Investment Banking through the eyes of a Humanities student
Prior to starting the internship, I was quite apprehensive about Investment Banking and wondered whether I would be wasting my and my future team’s time. I’m a Modern History student who dropped Maths at school as soon as I could. My understanding of economics extended to supply and demands curves and that was about it. I really questioned whether I would have any interest or skills needed to be successful, and whether I’d add any value to my team.
My application to the Barclays Investment Banking internship was a fairly last-minute ordeal for me. I was originally set on pursuing internships in management consultancy, and put all my energy into acing case studies for the Big Four. My father was the one who encouraged me to apply to ‘at least one bank’, so I did (begrudgingly). I managed to get through to the assessment centre stage (surprisingly, I was amazed that I managed to pass the numerical tests) and thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Barclays. In fact, it was part of the reason why I decided to take the internship. I felt like my interviewers were genuinely interested in getting to know me as a person rather than just making sure I ticked all the right HR boxes. The emphasis Barclays places on its people isn’t just a cliché repeated at Graduate recruitment evenings or networking events, but a real effort pushed through by those at the top to ensure that Barclays is a great place to work.
The internship itself has surpassed any expectations I may have had, by far. My first week on the desk was the most challenging, as quite a few people from my team were away on holiday. This meant that not only did I have to deal with the usual HR/IT issues that arise at the beginning of any internship, but I was also forced to work on tasks that were way above my capabilities. While absolutely terrifying at the time, in hindsight I’m very glad that I was dropped in at the deep-end, as it meant I got to grips with some of the trickier parts of the job quicker than otherwise.
My team has been quite keen for me to get used to the recurring tasks of an analyst, so they’ve really encouraged me to work on weekly client market updates, as well as working on pitch books and RfPs. The work has been quite varied, although always challenging and always interesting. We’ve also had quite a few ‘teach-in’ sessions organized by the juniors on the team for the interns, where we learnt about the different products that the ECM team offer to clients, from derivatives to IPOs and rights issues. The team has been so supportive of all the interns, but especially to those who, like me, had no financial knowledge before starting.
Looking back over the last few weeks, I’ve realized just how much I have actually learnt. My final project was a mock pitch to the rest of my team, where I had to pretend that they were clients. While it was no-where near perfect and I had much I could improve on, I was amazed at how I was able to answer some of the hard questions that the team asked. Just two months ago, I wouldn’t have even understood half the words they said, let alone be able to talk about some of the concepts.
Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience and it just goes to show that you don’t need to be a maths genius or have a Masters in Finance to work in Investment Banking.