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How to Ace your Summer Internship

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Congratulations on securing a summer internship, to get to this stage takes a lot of time, dedication and persistence. Having said that, you have only taken the FIRST step towards your future financial career. A summer internship is like going on a date with your employer: they want to find out if you are the right match for them and vice-versa.

1. The start of your Internship

Dress Smart

Gents, this means a suit, shirt and tie with black smart shoes. Although there is no clear / explicit dress code when it comes to suits, avoid the following: bright-coloured suits, shirts and ties. Stick to black, grey and navy suits; white, blue and pink shirts; plain coloured pattern-less ties. Ensure that you are well groomed, meaning well-kept hair and facial hair (I recommend to go clean-shaven as chances are you cannot grow a beard and certainly cannot pull off a moustache). Do NOT go around wearing any luxury items like Rolex watches, Hermes ties nor Gucci loafers.

Ladies, unfortunately the dress code for you is a lot more ambiguous. What I can say is that through my experience hearing stories from other female interns, these are things to avoid: excessive make-up and jewellery, bright-coloured clothing, inappropriate footwear (no you do not have to wear heels, I would strongly urge you to go for bit-loafers which are far more comfortable instead) and short skirts.

If in doubt about the dress code, your line manager or current graduate analysts are the best people to ask.

Get on the Good Side of the IT / Tech Support Desk

Introducing yourself to the IT / tech support desk and getting to know them, asking how their day is and what their plans for the weekend (when they are not busy with system overhauls) can help you to go an extra mile during the internship. If your work laptop crashes, your PowerPoint slides you spent all night working on disappear from the drive or you think you could benefit from an extra monitor at your desk, having a good relationship with the tech support can help solve your problems a lot faster, TRUST ME.

Find a Buddy

Some internship programmes offer a default 'buddy' system where they pair you with a recent Graduate or Analyst, if yours does not then make sure you find someone who is happy to have weekly catch-ups with you over coffee. This 'buddy' is someone who you can go to if you have a generic question about your desk work, office politics, or tips and advice on how to succeed during your internship. I got on so well with my buddy that they asked a few of their analyst colleagues to sit down with me and help me to rehearse my final presentation pitch for the end of my internship assessment.

2. Throughout your Internship

Learn as much as you can

Every day you should feel as if you have learned something new. You can do this on your own by reading books and articles on finance-related content (see Finance-Related Books post) and by keeping up with the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal EVERY DAY. It is essential that you are aware of the current economic and geopolitical climate, especially in how it is affecting the business for which you are working. Even better, you should strive to learn from as many people at firm as possible, which brings me onto my next point...

Network, Network and Network

The ultimate factor in deciding whether you convert your internship into a full-time role or not boils down to the quantity and quality of your networking throughout your time at the firm. When deciding whom to award full-time positions, line managers often ask for feedback on you from a range of different colleagues. The more of these employees you know, whether through shadowing or a simple conversation over coffee, the greater the likelihood of you receiving the positive feedback you need to guarantee you a full-time role at the firm.

Going Above and Beyond

Work HARD. Do not be complacent when it comes to your workload, ESPECIALLY the further down your internship. You should always aim to go above and beyond the work set, merely doing what you are told to do by senior colleagues is NOT enough to secure a full-time role. This will involve LONG working hours - don't be afraid of late nights at the office and only a handful of hours of sleep at least every now and then. Equally, do not stay in the office any longer than you have to - sitting at your desk past 7pm on a Friday merely reading the FT is clearly pointless.

Take Initiative

Organise drinks with interns, consider shadowing senior colleagues working in roles that interest you, ask to sit in on client meetings. This will cement your image as a proactive and enthusiastic intern who has taken initiative throughout the internship.

3. The end of your Internship

Note Contact Details of Employees

Ensure to keep track of all the names and emails of employees you have worked with during your time on the internship. I recommend making a networking database on Excel which you can keep updating over time, with all the names of relevant contacts in one centralised place. Don't overdo the thank you emails nor the end-of-internship LinkedIn posts: keep everything short and concise.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your line manager and relevant staff members for feedback on your performance during the internship: did you work hard, learn from your mistakes, made an effort to network and did you take initiative? It is incredibly important to reflect on the last 6-10 weeks of your internship when everything comes to an end.