GUIDE: What To Do If You Don't Secure A Spring/Summer Internship

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anonuser99
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Intro

Hi All,

We are approaching the end of spring week and summer internship recruitment and some of you may be coming out of it empty-handed. By the very nature of the process, only a minority of those who apply will get an offer. You may not know why you weren't chosen or what you did wrong and it sucks.

Firstly, I want you to take a deep breath. Seriously. This is not the end of the world, trust me. Careers are long and windy roads with potholes and speed bumps riddled along the way, not always straight and smooth paths. Rejections are bound to happen and some form of failure is completely unavoidable. What's important is you take your failures and learn from them as well as have a somewhat concrete plan of action to move forward.

This guide is aimed at helping you with those steps: understanding your failures, working on your flaws, and moving forward with a plan of action that should hopefully set you up better for the next round of recruiting.

I've never made any sort of guide so please bear with me; I also tend to go off on tangents (as I am doing now) but I'll try to structure and minimise that. Regardless, this is probably going to end up quite long but I'd encourage you to read it all!

This guide will NOT be a hand-holding exercise. I'm trying to point you in the right direction, but please utilise Google and a bit of critical thought.

Guide

Understanding your failures - using hindsight's 20/20 vision:

The first step is pinpointing where you went wrong in this cycle. The easiest way to understand this is to think about where your applications "died" so-to-speak. In other words, at what stage did you get rejected.

A general application process goes a little something like this:


Application -> Tests -> Video Interview (VI) -> Phone Interview (PI) -> Assessment Centre -> Offer

Sometimes things may be added or excluded but that's generally it. You want to observe, generally, where your applications died and then translate that into what may have gone wrong overall. Of course, you should consider all parts of your application (and we'll get to that) but this provides an area of focus at least. Here's where your problem could be according to what stage you were rejected at:
  • Application - Min. Requirements/CV/Cover Letter
  • Tests - CV/Cover Letter Or Test Skills
  • Video Interview - CV/Cover Letter Or VI skills
  • Phone Interview - CV or Interview Skills
  • AC - Interview Skills or Group Work Skills or Presentation Skills or Case Study Skills

For some clarity:
  • Min. Requirements - If your application was instantly rejected, this is likely the culprit. Normally these would be some sort of grades requirement (a 2:1 predicted and/or some UCAS points threshold) - if you don't meet these, you should stop the guide here and consider how to meet these requirements.
  • CV and Cover Letter are in multiple stages because many firms will not even look at your CV and Cover Letter until you've done the Video Interview and/or Tests. When I refer to "Cover Letter", I'm also referring to any Applications Questions asked; the same advice applies, generally.
  • VI Skills and Interview Skills are separated because I believe these two sets of skills are quite different.

Now you have (hopefully) identified a point of focus for improvement. However, this is only a point of focus, you still should consider all other areas of the process. For example, if you were always rejected at the Tests stage, you would never do an interview and have no idea if your Interview Skills are where they should be.


Working on your flaws - making the most of what you've got:

The next step in improvement is taking what you already have and making sure it shines the best it can in the recruitment process. This basically involves refining every element and skill I mentioned in the previous section.

CV:
  • Formatting - Formatting is VERY important. Picture yourself as an overworked Investment Banking Analyst or Associate. You want to get back to your actual job but HR says you have to look at some CVs from a bunch of snot-nosed 18 to 20-year-olds. How do you reduce this pile of CVs easily? Look for whose CV is formatted like a poster made by a 10-year-old. Okay, obviously it won't be that bad, but you get my point. The first thing you notice about a document is how it's laid out before even seeing the content. I have read great CVs that are practically unreadable because of the formatting. My recommendation is to follow the investment banking resume templates from Wall Street Oasis (WSO) or Mergers and Inquisitions (M&I). "But doesn't my CV need to stand out from the crowd?" No. That's what your content is for. If you don't want to use the templates, at least look at them and take some design cues. I shouldn't have to tell you this but your CV should be 1 page long ideally. "But I can't fit everything on." Yes, you can.
  • Consistency + Attention to Detail - This ties in with formatting, but is somewhat separate. Make sure your CV has a consistent format; if "Work Experience" is bold and underlined with size 16 font, "Education" should be the same. Make sure you're paying attention to detail. Are you using the same tense throughout? (Hint: it should be past tense.) Are your dates formatted the same? SPELL CHECK. This is nitpicking but it's an easy thing to fix that maybe an analyst in a bad mood decides to ding you for.
  • Content - I could probably write another whole guide on CV content but there are countless guides online for CV content so here are some key things to consider. Do not treat your CV as a job description; instead, describe how you (personally) contributed to your role. Be as specific as possible, using facts and figures to back up your claims. No one wants to hear that you carried plates back and forth to a kitchen as a waiter. They want to hear that you had a 5* customer satisfaction score due to your efficient handling of orders. Make your points short (1-2 lines) and punchy/impactful. Try to have at least 2-3 points in each entry. Exaggerate a little, but do not lie or pretend that you solved HSBC's European profit problem by attending a two-day work shadowing event organised by your mum's cousin. My golden rule is that whenever you write anything on a CV, ask yourself "why does this matter?" If you can't answer that question, reconsider the point you just made.

Cover Letter:
  • Length - Standard advice: Do not let it exceed one page. And, to be honest, the shorter (while maintaining the same quality), the better. 300-500 words is a general guide.
  • Formatting - It should look like a letter. Google what a letter should look like. Your address, their address etc. Don't bother trying to find the name of the "Hiring Manager" to address it to, it's a wasted effort.
  • Content - Your cover letter should roughly follow the format: Intro, [Why Firm, Why division/programme, Why you] (you can rearrange this bit), Outro. Again, I'm not going to go into detail here, there's plenty of info out there on how to write a cover letter (beware of America-centric advice because cover letters are not very important there). My best tip is that all points you make should be specific (facts and figures), relevant (e.g. for points in the "Why division" part, does this point actually matter to the division I'm applying for?), and strong (e.g. for points in the "Why firm" part, is this something just anyone could say or is this unique?).
  • Have a story - This mainly applies to the Why you or Why division parts of the cover letter. If you have a story (make it short and sweet) about what lead to your interest in a division, this seems a lot more genuine than just listing out some reasons you Googled. Of course, the story has to at least sound genuine. Please for the love of God, do not say "I have always loved the markets/business/stocks".
  • Know what you're actually applying for - This won't directly help you write the cover letter but it will help you create a "vibe" in your writing. It is very easy to see when someone writes a cover letter and has no idea what, for example, investment banking is (at least at a basic level).
  • Networking - Networking in the UK is not as important as for our US counterparts but it still has its use. It generally can help with your "why firm" and "why division" aspects of your cover letter. How do you network? In brief: find alumni on LinkedIn at the firm, in the role you're interested in and get on a call with them. Ask them about their experiences. OR attend informational sessions at your university, collect the details of the bank reps (not HR) and contact them after the session. Firms love to see that you have gone out of your way to find more information about them/your chosen division. To show firms you have done this, simply mention on your CL that you spoke to XYZ person and talk about the things they said that you found most interesting/appealing about the firm or the division.

Tests:
  • Culture/Fit/Situational Judgement Tests - these tests are fairly hard to prepare or practice for. My best advice is to understand what the firm's values/business principles are and try and have these in mind when answering the questions. Do not think too hard.
  • Psychometric Tests - buy JobTestPrep, split it if you have to (please don't sue me JTP), and practice, practice, practice. It's best to find the specific provider/firm you are going to take the test from and practising that test since they all vary slightly. Generally, there is no good, free, practice available but if you cannot afford JTP, your uni may have access to a test practice provider like Graduates First.
  • Generally, tests are there to see if you fit the culture of the firm or have a minimum level of psychometric (numerical, logical, verbal etc.) ability. As far as I know, getting very high scores on most tests doesn't hold much of an advantage. Feel free to correct me.

VI Skills:
  • General - Since Video Interviews are becoming more and more prevalent these days and many people struggle with them (myself included), guides have been popping up. Inhale all the advice you can from Google. I won't bother repeating it here.
  • Questions - most VIs contain why division and why firm questions, especially if no cover letter or application questions were requested which cover these. Aside from this, they may include behavioural and competency questions.
  • Use your network - I'm not going to outline exactly what I mean here as some may consider this unethical, but use your friends and your network to the best of your ability when preparing.
  • Apply the tips from the Interview Skills section too.

Interview Skills:
  • Database of questions/answers - If you have very little experience interviewing, this is the best advice I can give you. Seek to understand the broad categories of interview questions that may be asked (motivational, behavioural, competency, technical) and then the subcategories ([why firm etc.], [integrity etc.], [teamwork etc.], [3 statement modelling etc.]). Make a list of these subcategories and prepare possible experiences/knowledge you have that broadly fit into these subcategories. E.g. if you were the Head Boy of your sixth form, you may put this experience under "Competency - Leadership". The experiences can obviously be more detailed than that. Once you've done that, you will have a database of experience/knowledge which you can draw on in your mind when you get a question in an interview that falls into one of the subcategories.
  • Mock Interviews - Self-explanatory. Find someone to give you a mock interview who won't go easy on you.
  • Record yourself - This may be excruciating to watch/listen to but could be useful if you're not self-aware about your mannerisms.
  • Know what you're talking about - Like in the Cover Letter, it is painfully obvious when someone doesn't know what they're talking about in an interview. This could be broadly, or about a specific topic. If you don't know about a specific topic (and it's not essential to the job) it's okay to say "I don't know right now but I can get back to you later" or something more formal along those lines. To gain more knowledge, I believe that really all it takes is to read the Financial Times (FT) every morning and Google everything you don't understand. At a certain point, you will need to refer to outside sources, books, podcasts etc., but that's a start.

Group Work Skills/Presentation Skills/Case Study Skills:
  • Google it - Plenty of info out there on these + I don't feel knowledgeable enough to talk about this better than any other resource.

Moving forward - becoming a better candidate:

Almost there guys. The final step is becoming a better candidate in time for the next recruiting cycle. Firstly, I want to introduce a concept that, as far as I know, I made up. I will call it the "Candidate Function". The Candidate Function is everything that goes into a candidate (that's you) that in the end will either spit out "offer" or "rejection". Can you tell I'm a nerd yet?



Candidate Function = Work Experience + Uni Reputation + Timing + Interpersonal Skills + Extra Curriculars (ECs) + Grades + Connections + Luck = Offer/No Offer

Let me explain how this works. Each element of the Candidate Function contributes a little bit (some more than others) to the end result: an offer or a rejection. Just like a mathematic function, if one element is low, another element can be high and make up for it (to an extent). Let's say you're a bit lacking in Work Experience, then if your Uni Reputation is high (i.e. semi-target+) and/or you have great Extra Curriculars (societies etc.), you can make up for your lacking Work Experience. Some elements have a minimum requirement e.g. your Grades or your Interpersonal Skills (you're never going to get past an interview if you suck as a person). Some elements you can't really do anything about like Luck or Uni Reputation.

