An investment banking internship can be beneficial for your career, whether you want to pursue a full-time role in investment banking or other fields. The application process can be difficult, especially since it involves networking extensively, learning how to present yourself well in interviews, and nailing technical concepts. At the same time, it can be extremely rewarding to go through this process because you will learn a lot about yourself, and learning how to interview well is a skill for life. You will also have the opportunity to learn about the firm you’re interviewing at, including a better understanding of the company, the job, and the culture of the group and overall firm. Here are just a few of the benefits of an investment banking internship for your career.
Grow from challenges
The biggest benefit you will get from an investment banking internship is growing from the demands and challenges you will face during the day-to-day job. As a student, investment banking is by far one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs you can work in given the exposure you get to important companies and senior management teams. You are helping to create deliverables for important events in a company’s timeline, and much of the work you do, especially if it’s in M&A, will be in major newspapers. It can feel really rewarding to see the real-world impact of the Excel and PowerPoint skills you’re putting to work. In doing so, though, you will face challenges and be forced to grow from them. For example, one of the biggest learnings from my internship in investment banking was learning how to manage my time. When you work in a job, your time isn’t as flexible as when you were a student, and if you don’t turn something in, you won’t be cut any slack. That was something I had to adjust to, but ultimately it helped me become more efficient with my work. In some ways, I had to become more efficient, otherwise, I wouldn’t have time to complete all the tasks I had to do: work out, eat, and squeeze in some sleep. Once I got quicker at handing back deliverables and minimizing mistakes, I was able to work on more complex and interesting projects that brought me greater fulfillment. Investment banking can push you to your limits and challenge you in ways you haven’t been challenged before, but it is guaranteed you will learn something from those experiences.
Secure a full-time role
Another main benefit of an investment banking internship is that it is the main pipeline to securing a full-time role in investment banking. In my intern class (which was during COVID, so keep in mind it was during an abnormal year), we all got return offers for full-time and had one lateral hire join us when we all started the following year. In most years, you can expect that most interns will get return offers, but it will vary based on the year, the bank, and the group. Since the intern interview process is comprehensive and you spend a full summer working with the group, firms are incentivized to bring back those who perform well since they’ve already invested time and resources in them. So, if you can secure an investment banking internship during your junior year summer (and some start as early as their sophomore year to get a head start) and perform well during your internship, it can lead to securing your first job out of college. You will typically know if you got the return offer before you go back to school in the fall.
Learn technical skills
Another benefit is the formal technical skills training that you will receive during an investment banking internship. At the start of the internship program, most banks will have at least a week of training from a top Wall Street training firm to teach interns Excel and modeling skills. The firm will also likely run internal trainings on PowerPoint, any presentation help services within the bank, and any group-specific trainings (e.g., FIG will have specific training geared towards working with banks). This is extremely beneficial for your internship as well as any future roles you work in, whether they are finance-based or otherwise. You will have a leg up over your peers who aren’t as familiar with Excel, and you’ll be able to practice making visually appealing slides in PowerPoint. If you choose to pursue a career in investment banking, these are skills that you will use every day. Learning them during your internship gives you time to absorb a new set of skills before you start full-time. On the modeling side, getting exposure to different valuation methods and having to implement them during the internship was a great training ground for the full-time role. I was able to get real-time feedback from the analysts on my deal teams and practice those skills on my own.
Develop presentation and communication skills
Lastly, one of the major benefits of an investment banking internship is that you start developing presentation and communication skills at a high level of execution. Many banks will have an intern project or a similar longer-term assignment for interns to complete over the course of the summer and present to seniors in the group as part of the final review process. During my investment banking internship, we were asked to pick a company in one of our group’s verticals and prepare a presentation advising the senior leadership of the company on why they should sell their business. I did extensive research on the company’s market, industry competition, and current events. In addition, we were asked to utilize several of the basic valuation methods to determine the company’s sale value (i.e., comparable companies, precedent transactions, DCF). This encouraged us to put our research and Excel skills to use and reach out to full-timers in the group for help and feedback. At the end of the internship, I presented my work to seniors in the group and got to practice presenting as well as answering questions about the company and my analysis during the Q&A. This project helped me develop my presentation and communication skills, both of which are beneficial for succeeding in investment banking.
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