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How to Deal With a Cutthroat Finance Internship

By Ashley Mosley of InternMatch

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- All eyes are on internships as unpaid interns begin to fight back against minimum-wage violations -- often with class actions in court. But after the recent death of a Bank of America intern, it's clear there's far more to the internship discussion than just fair compensation.

The financial services sector is known for its fast-paced, competitive and cutthroat culture. If you're a student or recent graduate looking to make it within financial services, working yourself into poor mental or physical health should never be the norm in your internship experience. Achieving a high level of hard work and dedication during your internship shouldn't mean pulling all-nighters at the office, even if you are being compensated for it.

Risking your health should never be the price you pay for taking a positive step in your career path. If you're hoping to embark on a finance internship to kickstart your financial services career, it's important to arm yourself with tactics to handle the potentially cutthroat environment, particularly if you're being mistreated.

Here are six tips for putting yourself first at your finance internship:

1. Take things one day at a time.
Being accepted into a competitive finance internship program may seem like the perfect way to achieve your career goals, but the first week could make you feel like you've gotten in over your head. Take a moment to breathe and remember that finding your groove in a new, fast-paced and competitive environment can take some time.

2. Set firm scheduling limits and don't waiver.
When you say you have to leave at 5:30 p.m., there shouldn't be an exception. There's a fine line between staying late to accomplish a task and working several extra hours every single night.

Still, it can be difficult to be the lone wolf in a culture that expects workers to work constantly in overdrive. Make sure you've made it clear to your intern manager that you have a set schedule you need to stick to considering your need to accomplish other things outside of your internship.

3. Handle potentially necessary late nights right.
Spending a few late nights at the office during your internship may come with the financial services territory. Take extra precautions to make sure you're properly caring for yourself during these times.