During my three years at LSE, I completed numerous internships and work experiences. So many, in fact, that I’ve removed several from my LinkedIn profile because it was becoming too lengthy. The workplace turned into a genuine obsession for me. Consequently, some friends began referring to me as the “Internship Queen”. This became not only a welcome distraction from my studies but also a steady source of income, enabling financial independence from my parents over the years. Having dabbled in diverse sectors ranging from teaching and NGOs to technology, charity, and banking, I’m grateful to have found a job I adore, a team I admire, and a firm I’m truly proud to represent.
I’ve also taken the time to mentor many others. Around this time of the year, my inbox gets flooded with queries seeking “general advice” for spring and summer internships. These come from enthusiastic students who remind me of myself just a few years prior. To avoid repetitive responses, I’ve decided to compile a detailed and organized version of my advice, hoping it proves beneficial for them.
I’ll be straightforward — no sugarcoating. Here’s some genuine advice based on my experiences, especially for those considering a career in IBD:
Rule 1: An internship doesn’t define you. While it can simplify your path due to the possibility of a return offer, not securing your desired internship isn’t a reflection of your worth. It simply indicates that the bank missed out on a potential talent. I applied to five banks and was shortlisted for interviews by all. The first three rejected me. Despite the initial disappointment, I learned from those experiences, secured my first offer, and used it as leverage for my current position. In retrospect, I’m thankful for those initial rejections. They were a matter of timing, not capability. Any setbacks at this stage might seem monumental due to the “present bias preference,” but in hindsight, they often lead to defining moments of success.
Rule 2: The main differentiator between interns is their knowledge. It’s not about technical competence, dedication, or likability. To excel, you need to discern:
- Who is crucial
- What is essential
- When it’s vital
Aim to deliver high-quality work to the right people at the right time. To do this, gather insights about these three aspects from trusted mentors, observations, or sometimes, even overhearing.
Rule 3: Act the part before the promotion. Showcase the qualities of the position you aspire to. If you desire an associate role, demonstrate leadership, take initiatives, and carry out associate-level responsibilities even during your analyst year. This principle applies universally, across all desks and firms. Create a perception in your team’s mind of your potential well before any promotion opportunity arises.
Rule 4: Prioritize tasks given by your immediate superiors. When they assign you something:
DROP EVERYTHING AND FOCUS ON THAT TASK.
If you have multiple supervisors, remember: success in banking isn’t about working hard but working smart. Efficiently manage your tasks, overdeliver when you can, and ensure all your superiors feel valued.
Rule 5: Overcommunicate, be observant, set realistic expectations, and keep your ego in check.
- Overcommunicate: Always update everyone involved about your progress. Avoid investing time on a task without fully grasping the requirements. Asking questions today is better than realizing mistakes tomorrow.
- Be Observant: Understand team dynamics and individual preferences. This not only helps in work assignments but also in building relationships.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Always aim to exceed expectations rather than underdeliver.
- Ego: Constructive criticism is a part of growth, especially in a perfection-driven environment like banking. Use it to refine your skills rather than taking it personally.
That wraps up today’s insights. If you’d like more “smart” tips, comment below and share this article. To those beginning their Spring Internship, I wish you all the best!
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