There's nothing like the passion of a first year investment banking intern
I’ve just completed a spring week internship at a leading investment bank. When I arrived, I wanted to see what the life of an investment banker was really like. Now that I know, I can say that I hope I’ll be back again for longer soon.
The warmth of the welcome, the caliber of my fellow interns
The week began with a warm welcome followed by breakfast and the chance to meet my peers.
There was a diverse mixture of people in the room, but I noticed that we had come from similar universities and all shared a passion for pursuing a career in investment banking.
What amazed me the most, however, was the caliber of everyone there. We had some exceptional traders in the making, who were trading and making vast amounts of money as a hobby. We even had some outstanding market whizzes, who knew what prices commodities, FX, bonds and equities were trading at that day rounded to two decimal points.
Seeing this dedication only increased my desire for getting into investment banking.
The excellent training, the invaluable breakout sessions
I attended a divisional spring week, but we were nevertheless given training that extended across the firm. There was an excellent Q&A with senior staff who gave us a truly honest opinion and impartial advice on how to pick which investment bank to work for in the future.
We were given an in-depth session on the financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis. Although, I already knew about these events in great detail, the session provided me the chance to cement my understanding, and acted as a source of revision for upcoming finance exams!
We also broke out for training in our divisional groups. Mine only had six people and almost felt like a one-on-one session. We listened to presentations from a senior manager in the division, followed by case studies exploring sales, trading, research and structuring, enabling us to really understand the fundamental differences between each of them.
We had a chance to question several recent graduates from the analyst program about their specific roles. And we played an interesting game highlighting the importance of risk management.
The desk time, the real experience
The middle two days of the week were the high-points of my spring week. Sitting on a desk in markets, I was able to observe what investment banking truly involves.
It amazed me how calmly employees traded millions of [British] pounds while munching through their lunches, seeming completely unfazed by the task at hand.
There was a very steep learning curve. I got the chance to ask what seemed like a series of never-ending questions about their exact roles, responsibilities, career progression, the culture and most importantly their overall experience at the bank. I was even given a brief introduction into bond yield pricing while I was work shadowing.
My knowledge of markets improved significantly. Listening into client calls and market briefs, I learned about events shaping the markets first hand.
The final assessment, the stress
The last day was a little more stressful. We were asked to present to a senior member of the business on the financial crisis.
Despite putting in many hours of research, going the extra mile to conduct some original research of my own made me extremely nervous. However, I went in with a positive attitude and to my disbelief, the assessment was surprisingly informal.
It felt like a chance to discuss a topical issue with a learned professional. I didn’t even get a chance to finish my presentation in the end, as we got absorbed in discussion.
The last lunch, the networking finale
The assessment felt like it was over before it even started. We immediately forgot about it as soon as we saw the three courses of food that had been laid out for us at lunch. My final hour at the bank was spent networking with the vast amounts of people I had met during the week, from the bank’s employees to graduate recruitment, to the new friends I had made.
The spring week was a great experience. If you want to work in an investment bank, I cannot recommend highly enough that you do one too. Spring week was all I had hoped for, and so much more.
Editor's note: This first appeared on our UK site but is applicable here as well.