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How to Break into Investment Banking in Europe (2/3): Alternative Routes

Updated: Mar 12



Breaking into investment banking, a field renowned for its competitive nature, typically favours candidates who follow a set, conventional path into the industry. However, the journey into investment banking is not always straightforward. If you've missed key steps like spring weeks or summer analyst programs, don't lose hope. There are alternative strategies that can still lead to successful entry into this dynamic sector.


 

Are you ready to stand out in your next investment banking interview?


 

Understanding the Impact of Missing Spring Weeks

Missing a spring week can seem like a significant setback. However, it's less of an issue than you might think. Your first step should be to pivot your focus towards securing internships. While summer analyst programs are the norm, many banks offer internships throughout the year. These opportunities can be particularly valuable if you've missed a spring week, as they often attract less competition and can provide an alternative entry point into the bank of your choice.


The Role of Internships in Investment Banking

In investment banking, internships are more than just a learning experience – they're seen as extended job interviews. The personal fit is crucial in this industry, leading banks to be highly selective about their future employees. Interns are often considered for full-time roles, with a significant percentage of full-time positions filled by former interns. Therefore, securing an internship, whether in the summer or off-cycle, is a critical step towards a full-time offer.


Applying Directly for Full-Time Positions

What if you've also missed out on internships? Applying directly for full-time positions is undoubtedly challenging, but not impossible. In this scenario, you're competing for the remaining spots that weren't filled by former interns. It's a tough competition, as banks tend to offer numerous internships, leaving limited openings for direct full-time applicants. However, perseverance is key. Cast a wide net in your applications, targeting not just the top banks but also other relevant institutions.


Elevating Your Interview Game

When applying directly to either summer analyst programs or full-time positions, expect a rigorous interview process. Investment banks have different expectations for applicants at various stages. For instance, while spring week applicants might not be expected to have in-depth knowledge of investment banking, applicants for internships or full-time roles should be prepared to face more technical questions. The later you apply in the recruitment process which starts at the spring weeks, then summer analyst program and then finally full-time role, the more preparation you'll need for your interviews.


Conclusion: Maximising Your Chances in Investment Banking

Missing the traditional entry points like spring weeks or summer analyst programs doesn't spell the end of your aspirations in investment banking. By being adaptable, proactive, and thoroughly prepared, you can navigate your way into this highly competitive field. Remember, each step you take, whether through internships or direct applications, is a learning experience that brings you closer to your goal in the world of investment banking.


For more insights, including CV crafting, networking strategies, and interview preparation, check out my comprehensive course on investment banking (click here). The first six chapters of my investment banking interview guide are available for free download (click here).


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