The good news is that most elements are in our control! Moving forward is about working on each of the elements in the Candidate Function.

Work Experience:
  • Networking - What I'm actually referring to here is networking your way into an internship; not at JP Morgan or anything but maybe at some small asset manager down an alley in Mayfair or a boutique corporate finance advisory shop opened up by some ex-MS MD idk. I'd definitely take a page from the book of the Americans for this (networking is crucial for them for almost any program in banking), so feel free to use Google, WSO, M&I etc. for this. There's no perfect way to network into an internship but here is my take (copied from another post):
    My theory is that no one has any incentive to go out of their way (to the extent of fabricating an internship position) for some random student who is clogging their outlook inbox. They DO have an incentive if that student has shown passion and interest in their work beforehand and has a semi-established relationship with them - because people actually like helping others within reason. Here is a step by step process I am making up on the spot but should be roughly right, use common sense:

    1. Find firms without structured programs (i.e. springs or summers) where you would like to work. If you're targeting IB, it doesn't matter. Don't be picky. Any decent finance experience will do AM, WM, CorpFin, even the finance division of another firm. Obviously the more relevant the better but this isn't the step to start being picky yet. An easy way to find firms in X industry is to get on Google Maps, scroll to London, type X industry into the search bar and hit enter.

    2. An alternative to step 1: go on LinkedIn, do a search for people who attended your uni working in X industry right now and again target those working at smaller firms. If your school doesn't have many alumni in the roles you want then, to be honest, it's not a big deal. Just find ANYONE.

    3. Get in contact with people at the firms you've found. The higher up the better. Send them a LinkedIn message/connect with a note. Explain that you're interested in their work and want to find out more.

    4. Get on a call with them if possible. If you're at a London target, you could meet them for coffee. Ask them good questions. Not google-able ones. Explain who you are. Try to connect with them, the same way you would your friends but professionally. At the end of the call or whatever, explain you're looking for summer opportunities and like the sound of the work they do (if you actually do) and would be interested in opportunities at their firm. If they're lower down in the food chain, maybe ask for a referral to someone with more social capital.

    5. Repeat until you get something.

    Also, remember that these are just people at the end of the day. Not superhumans or anything. Treat them with respect and professionalism but also don't be afraid to simply have a conversation. They're just humans.
  • Off-cycles - This applies more to those of you who were recruiting for summer internships. Off-cycles are like summer internships except often they're longer and they can happen pretty much any time of the year. They are less competitive than grad schemes in IB (although that's a pretty low bar) and are a useful and well-trodden route into a full-time role. The role is normally a bit more specific than summers. E.g. you may recruit specifically for LevFin IBD. OCs can also suit people who have graduated.
  • Volunteering - If you can find a place to volunteer with an element of significant responsibility, this will be useful. The more relevant the better... however, the advantage of non-relevant volunteering is it helps you become a more well-rounded candidate.
  • Start-ups - I don't know much about this point but I know some people work for start-ups either part-time or during their summers. In addition, there are programs you can apply for that place you into start-ups abroad during the summer. I can't remember any specific names off the top of my head.
  • Family connections - If you have useful family/friend connections that are in the industry and you haven't taken advantage of this for whatever reason, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Extra Curriculars (ECs):
  • Relevant societies - In general, for societies, you do not just want to join them, you want to be in a position of responsibility in them. The higher rank the better. Relevant societies include any finance societies (investment, M&A, general etc.) or consulting societies. These are an excellent way to show interest and (depending on how the society operates) technical skills. Of course, you also pick up soft skills if you're in a position of responsibility. If you cannot get into a position of responsibility, try to wrestle your way in and contribute the best you can.
  • Non-relevant societies - Again, for non-relevant societies (anything not in the aforementioned categories) then it is essential you are in a high-rank leadership position (Pres, VP, Treasurer etc.) to provide any meaningful benefit to your CV. Of course, if you don't get one of these positions, then anything is better than nothing.
  • External clubs/organisations - There are a multitude of external finance and consulting clubs that exist to join. By external, I mean not specifically connected to any university. Some finance clubs invest in a paper portfolio, write equity or M&A research reports, or comment on current events in a formalised way. An example of an external consulting org is 180 Degrees Consulting. I won't name any of the finance ones since they are small and I don't want them being overwhelmed with applications. They aren't hard to find.

Timing:
  • ASAP - The first piece of advice I give to literally anyone who asks me about recruiting for springs/summers is on timing. Some people do not realise that most springs/summers have rolling applications. This means (in most cases) as soon as applications open, applications start to be reviewed. Practically, what this means is applying sooner is LESS competitive than applying later. This is especially important for front-office positions. You should apply to positions as soon as possible after applications open to give yourself the best chance at being progressed further. Only break this rule if waiting a little while will meaningfully enhance your application e.g. you have a networking call with someone in the bank which will improve your cover letter two days later.

Interpersonal Skills:
  • Likeability - Recently I spoke to someone reasonably high up at a top-tier investment bank. They explained to me that when interviewing a candidate for summers, the primary thing they ask themselves is "Can I work next to this person for 12+ hours a day?" If you're not a very likeable person, that answer is probably no. Likeability plays a VERY big role in getting past interviews. Be enthusiastic, be passionate, be inquisitive (and maybe a bit challenging).
  • Hobbies - Having diverse hobbies can help you do two things. Firstly, it can help your CV to stand out. Someone who does idk Karate and Amateur Photography seems a lot more interesting than some who spends their free time binging Old Disney movies. Secondly, it helps potentially relate to your interviewers. Using our previous example, if your interviewer by chance is a yellow belt in Karate, all of a sudden you have a connection with your interviewer which makes you a memorable candidate.
  • Rapport - Learn how to build rapport with people. Watch Charisma in Command if you have to. But of course, keep it professional. This, again, helps keep you memorable and likeable.

Grades:
  • Do your best - Some people may be tempted to neglect their grades once they've cleared a 2:1. While you only need a 2:1 to meet minimum requirements, clearing a 1st will give you extra points. Practically, this means do your best and also be tactical in the modules you take in your degree.

Extras

BONUS! Things to keep in mind:
  • Working in an investment bank/consultancy is not the only job in existence. There are plenty of careers out there. Take your time, don't get blinded by $$$.
  • You can apply to many summer internships in your final year. Off the top of my head, Citi, Barclays, MS, JPM and UBS allows final years to apply for their internships. There are probably more I'm missing.
  • Extending your degree can extend your chances at a summer. If you have the ability to extend your degree into integrated Masters, this can obviously keep you a "penultimate" student for longer.
  • A top Masters in Finance or Masters in Management is an excellent way to raise your calibre as a candidate as well as keep you able to recruit for longer. They are very expensive though. It is also more important than ever to get into a target program if you want a highly competitive job.
  • Relevant Big 4 divisions can be a great stepping stone to more competitive roles. Big 4 is definitely competitive but less competitive than (for example) IBD or MBB consulting. However, the Big 4 have many divisions that are akin to IBD or MBB. E.g. a commonly trodden route is Big 4 Transaction Services -> ACA -> IBD at a bank.

Resources:

Aside from Google, there are a number of resources I'm a big fan of (sorry I don't have much for you budding consultants):
  • Social Mobility Programs - These are organisations like 10000 Black Interns, SEO London, Rare Recruitment and Upreach who help ethnic minority and/or low socioeconomic background students to get into highly competitive industries like high finance, law, and consulting. If you qualify, these are invaluable resources for advice and exclusive opportunities.
  • Investopedia - This is basically a Wiki on almost every financial term you can think of. Incredibly useful for going through the FT and explaining things you don't understand.
  • Wall Street Oasis (WSO) - This is a forum for all things high finance. It is a forum and must be treated as such. Anyone can write anything on there so always take everything you read with a teaspoon of salt and take into account the dates of posts (pre-2010 finance was very different). However, there are many useful guides on there and there are some genuinely cool people. This forum (like most of the internet) is US-centric and some things don't translate exactly to UK recruiting. This is essential reading: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/foru...london-edition
  • Mergers and Inquisitions/WallSteetMojo - These are two different sites but basically do the same thing. Similar to Investopedia however much more focused on finance careers. Once again, these are US-centric.
  • R/FinancialCareers - This is a subreddit on Reddit. Basically the same deal as WSO.
  • Afzal Hussein (YouTube) - I'm recommending Afzal specifically because he's one of the only UK-centric "Fin-Tubers" who actually knows what he's talking about for the most part and doesn't post stupid clickbait "How much I made in Investment Banking" videos. Great for short knowledge-bites. His recent series reacting to the "Industry" TV show is great too (not for knowledge, just for entertainment).
  • Sticky Threads - Read the sticky threads in this forum to clear up any slight gaps in knowledge (e.g. what a semi-target uni is).
Last edited by anonuser99; 9 months ago
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anonuser99
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Hi All,

This guide ended up being very long! But I believe most of it is worth reading. I'm by no means an expert but I figured I'd share what I've learnt and point people in the right directions (while not doing the legwork for them).

Let me know what you think! Feel free to ask questions (any that cannot be Googled!) or correct me.

Good luck!
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ravman123456
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thanks for the guide
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123xyz123
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thanks for this @anonuser99
really appreciate it!
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Fluorescent_A
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This is really helpful. Thank you!
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yzyz7
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what are the semi-target/target unis
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anonuser99
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(Original post by ccc8)
what are the semi-target/target unis
Read the sticky threads. Might add this to the bottom of my post.
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Read the sticky threads. Might add this to the bottom of my post.
Where?
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(Original post by ccc8)
Where?
On the Investment Banking and Consultancy forum... The threads at the top of the page that say "Sticky" next to them.
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Intro

Hi All,

We are approaching the end of spring week and summer internship recruitment and some of you may be coming out of it empty-handed. By the very nature of the process, only a minority of those who apply will get an offer. You may not know why you weren't chosen or what you did wrong and it sucks.

Firstly, I want you to take a deep breath. Seriously. This is not the end of the world, trust me. Careers are long and windy roads with potholes and speed bumps riddled along the way, not always straight and smooth paths. Rejections are bound to happen and some form of failure is completely unavoidable. What's important is you take your failures and learn from them as well as have a somewhat concrete plan of action to move forward.

