How To Dominate Your Investment Banking Internship

71 Comments | Investment Banking - Summer Internships

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Investment Banking InternshipsNye: Learn everything you can, then get the hell out of there before it’s too late.

Ellen: How exactly will I know when that is?

Nye: Ah. That’s for another walk.”

-Damages

You get an investment banking internship for 2 reasons:

  1. To learn the job and absorb everything you can.
  2. To land a full-time offer.

Keep these 2 points in mind, and you’ll pass with flying colors.

Fail to remember them, and your internship will resemble the Hindenburg.

Attitude – Make It Good

Always be eager to learn and do as much as possible.

You’d be surprised how many summer analysts try to leave “early” every day – 6 to 7 PM – when the full-time analysts are there until 2 AM.

If there’s an opportunity to take on a new project, take it.

If there’s a chance to help someone with something, do it.

You do have to strike a balance between being proactive and being annoying, but it’s definitely better to be too enthusiastic than not enthusiastic enough.

You’re only in this for 10-12 weeks – you can sleep when you go back to school.

No, You Don’t Know Everything

Some interns – especially at the MBA-level – come in and pretend they know everything about accounting, finance, and investment banking already.

News flash: if you haven’t done this job before, you don’t know anything about it.

One time an intern said he was an Excel whiz and then didn’t know the Alt + E + S + T shortcut (used for copying styles in a spreadsheet, one of the most common shortcuts in banking).

And I’ve seen summer associates argue over merger models, pitch books, and even wardrobes.

Under-promise, over-deliver.

That statement is key to your career in investment banking – you never want to brag about yourself.

Set expectations low, and then blow them away.

Don’t Screw Up

Or if you do, make sure it doesn’t happen again.

When I’ve already pulled 3 all-nighters in the same week and have been scolded by multiple senior bankers in the span of 10 minutes, the last thing I want to do is fix a company’s revenue projections going from $4 million to $400 million to $40 million in 3 consecutive years.

Always print out and check your work before submitting it – and in your first few weeks, always give it to another summer intern or to a full-time analyst to look at briefly.

It’s better to take too long and get it right vs. finishing quickly with all the wrong numbers.

Service With A Smile

I strongly disliked a summer analyst once.

He was flaky, he kept screwing up his work, and it took him forever to do anything.

But he did one thing right: he was always smiling.

No matter how many all-nighters I made him pull, how much menial work I made him do, or how sleep-deprived he was, he was always smiling.

Analysts are are skeptical of the Smiling Summer Analyst, but senior bankers love such performances.

Eagerness to learn is important, but constantly showing your appreciation is even more important.

So learn to act.

Party With Us, But Don’t Come In With A Hangover

When someone asks you to go to lunch, go.

When someone invites you out, go out – tops down, models and bottles.

Hang out with and get to know everyone you can – but don’t go overboard and come into work with a hangover.

You need to be sober to get a full-time offer.

More on Summer Internships

For even more on investment banking summer internships, check out these articles, tips, and day-in-the-life stories:

How Do You Get an Investment Banking Internship?

Read the rest of this site, of course – especially all those articles filed under recruiting.

Resume templates, interview questions and answers, networking, and more – you just have to look.

And if you’re looking for even more detailed strategies, check out The Networking Ninja Toolkit for tips on landing interviews at all types of banks.

You’ll get cold-calling templates, email templates, sample informational interviews, and more.

Then, once you’ve got interviews lined up, sign up for The Investment Banking Interview Guide to get hundreds of questions and answers, sample interviews, and everything you need to land offers.

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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71 Comments to “How To Dominate Your Investment Banking Internship”

Comments

  1. bcv says

    Useful article. Even if sort of exaggerated. And even if the writer really believes in appearances like “I work too much = I’ve got a good job” or that most students go for the internships for his gratitude

  2. says

    hey

    I know this sounds a bit awkward. But I just recently graduated from my college and I was thinking whether I can take internship for IB just to get a good clean start again ..

  3. SJ says

    M&I,

    What would you do in this scenario?: A college student who was planning to graduate early (3 yrs total) took a back office internship at a BB after his 2nd year of college as a junior. He decided he doesnt want to do back office, and wants to try to get a summer internship in the IBD. In essence, he wants to stay a fourth year in school, already having had a BO internship his “sophomore” year, and try to get a IBD internship his junior year. How should he go about doing this with the same firm? If not possible, how can he leverage this well at a different BB? Oh, any he doesnt go to a target school. Thanks!

