Banking and Finance Internships and Vacation Programs
The lucrative banking and finance industry has an incredibly competitive jobs market, meaning that undergraduate experience is important for students ambitious for a career in this industry. Internships (at a small to medium financial institution, like an investment bank or a wealth management company) are in demand amongst undergraduates, as are summer vacation programs with top banks and financial institutions.
A vacation program is a particularly structured and challenging type of internship offered to penultimate and final-year students. They are hotly contested among undergraduates because vacation interns are usually funnelled into graduate positions if they perform well, removing the stress of having to compete against all the graduates the following year and securing a well-paying, fulfilling job with a developed program for professional development. In addition to being an ideal stepping stone to securing a spot in a graduate program, vacation placements offer the intern a much more satisfying and experience-rich work experience than a regular internship. Vacation work often involves the student working within one of the firm’s teams, contributing in a real way to the firm’s operations and “throwing them in the deep end” in a supportive but challenging learning environment. They tend to run for a number of weeks (usually around 12, although Deloitte offers 3-8 weeks) during the summer (or occasionally during the winter) holiday period.
Some of the most highly ranked companies in Australia for vacation programs operate in the finance and banking industry. These include Citigroup (ranked 6th in Australia according to the AAGE 2014), Deloitte (ranked 7th), Suncorp (ranked 21st), EY, PwC, the Reserve Bank and Westpac. As can be seen from the list, these financial institutions perform various functions – from merchant, commercial and investment banking to financial advisory and insurance, among others. Vacationers will typically choose a specialised vacation program within the organisation, since the companies are too large to offer an intern experience across all departments. For example, Citigroup offers vacation programs in investment banking and capial markets; investment research and analysis; transaction services and technology. In contrast, Deloitte offers programs in corporate finance, advisory, analytics and access economics (among others).
Vacation programs are recruitment programs for the financial institutions. As such, they try to give the student a chance to prove themselves a worthy part of the company, and to give them a taste of what the graduate program will be like, should they choose to work for the company after graduation. While the programs involve a lot of work and sometimes long hours, they also provide training, mentoring, networking and social events – and are all extremely valuable.
For more information on the differences between internships and vacation programs, and for tips on how to successfully apply to these programs, check out our general internships and vacation programs guide.
More information about graduate programs in banking and finance can be found here.