Unlocking Success: Your Guide to Investment Banking Spring Weeks in London
For many a university student aspiring towards a career in investment banking, barely has the summer passed than their thoughts have turned to spring. More precisely: to spring weeks, as we enter into the height of application season.
And no wonder. In a sector that is notoriously difficult to break into, a spring internship is the perfect – pardon the pun – springboard to a dream career in investment banking.
You get to explore the investment banking industry from the inside, to learn from bankers while shadowing them, and – crucially – to potentially get on the fast track to obtaining a summer internship.
In this article, we delve deep into spring weeks and answer all your key questions: the purpose of these programmes, just who is eligible to apply, the application process, and the importance of spring weeks as a means of gaining valuable industry exposure and an edge in your future applications.
Understanding Spring Weeks
While spring week programmes, or spring insight programmes, are organised by banks throughout the EMEA region, they are particularly established in London. They typically take place during the months of March and April.
These programmes are intended for students who are at the start of their university education and curious about a career in finance. Concretely, this means that students enrolled in a 3-year Bachelor’s would only be eligible to apply in their first year of university, whereas those in a 4-year programme can apply if they are in their first two years of studies. For students studying in a Grande Ecole in France, you would be able to apply for a Spring week if you are currently at a L3 or M1 level.
A particularity of Spring programmes in London is the fact that there are certain programmes reserved or targeted at specific categories of individuals, such as women-only programmes, ‘Black heritage’ programmes or SEO London-affiliated programmes.
Given the audience and the introductory nature of the programme, most spring weeks will provide participants with a broad overview of the different divisions within a given bank. There are however exceptions. Banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Barclays will ask that you select a specific area to focus on (typically “investment banking”, “global markets” or “operations”). It is thus important to read up on the different divisions within each bank when making out your applications, so that you make an informed decision.
Why apply for a Spring Week
Before going into the application process for Spring weeks, it might be germane to speak first about why you should apply for them.
Quite apart from all the insights and experience that you will acquire over the course of the 4-days (covered in more detail below), the Spring week is an excellent opportunity to be fast-tracked through the recruitment process of the bank. Spring participants identified by banks as high-potential candidates are typically invited directly to the assessment center for summer internships.
That’s right: performing well during your spring programme could mean your entering into the final recruitment round for a summer internship without going through the daunting prior application stages (online applications, psychometric tests, phone interviews). With certain banks, you could potentially even receive – though this is relatively rare – an immediate summer internship offer at the end of your spring insight programme.
Given that most banks in the UK recruit their pool of full-time analysts almost exclusively through summer internships, your chances of beginning a full-time career in investment banking is thus that much higher.
Students should therefore apply for spring insight programmes because they could be a significant career accelerator.
The Spring application Process: steps and requirements
The application process for Spring insight programmes is fairly standardized in the industry, though there might be slight differences from bank to bank.
The first step is the submission of an online application, beginning with the CV and cover letter.
Here, your CV should respect industry best practices: 1-page at the most, covering the following areas: your educational background (do mention relevant coursework), extracurricular activities and any prior work experience.
The same applies for your cover letter. Apart from ensuring that the document is well-formatted, make sure to convey your interest in investment banking, your motivation for applying to the insight programme in the particular bank, and to highlight any relevant skills or experiences that you possess. A great way to stand out from the other applications is to mention any interactions or conversations that you have had with a banker of the firm, that helped you better understand the workings of the industry, and that reinforced your keenness to learn more about the bank.
Finally, as part of the online application, you may be asked to respond to a series of competency-based questions.
The second step of the process would be a battery of psychometric tests assessing your facility with numerical, verbal and logical reasoning. Preparing for these in advance is crucial – the level of competition for places mean that the passing threshold is high. (Consult our dedicated course on acing the online psychometric tests)
Candidates who clear the first 2 steps will then be invited for a phone and/or video interview. These interviews provide an opportunity for the bank to better assess your motivation, communication skills, and suitability for the programme.
Assessment centers, consisting of group exercises and individual interviews, may also be organized by some banks to assess your abilities to work effectively in a team, to think critically and to break down and resolve problem.
How best to prepare for the Spring application process?
As mentioned, your CV and cover letter must be impeccable and respect the industry best practices. Concerning the psychometric tests (perhaps the step most daunting for students, and at which most candidates are eliminated), there is no secret: practice, practice and more practice, so that you are at ease with the different types of question and working through them under time pressure.
As for the interviews, the most important aspect here for Spring programmes is your fit. Being at ease with answering competency-based questions, a staple of interviews in London, would help. Beyond that, what is key is showing yourself to be a well-rounded individual with a genuine interest in investment banking.
An important point about the Spring internship process – and the difference vis-à-vis summer internship applications – is that there is far less emphasis of technical questions. For good reason, since the spring insight programmes are discovery programmes, intended expressly for students looking for, quite frequently, their first exposure to the industry.
For this reason, prior experience in finance is far from a decisive factor for banks when considering candidates. What they look out for, and what you should thus seek to put forward, in your CV and your answers during interviews, is your level of motivation and the extent to which you are a well-rounded individual.
The process is very selective. By way of illustration, there would typically be more than 4,000 applicants for the 50/60 available spots in the Goldman Sachs spring insight programme. Given that recruitment is on a rolling basis, it is imperative that you apply as soon as possible. (Check out our application tracker where we list the open Spring programmes and deadlines for each bank)
The Spring Week experience
While the precise organisation of the Spring week will naturally vary from bank to bank, the core programme will center around 3 key elements.
The first would be presentations. You will begin typically with an introduction to the bank and an overview of the industry. And across the week, you will be attending presentations by different teams within the bank. The aim of these events is to familiarize you with the bank’s operations and organization.
The second element would be workshops and exercises – both individual and collective. The aim of these activities is two-fold: to give you a taste of the work in the division, and to allow bankers and HR to assess your suitability for a further role in the bank (through a summer internship). As an example of the exercises that you might encounter, certain banks set spring participants an individual case study to work on, that would be presented in front of a panel at the end of the week.
Finally, the third element is networking. Social events – breakfasts, fireside chats, afterwork drinks – are organised with the aim of enabling Spring participants to meet and build relationships with fellow interns and bankers, and to begin establishing valuable connections within the industry.
It is important to make the most of this stay. It would be a shame to secure a place in a Spring insight programme and subsequently squander it. Invest your time in the programme smartly. The Spring programme is finally an extended 4-day interview. Put your best foot forward. Be the sort of colleague that you would love to have: someone sincere, sociable, and motivated. The strongest candidates are those who are succeed in establishing genuine and meaningful relationships with the people they meet, and who show an eagerness to learn. For those of you who might already have an idea going into the Spring programme about the team that you would like to join on a summer internship, take advantage of the valuable opportunity to network with members of the team.
Investment banking spring weeks serve as a wonderful stepping stone for students seeking early exposure and experience in the industry. By participating in these programmes, you increase your knowledge of the given bank and broader industry, begin building relationships with industry professionals, and potentially accelerate your career by being fast-tracked for a summer internship.
In short, the Spring insight programme is a wonderful opportunity. Your job right now is to be in the best position to seize it. That’s where Training You comes into play – we are the leading interview preparation platform for investment banking internships. Our Summer Pack provides you with all that is necessary to succeed in your applications and to begin your dream career in investment banking