Investment Banking Careers – Spring Week Internships
What are Spring Week Internships?
In Europe, spring week internships are increasing in number. They are 1-2 weeks long and provide a general insight or taster to the bank.
It is not about doing actual work. It is about finding out what happens in the bank. You might get to shadow an analyst for a day, attend networking events and workshops.
It is really an opportunity to network, build your knowledge, have a great company name on your CV and help get that all important summer internship at the end of your second year.
Key Learning Points
- Spring weeks are a chance to gain a valuable insight into the workings of an investment bank
- A less technical application process compared to summer internships
- Your CV and cover letter are crucial to achieve future employment and internships
- Apply early to avoid the crowd (many applications close early if the bank feels that they have received enough applicants)
What Happens in a Spring Week?
You will receive a highly structured week that can include training (an introduction to accounting and Excel), workshops to learn about the bank, a group case study to advise a fictitious client on their next steps, practice valuation of a company, and many other things too.
There are often lots of networking events i.e. chances for you to mingle with staff, ask questions, and impress them with your interest. They are a great chance for you to get the feel of a bank and find out if the job is for you.
Who Can Do a Spring Week?
These are aimed squarely at first year students on a three-year course, and second year students on a four-year course.
Banks want to identify talent early on before other companies get their claws into the best employees. Plus, it’s effectively a weeklong interview. Many spring week interns will go on to be offered a summer internship.
Significantly, the subject you are studying really isn’t very important. They are looking for bright, enthusiastic people who are quick to learn, but who also have a big interest in banking. Everything else can be taught at the bank, so do not think you need to have in-depth finance knowledge just yet (but for a summer internship it will be more important).
And again, while going to a top university helps, it is not the be all and end all. Most bankers at top investment banks will have a strong academic record, but many did not attend target universities so do not rule yourself out.
How to Apply
You’ll need to submit your CV, cover letter and answer some basic competency questions. If successful, you will move on to do online tests such as numerical, verbal reasoning or logical. Then, following this, you will be invited to an interview and an assessment centre at the final stage.
How to be Successful in Your Application
Banks will not be asking you technical banking questions during your application process – you have only been at university for a short period. With that said, how can you differentiate yourself?
Firstly, recruiters are looking for your interest in banking, so do research on the specific firm and specific department you are applying to and mention it heavily in the cover letter. Do not write a generic paragraph that you copy and paste into every application form.
In an interview you will definitely be asked “why do you want to join this bank” and “why this division”. Have rock solid answers that are specific to the company. A few hours of research on their website and a review of the news will provide you with many examples.
Secondly, you will need your extra-curricular interests to show off your ability to work in teams, organize activities, lead initiatives – all the skills desirable in bankers. Make sure you join university societies, teams or do some volunteering (school and gap year examples are also important).
University societies can hand out positions to anyone – they are not restricted in their number like a company would be. So, become an executive officer (a “general” position in a society) and attend committee meetings, take on a role, anything. Put all of this in your CV and cover letter.
Thirdly, make sure your CV and cover letter are immaculately written. No spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Ask someone you respect to proofread it and give you constructive advice before submitting.
And lastly, apply early. This is the most crucial advice we can give. Offers are given on a first come first served basis. Once the spaces are gone, they are gone, even if the most amazing applicant comes in.
What are the Divisions I Can Apply To?
Some spring weeks will be generalist in nature i.e. you will get to experience many parts of the bank. But, at others you will have the chance to choose a division on your application and it is important to know what you are applying for.
Every bank has different names for their divisions, for instance, the meaning of “global markets” at one bank can be very different to the meaning at another bank. Therefore, be sure to look at each bank’s website to research what the divisions means. Here are some of the more common divisional terms seen in Spring week programs, but do check with the bank you are applying to:
- Investment banking – typically means mergers and acquisitions (M&A) i.e. advising corporates how to buy or sell companies. Staff here will interact with external clients.
- Markets – there is wide scope here, but usually involves helping organizations to raise money, usually in the form of equity or debt. They also help clients manage risk e.g. from foreign currency fluctuations or commodity price volatility. Again, the staff get to interact with external clients.
- Operations – these are support functions within a bank, including technology, risk management, compliance, HR, accounting, settlements, etc. The clients here are internal to the bank.
- Legal – may sit within operations (see above), and they handle legal, regulatory, reputational and compliance issues. They ensure deals are completed, and work is done in line with the law.
How to Impress During the Week
There is no need to know everything about banking in advance. But taking a serious interest in the bank you are applying to and what it has been up to recently is an absolute must.
You want to show recruiters that you like the bank, have researched it, and are itching to work there. But aside from that, be interested and enthusiastic. Ask questions. And show you are a nice, normal, social person who is easy to get on with and would fit in easily.
Get the names of people you are talking to and send them a thank you message after the week has finished. Add them on LinkedIn. Ask if they would be willing to meet up again for a quick chat on their lunch break. They might have tips for your summer internship application.
And politely let everyone know who you are so when you are offered the chance to stand up and ask a question, make sure you say your name and where you are from. If you are asking interesting questions and showing a real enthusiasm for banking, it will rub off on those around you and they will find themselves thinking “I’d love to have that person on my team”.