What It’s Like To Intern At Sampford Advisors

Q: what made you want to join a boutique firm like Sampford?

[Nick]: Some friends landed jobs in the big banks, the big 4 accounting firms, and the general consensus for the first coop terms is that you don’t really get hands-on experience. That’s why I was looking for boutiques, firms with a small team and consistent deal flow – and I must admit that I got more than I expected coming to Sampford. Within my time here, I got to work on actual deals and create pitches for active deals. It’s really motivating to know that the team is counting on your part and trusts you with challenging work.

Q: how did you find the culture at Sampford?

[Nick]: At a big bank, there are tons of summer analysts so it’s a lot less personal…and there’s only so much time to go around so you don’t get that 1-on-1 time to build your skillset. Whereas at Sampford, you’re sitting right next to the Associate, there’s no wait time…you can ask and get the right help. On top of that, the CEO is in the office almost everyday (unless he’s travelling for work), and so we can have time to chat, pick his brain on certain items, hear stories on past situations, and that’s equity that you just can’t leverage at larger firms. Having that exposure and support was huge for me.

Q: what was your most memorable point?

[Nick]: The most memorable point during my internship would be when I had to complete my first pitch. Ed, Sampford CEO, came to me and asked me to create the whole pitch (from start to finish) – I was the only one working on it and had full control. That was really cool, the fact that my work was going to be put in front of a potential client.

Q: how did you deal with the steep learning curve?

[Nick]: Luckily, I sit right next to my colleague Boris who I report to and who has been with Sampford since day 1 pretty much (he’s an Associate at the firm). It definitely helps that you can reach out for help when you really need it, but part of the steep learning curve was figuring out a lot of the things on my own – I obviously can’t always go to my peers for every question I have. I mostly Google questions I have or take the initiative to actually find the answers to the questions I’m looking for. I look at past models, past presentations, past documents so I can get a general idea of what the thing is and when I do need help, Boris sits across from me and is a great resource to provide additional support.

Q: what would you say has been the biggest challenge?

[Nick]: The biggest challenge would be the attention to detail. Lots of people have good attention to detail, but in Investment Banking one or two typos make you look bad and really affect the overall outcome – so you have to get it exactly right the first time. Being very diligent and thorough will also reduce the time required for others to review your work and that’s important with a small team. Printing physical copies of the pitches that I was working on and going over them with a highlighter helped find those small mistakes and developing the perspective that everything I hand in to upper management should be viewed as if though I was handing it straight off to a client. 

Q: what was an important skill you developed?

[Nick]: I have to admit that my PowerPoint skills have gone through the roof – and really crafting the right message, story, design, and content for an entire client pitch (lots of valuable lessons there). In addition to that, my Excel skills have definitely developed with regards to valuations, modelling, and knowing the right shortcuts to make the output much faster.

Q: what helped you the most from university in your internship?

[Nick]: Joining the investment club was above and beyond anything that could have prepared me for this role. Because at this point in my university career, I still haven’t taken specialized finance courses, and so the generic business courses don’t necessarily provide the specific skillsets required - but the extra-curricular activities do, like the investment club and the autonomy of learning that comes with it.

Q: what advice would you give other students looking to get into Investment Banking?

[Nick]: Definitely take the time to read and study Wall Street Oasis and read up on people’s experiences – you really need to know what is actually required and what you’re going into. It’s definitely a grind, so do expect the 80 hour work weeks, and if you’re not passionate about this work then you can get burnt out easily. I would also say that if your school has a capital fund, then do join it as it will definitely prepare you beforehand and enhance your resume to show you’re committed to things – capital markets related.

Q: what are you excited most about going back to University?

[Nick]: Taking back the full experience of the summer to my courses and the investment fund. It feels great knowing that I can go back and actually offer value to my friends/peers.  Knowing that I’ll be able to take the skillsets garnered and become an asset to the initiatives I’m working on is something I’m very proud of.

George Khalife