My name is Lynn and I am a third year student in AFM interested in doing the CFA specialization. During my first co-op term, I was working in valuations at EY and learned a lot about how to evaluate a company. From that, I realized that I wanted to explore the finance industry. I applied for various roles and ended up in investment banking at National Bank Financial for the Fall 2021 co-op term.
Could you share a little about some of the projects you worked on?
We had a fairly healthy deal flow throughout my co-op, so I was usually helping out with multiple projects at a time. This would involve creating a slide deck and outlining some of the strategic and financial objectives. We would also work on industry coverage updates, including research to see if there were any recent M&A deals, press releases, or financial statements that came up in the last two weeks. A more specific example would be if we had an existing relationship with a client and knew a good company they could potentially acquire, we might internally pitch to them. Apart from that, I would work on tasks like management preparation for meetings or press conferences, where I might try to come up with supplemental material or questions that the executives may be asked.
My co-op was entirely remote due to the pandemic, so I had the comfort of living at home. To start my day, I tried to wake up at 8am - an hour before work started, though as the term progressed there was a stronger emphasis on “tried”. I would usually have coffee and listen to a podcast or jump straight into work. If I was lucky I’d wake up in time to go on a quick walk around the neighborhood before work.
Beginning of Work Day
My days varied a lot because the workflow was on an ad-hoc basis. I would check in with the analysts to learn what I needed to do and when I needed to have specific tasks completed. As a result, I didn’t have many routine tasks because it all depended on what deal I was working on at that time and what the specific client was asking for. Usually, I might update a model or slide deck from the night before with new market open prices or close prices though.
Since work was remote, lunchtimes were flexible and taken at different times. Typically I would just go downstairs to quickly grab food and watch some TV during my lunch if there happened to be a quiet period. My go-tos for the term were The Good Place and The Last Airbender.
Late Afternoon and Evening
In the late afternoon, I would try to fit in a workout in between my tasks, around 3pm or 4pm. It was really convenient because of work from home. Otherwise, I would do some research into clients and companies that I was working on and take advantage of how I have access to equity research reports to read about any industry I wanted to learn more about for a deal or upcoming project. I would also try to connect with colleagues from other groups to meet new people and learn more about the field. By around 7pm- 9pm, there was usually a wave of tasks assigned to the analysts and interns. I would often work until completed on slide decks or backup files. On Fridays, we would have our weekly staff meeting to update everyone on what happened throughout the week and what was to come, and hopefully by mid-evening activity would slow down for the weekend.
During the weekdays there wasn’t always a lot of time at the end of the day, so I’d unwind by catching up on messages, calling a friend, or checking in with my parents. I also rode the mid-COVID Animal Crossing wave and would often place my remaining energy of the day into building my island. I was also very lucky that I didn’t work much on weekends, maybe only twice throughout my co-op. I would always try to book some sort of activity, just so my weekends would be downtime well-spent. Often, I would go on a hike with friends or family.
To close off...
Navigating being in a professional environment as a student is one challenge, being a woman in a traditionally male dominated field is another. I was one of two female employees on a team of about twenty people and having supportive co-workers certainly makes a difference in one’s experience. I can understand that some might feel like people are censoring their relationship with you because you’re female, but at the end of day, my belief is that your coworkers and superiors will value you for the work and attitude you put forward. My two cents for others (and myself!) is that despite preconceived assumptions or natural insecurities that one might have, continue putting yourself out there by doing excellent work and making your presence known through thoughtful contribution to discussion.