Last week, thousands of students started their summer internships at investment banks across London. Look carefully, and in theory you'll spot them on coffee runs across Canary Wharf and the City, in their ill-fitting suits and poor choice of tie.
Except you won't. The days of the naive intern are over. I'm interning in the investment banking division (IBD) of a major European bank in London and most of my class already have at least two corporate finance internships under their belts. They are very polished. Their suits fit and their ties are stylish. And they know how to make the most of their time here.
By comparison, I'm a relative newbie. I’m not completely wet behind the ears – I’ve interned in a PE firm, and spent insight weeks at banks but most of my peers have done this before. I'm in the minority.
Some of the other preconceptions are wrong too. For example. everyone assumes that most summer analysts are cut from the same cloth; namely economics grads from Oxbridge or LSE. These schools certainly are well-represented here, but actually there’s a lot of diversity, particularly in terms of subject. We have engineering, biochem, law and economics students here – although not many humanities majors, it has to be said.
The one common element among interns is the range of nationalities. I have yet to meet an intern so far who doesn’t speak at least two languages. Brexit, it seems, hasn’t dampened banks’ appetite to hire international students.
This week has been an easy transition into the world of investment banking. We’ve spent much of it in the classroom, covering financial modelling and the basics of corporate finance and setting up A LOT of technology on the desk – Mergermarket, Capital IQ and other systems. And, despite the fact that I’m an intern in my first week, I’ve been dealing with at least 50 emails a day.
More than anything, though, the first week is about being welcomed into the organisation. This sounds cheesy, but the bank has done as much as it can to make sure we’re comfortable. This means drinks among the interns, networking with senior management and getting involved with some corporate presentations to get an idea of what’s happening in the organisation.
I’ve spent a couple of days on the desk, and so far it’s been overwhelming. Largely because everyone is so busy – the dealflow in my business is booming and it’s been difficult to speak to people. But, when they’ve come up for air, they’ve all been keen to help. As you probably know, interns are assigned an analyst ‘buddy’ to guide them through the work, but I’ve been approached by associates, VPs and even MDs who are keen to get to know the interns.
The other thing that definitely won’t last is the hours. Interns have been out of the office at pretty much 5.30pm for the past week and we were even told to leave early on Friday. This weekend was uninterrupted by the banks. I’m enjoying it while I can.
James Roberts, an pseudonym, is a summer intern on an M&A desk at a bulge bracket bank in London. He'll be writing about his internship here every week.
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