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What will my summer i-Banking internship be like?

By Drew Davis

The investment banking industry places a high importance on summer internships. Prepare to spend 80-100 hours/week in the office during intern boot-camp.

Similar to consulting, the majority of incoming analysts in any given class completed a summer internship with a specific firm and received an offer at the end of the summer.  Though there is no guarantee at the end of the summer, you are likely to be rewarded for your hard work over the summer.

It is important to note that these internships are not like credits; they are not transferable between firms.  Though a firm may appreciate the fact that you have a familiarity with the industry, they are equally concerned with your acclimation to the firm.  

The general structure of a summer internship and a first-year analyst are very similar.  You begin with an initial training period, ranging from two to six weeks.  Some firms hold theirs on site while others make it more of a retreat, or a last gasp of freedom before hitting the grindstone.  From there, you are assigned to small groups and your standard workweek begins.  Though there is no set number, you should expect to spend a lot of time at the office.  The number ranges between 80 and 100 hours in a standard week.  Don't fret, though, this grueling schedule only gets easier as you spend more time at the firm.   

Each group is assigned a project.  The nature of the project will depend on the division in which you find yourself.  For summer internships, you are much more likely to be assigned whatever the firm has available to give you; it could be from almost any division because you are a "general analyst."  However, once you enter the firm as an actual analyst, you will be assigned a specific division.  The major divisions include sales and trading, real estate, private wealth management, and global capital markets.  The larger banks, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have internships for these small divisions but others do not.  

The reason that banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have such a large number of internships is because they are gigantic.  Along with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Lehman Brothers, these banks set the pace in terms of size and influence within the market.  Other banks are more specialized such as Deutsche Bank, which focuses almost exclusively on sales and trading.  Lastly, there are some banks that are smaller and deal with smaller firms.  Jefferies would be a perfect example; it lists itself as a "mid-sized" investment bank.  

Investment banking is not going to be easy.  You're going to have an incredibly large amount of information thrown at you almost instantaneously and you will be expected to work your fingers to the bone.  However, if you can keep your head above water, there is no other experience that can give you as much knowledge about finance and the economy in such a short period of time.  In the end, regardless of the profession that you eventually find yourself in, this knowledge will prove to be invaluable and you will be glad that you have seen just how hard you can push yourself.

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