You’re studying science, not finance, and you’re at a Singaporean university, not an Ivy League one.
Unsurprisingly, you don’t think you stand much of a chance of landing a graduate job or internship at a leading investment bank.
J.P. Morgan is trying to change your mind.
“Over the past two to three years we’ve boosted our intake of local graduates by engaging even more with local universities,” says Ash Ang, vice president, Singapore campus recruiting, at J.P. Morgan. “And we’re targeting these students earlier in their university life – from year one onwards.”
Ang says the bank is also “raising awareness” outside of the business and finance majors that investment banks typically recruit from. Arts students, and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students are increasingly on J.P. Morgan’s radar.
“For example, to increase our reach among these non-traditional students, we’re piloting a J.P. Morgan ‘Careers Café’ in Asian campuses, where our analysts and associates are able to answer students’ questions in a more informal environment,” says Ang.
Why isn’t the bank rolling out its MDs to chat with STEM students? “We don’t involve senior staff in these because students, especially non-business and finance ones, may feel more comfortable talking to people of a similar age,” says Ang.
Some arts and science students know little about J.P. Morgan as a firm, let alone as a potential employer for someone with their academic background. “When these students initially talk to us they may have the misperception that they’re not the right fit,” explains Ang.
She adds: “Our aim is to correct that misperception and ensure they understand that J.P. Morgan hires a diverse workforce from across multiple disciplines. Our clients are diverse, so we need a diverse group of graduates.”
Still, non-finance students must be “honest and realistic” once they decide that banking is their preferred career.
“I sometimes speak to students at conferences who say ‘I want to be a trader’, but when I ask them specific questions they may have a very limited understanding of what these roles entail,” says Ang. “It’s important that they do the necessary research and understand where their skills may truly lie. You can’t be a trader if you don’t like trading!”
Getting through a graduate interview at J.P. Morgan in Singapore
Arts and STEM students naturally face the same rigorous recruitment process as anyone else applying to J.P, Morgan (applications for most analyst jobs and internships at the bank in Singapore close in October and November).
“You must be your authentic self at our job interviews. If we ask what your accomplishments are, give real examples. Don’t feel like you have to overstate or embellish them in order to stand out,” advises Ang.
“And don’t overstate what you did in your CV either – we interview 2,000 people a year in Singapore and we will drill down deep into your resume. For example, if you were president of the investment club at university, don’t exaggerate what that actually involved,” she says.
The students who get through the J.P. Morgan interview process often find a “genuine connection” with the firm when they do their interview preparation. “They find something that they can relate to on a personal level – our CSR initiatives, for example,” says Ang.
J.P. Morgan would not release its intern or graduate intake numbers for Singapore, but the 2017 cohort is likely to be of a similar size to this year’s.
The bank is recruiting in Singapore its business – including investment banking, research, sales, infrastructure, finance and technology.
“Technology is a strong focus for our graduate programme in Singapore since many of our technology groups support the firm both regionally and globally from this market,” says Ang. “We’ve definitely seen increasing demand for technology students.”