Competition for graduate banking jobs is intense… Like a family game of Monopoly, but with real money at stake.
With the average banking graduate salary being £40,000 and £55,000 for investment banking, more and more students are applying to work in the banking industry every year.
And with so many candidates to choose from, banks can afford to be fussy. This is why they single out those who have shown a genuine interest in the industry throughout university.
So if you’re serious about starting a career in banking, it pays to start applying for banking internships, placements and spring weeks from your first year onwards.
You can start by reading this guide or skipping ahead using the links below...
Top Internships, Placements, Insights and Graduate Jobs in Banking
DURATION: 4-16 weeks
FOR: One and all
WHEN TO APPLY: Sep-Mar
A banking internship is a period of time spent with a bank or financial company, working on real projects and being treated as any other employee would be.
Banking internships are open to students from any degree background; you don’t need to undertake a finance or accountancy course to benefit from it. Instead, employers look for students who can demonstrate key soft skills. These will include communication, leadership and commercial awareness.
These schemes vary in length, depending on the company and the time of year. For example, a Bank of England internship for second-year students is six weeks long, whilst Santander work experience programmes last anywhere between one day and four weeks.
Here’s how this professional experience will give your application the edge:
REAL INSIGHT... Find out what it’s like to work in a sector that monitors countless financial transactions and the movement of billions of pounds daily
LEARN FROM THE BEST... Work with banking professionals on real business tasks, seeing first-hand what skills are needed to thrive in this industry
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT... Get invaluable feedback from senior team members and managers and advice on how to perform well in the future
EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS... Banks are vast institutions, so there’s lots of room for you to move around and figure out where your strengths and interests lie
GET ON THE GRAD SCHEME... Most banking placements are designed to sift out talented students who may be able to progress onto the company’s graduate scheme.
How much does a banking intern earn?
The average salary for banking internships is around £25,000 pro-rata (according to reviews submitted by interns on RateMyPlacement.co.uk), making it the highest-paid industry for student work experience.
Banking internships in London
London is, in many ways, the heart of banking in the UK. As such, it has two major financial districts. There’s the traditional City of London (an area of London in itself) and the more modern Canary Wharf (home to the second-tallest building in the UK, One Canada Square).
Most of the major players in banking have offices in one or both of these districts. And they all offer banking internships, with certain financial institutions offering investment banking internships too.
What about the rest of the UK?
If you’d rather live elsewhere, there are plenty of other cities with a solid financial history and reputation.
Bristol, for instance, has experienced serious growth in the last few years, with many banks choosing to set up a head office there. Like the sustainability-focused Triodos Bank, which only finances companies that focus on people, the environment or culture.Apply For Banking Internships In London
Banking internships abroad
If you have the option to go abroad for your internship, most major banks and financial companies operate internationally. Other major global financial centres include New York, Singapore and Zurich.
HSBC’s Global Banking Internship is offered to students in their penultimate or final year of study, as well as graduates. The scheme takes 10-16 weeks and is an opportunity to learn about the world of Corporate or Investment Banking in locations as far-flung as Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan.Look For Banking Internships Abroad
Banking spring weeks
DURATION: 1-10 days
FOR: 1st / 2nd years
WHEN TO APPLY: Sep-Mar
The best banks want to snap up the best graduates before their competitors can get a look in. And to do that, they start looking for potential candidates among first and second-year university students. So it’s worth getting in on the action as early as possible - with a spring week.
Spring weeks (or spring week internships) are the first step you can take in your banking career. Making them, quite literally, a springboard to success.
Taking place during the Easter holidays, these short schemes are an opportunity to observe a business in action whilst getting a comprehensive introduction to the industry.
You’ll walk away with a strong understanding of what a bank does, a clearer idea of where you want to take your career, and the inside scoop on how to get there. A winning combo.
Most banking spring weeks will include:
CV workshops and skill sessions
Shadowing current trainees or senior managers.
They can last anywhere from a day to a week, depending on which programme you apply for. For example, the spring week at Goldman Sachs is a two-week programme that gives students a feel for life at the firm.
There are opportunities in six different departments, including engineering, investment banking and legal.Apply For Banking Spring Weeks
When to apply for a banking internship or spring week
As early as possible. We can’t stress this enough.
Banking internships and spring weeks typically open for applications towards the end of the year, around the same time the university year kicks off (September onwards).
But most banks recruit on a rolling basis, which means they can accept candidates before the deadline. And because they are usually swamped with applications, the most popular programmes are often full by February.
Here are two ways you can improve your chances of getting in:
Bookmark the RateMyPlacement.co.uk jobs page, and check it daily during peak season (September - February)
Spend time crafting your application. Our blog is packed with inspiring career advice like How to Write a Student CV to get you started.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Barclays internships
Work experience at Barclays is offered as a spring week or a summer banking internship. Both will give you a feel for the business and what it’s like to work there.
You’ll get an insight into all areas of the business through various project work, workshops, skills sessions and network opportunities. This will give you a clearer idea of where you could fit into the business when you graduate.
And if you’ve got what it takes, you may be offered a place on one of Barclays’ summer internship programmes.
