Summer internships: When banking interns don't get offers

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Banking internships are being wrapped up. Students who've spent the summer simulating the lives of traders or M&A bankers are going back to their studies. Some have offers of full time jobs, but others don't. And the ones who don't are understandably concerned.

"I'm in sales and trading at a major U.S. bank in London and have no idea what to do if I don't get an offer," one concerned student tells us. "It seems to me that hiring has been quite poor this year," he adds. "Rumours are that fewer people are being hired."

We asked Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan for information about their internship conversion rates this year. They all declined to comment (Goldman Sachs didn't respond). Anecdotally, however, plenty of this year's banking interns have got job offers - but only in some business areas.

"We've been hiring very strongly from our intern pool this year," says the head of graduate recruitment at one U.S. bank, "It's been all guns blazing - we're up on 2013."  Tim Webster, principal on the graduate team of Dartmouth Partners, a London-based recruitment firm which helps boutique M&A firms to hire, agrees that this year has been pretty good for interns trying to get into M&A and IBD. "Banks are increasing their intake of M&A and investment banking graduates in order to reduce the hours people work," says Webster. "This has made the M&A graduate hiring process more competitive this year. We expect the level of offers to be high."

However, while M&A and equity capital markets interns have had a productive summer, interns in other areas - especially fixed income - possibly haven't. Unconfirmed rumours suggest that in sales and trading at least, the percentage of interns receiving full time job offers has fallen to 40%.

Banking internship, no offer, what next?

So, what do you do if you've spent all summer interning at an investment bank and a job offer isn't forthcoming at the end of it?

Speaking off the record, the head of graduate recruitment we spoke to is discouraging. "If you don't get an offer, it will rarely be because there's no space," he says. "If an intern is good, we will usually help them to find a role somewhere. If they don't get an offer, there will be a good reason for it." Worse, he says that if your an intern who doesn't get an offer, other banks will view you with suspicion: "A lot of firms will be cautious if they see that you've interned somewhere and you didn't get an offer at the end of it."

This may be unnecessarily disheartening, however. Webster says there are plenty of graduate hires in M&A who get full time offers from banks even though their internships were unsuccessful. "It's not the end of the road. We place a lot of people into M&A boutiques who didn't convert their internships. There are all sorts of reasons why you might not have got an offer - it might be that a bank had four superstar interns and only one graduate place, or that the intern didn't realize the need to network with the senior people in the team.

"Take what you've learned from your internship and apply what you've learned to another job later on," he advises.

This make sense. As we've noted over and over again, the people who join banks as analysts now often have multiple internships at different banks. If you don't get an offer the first time around, keep trying - apply for internships even after you've graduated (banks will offer them off-season). If necessary, study a masters in finance and apply for an internship that will take the place the summer after it's over. Getting into investment banking is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't give up because you've fallen on the first bend.

Related content:

The top 25 Masters in Finance for getting a job in investment banking

Meet the keen young analysts hired by Bank of America this year



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