An increase in banks' hiring targets is creating opportunities for final-year students who didn't do a summer internship.
Usually banks draw 50% or more of their full-time graduate hires from the pool of second-year university students who worked for them as interns the previous summer. In 2006, however, recruiters say this proportion is likely to be substantially smaller after improving market conditions prompted a last-minute reappraisal of hiring targets. In other words, there aren't enough interns to go round.
"If you haven't done an internship, you have more of a chance of getting into banking this year because full-time hiring numbers have risen and exceed the number of offers made after summer and other internship programmes," says Ellen Miller, head of graduate recruiting at Lehman Brothers in Europe.
"But you will still need to justify why you don't have any work experience , not just in banking or finance," she says. "For example, some people may not have been switched on to the need to do an internship in their second year because they were focused on their academic studies and are on track for a first."
But don't be lulled. This late increase in opportunities for final-year students who weren't interns is in contrast to a longer-term trend for recruiting as many people from the internship pool as possible. "A ten-week internship is a good opportunity for us to road test students," says Derek Walker, head of campus recruiting at Barclays Capital. "And it's a good opportunity for students to road test us. Most banks will look at people who have internship experience as a priority." So an internship is still a better bet.