“I got 40 Rejections, then I got an Internship” (The Truth About Internships)

It is generally accepted that getting an internship will not only offer you valuable work experience, but will also give you the chance to network and get insight into the company, industry and job role. But do you know what to expect when you actually get one?

We spoke to several Queen Mary SEF students who have successfully completed internships with some of the biggest names in Banking and Finance to find out the truth about internships. Regardless of your degree programme or which sector you are applying for, there is lot to learn from their experiences. Here is what they said:

It took 9 months! – Manuel Samuel, Citi
Considering how competitive internships are, particularly for working in the City, it is no wonder that it might take months before you get invited to an interview. Patience is key – companies have to sift through hundreds or thousands of applications, so it may take a while until you hear back. The best thing is to be resilient and make sure you submit your application as soon as possible. Many employers recruit on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply, the more likely it is that you will stand out to recruiters. That being said…

Expect rejections – Afzal Hussein, RBS, PwC, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs
There’s no nice way of putting this, but unfortunately you do need to expect rejections when applying to internships, especially for ones at larger organisations. It’s easy to lose hope and start doubting yourself if you’re constantly receiving rejection emails, but keep in mind that you are competing with hundreds of other candidates, and that rejection is not a reflecion on you as a person. Do make sure your CV and cover letter are excellent, and keep sending out those applications. While you wait, it’s also worth getting some more work experience or researching the field a little more – a little research goes a long way!

Consider options outside banking – Hana Hammouda, Government Economic Service
Look beyond the big names in banking and apply for an internship with a SME (Small and Medium Enterprise); given their size, you are more likely to be given a wider variety of tasks, so you will gain a lot of valuable experience in quite a short period of time. Also research other fields: Government and Politics is particularly useful given the connections it has with other sectors, so you will be able to use your financial knowledge in new and unexpected ways.

You’ll get bad work and good work – Usman Zafar, JP Morgan
Just because you get an internship doesn’t mean you’ll always do useful tasks. While you will be engaged in an on-going learning process, there will be times when you will be asked to do something boring and repetitive. Just make sure it doesn’t happen all the time: if you feel like you’re not gaining anything from your work, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for more challenging tasks – they’ll appreciate your eagerness and initiative, and you’ll be able to show off your skills!

Networking! – Clement Bigot, Elysee – French Government
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but if you’ve secured an internship, make sure you get to know as many people as possible! Speak to people from your office, and get in touch with others from other departments. Ask questions about the work they do, any projects they might be running, and don’t shy away from offering your help – they might contact you if any work does come in, and might even keep you in mind for anything that comes up after your placement is over.

And finally…

Be no one but yourself – Katherine Dinh (Goldman Sachs, RBS)
It’s important not to lose track of why you’re doing an internship, and what you want to gain from it. Don’t present yourself as something you’re not; instead, be yourself and let your qualities and actions speak from themselves. Do your absolute best to accomplish tasks, but don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or support when you feel you are unable to deliver. Doing an internship is a two-way relationship between you and your employer, so make sure you learn something from your work to help you in the future.

Raluca – Maria Chereji
Employer Support Assistant (School of Economics & Finance)
QM Careers and Enterprise Centre


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