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How to Ace your Virtual Internship

Congratulations on securing a summer internship, to get to this stage takes a lot of time, dedication and persistence. We appreciate that many incoming interns will be asked to work from home as part of a virtual internship programme, which is why we have set out the best ways to succeed in this setup and in ultimately converting to a full-time analyst position.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg.com

Getting ready for your Internship

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for your incoming internship. This applies for all areas of the financial industry; including investment banking, corporate banking, management consulting, actuarial services, accounting, investment management, wealth management, private equity or hedge funds. Firstly, get to grips with your employer - their history, client base, geography coverage, previous landmark deals and top management. It is important to have some perspective on your workplace; the scale at which they operate, their company growth and, most importantly, the culture at the firm. Look at internal documents, annual reports, news stories from reliable sources such as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg in addition to other sources such as financial community websites.

Next, try to get a better idea of what you will be doing over the next six to ten weeks. A good start would be to review the role description when you first applied, but we would recommend to get in touch directly with either the programme coordinators or junior analysts at the firm. In doing so, you may be able to gauge expectations of future workload and proficiency in financial analysis and modelling, basic economics and industry knowledge. We thoroughly recommend all online courses run by Financial Edge Training that cover most areas within the financial industry, ranging from investment banking and project finance to asset management and sales & trading. To help you get prepared, we have partnered with Financial Edge Training to offer a 25% off all their online courses using the code FCLIMB25.

Create your perfect working setup

To ensure that you are best set up to succeed in working from home, the first step is to find a dedicated office space. In an ideal world, having a room to yourself at home will help you to focus on work with limited distractions from others around you. Invest in one or two monitors and a display port cable that can easily connect your work laptop to the monitor(s). A wireless headset also goes a long way when teleconferencing, increasing sound quality and in ensuring that no one else can listen to these calls.

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To spruce up the desk area, consider the investment banking bible 'Where is Hardo', or one of the many aluminium prints offered by our partners at Hardo & Co. As best described by Hardo himself: "I create rich illustration books and prints that are as luxurious as they are intelligent and satirical. They belong on the desk of every investment banker and everyone else who enjoys this unique critical celebration of the overall haute finance space, for that matter". Use discount code CLIMB for three FREE paper prints with the purchase of the 'Where is Hardo' handmade leather-bound book.

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As we have previously stated in our article on acing your summer internship, converting to a full-time role essentially 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 work shadowing or a simple conversation over a virtual coffee, the greater the likelihood of you receiving the positive feedback you need to guarantee you a full-time role at the firm. Organise as many calls with both junior and senior colleagues across teams you are either directly or indirectly involved with during your virtual internship.

Work Hard

Do not be deceived - working from home does not change workload expectations within the financial industry. As a junior analyst, working in investment banking in top bulge-bracket firms requires a steady 80 to 100 hour work week, this is not to say that you will immediately be thrown on live deals pulling late nights assembling pitch books and merger models as a virtual intern. However, the takeaway here is that you are expected to meet all deadlines with no excuses. Complete any mandatory training and HR procedures within the first few days of joining, so that you can shift your focus on adding value where you can as soon as possible. Be proactive, ask good questions and try to learn as much as possible. Contrary to what you may read online, it is okay to make mistakes at a junior level as long as you learn from these and avoid repeating them. Anyone can number crunch and run a model on Excel, the real value is being able to understand and explain the logic behind the numbers. If you cannot handle the pressure and responsibilities as an intern, chances are that this industry may not be for you.

Take regular breaks

Working hard does NOT entail mindlessly sitting at your desk for 14 - 16 hours every day. If anything, studies have shown that we tend to lose focus anywhere between twenty minutes to two hours upon starting a work-related task. Taking short five or ten minute breaks can go a long way in reprogramming your brain for greater productivity and in increasing your motivation for tasks at hand. Where possible, go for a quick run first thing in the morning or take some time out of your day to get some home exercise. Maintaining sustainable energy levels is key in succeeding in this industry, particularly in the long-term beyond your internship.