How to Get an Internship After Freshman or Sophomore Year
Like I promised, I'm back to give an explanation on how to get an internship after freshman or sophomore year. I'm not offering any guarantees, but I can tell you that it has worked for me, and it depends on the effort you put in. Want a job? Earn it. I'm writing this more as a recommendation for freshman, but it is generally applicable to sophomores as well. Sophomores have the benefit of having taken some relevant coursework.
How do I get an Internship
As a freshman you probably are thinking to yourself, "How can I get an internship if I don't have much to offer?" You might not have much to offer in regards to finance or accounting, but you do have something to offer as a helping hand. The number one thing that an employer will want from you is dependability and a go-getter attitude. Boss needs you to spread financial statements in Excel for the last 10 fiscal years? Get it done. Needs you to file some paperwork? Get it done. The key thing to remember is that you do not have much to offer. I would say most internships after freshman year are a service to you. Being able to work in a PE shop after freshman year, and get paid is a blessing. And before you ask me about unpaid internships, if you cast your net wide enough, you won't have to worry about that.
If you are a freshman, you are going to want to slowly read and learn about everything out in the finance world. What does an investment banker do? What does a PE firm do? What does a HF do? Make sure you understand the differences. Once you do, start to reach out to alumni in the areas that interest you. (Try to do this in the fall or as soon as you read this) Have questions ready that don't yield answers via quick Google searches.
You might say, "But getting an internship at Goldman after freshman year (or sophomore year for that matter) is hard." That's true. But then again, you might as well start talking to BB bankers if that's where you want to be in a few years. Not only will this help you build relationships for your junior year and beyond, you will get comfortable talking with professionals and learn a lot.
However, since this article is about freshman and sophomore year, you are going to want to reach out to places that do hire underclassmen. These places will typically be PWM and PE shops. Both internships will be fine, however, if you want to do wealth management, aim for PWM. If you want to do banking or something on the buy side, go with PE. You will be able to see if that is the type of work you find interesting. If you aim for both, you'll have more chances at landing a gig for summer.
Now that you have a scope, it's time to snipe. And by snipe, I mean spray, because you are going to be blasting e-mails out to everyone in sight. MJ said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." This applies here as well. Go on Google and search for every firm in your area. Pop open excel and create a spreadsheet with the company name, email address, and phone number. You can also add a "Hit"/"Miss" heading and mess around with formatting to make it more organized. Essentially you want to lay out your targets and have them ready.
Before you start emailing, you have to make sure you don't sound like an idiot. Make sure you have someone look over your template. You are going to have to create something like this:
My name is _______. I attend ________. My major is _________. I would like to help out this summer and learn more about the ________ field.
(Obviously make it more detailed)
The best time to email for these types of internships is January. Some places though, will either make their decisions earlier or later. That's why I would recommend to email in November, then follow up in January if you don't get a response.
If you make it to an interview, congrats. These will not be very technical as an underclassmen. Nevertheless, make sure you understand the company you are applying to and what they do. Do they have a different strategy when compared to their competitors? They will ask you what you know about them and if you have any questions. If they see that you didn't take the thirty minutes to read their website, they will likely reject you if there are other applicants.
Since this was pretty long, here's a summary:
1. Learn about the various industries of finance
2. Reach out to alumni
3. Create a spreadsheet
4. Gather a list of companies
5. Create an email template
6. Reach out to PWM, PE, or other businesses around November or January
7. *Make sure you understand the company you are interviewing for
Best of luck, if you have any questions, feel free to comment.