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Banking spring weeks: What you need to know

If you’re a first-year university student interested in working in financial services (in an investment bank especially), you should really have just completed a spring week.

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If none of the above categories apply to you, then you’re out of luck. Spring weeks, known as sophomore internships in the US, are a critical part of how banks recruit summer interns. In turn, summer interns are how banks recruit graduates. If you don't have a spring week, it's harder to get an internship and if you don't have an internship, it's harder to get a graduate job.

What is a spring week in a bank?

Spring weeks are for banks to get to know you – and potentially extend you an offer for a summer internship. That means you have to impress them, at least a bit.

Although spring weeks are mostly about the company you’re working at getting to know you and assessing your fit, that doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything along the way.

“It was really good to see the inner workings of [his target firm] rather than the textbook knowledge of what they do,” one student told us. He said he achieved “a deeper insight into the application process” for other jobs and learned about the relative size and influence of different departments. Some banks offer simulations to help with this.

Spring weeks are also about networking. You'll meet people more senior than you (and everyone already employed by a bank is more senior than you), as well as your fellow spring interns.

How do you apply for a spring week in a bank

You need to apply for spring weeks as soon as they open, which is usually in October the year before the week takes place (in spring!). Closing dates for applications vary, but are often November.

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Spring week application processes vary widely, but at the most extensive stage can include an online assessment, HireVue interview (we have lists for American and European banks), and a telephone or video interview.

To help your application, check out our section for students here. Also consider reading through our career guide for graduates. We also have a list of bank interview questions.

How many bank spring weeks can you do?

Ideally, as many as possible, as long as they don't overlap in your calendar.

Besides, you should be applying to as many as possible - getting a spring week isn't easy. A poll of students in a private group chat showed that around a quarter didn’t receive a single spring internship offer, and less than 45% received a single internship offer. Only around 30% received an offer for multiple internships. One student we spoke to said they'd applied to over 50 spring weeks in banks and had only been accepted to one.

A banking spring week will help you get an internship next year 

Spring internships are universally regarded as useful. Not all banks convert spring interns into summer interns, but many do. Data from Bristol University's tracker shows that, for major banks, as many as 90% (at Citi) of spring interns are offered a summer internship at the bank they had a spring week at. However, at JPMorgan, Trackr says the number converted is as low as 15%. Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Jefferies also offer high spring intern to summer intern conversions. Trackr says Blackstone also converts spring interns, although, true to form, it's a tiny number - less than a few percent.

What if you don't convert the spring week in a bank?

If you don’t get an offer at the end of the internship, or if the spring week you completed didn’t directly recruit for a summer program, don’t be discouraged. A report from Trackr showed that just 25% of accepted applicants to a financial services summer internship had completed a spring week previously. Those applicants that did have a spring internship, however, were nearly twice as likely to receive an interview to a summer program.

What if you didn't get a spring week in a bank?

If you don’t manage to get a spring week, you still have options. You should definitely be involved in the finance society at your university – and you should definitely be looking for finance internships, both spring and summer, no matter what, even if they’re in fintech or at firms you’re not particularly interested in.

You can also do off-cycle internships, which are arguably more valuable from a learning point of view than the traditional spring/summer internship cycle. If you’re EMEA-based, doing them outside of the London might even lead to unique networking opportunities, given the relative sizes of teams and how much closer you are on the chain of command to the top brass.

These are alternatives, however. Spring and summer internships are still the way most financial services firms recruit, and they’re still the route to take to maximise your chance at a job.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, Whatsapp or voicemail). Telegram - @SarahButcher. Click here to fill in our anonymous form, or email Signal also available.

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORZeno Toulon

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