Worried about how to get an internship, particularly in banking/consulting career areas? Mike Chen gives advice on how to set yourself up for a future career.
As a member of the inaugural class at NYU Shanghai, I didn’t really know what to expect out of the internship recruiting process. What I did know was that I was open-minded enough to explore as many roles as possible. Whether you are interested in investment banking, consulting, nonprofit, or law, you don’t necessarily need to feel the pressure to do an internship in just one of those fields, especially if you are unsure about your interests. Since freshman year, I’ve had internships in commercial banking, corporate law, internet finance research, and foreign exchange client services. Since I did most of my interviews in banking, consulting, and asset management, I’m going to cater this article to those interested in financial services or consulting opportunities.
- Don’t be afraid. It’s like basketball – if you never tryout, you’ll never know if you made the team. Likewise, if you don’t apply for jobs, there’s a 0% chance you will get one. I have many friends in the US who have applied to 100+ internships, and personally, I applied to over 40 different positions during the fall semester of my junior year. But also keep in mind that it’s not just about the quantity, because if you spend a ton of time getting to know a certain group at a company, your chances are much higher than just blindly submitting resumes.
- Networking. This is crucial. Not all jobs are found online, and not all jobs posted online are the ones you are interested in. When companies are holding events at school (in Shanghai/NYC), attend them and make sure to meet the recruiters, analysts, and managers and follow-up with them with emails or coffee chats. When you meet employers in person, you make a memorable impression and they will remember you when you drop in the resume. Also, reach out to NYU Alumni, professors, and upperclassmen, as they are a great resource and can guide you to contacts that can change your life. Seriously. My freshman year internship opportunity at a Chinese bank started from a contact I met on the subway.
- Polish that Resume. Make sure it is flawless. Seek resume building advice early on to learn appropriate formats and how to best frame your experiences. Not all firms look at your cover letters, but it’s a guarantee that the 30 – 60 seconds they spend scanning through your resume is a deal-breaker.
- Go to career fairs. Career fairs are more resourceful than people think, because you get a true taste of the real world. In NYC, there are thousands of students at these fairs. By speaking to various industry professionals, you can get a picture of the fields you know you aren’t interested in. Through the NYU Shanghai career fair, I got my sophomore year internship at a global law firm, and it was one of the best internship experiences I’ve ever had. Career fairs can also provide volunteer opportunities, and many well-rounded candidates have at least two solid volunteer or leadership activities.
- On Campus Recruitment (OCR) (mainly for junior/seniors). Not sure if anyone has noticed, but we’re not just Shanghai students… we are NYU students. This means that we can apply to hundreds of jobs in NYC that are targeting specifically NYU students. Note that you don’t necessarily have to be in NYC to participate in the process. I applied to many OCR jobs while I was in Prague and did many virtual interviews, along with many in-person interviews when I was in New York. One of them led to my junior year summer internship, and I ended up getting a full-time offer.
* Note that On-Campus Recruitment jobs are different from NYU CareerNet jobs. For NYU New York’s portal, there are 10,000+ job listings on CareerNet, but only 100-200 jobs for On-Campus Recruitment. You should prioritize looking through the OCR listings first since these companies are posting with the intent to recruit you right out of school.
- Prepare for Interview Especially for investment banking, consulting, and asset management roles, the interviews are very, very tough. The reason isn’t because the jobs are necessarily more competitive than those in other fields, but rather because most of these internships are junior year analyst programs that lead to full-time employment straight out of college. There are interview guides that can help you prep – for banking and financial services, look into Breaking Into Wall Street and Wall Street Oasis, and for consulting, Case In Point is a must.
- Keep Up with the News. You can really impress the interviewer if you are well informed on the markets and have a general overview of industry trends. Wall Street Journal, The Economist (for more advanced readers), and Financial Times are all great.
- Be Yourself. Another cliché, yet crucial point. EQ is often evaluated before IQ. Don’t feel discouraged if you haven’t taken a bunch of business classes. Don’t feel the need to follow someone’s exact footsteps to get the same role. Don’t feel restricted by your major, even if it seems irrelevant for the job that you want. I met a Spanish major on the trading floor this summer who ended up getting a return offer, as his passion for following the markets really impressed his team.
- Study Abroad. You do not need to spend all of your study abroad semesters in NYC to get a job there. My junior year summer internship in NYC was a role I got when I applied in Prague. That being said, the recruiting timeline begins in early Fall for most competitive financial services internships in NYC. So if you plan to study in NYC for at least one semester, be there in the Fall to really increase your chances of locking in a junior year summer analyst role.
- One Door Leads to Another. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have an internship at your dream company during freshman or even senior year. You can use your spare time productively and intern at a firm where you can learn and be challenged. These experiences are the ones they will ask you about during interviews. If you performed well in your first job, they will expect your work ethic to carry on to their company.
Aside from these ten tips, there is much more to say and in more detail, so please feel free to reach out to me and I would be more than happy to share more about my experiences or about the recruitment process. Good luck!
This article was written by Mike Chen. Please send an email to email@example.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit:Curtis Hall Partners