A guide to investment banking internships (with tips)
Updated 4 May 2023
An investment banking career may be attractive if you're interested in working in finance and helping clients raise capital. Investment banking offers a wide range of professional opportunities upon graduation. Learning what an investment banking internship is and what it involves can help you secure one and maximise your chances of getting a lucrative career in finance. In this article, we define investment banking internships, explain how to get one, discuss what to expect and provide tips for completing your internship effectively.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What are investment banking internships?
Investment banking internships are brief periods ranging between three and 12 months that candidates pursuing a bachelor's degree spend at a firm or investment bank to gain skills and knowledge relevant to the field. An internship helps you gain practical knowledge about finance and investment. Depending on the bank's size, you may also work in different departments to gain comprehensive knowledge of the bank's operations.
An investment banking internship can be a good opportunity to network with experienced investment banking professionals. This can help you secure a mentor who can guide your professional development. By making connections, you can learn of any professional opportunities that arise, helping you secure a position in investment banking. An internship can also help you familiarise yourself with an investment banker's role and work environment, enabling you to decide whether it's the right career path for you.
What to expect in an investment banking internship
Here are some duties you can expect to perform as an investment banker intern:
Assisting with minor tasks
As an intern, you may spend most of your time completing minor tasks. These may include doing light research, getting refreshments and filing documents or taking them from one department to another. Though these tasks may differ from what you studied or expected, performing them diligently and with patience can help you make a good impression.
You may expect to participate in creating a pitch, which is a proposal from your investment bank showing how it can raise capital, among other services. In most cases, you may not perform the pitch, but you may help gather data and materials for it. Observing how your supervisor pitches deals can help you build your presentation and negotiation skills.
Helping to execute deals
Executing deals may involve making a potential buyers' list and tracking their responses to create financial models and marketing documents. As an intern, you may help gather documents and reports that investment bankers require to perform financial analysis. You may also conduct research to find data that's necessary for conducting investment analysis.
Learning about departments
In many internship positions, you may work in various departments. This helps you develop a comprehensive knowledge of the bank and discover what speciality may be ideal for you. Each department performs different roles and duties, so you familiarise yourself with each of them. Having diverse knowledge can improve your chances of getting a full-time job.
Interns often attend business pitches and key stakeholder meetings. Observing these meetings can help you gain industry knowledge and improve your research and presentation skills. Be punctual to avoid causing disruptions.
How to get an internship in investment banking
Here are steps you can follow to get an internship:
1. Pursue a bachelor's degree
The first step to getting an internship in investment banking is to pursue a bachelor's degree in arts, sciences or humanities. There are no strict requirements on the degree you pursue when looking for a job in investment banking, but pursuing a finance-related course can help you understand investment concepts. Most investment banks offer internship opportunities to candidates in their second or final year of university.
2. Excel in your courses
Most employers prefer hiring interns who have good grades in their courses, regardless of the subject. This is because good grades demonstrate dedication, intelligence and responsibility. Excelling in your courses can improve your chances of getting an internship. You can perform well in your courses by attending classes regularly and completing projects and assessments on time.
3. Participate in extracurricular activities
Engaging in extracurricular activities can help you gain soft skills that you can demonstrate in your CV and interview. Some extracurricular activities you can engage in as an investment banker intern include associations or clubs that promote numerical skills, such as a maths club. You may also get roles as treasurer or financial manager of a student body. Participating in these activities can help improve your chances of getting an internship because it differentiates you from other candidates.
4. Start your CFA certification
The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute's certification is a common certification that most investment bankers pursue. You complete three examinations to receive your CFA certification. Passing your CFA examinations shows passion for investment banking, giving an excellent impression to hiring managers. You may also pursue other certifications related to investment banking.
5. Build your professional profile
Most investment banking companies tend to use various hiring platforms in the recruitment process. When you create your professional profile on these platforms, consider adding a photograph that shows you dressed formally and a summary that's attractive and compelling. In your summary, include your experiences, certifications, skills, awards and professional qualifications. You may also ask your mentors and colleagues to write a recommendation that you can include in your profile.
6. Apply for an internship
If you want to work in investment banking, research your preferred firms to get a list of places to apply to. Prepare different CVs and cover letters for each internship you apply to, and customise them to the firm's vision, mission and job description requirements. Some hiring managers assess candidates to evaluate their skills. Consider practising answering questions to help you prepare for these assessments. A recommendation letter from your school or your lecturer can also help improve your chances of getting an internship.
7. Perform your duties effectively
Once you get the internship, do your best to make a positive impression. Perform your duties effectively and be as respectable and professional as possible. Be open to learning and build a network of people who can help you get a full-time job after graduation. Getting a mentor can also be helpful when you're looking to turn an internship into a lucrative investment banking job.
Tips for an effective investment banking internship
Here are some tips that you can consider for an effective internship to help you turn it into a job:
Be proactive. As an intern, be proactive and demonstrate your interest in learning. Consider offering help to your colleagues, especially those struggling with various tasks.
Be punctual. Punctuality demonstrates a sense of responsibility and maturity. Consider getting to work a few minutes before the scheduled time to make a good impression on your supervisors and colleagues.
Be friendly. Treat everyone with respect and professionalism. Being friendly can help you grow your professional network during the internship.
Be reliable. Though an internship position is not permanent, perform the roles your supervisor assigns as if it were your permanent job. By being reliable and diligent in your work, your employers may consider you for a full-time job once you graduate.
Be open to criticism. You may get constructive criticism from your colleagues and supervisors as an intern. Be open to receiving feedback and try applying it in your work.
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