Spring Week Programmes at London Investment Banks14/08/2015
Hello all finance enthusiasts. My name is Aarne Rauhala and I’ve been asked by Alan Häkkä of KY Finance to share my knowledge of the Spring Week programmes at London Investment Banks. As for my background, to my knowledge I’m the only person at Aalto to have attended one of these (possible others may kindly point themselves out to KY Finance) programs.
When applying to many of these programmes at the time, I failed to get interviews across the board. Fortunately for me, Citi organized a virtual trading simulation game, which I took part in and won, securing me a back door way to the Spring Week Programme there, called Citi Quest. Due to this, I’m unable to offer advice for the traditional ways of getting into these programmes. However, my understanding is that they consist of the application, standardized online tests, and an HR phone screening (assuming the reader is based outside of the UK).
You may also read this Mergers & Inquisitions article on Spring Weeks: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-spring-weeks/.
Spring Weeks, which go by a variety of different names in different banks, are introductory programmes to the world of investment banking, and also serve as recruitment avenues for the banks. While collectively called Spring Week, the programmes may last from a few days to a few weeks. It is highly recommended to browse through the career pages of different banks to determine which is the right one for you, for example, J.P. Morgan and Citi organize separate Spring Week programmes specifically for women (recruitment of women is a very high priority for the London investment banks), and despite the name used in this blog post, Bank of America appears to organize the programme also during the summer. Depending on the programme, it will most likely consist of informational sessions, some time spent with the respective business area (e.g. on the trading floor or in the offices where investment bankers work), and networking events. Spring weeks typically conclude in some form of case study and/or interview to determine whether or not you will be invited to the summer internship next year and/or a fast-track assessment centre, where more interviews and/or case studies will be conducted. The feedback you receive during the programme will also work towards that.
So if the programmes last from a few days to a few weeks, what is all the fuss about? Basically I would give five reasons for why I think it is worthwhile for a student at Aalto to consider applying for Spring Week programmes. Firstly, it is a way to land an internship for next summer at the bank. Having a job for the next summer even before the next school year has even begun, and not having to go through the typical recruitment procedure should motivate a student looking to land an internship in one of these banks. Secondly, having a Spring Week in your CV gives it some signalling value, and makes it a bit easier for you to go through the recruitment process next year. Thirdly, the programme is an excellent way to network yourself into other opportunities at the bank. For example, at Citi I was invited to the fast-track assessment centre, but failed to receive the offer to the summer internship next year. Fortunately for me, I made a contact during the spring week, and was offered an off-cycle internship in the following autumn. Fourthly, the programme has some informational value. This is most likely going to be similar to attending the KY Finance London trip, but perhaps more in-depth and tailored to your interests in a longer programme. Finally, if nothing else, going through the application process with the spring weeks gives you important experience in doing bank applications. Having the experience of e.g. preparing your CV, doing the standardized online tests, and attending phone interviews makes it a lot easier for you next time around when you are applying for the actual internship programmes.
In terms of applying to the spring week programmes, my advice would be to apply to as many banks as possible. This is merely because there is great deal of variance involved with the application process. Diversifying with bank applications works similarly as in the context of portfolio theory, minimizing the overall variance. Other than that, all the usual stuff goes; polish your CV, prepare for the interviews etc. One thing I would mention is that an applicant from our school should probably have some (at least) semi-relevant or otherwise good work experience. The reason is that the bank would take an enormous risk taking a student from an obscure school like Aalto vs. a student from a familiar UK university. Showing some work experience goes a long way to making you a better candidate, especially since a lot of the UK 1st year students lack that.
Lastly I would mention that the Finnish and UK university systems vary greatly. In the UK, the day you arrive at your school you know the date you will be graduating. The Finnish system is a lot more flexible, meaning that you have more freedom in terms of when you apply to a Spring Week programme. Simply put, Spring Week programmes are for students that are have two more years left in university after the ongoing school year. So this means that a student at Aalto working towards the typical 5 year MSc would apply to a Spring Week programme in his/her third year, and in his/her first year if working towards just the 3 year BSc. Bear this in mind and use the flexibility of the Finnish university system to your advantage.
Writer is a student at Aalto University School of Business
Below you can find out more about some bank specific programmes and their application deadlines.
J.P Morgan’s Spring Week Programme
Morgan Stanley’s Spring Insight Programme
Citi Scope and Citi Quest (Check out the First-year programmes tab)
Goldman Sachs Spring week:
Bank of America Merrill Lynch