A nine-week Barclays summer internship promises ‘a more in-depth introduction to the business. Interns are given responsibility from day one, as well as a line manager and buddy to support their development. They are trusted to work on live projects and may even be fast-tracked onto the grad scheme.
Watch this video to learn more about Barclays, its values and company culture.
SPOTLIGHT ON: HSBC work experience
Work experience at HSBC comes in all shapes and sizes, from global bank internships to local, market-specific programmes. Each is designed to scout talent for HSBC’s global graduate programmes, so it’s an excellent opportunity to get your foot in the door.
HSBC is one of the world’s biggest banks, so students flock to apply for banking placements. To stand apart from the pack, you need to show you are motivated, collaborative and a curious thinker.
Here’s what a real-life HSBC intern had to say about their experience:
"The working atmosphere was honestly fantastic. 99% of people working in the office seemed happy coming into work. People in the team would take time out of their day to help others and there was a massive charity focus in the office as well, which generally lifted the mood and made me excited to go into work everyday."
HSBC Summer Internships 2024
HSBC summer internships are offered to students in their penultimate year of university. They last 8-16 weeks, and there’s a variety to choose from in business areas like commercial banking, retail banking and global asset management.
Their Commercial Banking Internship is a competitively-paid scheme that offers a closer look at the world of, you guessed it, commercial banking. HSBC fills their summer internships with team-orientated students who can excel at building trusted relationships with clients.
Interns are put in a customer-facing role where they can learn about the 1.4 million business customers HSBC’s Commercial Bank serves. They spend eight weeks working alongside full-time employees to support the business’ growth and learn about the new technology HSBC uses to interact with their clients.Apply For HSBC Work Experience
SPOTLIGHT ON: Bank of England internships
As the country’s central bank, the Bank of England ensures banking services are safe, inflation remains stable, and the UK financial system is sound. The work that they do benefits every single person in the UK.
You can learn more about what they do and get a feel for the direction your career could take with an internship at the Bank of England.
You’ll find Bank of England work experience opportunities for first and final-year students alike in areas like regulation, technology and policy analysis.
Bank of England internships for first years take place in the summer, over six weeks. They are open to students from any degree background!
These shorter schemes are a stepping stone to Bank of England’s industrial placements for penultimate-year students. Interns are tasked with real projects to excel in their role, and managers know who to put forward.
"I have always had a great curiosity in how technology underpins the world of finance. As a first year intern, I did not expect to be given as much freedom with my project as I was. This was possible because of the Bank’s passion for challenging and bringing out the best in people." Callum Onyenaobiya, First Year Intern at Bank of England
Penultimate year internships
These Bank of England internships are eight weeks long.
As an intern at the Bank of England, you’ll tackle projects that support, shape and challenge the biggest ideas in the economy. And if you stand out from your peers, you may be offered a place on one of their graduate programmes.Apply For Bank Of England Work Experience
Banking internship reviews
Reviews can give you information you might not find on a company website. The kind of information that could sway your decision if, say, you get onto more than one banking internship or spring week.
You might find out something exciting about working for a particular bank, like “there’s ALWAYS cake on Fridays”. As well as career turn-offs like “there isn’t enough work for interns to do” or “there is little support from the managers”. Which would be weird to find on a company website.Read Banking Work Experience Reviews
Banking Graduate Schemes
Are you looking for your first banking job right out of university? You’re in the right place.
Graduate schemes are awash with banking opportunities and come in at one of the top four highest-paid graduate roles according to High Fliers.
So, where do you fit in? Read below to learn more about graduate banking schemes and where to find them.
You’re in luck because there are loads of employers looking for talented banking graduates to join their ranks. We’ve included a few below for you to get stuck into.
Whether you want to work in global banking, personal wealth, or commercial banking, HSBC has opportunities for graduates all over the world. Currently, HSBC offers graduate roles in the following areas…
Digital business services
Global banking and markets
Wealth and personal banking.
Santander offers a series of graduate programmes across London and Milton Keynes open to students from all degree backgrounds, so you don’t necessarily have to have a degree in banking.
They’re looking for passionate and collaborative graduates committed to The Santander Way. Currently, it offers graduate schemes in the following areas…
Corporate and commercial
Digital homes and innovation
Santander corporate and investment banking.
Meet the grads joining Santander as they tour the grounds of Santander’s new campus, Unity Place.
With over 250 years of banking experience, Lloyds [have a range of graduate programmes spanning various industries including data science, occupational therapy and technology engineering. In terms of banking, Lloyds offer the following…
Business and commercial banking
Corporate banking and markets
Sustainable consumer banking.
“The nation’s favourite bank” is also on the hunt for talented graduates with skills across the board also hosting a wide range of schemes in HR, auditing and software engineering.
Their commercial banking graduate scheme gives you the chance to help businesses through two routes; relationship management and customer products and propositions.
Find out about Natwest’s commercial banking graduate scheme below.
What qualifications do you need for a banking graduate job?
Most employers will ask for you to at least have a 2:2 in a relevant degree, whereas some employers ask for you to have a 2:1 in a relevant degree.
Relevant degrees include;
On top of that, all employers ask for certain soft skills, which can include…
Organisation and attention to detail
Customer service skills
Very good communication