Guide to Landing Your Investment Banking Internship

If you’ve found your way to this guide, you likely already know that investment banking is one of the most rewarding career paths out there. And you also know that it’s highly competitive. Landing your junior summer internship (the internship before your senior year) is the most common and direct route to getting an entry-level role upon graduation.

 

In this guide, we’ll dive into the recruiting process: the “why” behind critical aspects, general timelines, and key networking and interviewing insights. The ultimate goal is to improve your chances of securing an internship offer. 

Recruiting Process Overview

Prospective summer analysts should prepare to put in a lot of work.

Applications for junior summer internships in investment banking typically begin to come out during the fall of your sophomore year — more than 18 months before the actual internships begin. There will be a flood of applications during the winter and spring months of your sophomore year, which is when many students win their junior summer internships. Applications will then continue coming out into the summer after your sophomore year and the fall of your junior year.

 

When applying to these positions, the most prepared candidates will have already had one or two internships on their resumes, performed extensive research on the firms they are most interested in joining, and built relationships with professionals at five or more of their top firms.

 

If you attend a university with a deep network of alumni in the industry and/or selective investment banking-focused organizations, you have a substantial advantage. If you don’t attend a university with a deep investment banking legacy, do not become discouraged — you definitely have a shot. However, your path will require additional networking and supplemental learning.

The Hiring Team’s Mindset

Investment banks want to hire summer analysts who will be valuable additions to their fast-paced teams. Interns are expected to make positive contributions to the overall success of the business while being independent, self-directed, and supportive.

 

The recruiting process begins for summer analyst candidates well before applications are posted. Junior bankers (incoming analysts, analysts, and associates) — your most direct peers — are the individuals who are typically screening new candidates.

 

Whether you’re having an informal coffee with a junior banker or a final round interview with a senior banker, it will be important for you to demonstrate and clearly communicate the following characteristics:

 

Financial acumen

Demonstrating financial acumen is where you establish your credibility. School work alone isn’t enough. The best candidates have experiences that show they have a foundational skill set in finance and accounting.

 

Attention to detail

Hiring managers are seeking out candidates with strong attention to detail. The work investment bankers do tends to be extremely high stakes, and one small error has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the pitch or deal you’re working on. Your meticulous attention to detail will be instrumental to the success of your team and overall organization.

 

Intellectual curiosity

Investment banking is a field in which you’ll continue to learn new skills as time passes. You need to demonstrate that you have the aptitude to be a “forever student” in approaching the problems that you’re solving at work. That means you go into situations assuming that you don’t have all the answers and that you’re looking to learn, listen, and ask thoughtful questions.

 

Action orientation

Successful investment bankers have a bias towards jumping into challenges, facing them head on, and pushing solutions step-by-step. You must be prepared to take control of a situation without waiting for someone to tell you what to do.

 

Writing skills

As an investment banker, you will be in constant communication with your teammates and partners in and outside of your organization. The ability to present your ideas, through writing, is crucial. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can write in a way that is not only grammatically correct but also succinct and concise.

 

Research skills

Investment banking is a career path that requires strong research abilities. This means the ability to develop a thesis, gather evidence , to offer support, and then logically defend that thesis.

 

If you are unable to demonstrate these qualities while networking early in the process, your resume could end up in the bottom of the pile.

 

The best way to demonstrate these characteristics is through your accomplishments and experiences. In the next section, we’ll help you form your pitch and story, as you navigate through these conversations.

Your Resume and Story

Resumes are meant to be a place for you to demonstrate your strengths and differentiators, rather than an exhaustive listing of your activities. Your resume should be your menu of options for stories to communicate in your interview.

If an interviewer asks about a bullet point on your resume, you should have a story behind that bullet point that demonstrates at least one of the characteristics the bank is looking for in candidates.


Bullet points on your resume should demonstrate your accomplishments and should reflect a bigger picture narrative. If you have a great story that demonstrates your action orientation, it should be on your resume. If you have a great experience on your resume, you should have one or several stories about that experience that demonstrate characteristics that are attractive to investment banks.


One approach that works well is the S.A.R. (Situation, Action, Result) Method. Describe the situation, what you did, and what the result was. Only the action and result should be on your resume, whereas the situation, action, and result should all contribute to a story you tell that relates to the experience on your resume.


