How Summer Interns Get Full-Time Offers

95 Comments | Investment Banking - Summer Internships

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“Summer means various things to various people, but one thing it means for most people in finance and all of New York is: interns. I’m told there is a similar wave of little political interns towards D.C. this time of year, but frankly, I’m not even certain they get paid.”

-Sheer Suckers, The Leveraged Sellout

As we approach the end of the summer and move into the fall recruiting season, all the summer banking interns out there have to think about their next moves.

The first step in that process: figuring out whether you’re getting a full-time offer, or whether you’ll have to search for “strategic employment alternatives.”

While there’s never a 100% accurate way to tell if you’re getting an offer or not, you can improve your chances considerably if you know how banks make decisions.

Who Decides Your Fate: Key Decision Makers

Back when I wrote about the investment banking interview selection process, I indicated that Managing Directors ultimately decide who gets full-time offers and who does not. Everyone else plays a role in the process, but they have the final say.

The summer selection process is similar but differs in a few key respects:

  • Analysts (and Associates) who have worked most closely with the summer interns have significant clout and suggest to the senior bankers what to do
  • You’re judged almost entirely on the quality of your work – not responses to interview questions, your wardrobe or anything extraneous
  • Sometimes it’s easier to get a full-time position following an internship (this doesn’t mean it’s easy – just easier)

During a summer internship you’ll mostly be interacting with Analysts and Associates – so they’ll have a large say in who gets offers and who does not.

If you do, in fact, work directly with more senior bankers (VPs and up) then they will weigh in as well.

But the process differs substantially from full-time interviews because you generally won’t say much to the MDs during your internship.

Behind Closed Doors: The Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process for summer interns works differently from bank to bank, but typically there is a “round-table” near the end of the summer where everyone discusses the interns’ performance and who should receive offers.

Back in my previous article on how to do well in your summer internship, I advised you to work with as many people as possible and take on as much responsibility as you can handle.

Now you see why: if you work with more bankers, more people will “go to bat” for you during this round-table discussion.

The fastest way to not receive an offer?  Have no one vouch for you during this discussion.

The Competition: Just How Tough Is It To Get An Offer?

Competition to receive full-time offers after a summer internship is less intense than what you’d expect. It’s significantly easier to get a full-time offer this way vs. going into full-time recruiting with no previous internship.

Many summer interns are just testing the waters or are not sure they want to do banking, so they “drop out” in the middle and stop trying as hard once they realize it’s no longer for them.

And some interns are simply so bad that no one even considers giving them offers.

At some banks, competition tends to be tougher – Goldman, for example, is notorious for giving out summer offers at lower rates than other banks.

The other consideration: when the economy is poor, banks will also hire fewer summer interns.

Analysts vs. Associates

I’ve received some questions on Analyst vs. Associate summer internships, but have not addressed this topic until now because they’re almost the same.

In general, expectations for Associates will be set higher and they’ll be given a bit less busy work and more “real” work, but any summer intern at a bank is treated similarly – they assist full-time Analysts and Associates with getting work done.

The offer process is also similar for Summer Associates – they receive a “yes” or “no” based on the input of everyone they’ve worked closely with.

Analysts might have less say in the process, but it’s nearly identical otherwise.

How To Improve Your Offer Chances

So how do you improve your chances of getting a full-time offer? I’ve already covered this one in my previous collection of summer internship advice articles, but the one point I’ll re-emphasize here is that you want to please those you work most closely with – the junior bankers.

Some summer interns try to bypass them completely and go directly to VPs and up with their work. This is a mistake – you’ll annoy the Analyst you’re working with and possibly look foolish in front of someone much higher up on the ladder (see: Investment Banking Summer Internship Don’ts on The All-Nighter).

Aside from that, there’s no magic – above all, don’t screw up and don’t get into embarrassing drunken situations with your MD and you’ll be golden.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

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95 Comments to “How Summer Interns Get Full-Time Offers”

Comments

  1. Jackson says

    I know that generally rising seniors are the ones who get internships, but how often/plausible is it to try and get an internship after your sophomore year of college at a top 5 business school?

