How to get a management associate job at a big bank
With the world of work changing, it is becoming more challenging for banks to hire the right talent to advance their transformation. At the same time, there have been numerous announcements about significant rises in starting salaries and improvements in working conditions for the youngest bank employees. Building their junior bench strength is a key focus for banks in Asia and globally.
In this environment, if a junior banking job is what you are after, one of the best ways to get into the industry is to secure a place in the next cohort of management associates.
If you manage to get in, and depending on the specific bank’s programmes, you will have two years of rotation assignments across key banking departments, thus giving you a crash course in banking early in your career. You will learn how the bank operates, what knowledge and skills you will develop in the various departments, and most importantly you will be able to make an informed decision on what area best fits your dreams and career aspirations.
But this journey is far from easy; competition is fierce. I have spent many years working with interns and management associates and can outline the process in three steps:
- Secure an internship place.
- Be the best intern ever.
- Pass the internship project completion presentation and interviews with flying colours and become a management associate.
Here are more details on how to get a management associate job at a bank.
1. Secure an internship place
- Start counting backwards. If you are graduating in 2023 your internship must be in the summer of 2022, which means that by now you have to know what programmes you would like to apply for. These are normally listed on banks’ websites, so you have to do a good deal of research.
- Apply well before the set deadline.
- Prepare for the interviews. You will meet HR in the first round and banking experts in the second round. They are looking for individuals who exhibit confidence balanced with respect, curiosity and quick thinking. You should be interested in what is going on in the world: new inventions, geopolitical events, tech trends, climate change. Above all, you should be able to clearly and articulately express your views, and be authentic.
- Connect and reach out to people who have been through the process to get further details. Each bank offers programmes which might be slightly different, so it is worth extending your network to people across different banks.
2. Be the best intern ever
Once you have confirmed a spot as a summer intern you have to strive and become the best intern ever. Here are some highlights of what needs to be done to create a lasting impression upon your manager and colleagues:
- Take any job that is given to you and aim to give your 110%.
- Work hard but also work smart – making work easier for yourself and colleagues will take you a long way.
- Ask a lot of questions and use every opportunity to learn about the work of your department, how it relates to the rest of the departments, and how it fits within the bank structure.
- Contribute in meetings and speak up when you have an opinion.
- Be digitally and tech savvy on everything from spreadsheets to audio visual presentation – this is a must! You have to know all the apps and gadgets that will help you do your work effectively and increase productivity.
- Be sociable – build your network.
- Start thinking of the project outcome: how would you like to present it and what resources you will need to achieve that.
3. How to pass the internship project presentation and final interviews with flying colours
By far the most important moment of your internship is when you will present the results of your project to a panel of experienced employees and seniors. Most probably the project was given to you because this is something new to be researched, developed or tested; alternatively, it could be something that requires an external fresh view. The narrative and content that you have worked on for the last two months is key, but how it is presented is equally important.
Here are three components of an excellent presentation that will wow your audience:
- Story telling: remember that statistics and numbers may not be memorable, but relevant stories are. In addition, you must engage your audience both intellectually and emotionally.
- Powerful visuals: use a limited numbers of slides with not more than three points on each. Research and know the presentation templates which are current and will make your narrative impactful.
- Confident presenter: work on your presentation skills to be able to connect with the audience. Rehearse your presentation and be very well prepared – this will give you confidence to think fast on your feet and answer any questions.
Working with interns and management associates throughout this process was one of the interesting and fun aspects of my job. I was privileged to work with many smart, exceptional young people who gave me fresh perspectives, and went on to do great things.