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investment banking summer internships for university students

Internships in banking and investment

A good internship in banking and investment is hard to secure, so how do you go about getting one and stepping on the fast track to a graduate job offer?

There’s no point in saying ‘I’m passionate about markets’ and then not being able to answer a question like ‘Where did the FTSE finish yesterday?’

Most investment banking and investment management houses use internships as part of their graduate recruitment process: impress on your internship and you could find yourself with a graduate analyst job before your final year.

Most investment banks run summer internship programmes, usually aimed at students in their penultimate year of study, which run for eight to ten weeks from July to September. It is also common for investment banks to run ‘off-cycle’ internships at different times of the year, which may last longer.

As of March 2021, investment banks are typically planning to run summer internships in their offices. This will be subject to Covid-19 restrictions being lifted before the summer; it is possible that, if social distancing and remote working were to continue, they would be cancelled or moved online. We think this is much less likely to happen than it was in 2020. However, if it does (or you are worried about having missed out on doing work experience in 2020) you may find the following advice useful:

How do I find the right investment banking internship?

For most internships students are expected to apply for a particular business area so it’s important you spend time exploring the different businesses and career opportunities that exist within a firm before submitting your application. However, you won’t be committed to working in that particular business area for the rest of your career, and it’s not a problem if your internship makes you realise you’d rather do something completely different. Charlie Powell, an analyst at Nomura who previously completed a summer internship with the bank, told TARGETjobs Finance: ‘When applying for internships it is ideal to have a broad understanding of the different teams/functions within banking; however, you certainly don’t need to know which exact team you want to join. The point of an internship is to learn about the roles and the teams.’

Think beyond the traditional roles of corporate banking and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) as there is more to investment banking than these roles. Attending company presentations, speaking to students who have completed internships and reading organisations’ websites will help you gain an understanding of the business areas. You can search investment banking internships right here on TARGETjobs.

How do I apply for an investment banking internship?

You apply for a student or graduate internship with an investment bank or investment management house the same way in which you would apply for a graduate job: by an online application system or, more rarely, CV and covering letter. You may then be invited to an interview and/or assessment centre.

To make a great impression in your application:

  • Think about your skills and how they might be relevant to the role you’re applying for. If you haven’t got any work experience, think about the things you have done and what skills you’ve picked up, for example during extracurricular activities.
  • Do your research: recruiters expect applicants to understand the role they have applied for and to know something about the industry. Read The Economist and the Financial Times and not just on the day of your interview. Charlie advises: ‘You’re not expected to have a huge level of technical understanding, but any work you can do on your own to familiarise yourself with the basics will definitely help.’
  • Be prepared for questions about the job role and the banking sector, eg ‘What do you think you would do as an analyst for a trader?’; ‘What do you think you are going to do in the first year?’
  • Don’t spread yourself too thinly by applying to too many internship schemes; be focused and research a few thoroughly.

What can I expect during an internship?

You will be treated just like any other member of the team. Often you’ll be given a structured training programme but you’ll be expected to participate rather than observe from day one. You are likely to be given a small project to work on, for example yield curve analysis, some IT testing or researching a market. You will have an unrivalled opportunity to find out about different areas of the business and to network with other professionals and like-minded ambitious students.

Article last updated 8 March 2021.

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