How to convert your summer internship

by Tracey Abayeta Programme Manager, Investment Banking & Asset Management
19 Jun 2017

As SEO London conclude our pre-internship training for incoming interns at sponsor firms, we would like to wish you all the very best in your 10 week internship. We would also like to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank-you to SEO alumni and friends of the programme who generously invest their time in the next generation of future bankers and investment managers. We are grateful!

SEO London is all about giving back and we hope when you are in a position to do so, you will lend your time to invest in those coming up behind you! I must say, our alumni are the best when it comes to paying it forward.

Having worked in banking, I know that, while the concept of having an intern on your desk can be appealing, it can be a big inconvenience if you get one with a bad attitude! Interns that come in and act like Analysts are gold dust! Interns are prone to mistakes and sometimes don't realise that while they may not be doing the most intellectually stimulating work, there is a great opportunity for them to become an integral part of the team who will be missed when they leave to go back to university. So, how do you become that intern that is perceived as a full time Analyst by your team within the space of 10 weeks?

Well, after an insightful week, I thought it would be useful to summarise some essential pearls of wisdom given by our CEO Andrew Fairbairn, Chairman of SEO London Randy Sesson, alumni at varying stages of their careers and friends of our programme. Here are my top 5 picks:

1. Create a Workflow Document on excel: this was something that Abdul-Karim Ali and Caleb Bakare shared which is a practical way to avoid making the same mistake twice. It's also a great way to keep track of what projects you have worked on over the summer and what your impact has been. Keeping such a record will be useful for any self-appraisals that have to be completed. The document should track who gave you work, deadline to complete, what it will be used for (which helps you to broaden your understanding on how it fits into the overall desk activity), feedback and any follow up required. Your feedback should then become a checklist that you use before submitting any piece of work. Having a meticulous system like this in place will prevent you from making the same mistake twice. Attention to detail is key as an Analyst but you are human and you will make them! However, this strategy minimises this...

2. Be proactive: During Rahul Sugand's Markets session on the 'Psychology of the trading floor', he spoke about the need to have a good attitude and always go the extra mile with any piece of work. Sometimes you may be allocated rotations or projects that you didn't ask for but I can not stress how important it is to always be willing to learn new things, do the work cheerfully and build new relationships naturally. Always think how can you go over and beyond what is being asked. When you are a strong intern, people will be generous with their networks and introduce you to others. A warm introduction is always well received. Once you get a reputation of being an amazing intern, soon everybody will be keen to meet you. Every interaction with people is an opportunity - an opportunity to enhance (or damage) your brand. Remember the brand enhancers: proactivity and positivity

3. Have a positive self perception: Uche Ezichi's Presentation and Networking Skills workshop was a fantastic reminder that it's important to be sure of yourself. Self perception is all about the value you place on yourself. If you are unsure of your capabilities or suffer severe bouts of "imposter syndrome" thinking that you are not good enough to be there, you will base your confidence on how other people relate to you. Confidence can affect competence so determine to have a positive self perception. Remember, you secured your spot on the internship because you have the credentials. Know your strengths and what skills you are bringing to your internship. Quote of the day “when insecurity meets confidence, it calls it arrogance…” Please don’t feel bad about being open about the good things you have done – it’s good for your confidence levels!

4. Connect to SEO Alumni at your firm: Mary Adeyemi co-chair of SEO's Alumni Advisory Board reminded our interns the importance of being part of the SEO family. Look out for SEO Alumni at your firms as this will be common ground on which you can relate with them. Don't underestimate the gains of tapping into their networks. When I used to work at Citi, I would organise meetings for SEO interns to practice their final presentations to other SEO alum as that was a key determining factor to converting the internship. Build strong relationships with Alumni and you will be surprised at their willingness to help. We have Alumni at all levels since we've been around 17 years!

5. Our CEO Andrew Fairbairn reminded the students of 15 basic practices that every intern should do that don’t require much skill. This ranges from knowing where to find resources to accepting constructive criticism. These points are crucial and I recommend you read through these things and ensure that you are practicing every single one on your internship:

So as you prepare to start your internship, determine to hit the ground running as an Analyst so you are seen as an integral part of the team.

All the best!

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