Friday, February 29, 2008

High and dry for the summer: How can I prepare for full-time interviews this fall?

by David Calder

Some of you might be feeling dazed by the rush and then quick disappearance of the investment banking summer internship recruiting season. As the dust settles and you realize that your dreams of interning at a bulge bracket investment bank will not materialize, feelings of exhaustion and discouragement may seem overwhelming. It’s normal to feel disappointed and it’s okay, too. Among bankers it’s recognized that this year has been a “tougher year” for finding a summer internship. Don’t dwell on your misfortune too long, however; there is a lot of work and studying to get done! Maybe it will turn out that not getting the investment banking summer internship is more advantageous to your long-term career development. Either way, the ball is back in your court now and the time has come to reevaluate and plan your next move. What is your plan b for this summer? How about plan c? Hopefully you have been preparing for the possibility that you might not land your dream internship this summer. If you haven’t, here are few suggestions you might consider.

5 things you can do this summer:

  1. Look for international experience

  2. Investment banks are looking for smart, driven and well-rounded individuals to fill their lower ranks. An overseas experience this summer, whether it’s a study abroad, internship or some type of service or volunteer work, will build a naturally compelling story to offer recruiters this fall. If you don’t speak a foreign language consider picking one up. In my experience, investment bankers generally value international experience because it demonstrates a broader level of interest and a global-centric attitude. I value my experience overseas just as much or more than my other internship experience.

  3. Find another internship

  4. This is quite obvious but the more difficult accompanying part of this question is: what type of internship? If you are interested in starting your career in the front office of an investment bank, I recommend that you avoid back office or operational internships. There are fantastic opportunities in the back offices of investment banks and you might be interested in working operations; if you are, good for you. If you’re not, these internships should be at the tail end of your list. It’s not impossible but it’s very difficult to jump from an operational role into an analyst role.

  5. Study the markets and interviewing materials

  6. No matter what you end up doing this summer, if you are serious about working on Wall St., this is a must. Do you have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal? If you don’t, today is the time to invest. I also read The Economist on a semi-religious basis. Reading it will keep you up to date on political happenings around the world as well as build your business acumen. One of the first posts on this blog outlines a list of books that you also will want to consider reading.

  7. Network, Network, Network

  8. Reach out to anybody and everybody you can in the industry. Networking is the key getting your foot in the door. Who are the Alumni from your university that currently work in the industry? Which other students are interested in investment banking at your university? What kinds of resources on campus are available to students interested in investment banking? Keep building your network. Plan a trip out to New York to maintain and expand your network.

  9. Frequent this blog

  10. I know the creator of this blog personally and am very impressed with the content and structure of it. This blog is quickly becoming a one stop shop for learning the ins and outs of getting into investment banking. Come here often and spread the word. The more people that come and contribute to this blog, the more effective hand helpful this community will be.

Prospects for a full-time offer this fall

Coming from a non-core recruiting school I have seen more full-time offers extended to seniors in the fall than I have seen juniors receive summer internships. Sometimes you might hear people argue that summer internships are harder to come by because there are fewer positions and it’s more competitive. On the other hand, I have also heard it argued that finding a full-time offer is more difficult because interns are cheap and full-time analysts are relatively more expensive. You are welcome to think whatever you want about the level of difficulty in the two but the truth of it all is: it doesn’t matter. From the articles I have read and the conversations I have had with recruiters, indicators suggest that recruiting will remain relatively strong this fall. There are still a lot of things in the air that will determine to what degree recruiting is hampered but generally prospects look strong at this point. If you weren’t able to make the summer internship happen you can still make things happen in the fall. Whatever you end up doing this fall be sure that you can tell a good story about how it has prepared you for investment banking.

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