How I got my dream internship

Fourth year Economics student Pratik Popat writes for the Careers Service blog on his experiences of interviewing for Investment Banking firms and how learning from each application and networking ultimately helped him get his dream internship.

Since the start of my second year studying Economics, I have been applying for summer internships in the financial industry, specifically Investment Banking.

When I applied the first time, I felt very much out of my depth. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have much more of an idea of how to do interviews, and how to get to the interview stage in the first place.

This is where I wish I had known about the services the Careers Service offer, they are happy to check over your CV and make sure it is ready to submit for an application, as well as providing you with interview and assessment centre preparation.

Tailor your applications

When I started applying for internships again in my third year, I had more success, because I put more effort into my applications and made sure each application was tailored.

This time I managed to land 6 final round assessment centres with big financial institutions such as Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank and FactSet, which was a really valuable experience.

However, during these interviews, I still felt out of my depth. As a 20-year-old, there were students who are 4 or 5 years older than me, who had a lot more interview and work experience.

Going to an Assessment Centre with 25 other candidates was very intimidating because I wasn’t really used to the interview setting. Most of the questions they asked were about organisational fit and making sure my personality was what they were looking for.

Build a network

In my fourth year – I stepped it up a notch by contacting people within the industry for advice, asking for phone calls, and even travelling to London to go for a coffee with someone. Ultimately, it was finding two contacts this way that helped me the most.

One of the contacts works in a Tier 1 Global Investment Bank who I managed to get a summer Internship with; and I’m currently interning with the other at a Boutique Investment Bank.

Building these networks helped me get to the interview stage, but then it was down to me to impress at the interview. Now with three years of interview experience I started to find interviews easier and I felt much more comfortable.

My advice

From my experience, my main advice to anyone who is applying to any sort of internship or grad role is to never give up, every interview and application are valuable learning experiences.

Secondly, build a network and make as many contacts as you can. By having this established circle, you can ask people for professional advice – which might seem cheeky at first but it’s very common and is what platforms like LinkedIn are designed for. If they see that you have made the effort to contact them then they will normally be more than happy to help you.

Selection Perfection Fortnight, 4 – 15 February

If you’re thinking about making applications for internships or jobs, come along to some of the events during Selection Perfection Fortnight, designed to help you master all aspects of the selection process.