meeting. I changed into a suit on the plane and as we touched down at 12:24pm, I sprinted off the plane, called an Uber, and arrived with six minutes to spare..
I was greeted by the management team, which included a few names I’ve idolized since my childhood. After team introductions, the MD on the deal told me to introduce myself, so I explained that I am a student athlete at Penn and have been a consumer of the company’s products since I could remember. After a few questions, the team jumped seamlessly into the pitch.
After the meeting, I flew back to New York that night which was, of course, delayed 3 hours, so I landed at 3 am at JFK and got home around 4 am. On Monday I came into the office, and hit the ground running on all my other deals I missed work on while I was gone. Within 36 hours, I had flown to three separate cities in three separate time zones, met people that I have grown up admiring and wishing I could meet one day; and lastly, participated in a successful pitch that the team crushed. A week later, we found out we won the mandate, and as icing on the cake, I was able to pitch the deal name. I didn’t sleep at all from Thursday to Saturday morning, but I was able to binge Stranger Things, watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off while trying to soak up every second of the experience.
If you had told me at the beginning of this summer that I would be involved in a multitude of deals in the groups I dreamed of working in and would have gotten to have the experience at the pitch, I would have thought it was wishful thinking. When I settled in at home after the trip, I realized that this special experience had all just flown by and I knew to cherish every moment being there. . I thought back to Ferris Bueller in his famous monologue from the movie and realized how much the quote resonated with me and vowed from then on to be much more present in every moment.
If there is one thing I hope to pass on it is that while you need to live in the moment, you can’t be afraid to ask questions. I asked the MD to be involved in the deal, and if I hadn’t done that, none of this would have happened. Jefferies promotes a culture where questions are valued and because of that, I believe everyone here can reach their full potential. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me to get to where I am right now and hope to grow with the same group of people as we join the full-time work force and start our real lives beyond college. Thank you for everything, truly.
Sometimes you just don’t know...until you do
Through much of my life I have always felt like success for me seemed just out of reach. Nearly 10 weeks ago when I started my internship, that feeling did not waver. Although I was fascinated with finance, the study of it has not always been something that I was comfortable in. I had to work extremely hard at it, and I never knew if I was actually good enough for this industry and lifestyle. Like many of my peers, I struggled trying to determine what I wanted to do with my life. The pressure of being asked what mark you want to make on this world as a 17-year-old going into college (which your mom can’t really afford) is a daunting concept to address. The internship at Jefferies was a lucky break for me, and while I was ecstatic to be starting my first day, I was battling underlying anxiety that I was not talented enough to be here. These past weeks indeed showed me that my fears of inadequacy were unfounded -- and I owe it all to the team I was a part of.
Stories about the financial industry are typically focused on the market wisdom, intelligence and business deals of individuals who lead firms. However, I have realized that truly great leaders recognize the character and cohesiveness of a motivated and dedicated staff, and that is what builds the foundation for achieving goals. To some, corporate culture may not seem like the most important aspect of a top tier company, but it is what made me grow very fond of Jefferies. The shared beliefs, standards, and attitudes at Jefferies are embodied by all levels…and were bestowed upon me as a brand-new intern. My experience with true mentoring began from day one. Jefferies values their interns, pushes us outside of our comfort zone, and empowers us to confront challenges. How many summer interns can say they were servicing over 700 clients by 5 weeks into their internship? What a terrific opportunity I was given. This formidable task tested me, but I had the support of my team to motivate me, keep my confidence high and help me learn from the mistakes I made, so they did not happen again. When things were a bit overwhelming, they pushed me to not give up on myself or my abilities. My mentors took me under their wings...it’s hard to express the impact on one’s self confidence when you are surrounded by people who believe in you.
Jefferies wants their interns to grow. Beyond the client responsibilities, we are encouraged to actively participate as true members of the team. I was never afraid to voice an opinion or suggest an idea with “what do you think of this?”. Welcome contributions and innovations don’t need to be earth shattering… it can just be a simple idea to change the way people think. On our team’s daily morning report, I started adding a quote of the day. I tried to make everyone’s day brighter before diving in to a full plate of work and provided a way for our team to reflect together on our shared mission. It was my small mark on Jefferies in my short time here, and even though it was not a monumental change, it was admired. This shows that no matter how large or small your impact was at Jefferies, it is appreciated.
Jefferies has a special culture that values your unique personality and embraces the idea that everyone’s different experiences create an environment that together enables us to provide great service to our clients. Hard work with an inspired team, and a little bit of confidence to be yourself can accomplish great things. I never thought I would have the good fortune to work with such an amazing group, or even have the opportunity to be a Jefferies intern for that matter. Being here didn’t just encourage me to believe I was good enough for this role in life, it gave me the proof that I am. The ‘Middle Office’ community saw the potential I had to be successful, and pushed me until I believed it myself. I no longer feel intimidated or less than, as my underdog mindset tries to define me. These past weeks have finally made me feel like an equal.