This guide is aimed at helping you with those steps: understanding your failures, working on your flaws, and moving forward with a plan of action that should hopefully set you up better for the next round of recruiting.

I've never made any sort of guide so please bear with me; I also tend to go off on tangents (as I am doing now) but I'll try to structure and minimise that. Regardless, this is probably going to end up quite long but I'd encourage you to read it all!

This guide will NOT be a hand-holding exercise. I'm trying to point you in the right direction, but please utilise Google and a bit of critical thought.

There will be a summary of my general profile at the end of this guide for anyone interested.

Guide

Understanding your failures - using hindsight's 20/20 vision:

The first step is pinpointing where you went wrong in this cycle. The easiest way to understand this is to think about where your applications "died" so-to-speak. In other words, at what stage did you get rejected.

A general application process goes a little something like this:


Application -> Tests -> Video Interview (VI) -> Phone Interview (PI) -> Assessment Centre -> Offer

Sometimes things may be added or excluded but that's generally it. You want to observe, generally, where your applications died and then translate that into what may have gone wrong overall. Of course, you should consider all parts of your application (and we'll get to that) but this provides an area of focus at least. Here's where your problem could be according to what stage you were rejected at:
  • Application - Min. Requirements/CV/Cover Letter
  • Tests - CV/Cover Letter Or Test Skills
  • Video Interview - CV/Cover Letter Or VI skills
  • Phone Interview - CV or Interview Skills
  • AC - Interview Skills or Group Work Skills or Presentation Skills or Case Study Skills

For some clarity:
  • Min. Requirements - If your application was instantly rejected, this is likely the culprit. Normally these would be some sort of grades requirement (a 2:1 predicted and/or some UCAS points threshold) - if you don't meet these, you should stop the guide here and consider how to meet these requirements.
  • CV and Cover Letter are in multiple stages because many firms will not even look at your CV and Cover Letter until you've done the Video Interview and/or Tests. When I refer to "Cover Letter", I'm also referring to any Applications Questions asked; the same advice applies, generally.
  • VI Skills and Interview Skills are separated because I believe these two sets of skills are quite different.

Now you have (hopefully) identified a point of focus for improvement. However, this is only a point of focus, you still should consider all other areas of the process. For example, if you were always rejected at the Tests stage, you would never do an interview and have no idea if your Interview Skills are where they should be.


Working on your flaws - making the most of what you've got:

The next step in improvement is taking what you already have and making sure it shines the best it can in the recruitment process. This basically involves refining every element and skill I mentioned in the previous section.

CV:
  • Formatting - Formatting is VERY important. Picture yourself as an overworked Investment Banking Analyst or Associate. You want to get back to your actual job but HR says you have to look at some CVs from a bunch of snot-nosed 18 to 20-year-olds. How do you reduce this pile of CVs easily? Look for whose CV is formatted like a poster made by a 10-year-old. Okay, obviously it won't be that bad, but you get my point. The first thing you notice about a document is how it's laid out before even seeing the content. I have read great CVs that are practically unreadable because of the formatting. My recommendation is to follow the investment banking resume templates from Wall Street Oasis (WSO) or Mergers and Inquisitions (M&I). "But doesn't my CV need to stand out from the crowd?" No. That's what your content is for. If you don't want to use the templates, at least look at them and take some design cues. I shouldn't have to tell you this but your CV should be 1 page long ideally. "But I can't fit everything on." Yes, you can.
  • Consistency + Attention to Detail - This ties in with formatting, but is somewhat separate. Make sure your CV has a consistent format; if "Work Experience" is bold and underlined with size 16 font, "Education" should be the same. Make sure you're paying attention to detail. Are you using the same tense throughout? (Hint: it should be past tense.) Are your dates formatted the same? SPELL CHECK. This is nitpicking but it's an easy thing to fix that maybe an analyst in a bad mood decides to ding you for.
  • Content - I could probably write another whole guide on CV content but there are countless guides online for CV content so here are some key things to consider. Do not treat your CV as a job description; instead, describe how you (personally) contributed to your role. Be as specific as possible, using facts and figures to back up your claims. No one wants to hear that you carried plates back and forth to a kitchen as a waiter. They want to hear that you had a 5* customer satisfaction score due to your efficient handling of orders. Make your points short (1-2 lines) and punchy/impactful. Try to have at least 2-3 points in each entry. Exaggerate a little, but do not lie or pretend that you solved HSBC's European profit problem by attending a two-day work shadowing event organised by your mum's cousin. My golden rule is that whenever you write anything on a CV, ask yourself "why does this matter?" If you can't answer that question, reconsider the point you just made.

Cover Letter:
  • Length - Standard advice: Do not let it exceed one page. And, to be honest, the shorter (while maintaining the same quality), the better. 300-500 words is a general guide.
  • Formatting - It should look like a letter. Google what a letter should look like. Your address, their address etc. Don't bother trying to find the name of the "Hiring Manager" to address it to, it's a wasted effort.
  • Content - Your cover letter should roughly follow the format: Intro, [Why Firm, Why division/programme, Why you] (you can rearrange this bit), Outro. Again, I'm not going to go into detail here, there's plenty of info out there on how to write a cover letter (beware of America-centric advice because cover letters are not very important there). My best tip is that all points you make should be specific (facts and figures), relevant (e.g. for points in the "Why division" part, does this point actually matter to the division I'm applying for?), and strong (e.g. for points in the "Why firm" part, is this something just anyone could say or is this unique?).
  • Have a story - This mainly applies to the Why you or Why division parts of the cover letter. If you have a story (make it short and sweet) about what lead to your interest in a division, this seems a lot more genuine than just listing out some reasons you Googled. Of course, the story has to at least sound genuine. Please for the love of God, do not say "I have always loved the markets/business/stocks".
  • Know what you're actually applying for - This won't directly help you write the cover letter but it will help you create a "vibe" in your writing. It is very easy to see when someone writes a cover letter and has no idea what, for example, investment banking is (at least at a basic level).
  • Networking - Networking in the UK is not as important as for our US counterparts but it still has its use. It generally can help with your "why firm" and "why division" aspects of your cover letter. How do you network? In brief: find alumni on LinkedIn at the firm, in the role you're interested in and get on a call with them. Ask them about their experiences. OR attend informational sessions at your university, collect the details of the bank reps (not HR) and contact them after the session. Firms love to see that you have gone out of your way to find more information about them/your chosen division. To show firms you have done this, simply mention on your CL that you spoke to XYZ person and talk about the things they said that you found most interesting/appealing about the firm or the division.

Tests:
  • Culture/Fit/Situational Judgement Tests - these tests are fairly hard to prepare or practice for. My best advice is to understand what the firm's values/business principles are and try and have these in mind when answering the questions. Do not think too hard.
  • Psychometric Tests - buy JobTestPrep, split it if you have to (please don't sue me JTP), and practice, practice, practice. It's best to find the specific provider/firm you are going to take the test from and practising that test since they all vary slightly. Generally, there is no good, free, practice available but if you cannot afford JTP, your uni may have access to a test practice provider like Graduates First.
  • Generally, tests are there to see if you fit the culture of the firm or have a minimum level of psychometric (numerical, logical, verbal etc.) ability. As far as I know, getting very high scores on most tests doesn't hold much of an advantage. Feel free to correct me.

VI Skills:
  • General - Since Video Interviews are becoming more and more prevalent these days and many people struggle with them (myself included), guides have been popping up. Inhale all the advice you can from Google. I won't bother repeating it here.
  • Questions - most VIs contain why division and why firm questions, especially if no cover letter or application questions were requested which cover these. Aside from this, they may include behavioural and competency questions.
  • Use your network - I'm not going to outline exactly what I mean here as some may consider this unethical, but use your friends and your network to the best of your ability when preparing.
  • Apply the tips from the Interview Skills section too.

Interview Skills:
  • Database of questions/answers - If you have very little experience interviewing, this is the best advice I can give you. Seek to understand the broad categories of interview questions that may be asked (motivational, behavioural, competency, technical) and then the subcategories ([why firm etc.], [integrity etc.], [teamwork etc.], [3 statement modelling etc.]). Make a list of these subcategories and prepare possible experiences/knowledge you have that broadly fit into these subcategories. E.g. if you were the Head Boy of your sixth form, you may put this experience under "Competency - Leadership". The experiences can obviously be more detailed than that. Once you've done that, you will have a database of experience/knowledge which you can draw on in your mind when you get a question in an interview that falls into one of the subcategories.
  • Mock Interviews - Self-explanatory. Find someone to give you a mock interview who won't go easy on you.
  • Record yourself - This may be excruciating to watch/listen to but could be useful if you're not self-aware about your mannerisms.
  • Know what you're talking about - Like in the Cover Letter, it is painfully obvious when someone doesn't know what they're talking about in an interview. This could be broadly, or about a specific topic. If you don't know about a specific topic (and it's not essential to the job) it's okay to say "I don't know right now but I can get back to you later" or something more formal along those lines. To gain more knowledge, I believe that really all it takes is to read the Financial Times (FT) every morning and Google everything you don't understand. At a certain point, you will need to refer to outside sources, books, podcasts etc., but that's a start.

Group Work Skills/Presentation Skills/Case Study Skills:
  • Google it - Plenty of info out there on these + I don't feel knowledgeable enough to talk about this better than any other resource.

Moving forward - becoming a better candidate:

Almost there guys. The final step is becoming a better candidate in time for the next recruiting cycle. Firstly, I want to introduce a concept that, as far as I know, I made up. I will call it the "Candidate Function". The Candidate Function is everything that goes into a candidate (that's you) that in the end will either spit out "offer" or "rejection". Can you tell I'm a nerd yet?



Candidate Function = Work Experience + Uni Reputation + Timing + Interpersonal Skills + Extra Curriculars (ECs) + Grades + Connections + Luck = Offer/No Offer

Let me explain how this works. Each element of the Candidate Function contributes a little bit (some more than others) to the end result: an offer or a rejection. Just like a mathematic function, if one element is low, another element can be high and make up for it (to an extent). Let's say you're a bit lacking in Work Experience, then if your Uni Reputation is high (i.e. semi-target+) and/or you have great Extra Curriculars (societies etc.), you can make up for your lacking Work Experience. Some elements have a minimum requirement e.g. your Grades or your Interpersonal Skills (you're never going to get past an interview if you suck as a person). Some elements you can't really do anything about like Luck or Uni Reputation.

The good news is that most elements are in our control! Moving forward is about working on each of the elements in the Candidate Function.

