How to Secure an Internship in Investment Banking
Currently President of Leeds Trading and Investment Society, Dan was a former TMT Analyst at Leeds Finsights. During his first year, he secured a Spring Internship at Goldman Sachs within the Investment Banking Division, where he converted it into a Summer Analyst role for ‘22.
I had a discussion with Dan to share his experiences from initially applying, maximising opportunities within the internship, and finally, converting it into the summer internship.
Image: Smart Energy Decisions
Goldman Sachs is a leading global investment bank, offering an array of financial services from investment banking and asset management, to securities underwriting. Goldman Sachs is arguably the most prestigious investment bank in the world, with over $2 trillion in assets under management and growing returns across each division. For a comprehensive review on a deal Goldman Sachs advised, refer to Dan’s Finsights article: S&P Global set to acquire rival data firm IHS Markit for $44bn.
Before applying, Dan got in touch with former University of Leeds and Goldman Sachs alumni to understand the recruitment process in further depth to gain any advantage possible. What followed were discussions around potential interview questions, workplace initiatives, as well as understanding each division and their unique characteristics.
Goldman Sachs are unique in the sense that, compared to their competitors, they operate an arguably easy recruitment process; a CV and a 300 word cover letter is all that is needed; no psychometric tests or job simulations. However, don’t be fooled as this only increases the competitiveness since the talent pool is not filtered down with psychometric tests. To be successful, Dan says you must be able to portray your personal story and how it has led to you applying to Goldman Sachs. Not only do you have to know their core values inside out, but also show you have applied and achieved them yourself. For example, Dan being a national boxing champion displays “excellence”, which Goldman Sachs regard as one of the four core values. However, others in his intern class have founded businesses, charities, and have been professional athletes.
This is why networking is so important, as you would be able to complement your personal successes with niche firm knowledge such as internal company initiatives or very specific details of completed deals that the press may have overlooked.
You may be questioning how Dan did this, as like most, he did not start with a network of bankers. The key is to start small; target university alumni or current students who have already secured their own internships or graduate schemes. Depending on how this initial outreach goes, you can begin expanding your own network by being introduced to others through these existing relationships. Maintaining a detailed LinkedIn account is a start, as this should hopefully identify some mutual interests with those you wish to connect and network with.
If your CV and 300 word cover letter make it through screening, you can expect to be invited to a “HireVue'' interview for the next stage. Dan described the HireVue interview process as “arguably the easiest part” as he was able to prepare for it with the help of several Goldman Sachs analysts. This meant he was able to perfect answers to those such as: “Walk me through your CV” and “why do you want to join the investment banking division?” Dan says that being able to recite your CV back to front is key, as during the HireVue interview, you have to be able to maintain eye contact and remain relaxed. Additionally, being genuinely motivated is the most important part as those that screen the HireVue interviews will be able to see straight through your motivation to join.
There is also a single divisional question; fortunately for Dan, he had recently written a Leeds Finsights article (linked above) focused around an acquisition deal brokered by Goldman Sachs, allowing him to demonstrate a detailed analysis on the subject. This should display just how useful opportunities like Leeds Finsights can be for your career prospects.
The programme commenced in April, starting with introductory presentations and technical accounting classes. Each intern was also appointed a mentor to guide them through the programme, as well as their own Goldman Sachs email address, granting them full server access. The cohort of 40 were then split into groups and given two case studies: the first based on an acquisition, and the second on an IPO. Although Dan was responsible for the valuation portion of both case studies, he was still expected to exhibit clear understanding and commercial awareness during the post Q&A sessions and the exit interview.
One of the most beneficial things about having full server access is that you have endless opportunities to find and form relationships with staff, allowing Dan to network with individuals from a range of divisions and learn more about everyone faster. Dan explained that “keeping in contact and staying inquisitive with your connections is valuable when differentiating yourself and making your presence noted”, which he regards as a key role in his successful conversion to a summer analyst.
As the programme ended, each intern was given an exit interview - their chance to convert their spring internship into summer the following year. This is a chance to have a chat with a senior member, like a managing director, and reflect on what you learned in each case study, as well as why you’d like to return. Yet, what most don’t realise is that it is a chance to connect with them and establish some common interests, because if you networked properly you would now have mutual connections. It is important to note that they have already reviewed each intern thoroughly over the two week period so the interview is reinforcing that you are also “a good cultural fit” which is where the mentors’ and leaders’ thoughts and opinions are considered. Besides exceptional technical knowledge within each of the case studies, as well as investment banking as a whole, Dan concluded the discussion by pointing out that “staying proactive by remaining in contact with employees and helping others is a necessity”.