I have the most exciting job. There really is nothing else like it…
Having studied chemical engineering at Imperial College London, I didn’t necessarily have plans to go into banking. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my degree, I knew that the engineering industry was based on long-term ideas and projects – but I wanted something fast-paced and exciting that would keep me on my toes – and banking is an industry which certainly does that.
Gaining my internship
I spent time researching different banks, applying to different programmes, and was lucky enough to experience working life at a few financial institutions. This enabled me to have a real taster of what it would be like to work in markets.
Internships are a great opportunity for both the bank to check if you’re a good fit for the role, and for you to check that the role is actually something you would like to pursue as a career. It’s very difficult to truly understand from your university dorm room what an investment bank actually does and what it is like to work in the markets.
My J.P. Morgan story started with the ‘Experience the Markets Spring Week’ during my second year at university. The programme was based on the trading floor where we learnt about the different roles available to us within Sales, Trading and Research as well as developing our knowledge of different products to trade in. The atmosphere I experienced that week, as well as the people I worked with and my growing interest in markets, was enough for me to decide that a career in banking was for me.
Experience on the trading floor
I accepted a place on the internship programme the following year on the credit trading desk, and was offered a position to join the desk again as an analyst once I completed my degree. After a week’s training in New York, we were straight on to the trading floor. I felt very privileged to be given responsibility quite early on, trading a low beta book. I truly believe that the best way to learn is by doing, so the experience was invaluable. I was mentored by some of the most experienced traders on the desk, and also got exposure to many of the sales teams. It’s been a rewarding experience so far, and I’m sure it will continue to be a positive one.
My key tips for the application process are to be honest and professional, but at the same time, be creative. Exceptional academic qualifications alone aren’t enough; the key is to have drive and to think laterally – let your personality come through. It’s your chance to prove that you deserve to work at the firm you’re applying to.
Of the advice I was given before the internship, I think four key pieces stand out:
- You get out of an internship what you put in – it seems obvious, but it is incredible how people can lose sight of this. It really is a ten week interview. Get your head down and work hard.
- Network, network, network – the network you build will be invaluable to you. Make sure you reach out to people both within your area and in the wider bank. People will generally be happy to spend time with you if you are genuinely interested in learning about what they do, and that knowledge will help you to understand the bigger picture of the bank.
- Write everything down – I can’t stress this enough. Information will be given to you faster than you will be able to retain it, and in order to maximise your learning, I would suggest you write down as much as possible. It really helps as a reference point for later, and also prevents you from the embarrassing situation where you ask someone the same question several times!
- Start building your brand from day one – everyone has a brand that they are known by, and if you end up working full time for the company you did an internship with, they will remember the story you started when you first interned. Keep it professional yet personable. You want to be known as the intern that every team wants to have.
One of the most challenging things about the internship is finding the balance between reading everything you can, trying to gain the knowledge you need, and applying what you’ve learnt to the job. You can’t do one without the other and it really is a fine balance. Once you get the hang of it, your learning curve will rocket.
Why you should do an internship
Internships are rewarding for a number of reasons – the network you build both with colleagues and fellow interns is invaluable, and the projects you work on are not only a useful learning experience but will actually be used in real terms by the firm. The team that I work with are fantastic – they both inspire and support me, the work I do is exciting and intellectually challenging, and J.P. Morgan is a company that will do whatever it can to help you excel in your career.
Applying for an internship was one of the best decisions I ever made. I highly encourage everyone to do the same!