J.P. Morgan: This is where you need to be

James Hunt and Riya Pabari discuss Spring Week, internships and what to expect at J.P. Morgan

James Hunt and Riya Pabari both took part in Spring Week in 2006 and returned to J.P. Morgan for summer internships in 2007. James is currently studying Russian and business at Durham University, and will be joining the investment banking business as a full-time graduate this August. Riya, an economics student at Cambridge, will be joining the graduate programme as a trader in September 2009. They share some experiences and words of wisdom.

Did you already know you wanted to work in banking when you applied for Spring Week?

James: I thought I might like to work in asset management as the idea of being in charge of loads of money was quite appealing. By the end of Spring Week I'd completely changed my mind and decided that I really wanted to do investment banking. It was easier to make the decision having spoken to recent graduates and with first-hand knowledge of the different banking divisions. I had an amazing insight into what investment banking really is and why people do it.

Riya: Investment banking's often portrayed in a fairly glamorous light and having seen movies like The Rogue Trader and Boiler Room, I'd considered becoming a trader, but didn't really understand the first thing about it. I knew it involved numbers and had a certain energy about it. Spring Week showed me how little I actually knew about how an investment bank works, but I definitely wasn't wrong about the buzz.

How can a student tell if they are suited to a career in banking?

James: There's no sure fire way of knowing if banking is going to be for you. But the best way of finding out is to get a taste for it by completing a programme at a bank. If you enjoy a challenge, working in a team and responsibility, then it could be a good choice.

How much are students who apply to J.P. Morgan expected to know about banking and the area of the firm they are applying to?

Riya: I think what employers really want to see is enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the markets.

James: You should always try and find out as much as you can. Places are competitive and you can make a good impression by doing some reading on the internet.

What were the highlights and challenges of the Spring Week programme?

Riya: Starting with the basics, they really explained each area of the bank and how it all fits together, and we got to meet representatives from each business function. That was the highlight for me: the whole experience really answered 'What is investment banking?' in its entirety.

James: It was great to take part in exercises and listen to presentations, but the chance to speak to recent graduates and recruiters in an informal atmosphere was my highlight. I think the main challenge was balancing a plate of food in one hand, a glass in the other and talking to the head of trading while trying to maintain some sense of decorum.

What advice would you give to anyone applying for Spring Week?

James: Find out about a career in banking and work out why it appeals to you. You'll be asked about it at interview and on the application form. It doesn't matter if you don't know anything at the moment as long as you make the effort to find out.

What tips would you give students on Spring Week looking to secure an internship? How do you stand out?

Riya: It's a great chance to ask questions and find out which role you would most enjoy. Make the most of it because at this stage no question is too silly. You also have the chance to meet senior colleagues from a wide range of areas, so if there's an area you're interested in, keep in touch with those contacts. They might be the people interviewing you for an internship or graduate position in the future.

What advice would you give to female students considering a career in banking, and trading in particular?

Riya: Of course, trading is in most cases still a male-dominated field, but don't let that put you off. Attitudes have genuinely progressed so that gender is not even an issue any more.

How does the lifestyle in your area of the bank compare to others?

James: In investment banking, hours are tough. In banking, you're expected to work more than 9-5 anyway, but investment banking hours can be quite a bit longer than in other areas. But you tend to get so engrossed in what you're doing that you hardly notice as the clock ticks past 9pm.

Riya: The hours in trading are better than some, but because you're around the markets, when you are working you're always busy. During my summer internship I was based on the foreign exchange trading desk, and we handed over our books to Asia at 4.30pm. So although I had to be in at 6.30am, by 5pm I would often be downstairs having a drink with the team.

Why did you decide to join J.P. Morgan over any other firm?

James: It was all about the people I met. J.P. Morgan is a bank where anyone will sit down and take time to explain something to you. From my first interview it was clear that there's a deep respect for other members of the team.

Riya: The people make the bank.

Business Structure: JPMorgan

Investment Banking is the team that helps companies decide on marketplace strategy; advises clients on mergers and acquisitions; and provides access to the debt and equity markets. There are four key areas: Country Mergers & Acquisitions, Pan-European Sector Teams, Country Capital Markets and Securitised Products.

Sales, Trading & Research is the collective name give to JPMorgan's Foreign Exchange, Commodities, Equities, Credit, Rates and Emerging Markets businesses. Graduates can join in any one of five roles. Become a trader and execute and price transactions worth billions. Join in sales and be the vital link between clients, traders and the research teams. As a marketeer you will be filling the gap between those who create products and those who sell them. Join structuring and your expertise in financial engineering will prove invaluable. Or, become a researcher and you will provide priceless market insights and recommend market strategies.

Asset Management refers to the teams who manage investments for a broad spectrum of institutional and retail investors, including pension funds, governments, insurance companies and private individuals. The challenge is to deliver the best possible return through the intelligent use of investment vehicles ranging from currency and equities to fixed income and real estate.

Risk is the team which generates risk and revenue through lending, trading and capital markets activity. Their role is to manage this risk, and they interact with other areas of the business on a routine basis.

Technology drives business innovation, securing the company's competitive edge and making new things possible for clients. This area is growing in influence every year as JPMorgan invests billions of dollars in the infrastructure and applications that keep it at the forefront of the industry.

Operations, Finance & Business Management provide the functions and processes that underpin all sales, trading, cash management and investment banking activities.

Operations look after the full end to end management of a transaction from the time it's booked.

Finance is accountable for delivering key financial data for individual business areas and the overall results of the firm.

Business Management support J.P. Morgan's strategic development as well as driving change and striving to increase revenues, improve efficiency and reduce risk.

Comments