Over the summer of 2020, I was lucky enough to intern at Macquarie Group, an Australian based investment bank.
The Application Process:
I had already attended the spring insight programme at Macquarie the previous year, and so was able to convert directly into the summer internship. However, this isn’t to say that I got to skip the assessment centre. I still had to return to the bank a few weeks after the spring week had ended to complete a psychometric test and two interviews - one focused on behavioural questions, and the other based on a case study related to my division. Once I had been told that I was successful, I was able to apply for the group within the Investment Banking Division (IBD) that I wanted to work in during the summer internship.
Choosing My Group:
Picking a preference of group took some time and research as this is where I would be positioned during the entirety of the internship. Of course, you have the opportunity to meet teams in other groups and divisions, but the majority, if not all, of your workload will be focused on the group you are in. Personally, I chose the Green Investment Group (GIG), as this is one of the largest groups within the IBD at Macquarie, and as green energy and infrastructure is what they are known for. However, this is the principal finance arm of the IBD, and so differs slightly from the other client focused groups. This is something I didn’t know before I applied and, on reflection, wish I spent more time researching in order to realise this difference earlier.
The Virtual Experience:
Unfortunately, the UK was very much in the midst of a pandemic by the time my internship was due to start. This meant that the internship was shortened to 5 weeks, rather than its usual 9, and all work was completed remotely. We all were asked to download company specific software, which essentially set up a Macquarie Desktop within my own laptop, in order to be able to complete the internship at home.
Unsurprisingly, this changed the entire experience of the internship, but it wasn’t all negative! I saved a lot of money and time on travelling into London every day and all of the interns were still paid the full 10-week amount as promised. Luckily for myself and the other interns that were converted from the spring week, we had already been able to visit the London Office and have a tour of the different desks. Hence, personally, I didn't mind being able to work from the comfort of my own bedroom.
However, I must admit that virtual interactions are not even comparable to real-life discussions. Networking over skype calls and receiving training from a distance was a lot harder than I had first thought, and made it difficult for me to pick up new skills and complete tasks correctly.
In terms of the day-to-day work, it was very much centred on group presentations hosted by Macquarie employees, with either the whole cohort, or specific groups, attending the webinar. When you weren’t in presentations, you were expected to complete risk assessment tasks, financial modelling courses or work set from within your team.
The Buddy System:
Each intern had a buddy, who was normally a third year Analyst, working with their chosen group. Your buddy would determine what projects you would assist with and hence, what work you would do, as they would automatically invite you into the meetings and email exchanges that took place within a few of their teams. For me, my buddy was working on a solar energy project and a biomass project, and so the work I was set was for these two projects. I really liked this buddy approach, as I was able to settle in to the group well and it ensured I had someone I could go to when I needed help or had burning questions. However, this buddy system is not unique to Macquarie and from speaking to some other interns, the level of support your buddy gives you differs greatly – so fingers crossed you are paired with a good one!
The Grad Role:
The majority of summer interns apply for the internship as a way into the grad job, as this guarantees you employment once you finish university. At the end of our internship, we were asked to present to a team of senior employees within our division, and from this presentation, Macquarie would make their decision. This would have differed slightly if the internship hadn’t been virtual, but some sort of presentation would have been required. Unfortunately, I was not chosen for the grad role, but I still enjoyed the experience and can use this opportunity to help apply for summer internships next year. (And if you’re lucky, I’ll write another careers blog about it).
After having completed this experience, I have a few top tips to share…
- It is definitely easier and hence recommended to try and convert from a spring week to a summer internship, and later from a summer internship to a grad role. Trying to apply directly to a role without having any previous experience at the firm isn’t impossible but will be harder. Employers like the fact that you have already been shortlisted before and thus were proven to be a good match to the firm. They also like that you have been able to experience the culture first hand and have gained firm-specific training. It’s not a must, but it’s definitely something to consider.
- Always come prepared with questions to any meetings or discussions you attend during the internship. It gives a good impression to the host that you are listening and staying engaged during the talk, and is good to fill any awkward silences during the Q&A if no one else has anything to offer.
- Know who you are talking to. So many people interns try to ask aimless questions at every Q&A that are not specific to the talk. Asking HR a division specific question is not a good use of the time. Equally, asking a very senior member of your group about an unrelated division is tactless. They could all be very good questions, but only when directed to the right person.
- If you are interested in finding out more about virtual internships and want advice on how to do well whilst working remotely, check out Lisa’s Career Blog here: https://www.warwickwomenscareerssociety.org/post/starting-on-the-right-foot-digitally
Good luck applying!