    • says

      Lots of banks have sophomore rotational programs so you can certainly do it – the only consideration is that once again, the market is very tough and so hiring will be lower than usual. If you’re at a top 5 business school, though, your chances should still be decent.

    • says

      I think they’ll be far more selective than usual… sometimes almost the entire class gets offers, but this year I think many banks will hire half or fewer. So it will definitely be more competitive this year.

  2. Lost In London says

    So, we have midterm summer analyst reviews coming up next week. Is it to late to turn around things if you have been doing something wrong, or if you improve on what you were doing wrong things will be okay.

    • says

      It’s never “too late” unless it’s literally the end of the summer.

      While midterm reviews will play a part in the final decision process, you can still turn things around and get an offer if you improve in the 2nd half.

  3. slick says

    For summer internships, I know that a lot of companies want you to be in your penultimate year. I was wondering, what if you do a double major? Or start to complete your degree part time within your rising senior year (which may possibly take an extra year longer than Full Timer’s)? Should i wait until i am actually completing my 2nd last year of college or until I’m doing penultimate year subjects?

    Thanks

    • says

      I would try to get the internship experience as soon as possible regardless of your plans – as long as you can claim you’re in your 3rd year you should be fine in most cases. It is tough for 2nd years and below to get internships.

      But I’d just try to get the internship ASAP because it makes a huge difference.

  4. Sofia says

    This may be a dumb question, but how is it that banks select people who aren’t sure banking is for them? Given the competitive nature of the field, why and how would they select someone just testing the waters?

    • says

      Everyone makes mistakes!

      This happened a lot more often when the economy was good and lots of people who weren’t serious got in or got internships.

      Also, the screening process for internships is usually easier than the full-time recruiting process so that allows for mistakes to be made.

  5. offa says

    I am currently in my senior year of college graduating with a degree in Finance and not really sure which direction to take. I am interested in investment banking and wanted to get a masters in Financial engineering/ computational finance and then later on go to business school and get a JD/MBA in finance. I was wondering if it is necessary to take that additional step to get a degree in financial engineering in order to brake into the ever competitive world of finance. My dream job is in VC but was told that VC firms look for individuals who have done some time in Investment banking or Private Equity. Don’t get me wrong, I love investment banking.

    • says

      I don’t think you need a financial engineering degree – I’d only go for it if you went to a non-target undergrad and don’t have finance experience.

  6. Anon says

    How should one position himself for the full time recruiting process when asked the question, “did you get an offer?” if the boutique investment bank they worked for, for the summer was just a experience internship?

  7. Joanne says

    I did my summer at a major European IB (summer associate) but didnt get an offer-so I have several full time interviews next week. Would this make a difference at the questions they ask? i.e. less behavioral, more tailored towards the detailed roles I took in the projects etc? What would be the most important thing on their minds?

    • says

      Eh I don’t think it will change interviews that much. They will of course ask why you didn’t get an offer, but aside from that they won’t be too much different.

  8. >. says

    hey M&I

    I know a guy working for DB in treasury department of the global market and banking as a Director. Shd i network with him or treasury has nothing to do with Investment Bankings ??

    @.@

  9. Sam says

    I’ve read your blog religiously over the past two years. I’m in the middle of a graduate recruiting process for a full-time analyst position next year. You probably get ticked off when people read your blog and say “Oh well, this is all common sense you haven’t really said anything.”

    If it was common sense, then why do only 1-2% of people make it? I’ll be keeping in touch with you soon Brian. Our first session will be gratitude and thanks. Our second session will probably involve me attempting to strangle you for giving me the opportunity to sell my soul to an investment bank :)

    • says

      The same reason people fail to get in shape or save money: understanding what to do is simple, but following through and taking action every day is totally different. Actually hardly anyone says this material is common sense, but I do get annoying/angry comments on other things.

  10. Alex says

    Would a full-time offer be conditional on your results from second-year study (e.g. if your internship is in the summer after second year)?