Work Experience:
  • Networking - What I'm actually referring to here is networking your way into an internship; not at JP Morgan or anything but maybe at some small asset manager down an alley in Mayfair or a boutique corporate finance advisory shop opened up by some ex-MS MD idk. I'd definitely take a page from the book of the Americans for this (networking is crucial for them for almost any program in banking), so feel free to use Google, WSO, M&I etc. for this. There's no perfect way to network into an internship but here is my take (copied from another post):
    My theory is that no one has any incentive to go out of their way (to the extent of fabricating an internship position) for some random student who is clogging their outlook inbox. They DO have an incentive if that student has shown passion and interest in their work beforehand and has a semi-established relationship with them - because people actually like helping others within reason. Here is a step by step process I am making up on the spot but should be roughly right, use common sense:

    1. Find firms without structured programs (i.e. springs or summers) where you would like to work. If you're targeting IB, it doesn't matter. Don't be picky. Any decent finance experience will do AM, WM, CorpFin, even the finance division of another firm. Obviously the more relevant the better but this isn't the step to start being picky yet. The easy way to find firms in X industry is to get on Google Maps, scroll to London, type X industry into the search bar and hit enter.

    2. An alternative to step 1: go on LinkedIn, do a search for people who attended your school working in X industry right now and again target those working at smaller firms.

    3. Get in contact with people at the firms you've found. The higher up the better. Send them a LinkedIn message/connect with a note. Explain that you're interested in their work and want to find out more.

    4. Get on a call with them if possible. If you're a London target, later on in the year (when/if Covid subsides) meet them for coffee. Ask them good questions. Not google-able ones. Explain who you are. Try to connect with them, the same way you would your friends but professionally. At the end of the call or whatever, explain you're looking for summer opportunities and like the sound of the work they do (if you actually do) and would be interested in opportunities at their firm. If they're lower down in the food chain, maybe ask for a referral to someone with more social capital.

    5. Repeat until you get something.

    Also, remember that these are just people at the end of the day. Not superhumans or anything. Treat them with respect and professionalism but also don't be afraid to simply have a conversation. They're just humans.
  • Off-cycles - This applies more to those of you who were recruiting for summer internships. Off-cycles are like summer internships except often they're longer and they can happen pretty much any time of the year. They are less competitive than grad schemes in IB (although that's a pretty low bar) and are a useful and well-trodden route into a full-time role. The role is normally a bit more specific than summers. E.g. you may recruit specifically for LevFin IBD. OCs can also suit people who have graduated.
  • Volunteering - If you can find a place to volunteer with an element of significant responsibility, this will be useful. The more relevant the better... however, the advantage of non-relevant volunteering is it helps you become a more well-rounded candidate.
  • Start-ups - I don't know much about this point but I know some people work for start-ups either part-time or during their summers. In addition, there are programs you can apply for that place you into start-ups abroad during the summer. I can't remember any specific names off the top of my head.
  • Family connections - If you have useful family/friend connections that are in the industry and you haven't taken advantage of this for whatever reason, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Extra Curriculars (ECs):
  • Relevant societies - In general, for societies, you do not just want to join them, you want to be in a position of responsibility in them. The higher rank the better. Relevant societies include any finance societies (investment, M&A, general etc.) or consulting societies. These are an excellent way to show interest and (depending on how the society operates) technical skills. Of course, you also pick up soft skills if you're in a position of responsibility. If you cannot get into a position of responsibility, try to wrestle your way in and contribute the best you can.
  • Non-relevant societies - Again, for non-relevant societies (anything not in the aforementioned categories) then it is essential you are in a high-rank leadership position (Pres, VP, Treasurer etc.) to provide any meaningful benefit to your CV. Of course, if you don't get one of these positions, then anything is better than nothing.
  • External clubs/organisations - There are a multitude of external finance and consulting clubs that exist to join. By external, I mean not specifically connected to any university. Some finance clubs invest in a paper portfolio, write equity or M&A research reports, or comment on current events in a formalised way. An example of an external consulting org is 180 Degrees Consulting. I won't name any of the finance ones since they are small and I don't want them being overwhelmed with applications. They aren't hard to find.

Timing:
  • ASAP - The first piece of advice I give to literally anyone who asks me about recruiting for springs/summers is on timing. Some people do not realise that most springs/summers have rolling applications. This means (in most cases) as soon as applications open, applications start to be reviewed. Practically, what this means is applying sooner is LESS competitive than applying later. This is especially important for front-office positions. You should apply to positions as soon as possible after applications open to give yourself the best chance at being progressed further. Only break this rule if waiting a little while will meaningfully enhance your application e.g. you have a networking call with someone in the bank which will improve your cover letter two days later.

Interpersonal Skills:
  • Likeability - Recently I spoke to someone reasonably high up at a top-tier investment bank. They explained to me that when interviewing a candidate for summers, the primary thing they ask themselves is "Can I work next to this person for 12+ hours a day?" If you're not a very likeable person, that answer is probably no. Likeability plays a VERY big role in getting past interviews. Be enthusiastic, be passionate, be inquisitive (and maybe a bit challenging).
  • Hobbies - Having diverse hobbies can help you do two things. Firstly, it can help your CV to stand out. Someone who does idk Karate and Amateur Photography seems a lot more interesting than some who spends their free time binging Old Disney movies. Secondly, it helps potentially relate to your interviewers. Using our previous example, if your interviewer by chance is a yellow belt in Karate, all of a sudden you have a connection with your interviewer which makes you a memorable candidate.
  • Rapport - Learn how to build rapport with people. Watch Charisma in Command if you have to. But of course, keep it professional. This, again, helps keep you memorable and likeable.

Grades:
  • Do your best - Some people may be tempted to neglect their grades once they've cleared a 2:1. While you only need a 2:1 to meet minimum requirements, clearing a 1st will give you extra points. Practically, this means do your best and also be tactical in the modules you take in your degree.

Extras

BONUS! Things to keep in mind:
  • Working in an investment bank/consultancy is not the only job in existence. There are plenty of careers out there. Take your time, don't get blinded by $$$.
  • You can apply to many summer internships in your final year. Off the top of my head, Citi, Barclays, MS, JPM and UBS allows final years to apply for their internships. There are probably more I'm missing.
  • Extending your degree can extend your chances at a summer. If you have the ability to extend your degree into integrated Masters, this can obviously keep you a "penultimate" student for longer.
  • A top Masters in Finance or Masters in Management is an excellent way to raise your calibre as a candidate as well as keep you able to recruit for longer. They are very expensive though. It is also more important than ever to get into a target program if you want a highly competitive job.
  • Relevant Big 4 divisions can be a great stepping stone to more competitive roles. Big 4 is definitely competitive but less competitive than (for example) IBD or MBB consulting. However, the Big 4 have many divisions that are akin to IBD or MBB. E.g. a commonly trodden route is Big 4 Transaction Services -> ACA -> IBD at a bank.

Resources:

Aside from Google, there are a number of resources I'm a big fan of (sorry I don't have much for you budding consultants):
  • Investopedia - This is basically a Wiki on almost every financial term you can think of. Incredibly useful for going through the FT and explaining things you don't understand.
  • Wall Street Oasis (WSO) - This is a forum for all things high finance. It is a forum and must be treated as such. Anyone can write anything on there so always take everything you read with a teaspoon of salt and take into account the dates of posts (pre-2010 finance was very different). However, there are many useful guides on there and there are some genuinely cool people. This forum (like most of the internet) is US-centric and some things don't translate exactly to UK recruiting.
  • Mergers and Inquisitions/WallSteetMojo - These are two different sites but basically do the same thing. Similar to Investopedia however much more focused on finance careers. Once again, these are US-centric.
  • R/FinancialCareers - This is a subreddit on Reddit. Basically the same deal as WSO.
  • Afzal Hussein (YouTube) - I'm recommending Afzal specifically because he's one of the only UK-centric "Fin-Tubers" who actually knows what he's talking about for the most part and doesn't post stupid clickbait "How much I made in Investment Banking" videos. Great for short knowledge-bites. His recent series reacting to the "Industry" TV show is great too (not for knowledge, just for entertainment).
  • Sticky Threads - Read the sticky threads in this forum to clear up any slight gaps in knowledge (e.g. what a semi-target uni is).

My Profile:
Uni: Semi-target, I'm a final year. Relevant-ish degree (this does not matter in the UK though). Low 2:1 grades.

ECs: Committee position in a non-relevant society in my second year.

Work Experience: 2 months interning for a fund. 1 year in middle office asset management (placement). Started and ran my own business (was much less formal than this) mostly before uni. Various other part-time roles - I've worked since 14 but that's not all on my CV of course.
This is all really good advice, thank you OP.

Sitting on the other side of the desk in interviews from most people reading this thread, will add a couple of personal viewpoints:

- when I'm booked to an interview the first thing I do is skim the CV which will basically essentially determine my preconception of a candidate. Spelling, grammar or formatting errors will get noticed (even if you think they won't) and are something that will make me think a candidate is less capable.

- Societies, ECs etc. Put these in if you've had a position of responsibility AND you can point to some specific things you did. If you haven't had a position of responsibility (relevant society or other), leave it in the other interests section.

- If it's more than a page long it's too long. Equally if I think it could all have fit on one page and it isn't... Also, in the case it does go over a page, try to make it fill the second. One and a half pages is worse than two.

- If you have prior work experience, demonstrate skills and show some specific achievements of results (if you list it, expect to be asked about it though, the more impressive, the more likely). Generic lists of responsibilities are dull.

In terms of actually interviews I've had candidates who looked perfect on paper and were complete duds and also ones where their CVs had enough relevance they fit invited to interview though didn't look anything special and were exceptional - ones I wouldn't have picked out of the pile (my bosses pay grade picks). What I look for is someone who is clearly motivated, bright, is passionate about working in my area of finance and looking to progress as well as having a bit of a spark. Just having been a high achiever isn't enough, you really need to come across as someone who is driven by being a high achiever and continuing on that trajectory - most vaguely intelligent people are technically capable of most entry level finance jobs.

To note, I work in private equity rather than IB and the above is personal views.
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(Original post by natninja)
This is all really good advice, thank you OP.

Sitting on the other side of the desk in interviews from most people reading this thread, will add a couple of personal viewpoints:

- when I'm booked to an interview the first thing I do is skim the CV which will basically essentially determine my preconception of a candidate. Spelling, grammar or formatting errors will get noticed (even if you think they won't) and are something that will make me think a candidate is less capable.

- Societies, ECs etc. Put these in if you've had a position of responsibility AND you can point to some specific things you did. If you haven't had a position of responsibility (relevant society or other), leave it in the other interests section.

- If it's more than a page long it's too long. Equally if I think it could all have fit on one page and it isn't... Also, in the case it does go over a page, try to make it fill the second. One and a half pages is worse than two.

