Student story: Breaking into Investment Banking

Christian Hirsekorn – 3rd year Economics & Finance Student & President of QMTIS

CMy name is Christian and I’m in my final semester of my BSc Economics & Finance degree. If you’re keen on breaking into the Investment Banking industry, keep on reading:

Some background about me…

I did a two and a half year banking apprenticeship in my hometown near Frankfurt in Germany before coming to Queen Mary. I rotated through all banking divisions such as Private Banking, Commercial Banking, Real Estate, Marketing, Risk, Compliance, Insurance and Investments. This narrowed down my options of what I want to do. When I started studying at Queen Mary, I knew I wanted to get a Front-Office role in an Investment Bank or a Hedge-Fund. That’s why I joined the Queen Mary Trading and Investment Society and started going to Insight Days from various Investment Banks straight at the start. They organised an office visit and insight into Morgan Stanley’s Global Markets division which inspired me to pursue this career path.

Tips & Tricks to get where you want…

Competition for roles is quite fierce, so it’s essential to apply as early as possible, i.e. have your application ready in September. It’s good to go for informational interviews before the application season starts – this way you can find out more about careers and network. There’s tons of advice on about that. I highly recommend checking out this page – it helped me a lot!

Continue reading


Graduate story: Alexander Churakov


Hello everyone! My name is Alex. In the summer, I graduated from the School of Economics & Finance with a 2:1, wearing shorts to my graduation. True story. As it may be the case for the majority of students within the school, I went into the degree thinking that I wanted to work in finance. But this would go on to change and evolve over time. I haven’t ruled it out, but I have broadened my options.

In year 2, after going to my first lecture in Econometrics, I realised that, in some form, I wanted my career to be based around this. Unfortunately, there are very few roles going around at the graduate level and the majority of employers will want you to have a masters for these roles. Nonetheless, I’ve had some interviews in the Media industry for jobs based around Econometrics and Analytics. I am still trying to find exactly what it is that I wish to do, however.

Developing my skills

To further develop my skills whilst at QMUL, I joined the Economics Society as there are always careers related things going on. I attended an event where an interview coach taught us things that can be used to manage anxiety. For example: he showed us how to stop shaky hands and voice trembling. But also how power poses can influence one’s body language, which may come in handy before going into an interview.

During the second year of university, my friend ran for Economics Society president. In a group of friends, we distributed leaflets around campus and communicated the election platform to other society members. This helped me to develop communication skills and a degree of confidence in conversation, as I had to approach people I barely knew.

Careers & Enterprise

Soon after graduation, I started sending out applications and after a month of getting no replies, I decided to turn to the Careers & Enterprise Centre. There I received in depth face-to-face coaching and advice on my CVs and cover letters.

Continue reading

Impress with your Commercial Awareness!

This post first appeared on the Careers in the City blog.

While the world’s attention is focused on Greece, it may be worth taking a moment to acknowledge a startling economic shift in the fortunes of Spain – which recently posted a 2.6% growth rate for this year.

In this piece we look at how you might use this information to talk about an economic story that has interested you – if prompted to do so in an interview setting. This is a technique used in some interviews for financial roles, where evidence for wider economic knowledge is sought by the interviewer. It’s a technique I’ve used myself when interviewing people for roles on trading floors in the City of London.


So how can you talk about this?

The first thing to do, is to impress by knowing about this – you can pick this information up from, the FT and many other journals and newspapers besides.

So you might say something along the lines of…

“Spain has certainly been performing well recently – its 2.6% growth rate is set against a backdrop of its main stock index rising 100% between 2012 and 2015, and joblessness falling a startling 2.7% in April – aided by reforms to labour market law.

The sustainability of this rise can best be assessed by looking at economic data. The construction and retail sectors have driven much of the growth. However, there is little evidence that strong rises in the construction sector are based on the need for new buildings – since occupancy rates are at an all-time low. Instead, it appears as though the money now being engineered in Europe via quantitative easing, is flowing into projects that may ultimately prove a drag on the economy – more empty buildings cannot positively impact GDP over the long term – but provide only a short term boost. The data therefore prompts questions as to the sustainability of the remarkable growth rates we’re seeing in Spain.”

If a candidate were to provide this level of detail about a story that has interested them, it would be deeply impressive!


Applications Kick Start – for students of the School of Economics and Finance

Join us for a Webinar on August 28 and kick start you applications!

Finance internship and graduate schemes are opening now. This webinar will prepare you to submit your application SOON  and to make sure it has IMPACT. Why does this matter? Lots of schemes fill on a rolling basis and are full before the deadline and lots of people apply. Spend an hour on this webinar and increase your SUCCESS. Suitable for current and graduating students.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


Title:      Applications Kick Start – for students of Queen Mary School of Economics and Finance

Date:     Thursday, August 28, 2014

Time:     12:00 PM – 1:00 PM BST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Getting an Economics Internship

Interested in working in economics? Here’s how one Queen Mary student gained an internship at the Government Economic Service (GES), before landing a graduate job at KPMG:

How did you get the internship at GES?

From an early point I had an interest in policymaking and applying economics to a wide range of disciplines beyond what is the norm. This led me to attend a talk at the university by a senior economist at GES and to find out about their internship opportunities.

