Why did you choose to do an internship?
The only way to truly know whether you want and have the capacity to work in investment banking is by doing a summer internship. Before my internship at UBS I was interested in the ‘fast-paced and evolving’ world of finance and investment banking, but I was not sure what it entailed. Spring weeks were a great insight, and it is a starting point I would highly recommend, but even these could not truly prepare me for the highs and lows that a job in this industry involves.
What were your main duties?
After a week of training we were allocated our desks, and it was intense from the start. I was placed in two sector teams, which made adapting a lot more challenging as every team has its own dynamic, made up of the individuals and their organisational norms. The main duties across both teams involved being responsible for weekly information updates, creating company profiles, preparing presentations and, as I improved, a lot more financial modelling.
Every step of the way our progress was being monitored, and once I had reached a certain level, my line manager was quick to step it up a notch. The teams worked together, giving me tasks which tested the knowledge I had gained up until that point, as well as stretching me to see how I would deal with new situations that involved financial terms I had never come across before.
As part of the internship we also had an individual presentation task to complete. The project was given to us half way through the internship, as an additional test to see how well we could balance our main duties with extra work, and if we could put our acquired understanding of the industry, valuation models, PowerPoint and Excel into practice.
What were the most important things you learnt from your experience?
As my first ever internship, office job and real insight into the financial world, I learnt a great deal from the entire experience. Since I had no background in finance (apart from a few spring weeks), the learning curve was very steep. I was amazed at how much the knowledge gap between myself and other interns with finance-based and postgraduate degrees had shrunk – this was thanks to the training and the constant support I had from the analysts and associates in the teams. However I also learnt a lot about being in a work environment and handling an office job. Constantly being alert, tuned in, and flexible to the constantly changing demands was a challenge in itself, so the job requires a lot of confidence and willingness to learn.
What advice do you have for someone pursuing an internship?
There are a few pieces of advice I would give that I picked up along the way:
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but make sure you learn from them – as an intern you may be able to get away with making the same mistake twice, but three times suggests that you are not engaging with what you have been taught, and it doesn’t make you look good.
- Write down anything you don’t know or have just learnt – in two months I filled two notebooks with equations, definitions and explanations which I referred to all of the time. It was my bible, and I will be using it when I start working at UBS full-time this year.
- Meet as many people as you can, even across departments – during my internship, being split between teams was tricky, but it showed me the differences between sectors, teams, people, routines, all of which are very important to how you end up building your own work ethic.
- Be self-aware – you are constantly being monitored, so it is important to be aware of not only what you say and do, but how you say or do it. Tiredness can be picked up as a lack of enthusiasm, therefore staying professional is vital.
In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
Throughout the whole internship, I focused so much on really getting to understand what is required from someone working in the Investment Banking division that I forgot to fully explore what else was on offer. I have always been interested by investment banking, but an internship is the perfect time to see what skills other positions require, and if you might be better suited to them. From speaking with other interns and networking with UBS employees across departments, I felt that I had made the right choice. However I still believe I should have tried to find the time to work-shadow someone in the sales department or be in the research department for an afternoon, to get an even better insight into how the company works as a whole.