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What Does Penultimate Year Mean for Finance Internships?

Your penultimate year at university: it’s a pretty cool place to be in the scheme of things. You’ve survived your first year frolics (just), you have now figured out the where the library is, and you’ve shifted that mortal coil of the ‘Fresher’ label. You are, quite frankly, invincible, and progressing joyously, yet rapidly – and a little too rapidly for your liking – through the university life cycle. Your final year looms ahead in the not-to-distant future…blimey.

Finance internships, ahoy!

What does all of this mean for your pending glorious finance career? Or perhaps, to put it a bit more accurately at this point, your finance internship?

If you want to work in banking or for an investment firm, you’re going to have to take part in one of their internship programmes. The simple, brutal truth is that if you haven’t gained experience through one of these schemes with the organisation you’re eying up for that top finance job when you graduate, it’s going to be an uphill struggle. According to the High Fliers report, surveys show that for 2015 an expected 29% of vacancies in the accounting and professional services sector will be filled by graduates who have already completed an internship of some kind with the employer. In banking and finance these figures are even higher: an estimated whopping 61% - nearly two thirds of all vacancies – will be filled by those graduates who’ve already had experience with the company. Some banks will explicitly state that graduate opportunities will not be available to those who haven’t completed a placement with them.

Don’t miss the penultimate year boat

Tempting as it may be, now is not the time to go into cruise control. Your penultimate year means all-systems-go for applying for and undertaking your finance internship. The majority of these opportunities are paid and take place during the summer holidays sandwiched between the end of your penultimate year and the beginning of your final year. So if you have your heart set on a finance career – particularly within banking and investment – this fact should be etched into every notepad you own, and the deadlines for applications to boot!

Now, if you’re one of those really forward-thinking souls, the chances are you may have already taken part in a spring insight programme during your first or second year, and have been lucky enough to be fast-tracked to an internship scheme. If that’s the case, good work! If not, you’ll still have an insight that puts you at a strong advantage in gaining an internship. This doesn’t mean to say that if you haven’t got involved with any work experience yet you won’t have a chance; you just have to make sure you make the most of your application.

Finance internship application deadlines

Be aware that the deadlines for these internships will come around much, much sooner than you think. Application deadlines vary between different organisations and the types of internship on offer, but generally the majority of deadlines occur between November and January of the academic year.

This means you’ll have to be very quick off the mark. You’ll have barely got into the swing of your penultimate year before you’ll have to have sent off your applications. Use your time wisely, do your research as early as you can and make note of all relevant deadlines, and don’t miss your chance! 

By Jos Weale, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com