Internships are a crucial part of the recruiting process not only because they allow you to gain experience in a specific industry, but also because they give your potential employers the opportunity to see how you work. There are a number of internship opportunities available to you and deciding which one is right depends on what industry you want to end up in. Keep in mind that one of the best aspects of getting an internship on Wall Street is the perceived selectivity. Many firms will give you a full-time first round interview just for having investment banking, sales and trading, or another highly relevant internship on your resume because of the process you must go through in obtaining that internship in the first place.
Private Wealth Management
This is somewhat of the go-to finance internship for the summer after sophomore year or for students who weren't able to get a summer analyst offer or realized too late that they wanted to try finance. These types of internships may be paid or unpaid, but usually what is most important is showing some sort of track record of interest in finance in general. It will be hard to convert, but if you have the resume and the interviewing skills you can turn a PWM internship into a full time offer in just about any finance-related industry.
These are some of the most selective internships and some of the best. From an IB internship you can go just about anywhere. Many people choose to accept a full time position because of the exit opportunities of an analyst position, but some choose to go into corporate finance, consulting, or asset management, to name a few. With a strong IB internship on your resume, you are way ahead of 99% of those looking to enter finance and business careers.
Sales & Trading / Hedge Fund / Equity Research / Asset Management
Having an internship for any one of these types of firms shows an interest in the markets. If you want to be in a market-related career, these are the internships you should target. Many are known for their selectivity, which will even help you if you choose not to pursue a career in one of these industries.
Private Equity / Venture Capital
Securing an internship in either one of these industries is extremely difficult as an undergraduate. If you're able to get an internship at a private equity or venture capital firm, you're most likely hoping to get a full-time offer. If you end up trying for a different career in finance after your internship, these will still usually look very good on your resume, as long as you can help on some decent projects at the firms.
Consulting / corporate finance
Consulting and corporate finance internships can set you up well for many different careers. If you're good enough to pull off an internship at MBB, you should have no problem making the switch to investment banking or corporate finance. corporate finance varies greatly from company to company. Someone who gets into an internship program at GE is going to have a lot more options than someone who is keeping the books at the local supermarket. If you do manage to get in a strong program at a solid company, you can still find your way to a full-time offer in consulting or investment banking down the road through and MBA or with a little persistent networking.
Keep in mind that no matter where you end up for an internship, whether it's Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or the Corner Store, you're going to have to maintain a strong record for full time recruitment. Keep that in mind so you can make sure you come out of your internship with a set of good references.
- Relevant WSO Guides: WSO Networking Guide, WSO Internship Guide, and A Look Behind the Wall: A Guide to Six Wall Street Career Paths
- Relevant WSO Services: AnEx Finance Internships
- Relevant WSO Forums: Get A Job