  4. fivecolleges says

    I would like to sincerely thank you for all your help. I am a junior from a non-target and I do not have a 4.0, yet I got summer internship interviews from 4 BBs. I got into the superday for one and I have the first round interviews for the rest in the coming weeks. Thank you so much once again. It would be great if you could tell me how to proceed from here.

    • says

      Cool glad to hear it, good luck! If you look at under Recruiting and go to Case Studies there are a number of interviews with readers from similar backgrounds so you may want to look at those for more tips.

  5. Dacker says

    Brian,
    I have read pretty much all posts you had on this website, and your interview guide from BIWS has been immensely helpful for me to get my summer internship.
    So now, I made my decision to join a buldge bracket firm in one of their strongest group. However, I come from a non-finance background, and the past internships have been rewarding but far from understanding the real modelling and finance knowledge (at least thats how I feel). However, I do want to impress my group when I start.
    So I am wondering if you can give some more detailed lists of internship prep for us. I know you had a post re:all about summer internship, but I am expecting a more detailed lists of readings/courses, etc. to finish. (maybe a month equal workload?)
    Thanks a lot for everything from M&I and BIWS

    • says

      I would look at the book recently reviewed here (search for Josh Pearl) and maybe look at the modeling courses offered on BIWS. Those are the best sources to learn modeling, I would not kill yourself because attitude is 100x more important than finance knowledge for internships.

  6. Xhudey says

    Useful information, I was just wondering how can I get summer intern-ship. and which ones will you recommend. Thanks:)

  7. James says

    Hi,

    I am currently a sophomore, majoring in Finance, at a non-target university in Texas (with an undergrad business school ranked in top 25 nationally), and I wondered if you could offer some advice as I move forward or comments on my progress.

    My GPA is a 3.85 (4.0 in business) with participation in both Liberal Arts and Business honors programs. This summer I will be interning with a boutique regional firm in China that focuses on M&A advisory and equity offerings in addition to merchant banking activities. It is a smaller firm, but hopefully it will be a good experience. Do you think this will give me a boost going into summer analyst recruiting with the bb/mm firms next year?

    Also, I am interested in perhaps staying in Texas and working in the Energy Investment Banking practice of one of the large investment banks. Could you offer any comments as to which banks have larger practices/internship programs in Texas? Also, are there any sections on your site that detail how to navigate the recruiting process when coming from a non-target school?

    • says

      Yes it will help. Not sure about energy banks but most BBs have decent Houston offices and there are some dedicated boutiques as well. If you look under Recruiting and then go to Case Studies you’ll see a lot of interviews with non-target students there.

  8. LSEactuary says

    You will be happy to know that I signed the boutique IBD offer in NY. I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind. 

    The boutique doesn’t offer training and expects me to know ‘everything’ already because I have previous boutique bank experience. The thing is – I have never done a valuation/Excel model in my life but need to work on at least one this summer otherwise my CV will look so crap and it will be a waste of an internship IMO. My CV doesn’t state I have done valuations but with a small boutique people tend to make you try and then you bug people – but the more you do yourself the better. I would cram but I don’t know where to look – I cannot afford he good resources out there… And I start interning on the day of my last exam! :( (Btw I can’t say ‘I don’t know’ because there are 5 other interns who they will gladly pass the work too.) What do I do?

    My other question is that at a small boutique you don’t tend to work the long hours BB analysts do – will that be a problem when applying for a graduate role? As I will have never truly ‘experienced’ the BB lifestyle. 

    The boutique experience is abroad and finishes in early August. would it be wise to intern at the previous M&A boutique bank (or another boutique in the UK) before applying for grad schemes? Or would it be more sensible to apply early for grad scheme recruitment? 

    My last question is – do I have a higher chance of securing a summer internship with a BB having worked at 2 IBD/M&A boutiques (in 2 locations – NY and London) vs a grad scheme? Is it worth applying for an internship and then taking a year out/doing a MSc?

    Thanks in advance! :)

    P.s. If you know a way to fight bad luck please tell me! lol

    • says

      Well, there are courses offered through this site. So I would look into those, or get the book that was reviewed here (search for Josh Pearl).

      No I don’t think hours will matter just exaggerate in interviews. I don’t think another internship would help much at this point. Not sure I understand your last question but I would just apply to FT programs if that is what you’re asking.

  9. Fred says

    Are the hours for internships as terrible outside of IBD? At a bulge-bracket firm, would you still be sleeping 3-4 hours a night if you were working in, say, sales and trading or equity research?

  10. Chris says

    How many summers is ideal as experience until you graduate with a BA?

    the max would be three, freshman summer, sophomore summer, and junior summer, senior summer work lined up.

  11. Econkid says

    So what happens if you don’t get the full – time offer? What is the best way to spin it to land an offer at another firm?

