If you want to make it into Morgan Stanley’s graduate scheme you need to be able to compete. With around 1,000 places on offer this year, the US investment bank received over 90,000 applications. Stephanie Ahrens, head of firmwide graduate recruitment and program management at Morgan Stanley, gives her tips on how to get into the bank.
What type of work experience is important to set candidates apart from the competition?
Relevant work experience is not a prerequisite to apply for any of our programs. We will consider candidates who have done internships in other industries or who have worked part time during their studies. Volunteering work is also highly regarded and will often make a candidate stand out. However, candidates need to make sure that they present their work or volunteering experience in a way that makes it relevant to the skills that we look for across our different programs and divisions. They need to speak confidently about how their past experiences have prepared them for a role at Morgan Stanley and have specific examples at hand to demonstrate that.
What advice would you give to third-year students who haven’t completed an internship?
Internships are mainly offered to penultimate year students. Final year students can still apply if they are planning to do a Masters immediately after their undergraduate degree. Certain divisions will also accept applications from final year students who have no further study plans. Final year students who have not completed an internship should look at other ways they can get exposure to the industry, perhaps through attending employer events or doing some work shadowing. They shouldn’t disregard any other work experience they might have had (outside structured internship schemes) and that would have helped them develop the skills we look for in our analysts. They should speak to that experience confidently in both their CV and cover letter and outline how that experience makes them a strong candidate.
How important are excellent academics? Will an MSc help?
A CV needs to demonstrate good academic credentials, including a minimum of 320 UCAS points and an actual or expected 2.1 in your degree. Strong academic results are important because they demonstrate skills and personality traits that we look for in our hires such as drive, commitment, determination, passion and intellectual curiosity. Studying for an MSc can certainly help a candidate develop their knowledge in a particular field, however, having one is not a pre-requisite for our analyst or intern roles and will not necessarily make a candidate stand out.
What extra-curricular activities do you want to see?
Extra-curricular activities are very important as they help us understand more about someone’s personality and see whether they are an all-rounded individual. We want to hire people who are fun to be around and who have a varied range of interests outside work. This can be anything from sports, arts or involvement with voluntary activities and community projects.
What advice can you give to students facing Morgan Stanley’s assessment centre?
Our assessment centres usually consist of a number of one-on-one interviews, written tests, an individual presentation and a group exercise. Students coming to one of our assessment centers need to keep in mind the following:
- Be yourself – don’t try and display behaviours that you ordinarily would not.
- Listen carefully to instructions to ensure you fully understand the task at hand.
- Contribute to the group exercise – it is difficult for an assessor to assess your skills if you are not contributing to a group discussion, for example.
- Think about the quality of your contributions, not quantity.
- Try to relax and stay calm. If you don’t feel an exercise went well, move on. Assessors look at the complete picture, not single exercises.
- Remember it is a two-way process – ask questions.
Any interview tips?
It is a good idea to remind yourself why employers conduct interviews in the first place. This will provide you with the context to prepare effectively, helping you to focus on relevant skills and determine the impression you want to make. With this in mind, remember that we generally use interviews as a tool to find out more about who you are and what motivates you; see if you understand our business and the role for which you are interviewing; and assess your potential to perform the job and explore what you could bring to the organization.
Every interview is different; the content of your discussion will depend on what the job requires and who you are as an individual. You can anticipate the questions you may be asked by reading through your application materials and the job description. If you were meeting yourself for the first time, what would you ask? In anticipating questions, think about the following:
- Your motivation to work in the financial services industry at an investment bank; why are you interested in Morgan Stanley in particular?
- Your academics; why have you chosen to pursue your particular course of study?
- Your involvement in school organizations; what does it entail? What do you get out of it?
- Your hobbies and interests; why are you involved? What skills are you acquiring?
Investment banks talk a lot about the right ‘fit’ among the graduates they hire. What typifies a Morgan Stanley recruit?
Morgan Stanley’s recruits come from a wide variety of backgrounds, all are high achievers who share integrity, intellectual curiosity and the desire to work in a team atmosphere that thrives on early responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference. Individuality is prized and people are encouraged to be themselves.