The summer internship program is the primary recruitment tool used by investment banks. Every summer, thousands of hopefuls descend upon the financial centers of London, New York, Hong Kong and beyond for ten weeks in the hope of securing a full time analyst offer. They are the key gateway to securing a full time offer but require dedication, hard work and resilience to survive. Do not underestimate the challenge ahead of you; an investment banking summer internship will test you. Can you rise to the challenge? Below are the key elements of summer analyst programs you need to be aware of:
They are tough
Summer internship programs give you 10 weeks to make a positive impression and secure a full time offer. You will have less experience than any full time employee but must keep your head above water. Hours are long and there will be numerous new concepts thrown at you. Without a strong work ethic and self-belief, you will not perform well enough to secure a full time offer. However, just because they are tough, doesn’t mean you cannot succeed.
Recruiters know how hard it is and that you will make mistakes. What matters most is your attitude. If you ask intelligent questions and continue to learn and improve, then you will stand out for the right reasons. But if you crumble, and give in when faced with adversity, you will not secure a full time offer. The summer analyst program is as much a test of character as it is of intelligence.
If you ask HR or your team what materials you should use to prepare, they will likely give you a generic response of “don’t worry about it, enjoy rest of your school year, etc…” Whilst this is a comforting answer, it is false. Don’t be an idiot – remember that recruiting is a relative game and you are up against some of the brightest kids from top tier universities. Whilst you may not need to know every concept inside out, you should at the very least get to grips with excel, powerpoint, accounting and basic valuation methodologies. The one week of training you get will not be enough especially considering many other interns will have studied these concepts in university. The best way to learn these concepts quickly and effectively is the Wall Street Unlocked technical interview guide.
They are structured differently
Some banks offer rotations across different industry and product groups within a division. For example, Morgan Stanley allows you to do 5 weeks in one team and 5 weeks in another. Goldman Sachs has a rotational system whereas J.P. Morgan is team specific – you stick with the same team for 10 weeks.
First impressions count
You may have 10 weeks but in reality, the decision may be heavily influenced by your behavior over the first few weeks on the desk. If you perform exceptionally well at the beginning and win over your team, you will have built significant momentum to secure an offer. But if you screw up at the start and make a bad first impression, you will face an uphill battle all summer to change the opinion of you by your team. This is especially true in firms with no rotation program as changing team can offer you a fresh start with a new rotation but bear in mind all your feedback will be gathered when determining whether or not to make a full-time offer.
Your firm reputation starts here
How you conduct yourself throughout the summer internship will shape your reputation within the firm. Because of this, it is important to treat everyone with respect, work hard and develop the reputation as a top performer. This will stick with you throughout your career and pay dividends down the line.
Common sense is crucial to success
You would be surprised how uncommon, common sense is. Even though the financial valuation concepts can seem tricky, behaving with common sense on the job is often the most difficult part for interns, particularly, if they have no prior work experience. First, decent manners and using common courtesies ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way. Don’t just leave for a couple of hours in the afternoon to catch up with a buddy or skip out for the evening to watch a game. Before you leave each day ask your team is there anything else they need (and don’t wear your rain jacket whilst doing this as if you are ready to walk out the door!).
Efficient and effective work is required
Yes, be the first in and the last out each day – even if it just means getting in 10 minutes before and leaving ten minutes after your team. But don’t be the person that keeps sending emails at 3am in the morning to show everyone you were in the office late. It is transparent. Whilst you might think this makes you look like a hard worker, in reality, it suggests you are slow and inefficient and at worst suggests that you simply staying late with no work to earn extra pay (some analyst internships pay hourly) or impress colleagues by staying in late. If you are staying in consistently late and working hard, you don’t need to send any emails to show you are in the office – you will be noticed.
Work hard, play soft
Forget models & bottles, you’re a summer intern. You are the bottom of the food chain. You should be working harder than anyone else on your team to show you want to be there. Whilst there will be networking drinks and the team may take you out on nights out, do not go crazy. Get a few drinks but don’t get drunk. If the team bring you clubbing then just sneak some water in regularly throughout the night to avoid a nasty hangover or saying something stupid. Interns have lost full time offers on the last night by behaving like an idiot while drunk. It happens every year. Be smart and work hard but play soft.
Make sure to get an offer
Irrespective of whether you want to do banking or not, you should make sure to get a full time offer since it gives you optionality and leverage when seeking to secure a different job after your summer. Think about it. If you go for any graduate interview and they see you worked at an investment bank but failed to secure an offer, then they will wonder why. Did you have a bad work ethic? Were you smart enough? Were you unemployable? To stop these questions arising make sure to get an offer. Contrast this with somebody who has a full time offer. Not only have they successfully navigated one of the most competitive and grueling summer intern programs but they have made an informed decision that investment banking is not for them. The student with a full time offer is much more credible than one without. Make sure to get the offer.
Politics can play a role
Learn quickly who the key decision makers are and never speak negatively about anybody. Whilst it is important to have HR and lower level employees on side, you ultimately need at least two key senior figures to back you. Throughout the internship there will be meetings held to decide who gets an offer – at the very end there is a final meeting to confirm. If nobody stands up for you and fights your case then you will be unlikely to get a full time offer. You need a sponsor, an advocate for you within the firm. The more senior the better since their name carries weight. Obviously, this will not matter if you performed terribly. Nobody will sponsor you then. But sometimes good candidates fall through the cracks because they have nobody to fight their case.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about banking recruiting, you should invest in our guide “Crushin’ IB Recruiting” Learn more