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Career Decisions

If you know whilst in your sixth form that you would like to pursue a career in banking, there are a number of early choices you can make that will help you. Getting into banking is notoriously difficult and therefore you need to do everything possible to improve your chances. Here are a few tips.

Choose the Right Subject

Although banking web sites do not stipulate that you need a mathematical or numerical background, the reality is that a significant number of the candidates they take are studying either; economics, engineering, maths, finance or physics. They also like languages but often take European students who speak multiple languages as well as studying a numerical discipline.

Choose the Right University

Most students securing positions in banks attend ‘target’ universities which include; Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Warwick, UCL, Imperial and Durham (in that order). Occasionally Nottingham or Bristol feature. 80% of the positions filled in the Banks Spring week 2011 programme were from the named 7 universities. They also recruit from a number of European universities. It is also these target universities that the investment banks visit over others. It does not in any way mean that if you attend another university you will not secure yourself a place, it’s just that you will probably increase your chances by attending one of those named above.

“So think twice for example, about choosing Exeter over Warwick, because of Warwick’s location!! Or deciding you don’t want to study in London. “

 Gain Early Work Experience

The most able academic students vie for positions in the top investment banks. They all have first class A level and GCSE results. Once through the first stage of the application process, your academic results become a given and banks are looking for something else – this is generally work experience of some sort. Those having taken a gap year and done a 6 month + period of work with a respected employer are at an advantage. Many Continental European students also have excellent work experience often in the financial sector. You therefore need to endeavour to secure meaningful work experience. This does not mean bar or shop work. See also the section on A ‘level work experience, some of which are offered by the investment banks.

Interest and Knowledge of the Financial Markets

Banks expect you to be very knowledgeable about the markets and show an active interest. In your first year of university try and join an investment club. Get involved with trading games if possible. Attend the lunches and presentations on campus given by the banks. There are often trading games offered nationally for A level students e.g. IFS Student Investor Challenge and the Bank of England’s Two point zero scheme.

Extra Curricular Activities

Banks like to see that you can handle multiple activities and still succeed in them all. They particularly like team sports. Ensure you keep extracurricular activities up at university, particularly your sport. Endeavour to also take on positions of responsibility where possible.

Apply Early

In your first term of university you should apply to the spring week attachments that all the banks run in the following Easter, aimed at first year university students.

 View Work Experience Opportunities for Banking

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