(Original post by freeharddrive)
I've done well academically so far in life but nothing crazy by TSR standards. I've only just recently figured out the importance of internships. I've also noticed that a lot of them are finance based, and I know nothing about finance. I'm an undergraduate with a two more summers after this one before I graduate.
1.What is the best way to do research when applying for these roles? The companies' actual websites or wikipedia or where?
2. Are there any books that you would consider 100 % essential reading?
3. What is the best way to answer the application form/interview questions like "Why are you interested in job X?" Does everyone just lie and say it's their lifelong dream? What, in general, do companies want me to say? I always hear that mentioning money is a major turn off.
4. How do you practice for the online tests? The only type I'm worried about is the one with the shape patterns where you have to complete the sequences.
5. Is it even worth applying for investment banker roles if I haven't been working on my CV since primary school? Is it too competitive to bother with? I'd be boastful enough to say my academic achievements are really good, but I spend my free time doing stuff like reading or going to the gym, whereas I see other people do things that are more productive ("In my free time I win medals in cricket and raise money for poor children etc"). Do I have no chance against them?
6. What are the best websites to look at when trying to improve my answers to the parts of the job application where they judge you (cover letter, competency questions)?
Thanks in advance for any replies.
I assume that because you have two more summers left before you graduate that you are in your first year of university? If so, it is good that you are looking now but internships are usually available to undergraduates in their penultimate year. However, there are a few companies that offer internships to first year students.
There are other types of internships other than finance, such as marketing. You just need to some more research into them. Don't worry if you don't know too much about finance. They hire from all different degree disciplines, and if your degree isn't finance related they're not expecting you to know too much compared to someone who is doing an Accounting and Finance degree (like me).
In answer to your questions:
1) What I find is the best way to research companies is to use Google to find the top firms, and then I go onto the website of each company to see what internships they offer and in what sector of finance. You can also use websites such as milkround or ratemyplacement to find internships. However, always
use the companies actual website. You will get the most out of your research using them compared to wikipedia.
2) There aren't any books that are considered essential reading but it is always important for a student interested in finance to be reading about what is going on in the financial world today. You can go onto the guardian paper website and look at the financial section of it. I am also subscribed to the Financial Times. When going to interviews for these internships, they would have expected you to be doing some reading and know what is going on in the business world, so this is essential.
3) Never ever
mention that you are doing it for money! That is a big NO! We know and they probably also know that is part of the reason we are applying but that cannot be the only reason. Secondly, we do not lie and say it is our 'life long dream'. The best way to approach this question is to do some research into the role you are applying for. Go onto the company website and see what you will be doing and explain why it interests you. I am not sure what particular companies would want you to say, but they would want you to show an interest in their company and the role you are applying for.
4) I practice for online tests through the websites the companies recommend for practice. You can find this on their website. Because they are recommending these websites, this is a big hint that you should use them to practice. I've heard you can also buy packs of papers to practice, however I do not do this.
5) I cannot answer this question would a certain answer. You would need to sell yourself really well. But it does always help to have extra curricular activities on your CV. Maybe this summer you should look into doing something that will help you with that, e.g. volunteering in a local charity shop for a couple of months. Something as small as that will help (I did it for 4 months during my gap year and I can talk about it a lot).
6) Wikianswers is a good one. For you cover letter you should try and have a generic one where you don't have to change it too much for each company you apply for. I format mine like this:
paragraph one - why I am applying for the company
paragraph two - why I am applying for the particular role
paragraph 3 - my strengths and why I would be a good candidate
paragraph 4 - a general paragraph just to round it all off
That way, every time you apply you only have to tweak the first two paragraphs.
I hope this all helps.