Are you a first or second year undergraduate? Are you interested in an investment banking career? Then this City CV Guide to Spring Week will answer many of your questions.
Q: What is Spring Week?
Firstly, it’s not to be confused with the American Spring Break, popularised in Friends and teen movies. The Spring Weeks we’re talking about are the insight programmes offered to first and second year university students in the UK. They’re most commonly provided by the big-name banks; JPMorganChase, Credit Suisse, CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs to name a few.
There are also Spring Week placements in other fields, such as accountancy. If you want to find out about the opportunities on offer, this list is a good place to start. Most of the programmes last around a week and take place in London during March and April (in the Easter holidays).
Q: When do I need to apply?
Right now! Applications open in late August or early September and most close in December or early January. There’s no time to waste.
Q: Why is Spring Week so important?
Spring Week is a great way to gain an understanding of what it’s like to work at a bank. You get to network, ask questions and find out if it’s the right career for you. But the main reason most students participate in Spring Week is to boost their chances of getting a full internship or graduate job later.
Banks use Spring Week to identify talent early and to kick-start their summer internship application process. Occasionally, they’ll even offer an internship at the end of your Spring Week placement. You can still get summer internships without completing a Spring Week, but it is more difficult.
Q: Is the application process competitive?
Yes, very. It’s not unusual for a bank to get several thousand applications for just 50-60 places. This is one of the reasons most students apply to as many as possible.
Q: Any tips to improve my chances?
The recruiting process varies from bank to bank, but they all require a 1-page CV and a covering letter. It’s essential that these documents are tailored to each application. You can’t get away with just changing the name and address of the firm.
My top tips for a Spring Week or internship-winning CV are:
- Emphasise your academic achievements. They’ll expect to see top A-Level grades and stellar performance in your degree so far.
- Highlight your specific motivations for working with each bank. Start by researching what sectors and clients the bank works with. You’ll then need to craft a compelling and articulate narrative for your CV and covering letters.
- Include impressive extracurricular activities. High achievements in sports or running a business or university society will all go down well.
- Triple-check everything. You can’t afford any spelling, grammar or formatting mistakes.
If your CV makes the cut, there will probably be online tests covering numeracy, verbal reasoning and logic. If you pass those, the next stage is usually a phone or video interview with HR and possibly another with the division you’re applying to. After that, you may be asked to attend a face-to-face interview and / or an assessment centre in London.
Don’t expect to able to just wing these interviews. To stand out from the competition you need to be well-prepared. Start with some personal diagnostics – what are your strengths and USP? Are there any weak spots or skills missing from your CV that you need to be able to explain?
Mock interviews are a great way to practice and calm any interview nerves. You’ll be expected to talk about yourself confidently and answer behavioural or competency questions. Those are the questions that often start with ‘tell me about a time when you … worked as part of a successful team / overcame a problem etc.’ For Spring Week applications, you probably won’t have many technical, industry-related questions in your interview – they’re looking for potential at this stage.
Q: What can I expect to do during my Spring Week?
There are different types of Spring Week placements. Some are very general and you’ll gain experience across different departments. Some are division-specific, such as trading or M&A. You can apply for as many placements as you like, but some schedules will clash.
At this stage, you won’t get to trade with real money or attend confidential client meetings. But you could get to shadow the traders for a day or you could be put on a research project team. There will also be a range of workshops and seminars where you’ll practice some of the technical and problem-solving skills expected of bankers.
Q: I’ve got an offer! How do I make the most of the opportunity?
Congratulations, you’ve done brilliantly to get this far. Now, your challenge is to convert your Spring Week placement into a summer internship or full-time job offer. Here’s how you maximise your chances:
- Network like crazy. Introduce yourself, talk to people and ask questions. But don’t just leave it there. Make a note of their names and what they do. Then follow up and keep in touch. Set up a professional LinkedIn profile before your placement so you can invite everyone you meet to join your network. Maintaining relationships is crucial.
- Participate in all the group workshops, training sessions and evening socials (but don’t get drunk). You want to come across as bright, interested and sociable.
- Be prepared to give a case study presentation at the end of the week. It helps if you’ve done some industry research before you start your placement.
Q: I’ve missed out on Spring Week – do I have any chance of a summer internship?
If you didn’t know about Spring Week or have left it too late to apply, you do have other options. Some banks attend campus careers fairs or run networking events, such as drinks evenings and banking dinners. Check with your university careers service or student finance society. The Bright Network also has a calendar of networking events.
Your CV will need to demonstrate that you are interested in and committed to a banking career. Other finance-related work experience or evidence of playing an active role in a finance society will help you to stand out. Don’t despair, with a great CV and pro-active networking it is still possible to land an internship.
City CV offers a comprehensive range of career packages for graduates and undergraduates. These include targeted professional CV, covering letter and LinkedIn profile writing, as well as comprehensive interview coaching.
If you have any other questions about Spring Week or summer internships, give us a call on 020 7100 6656 or email us at [email protected]. You can also check out our blog for free career news and advice.