A collection of random thoughts, from the summer of 2005

Yesterday, in a bid to understand why exactly I didn’t like my investment banking job at JP Morgan and subsequently rejected their full time offer, I started going through my blog archives of april-june 2005. I knew I had written extensively about my frustration at the job, and thought going through these archives might provide some answers.

Two and a bit years down the line, I think I should have written more. I think my diaries should have been more elaborate. However, going through these archives gave me a lot of other insights. About my way of thinking back then. My expectations. My life in London. Attitudes. And all such. And I thought I should share some of them with you. I’ll also post some comments that had been posted on my blog then

Just before I left for London, I had written

Hopefully i’ll get some time off from what is supposed to be a busy schedule in London so that I can continue to maintain this journal. Else, the next post will be on June 13th

Finally turned out to be a prolific summer of blogging. Joblessness, especially in the latter half meant that I was quite regular here. And joblessness for some of my classmates at their internships meant I had a steady readership. That was when I think my blogging really took off.

is not known as a madman for nothing. During the internship (in bombay) he buys a phone from which ISD calls are cheap and local calls are barred. And he writes this comment:

Cheap guy, mail me your mobile number when you get it. Keyboard in my offce is worshetest, will blog soon either from cybercafe or as soon as I get a replacement.

And one week into my internship I write:

i came to an important decision… if i get a PPO and decide to accept it, i’ll be getting married next april.

And then on a Monday morning following a sleepless night, this:

after 3 weeks of interning in JP Morgan, earlier this morning I called up my parents and told them I didn’t want to become an investment banker. I was told “not to worry too much, try and learn as much as you can in the next few days and enjoy London and tour extensively in the remaining time”.

Sadly I haven’t mentioned any reasons. Looking back I think it was mostly because I didn’t want to put that extra effort people said it required to get a full time offer.

And a couple of days later, I was witness to some football frenzy. A train journey with some Liverpool fans turned out to be contagious. I still root for Liverpool. Especially when they sang stuff like

‘ra-ra-ra-ra-raphael benitez… xabi alonso garcia and nunes… raaafel benitez’ (to be sung to the tune of La Bamba)

‘steve gerrard gerrard… kicks the ball forty yards… ‘ (arbit tune)

apart from You’ll Never Walk Alone, of course. The year I went, JP Morgan hadn’t paid out good bonuses. And one MD was leaving every week. Including the guy who had recruited me. I had written.

wondering how life will be in the fast lane… you get promoted one day… quit the next… no one has a clue of what you’re upto… you don’t have a clue of what someone else is upto… all decisions come suddenly…. just last week this guy was bitching to me about the company he is going to join (of course, he didn’t tell me then that he’s going there). yesterday he had a long chat with me about JPM…

A couple of weeks later, I asked another MD about the heavy attrition.

i was asking an MD today at a meeting regarding exodus of people from our company. he said, “our retention rates among junior and middle levels are the highest in the industry. i’m very happy about that. yeah, quite a few senior guys left but they weren’t doing much work anyway!”

And my midterm review told me that a full time job was likely. Despite me not putting in much effort.

just got my mid-term review. looks like chances of PPO are really good. unless i really really screw up in the remaining time. kinda bargaining for desk now.

next few months, i’ll have to put some real thought into my career. need to consult a lot of people.

And my mom almost set me up with a relative. Rather, the relative wanted to get set up with me and my mom told her to buzz off. There were a couple of other invitations to treat also, I heard. One of them was to get significant six months later. I started hitting on her, and it ended in agony. Clearly the expression of interest was for the investment banking job, it seems.

Another interesting thing I’d written. Still wondering about it.

if i like something, then i’m definitely good at it.
but if i’m good at something, it doesn’t necessarily mean i like it.

During my internship, Anusmaran, the annual IIMB reunion happened. Some thoughts after that, which I think are still very relevant for me.

then, most people who attended had switched jobs at least once, sometimes into a totally different sector and totally different job profile. actually provides hope for me just in case i make a wrong choice on that set of fateful days next march when i have to choose a career and get a good job in my chosen path…?

I had missed the Champions League final in favor of the London Philhamonic Orchestra. One of my biggest regrets so far.

And I remember getting really really pained with the software and the systems. I remember going to my boss and telling him “next year I’ll start a company in Bangalore and make all these packages for you. For cheap. And I’ll maintain them. Will save you some N analyst positions”.

Then, there was peer pressure

all my dear friends have made a decision on my behalf that JPM is THE place for me to work and i’d be committing a grave mistake if i don’t convert PPO and sign out. of course, i have gotten a really good mid-term review, but after that either i’ve been getting no work or woreshtesht work. and if i were to let anyone know that i hate the stuff i’m doing, i won’t get PPO and all my friends’ dreams will be shattered.

In the same post I also wrote this…

most people are like “every job is like that. there is no such thing as an interesting job. come and see our jobs, yours will actually be rocknig. and remember that you’re getting paid a really huge amount”, etc. now, that gives me the impression that since mine is the most interesting job (according to all these people) and i don’t find it interesting, i won’t find any job interesting. which means that i’m doomed to mundane jobs for the rest of my life. which means that after the one year of student life i have left in me (assuming i don’t do a PhD), i’m basically kinda screwed for life. i won’t fit into any organization – i’m too rebellious for that. blah blah…

Some answers

i hate my job. it is extremely mundane. at least if a small portion of it was non-routine work it would’ve made my days. however, that is not the case to be. i mean, it is a really boring job. and i’m not helped by the systems (i’m repeating myself) or the lack of it at JPM. well, i’m really pissed and it’s very very unlikely i’m going to come back if offered.

And some positives

no regrets… has been probably the 2 months of my life where the learning per minute has been maximum… on a lot of fronts… interest rate swaps… functioning of an investment bank… industry in general (my only other ‘industry exposure’ has been at a research lab)… about life in London…

Even the best work couldn’t help it seems

however, when you start hating a place, even the best work that is given to you would be boring. normally i would have jumped at the opportunity to read this kind of stuff. but now i find it boring. it’s something like if the pitch is bad, even a wicketkeeper can turn the ball square. alternately, if you don’t like the ambience in a restaurant, even the most tastiest (i purposely put in the double superlative) food tastes insipid…

I promised to put comments also, but have put only one. Here’s another. Written by the one and only Chiru.

please get a ppo and get out of placements. You are a serious threat to all of us. If u don’t get this ppo, u will take away somebody else’s job and he/she will in turn take some other’s job… you should not be allowed to sit for placements.. 🙂

And then there was the big thing

contrary to all my expectations, i was offered a job by JP Morgan today. i have been offered in the exotic derivatives trading team (different from what i’m doing right now).

That solicited ‘congrats’ messages from various quarters. maybe the post that attracted the maximum number of comments. And this paragraph I wrote in my last post there sums up the internship

it is the end of one of the most interesting chapters of my life. a period of ten weeks where (as i’ve said before) my ‘learning density’ has been maximum. of course there have been those momeents of frustration, such as when i had to check if the ‘middle office’ had done it’s job properly. some moments of elation – climbing the white cliffs at the isle of wight and watching ‘les miseables’ (i still don’t know how to pronounce the name) and our first ever IIMB outing to canterbury. there have been moments of excitement at office – sometimes when the guy next to me has had me calculating stuff for him as he was closing a deal. when i read about some exotic structures. and sometimes it’s been utter boredom – my weeks 6 and 7 where i did nothign but check mail every minute for non-existent new mail.

And the story won’t be complete without this

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