When it comes to Investment Banking, the internship process serves two basic purposes. It gives the intern a chance to show that investment bank what they're made of. And it allows the investment bank to weed out those prospects who lack the stamina, intelligence and passion to survive 100 hour weeks of slave labor.
"From the investment banks perspective, an internship is basically a 10-week interview," says Geoff Robinson, Head of Investment Banking at 7city Learning, a financial training company with offices in New York, London, Singapore and Dubai.
In fact, says Robinson, in an exclusive interview with eFinancialCareers: "These days, it's a requirement to have a number of internships on your resume when applying to an investment bank. It tells the bank that you've made an early commitment and have some experience going in."
Robinson, who was in New York to promote two of his company's text books, an 850 plus page practical guide called the Complete Investment Banker and slimmer 240 page companion guide The Complete Intern, Navigating the investment banking maze.
"When I started out as an analyst I was clueless," admits Robinson, "so I decided to create something that an Intern or an analyst could carry with them for three to five years giving them as much practical advice as possible across a number of specialties."
Robinson thinks that despite recent stories in the media about layoffs in investment banking, there's still a healthy appetite among business school students vying for a coveted position.
"Getting into investment banking isn't just a case of having good grades from the 'right' university," explains Robinson. "The global talent pool is very deep with too much talent to fill too few positions. So the banks can be very picky. Besides good grades from a top tier school you also have the right intuition and practical ability. This will come out during the intern process along with what drives your ambition."
Robinson points out that something else investment banks look for is analytic ability. "You need to be able to look at A and B, analyse the link between them and then derive what possibilities could get us to C, D and E - a cognitive talent so to speak. This is much rarer and only seen in a small percentage of the interns a bank takes on. But it's also just the type of talent they're looking for."
So if you're still in school, and considering applying to an internship program at an investment bank, Robinson recommends to develop a process in which you learn by understanding. "What I mean is to apply your skills to real-life deals and transactions," says Robinson. "Don't be afraid to develop and share a view or an opinion. Investment banking is an advisory profession, it requires judgement and opinion. And while this is a skill that develops over a lifetime, you should start conditioning your thinking now."
For more tips on having a succussful investment banking internship, go to www.7city.com.