- If you have prior work experience, demonstrate skills and show some specific achievements of results (if you list it, expect to be asked about it though, the more impressive, the more likely). Generic lists of responsibilities are dull.

In terms of actually interviews I've had candidates who looked perfect on paper and were complete duds and also ones where their CVs had enough relevance they fit invited to interview though didn't look anything special and were exceptional - ones I wouldn't have picked out of the pile (my bosses pay grade picks). What I look for is someone who is clearly motivated, bright, is passionate about working in my area of finance and looking to progress as well as having a bit of a spark. Just having been a high achiever isn't enough, you really need to come across as someone who is driven by being a high achiever and continuing on that trajectory - most vaguely intelligent people are technically capable of most entry level finance jobs.

To note, I work in private equity rather than IB and the above is personal views.
Thank you for your input!
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Intro

Hi All,

We are approaching the end of spring week and summer internship recruitment and some of you may be coming out of it empty-handed. By the very nature of the process, only a minority of those who apply will get an offer. You may not know why you weren't chosen or what you did wrong and it sucks.

Firstly, I want you to take a deep breath. Seriously. This is not the end of the world, trust me. Careers are long and windy roads with potholes and speed bumps riddled along the way, not always straight and smooth paths. Rejections are bound to happen and some form of failure is completely unavoidable. What's important is you take your failures and learn from them as well as have a somewhat concrete plan of action to move forward.

This guide is aimed at helping you with those steps: understanding your failures, working on your flaws, and moving forward with a plan of action that should hopefully set you up better for the next round of recruiting.

I've never made any sort of guide so please bear with me; I also tend to go off on tangents (as I am doing now) but I'll try to structure and minimise that. Regardless, this is probably going to end up quite long but I'd encourage you to read it all!

This guide will NOT be a hand-holding exercise. I'm trying to point you in the right direction, but please utilise Google and a bit of critical thought.

There will be a summary of my general profile at the end of this guide for anyone interested.

Guide

Understanding your failures - using hindsight's 20/20 vision:

The first step is pinpointing where you went wrong in this cycle. The easiest way to understand this is to think about where your applications "died" so-to-speak. In other words, at what stage did you get rejected.

A general application process goes a little something like this:


Application -> Tests -> Video Interview (VI) -> Phone Interview (PI) -> Assessment Centre -> Offer

Sometimes things may be added or excluded but that's generally it. You want to observe, generally, where your applications died and then translate that into what may have gone wrong overall. Of course, you should consider all parts of your application (and we'll get to that) but this provides an area of focus at least. Here's where your problem could be according to what stage you were rejected at:
  • Application - Min. Requirements/CV/Cover Letter
  • Tests - CV/Cover Letter Or Test Skills
  • Video Interview - CV/Cover Letter Or VI skills
  • Phone Interview - CV or Interview Skills
  • AC - Interview Skills or Group Work Skills or Presentation Skills or Case Study Skills

For some clarity:
  • Min. Requirements - If your application was instantly rejected, this is likely the culprit. Normally these would be some sort of grades requirement (a 2:1 predicted and/or some UCAS points threshold) - if you don't meet these, you should stop the guide here and consider how to meet these requirements.
  • CV and Cover Letter are in multiple stages because many firms will not even look at your CV and Cover Letter until you've done the Video Interview and/or Tests. When I refer to "Cover Letter", I'm also referring to any Applications Questions asked; the same advice applies, generally.
  • VI Skills and Interview Skills are separated because I believe these two sets of skills are quite different.

Now you have (hopefully) identified a point of focus for improvement. However, this is only a point of focus, you still should consider all other areas of the process. For example, if you were always rejected at the Tests stage, you would never do an interview and have no idea if your Interview Skills are where they should be.


Working on your flaws - making the most of what you've got:

The next step in improvement is taking what you already have and making sure it shines the best it can in the recruitment process. This basically involves refining every element and skill I mentioned in the previous section.

CV:
  • Formatting - Formatting is VERY important. Picture yourself as an overworked Investment Banking Analyst or Associate. You want to get back to your actual job but HR says you have to look at some CVs from a bunch of snot-nosed 18 to 20-year-olds. How do you reduce this pile of CVs easily? Look for whose CV is formatted like a poster made by a 10-year-old. Okay, obviously it won't be that bad, but you get my point. The first thing you notice about a document is how it's laid out before even seeing the content. I have read great CVs that are practically unreadable because of the formatting. My recommendation is to follow the investment banking resume templates from Wall Street Oasis (WSO) or Mergers and Inquisitions (M&I). "But doesn't my CV need to stand out from the crowd?" No. That's what your content is for. If you don't want to use the templates, at least look at them and take some design cues. I shouldn't have to tell you this but your CV should be 1 page long ideally. "But I can't fit everything on." Yes, you can.
  • Consistency + Attention to Detail - This ties in with formatting, but is somewhat separate. Make sure your CV has a consistent format; if "Work Experience" is bold and underlined with size 16 font, "Education" should be the same. Make sure you're paying attention to detail. Are you using the same tense throughout? (Hint: it should be past tense.) Are your dates formatted the same? SPELL CHECK. This is nitpicking but it's an easy thing to fix that maybe an analyst in a bad mood decides to ding you for.
  • Content - I could probably write another whole guide on CV content but there are countless guides online for CV content so here are some key things to consider. Do not treat your CV as a job description; instead, describe how you (personally) contributed to your role. Be as specific as possible, using facts and figures to back up your claims. No one wants to hear that you carried plates back and forth to a kitchen as a waiter. They want to hear that you had a 5* customer satisfaction score due to your efficient handling of orders. Make your points short (1-2 lines) and punchy/impactful. Try to have at least 2-3 points in each entry. Exaggerate a little, but do not lie or pretend that you solved HSBC's European profit problem by attending a two-day work shadowing event organised by your mum's cousin. My golden rule is that whenever you write anything on a CV, ask yourself "why does this matter?" If you can't answer that question, reconsider the point you just made.

Cover Letter:
  • Length - Standard advice: Do not let it exceed one page. And, to be honest, the shorter (while maintaining the same quality), the better. 300-500 words is a general guide.
  • Formatting - It should look like a letter. Google what a letter should look like. Your address, their address etc. Don't bother trying to find the name of the "Hiring Manager" to address it to, it's a wasted effort.
  • Content - Your cover letter should roughly follow the format: Intro, [Why Firm, Why division/programme, Why you] (you can rearrange this bit), Outro. Again, I'm not going to go into detail here, there's plenty of info out there on how to write a cover letter (beware of America-centric advice because cover letters are not very important there). My best tip is that all points you make should be specific (facts and figures), relevant (e.g. for points in the "Why division" part, does this point actually matter to the division I'm applying for?), and strong (e.g. for points in the "Why firm" part, is this something just anyone could say or is this unique?).
  • Have a story - This mainly applies to the Why you or Why division parts of the cover letter. If you have a story (make it short and sweet) about what lead to your interest in a division, this seems a lot more genuine than just listing out some reasons you Googled. Of course, the story has to at least sound genuine. Please for the love of God, do not say "I have always loved the markets/business/stocks".
  • Know what you're actually applying for - This won't directly help you write the cover letter but it will help you create a "vibe" in your writing. It is very easy to see when someone writes a cover letter and has no idea what, for example, investment banking is (at least at a basic level).
  • Networking - Networking in the UK is not as important as for our US counterparts but it still has its use. It generally can help with your "why firm" and "why division" aspects of your cover letter. How do you network? In brief: find alumni on LinkedIn at the firm, in the role you're interested in and get on a call with them. Ask them about their experiences. OR attend informational sessions at your university, collect the details of the bank reps (not HR) and contact them after the session. Firms love to see that you have gone out of your way to find more information about them/your chosen division. To show firms you have done this, simply mention on your CL that you spoke to XYZ person and talk about the things they said that you found most interesting/appealing about the firm or the division.

Tests:
  • Culture/Fit/Situational Judgement Tests - these tests are fairly hard to prepare or practice for. My best advice is to understand what the firm's values/business principles are and try and have these in mind when answering the questions. Do not think too hard.
  • Psychometric Tests - buy JobTestPrep, split it if you have to (please don't sue me JTP), and practice, practice, practice. It's best to find the specific provider/firm you are going to take the test from and practising that test since they all vary slightly. Generally, there is no good, free, practice available but if you cannot afford JTP, your uni may have access to a test practice provider like Graduates First.
  • Generally, tests are there to see if you fit the culture of the firm or have a minimum level of psychometric (numerical, logical, verbal etc.) ability. As far as I know, getting very high scores on most tests doesn't hold much of an advantage. Feel free to correct me.

VI Skills:
  • General - Since Video Interviews are becoming more and more prevalent these days and many people struggle with them (myself included), guides have been popping up. Inhale all the advice you can from Google. I won't bother repeating it here.
  • Questions - most VIs contain why division and why firm questions, especially if no cover letter or application questions were requested which cover these. Aside from this, they may include behavioural and competency questions.
  • Use your network - I'm not going to outline exactly what I mean here as some may consider this unethical, but use your friends and your network to the best of your ability when preparing.
  • Apply the tips from the Interview Skills section too.

Interview Skills:
  • Database of questions/answers - If you have very little experience interviewing, this is the best advice I can give you. Seek to understand the broad categories of interview questions that may be asked (motivational, behavioural, competency, technical) and then the subcategories ([why firm etc.], [integrity etc.], [teamwork etc.], [3 statement modelling etc.]). Make a list of these subcategories and prepare possible experiences/knowledge you have that broadly fit into these subcategories. E.g. if you were the Head Boy of your sixth form, you may put this experience under "Competency - Leadership". The experiences can obviously be more detailed than that. Once you've done that, you will have a database of experience/knowledge which you can draw on in your mind when you get a question in an interview that falls into one of the subcategories.
  • Mock Interviews - Self-explanatory. Find someone to give you a mock interview who won't go easy on you.
  • Record yourself - This may be excruciating to watch/listen to but could be useful if you're not self-aware about your mannerisms.
  • Know what you're talking about - Like in the Cover Letter, it is painfully obvious when someone doesn't know what they're talking about in an interview. This could be broadly, or about a specific topic. If you don't know about a specific topic (and it's not essential to the job) it's okay to say "I don't know right now but I can get back to you later" or something more formal along those lines. To gain more knowledge, I believe that really all it takes is to read the Financial Times (FT) every morning and Google everything you don't understand. At a certain point, you will need to refer to outside sources, books, podcasts etc., but that's a start.

Group Work Skills/Presentation Skills/Case Study Skills:
  • Google it - Plenty of info out there on these + I don't feel knowledgeable enough to talk about this better than any other resource.