The best stories will demonstrate several characteristics investment banks are looking for simultaneously. For example, you could discuss steps that you took to build a 20-page presentation for a market research analysis — to show how you arrived at a sense of conclusions based on initial assumptions. This one experience shows action orientation, attention to detail, intellectual curiosity, writing skills, and research skills.

Your Pitch

You should be ready with your personal pitch for two settings: networking and interviews. It should feel natural. Think: “show rather than tell.”

 

The networking pitch
The networking version of your pitch is typically somewhere between 15-60 seconds and can vary depending on the situation. The goal of the personal pitch in this sort of setting is to take the listener from “don’t know, don’t care” to “we should talk more to this person.”

The interview pitch
Most investment banking interviews will kick off with some variation of the questions “tell me about yourself” or “walk me through your resume.”


A good answer to this opening interview question is typically 1-2 minutes. The goal of your answer is to demonstrate that you are a strong candidate, that you are a great fit for the investment banking analyst role, and to create momentum going into the rest of the interview. Many candidates fall into the trap of listing out a chronological order of everything they’ve done since high school and do take the opportunity to differentiate themselves going into the rest of the interview.


A good answer to this interview question includes a unique accomplishment that not many other people can say that implies 2-3 of the character traits banks are looking for in candidates. You should also explain the “why” behind 2-3 important decisions you’ve made. You should also lay the groundwork for why you want to go into investment banking and why you are interested in the firm where you are interviewing.


Is the Role a Fit?

While there’s a wide range of questions you may get in interviews, there are some key themes you’ll encounter that you should be ready to address:

  • Why are you interested in investment banking? Your answer to this question provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate that you know what investment banking is in a way that connects to your experiences.
  • Why do you want to work for the particular firm and firm type where you are interviewing? Middle market, independent boutique, bulge bracket, and regional / boutique firms are all very different from one another. Within each of these groupings the firms can be different from one another as well. It’s key you build an understanding of these nuances and be able to articulate them well in your interviews.
  • Tell me about the investment banking analyst How you answer this question will show how much you actually know about the role you are interviewing for.

Networking with Empathy

Networking is a critical and necessary screening tool for investment banks and an essential method for candidates to differentiate themselves and learn about the firms they are interested in. Generally it will be very difficult to win investment banking summer analyst positions if you aren’t effective at networking.

Why is networking important for banks?

Ultimately investment banks are risk averse. In terms of recruiting entry-level talent, it is difficult and time consuming to identify and recruit qualified candidates who are willing to roll up their sleeves and learn.

 

The more sought after the job is, the more difficult it is for banks to use standard resume gathering and interviewing as a screening tool. These firms use the process of networking to discern who is serious about their organization and the analyst role.

Your networking goals

You can use networking as a powerful tool to advance your candidacy. Beyond helping you get more interviews and opportunities, networking will help you make more informed decisions. If you’ve connected with bankers at 15 firms, you’ll get a sense for which firms are most attractive to you and why.

 

Networking is about building trusted relationships with people and learning from them. It is purpose-driven advice seeking. For the select group of firms where you really want to work, you should strive to create a strong group of advocates at those firms that will increase your chances of getting an interview and ultimately an offer. Without these relationships, your chances of getting an internship or full-time role go down considerably.

 

How to get started

Everyone starts somewhere. Some students have a head start because they are at a university with a significant number of alumni in investment banking or they have a parent, family member, or neighbor that is an investment banker. Other students are starting from a blank slate.

 

Regardless of where you are in terms of your network, we recommend getting started with friends, family, older students, professors, or club members – whomever you can connect with. You never know what will be successful, but you have to put yourself out there.

 

One way you can introduce yourself is to say you are a student looking to ask questions and learn. For example, you could mention that you are really interested in investment banking and are excited to learn from professionals in the industry. You will be surprised by how many people are willing to speak with you. However, don’t feel bad if someone doesn’t respond – keep trying.

