April 2 2022

How I got a Summer Internship Without a Spring Week

By Mfon Umoren 

When I was in first year, I thought I wanted to go into banking as a career, but I didn’t know where to start. By the time I realised that spring weeks were a thing, I’d missed most of the deadlines and got rejected from the ones I did apply to. After scrolling through all the successful spring week candidates on LinkedIn (never a good thing to do when you’re already down), I thought that was the end of the line and there was no way I could be accepted onto a summer internship without a single spring week on my CV, let alone several. 

However, I am pleased to report, a year later I have been successful in getting a summer internship at J.P. Morgan. Therefore, here are my tips on how I got a summer internship in case it might help just one disheartened, freshly rejected student!

Sign up to careers websites

Without a doubt, the most important tip I have would be to sign up to as many careers websites as you can. These include websites such as Bright Network, Rare Recruitment, SEO London, and many more. These 3 FREE companies were critical in me gaining my summer internship. Not only do they have lots of free resources, but they run several events over the year in partnership with banks and finance firms to better your application; this means that you’re hearing directly from company employees what they’re looking for in candidates and how to tailor your application for them. Bright Network (https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/internship-experience-uk/) even does an online internship experience where you receive a certificate which you can validly use an experience for your CV or LinkedIn. 

When it comes to applications, sometimes less is more

Some people tell you that you need to apply to as many companies as possible to have a chance at getting into one. While I understand that it’s good to hedge your bets, you will probably burn out by applying to 50+ firms. It’s all about finding balance because less applications means more time for each one. I applied to roughly 10, which isn’t much, but I don’t think I would have been as successful had I applied to more. I also spaced out my applications starting from September to November. Applying to fewer firms meant that I could manage applications alongside my degree without being completely overwhelmed but more importantly, it meant that I had time to really get to know the firms I was applying to. Saying that I had attended several events for firm X and had spoken to some of their employees was something that came up often in my interviews.  

Use LinkedIn to your advantage!

LinkedIn is the best platform for networking and is a fantastic tool when it comes to opportunities. By connecting with people in similar positions as you (e.g., students in the same year as you, interested to similar fields to you), you can see what they’re getting involved with and get ideas from them. For example, I discovered Bright Network through my LinkedIn feed. You can also use it to contact people in positions you want to be in, (e.g., analysts at firms) and provided they’re happy to help, you can speak to them about their experiences and build a connection there. A good starting point for building a network are Durham alumni as you already have a common ground. 

Attend company events and participate in networking with employees

When building a competitive application, you must know exactly what attracts you to that company. I found that the best way to answer this was to actively engage with the company through their events. I remember Morgan Stanley (https://morganstanley.tal.net/vx/lang-en-GB/mobile-0/brand-2/candidate/jobboard/vacancy/2/adv/) and Credit Suisse (https://creditsuisse.recsolu.com/external/events_central) listed all their upcoming events on their websites, but many other firms also do that. Signing up to events and asking questions, having your camera on, and talking to employees makes you a more memorable candidate. I even had an interview with someone who remembered speaking with me at one of these events. It also means you can ask why they like their role/firm and you can take inspiration from them when interviewing or writing your cover letters. Be specific and not generic when it comes to answering why you want to work for firm X as many people are caught out by this. 

My experience is finance-related but you can definitely apply these tips to other fields and industries.

I hope this has been helpful! Feel free to contact me if you want any help or further tips (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mfon-umoren/). Good luck!