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The investment banker’s survival guide

  • 3-min read

No matter how good or careful you are, you will make some mistakes. Here’s how to survive investment banking.

Investment Banker Lamide Elizabeth on how to survive investment banking
courtesy of Lamide Elizabeth

POV: You just graduated and are about to embark on your first full-time employment experience at an investment bank. 

5 pieces of advice for new investment bankers

Establish a routine

Starting a new role can honestly feel like a whirlwind, so adding some stability to every other aspect of your life can go a long way.

It’s hard to be an investment banker, especially at first. At the beginning, you’re adjusting to new people, new jargon, a new culture, and more all at once. So, focus on the one thing you can control: yourself. Put together a healthy routine as soon as you can that reminds you that you’re in control of your life. Your routine could look like:

  • Waking up at the same time every day.
  • Blocking off gym time in your calendar.
  • Having a consistent morning- and nighttime routine.

It sounds like simple stuff, but mastery over your routine will springboard the chaos to organized chaos, which is 10x more manageable.

Manage expectations

It’s a phrase you’re bound to hear in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. If a senior says these words, it’s corporate-speak for, “Don’t make me chase you for work you owe me.” 

I’ll pass on some advice I was given when I was just starting out: Use calendar invites to let your senior—or whoever assigned you the task—know when to expect your work. Sending an invite that says “Lamide to send first draft of deck” and setting the date helps everyone on the team know exactly when to expect each part of a longer-term project. Plus, you have the constant reminder to get things done.

Tip: Make sure the invite shows as “free” and the start time and end time are the same so you don’t clog up anyone’s calendar.

Expect to make mistakes

When starting a new role, it’s natural to want to produce the very best work, be valuable, and remind your team why they hired you. But no matter how good or careful you are, you will make some mistakes—it’s a crucial part of the learning curve.

When it happens, don’t beat yourself up about it (they don’t think you’re dumb or stupid); embrace it as evidence of learning. Leverage it to show your team how quickly you can progress from your slip-ups. You can still succeed in investment banking after making a few small mistakes.

Track your work

One of my first managers had me document all of my work, and it’s been an invaluable tip. 

At the end of each month, I jot down in an Excel file:

  • What deals I worked on.
  • Which clients I worked with.
  • Who in my team or across the bank I worked with.
  • What exactly my contribution was to the project or deal.

This is extremely valuable when you get to your mid- and end-of-year reviews to know exactly how the nature of work you did has developed and to know who to contact for feedback. It also just makes you look super organized compared to other analysts. 😉


If you’re anything like me, then you will probably experience a rollercoaster of emotions in your first six months of the job, from “I really love my job and what I do” to “What on earth have I done?” 

The least productive thing to do in this phase is to shut off communication with those around you and go through the motions alone. Talking to your peers about what’s going on will make you realize you are not alone. If you really struggle, remember that your manager should be a resource that you can rely on. 

What makes a good investment banking analyst is not just about producing pristine work; it’s also about being happy, and being fun to work with when you’re all struggling to stay awake during busy times.

Your mental health is important to your overall performance, so always prioritize it. 

Final words

We’ll end with what I should’ve started with, which is congratulations! It’s not an easy process making it into investment banking. Buckle up, because the real journey is just about to start!