Doing as much self study upfront as you can will really ensure you are on track when you hit the desk.
Whether your internship is taking place in person or virtually on a digital platform, there are some key steps you need to take in the run-up to it.
1. Keep in contact with the recruiters
It’s important to get in touch with the graduate recruitment team after you’ve been offered an internship. Doing this allows you to get connected with the teams that you're interested in and they can often help you navigate the firm and provide a good future mentor.
It is advisable to let recruiters know as soon as possible if you’re likely to have any exam clashes during your internship. It’s not usually a problem to get time off, but it's always professional to give as much notice as possible.
2. Improve your commercial awareness
This point is especially important if your degree is not finance-based. You'll likely be given a few days to a week of training once you start, but this will be intense and generally aims to cover a lot in a short space of time. By doing as much self study as you can beforehand you can ensure you'll be on track when you hit the desk.
First, take a look at the TARGETjobs investment banking and investment ‘Areas of work’ section to familiarise yourself with what you’ll be doing. Then, head over to TARGETjobs' advice on Commercial awareness: it’s how the industry fits together for specific tips. In addition:
- Make sure you’re familiar with the market the business you’ll be interning for operates in. Who are the major competitors, and how are they different from each other? How is the industry performing overall? What important deals have happened recently? Are there any big trends affecting the sector?
- Make sure you have a ‘big picture’ understanding of the major issues affecting the economy, politics and the business world at large. Everything is connected so every newspaper headline could have ripple effects in the industry or business.
- Remember that all businesses are constantly changing. Stay on top of new developments and keep abreast of current events.
If that’s still not enough, there are books that examine in-depth how the City works – great background reading. Try Commercial Awareness and Know the City, both by Chris Stoakes, or The Money Machine: How the City Works, by Phillip Cogan.
3. Start the networking process
Networking is crucial for investment banking interns and there are ways you can make an early start. Find out if anyone at your university or among your friends has also got an internship at the same business. Not only can you help each other prepare, but you’ll also potentially have someone you could share a house with during your internship.
You should also attend any events organised by the business ahead of your internship. It may provide you with some extra nuggets of information on how to prepare and will also show your enthusiasm.
4. Don’t neglect your admin
When you’re accepted onto an internship, you’ll be given a lot of paperwork to complete. It’s much easier to do this before your internship starts and it’s important for the bank to have your up-to-date information.
It’s surprising that so many people don’t know their National Insurance number offhand, so make sure you’re not caught out or don't delay the process by having required details to hand.
Once that’s done, don’t take it too easy; there will be correspondence that you need to keep on top of. The recruitment team will be giving you the information you need, so if necessary, make sure you respond promptly.
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