 

Show confidence and humility

When networking, it is important to strike a balance between being confident and humble. Your intent is to explore and learn. Avoid coming off as pushy or arrogant, but don’t be afraid to act confident in your candidacy for the role you are pursuing. Nobody owes you anything. Always thank the other person and remember that one day, you will also pay “it” forward in supporting others in their career journeys.

 

Conversation tips

When networking with investment banking professionals, it’s important to research the firm they work at before engaging in a conversation. It could really hurt the individual’s impression of you if you ask a question that is easily found on the firm’s website or a recent article.

 

Ask probing questions and always look for opportunities to ask memorable and thoughtful follow-up questions. Let’s say an associate you’re speaking with says “we just closed a deal last week, so I finally have a bit of breathing room”. Instead of moving on to talk about your resume or story, ask what type of deal it was, what their role was, or what the hardest part of the deal was. This is a great way for you to learn and show your genuine interest in learning about the firm.

 

Stay organized

Staying organized and diligent is half the battle with networking.

 

If someone says that they have a connection for you and they haven’t gotten back to you, wait 2-4 weeks and then send an email or text to follow up.

 

You should have a spreadsheet or some sort of organized system to keep track of your contacts and relationships. Networking is a marathon, not a sprint. As you have more conversations and contacts,  things get jumbled up, so have a way to stay organized and take notes.

 

Standing out in interviews

When you are going through interviews at a firm at which you’ve built trusting relationships, you have an opportunity to shine. Just name dropping a bunch of bankers isn’t enough – in fact doing that could hurt your candidacy. When the interviewer asks you to walk them through your resume, get out ahead of the interview by weaving in the top few reasons why their bank is one of the top banks you want to work for. Your answer should include information that is difficult to get outside of having relationships with bankers at the firm.

 

This also demonstrates why it’s important to stay organized and take copious notes after your networking conversations. The night before your big interview, you’ll want to review notes from calls you’ve had with professionals from that firm so it’s fresh in your head. You can’t be expected to remember everything you learned about the firm from memory.

 

Determining which bank type is the best fit

As your networking progresses, you should start to get a feel for the different bank types (bulge bracket, middle market, independent boutique, and regional/boutique firms) and which might be a better fit for you. Factors that could determine this include your geographic preference, personality, and interests. It is also typically influenced by your network and university. There is a complex ecosystem of firms and universities. Firms tend to have a consistent group of core universities they recruit at. Typically the number of core universities for a firm is correlated to the number of analysts they hire each year. Universities can have anywhere from 1-2 to 50 firms that consistently recruit their students. However, many firms recruit interns and full-time analysts from universities outside their core recruiting universities, so don’t give up hope if you are interested in firms that don’t recruit at your university. It just means you may have to work a bit harder.

 

Generally, you will want to narrow it down to one, or perhaps two firm types. Then once you’ve narrowed down the firm type, you’ll want to develop a list of firms you are interested in and do your best to connect with as many bankers at those firms as you can. If you apply to firms where you haven’t connected with a single banker, it will be much more challenging to get an interview.

 

Staying in touch with your relationships

Regardless of how well a call or coffee chat went, the banker you connected with may forget the conversation or overall impression they had of you after several months pass by. Staying in touch with your network will help you stay fresh in their minds and stay at the top of their list when future opportunities arise.


Similar to your first point of contact, it’s important to maintain your impression and reputation in all of your future exchanges. Whether you know it or not, an interaction with an individual is an interaction with their respective firm, so it is important to maintain a sense of professionalism, while also being casual enough to facilitate an ongoing relationship. If you rub one banker the wrong way, you could put yourself in danger of jeopardizing the application process with that firm.


Another important thing to realize is that your contacts are not just a means to an end. Instead, these are people who are genuinely interested in providing you with guidance, mentorship, and advice that will put you ahead of other applicants who never made an effort to reach out. As a result, it is totally natural and encouraged that you reach out to ask questions, receive clarification, or talk through your current preparation situation with them. It goes without saying that you must also be cognizant of their time and look for the answer yourself before sending an email or asking to arrange a phone call.


In the same way that your contact will provide you with value, try to reciprocate this as much as possible. One suggestion is to send articles of recent news or updates about yourself that you think they might enjoy. Reaching out on a natural interval that is neither too frequent or infrequent is an important way to keep your conversations going and receive support throughout your journey to your offer and beyond.


