Morgan Stanley: Spring Insight Programme

Keely Lockhart finds out about Morgan Stanley's Spring Insight programme for first years from some students who took part

What is Spring Insight?

Morgan Stanley runs two, week-long, work experience programmes every spring. Known as Spring Insight, these are designed especially for first year students (and second year students on four-year courses) who are considering a career in the investment banking industry. 

What’s in it for you?

Spending a week at a leading investment bank can be a great stepping stone towards an internship, which has the potential to turn into a graduate role.

It’s an opportunity for you to gauge whether a career in investment banking is something you’d like to pursue and, if so, which areas of the business interest you the most. 

John from Warwick University says: “The week helped me gain a better understanding of what working in an investment bank actually involves. For example, I went in early one day and sat in on a meeting where equity research were presenting their ideas to sales, who then went out and spoke to their clients about the ideas.”

How is the week structured?

Some insight programmes require you to select a specific area of the investment bank in advance of the scheme. Meanwhile, other banks like to offer students a whistle-stop tour of their various operations over the course of the week. 

Morgan Stanley’s Spring Insight programme is about giving you the best of both worlds. The week begins with a two-day ‘taster’ of the various divisions of the bank, including Investment Banking, Global Capital Markets, Sales & Trading and Equity Research.

After an introduction across each of these different areas, you’ll be able to select the division that interests you the most, where you’ll spend the reminder of the week learning about life in this part of the bank.

You’ll be paired with a Morgan Stanley analyst on the graduate programme, who you’ll shadow as they go about their work. You’ll be introduced to a number of different employers from across the division. It’s a chance to sit at their desks and to ask them questions about the work that they do.

“Being able to walk around my department and see what was going on brought everything to life,” says Stephen from Trinity College, Dublin. “It got me very excited about potentially working in the banking industry.”

Shadowing is just one part of what you’ll be doing, however. You can expect to attend lectures and workshops and to work on group tasks involving investment banking case studies.  

Brogan from Warwick explains: “We were asked to imagine that we were investing a large sum of money. It was left very open-ended; we decided to focus our investment on mining. At the end of the week we had to give a presentation about where we'd decided to invest and why – and my job was to give a background on the mining industry.”

A chance to network… and socialise

The scheme is a great way to make contacts. In fact this is actively encouraged – there are designated windows in the programme timetable, which you can fill by getting to know people at different levels of the organisation. It’s common for students to go for lunch or coffee with employees at an associate or managing director level, as Stephen explains:

“I was in contact with an employee from Equity Sales throughout the week. We met up a couple of times, and he also gave me some useful research papers.”

People regularly swap contact details so you so you can keep in touch once the week is over. This can be a great resource when it comes to applying for an internship position further down the line.

The Insight Week is also a chance for you to meet like-minded people from different backgrounds. Students are housed in shared accommodation a stone’s throw away from the Morgan Stanley building in Canary Wharf, so there will be numerous opportunities to socialise and to get to know people. 

“There were a few people who had known they’d wanted to be investment bankers their whole lives,” says Jonathan. “But everyone else was just seeing whether a career in an investment bank was for them. There were a lot of students from Europe as well as from the UK – from Sweden, Spain and France, to name a few.”

Before you apply…

Competition for Insight Week placements is intense and proper preparation is crucial.

Speak to people at your university who’ve been through the process before you, members of your university’s finance society, for example – they should be able to offer useful tips on the application process and around what to expect from the programme. 

Think about what people are going to ask you in the interview and make sure you have answers that display your best attributes. Think of some suitable questions for them while you’re at it. It’s also worth visiting online discussion forums to give you a sense of what the assessment centre will be like, and be sure to practise the maths and psychometric tests before it comes to taking the real thing.

While you won’t be expected to have a detailed understanding of the world of finance at this stage, it’s essential that you’re up-to-date with what’s going on in the financial markets and with current affairs. Get hold of a copy of the Financial Times, or read the business sections of the BBC or Telegraph websites. Be prepared to speak about a few individual companies you’re interested in and their share prices.

Better yet, open your own trading account to get a feel for the financial markets and how they work. You’ll soon get a sense of how prices move and the different factors and events that drive them.

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