Spring weeks in investment banks and how to handle them

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Spring weeks in investment banks and how to handle them

If you haven't completed a spring week in an investment bank already in 2019, you might be too late: spring is already turning into summer and most banks have run them already (Goldman had 171 spring interns in its office in early April). But this doesn't mean you can't apply next year - particularly if you're at the start of a university course. 

Spring weeks in banks are now incredibly important. "I did two and they were the foundation to my career," says James Smith (a pseudonym), an M&A analyst at a bank in London. "My two spring weeks led to two M&A summer internships, which in turn led to two full time job offers."

For this reason, you should not go into a spring week unprepared.

1. Know how the bank you're joining uses Spring Weeks

Most banks use spring weeks to select staff for summer internship programmes in the following year. But this doesn't mean you'll make a smooth transition. "Some banks have far more Spring Week interns than places on the summer programmes: they just use the Spring Weeks to weed out the best candidates," says Smith.  He advises that you find out how many summer internship opportunities there are. - If only a few spring interns will get places, you need to work your spring week all the harder. 

2. Network - and not just with bankers

Both Smith and another former spring week intern stress that spring week is about networking. But not in the way you might think. 

"Obviously, network with the professionals, get their business cards, etc. But the most valuable thing for me has been to stay in touch with the other interns!," says another ex-spring weeker who's joining a bank full time this summer. "Someone usually creates a large Whatsapp/Facebook group chat which is invaluable because even for those who don't convert, they'll probably be at another bank by next summer anyway," he says. 

Many of the people you meet during your spring week will go into jobs in the industry: don't lose touch with them.

3. Know something before you start

Although the aim of Spring Weeks is to give you an introduction to investment banking, Smith says you'll benefit from knowing a bit before you start. - This way you'll be able to network more effectively with senior bankers and be better placed to work out where you want your spring week to go and the areas of the bank you'd like to target.  

4. Don't be shy

An former spring week intern at the Big Four says you need to be visible. "We were put into groups/teams where we had to work on a consultancy/project pitch to an imaginary client offering x number of solutions to problems detailed in a scenario," he says. "You need to ensure you get involved as much as possible in these tasks. - They will look for someone who is able to speak and get their voice heard but also someone who allows others to speak and who can work in a team." 

5. Don’t be seen as a liability

Most banks will also try to make spring weeks fun. There will be parties. Beware. 

"Just don’t do anything stupid," says Smith. "Don't get drunk at a party. Don't mouth- off. Don't show any sort of behaviour that makes HR think you’re a bit of a liability. -  You will be dumped."

6. Don’t brag

You might have multiple spring internships, but don’t brag about them. says Smith. "Investment banking is a small, competitive and very jealous world. If your preferred bank thinks you’re likely to go elsewhere at this stage, they won’t work as hard to keep you. That can mean not getting a summer internship offer. Be political and tactical – it’s a necessary evil."

7. Avoid complacency 

"Don't be complacent," says one ex-spring intern. "On the 3rd, 4th or 5th day, some students can be late, talk during presentations or even going on their phones during sessions. This is not a good move as usually a professional or HR are keeping an eye on you! Imagine every day is your 1st day there!"

Remember what your ultimate aim is – securing an offer for a longer term internship. Spring Weeks are an important step, but they’re really about opening the first door in your investment banking career.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

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