My name is Lars and I joined the Bachelor of Banking and Finance at Frankfurt School in 2017. Within my first semester, I wanted to get hands-on experience in the finance industry as soon as possible. Spring weeks are a great option to start early. In April 2018, I had the chance to participate in Nomura’s Spring Week Program in London. Nomura is a Japanese investment bank, which you might not be familiar with. However, it is a large player in Asia and acquired the Lehman brother Asian and European operations. This article provides you with a brief introduction about spring weeks and shares some tips and experiences on what to expect.
What is a Spring Week?
A spring week is a weeklong insight into various divisions within a bank, boutique or asset manager. It is very common in the UK, however, some banks offer spring weeks elsewhere as well. In general, a spring week is a wildcard for students. Everyone can apply and those who successfully finish the week will be offered a fast track to a summer internship next year. This provides you with a great opportunity which might turn into a full time offer at a large financial institution.
The application process depends on each bank and is very individual. In general, you will have to work through different forms, upload relevant documents, and write cover letters and essays about yourself. Following that, you will have to face several online tests and, if done successfully, one or more interviews. Of course, you need some luck to be selected as one of the 40 students amongst nearly 2000 applicants, however, you also have to make an impact. I made it to two interviews, one at JP Morgan and one with Nomura. In both cases, I was told that it will only last 30min and the longest one took me exactly 29min and 59 seconds. Spring weeks are a strictly structured mass application process. If you do not manage to impress your interviewer, one of the next hundred candidates will. My advice is to focus on exciting hobbies or projects you did in the past, in the best case they have a link to economics.
It is important to have some relevant knowledge i.e. about current topics affecting the industry but obviously you are just at the beginning of your studies. You will be matched with students from all kind of subjects, so try to be unique! Never forget that even though there are a lot of institutions, the people selected for the spring week will be representing the top 2%. On our very first day, we were told that only half of the participants will be offered a fast-track internship. My recommendation would be to select 5 banks and give it your best shot. One could do several additional applications, but it should be kept in mind that it is a very time-consuming process, especially online tests and essays. It is better to invest that time to study for your upcoming exams.
What to expect?
Each bank organizes their program differently. Some last longer than others and some provide you with a place to stay. The common denominator is the program. It will consist of company presentations, introductions of multiple divisions, networking events, shadowing employees and case studies. Some banks assess students with a full test at the end of the program while others will look who participates the most. In my case, we were shown one different department each day, including networking lunch with business representatives and case studies related to day to day projects in a specific field. Prior knowledge is certainly helpful but not a must have. They start from scratch because students come from various backgrounds such as biochemistry or philosophy.
Overall, I had a great time and learned a lot about Nomura and the banking sector in general. After getting an in-depth insight about the different divisions I even realigned my career plans. In addition, I met some of the brightest people during my time in the UK and was able to exchange my interest in the financial world with like-minded, motivated students and professionals.