  11. Isaac says

    What are my chances of landing a summer internship at a BB right after freshman year in a “Little Ivy” school? Do “Little Ivies” (Swarthmore, Williams, Armherst etc.) count as target schools as well?

    Thanks

    • says

      Your chances are low no matter where you go to school because there are hardly any freshman-year internships. Banks do some recruiting at the schools you mentioned but not as much as at larger schools.

      • Isaac says

        Thanks for the reply. So do you have suggestions as to what I could do with my summer after freshman year to boost my IB chances?

  12. NG09 says

    Hi M&I:

    Would it be better to intern at the same bank for 2 years and leverage that into a bb internship as a rising senior? Or would it be better to intern with one bank the first year, and a different bank the 2nd year to ‘diversify’ your resume & experience?

    It seems to me like you may come off as not being ‘loyal’ to your firm or something like that.

    Thanks.

  13. Robbie Smyth says

    Also what are the chances of landing an IB summer Internship with a high 2.1/1.1 degree from the best university in Ireland and a summer internship with the leading stockbroking firm in Ireland?

    • says

      That is a good profile but many other people have good grades / university names / experience as well so it will come down to networking.

  14. Adrian Chow says

    Firstly, I’d like to thank you for all the insights and information into banking and internships.
    I am currently interning at Credit Suisse and doing rotations on the Sales and Trading floor. At the start of every rotation I am assigned a meeting with the VP/Director/MD, I am given a introductory presentation prior to meeting them and have to form questions for my meeting. Therefore I wanted to ask, what sort of questions would impress the MD. I have already met a couple of VP’s so far and I am finding that I don’t have questions that would intrigue them and don’t want to ask the same general questions. I know this is sort of vague and may be asking for too much with too little information but if you could advise me towards the right direction would be very helpful!
    Thanks

    • says

      I would just read up on the news and current events and frame your questions around that if you’ve run out of other questions to ask

  15. Steven says

    I have an internship this summer working risk management for a BB. It’s a three year associate program but I’m only a sophomore right now. Any idea how my situation will be handled if I’ll be in school for another two years whereas everyone else will be out this year or next?

  16. Government says

    Hi, and thank you for bunch of Info on Website. Can you Tell me when should i apply for internship? After First Year, Third or someother? Thank you

  17. Elva says

    Thanks for such great tips!

    I’m guessing everyone there over the summer is hardworking and try to make no simple mistake. Then what differentiates those returning interns from those poor guys who fail to get return offer? Is it the way you interact with your team matters the most, given everyone has good attitude and is willing to learn/work hard?

    And I heard from some insiders that the feedbacks are almost all positive, it’s more about reading how good.

    Having said that, do you have to be exceptionally good to get exceptionally good feedback that set you apart from those average interns?

    • says

      Yes it is more about who like you the most and if you’re a cool person, which amazingly most people are not. You don’t really have to be exceptionally good just get people to like you (see some of the other tips on internships).

  18. G says

    Thanks for all your great advice.

    This is a bit of a stupid question but I just wanted to ask what’s the views on a intern who does not drink? Does it make a difference?

    How does the intern go about this? Or should they just try to be sociable?

    • says

      Just go out with people anyway and say that you can’t drink due to some kind of medical problem or recent surgery you had before you started the internship… say something like dental work so it sounds believable. You still want to be sociable, just avoid drinking by giving an excuse they can’t argue with.

  19. monad2000@aol.com says

    Just wanted to say I have found this site one of the most usefully tools yet.

    I am in a unique situation because of my lack of corporate and banking experience. I started a successful marketing company 6 years ago and now looking to get into a PE group. I applied to top full-time mba programs but just got wait listed. I currently live in NYC and was thinking about going to NYU part-time and trying to find a nonpaid internship with a PE group. First, is finding a nonpaid internship possible or should I try again next year to apply to full time programs?

    • says

      Answered on another thread where you asked it – yes you can get in part-time but it is harder. Please do a search here for “part-time MBA” via the search bar at the top to see a few reader interviews.

  20. yelv says

    Hi Brian,

    My bank is asking the summer interns to submit profiles for the senior management and everyone else to get to know us in advance and during the internship. One question is to write about our hobbies, extra activities or interests. What kind of impression should I make here? that I am fun to hang out with? easy-going?

