Feedback on my situation and also Australian applying for overseas IB internship?


Hello everyone, I've always been a lurker on these forums and until today, tried to resist posting in an effort to reduce clutter on the forums. I was hoping I could get insight into two things actually:

1. I'm hoping to get some feedback on whether there's something wrong with my IB applications in Australia or whether I've just been unlucky? (background and details below)

2. If I applied for investment banking internships with the BBs over in say the US, would I even be considered? Or would it just be a waste of everyone's time?

I'm a Masters of Commerce student at the University of Western Australia who will be graduating by the middle of 2015. I have a high distinction average and an equivalent GPA of 3.8 (according to this tool, Prior to studying my Masters, I worked for three years as an engineer, until realising I was much more interested in the finance industry and how it worked. In terms of extra-curricular, I'm part of a student not for profit organisation and have made strong contributions to the team, all of which I write about in my resume and cover letter to highlight my teamwork and leadership skills. Haha I don't want to sound like a second-hand car salesman but I wanted to give you guys an insight into how I was approaching my applications.

I've read up on a lot of material from WSO and M&I (even bought the prep pack) and would like to believe that I was in a good position to at least score an internship at the end of the year. Sadly, this hasn't translated into anything. In terms of progression there was a winter internship (mid-year) available with J.P. Morgan which I managed to get into the final round of case study interviews. It was exciting, I felt like things were going my way but I was relatively new to IB at that point so naturally didn't get an offer - I could only describe the valuation methods theoretically but did not know how to really apply it. When it came to summer internship applications a few months later, I applied for all BBs but in the end only got a phone interview with Barclays and a face to face interview with Macquarie Capital (a dominant player in the Australian IB market).

So for many of the banks, I couldn't even progress into a phone/face to face interview. Is there something intrinsically wrong with my applications? Is it because of my age (25)? Or would it be because I'm based in Western Australia and I'm being perceived as being too much effort to consider? To put the geography in context, think west side of US applying for an east side job, but west side doesn't have much IB activity (west side has small-mid cap deals only and only mining companies offer the big deals which are once in a blue moon event normally). The BBs that are located in WA are GS and UBS.

A very specific example would be my most recent experience with HSBC. They don't have any IB activities over here in Australia but nevertheless they advertised for an summer analyst position. So I applied for it, custom tailoring my application as per their recommendations on their website, and submitted my CV and academic transcript on Friday last week. Sadly I received the email telling me I was unsuccessful in my applications yesterday.

Sorry for the wall of text but TL;DR my questions are:

1. What are your thoughts on my situation regarding my applications for investment banking in Australia? Happy to elaborate more and provide details later if requested.

2. Would it be a waste of time to apply for internship opportunities with the BBs in the US/South East Asia? How does the whole "working visa" thing work?

Looking forward to hearing some honest advice, be as brutal as you want! Thanks for your time.



Comments (8)

Best Response
Sep 30, 2014 - 1:57am

I work in IB in Australia and may be able to provide some insight.

In short, I think it's the state of hiring. You may know grad recruitment in general is pretty terrible in Australia right now (worst it's been on record basically). I interned in IB this past summer and received a FT offer - only 1 was given out at my bank. I know of a number of other banks that only gave out 1-3 FT offers, and the biggest banks only gave out 5-10 or so (and only 2-3 banks fit into this category).

In short, I would guess there were ~50 or so (guess, but probably not inaccurate) FT spots in IB across all of Australia this recruiting cycle (for FT starting next year). I am assuming summer internship hiring wasn't that much better (if not worse) in July. Given each position has an inordinate number of applications (eg I know of a bank that had ~1500 applications for its internship program in one office and ended up giving out 1 eventual FT offer) I think that while you may have a competitive application, it's just a numbers game that hasn't worked out in your favour yet - I don't know that you're doing anything wrong.

I would recommend pursuing big 4 opportunities if you haven't already, as in Australia they (from the corp. fin divisions) are a pretty common path to IB. Longer, more roundabout path but if you're set on IB it's one way to make it happen.

I have also spent ~2 years studying in the US and am familiar with the recruiting processes there and unfortunately you won't even be considered if applying from Australia because you a) won't be networking effectively and b) would also need Visa sponsorship.

Feel free to PM me (or post here) with more questions if you have any.

Sep 30, 2014 - 6:57am

Hello guys, thanks for taking the time to reply :)

@Bretton - I'll definitely have a crack at posting my resume up for review. Hopefully I'll get some helpful hints.

@notthehospitalER - thanks for the insight into hiring from your perspective. Yes, I'm well aware of the state of hiring for Australia but thought that I would at least get through the first hurdle. I have even cold called and met up over coffee with local bankers from the boutiques and while they have offered advice and some further contacts, none were able to help get me a summer position.

I am definitely pursuing big 4 opportunities at the same time and even then, there are hardly any corporate finance related roles because they were filled up either at the beginning of the year or are not hiring at all. Nevertheless, I am waiting to hear back from a final round interview with one of the Big 4 so I've got my fingers crossed. Also, as mentioned before, I've got an application outstanding with Argonaut (a boutique who offers corporate advisory and stockbroking).

Thanks again for all your help guys. It's a shame to hear that it isn't really viable to pursue overseas internship opportunities.

Sep 30, 2014 - 9:35am

Yeah PM me whenever. I'll try to send you a message, see if you can reply. Unfortunately a catch 22 with boutiques is they (in some cases, definitely not all) may be somewhat easier to get into, but the flipside is that they may be hiring even less often and definitely in smaller quantities than BBs - add to the fact that mining isn't a hot industry in Australia right now (at the least, relatively speaking) and it makes the situation tougher.

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