Future Wall Street Interns Are Terrified

Illustration by II

Illustration by II

And it’s not just catching coronavirus that’s scaring them.

Wall Street’s future bankers are freaking out — and not because they’ve just entered their first bear market.

These young aspiring financiers are sweating bullets over fears that the primo summer internships they hustled to line up will be canceled because of the coronavirus.

With ample time to worry now that many universities have canceled classes or are moving to online instruction, future interns are taking to websites like Wall Street Oasis to commiserate.

Some have reported that they can’t sleep. Others have said that they’re seriously worried about losing their internships. One commented on that forum, “I don’t know what I would do with myself if this happened.”

Most big banks and institutions are still fleshing out plans for current staff, adding a layer of opacity to the situation for incoming interns. Given that most internships don’t start until May, they are a low priority for banks.


As one poster identifying as an investment banking professional put it: “Kids, I don’t care if Berkeley says you can’t come to class, you are expected to show up for your summer internships until we say otherwise.”

Harsh? Maybe. But the poster isn’t that far off in describing how financial institutions are responding so far to the pandemic.

Citigroup, for example, is set to proceed as expected with its summer internship program, according to Megan Corbet, a spokesperson for the firm.

“As we are with everything going on, we’re just assessing the situation as it continues to evolve,” she said by phone on Friday. “The program may look different than it has traditionally depending on how the coronavirus situation unfolds. We are just monitoring the situation.”

Citigroup has followed several big banks in taking a split-work force approach to social distancing. Some members of the company are working in the office, while others are working from home. They are rotating each week, she said.

She added that the firm’s recruiting team is reassuring incoming employees as they reach out with concerns.

On March 12, Goldman Sachs sent an email with similar messaging to summer interns, first-year analysts, and experienced hires expected to join the firm in the coming months.

“During these times of heightened uncertainty, we wanted to assure you that we are very much looking forward to having you join Goldman Sachs to experience the culture and energy of our firm first-hand,” the email, which was published on the firm’s website Thursday, said.

The firm is keeping new employees’ start dates as they were but noted that it will continue to monitor developments in the situation.

Meanwhile, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch spokesperson said via email Friday that the firm has no news at this time regarding summer programs. The firm has not yet issued a work-from-home directive, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Hedge fund firm Point72 — where an employee was reported to have tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week — similarly had no updates to share on its internship program, a firm spokesperson said via email.

Likewise, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. spokesperson said via email that the bank has made no announcements regarding summer internships or associate roles. The firm has implemented a partial work-from-home arrangement in which between 25 to 50 percent of its staff will be working from home at the same time. Like Citigroup, JPMorgan’s staff will rotate weekly.

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As for industry entrance exams? FINRA said on its website that it will grant courtesy cancelations for upcoming exam appointments and extend existing enrollment periods for candidates ahead of taking the exam.

Meanwhile, the CFA Institute said on its website that the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement exam scheduled for March will go on as planned. Similarly, the June CFA program exams are set to go on as scheduled, the website showed.

While no firms have announced arrangements to allow students to intern remotely, some future interns speculated online that this could be the next step.

But as one poster pointed out on Wall Street Oasis: “Interns have no idea what they are doing, to have them work remote would be completely useless.”