Prioritizing inclusion

The investment banking industry is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Keep in mind that the industry is not perfect, but leaders are well-aware of these weaknesses and are making efforts to make a change. Recognize that in your networking and interviewing interactions, people may not be perfect.


Be patient, and remember to recognize the humanity of the other person. The other party is learning just as much from you as you are from them.

Application & Interview Process

The Adventis team monitored investment banking summer analyst applications for the Class of 2023 and has a general network of investment banking summer analysts. We therefore have a general understanding of how the application and interview processes will unfold for the Class of 2024.

 

Number of firms and positions

Adventis monitors summer analyst positions at over 85 firms that offer junior summer investment banking internships that convert to full-time analyst positions. These firms include bulge bracket (JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs), middle market (Jefferies, William Blair), independent boutique (Centerview Partners, Evercore), and regional/boutique firms. There are hundreds of additional boutique firms out there, but they either don’t have official applications for internship positions or they haven’t posted them recently.

 

Adventis is currently monitoring summer analyst positions for the Class of 2023. If you subscribe to the Class of 2023 Finance Career Newsletter you will get full access to this page and ongoing alerts when new applications come out.

 

We are also monitoring summer analyst positions for Class of 2024. If you subscribe to the Class of 2024 Finance Career Newsletter you will get full access to this page and ongoing alerts when new applications come out.

 

These pages include an exhaustive accounting of investment banking summer analyst roles, however they also include summer analyst positions in private equity, equity research, capital markets, investment management, and other fields.

See all summer analyst positions available for your class

General timeline for applications

While we have no way to tell what the process will look like, we can anticipate something similar to past years. Below is what unfolded for 2022 investment banking summer analyst positions for the class of 2023.

 

A few investment banks posted 2022 summer analyst applications starting in September 2020. January 2021 was the first month with a meaningful number of applications. From January 2021 through September 2021, anywhere from 10-60 applications were posted on a monthly basis. For example, we saw 15 new applications in June 2021 and 57 in April 2021, so application postings can be somewhat lumpy. Once an application is posted it can remain for as little as a week or two, or as long as six months.

Reading job descriptions
The content of applications varies from firm to firm. Most applications will include a description of the company and/or group you are applying to. Most applications will also include qualifications required and responsibilities of the role (see the table below for an example of typical qualifications and responsibilities). Applications will also include more logistical items such as when and where the internship is and the deadline to apply.

 

Many students skim the content of applications and move quickly into filling them in. We encourage you to slow down and thoroughly read applications for the firms you are most interested in. How do they position the company? How do they describe the position? What are they requiring of candidates? How can you better align your resume and interview preparation with the application? If this sort of exercise is done properly, you can improve your candidacy for the role.

Typical Qualifications

  • Must be pursuing a BA/BS degree from an accredited college or university with a graduation time frame between a specified period.

  • Must demonstrate a track record of superior performance in extracurricular and professional activities.

  • 3.5 minimum GPA preferred.

  • Must have a combination of strong. quantitative/analytical skills, attention to detail and client focus.

  • Strategic and creative thinking; distinguished written and oral communications skills.

  • Assertiveness, initiative, leadership, strong work ethic, team focus.

  • Ability to learn quickly and take on new responsibilities.

  • Dedication to building a career in the investment banking industry.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Developing and maintaining complex financial models.

  • Performing various financial analyses, including valuations and merger consequences.

  • Developing and maintaining complex financial models.

  • Performing various financial analyses, including valuations and merger consequences.

  • Conducting comprehensive and in-depth company and industry research.

  • Preparation of presentation and other materials for clients.

  • Participation in due diligence sessions, communication and interaction with deal team members.

  • Management of several projects at once and work effectively as an individual and as part of a team.

The application process
For the most part, firms require you to apply directly to the application on their website. Many firms will post positions and enable you to apply on Handshake, but it is generally recommended to also apply on the firm’s website directly. When applying directly on a company’s website, some companies will require you to create a login to apply, whereas other companies will let you apply on the spot without creating a user profile. A few firms use LinkedIn or other third party websites entirely and do not have applications on their website.

