Investment Banking Internships – A Guide

So you’ve crafted the perfect application and landed yourself the dream internship at a top investment bank. In this industry in particular, bagging one of these opportunities is key to a graduate position, so making the most of your time as an intern is essential!

The basics…

You need to have a real understanding of the fundamentals of how an investment bank works, if you’re to succeed, and a solid grasp of the intimate workings of the financial sector. What this means is that you have to do your research!

There’s a number of ways to do this – whether that be browsing financial publications for related articles, scouring the bank’s website for information and facts and generally getting yourself an understanding of what’s going on (you’re on here which is a great place to start!)

You should also keep an eye on the Financial News, what’s going on in the markets and so forth, as well as seeing if you can find out any impending changes about the company or any recent progress it has made. Not only will you look eager to your bosses and colleagues, but it will help you understand the wider implications of what you’re doing, which can only be a good thing.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions…

Employers will want you to demonstrate the interest in the finance sector that you said that you had in your application, so once you’re there, you need to be curious, eager to learn and go about getting to know all aspects of the company. As an intern, you’re obviously not expected to know everything – but asking questions and therefore getting real, constructive criticism from those in the know can only help you to learn and improve.

Build relationships…

This is key. Any internship requires you to network and build strong relationships with the other interns and employees if you want to be in with the best chance of a job, but nowhere is this more key than within the financial industries. Becoming acquainted with employees already established in the career you want to pursue is a great opportunity to gain advice about breaking into the investment industry.

Chances and windows of opportunity can come from any number of people, so getting to know people from all over the company is a huge bonus. The HR department often know about upcoming positions within the company, so making friends there can lead to a heads up on available opportunities, and that’s just one example of how networking can get you places.

Make hard copies...

Internships in the financial sector can last in some cases up to 12 months, so it’s worth keeping notes of important details for future reference, as often cases will be strung out across a long period of time. Most positions begin with a comprehensive induction and orientation outlining the role and your responsibilities, so having a pen and paper to hand can help you understand as soon as possible how things operate on a day-to-day basis and means that you won’t have to be asking the same questions again and again.

There will be an incredible amount of information to process throughout your internship, so noting things down when you first hear and learn about them is also really important so that you don’t start to feel overwhelmed.  If you tend to forget people’s names as soon as you’re introduced, taking the time to create a quick floor plan will help avoid embarrassing situations too!

Keeping a record of everything you’ve accomplished and updating your CV as soon as possible will make it easier to remember your achievements and the skills you’ve attained. These are key when it comes to applying for jobs in the future, and for talking about in interviews with prospective employers.

Use the time wisely…

Being proactive will maximise your opportunities while you’re there. Even if it seems like you have some free time on your hands, showing initiative by offering help and staying busy with new tasks will give you a unique insight into the world of work in the financial sector and demonstrate a genuine willingness to learn.

If you know that there’s something specific you want to get out of the internship, having a free afternoon can be a great chance to cram valuable real experiences into your time there. Asking to be present at meetings, or getting the kind of work you enjoy assigned to you will be great for shaping your CV, and finding out what areas of investment banking you are best suited to.

Close in style…

Send an email after the internship thanking the people you worked with for their time and the opportunity, and letting them know that you’d love to return for further opportunities. Keeping in contact with a person at the bank could prove useful if a suitable opening arises, and in the worst case scenario, will at least make it easier if you need to ask for a reference!

Ultimately, the most rewarding internships are ones in which you come away from having worked hard; formed relationships with interesting, like-minded people; and developed your professional opportunities for the future. Internships are shaped by what you make of them, and by using every possible opportunity to find real-life learning experiences throughout, the experience will not only be the one which improves your employability, but is also the most fulfilling and enjoyable for you!