Written by, Nicole Calandra; iXperience TA '16 (Finance), University of Virginia '16, Business Analyst at Deloitte.

Unsurprisingly, the best way to learn more about a particular industry isn’t in the classroom, but through real-life experiences. No number of stories about how much your lecturer loved the money or your TA hated her invasive, mail-reading office cleaner will show you whether you actually like or are suited to the business environment. Yet students don’t realize these real-life experiences are available to them as early as their freshman year of college, and its critical that they take them. Recently, various finance-related industries, like banks, have accelerated the internship interview process by recruiting students in their first few years of college, in an attempt to attract top talent away from other booming sectors such as high-tech and consulting. But this has a dramatic effect on those who don't pursue internships in Finance early.

How cool are these accelerated internships?

The accelerated interview process is amazing if you move early. You work on Wall Street as young as 18 years old. But this has actually made it more difficult for college seniors to secure full-time analyst positions, because good work experience out-competes good grades alone on resumes, and personal networks you develop with bosses and coworkers on internships often allow you to stand out from and endless list of names in an application process. One example illustrating this is that Morgan Stanley filled positions in its 2016 London Sales & Trading analyst class with only its interns. So internships are becoming almost necessary for careers in Finance. Even if you already know that the next Leo-led Wall Street Finance film will be based on your autobiography, it is critical that you intern early. You need to set yourself apart from the, say, 90 000 applications Morgan Stanley received last year. Gaining industry-validated work experience and meaningful interpersonal relationships with potential employers through interning with them is the perfect way to join the 2% who receive work offers. But how do you get that dream internship?

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Effective Means of Applying

While officially the application process for internships starts September 1st, in reality the process starts much earlier. Since acceptances happen on a rolling basis, an early start will only increase your chances of receiving an offer. Follow these steps (in order) to maximize your chances at these top banks:

  1. - Reach out to family and friends who work for the company you’re applying to

  2. - Contact alumni (even ones you’ve never met before) via email and/or LinkedIn

  3. - Attend any on-campus information sessions and company sponsored events

  4. - Participate in company webinars, conferences and/or summits

Pro tips from the inside:

  1. Arrive early to any information sessions or company events in order to have a one-on-one conversation with an employee (not HR, preferably) before the masses arrive

  2. Research and apply to any conferences, webinars or summits hosted by the company of interest (especially important if the company doesn’t recruit at your school). This nugget of wisdom is the best I can offer you. Goldman Sachs’ “Discover GS (2014) Webinar Series” allowed students the opportunity to participate in live sessions with Goldman Sachs employees for two months during the summer and even offered select participants an accelerated interview for the 2015 summer program.

If you take advantage of all of these opportunities, you should be able to distinguish yourself from rival internship applicants and set yourself up for a career in Finance, or at the very least find out if that is the career you want!

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