Barclays is going through something of a renaissance. Dealogic’s recent first half review for M&A and capital markets activity in the Americas shows the British bank coming sixth behind several U.S. banks but ahead of its European rivals for investment banking fees for the first half of this year. Like most top investment banks, Barclays in the U.S. is inundated with applications for its summer internships. So important are internships to securing a full-time job that it receives 37 candidates for every available job. For the 400 roles available this year in the Americas, it got more than 15,000 applications – meaning you have a 2.67% chance of getting in.
The majority are based in New York, but Barclays also offers internships in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Menlo Park, Calif., as well as Toronto and Calgary in Canada. This year's interns came from 80 different universities in 40 countries, but New York University, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University are the top three.
We spoke to Margaret Copete, director and Americas head of campus talent acquisition and junior talent management at Barclays, about what to expect from an internship there.
What communication do you have with students between the time that they’ve accepted an offer and their start date?
Summer interns start at the beginning of June.
The campus recruiting process is starting earlier and earlier, especially on undergrad side. We used to meet students during their junior year, but that’s been migrating to the point that now we start talking to students when they’re freshmen. We get to know them very well from an early point in their college years.
Interns are connected to mentors at various levels, from analysts and associates to more senior people, to prepare them for the internship and hopefully a career at Barclays.
It’s critical to maintain that contact and communication between the time of accepting the offer and when they start, because it could be a several-month lag. Mentors make suggestions for what they should be reading and how to prepare so they are successful during the internship and beyond.
We also host office visits, and some businesspeople involved in recruiting will host dinners for students who they’ve recruited from their alma mater.
What can they expect during the first week or two?
We have a very robust training program, which we run organized by division. We take one approach for banking analysts and associates, a separate one for marketing and research, and so on – different streams depending on the department they’re in.
On day one, all interns attend an orientation. This includes a welcome from the recruiting team, an overview of all of the resources available to them such as mentors and employee networks, tell them what to expect and emphasize how we’re here to support them to be successful over the summer.
After the day-one overview, interns will participate in business skills training and technology training. For banking interns specifically, there is Excel and PowerPoint training, since those skills are critical to their success. Our markets and research program interns get financial markets training as a large component of their onboarding experience so that they’re ready to contribute once they hit the desk after training.
Our flagship summer intern event is held each year at the Barclays Center [in Brooklyn]. The event is held on the Barclays Center floor and features senior executives who come to meet with the interns, which has a big wow factor. It’s great for networking across the bank, and it’s one of the highlights of the summer.
What are the various factors on which interns will be evaluated over the course of the summer?
Our evaluations look at each individual’s skill set and test their ability to do the job at hand, as well as their presence, communication and teamwork.
The ability to network is also important, because we want them to build relationships across the firm and have people who are rooting for them at the end of the summer.
The review form is standard across all the divisions, with two additional components for technology and banking.
Our technology interns have an additional assessment around programming skills since that can be an element of the roles they are performing.
For our banking interns, we include questions on the proficiency of their modeling skills and whether they can turn comments quickly and accurately, since those are two critical components of the banking analyst role.
Approximately what percentage of summer interns typically get an offer?
For the last three years, our full-time offer rate to interns has been above 85% across our revenue-producing businesses. What's more, over 90% of the interns who receive full-time offers accept that offer to come back after graduation. This shows that our interns have an excellent experience at Barclays, and each year they cite our open, supportive culture, challenging work and terrific colleagues as reasons why they are eager to join us full-time upon graduation.
We also have very passionate alumni and mentors who help us keep our acceptance rate high by developing great relationships with interns.
What are examples of interns who did not meet expectations and did not receive an offer?
There are a handful of interns every year who don’t get a full-time offer. Most of the issues stem from not knowing how to manage competing priorities. We let interns know that if they have an issue and don’t know how to handle it, then they should come to the recruiting team for guidance.
Occasionally an intern doesn’t feel like finance is the right fit for them, and we completely understand that – we want them to be excited about the opportunity.
What advice can you give to summer interns to help them make the most of their experience over the next few months and lay the foundation for a successful career in banking?
There are a couple of key things. They have to be good at communicating and willing to go the extra mile. When someone asks you do something, don’t just do A and B; figure out what C might be and do that too. Be proactive.
If they do hit a roadblock, they should ask for help and also ask a lot of questions. Nobody expects an intern to figure everything out, but some are nervous to ask questions – they may think they’ll look like they don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s very important to seek out guidance when necessary.
Immerse yourself in everything possible during your internship. We offer so many opportunities for networking and professional development, from on-site events and client events to training and courses. Make sure you’re getting the job done but doing those extra things as well.
For banking in particular, we really try hard to help students get a realistic picture of what the job will be, both the good and challenging aspects. Interns will be working on live deals and pitches – it’s real life, so to speak, and they like that experience. They know exactly what they’re getting into, and we can test them on their abilities in a tangible way.
Our sales and trading summer program is rotational in nature, so interns can rotate across products, for example, one in equities, the next in macro, the next in fixed income, so get to see all the different roles available across sales and trading. At the end of the summer, most will get a desk-specific offer so they know what they’ll be doing if they decide to join us.
Lead photo credit: BananaStock/Thinkstock; image of Copete courtesy of Barclays