By Amy Johnston
Getting yourself into an internship programme is a key step towards securing your place on a graduate scheme with a big employer in the business and finance sector. As the structure of internships are designed to reflect graduate schemes, an intern can greatly improve their chances of being recruited permanently by working hard and making connections.
With many internships offering the chance for rotations, you can explore different departments and roles which can help direct you towards a graduate scheme to suit your interests.
The schemes tend to last for three weeks or more, with some reaching up to 8-10 weeks of an efficient work schedule. With experience of working in a professional environment under your belt, you’ll be well equipped to take on the big world of graduates.
The application process:
The deadlines for internship applications tend to fall in January and February, however some can start as early as October, so keep your eyes peeled for updates on the big employers’ websites.
Most graduate employers will include an online application for internships, alongside a CV. Take the time to tailor your CV to each employer, with an emphasis on making the format ‘Skills-Based’. This structure highlights how your experience in activities and jobs applies to the role that you are applying for. List each skill under a heading, (e.g Communication, Organisation) and write a brief statement underneath illustrating that skill (e.g by hosting a student radio show, I have present myself in a confident manner and listened to feedback from the audience, enhancing my communication skills). This format makes it easy for an employer to match their checklist of desirables to your application, so go ahead and showcase your skills!
The next stage could be some online psychometric tests which are used to measure intelligence, problem-solving, aptitude and personality. These tests sound intimidating, but you may find that you start to enjoy giving your brain a workout.
A telephone interview will usually follow and preparation is key. Write down answers beforehand about why you are interested in working for the industry that you are applying for, what you know about the employer, and why the internship would be beneficial. Some competency questions can follow, which may cover topics where you describe when you’ve had to work in a team or deal with a problem. Once the initial adrenaline of answering the phone passes, the 45-minute phone call will fly by without you even realising.
An assessment centre is typically the final stage of an internship application. You will be in a room full of similarly nervous applicants and put to a series of tasks which will utilise the skills that the employer is looking for. This could range from creating a 10 minute presentation, writing an analysis or a report, or taking part in a discussion. Listen to what others have to say, put your thoughts forward clearly, and most importantly- be yourself.
With most graduate schemes lasting between 1- 2 years, you can get into a routine with experience of working on a variety of assignments throughout the organisation.
Most schemes for investment management companies and investment banks are open to graduates from any degree in the UK. Do your homework about the company and tailor your CV to illustrate what the employers are looking for in the job description. You could find yourself delving into departments including Human Resources, Marketing, Risk, Research, Sales, IT… the roles are endless.
The application process is similar to the internship process, so for the best chance at getting your foot in the door to your desired industry, apply to internships in the mean time and get practising your psychometric reasoning powers.
-Recruiters expect that over a third of this year’s entry-level positions will be filled by graduates
who have already worked for their organisations – either through internships,
industrial placements or vacation work – and therefore are not open to other students
from the ‘Class of 2013′.
Three quarters of the graduate vacancies advertised this year by city investment
banks and half the training contracts offered by the leading law firms are likely to be
filled by graduates who have already completed work experience with the employer.
The largest recruiters of graduates in 2013 will be Teach First (1260 vacancies),
Deloitte (1,200 vacancies) and PwC (1,200 vacancies).
(The Graduate Market in 2013 Review)
Internships: Banking internships in particular can offer short work experience placements which are aimed at first years to offer an insight into the businesses. Deadlines for spring internships tend to fall in January. Paid internships are generally limited to penultimate year students, however double-check the requirements and you may find that you are eligible. Some large employers take applications from internships from graduates, and you can still ask about work experience if you missed out on the deadline the first time.
Graduate Schemes: Deadlines for graduate training schemes tend to finish between November and December, with programmes starting the following September or October. Employers can make offers from the start of the recruitment season, and may close the scheme deadline if they have filled up all their vacancies. Once applications are open, start firing those CVs away.