Don't let it be said that investment banks don't think ahead. While this year's summer interns in investment banks will be arriving in the next few weeks, banks have already begun making offers to interns for summer 2017. If successful, those interns will join as full time analyst hires in 2018. - Two years from now.
These early offers have become a feature of the investment banking recruiting landscape. Whereas once, students applied for second year banking internships in their first year, and used that summer experience to get full time offers when they graduated, they now need to apply for spring internships in their first years at university.
The spring internships can lead to summer internship offers, which can lead to full time offers. Its this year's spring interns who are now filling up the places for summer 2017.
"We've already hired 25% of our 2017 summer internship via the spring programme," says the head of campus recruitment at one European bank in London, speaking off the record. "We thought the calibre this year was incredibly strong and made 15 more offers than last year."
Some of the students who've already secured internships for summer 2017 aren't from banks' stereotypical target schools (think the LSE, Oxbridge, or Imperial). Jack Jenkins, a summer analyst at J.P. Morgan is studying economics at Leeds University. Christian Mendez, an incoming securities analyst at Goldman Sachs, is studying economics at Nottingham University. Parri Kamen-Desai, an incoming IBD analyst at Barclays also studied at Leeds. James Craven, an incoming summer analyst at Lazard, is studying at York.
Jack, Christian, Parri and James may not sound very diverse, but the campus recruiter said diversity is part of the reason spring programmes are used to make offers to summer interns. "52% of our spring class is female and 48% have a non-finance background," she says.
With banks like Goldman struggling against a tide of identikit student applicants, this is significant.
Students who've been through spring weeks stress that they're no guarantor of a job. At Goldman Sachs, one participant in this weeks spring securities internship said only around a third were converted, but that a higher proportion of Goldman's spring interns seemed to receive offers in technology. At BNP Paribas another student said it only seemed to be the Oxbridge students who got offers of internships in summer 2017.
Even so, if you can get a spring internship at an investment bank and convert it to a summer internship, you're clearly onto a good thing. "Applying for the spring weeks puts pressure on you in your first year, but makes life a lot easier after that," says one student, "If you get a conversion, you're also at an advantage to those who only apply for summer internships as you know about the firm and have connections there already."
You don't have to turn up for the summer internship in 2017 even if your spring week is a success. A graduate recruiter at another European bank (also speaking anonymous) said this is a real problem: "We know that a lot of students continue to interview for internships with other banks even after they've received an offer from us." A spring internship that leads to a summer internship offer than simply be a ratchet for achieving other summer intern offers from higher status banks.