Summer in Hong Kong

The Gateway gets the lowdown on working life in the city from two J.P. Morgan interns

Calvin Cheung

Fourth year (Masters) student

University of Cambridge: Chemical Engineering

How did you make the leap from engineering to banking?

I did an internship in Chemical Engineering and while I enjoyed it, it didn't motivate me in the way banking does. I want to work in a fast-paced environment which, for me, means banking and more specifically, sales and trading. I also want to work in an area that requires analytical skills. I acquired a lot of these through my studies and it was great to get the chance to apply them during my internship.

Studying chemical engineering allowed me to develop the mathematical skills and the ways of thinking that are valuable in this line of work. When I did my internship at J.P. Morgan, I noticed that while many of the other interns had studied economics and finance, many of them, like me, came from other educational backgrounds, such as engineering and mathematics.

Tell us about your internship.

I was in training for the first few days, attending talks given by internal and external industry experts, telling me more about the bank and giving me basic technical training. After that, the interns were all allocated to different desks within the Sales and Trading team.

I spent my internship in the Equity Derivatives Group, and started out on the Exotics Trading Desk (exotics are complex derivatives). It was challenging to work with such technical products without a finance background, but I found that my analytical skills came in very handy.

The second part of my internship was spent on the Flow Trading Desk (flow products are standard financial instruments traded across exchanges, like cash equities and bonds). This desk was faster-paced, because you have to talk to brokers as well as clients.

On the first desk, my mentor gave me a list of tasks right at the beginning, so I knew exactly what I had to do during the five weeks. On the second, work allocation was more spontaneous. I had to be more proactive and support people where needed that day.

What's living in Hong Kong like?

I think life in Hong Kong is great. The city is very international, so there's a diverse range of cultures. Hong Kong is full of people - and it's very dynamic! My experiences working in Hong Kong were probably different from many of the other interns, since it's where I'm from. I was able to show some of the people I'd met around and take them sightseeing. I could see how excited the others were - there are plenty of great things to do in Hong Kong.

What did you enjoy most about your time in Hong Kong?

J.P. Morgan arranged a lot of social activities for us and, even though I'm from Hong Kong, I'd never done many of the things they organised. We went bowling, art jamming and sampled a lot of the different foods the city has to offer. Doing all these things was a great opportunity to get to know the other interns and to network. Also, Hong Kong is hotter than the UK, so it was nice to get some good weather!

Jolly Yip

Final year student

London School of Economics (LSE): Economics / Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK): Finance

Tell us about your internship.

I spent ten weeks working in the Investment Banking division of J.P. Morgan's Hong Kong office. I was rotating between the Hong Kong Coverage and Real Estate teams and was kept very busy throughout. When I first arrived, I received a week of training, after which I was put straight onto working on presentation materials for analysts and associates for them to use in client meetings. I also did lots of company research and produced company profiles.

As a summer analyst, you need to be prepared to put in the hours in the office, but I got positive feedback for my work and when you feel appreciated, you don't mind long days.

What did you learn during your internship?

To work in such a fast-paced environment, you have to have determination to succeed. I learnt I had reserves of energy that I hadn't known about before. I also learnt to be more analytical, to multitask, and to manage my time more efficiently.

Over the course of the ten weeks, I strengthened my communication skills. In banking, it's essential to communicate well with your colleagues and clients. To get your message across, you need to be very specific. That's one of the qualities I was able to hone most significantly.

What did you enjoy most about your time in Hong Kong?

I was born and bred in Hong Kong, so I knew the city before I did the internship. However, the internship was an introduction as much as a homecoming because I was working in an international bank, which I hadn't done before, and was mixing with a new, diverse group of people.

Hong Kong is a mix of east and west and you get exposed to a lot of different cultures there. It's probably one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world - the interns who couldn't speak Cantonese had no problems communicating in English. And despite its large population, Hong Kong is quite a small place, which makes it great for socialising.

Right now is an incredibly exciting time to come to Hong Kong - and many other parts of Asia. The continent is booming, and it's great to be a part of it.

What does the future hold for you?

I'm in my final year at university. I was studying at LSE, before moving to CUHK in Hong Kong, where I'm studying finance. I will be coming back as an analyst at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong when I finish my studies. What excites me about this role is the chance to contribute to the team, to work on a range of different products and deals, and to learn and grow with the bank, all of which I had a chance to experience at J.P. Morgan last summer.