    Thanks!

  21. Michael says

    Hi Brian,

    I recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Chinese Studies from an Irish university, attaining a Double First Class Honours. I will be studying for a Master’s degree in Economics starting from September. I did not get the chance to do an internship in my penultimate year as I was studying in China for that year where I would not be legally permitted to work. Following on I have two questions:

    1. Is it possible for a Master’s student to get a summer internship,even though they are primarily aimed at penultimate year students?

    2. Is it advisable to do an internship first or just apply directly to a graduate programme if doing a Master’s degree?

    3. On the Goldman Sachs website they state the following: “Candidates currently pursuing a college or university degree may apply for a summer analyst internship. If you are currently pursuing an MBA or advanced degree, we invite you to apply for a summer associate internship.” Would a Master’s degree in Economics be considered as an advanced degree in this respect, or are banks looking strictly at MBA students with several years work experience for this type of internship?

  22. James says

    Internship season is coming to an end. Do you recommend that I send a thank you letter to all of my supervisors and colleagues I worked closely for, would a nice thank you e-mail at the end suffice, or should I just do nothing but thank them all on the last day and discuss my progress?

  23. Michael says

    Dear Brian,

    I will be reading for a Master’s degree in Economics starting in September 2011. I have just graduated BA Economics and Chinese Studies with First Class Honours. As I explained before, I was unable to apply for an internship as my penultimate year was spent studying in Shanghai, China.

    I want to apply for an internship this year with a view to getting a full-time role at an investment bank. While you have stated it is possible for a Master’s student to get an internship, my dilemma is that the deadline for the full-time programs is about October-November, which is far before the deadline for internship programs, which are roughly about January 2012.

    1) Would you know if it is possible to apply to both the internship and graduate programmes, or can you only apply for one in each year?

    2)If a candidate completes an internship successfully, will he/she automatically get a full-time offer when finished the internship, as I would be available to work straight after the Master’s degree, or are there still no guarantees?

    3) I’m concerned that maybe as a Master’s student it is too late for me to be applying for internships. Should I just apply for the graduate programmes?

    I would be grateful for your assistance with my questions as well as any additional advice you can give me as to how a student in my position should ideally apply for full-time investment banking positions.

    • says

      1) You can do both technically but better to focus on one.
      2) No guarantees, performance-dependent.
      3) If you’re in school for 2 years you can apply for internships. Otherwise do FT positions.

  24. Janice says

    Hi,

    I got a full time offer at a bulge bracket (most paying on wall street) after a summer internship in IBD. After a lot of thought, I decided I’m better off pursuing a masters. Any thoughts on this? What’s your outlook on a Masters? Thanks.

  25. Bruce says

    Love the site.

    I had a internship this past summer, my division’s director told me that he wanted me back as did the director of the division next to mine in the office. How do I go about soliciting full time offers from either division? I am not entirely sure I want to go back to that firm though but I did enjoy my experience there. I am going through recruiting now and would like to consider my options, so how do I get an offer without necessarily accepting it?

    • says

      That’s a tricky one – if they didn’t explicitly extend an offer to you, I would wait until recruiting is close to being over and see where you stand. If it doesn’t look like things will work out elsewhere, go back to them and say you’re very interested in working there. In the meantime between now and then, try to keep up a dialogue and let them know that you’re very interested but maybe say something like you’re not sure if you’ll graduate when you originally planned to or if you’re staying in school and pretend that’s the issue you’re debating rather than getting an offer elsewhere.

  26. Elizabeth says

    I am about to accept an IB internship at a bulge bracket this summer. However, I do not turn 21 until the fall. Will this be a problem in terms of drinking/socializing/Happy Hours? What is the proper protocol? Is there an unwritten rule? I don’t want to be seen as a stick in the mud.

