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!

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Student story: Lessons learned from internships

26854826_1701300166586943_888886152_o (1)My name is Daniel and I am about to finish my BSc Economics degree in a few months. Read on for my insight into the actuarial profession and how you can get an internship in the insurance industry.

How did you source your work experience?

During my first year I really did not know what I wanted to do but I was very keen to find an internship. I knew I would have a sixteen week holiday over the summer with not much to do. My first internship was hard to find as there are limited opportunities for first years but after applying online to 30 places I was finally offered an internship role at XL Catlin. This is an American insurance company and one of the largest syndicates in the Lloyd’s of London market. Here I was given the chance to work with many different departments. I found working with actuaries the most interesting and this helped me to narrow my search in the second year for another actuarial role, and I found one at Allianz.

What were some of the key lessons you learnt?

The insurance industry is extremely broad and has many opportunities even if you are not really interested in insurance itself. Every insurance company holds a huge amount of reserves and have large investment divisions with plenty of internship opportunities. One of the most notable examples is Royal London, which is the UK’s largest mutual fund. This particular firm has an internship open to second years across all their investment divisions as well as a graduate scheme.

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Focus on Finance 2017 (2nd-13th October)

20161011_191511Focus on Finance is our programme of events designed to showcase the range of areas in the finance sector you can work in. Employers will be visiting the campus to highlight their opportunities to QMUL students and give you a unique insight into their work.

There are many job opportunities in this field – corporate finance, financial planning, investment banking, insurance – and this is your opportunity to find out more about the sector, and network with your potential future employer.

What’s coming up?

Visit our Events page at for the full list of upcoming events, and to register your place. Select the event title below to book on to the event.

2nd Oct: Working in Finance – QMUL Stories

The financial sector opens up a wealth of opportunities to QMUL students. Meet our alumni, and have the chance to ask questions about their experience. We will be showcasing roles in economics, consultancy, investment banking, retail banking, professional service firms, insurance and the public sector.

3rd Oct: Working in Accountancy

Accountants are financial specialists at the heart of all areas of business. They work across various specialisations, including consulting, corporate finance and forensic accounting. Hear from accountants representing professional bodies and an array of firm sizes, to learn their experiences of entering the profession and preparing for chartership.

4th Oct: Working in Investment Banking

Investment banks are best known for their involvement in trading and corporate mergers and acquisitions deals. But be aware that there are many other types of job in the industry – for example, you could be monitoring political developments in the Eurozone, helping billionaires manage their assets, or working on your bank’s business strategy. These are all important parts of the business and there are exciting roles for graduates here. Hear from a panel of QMUL alumni who have made a success of this sector.

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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.

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10 Top Tips for Banking and Finance Applications

Application Adviser Emily gives us 10 top tips for preparing an application for a banking/finance role …

  • Check closing dates: The deadlines for applying to graduate jobs in this sector are very early in the academic year – sometimes October of the year before you would start the job. Internships too are advertised in the autumn semester. Start researching job and internship opportunities ASAP so that you don’t miss out. And don’t leave applications until the deadline; some graduate schemes and graduate jobs will close earlier than advertised if enough applications from qualified candidates have been received.
  • Understand the sector: Many students have a vague idea that they want to work in finance because the industry has a reputation for high salaries and challenging, exciting work. But you need to fully understand the way it works and the type of role you would be suited to. Research on the internet, read the financial news (for example the Financial Times) and consult the resources in the Careers Information Room. Attend networking events, where you can also get first-hand advice from companies’ recruiters. Your answers to questions about motivation in application forms and at interviews will be far more persuasive if you really understand the field and the requirements of different roles.
  • Read application forms carefully: Make sure you understand what is required by the application process of each company you apply for. Banks often have similar but slightly different application forms, for example – although the difference of emphasis in a question might seem minor, it might call for a quite different response. Also, some employers ask you to fill in a form, some ask for a CV, some for a CV and form, some for a CV and a cover letter – and there are many other variations! Make sure you have enough time to answer all the questions and prepare the necessary documents.

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Guest blog: Four Unusual Finance Roles You Should Consider…

Susanna Quirke, Inspiring Interns 

Like any career path, finance has its stereotypes – not all of them fair. This is a growing industry, and not just in the ways you might expect; it’s not all accounting, insurance and banking out there. So step away from the hedge fund, and check out our favourite unusual finance roles.

  1. … in not-for-profit

That’s right. Even charities need someone to handle the dosh. The financial world is often billed as a cut-throat place – a butcher’s floor with zero empathy. Show you’re different; work for a not-for-profit, for profit.

How to find the jobs? Check out specialist charity job-hunting websites. Look for accountancy firms which specialise in charity work, like Jackson & Jackson or Bourner Bullock. Passionate about environmental issues? Join one of the many large corporations hiring environment accountants – professionals tasked with managing pollution, reducing energy costs and obeying regulations.

Charities and NGOs are constantly struggling with financial challenges – your efforts will not go to waste, should you choose to apply yourself here. And let’s face it: you’ll feel like a superhero, too. Everybody wins!

  1. … in fashion

Love fashion? Style in the financial sector goes deeper than ice packs and brown shoe controversies. There are loads of jobs in this industry that call on financial skills and qualifications.

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*Business & Finance Fair next week* and other upcoming events

Business & Finance Fair, 11th October, 5-7.30pm, The Octagon

Do you want an internship or graduate job in the business or finance sector?  Want to connect with employers and find out the inside track so you can impress at interview? Interested in seeing which companies offer jobs for QMUL students?  

Organisations at the fair include: Bloomberg, CIMA, PwC, Willis, Towers Watson, HSBC, ICAEW, Lloyds of London, EY, FCA, Civil Service Fast Stream, Teach First, Moore Stephens, Mistubishi and more to be confirmed!

Come along to our Business and Finance Fair and find out about the range of work experience and graduate opportunities for you, whether you are a first year, finalist or postgrad. 

Book at


See these other great Focus on Finance events, and register below:

Business Game led by PwC, Thursday 6th October, 1-3pm

Employers are looking for you to have commercial awareness.  This business game will give you a unique chance to really develop your commercial acumen ina practical way, in preparation for work experience and grad job applications.  This game is similar to what you might have to undertake at an assessment centre – so it’s fantastic way to practise.  

Book at

Data Analytics Case Study led by Barclays, 12 October, 1-3pm

This workshop, run by a data science team at Barclays will cover a couple of real case studies drawn from their work.  It will be participatory and will give you a chance to see what a career in the growing industry of data science involves.  

Book at