"It is harder for students who are not in the academic system, as our recruitment is campus based between September to December, and January to March. It is a logistical issue rather than one of performance," says Kate Aitken, manager of European graduate recruitment at Goldman Sachs.
Frances McEwan, a careers advisor at Imperial College, London, goes further, suggesting that time spent away may send out the wrong signals to prospective employees.
She says: "Banks generally expect graduate trainees to enter straight from university, as they are expected to be highly motivated and making a clear and informed decision.
"Graduates applying for a traineeship would tend to put themselves at a disadvantage if they have too much time off."
JP Morgan Chase is generally supportive of schemes for graduates such as Operation Raleigh, which runs community projects in developing countries. However graduates are not encouraged to spend longer than 18 months away, either for work or travel.
Helen Bostock, of the bank's graduate recruitment team, says that although there is no upper age limit for applicants, the success of the graduate programme relies upon early entrance.
"The programme is a broad-based scheme designed to develop core skills needed for a career in banking and is intended to ensure that all new graduates start with roughly the same levels of experience.
"A break of longer than 18 months is not seen as conducive to the success of this training," she says.
However, if you have your heart set on a few months teaching English in Nepal or building a school in Africa, do not despair.
While a long break is not encouraged, many banks are open to graduates spending a few months away.
Carl Gilleard, of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, says that banks often
look favourably on time off, if it seems to have been spent productively.
Rob Skinner, media relations manager at HSBC, says that a few months spent away, rather than a whole year, can contribute to personal growth: "Graduates can benefit from time spent doing voluntary work, building upon skills learned at university."
Both Aitken of Goldman Sachs and Bostock of JP Morgan Chase recognise that time out can add to an individual's experience and maturity.
Bostock says: "JP Morgan Chase welcomes candidates with a broad range of experiences - a short time away can often make a positive contribution to an individual's overall development."
A sense of purpose is crucial. Tony Banks, Director of Oxford University Careers Service, says: "Prospective employees look at people as individuals, so a strong sense of personal achievement gained during a few months away can be valuable.
"Just be sure that you have a clear plan and certain goals. A year of doing nothing would look very bad indeed."
Kate Ebbage, ABN AMRO
Kate Ebbage graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1998 with a 2:1 in Law. From July 1998 until September 1999 she travelled extensively throughout southeast Asia and Australia before starting work in the graduate recruitment scheme at ABN Amro.
Ebbage says: "A healthy maturing process from overseas travel and work was viewed as advantageous by the bank.
"I changed considerably during my travels: my confidence and rating of my own potential increased and these traits must have shown at interview.
"My post-university travelling was no hindrance to gaining a place on the rotation scheme. Time out spurred me to keep up the fast pace and momentum of achievement I had shown then.
"A resurgence of energy and ambition was spawned while away. I saw what other people had done with job choices and had time to reflect on their rushed approach into careers that were not necessarily apt for them.
"A more responsible approach to tasks and a positive attitude were developed from having to cope on my own 11,000 miles away from home.
"Practical experience working at Sydney Airport also helped in dealing with the job I am currently doing - multi-tasking was already part of my skill set.
Andrew Cormack, HSBC
Andrew Cormack graduated from McGill University in Canada in 1999 with a double major in economics and East Asian studies.
He simultaneously received an offer from HSBC as Systems Executive within Corporate & Institutional banking, and was accepted for a Masters programme at the London School of Economics.
Cormack spent three and a half months studying Mandarin in China before completing his Masters at the LSE. He started work at HSBC immediately after graduating from the LSE in June 2000.
"HSBC were accommodating in holding my place while I did my Masters. My time spent in China was looked on favourably and the fact that I am now proficient in Mandarin is useful in relation to the Group's global activities, especially those in Hong Kong and China," Cormack says.
"If time is spent constructively, I would recommend it before starting a career in banking.
"My experiences in China gave me a renewed enthusiasm and energy for my job, plus a greater sense of independence and maturity."