Moving forward - becoming a better candidate:

Almost there guys. The final step is becoming a better candidate in time for the next recruiting cycle. Firstly, I want to introduce a concept that, as far as I know, I made up. I will call it the "Candidate Function". The Candidate Function is everything that goes into a candidate (that's you) that in the end will either spit out "offer" or "rejection". Can you tell I'm a nerd yet?



Candidate Function = Work Experience + Uni Reputation + Timing + Interpersonal Skills + Extra Curriculars (ECs) + Grades + Connections + Luck = Offer/No Offer

Let me explain how this works. Each element of the Candidate Function contributes a little bit (some more than others) to the end result: an offer or a rejection. Just like a mathematic function, if one element is low, another element can be high and make up for it (to an extent). Let's say you're a bit lacking in Work Experience, then if your Uni Reputation is high (i.e. semi-target+) and/or you have great Extra Curriculars (societies etc.), you can make up for your lacking Work Experience. Some elements have a minimum requirement e.g. your Grades or your Interpersonal Skills (you're never going to get past an interview if you suck as a person). Some elements you can't really do anything about like Luck or Uni Reputation.

The good news is that most elements are in our control! Moving forward is about working on each of the elements in the Candidate Function.

Work Experience:
  • Networking - What I'm actually referring to here is networking your way into an internship; not at JP Morgan or anything but maybe at some small asset manager down an alley in Mayfair or a boutique corporate finance advisory shop opened up by some ex-MS MD idk. I'd definitely take a page from the book of the Americans for this (networking is crucial for them for almost any program in banking), so feel free to use Google, WSO, M&I etc. for this. There's no perfect way to network into an internship but here is my take (copied from another post):
    My theory is that no one has any incentive to go out of their way (to the extent of fabricating an internship position) for some random student who is clogging their outlook inbox. They DO have an incentive if that student has shown passion and interest in their work beforehand and has a semi-established relationship with them - because people actually like helping others within reason. Here is a step by step process I am making up on the spot but should be roughly right, use common sense:

    1. Find firms without structured programs (i.e. springs or summers) where you would like to work. If you're targeting IB, it doesn't matter. Don't be picky. Any decent finance experience will do AM, WM, CorpFin, even the finance division of another firm. Obviously the more relevant the better but this isn't the step to start being picky yet. The easy way to find firms in X industry is to get on Google Maps, scroll to London, type X industry into the search bar and hit enter.

    2. An alternative to step 1: go on LinkedIn, do a search for people who attended your school working in X industry right now and again target those working at smaller firms.

    3. Get in contact with people at the firms you've found. The higher up the better. Send them a LinkedIn message/connect with a note. Explain that you're interested in their work and want to find out more.

    4. Get on a call with them if possible. If you're a London target, later on in the year (when/if Covid subsides) meet them for coffee. Ask them good questions. Not google-able ones. Explain who you are. Try to connect with them, the same way you would your friends but professionally. At the end of the call or whatever, explain you're looking for summer opportunities and like the sound of the work they do (if you actually do) and would be interested in opportunities at their firm. If they're lower down in the food chain, maybe ask for a referral to someone with more social capital.

    5. Repeat until you get something.

    Also, remember that these are just people at the end of the day. Not superhumans or anything. Treat them with respect and professionalism but also don't be afraid to simply have a conversation. They're just humans.
  • Off-cycles - This applies more to those of you who were recruiting for summer internships. Off-cycles are like summer internships except often they're longer and they can happen pretty much any time of the year. They are less competitive than grad schemes in IB (although that's a pretty low bar) and are a useful and well-trodden route into a full-time role. The role is normally a bit more specific than summers. E.g. you may recruit specifically for LevFin IBD. OCs can also suit people who have graduated.
  • Volunteering - If you can find a place to volunteer with an element of significant responsibility, this will be useful. The more relevant the better... however, the advantage of non-relevant volunteering is it helps you become a more well-rounded candidate.
  • Start-ups - I don't know much about this point but I know some people work for start-ups either part-time or during their summers. In addition, there are programs you can apply for that place you into start-ups abroad during the summer. I can't remember any specific names off the top of my head.
  • Family connections - If you have useful family/friend connections that are in the industry and you haven't taken advantage of this for whatever reason, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Extra Curriculars (ECs):
  • Relevant societies - In general, for societies, you do not just want to join them, you want to be in a position of responsibility in them. The higher rank the better. Relevant societies include any finance societies (investment, M&A, general etc.) or consulting societies. These are an excellent way to show interest and (depending on how the society operates) technical skills. Of course, you also pick up soft skills if you're in a position of responsibility. If you cannot get into a position of responsibility, try to wrestle your way in and contribute the best you can.
  • Non-relevant societies - Again, for non-relevant societies (anything not in the aforementioned categories) then it is essential you are in a high-rank leadership position (Pres, VP, Treasurer etc.) to provide any meaningful benefit to your CV. Of course, if you don't get one of these positions, then anything is better than nothing.
  • External clubs/organisations - There are a multitude of external finance and consulting clubs that exist to join. By external, I mean not specifically connected to any university. Some finance clubs invest in a paper portfolio, write equity or M&A research reports, or comment on current events in a formalised way. An example of an external consulting org is 180 Degrees Consulting. I won't name any of the finance ones since they are small and I don't want them being overwhelmed with applications. They aren't hard to find.

Timing:
  • ASAP - The first piece of advice I give to literally anyone who asks me about recruiting for springs/summers is on timing. Some people do not realise that most springs/summers have rolling applications. This means (in most cases) as soon as applications open, applications start to be reviewed. Practically, what this means is applying sooner is LESS competitive than applying later. This is especially important for front-office positions. You should apply to positions as soon as possible after applications open to give yourself the best chance at being progressed further. Only break this rule if waiting a little while will meaningfully enhance your application e.g. you have a networking call with someone in the bank which will improve your cover letter two days later.

Interpersonal Skills:
  • Likeability - Recently I spoke to someone reasonably high up at a top-tier investment bank. They explained to me that when interviewing a candidate for summers, the primary thing they ask themselves is "Can I work next to this person for 12+ hours a day?" If you're not a very likeable person, that answer is probably no. Likeability plays a VERY big role in getting past interviews. Be enthusiastic, be passionate, be inquisitive (and maybe a bit challenging).
  • Hobbies - Having diverse hobbies can help you do two things. Firstly, it can help your CV to stand out. Someone who does idk Karate and Amateur Photography seems a lot more interesting than some who spends their free time binging Old Disney movies. Secondly, it helps potentially relate to your interviewers. Using our previous example, if your interviewer by chance is a yellow belt in Karate, all of a sudden you have a connection with your interviewer which makes you a memorable candidate.
  • Rapport - Learn how to build rapport with people. Watch Charisma in Command if you have to. But of course, keep it professional. This, again, helps keep you memorable and likeable.

Grades:
  • Do your best - Some people may be tempted to neglect their grades once they've cleared a 2:1. While you only need a 2:1 to meet minimum requirements, clearing a 1st will give you extra points. Practically, this means do your best and also be tactical in the modules you take in your degree.

Extras

BONUS! Things to keep in mind:
  • Working in an investment bank/consultancy is not the only job in existence. There are plenty of careers out there. Take your time, don't get blinded by $$$.
  • You can apply to many summer internships in your final year. Off the top of my head, Citi, Barclays, MS, JPM and UBS allows final years to apply for their internships. There are probably more I'm missing.
  • Extending your degree can extend your chances at a summer. If you have the ability to extend your degree into integrated Masters, this can obviously keep you a "penultimate" student for longer.
  • A top Masters in Finance or Masters in Management is an excellent way to raise your calibre as a candidate as well as keep you able to recruit for longer. They are very expensive though. It is also more important than ever to get into a target program if you want a highly competitive job.
  • Relevant Big 4 divisions can be a great stepping stone to more competitive roles. Big 4 is definitely competitive but less competitive than (for example) IBD or MBB consulting. However, the Big 4 have many divisions that are akin to IBD or MBB. E.g. a commonly trodden route is Big 4 Transaction Services -> ACA -> IBD at a bank.

Resources:

Aside from Google, there are a number of resources I'm a big fan of (sorry I don't have much for you budding consultants):
  • Investopedia - This is basically a Wiki on almost every financial term you can think of. Incredibly useful for going through the FT and explaining things you don't understand.
  • Wall Street Oasis (WSO) - This is a forum for all things high finance. It is a forum and must be treated as such. Anyone can write anything on there so always take everything you read with a teaspoon of salt and take into account the dates of posts (pre-2010 finance was very different). However, there are many useful guides on there and there are some genuinely cool people. This forum (like most of the internet) is US-centric and some things don't translate exactly to UK recruiting.
  • Mergers and Inquisitions/WallSteetMojo - These are two different sites but basically do the same thing. Similar to Investopedia however much more focused on finance careers. Once again, these are US-centric.
  • R/FinancialCareers - This is a subreddit on Reddit. Basically the same deal as WSO.
  • Afzal Hussein (YouTube) - I'm recommending Afzal specifically because he's one of the only UK-centric "Fin-Tubers" who actually knows what he's talking about for the most part and doesn't post stupid clickbait "How much I made in Investment Banking" videos. Great for short knowledge-bites. His recent series reacting to the "Industry" TV show is great too (not for knowledge, just for entertainment).
  • Sticky Threads - Read the sticky threads in this forum to clear up any slight gaps in knowledge (e.g. what a semi-target uni is).

My Profile:
Uni: Semi-target, I'm a final year. Relevant-ish degree (this does not matter in the UK though). Low 2:1 grades.

ECs: Committee position in a non-relevant society in my second year.

Work Experience: 2 months interning for a fund. 1 year in middle office asset management (placement). Started and ran my own business (was much less formal than this) mostly before uni. Various other part-time roles - I've worked since 14 but that's not all on my CV of course.
Thanks man
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#14
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Intro

Hi All,

We are approaching the end of spring week and summer internship recruitment and some of you may be coming out of it empty-handed. By the very nature of the process, only a minority of those who apply will get an offer. You may not know why you weren't chosen or what you did wrong and it sucks.

Firstly, I want you to take a deep breath. Seriously. This is not the end of the world, trust me. Careers are long and windy roads with potholes and speed bumps riddled along the way, not always straight and smooth paths. Rejections are bound to happen and some form of failure is completely unavoidable. What's important is you take your failures and learn from them as well as have a somewhat concrete plan of action to move forward.

This guide is aimed at helping you with those steps: understanding your failures, working on your flaws, and moving forward with a plan of action that should hopefully set you up better for the next round of recruiting.

