GradConnection’s Investment Banking webinar ‘Internships in light of COVID-19’ was hosted on Tuesday 2nd June, where students heard from some of Australia's leading financial employers. Our panel provided tips on how to apply for Investment Banking Internships and what the experience may look like in light of COVID-19 during 2020 and beyond.
On the panel:
- Brianna D'Urso (CITI), Campus Recruiter Australia & New Zealand
- Rose O'Donovan (UBS), HR Generalist for Global Markets, Group Operations and Group Technology and Campus Recruitment across Australia and New Zealand
- Natalie Gibbons (Westpac), Graduate Programs Consultant
Summary of key insights:
Investment Banks are about to open their internship applications, in line with the ‘Interbank’ guidelines. All the banks get together and work out very strict open and close, and timelines, whilst their application processes are quite different depending on the organization.
VIC: 16 June – 14 July
NSW: 30 June – 28 July
1. Has COVID-19 affected the number of interns you’ll be hiring for 2021?
The panel reported no change to the number of interns they’ll be hiring as their organizations recognize the importance of continuing to bring in new talent, with CITI actually increasing their numbers in line with a global goal of reducing student anxiety.
2. Will there be any delays to the start dates for interns?
At this stage there are no confirmed delays for Investment Banking internships, but if delays do occur the banks will collectively make the decision together. Employers are aware of the need for flexibility, and working to accommodate any changes in university semesters and exam dates.
3. Is there a risk that internship programs will be cancelled if the current working from home model continues? What would an internship look like if social distancing continues?
With no risk to internships be cancelled, and with the majority of bankers now back in the office in split shifts, employers are looking to potentially transitioning internships back into the office with a similar shift approach. The priority will always be safety so the necessary adjustments will be made as required. Westpac explained the interns who started in February worked remotely, utilizing additional support and online learning modules.
4. Have your processes changed for recruitment? If so, how?
The process itself (application, assessment, interview) is still the same, with assessments and interviews simply moving to virtual assessment centers.
5. Are you looking for anything different as part of the application process and what would set an application apart from others?
The panel are still looking for the same traits in students they always have, including a keen interest in banking and those who are across market trends, but suggest to students that an ability to demonstrate resilience and adaptability is particularly pertinent now. As always students are also encouraged to do research on the company they are applying for, and make sure their cover letters are personalized for that particular company.
6. How important is GPA?
Although GPA is looked at as part of an application, it is definitely viewed in conjunction with other aspects- including cover letter, CV etc. So it is not the be all and end all. However, it is also considered a way of measuring commitment and consistency at university, and therefore how committed you might be in the workplace.
7. What sort of backgrounds of students are you looking for – obviously Business & Commerce – but how are alternative degrees transferable to banking?
UBS are looking for a variety of different candidates, so students studying STEM or Law are encouraged to apply.
CITI have no degree prerequisites and requirements but look for adaptable skills, including candidates who can demonstrate strong lateral thinking. They remind students that most of their senior management in investment banking actually have law degrees and, in global markets management, engineering or computer science degrees.
Westpac also look for candidates of all backgrounds, including non-traditional backgrounds, particularly those who demonstrate diversity of thought. During their intake last year Natalie mentions they even had a microbiologist!
8. Is there anything students can do to stand out and make a connection when they can only meet their interviewer online?
The panel encourage students to still engage with their interviewer as much as possible and to be mindful of how they are presenting themselves- to imagine they are in front of the person in real life. They reassure students that everyone has had to transition to the virtual world so everyone is in the same position and we’re all still learning.
Brianna also encouraged students not to be scared to connect on LinkedIn with analysts and the recruiters, reassuring that people don’t mind taking the time to talk with you if you demonstrate genuine interest by engaging, attending webinars and asking questions etc.
9. Can you provide insight into why recruiters are using prerecorded interview questions and answers?
The video is viewed with everything submitted, including cover letter, CV and transcripts- forming a valuable whole picture of the application, including a little bit of the applicant’s personality. The panel encourage students not to be put off by the video and to just try and make it as real as possible. A few tips include putting a photograph behind your screen so you feel you are talking to a person, or to ask a family member to sit behind the camera and help react (quietly!) to what you are saying.
10. Looking into the future – what do you think will change in grad recruitment or how grads approach recruitment as a result of that?
The panel agree that this has been a great learning experience and that companies are looking to potentially continue and improve on their virtual offerings moving forward. By utilizing online experiences, provided they still offer a great candidate experience, there could be many advantages- including the ability for more geographically diverse groups of students connecting, and changes to a more flexible work environment.
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