    Thanks!

  12. zac says

    Can you share some information on how to get an internship during your undergrad? How would i start applying for these internship positions?

    Thanks,
    ZB

  13. Robert says

    Hey, Brian and Nicole!

    Currently I’m a year 1 student at a non-target university, in London, doing a finance degree. Most brand name banks such as GS and Barclays,internships require 300-320 UCAS points (about 3 Bs at A-level or above), but I’ve got 280 points.

    That’s enough for smaller banks such as Nationwide or Santander.
    Would it be wise to try to aim for a bigger bank or would it be more beneficial for me to take the internships (front office) at the smaller banks?

    I do plan to study a Masters degree at a target university, however. So would these non-brand name internships along with a GPAs at university (undergrad and masters), help my chances at getting in a brand name IB?

    Or would it be worth taking the job offer I may get from the internship.
    Then work for a few and then apply for jobs at top banks?

    I’m just wondering what routes would, realistically, be available to me with my situation. Personally, I’m not too fussed about which bank I end up in as pay would roughly be the same in each firm, to my knowledge. (Other than the interest in finance, the pay factor is making me think ‘which firm’.)

    I’ve got a close relative in a brand name bank with lots of contacts. So I do know that the networking opportunity is there. However I want to know if the scenarios I mentioned are possible without the networking?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Brand name matters for MBA apps but it also depends on your role – what will you be doing on the job? If you are working on very interesting projects and are actually making a big impact in your organization, I think this will show on your app – bschools like that. I’d choose the role which you find the most interesting and a team you actually enjoying with. However, I think you’re thinking a bit too much now – when you actually land a few offers, you ask us again and we’ll let you know our thoughts

      I’d still network w your close relative and see what’s out there. Networking will significantly increase your chances

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’m sure you can try to obtain an off cycle internship through cold-calling/networking. I don’t think the banks have formal internships for people with your level of experience.

  14. Brett James says

    M&I,

    How much sway do family members at banks get when it comes to submiting for summer interships.
    I have an close relitave at a BB who would be hapy to help but would his help get me anywhere?

  15. malibu says

    Hi,
    I landed an offer at a MM IB boutique. It will be after my second semester at uni (off cycle) – how likely is it, that I’ll get a return offer for a summer internship or so? (Given that my work is good.)
    Cheers.

  16. Zac says

    Do you think that I would be able to get an internship as a someone who is planning on grauating this spring? I would really like to become an investment banker, but I lack internship experience because I have played baseball for my university, which pretty much eats up your entire summer. Also, is there any way in which I would be able to market my athletic background on my resume to make it look stronger?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You’ll have to do some cold-emailing/calling and get an off cycle internship

      I’d suggest you to look at sales & trading roles too since this division values people who are involved in sports in university

      Emphasize your ability to multi-task

  17. David says

    Hello! First of allt thank you for the site!

    I´m a Swedish student in Australia (UNSW) studying Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Economics. I have taken many finance classes and IB related courses.

    Now for my internship I dont know what to do. I´m thinking of London because its alot easier to get there than the US but I dont know wich one is better for my future.

    I´ve mananged to get some contacts in Sydney that have contacts in London and New York, I´ve also used your advice and travelled to London and I met some nice people there from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

    Of course I´m looking for next years summer internship. I´ve worked hard and I´m willing to do everything I can to break into IB.

    Hope you can help me, and thank you again!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think it makes a big difference. Some might argue that NY is better since the US economy is showing signs of recovery and having worked on Wall Street does give you an edge. With the above being said, I believe its your team, culture, how you fit in and your performance that matter most. Don’t worry about London/NY for now – worry about securing an offer first.

      • David says

        Thank you!

        The reason I´m asking is because I have two pretty clear offers via two contacts that can help me but I dont know wich of the contacts I should get closer to.

        Do you think I can advance to NY in the future if I get a job offer in London after internship and work in London as an analyst for a while?

        Have you seen similar careers? People moving from EMEA countries to NY?

        Thank you again!

  18. ThermalFreak says

    Great article, as usual!
    As an intern or new analyst, do you get to pick the industry you want to work with?

