So, you’ve got yourself a summer internship in an investment banking division (IBD)? Congratulations, but remember- you haven’t actually got the job yet.
It’s not unheard of for banks to hand out only 1-3 offers for every 10 summer internship candidates. You need to work at this internship. You can’t rely on your credentials and excellent grades to get you past this hurdle.
If you want to land an offer, a sign-on bonus, and achieve a relaxing final year at university (probably the most relaxing you’ll have in a long time), do this.
1. Show commitment. Commitment is key in investment banking. You need to use your internship to demonstrate that this is what you want to do as a career. Do not raise questions about the lifestyle. Do not say you want to start your own business. Do not say you want to leave in a few years for a hedge fund or private equity firm. For the moment, you want to be a banker. And you want to be a banker forever.
2. Be reliable. Do your work! The analyst/associate who assigned you that piece of work needs to know that you are working on it and that he will not end up doing it for you.
3. Be swift but thorough. If you’re in IBD, you’ll be using a lot of PowerPoint. Be honest with yourself – does your PowerPoint presentation really look good? Ask your buddy/mentor to have a quick look before handing your final/near final output to the guy who staffed you. Ask for feedback. Never repeat the same mistake twice. Work on your PowerPoint, Excel and printing skills to ensure you can turn things around quickly.
4. Always reply to emails. It is not acceptable to leave an email hanging in banking. On the other end of that email is a nervous banker thinking his weekend is ruined because you haven’t done your job. The best reply starts with "Sure, will do". It is also common to thank the person for the work he/she just gave you.
5. Don’t be stupidly keen. Don’t insist that you have to work on financial models. Don’t insist that you can deliver something in a few hours when it will take a day. Don’t spend 20 hours in the office when 15 will do. Sleeping four hours a night will not do anything for your ability to get the job done.
6. Show smart curiosity. You have plenty of friends: their names are Google, Investopedia and Wikipedia. Ask them simple questions about the meaning of financial terms and how to get things done. Save more complex questions about the work you’re doing for your staffer. For example, ‘Are those companies acquisitive?’ ‘Why is this company presenting those targets to PE firms?’ ‘What is the bank's role in this situation?’ These are the kinds of questions that junior bankers love to answer. They will be made to feel smarter than you.
7. Make friends. Socialise, socialise, socialise! If no more than 2 people know your name by the end of your internship, you are in trouble.
William Besnard is a pseudonym
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