I submitted the application for the internship early as I was well aware of the competition involved in getting a placement with the GES. After passing an initial sifting stage, I was informed that I had been allocated to a department that best met my skills which was the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). I was asked to attend an interview with a senior economist and two graduate economists. I was asked to complete an economics based numerical exercise, a competency interview and separate interviews with each graduate economist on macro and micro concepts. Following this I was informed that I had passed the interview and had the placement.

What you were doing during your internship?

The first week was dedicated to ensuring that I knew the structure of what I would be doing, as well as providing an in-depth look into the UK Justice System and current and future plans for the MoJ.

Following this I was assigned a report to create from scratch on the driving factors for re-offending in the UK. As well as this main project I was assigned weekly task on assessing the social impacts of crime. The report required cross-departmental collaboration across the GES to source the relevant data and utilised existing research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. My work offered new and innovative insights with regards to a greater emphasis on socio-economic, behavioural and geographic factors.

How useful did you find your time at GES?

Ultimately the placement with the GES was an unparalleled opportunity that has benefited me in many ways: it has broadened my abilities whilst developing skills related to everyday work and at the same time I met a large number of individuals who I am still in contact with that have offered considerable advice.

And after your internship?

Working at GES helped me realise what I wanted to do as a career, so I then put together a plan as to how to get my ideal job. I decided to try for KPMG. The skills I had developed during my time at GES (meeting clients, producing reports and critical thinking) were all incredibly useful during the KPMG application process and the assessment centre itself. I believe I was able to stand our during the recruitment process and was ultimately offered a place on their graduate scheme. I think this success was in a large way due to my experience as an internship at GES.

Zeeshan Arshed

Queen Mary Economics Student

Student story: How I networked my way into an internship

Being a first year Economics student, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do in the future. I decided to go to the Careers & Enterprise Centre at Queen Mary and find out what options were open to me. This turned out to be some of the most helpful advice I had ever been given in terms of improving my CV, finding out what spring internships were available and how I could go about furthering my knowledge of economic news.

After a few weeks, I heard about an event hosted by Careers & Enterprise for the School of Economics and Finance called “LinkedUp”.  Here students would meet professionals in the finance industry who were alumni from QM. Each student met two professionals on a 1-2-1 basis and we were given plenty of time to ask questions about their jobs and if they had any helpful advice for us related to university or finding a job.

After the meeting, I felt reassured as I gained a better insight into what different working environments were like. One of the finance professionals I met  did postgraduate study at Queen Mary and now works in private wealth management. She asked me to produce a research paper on the economies of China, Japan, the US and Europe. Even though it was a tough and daunting task, I managed to get through it and after a month (it took very long, I know!), I hand delivered my paper to her. Little did I know the visit to her office would turn out to be an interview with her and the CEO of the company.  Although it all came as a shock to me, I wasn’t particularly nervous as the Careers & Enterprise Centre had given great interview advice. After a couple of weeks, I was offered a 10 week summer internship which was a very pleasant surprise!

I began my summer internship in June and have learnt so much. I understand financial terms that I never knew even existed, I can question people on the validity of economic data and I have also been able to master the Bloomberg terminal. Having a meeting or two every other day with fund managers became a normal part of my internship and was probably one of the most exciting aspects, as I got to meet incredibly intelligent and attention-grabbing people. Understanding what private wealth management is about and the different investment techniques used with high net worth individuals was what interested me a lot as it is one of very few jobs that is essentially client focused.

I have to reiterate that going to career related events and using the Careers & Enterprise Centre can really improve your job chances. Being in your first year and going to career events does not mean you have to make decisions about your future straight away, but in fact it will help shape your future and give you a better understanding of the options available to you. I am so thankful I went to the career related events at the beginning of my first year, as I was able to implement the help and advice I was given at my interview and obtain the first year summer internship. Now, I have even been offered a graduate job with the company!

Ria Shah, Economics and Finance student

Student Story: How I found my own internship…

One Economics and Finance student who recently landed an internship has kindly shared with us how he did it:

“I’m someone who doesn’t like to follow the flock, so applying to Barclays, JP Morgan and all the other firms in Investment Banking certainly wasn’t what I had in mind to get an internship.  I therefore decided to play the statistics, and bypass competition by looking for smaller firms, with just as much salary and growth potential.

I decided I wanted to work in a hedge fund because it offered a small structure, and really interesting activities.

A Google search of “top 50 performing hedge funds 2010” produced a list, and I proceeded to e-mail each and every one of those I could work in without needing a visa. I had a pre-written CV and cover letter which I adjusted for every firm I applied to.

I sent at least 40 emails and phone calls: if you want to use this approach, using addresses is much less likely to get any response. Try and find a named person to send it to.

Having first sent emails, I then called up human resources.  If both of these methods failed to reach the right people, I pushed my applications further and further within the companies until I got feedback.

After around two months of research and applications, I received a call from a Swiss based hedge fund who asked me to come to their Vienna offices to work in the sales department, after a brief phone interview.

And that’s about it. Long hours of research and perseverance finally paid off. I really feel people shouldn’t only focus on Investment Banking internships at Goldman Sachs and look wider for less competitive opportunities, which lead to just as exciting and high end jobs.”

Final year Economics and Finance student