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Top tips from investment banking recruits on how to get a job

Three investment banking recruits from Nomura, Fidelity International and Morgan Stanley tell you all about what got them noticed and how they secured their graduate jobs.
Recruiters will know that you have a level of educational competence, but it's what you've got that competitors don't that makes you stand out.

According to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE – formerly, The Association of Graduate Recruiters or AGR), in 2016 investment banking members of the ISE received an average of 106 applications per vacancy, making landing a graduate job as tough as ever. We spoke to graduates working at Fidelity International, Morgan Stanley and Nomura to find out what they think got them their jobs and what you can do to maximise your chances of securing one too.

Did you have any work experience after university and did it help?

  • 'I shadowed a friend's mum at J.P. Morgan for a week's work experience. It was a great view into how an investment bank works.'
  • 'I had internship positions every summer after finishing school. I worked at a hedge fund in Hong Kong, as an analyst at Citi, and in business technology at Standard Life.'
  • 'I did a year abroad as part of my degree and had experience at a Moscow law firm to improve my fluency in the language. Then in 2013 I completed the summer analyst programme at Morgan Stanley. But I have experience in a range of different sectors including law, journalism and media relations.'

What do you think made your CVs stand out?

  • 'I tried to make my CV stand out through extracurricular activities. Recruiters know that you have a level of educational competence, but it's what you've got that your competitors don't that makes you stand out.'
  • 'I think my international background helped, being fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese as well as English.'
  • My languages were a slight positive for going into the oil and gas industry, particularly Russian, but they weren't essential.'

How did you tackle the application process?

  • 'During interviews I tried to convey who I was as a person and made sure to have strong answers for questions like "Why Nomura?", "Why investment banking?" and "Why operations?"'
  • 'The assessment centres were challenging but incredibly helpful. They gave me an insight into Fidelity's culture and values and I made sure to convey my enthusiasm. Skills can be taught, enjoying what you do cannot.'

What advice would you give to graduates looking to get into investment banking?

  • 'Ask as many questions about work experience as you can when meeting permanent employees and be open to as many different experiences as possible.'
  • 'Make the most of your free time and all the opportunities offered to you, especially if it's to learn something new. Make the most of failures and do things you enjoy.'
  • 'Nobody expects someone new to investment banking to understand all the technical aspects, but showing enthusiasm to learn the basics and being able to deal with the steep learning curve helps enormously.'