If you succeed in gaining a summer internship in an investment bank, a full-time job offer is yours to lose. This is the message both from careers services and from the finance firms that employ interns. Unfortunately, plenty of banking interns do blow their chances of a job offer: on average, one third go back to school and are forced to reapply for graduate jobs the following year. Sometimes the screw-up rate is higher still.
“Two thirds of our interns are offered positions after their summer programmes,” says Lewis Talbot, director at City Careers, which organizes financial services internships in London. “There’s not really much variation on that, although the conversion rate is probably a little lower for front office jobs and a little higher for middle and back office jobs.”
In the worst-case scenario, interns find out mid-way through the internship that there are very few real jobs on offer and everyone’s left fighting for a few spaces. This is particularly the case when a business area collapses over the summer (think 2008), or if revenues slump after February (when internship offers are handed out). Last year, the head of graduate recruitment at one bank told us banks are less interested in converting internships now than they used to be and that interns are simply seen as ‘disposable labour’.
Richard Bland, associate director of finance careers at London Business School, says most banks are still serious about transforming summer interns into full time hires. The conversion rate for MBA interns varies from bank to bank, says Bland, “but in general they have an expectation to convert all their summer associates to full time”.
Tim Webster, principal at recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners, which runs graduate hiring programmes for smaller banks and boutiques, says they achieve a conversion rate of 80%-100%. He argues that you’ve got the highest chance of converting your summer internship into a full time offer if you intern at a small firm. “Although smaller firms recruit interns in lower numbers, once they have spent time training them and getting to know them, they are reluctant to let talented graduates leave and move to another bank,” says Webster.
Conversions are lowest at the largest, most competitive firms, claims the head of another careers service, speaking off the record. “60%-100% of interns usually get job offers,” he says. “The toughest conversion rate is at the bank you’d expect…”