What you absolutely must know as a student who wants to work in an investment bank

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If you are a university student who wants to get a job in investment banking, there is something you must know. And it is not the meaning of contango or how to do a DCF.

What you absolutely must know is this: if you want to succeed at getting a place in an investment bank, you need to work at it FROM THE MOMENT YOU ARRIVE AT UNIVERSITY. It is not enough to apply suddenly in your third year. Nor is necessarily enough to simply apply for an internship in your 2nd year.

As we have already mentioned, some banks have already filled all or most of their front office positions for 2012 with last years' interns.

Banks' recruiters say they are increasingly ending up chasing the same pool of highly focused, highly desirable candidates. "30,000 students apply, but every bank is chasing the top 200 people," says one graduate recruiter. "The best candidates all have 6 job offers."

Recruiters say those top graduate applicants have built relationships with banks over time and taken advantage of spring week internships in the first year and summer internships in the second year.

"Graduate hiring these days is all about forming long term relationships," says the head of EMEA recruitment at one US bank. "This starts in the first year of a degree. If you wait until the year you graduate, it's too late."