    Thanks so much!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      As long as you “behave yourself” and “act properly”, you will be fine. I don’t think there’s a “rule” per se – you will have to judge according to the circumstance

  27. Frank says

    If you complete a summer internship at a bulge-bracket investment bank and they offer you a full-time job for after you graduate, are you able to defer the offer by a year under any circumstances? I have to complete mandatory military service straight after graduating which will last a year – what’s the likely response from the bank? Will they defer or simply see this as a reason to not offer me the job? Any experiences with this kind of thing?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It depends on the firm, but I believe you can in most cases. You will have to explain yourself properly though

      • Kyle says

        Frank I had the exact same question since I am in ROTC at my college. My goal is to go for an IB internship next summer (soph-jr summer) since I will have junior standing due to AP credits and hopefully secure an offer I can differ until after BOLC (mandatory reserve/national guard training after graduation).

        Does anyone have any recommendations/experience in this? Thank you.

  28. bits says

    In my second week as summer analyst intern at BB(IB ). Firat week went smooth since there was intensive orientation. However, although it’s been only a few days, there does not seem to be much work coming my way. How do I handle this?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Chill out and relax. It has only been a few days. Get settled in and be acquainted with people. Make sure you know the people who are in charge of the summer program well and try to get on as many good projects/deals as you can.

  29. Sam says

    Hi,

    Just wondering if you know approximately how long after applications close for internships, do we find out if we have or have not received offers?

    Sam

    • Sam says

      Also, do banks let you know how youve done on the aptitude tests, or what else let you down, preventing you from receiving an offer.

      • M&I - Nicole says

        You’ll know if you have passed the test or not I believe. No, I don’t think they’ll let you know why you didn’t get the offer unless you are very close to HR or the team there.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Lets say deadline is Dec 2012. They’ll start interviewing in Jan 2013 and offers will probably be out in Feb/March 2013.

  30. Sam says

    How often do banks hire recent grads into their summer internship programs (I’m under the impression that they are only for 3rd year undergrads)? Let’s say for instance, the student would like more internship experience before choosing a career route full-time.

  31. Brad says

    I’m a fourth year (graduating jan 2014) and have been interested in banking for years but never decided to take the plunge until now…the only experience I have is a 8-month work term with an insurance company (sales). Am I screwed?

  32. Jack says

    Hi Brian,
    Love the site. Am just wondering your advice if you make a really great impression with all the MDs at the internship interview? (One said I was too smart to work there- I don’t agree). Basically I now have their emails, and all responded after the interview saying how great it was to meet me, hear my story and how they want me on their desk in the summer. How can I create a relationship with them that will help me get the offer but not make the analysts/associates think I’m a complete d****bag? (I’m not really, although I know how this post comes across!!)
    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Jack, thank you for your comment. The MD was probably testing your interest level in working at the firm. Maybe your credentials, in his opinion, were really strong. I would respond to their emails and tell them how much you’d love to work for them in the summer. I’d also arrange coffee/chats in the team members individually the next few weeks to further develop your relationships with them.

  33. NewIntern says

    I’m currently about halfway through a summer internship in asset management at a bulge bracket bank in a regional office of my 1st choice location. I absolutely love the work I’m doing – it’s a pretty interesting & unique role with both direct impact to revenue/visible deal flow and sits close to clients, though not PWM or PB. Anyhow, I love it here (the place), as well as the team and people. My biggest concern is how to best attempt to get an offer HERE with the bank in this role. Do summer interns get considered/potentially placed to return to their location and team of their internship, or do they get hired by the firm and placed in headquarters in NY or otherwise at a random regional office on a random/diff team?

    Also, could you elaborate a little on the final performance review and offer/no-offer decision process & timeline? (if the internship were to end the first week in Aug., when/how/from whom would an intern learn of the offer decision?)

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes if you want to get an offer at your current role (same location), you should express your preference and they’ll most likely take you on if they like you and have hiring needs for a full time role next year. Otherwise, they may place you in another team/office depending on the two factors listed above. Final performance review – its probably a week or two before your internship ends. By the end of the internship, you should have an idea of whether you’ll be extended a full time offer or not!

