A springboard to a career in banking

Michael Dalgado gives the lowdown on this year's spring programmes in banking and finance

With growing anxiety about graduate careers in Banking and Finance, it's no surprise that this year's spring programmes were highly competitive. Michael Dalgado of the LSE's Investment Society finds out why they were more than just a taster...

The majority of large Investment Banks and Professional Services firms now offer some sort of spring programme, aimed at first-year students on a three-year course or second-year students on a four-year course, during the Easter break.

Marketed as an opportunity for students to learn more about the industry and firm, the application process would seem to indicate that they are more than just an introductory gathering. Whilst some, such as Citi's Certificate in Finance, required only a CV and covering letter, others demanded an electronic application, one or more interviews and even mini-assessment centres. Indeed, it would appear that companies use the sessions as an opportunity to discover potential talent as early as possible.

Nikhil Sangani and Sneha Kotecha are both first-year Economics students at LSE who completed the Goldman Sachs Securities Programme and the J.P. Morgan spring week, respectively. Sneha commented that her experience increased her awareness of the industry as a whole, as well as her understanding of the day-to-day lives of analysts at JPMorgan. Her week consisted of a mixture of presentations, group activities, shadowing and networking sessions; the norm for most programmes.

Nikhil described his experience as, 'challenging but rewarding; an awesome experience.' One of only a few to pay their participants, places on the Goldman Sachs Securities Programme were highly sought after, with good reason. At the end of the programme, students who had demonstrated excellence were offered summer internships for next year. Others were fast-tracked past the initial application stage, whilst the rest will have to face the drudgery of re-applying with everyone else. Feelings of sympathy are most probably misplaced, however, as such a programme will be an excellent asset on any CV.

Fast-tracking was not uncommon amongst other bulge bracket Investment Banks and Barclays Capital went so far as to guarantee places at an assessment centre for all of their participants.

Whilst such programmes may look good on your CV, strong first-year results with a wide range of extra curricular activities and an evident interest in banking and finance will all boost your chances of success next year, so you shouldn't despair if you were unsuccessful in obtaining a place in a spring programme or if you had never even heard of them before reading this. The programmes were typically small and are by no means a pre-requisite for internships next summer.

I spoke to one student, who participated in programmes at two Investment Banks and received an offer for a full-time Summer Internship to find out what other students could do to mirror his success. "Make sure you have your CV checked over and use any contacts you have as much as possible. Keep up to date with the markets and try to understand the consequences of common market activity," he advised.

As more job losses in the city are announced on a weekly basis, it's imperative that students present themselves in the best light possible if they're to be successful in banking. Spring weeks were certainly a great foot in the door; luckily for all of us the door isn't closed just yet.

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