Overall, the virtual internship has been a very fun, educational and rewarding experience for me. The firm made a successful effort to transfer as much as possible of the original internship into the virtual format. I particularly enjoyed the three-week desk placement, which offered a very steep learning curve since we were encouraged to develop ourselves in many ways at the same time, e.g. investigating/working on an individual internship assignment and networking with people from the team as well as other teams. The group training sessions at the start of the internship were of a right, challenging level and covered a broad variety of relevant topics.
The firm made a real effort to demonstrate its appreciation for efforts made by the interns. This was supported across all levels: from global and regional leaders to my own manager and direct colleagues. Especially small gestures contributed to this feeling: for example, receiving a thank you e-card in your email on an otherwise regular Tuesday morning or having people expressing their gratitude for your efforts in a call or email. Moreover, the firm encouraged interns to acknowledge good work of others, too.
I felt well-supported throughout the internship. Before the internship, I was afraid it might be hard to experience the same level of support one would normally have when physically present in an office, but it turned out to be the opposite: especially in view of the virtual nature of the internship, people were extremely flexible and willing to offer help or support where possible. the only thing you need to do is speak up and reach out to those who (you think) can help. Due to the virtual nature of the internship, interns were relatively more hand-held than they otherwise would have been.
Coming from a rather technical/theoretical study background, this internship was the perfect way for me to put to practice some of the skills and concepts I encountered during my studies. The internship has provided me with valuable insights as to how the abstract concepts studied at university actually may be applied in practice and what limitations one may encounter when doing so. It has challenged me to approach these concepts and techniques from a different angle/perspective.
The programme offered a good balance between training (one week firm-wide training to gain a better understanding of the firm structure and culture, two weeks division-specific training to learn more about essential skills and concepts for the specific division of the internship) and practical experience (three-week desk placement). In order to learn about the variety of opportunities and to get to know as many people as possible within the firm, a series of small-group networking sessions was organised during the individual desk placement period.
I was very positively surprised by the extent to which a cohesive group atmosphere has been created throughout this virtual internship. Despite being unable to properly meet colleagues and fellow interns, interactive video sessions made up for a good deal of this. I felt the atmosphere was very supportive overall, both between interns themselves and from colleagues towards interns. Everybody I met tried to make the most of this experience by being flexible, understanding, accommodating and welcoming.
The firm offered many opportunities for interns to develop themselves. This holds true in particular for the three weeks of training at the start of the internship. During the first week, interns participated in various interactive masterclasses focused on a variety of skills (e.g. networking, presentation, writing, work-life balance). These general training sessions were followed up by a two-week division-specific training programme in which interns could refresh and expand their knowledge of concepts and techniques. Furthermore, there were introductory workshops to various of the firm's resources and tools (e.g. Bloomberg).
Interacting with the firm's employees definitely helped to get an understanding of what it would be like to have a full time role here. Similarly, the internship project helped to understand the kind of work the desks are involved in. That said, due to the virtual nature, it was not possible to be involved in any client-related interaction and we were somewhat limited in terms of the tools we were able to use. The buzzing atmosphere of the trading floor was also missing.
I think I have been able to get a solid understanding of the firm's culture. The first week was centered all around this theme, with a variety of speakers about e.g. the firm's values, networks, ESG commitments, volunteering efforts and other ways of contributing to society. However, I think I got to understand this best by speaking to different people within the firm and paying attention to how they handle different scenarios and interact with other members of the firm. My impression is that people within the firm are very helpful to each other.
The content of the virtual experience was very helpful in my decision regarding my future career path. Despite not sitting in the office, I felt I was able to communicate with many employees by phone or video calls. Although its rather short duration, the individual internship project helped to get a better impression of the nature of the work the desk is involved in. Several talks by business leaders within the firm enhanced my understanding of current events and trends in the industry.
Payment was conform market standards (equal to first year analyst's salary) and included a joining allowance despite the virtual nature of the internship. Additional expenses (e.g. phone costs) were also reimbursed.
There were plenty of opportunities for networking. Interns were strongly encouraged to reach out to and interact with as many employees as possible. During the desk placement period, several networking sessions were hosted by other desks during which interns had the opportunity to ask questions and get to know team members of other desks. The most important step is to reach out actively yourself - if you ask someone for a brief call, most are typically willing to speak to you about their work and experiences and answer any questions you may have.
The networking opportunities were good. The small group networking sessions helped to get more exposure to other desks and made it easier to reach out to representatives from those desks afterwards. In addition, interns received a contact list at the start of their placement and were strongly advised to reach out to these people during their time at the firm. This provided a useful starting point for networking calls and lowered the bar to approach people with questions.
Yes, there are various employee networks and employees are strongly encouraged to join at least one of these. In addition, there are several ways for employees to join in volunteering initiatives.
Yes, I would definitely recommend this virtual experience to a friend. In fact, the virtual internship has positively surprised me in many ways: although not quite the same as a "physical" internship experience, the virtual internship was immersive, challenging and fun. That said, I still believe that classic internships in the office remain the most effective way to truly get an understanding of whether the job could be something for you due to the unrivalled number of small contact moments.
Banking - Investment, Banking/Finance
Central London and City
3rd August 2020