  19. Bill says

    Hi, I am currently doing an internship at GS in a non classic ibd role. I wish to transfer to a classic ibd product group. Among natural resources, industrials, FIG, TMT, consumers, etc, which group in your opinion is hardest or easiest to lateral a full time offer for New York GS? Thanks!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It depends on headcount and your relationship with the group (whether the team likes you and whether you fit in or not). I’d sniff around for information internally. Hard for me to say because I don’t currently work at GS in NY

  20. Sandy says

    Hi, I just finished my internship at one of the BBs, but got the call that I was not made an offer at the end. They told me I was not “outspoken” enough, and the headcount was limited. I am not sure what the first refers to. And do you think it is a good idea to send an email to the head of IBD and ask politely if they would reconsider making me a return offer? Will this have any negative effect on my future application? Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Are you and the MD on good terms? Are you both somewhat close? If so, I’d send an email to the MD expressing your strong interest to join the firm and ask if he has any suggestions/advice for you given your situation. No I wouldn’t ask him to reconsider making you a return offer (phrase it differently)

  21. Robert says

    Hi! I am currently a sophomore at UCLA pursuing a Bachelors degree in Business Economics and a minor in Accounting. I have a pretty high GPA and have interned at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management and am currently interning at a small boutique investment bank in LA. Unfortunately, I am an international student from Korea and I was wondering what are my chances to get a summer analyst internship offer and possible a full time offer. Also, would interning at Deloitte in Korea in their Corporate Finance Division for M&A help my chances getting an offer?

    The website and the articles are always a great help!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It may be more challenging at the small boutique bank because not many small banks sponsor international workers. I’d suggest you find out if any of your colleagues are non US citizens – this information may help you determine if your firm sponsors non US workers. An internship in Korea may help you, especially if you would like to stay in Korea. In terms of landing roles in the States, you’ll be competing against US candidates who have had IB experience so you’ll probably be more useful to a Korean firm based in the US, or a US firm that is dealing with Korean clients. The geographical experience is important because geographical deal experience/knowledge isn’t easily transferable.

      • Robert says

        Thank you for your comment Nicole.

        Do a lot of the major investment banks have a good system to sponsor international workers?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Some of the bulge brackets do, but given the crisis (US economy is still recovering) not many banks offer sponsorship to int’l workers

  22. Collin says

    I am a rising senior with 1 internship at a financial services firm that does have some investment banking , I am from a non-target school in Kentucky but will be attending a masters in finance program at a target school after I graduate. What is the best way to obtain a summer internship between the summer of graduating and the start of the program considering I will be up north until at least graduation? Should I pursue an internship down here or up north considering I won’t be able to do in person interviews?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congrats on your acceptance to a masters program at a target! By “up north” I presume you’re talking about New York/Chicago/Virginia/DC? Yes I think you should pursue an internship in those places vs Kentucky – not sure of the # of finance firms in Kentucky, and its probably easier for you to network in these cities since there are more firms in finance there.

  23. Kyle says

    I am a rising junior at a target school. If I have some time off from school during the fall semester, how do I go about creating an opportunity for a informal fall internship?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Network a lot. Cold call banks. Ask your contacts if anyone from banks need interns. Perhaps even approach professors at school.

  24. Henry says

    Hey Nicole or Brian,

    Many thanks for the great information!

    I was recently allocated into the GCM group of a BB for a SA position. However, my heart lies with the more traditional IBD groups. Would it be possible to switch to IBD groups for FT? And if, what would be the best way to do so?

    Thanks
    Henry

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, its best to do a great job at GCM so they really want to keep you. Once they have made it clear that they want to keep you, I think you can mention of changing groups. It can be challenging so you’ll have to be a bit diplomatic but it can be done. Just do a great job first and network lots w IBD groups to make sure you find an opening that fits you and a team you mesh well with. The rest will work itself out.

  25. Rohan says

    Do associates look at forming good teams and developing team spirit or just treating interns like dogs?

    The problem is i hate politicking,back biting and dishonest people and im very rude and arrogant to such people but if you are the opposite i will look upto you like my parents

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Haha, it depends on the associate. Some are nice, some may not be as nice. You can’t do much to prevent associates from over-working you etc, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  26. Mccalister12 says

    i am 21 yrs old and graduating with an HR degree in 2 yrs time. Is it possible for me to enter investment banking with an HR degree

  27. Brendan says

    Hello, I am a sophomore at a non target school (MSU). I am interested in getting an internship my junior summer at Barclays or something alike. My question is what is the best thing I can do this summer to better my chances of getting an internship at a BB? I am looking into an internship at a smaller boutique bank but I am not sure if I will be competing against people who are 1 year older than me. Any help would be great. Thanks

  28. Akshat Sinha says

    Hi,
    I recently got admitted to a masters program in Operations Research at an ivy league college. The program allows one to take math and finance courses. I have two years of software development experience but am interested in switching to finance. As an international student, do I have a reasonable chance of landing IB internships or is it the end of road for me?
    Thanks and regards.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you still have a chance though it can be challenging if you don’t have the relevant experience and need visa sponsorship.

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