To pursue a career in investment banking, graduate candidates must be highly logical, analytical, numerate and commercially astute. Most banks offer highly competitive graduate programmes, where successful applicants will rotate across departments including finance, compliance, research, technology, equity, securities, trading and risk management. Getting on these can be unbelievably hard, with thousands of applicants for the top employers, who can be very selective about who they choose. What are the best strategies to set you apart?
Have outstanding academics
You will need a 2:1 and good A levels. In fact, you will probably need a 2:1, good A levels and excellent extra-curricular activities, with evidence of a longstanding interest in investments. It will also help if your qualifications are in a related field; mathematics, economics, business, finance, IT and physics are all attractive to banking employers. That said, if your degree is in another area, don’t despair; as long as your grades are good, banks will look at your application. They need candidates for many different types of job.
Know early this is what you want to do
Getting the right activities on the CV while you are still studying is very helpful indeed. Join the university investment society, start a fantasy online investment portfolio, participate in simulated investment projects, enter investment competitions and make as many banking contacts as possible as early as possible. And study the right subjects!
Beg, borrow or steal an internship
These days they are so competitive, you probably have to know someone. So find out if you know anyone. Otherwise, apply for every banking-related internship you can lay your hands on, and make sure your application is professional. It’s never too early to get a professional graduate CV written by City CV, who will also create a great LinkedIn profile and cover letter.
Exceed expectations if you intern
Show your target employers that you are the best, most reliable person that’s ever worked for them. Each time you’re given a task, go way beyond the minimum; always over-deliver. Work long hours without being asked; show passion, commitment and drive and don’t be afraid to ask for more work, and more demanding work.
Be excellent at mathematical modelling
In the business world, mathematical modelling is a near-ubiquitous tool in many areas, and banking is no exception. Financial mathematics has become an academic and professional field in its own right, taught specifically at Universities and colleges. If you’ve got the right kind of brain, get on these courses; learn the skills and your skills portfolio just became far more valuable.
Be a technology whizz
With competition between the banks, particularly the investment banks, constantly increasing in intensity, the best IT specialist graduates are hot property. If you’re not one of those, you can still give your application a serious competitive advantage by demonstrating your prowess with technology. Develop those skills and get them onto your CV; they will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Find a mentor
They are invaluable. Find as many as you can, in fact. Senior people quite like to be asked for advice, especially by bright, shiny graduates with the world in front of them. Flattery can be very effective in getting somebody to give you ten minutes of their time.
As a graduate you face a lot of competition for each role you apply for. So why not give yourself a head start and use the services of City CV? As specialists in working with graduates, and a particular focus on banking and finance, we will help you get to the top of the application pile with an interview-winning CV, cover letter, and application form. Then once you have secured your interview, we can help perfect your interview strategy. Call us for more information on +44 20 7100 6656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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