Banking & Finance Summer Internship – What does it take to succeed?

If you are applying to Banking & Finance companies or are interning with them, this may be very useful. spoke with a few class of 2014 students from the top IIMs who interned with Banking & Finance giants in the summer of 2013. We would like to share some of the interesting insights with all our readers aspiring to get into finance roles.

A PPO holder who interned with a leading American multinational investment banking firm tells us that one very important and basic aspect to note is that you have to be really good with numbers. Not just good but also careful because when you have to deal with gigantic amounts of numerical data, rechecking for errors isn’t really an option. So being thorough and careful really helps. Not just that but working in a finance role means you have to be ready to put in long hours at office.

“I worked for about 15 hours each day” this lady tells us. She adds, “Since this was one of the top companies, I had a lot of inhibitions about my job as an equity analyst. But the training program during our induction was very structured. We had lectures where we were trained for our roles. This really helped a lot in getting an understanding of real life financial scenarios.”

The key to getting a PPO, according to her, was just being thorough with your work in those 2 months because it’s the work that ultimately matters. Apart from this, get a lot of feedback from your seniors in the company. Good feedback goes a long way in helping you shape your project according to what the company needs.

One interesting insight we received was that not only were the interns judged on their work but also on their personal skills such as networking, communication and the clarity of their presentation.

An intern with a British multinational bank told us that one of the most important qualities for those aspiring to get into the world of finance is being discreet and honoring confidentiality. When working with big clients you have access to their confidential data and so you should have a knack for keeping information to yourself. So all the introverts out there this just might be the job for you.

As for the work pressure, he tells us that it differs from department to department. For example if you are dealing with corporate clients then you do not have to meet them that frequently. Once the loans are disbursed, one has to check the loan covenants every six months for discrepancies if any and meet the client accordingly. So it varies a lot and there is nothing fixed.

However, not everyone we spoke to was thrilled about the internship experience. There were examples of internships where there was an expectation mismatch.

For example, this gentleman who interned in a finance role with a leading FMCG was fairly disappointed with the whole experience. If you want to get into a hard core finance role then an FMCG company might not be the best place to work in, he tells us. “I was supposed to work in corporate finance, but ended up doing management and cost accounting. So overall there was not much I could learn.”

However, there was an upside as well. The work culture was good. The numbers of hours put in were comparatively lesser than those in investment banks. So if you wish to work in the field of finance but still want a good work life balance then a finance role with an FMCG might be the thing for you.

Overall, we would say that if you are in a role where you need to interact with clients then meet them as much as possible as they are your best source of data and frequent meetings help you form a strong set of solutions. Try to establish a rapport with them.

Also, network, network and network. This was a common highlight of all our conversations with these bright men and women. Most of them said that networking helps you go a long way. And this is not just limited for a finance role.
Having said that, take your basic finance courses extremely seriously. Be thorough with the basics of financial reporting and accounting. This would not only help you during your interviews but you would most probably be using it day in and day out during your internship.

So in a nutshell, if you are looking forward to working with the financial heavyweights then remember to :

1) Network – And this is not just for the Banking & Finance aspirants. We cannot stress enough its importance
2) Polish your term 1 basic finance knowledge. This would help you at each stage, during the interview and during your project
3) Be ready to put in long hours at the office
4) Gather feedback at every step. Seek feedback not just from your mentor but other seniors in the department as well. This would also help you network
5) Know what you are getting into. Try to gather as much information as you can about the different roles offered in finance so that you can make an informed decision free of preconceived biases

– Shohita Choudhry


Shohita is a 2nd Year Student at IIM Lucknow

You may be interested in The Career Guide

Banking & Finance – Interview Experiences – Top Banks and Financial Institutions

Banking & Finance – Internship Experiences