Why first year students MUST apply for Spring Weeks

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If you're only just turning up at university, applying for a so-called 'Spring Week' at an investment bank is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you want to work in banking in Europe when you leave again in three years' time, you should make that Spring Week application a priority.

"If students are looking for a career in investment banking, Spring Week gives the best insight into what our industry is really like," says Laura Pearman, head of campus recruiting EMEA for Credit Suisse. "Joining one of Credit Suisse’s Spring Week will introduce students to the banking industry and give you a realistic understanding of what our working environment is really like," she adds. "They are coming into our recruiting cycle at the very beginning and can pipeline through to our summer internship and onto a full time position with us."

Credit Suisse isn't the only investment bank to offer a 'Spring Week' (also known as 'insight weeks') to first year university students. Usually lasting one or two weeks and taking place around Easter, they're also a feature of the graduate recruiting cycle at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, BarclaysUBS,  BNP Paribas and others (click the names of the banks to go through to their Spring Week pages).

Spring Weeks don't really happen in the U.S, or Asia, but in Europe they've become a big part of banks' graduate recruitment cycle and if you want to work in banking, you need to get onto one.

Nadia Osgood, a former Deutsche Bank graduate recruiter and director of The Artemis Network, a new initiative sponsored by Credit Suisse aimed at helping young women access a wide variety of careers, says it can be easier to get a position a Spring Week programme than on a second year summer internship. "First years tend to be less aware of the existence of internships than second year students and as a result, competition for places on spring weeks is less intense." Female students tend to be especially under-represented on spring internships, says Osgood. “It’s mostly make students who apply,” she says. This can give girls an advantage as banks are keen to get their numbers up.

What happens on the Spring Week?

Katharine Swaine, head of talent acquisition U.K. at Deutsche Bank, says Deutsche's Spring Week programme starts with, "an introduction to financial markets and what to expect from working in a bank, led by expert trainers." After that, she says students job shadow and attend training sessions and networking events.

At Credit Suisse, Pearman says Spring Week students get to choose which area of the bank they want to spend their time in. They can select investment banking, equities, fixed income, IT, finance, or operations. "Whichever program they choose, they will take part in skills sessions, CV workshops and business information sessions, as well as social and networking events. In our IT, Finance and Operations programs work shadowing is an option. This is the best chance for them to meet our senior bankers and build strong relationships so that they will go back onto campus with great networks."

What happens after the Spring Week? 

At most banks, a successful Spring Week can be a stepping stone to a summer internship and a job when you graduate. JPMorgan, says 'many' of its interns and analysts have completed its Spring Week programme, for example. At Deutsche Bank, Swaine says successful Spring Week students get early access to the interview process for summer internships and will be automatically fast tracked to the final round. Credit Suisse will also fast track impressive Spring Week students who apply for subsequent summer internships at the firm.

What to expect from your Spring Week application

Osgood says the process for application process for Spring Weeks is usually similar to that for second year internships, except shorter. You can expect: a numerical test, a first round interview, and (if you're successful) a second round interview - usually involving a panel of interviewers.

If you're going to be successful, Osgood advises that you read up on banks' business areas and the roles you might be interested in before you apply. As Spring Weeks have grown in importance, banks have started running different Spring Week programmes for different areas of their business. Even though you've only just started at university, you will therefore some idea of where you might want to work when you graduate. Click here to read our Graduate Careers Guide, or follow the links below to access up to date information on different sectors.

Most Spring Week applications close in early January. Keep a look out for our student deadlines diary, due tomorrow.

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