  34. Jacob says

    Hi Brian,
    Love the site. I interned at a BB (IBD) this summer and received a return offer. However, I want to work as a full-timer in a different office (say LA/San Francisco) due to personal reasons. They said that they would consider me if the opportunity in LA comes up.

    If I apply to different groups within IBD, could the group that I worked for take back the offer. Also, if I decide to stay with them and they know that I applied to other groups, will that affect my opportunity to move to LA in the future? Thanks a lot!

  35. Jessie says

    Should I contact the senior bankers and express my eagerness to return to the bank when I graduate? I’m still waiting for the final results…

  36. nosaj says

    Hi,

    I just found out about my rotations in the summer (IBD) and I was sort of disappointed because neither groups are what I have preferred. Just want to know your thoughts on what I should do? I realize of course I still need to do a good job nonetheless and build a good reputation but is there anything else I can do to perhaps have a chance to work in the group I prefer if I do get return? (I heard usually you get returned to the one of the rotations in your internship)

    Thanks,

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Network a lot. Make sure you get solid recommendations by doing amazing work. Go beyond and above what is called for. This may not guarantee a FT role but can increase your chances

  37. says

    Context: Graduate (2013), BA (Hons), MSc in Accounting/Finance

    I really need some advice urgently. I have been doing an internship at an M&A boutique over the summer, and they were happy to extend my internship on a rolling basis i.e. at the end of each month, they’ll review my performance and, if positive, they will extend it by an extra month and so on and so forth. My question is that the firm only hires analyst with previous FIG experience (as it is a FIG specialist M&A advisory). So most analyst here have either worked in Big 4 and IBs for couple of years. I’ve been working here for four months, I have two previous M&A internships (2 months each).

    Should I request for a full-time analyst position? I’m conscious of the fact that they’ll reject my proposition outright as I don’t come from the traditional background they look for and therefore jeopardise my current internship at the firm. Is there any way I could spin my “FIG” experience at the firm to make it sound more impressive? How can I best position myself to make the request?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I’d ask them once you’ve proven yourself. If you haven’t had any FIG experience, its hard to spin, other than really demonstrating that you have the skills to perform at the firm.

  38. Jennifer says

    Hello Nicole,

    I had a summer internship with a Bank in Investment Management and absolutely loved my experience. Fortunately, I received a full time offer to return next summer in July. I will be returning to the same office location that I worked in this summer, which is only about 10 minutes from my university. I had an excellent summer and I would love to return full-time, however, I had decided to go to school one additional semester next Fall to take 2-3 classes I have always wanted to and have extra scholarship money that I want to use up––and then graduate in the winter, rather than in May.

    The job is 40 hours a week and rarely ever any overtime––unlike investment banking––and it would definitely be doable to work full time and take 2-3 evening classes in that final semester. However, the offer states that one of the terms is “successful completion of my degree.” Given that my school is literally 10 minutes away from the job and I would have finished my Economics degree requirements and can prove this by way of my transcript, but would just be choosing to stay an additional semester to take a few extra classes that I never had the opportunity to take earlier––do you think this is something I would lose the offer over or get fired if it was discovered I decided to take another semester of courses part time? I would just be graduating a semester later––so it wouldn’t be like I got an offer, and then just decided not to finish school. And it wouldn’t interfere with my success at my job.

    I am so worried to ask the recruiter because I really loved the job so much this summer and the office that I worked in, and I don’t want to lose the opportunity. In the world of full time offers, do Banks actually ask for a copy of a diploma to verify that you have graduated by the time you start the job?

    Thanks for the advice!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Jennifer,

      Yes I’d speak with HR to make sure they are in the loop because if you don’t get the degree and they do the background check this can backfire.

      Yes when they do the background check, they can potentially find out if you’ve obtained your diploma or not.

      • Jennifer says

        Thank you for the advice! Do you think this is something that a big bank would be willing to make an exception once I tell HR? Considering that I would have finished all my degree requirements, but just want to continue classes for one more semester and my school is 10 minutes away from my job location. It’s not as though I would have just decided to quit school upon receiving my offer. I’m just so worried about completely losing the offer, especially since its a top bank and I loved my experience this summer.

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