 

Most applications will include basic information such as name, university, GPA, degree, discipline, phone number, graduation month and year, etc. Most applications will also require you to upload a resume and cover letter. Additional requirements may include submission of your SAT, ACT, or other test scores, confirmation that you are authorized to work in the U.S., and your LinkedIn profile URL.

 

Firms may ask if you would like to disclose whether you meet the criteria of someone in an underrepresented or historically marginalized group. There may also be special programs for candidates who come from walks of life that historically may not have led to an investment banking career.

 

Each firm handles its diversity and inclusion strategy differently, but general categories tend to include some or all of the following: Women, Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Veteran, LGBTQ+, Differently Abled, Asian, and Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander.

 

Banks are also increasingly requiring additional assessments of candidates. You may be required to answer questions on the HireVue platform, complete a Pylometrics assessment, or fill out a Suited assessment. These additional assessments can play a meaningful role in whether or not you get a first round interview.

Filling in your application
The team at Adventis has found that applicants will often rush through filling in this portion of the application, which leads to the potential for incomplete information and typos. We want to offer you a gentle nudge and friendly reminder to give all application sections the attention that they deserve — companies pay attention! Bankers are notorious for their attention to detail and candidates have been known to not get interviews because of a single typo on a resume.

 

Firms of all sizes — but larger companies especially — use software that automatically screens candidates based on these bare minimum characteristics. If you are unable to show, as a candidate, that you meet a basic set of criteria, your application will likely receive an automatic rejection. So it’s important that you get the details right, off the bat, and do not rush through your application.

 

Informing close contacts of submitted applications
If you’ve applied to an investment bank where you have a close relationship with a banker, it’s generally a good idea to stay connected on the application process for that bank through your contact. It’s also recommended to reach out to your contact after you’ve submitted your application. The contact can then flag your resume through the appropriate channel so that your resume can get placed at the top of the pile.

 

Application → interview timing
While monitoring when applications are posted is fairly straightforward, understanding when interviews will be conducted and when these firms will lock down their summer analyst classes is much harder to predict.

 

There are a number of factors to consider, including which university you attend, whether or not the university you attend is a core recruiting university for the firm you are interviewing with, whether you are eligible for diversity and inclusion programs, the recruiting timeline of the firm you are interviewing with, and the size of the intern cohort at the firm you’re interviewing with.

 

It’s a fairly complex ecosystem with many moving pieces. A firm that begins interviewing in February for a cohort of 30 interns may have their intern class filled by March. A firm that begins interviewing in June for a cohort of 300 interns and may have their intern class filled by November.

 

How many firms to apply to
There’s no one answer to how many firms you should apply to. There’s so much beyond your control, so it wouldn’t be the best strategy to apply to only a few firms. If you wanted to apply to 50 or more firms, technically it couldn’t hurt. However, diversifying too much could strain the amount of attention you’re able to spend on each application. We recommend narrowing down the firm type you’re interested in. Are you more interested in bulge bracket, middle market, independent boutique, or more regional firms? If you’re very interested in one of these bank types you should make sure to focus a majority of your energy on firms that fit that profile. A general rule of thumb is to apply to 10-20 firms.

Final Words of Wisdom

Put simply, the biggest factor informing success is the amount of discipline and preparation you have, combined with your propensity to work harder than your competition.


Most candidates who get to the interview stage, particularly if you make the final stage of interviews, will make a great fit, so the margin between those candidates tends to be very small. You will need every edge you can get. Practicing is key. Get as many reps as you can. Remember that if you want to separate yourself from the competition, you will have to go farther than most are willing to go.


One accomplishment that has provided many students with a strong talking point while networking and in interviews is earning their Adventis certification through the Financial Modeling Certification (FMC) Program. The FMC Program consists of 8 hours of instructional videos that take you through every step towards building your own investment banking-quality financial model.


Earning the certification requires you to build an 8-tab financial model entirely from “scratch” in under 90 minutes with less than 10 formatting errors and minimal formula errors. Getting certified requires you to practice 5-10 or more times and many students fail multiple times before passing. Getting certified shows through your actions and accomplishments that you have strong financial acumen, attention to detail, and action orientation.



Financial Modeling Certification

(FMC®) Program

*Discounted price for undergraduate students