I've never made any sort of guide so please bear with me; I also tend to go off on tangents (as I am doing now) but I'll try to structure and minimise that. Regardless, this is probably going to end up quite long but I'd encourage you to read it all!

This guide will NOT be a hand-holding exercise. I'm trying to point you in the right direction, but please utilise Google and a bit of critical thought.

There will be a summary of my general profile at the end of this guide for anyone interested.

Guide

Understanding your failures - using hindsight's 20/20 vision:

The first step is pinpointing where you went wrong in this cycle. The easiest way to understand this is to think about where your applications "died" so-to-speak. In other words, at what stage did you get rejected.

A general application process goes a little something like this:


Application -> Tests -> Video Interview (VI) -> Phone Interview (PI) -> Assessment Centre -> Offer

Sometimes things may be added or excluded but that's generally it. You want to observe, generally, where your applications died and then translate that into what may have gone wrong overall. Of course, you should consider all parts of your application (and we'll get to that) but this provides an area of focus at least. Here's where your problem could be according to what stage you were rejected at:
  • Application - Min. Requirements/CV/Cover Letter
  • Tests - CV/Cover Letter Or Test Skills
  • Video Interview - CV/Cover Letter Or VI skills
  • Phone Interview - CV or Interview Skills
  • AC - Interview Skills or Group Work Skills or Presentation Skills or Case Study Skills

For some clarity:
  • Min. Requirements - If your application was instantly rejected, this is likely the culprit. Normally these would be some sort of grades requirement (a 2:1 predicted and/or some UCAS points threshold) - if you don't meet these, you should stop the guide here and consider how to meet these requirements.
  • CV and Cover Letter are in multiple stages because many firms will not even look at your CV and Cover Letter until you've done the Video Interview and/or Tests. When I refer to "Cover Letter", I'm also referring to any Applications Questions asked; the same advice applies, generally.
  • VI Skills and Interview Skills are separated because I believe these two sets of skills are quite different.

Now you have (hopefully) identified a point of focus for improvement. However, this is only a point of focus, you still should consider all other areas of the process. For example, if you were always rejected at the Tests stage, you would never do an interview and have no idea if your Interview Skills are where they should be.


Working on your flaws - making the most of what you've got:

The next step in improvement is taking what you already have and making sure it shines the best it can in the recruitment process. This basically involves refining every element and skill I mentioned in the previous section.

CV:
  • Formatting - Formatting is VERY important. Picture yourself as an overworked Investment Banking Analyst or Associate. You want to get back to your actual job but HR says you have to look at some CVs from a bunch of snot-nosed 18 to 20-year-olds. How do you reduce this pile of CVs easily? Look for whose CV is formatted like a poster made by a 10-year-old. Okay, obviously it won't be that bad, but you get my point. The first thing you notice about a document is how it's laid out before even seeing the content. I have read great CVs that are practically unreadable because of the formatting. My recommendation is to follow the investment banking resume templates from Wall Street Oasis (WSO) or Mergers and Inquisitions (M&I). "But doesn't my CV need to stand out from the crowd?" No. That's what your content is for. If you don't want to use the templates, at least look at them and take some design cues. I shouldn't have to tell you this but your CV should be 1 page long ideally. "But I can't fit everything on." Yes, you can.
  • Consistency + Attention to Detail - This ties in with formatting, but is somewhat separate. Make sure your CV has a consistent format; if "Work Experience" is bold and underlined with size 16 font, "Education" should be the same. Make sure you're paying attention to detail. Are you using the same tense throughout? (Hint: it should be past tense.) Are your dates formatted the same? SPELL CHECK. This is nitpicking but it's an easy thing to fix that maybe an analyst in a bad mood decides to ding you for.
  • Content - I could probably write another whole guide on CV content but there are countless guides online for CV content so here are some key things to consider. Do not treat your CV as a job description; instead, describe how you (personally) contributed to your role. Be as specific as possible, using facts and figures to back up your claims. No one wants to hear that you carried plates back and forth to a kitchen as a waiter. They want to hear that you had a 5* customer satisfaction score due to your efficient handling of orders. Make your points short (1-2 lines) and punchy/impactful. Try to have at least 2-3 points in each entry. Exaggerate a little, but do not lie or pretend that you solved HSBC's European profit problem by attending a two-day work shadowing event organised by your mum's cousin. My golden rule is that whenever you write anything on a CV, ask yourself "why does this matter?" If you can't answer that question, reconsider the point you just made.

Cover Letter:
  • Length - Standard advice: Do not let it exceed one page. And, to be honest, the shorter (while maintaining the same quality), the better. 300-500 words is a general guide.
  • Formatting - It should look like a letter. Google what a letter should look like. Your address, their address etc. Don't bother trying to find the name of the "Hiring Manager" to address it to, it's a wasted effort.
  • Content - Your cover letter should roughly follow the format: Intro, [Why Firm, Why division/programme, Why you] (you can rearrange this bit), Outro. Again, I'm not going to go into detail here, there's plenty of info out there on how to write a cover letter (beware of America-centric advice because cover letters are not very important there). My best tip is that all points you make should be specific (facts and figures), relevant (e.g. for points in the "Why division" part, does this point actually matter to the division I'm applying for?), and strong (e.g. for points in the "Why firm" part, is this something just anyone could say or is this unique?).
  • Have a story - This mainly applies to the Why you or Why division parts of the cover letter. If you have a story (make it short and sweet) about what lead to your interest in a division, this seems a lot more genuine than just listing out some reasons you Googled. Of course, the story has to at least sound genuine. Please for the love of God, do not say "I have always loved the markets/business/stocks".
  • Know what you're actually applying for - This won't directly help you write the cover letter but it will help you create a "vibe" in your writing. It is very easy to see when someone writes a cover letter and has no idea what, for example, investment banking is (at least at a basic level).
  • Networking - Networking in the UK is not as important as for our US counterparts but it still has its use. It generally can help with your "why firm" and "why division" aspects of your cover letter. How do you network? In brief: find alumni on LinkedIn at the firm, in the role you're interested in and get on a call with them. Ask them about their experiences. OR attend informational sessions at your university, collect the details of the bank reps (not HR) and contact them after the session. Firms love to see that you have gone out of your way to find more information about them/your chosen division. To show firms you have done this, simply mention on your CL that you spoke to XYZ person and talk about the things they said that you found most interesting/appealing about the firm or the division.

Tests:
  • Culture/Fit/Situational Judgement Tests - these tests are fairly hard to prepare or practice for. My best advice is to understand what the firm's values/business principles are and try and have these in mind when answering the questions. Do not think too hard.
  • Psychometric Tests - buy JobTestPrep, split it if you have to (please don't sue me JTP), and practice, practice, practice. It's best to find the specific provider/firm you are going to take the test from and practising that test since they all vary slightly. Generally, there is no good, free, practice available but if you cannot afford JTP, your uni may have access to a test practice provider like Graduates First.
  • Generally, tests are there to see if you fit the culture of the firm or have a minimum level of psychometric (numerical, logical, verbal etc.) ability. As far as I know, getting very high scores on most tests doesn't hold much of an advantage. Feel free to correct me.

VI Skills:
  • General - Since Video Interviews are becoming more and more prevalent these days and many people struggle with them (myself included), guides have been popping up. Inhale all the advice you can from Google. I won't bother repeating it here.
  • Questions - most VIs contain why division and why firm questions, especially if no cover letter or application questions were requested which cover these. Aside from this, they may include behavioural and competency questions.
  • Use your network - I'm not going to outline exactly what I mean here as some may consider this unethical, but use your friends and your network to the best of your ability when preparing.
  • Apply the tips from the Interview Skills section too.

Interview Skills:
  • Database of questions/answers - If you have very little experience interviewing, this is the best advice I can give you. Seek to understand the broad categories of interview questions that may be asked (motivational, behavioural, competency, technical) and then the subcategories ([why firm etc.], [integrity etc.], [teamwork etc.], [3 statement modelling etc.]). Make a list of these subcategories and prepare possible experiences/knowledge you have that broadly fit into these subcategories. E.g. if you were the Head Boy of your sixth form, you may put this experience under "Competency - Leadership". The experiences can obviously be more detailed than that. Once you've done that, you will have a database of experience/knowledge which you can draw on in your mind when you get a question in an interview that falls into one of the subcategories.
  • Mock Interviews - Self-explanatory. Find someone to give you a mock interview who won't go easy on you.
  • Record yourself - This may be excruciating to watch/listen to but could be useful if you're not self-aware about your mannerisms.
  • Know what you're talking about - Like in the Cover Letter, it is painfully obvious when someone doesn't know what they're talking about in an interview. This could be broadly, or about a specific topic. If you don't know about a specific topic (and it's not essential to the job) it's okay to say "I don't know right now but I can get back to you later" or something more formal along those lines. To gain more knowledge, I believe that really all it takes is to read the Financial Times (FT) every morning and Google everything you don't understand. At a certain point, you will need to refer to outside sources, books, podcasts etc., but that's a start.

Group Work Skills/Presentation Skills/Case Study Skills:
  • Google it - Plenty of info out there on these + I don't feel knowledgeable enough to talk about this better than any other resource.

Moving forward - becoming a better candidate:

Almost there guys. The final step is becoming a better candidate in time for the next recruiting cycle. Firstly, I want to introduce a concept that, as far as I know, I made up. I will call it the "Candidate Function". The Candidate Function is everything that goes into a candidate (that's you) that in the end will either spit out "offer" or "rejection". Can you tell I'm a nerd yet?



Candidate Function = Work Experience + Uni Reputation + Timing + Interpersonal Skills + Extra Curriculars (ECs) + Grades + Connections + Luck = Offer/No Offer

Let me explain how this works. Each element of the Candidate Function contributes a little bit (some more than others) to the end result: an offer or a rejection. Just like a mathematic function, if one element is low, another element can be high and make up for it (to an extent). Let's say you're a bit lacking in Work Experience, then if your Uni Reputation is high (i.e. semi-target+) and/or you have great Extra Curriculars (societies etc.), you can make up for your lacking Work Experience. Some elements have a minimum requirement e.g. your Grades or your Interpersonal Skills (you're never going to get past an interview if you suck as a person). Some elements you can't really do anything about like Luck or Uni Reputation.

The good news is that most elements are in our control! Moving forward is about working on each of the elements in the Candidate Function.

