On my first desk I was looking at cashflow models and analysing creditworthiness of certain subsovereign entities, and on on the second desk I was reading through mathematics research papers and implementing / developing an an outlier detection model in python. You are also expected to network with other desks frequently, and create a final internship presentation from a choice of questions.
No knowledge of finance is expected, but you learn a huge amount about FIC very quickly. You learn exactly what your desk does and what their products are, and what each person's role is. You also develop your presentation, communication and networking skills.
Yes - you are given lots of responsibility very early, and should always be looking to meaningfully contribute to your desk. How you perform and how much real value you add is very much in your hands: often you aren't told explictly what to do so you have to use your brain and be proactive.
A huge amount, if you look for it appropriately. Everyone will always answer your questions and give help if you need it, as all your seniors know what it is like to be the intern. Though it would be wise to avoid pushing for questions when your seniors are obviously busy, and not ask questions that can be easily googled.
Way better than I thought it would be for the industry. There was no hazing / other silliness, or crazy hours, and I never met anyone who was blatantly rude or undermined me. There was also no 'backstabbing' culture - the FIC intern class got on very well. Culture varies desk by desk, but there will almost always be a team that suits you.
Enjoyed it much more than I expected. Came into work happy, left work happy. If you are proactive in your internship and actively look for the people who suit you and create a support network early, you won't have a bad time. Even if you don't like your desk, rotations are only four weeks, and learning what you don't like is very important too. If you sit there and twiddle your thumbs and don't try to talk to anyone or make friends you'll probably have a bad time. Don't expect to be able to 'float through' the nine weeks.
The initial screening process has a large element of randomness - don't just apply to one bank. Practice the psychometric tests / video interview questions / situational awareness tests in your own time before applying. Learn a thing or two about probability for the technical interview, and know some basics ie where is the S&P at, what is a bond, etc. Have actual motivation for wanting to be there that isn't "I love money".
Internship (1-4 Months)
Banking - Investment
Central London and City