Work Experience:
  • Networking - What I'm actually referring to here is networking your way into an internship; not at JP Morgan or anything but maybe at some small asset manager down an alley in Mayfair or a boutique corporate finance advisory shop opened up by some ex-MS MD idk. I'd definitely take a page from the book of the Americans for this (networking is crucial for them for almost any program in banking), so feel free to use Google, WSO, M&I etc. for this. There's no perfect way to network into an internship but here is my take (copied from another post):
    My theory is that no one has any incentive to go out of their way (to the extent of fabricating an internship position) for some random student who is clogging their outlook inbox. They DO have an incentive if that student has shown passion and interest in their work beforehand and has a semi-established relationship with them - because people actually like helping others within reason. Here is a step by step process I am making up on the spot but should be roughly right, use common sense:

    1. Find firms without structured programs (i.e. springs or summers) where you would like to work. If you're targeting IB, it doesn't matter. Don't be picky. Any decent finance experience will do AM, WM, CorpFin, even the finance division of another firm. Obviously the more relevant the better but this isn't the step to start being picky yet. The easy way to find firms in X industry is to get on Google Maps, scroll to London, type X industry into the search bar and hit enter.

    2. An alternative to step 1: go on LinkedIn, do a search for people who attended your school working in X industry right now and again target those working at smaller firms.

    3. Get in contact with people at the firms you've found. The higher up the better. Send them a LinkedIn message/connect with a note. Explain that you're interested in their work and want to find out more.

    4. Get on a call with them if possible. If you're a London target, later on in the year (when/if Covid subsides) meet them for coffee. Ask them good questions. Not google-able ones. Explain who you are. Try to connect with them, the same way you would your friends but professionally. At the end of the call or whatever, explain you're looking for summer opportunities and like the sound of the work they do (if you actually do) and would be interested in opportunities at their firm. If they're lower down in the food chain, maybe ask for a referral to someone with more social capital.

    5. Repeat until you get something.

    Also, remember that these are just people at the end of the day. Not superhumans or anything. Treat them with respect and professionalism but also don't be afraid to simply have a conversation. They're just humans.
  • Off-cycles - This applies more to those of you who were recruiting for summer internships. Off-cycles are like summer internships except often they're longer and they can happen pretty much any time of the year. They are less competitive than grad schemes in IB (although that's a pretty low bar) and are a useful and well-trodden route into a full-time role. The role is normally a bit more specific than summers. E.g. you may recruit specifically for LevFin IBD. OCs can also suit people who have graduated.
  • Volunteering - If you can find a place to volunteer with an element of significant responsibility, this will be useful. The more relevant the better... however, the advantage of non-relevant volunteering is it helps you become a more well-rounded candidate.
  • Start-ups - I don't know much about this point but I know some people work for start-ups either part-time or during their summers. In addition, there are programs you can apply for that place you into start-ups abroad during the summer. I can't remember any specific names off the top of my head.
  • Family connections - If you have useful family/friend connections that are in the industry and you haven't taken advantage of this for whatever reason, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Extra Curriculars (ECs):
  • Relevant societies - In general, for societies, you do not just want to join them, you want to be in a position of responsibility in them. The higher rank the better. Relevant societies include any finance societies (investment, M&A, general etc.) or consulting societies. These are an excellent way to show interest and (depending on how the society operates) technical skills. Of course, you also pick up soft skills if you're in a position of responsibility. If you cannot get into a position of responsibility, try to wrestle your way in and contribute the best you can.
  • Non-relevant societies - Again, for non-relevant societies (anything not in the aforementioned categories) then it is essential you are in a high-rank leadership position (Pres, VP, Treasurer etc.) to provide any meaningful benefit to your CV. Of course, if you don't get one of these positions, then anything is better than nothing.
  • External clubs/organisations - There are a multitude of external finance and consulting clubs that exist to join. By external, I mean not specifically connected to any university. Some finance clubs invest in a paper portfolio, write equity or M&A research reports, or comment on current events in a formalised way. An example of an external consulting org is 180 Degrees Consulting. I won't name any of the finance ones since they are small and I don't want them being overwhelmed with applications. They aren't hard to find.

Timing:
  • ASAP - The first piece of advice I give to literally anyone who asks me about recruiting for springs/summers is on timing. Some people do not realise that most springs/summers have rolling applications. This means (in most cases) as soon as applications open, applications start to be reviewed. Practically, what this means is applying sooner is LESS competitive than applying later. This is especially important for front-office positions. You should apply to positions as soon as possible after applications open to give yourself the best chance at being progressed further. Only break this rule if waiting a little while will meaningfully enhance your application e.g. you have a networking call with someone in the bank which will improve your cover letter two days later.

Interpersonal Skills:
  • Likeability - Recently I spoke to someone reasonably high up at a top-tier investment bank. They explained to me that when interviewing a candidate for summers, the primary thing they ask themselves is "Can I work next to this person for 12+ hours a day?" If you're not a very likeable person, that answer is probably no. Likeability plays a VERY big role in getting past interviews. Be enthusiastic, be passionate, be inquisitive (and maybe a bit challenging).
  • Hobbies - Having diverse hobbies can help you do two things. Firstly, it can help your CV to stand out. Someone who does idk Karate and Amateur Photography seems a lot more interesting than some who spends their free time binging Old Disney movies. Secondly, it helps potentially relate to your interviewers. Using our previous example, if your interviewer by chance is a yellow belt in Karate, all of a sudden you have a connection with your interviewer which makes you a memorable candidate.
  • Rapport - Learn how to build rapport with people. Watch Charisma in Command if you have to. But of course, keep it professional. This, again, helps keep you memorable and likeable.

Grades:
  • Do your best - Some people may be tempted to neglect their grades once they've cleared a 2:1. While you only need a 2:1 to meet minimum requirements, clearing a 1st will give you extra points. Practically, this means do your best and also be tactical in the modules you take in your degree.

Extras

BONUS! Things to keep in mind:
  • Working in an investment bank/consultancy is not the only job in existence. There are plenty of careers out there. Take your time, don't get blinded by $$$.
  • You can apply to many summer internships in your final year. Off the top of my head, Citi, Barclays, MS, JPM and UBS allows final years to apply for their internships. There are probably more I'm missing.
  • Extending your degree can extend your chances at a summer. If you have the ability to extend your degree into integrated Masters, this can obviously keep you a "penultimate" student for longer.
  • A top Masters in Finance or Masters in Management is an excellent way to raise your calibre as a candidate as well as keep you able to recruit for longer. They are very expensive though. It is also more important than ever to get into a target program if you want a highly competitive job.
  • Relevant Big 4 divisions can be a great stepping stone to more competitive roles. Big 4 is definitely competitive but less competitive than (for example) IBD or MBB consulting. However, the Big 4 have many divisions that are akin to IBD or MBB. E.g. a commonly trodden route is Big 4 Transaction Services -> ACA -> IBD at a bank.

Resources:

Aside from Google, there are a number of resources I'm a big fan of (sorry I don't have much for you budding consultants):
  • Investopedia - This is basically a Wiki on almost every financial term you can think of. Incredibly useful for going through the FT and explaining things you don't understand.
  • Wall Street Oasis (WSO) - This is a forum for all things high finance. It is a forum and must be treated as such. Anyone can write anything on there so always take everything you read with a teaspoon of salt and take into account the dates of posts (pre-2010 finance was very different). However, there are many useful guides on there and there are some genuinely cool people. This forum (like most of the internet) is US-centric and some things don't translate exactly to UK recruiting.
  • Mergers and Inquisitions/WallSteetMojo - These are two different sites but basically do the same thing. Similar to Investopedia however much more focused on finance careers. Once again, these are US-centric.
  • R/FinancialCareers - This is a subreddit on Reddit. Basically the same deal as WSO.
  • Afzal Hussein (YouTube) - I'm recommending Afzal specifically because he's one of the only UK-centric "Fin-Tubers" who actually knows what he's talking about for the most part and doesn't post stupid clickbait "How much I made in Investment Banking" videos. Great for short knowledge-bites. His recent series reacting to the "Industry" TV show is great too (not for knowledge, just for entertainment).
  • Sticky Threads - Read the sticky threads in this forum to clear up any slight gaps in knowledge (e.g. what a semi-target uni is).

My Profile:
Uni: Semi-target, I'm a final year. Relevant-ish degree (this does not matter in the UK though). Low 2:1 grades.

ECs: Committee position in a non-relevant society in my second year.

Work Experience: 2 months interning for a fund. 1 year in middle office asset management (placement). Started and ran my own business (was much less formal than this) mostly before uni. Various other part-time roles - I've worked since 14 but that's not all on my CV of course.
i don't believe in this i believe in goods things comes too those who wait
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#15
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#15
(Original post by achieve526kk)
i


i don't believe in this i believe in goods things comes too those who wait
Good luck with that 🙂
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Good luck with that 🙂
thankyou very much
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#17
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#17
(Original post by achieve526kk)
thankyou very much
I'd be really happy if you were right but unfortunately that's not how things work. It is said that only a fool repeats the same thing expecting different results. To improve your results you must change and improve your approach. That's what this guide is about.
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#18
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#18
(Original post by natninja)
This is all really good advice, thank you OP.

Sitting on the other side of the desk in interviews from most people reading this thread, will add a couple of personal viewpoints:

- when I'm booked to an interview the first thing I do is skim the CV which will basically essentially determine my preconception of a candidate. Spelling, grammar or formatting errors will get noticed (even if you think they won't) and are something that will make me think a candidate is less capable.

- Societies, ECs etc. Put these in if you've had a position of responsibility AND you can point to some specific things you did. If you haven't had a position of responsibility (relevant society or other), leave it in the other interests section.

- If it's more than a page long it's too long. Equally if I think it could all have fit on one page and it isn't... Also, in the case it does go over a page, try to make it fill the second. One and a half pages is worse than two.

- If you have prior work experience, demonstrate skills and show some specific achievements of results (if you list it, expect to be asked about it though, the more impressive, the more likely). Generic lists of responsibilities are dull.

In terms of actually interviews I've had candidates who looked perfect on paper and were complete duds and also ones where their CVs had enough relevance they fit invited to interview though didn't look anything special and were exceptional - ones I wouldn't have picked out of the pile (my bosses pay grade picks). What I look for is someone who is clearly motivated, bright, is passionate about working in my area of finance and looking to progress as well as having a bit of a spark. Just having been a high achiever isn't enough, you really need to come across as someone who is driven by being a high achiever and continuing on that trajectory - most vaguely intelligent people are technically capable of most entry level finance jobs.

To note, I work in private equity rather than IB and the above is personal views.
TWO pages worth of paper does not proof your worth C.V not everything
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(Original post by achieve526kk)
TWO pages worth of paper does not proof your worth C.V not everything
Of course, it doesn't. However, that's the game and you have to play it. Good luck trying to do otherwise.

It's a one-page CV btw for IB and consulting.
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#20
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Cheeky bump
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