System Requirements:
In order to be considered a serious candidate for a role in finance there are a few things you must be able to tick off. 

- A-levels: Maths should definently be taken. Alongside Maths, good choices would be Economics, Accounting, Physics and perhaps and essay based subject. Most importantly you must achieve AAB. Don't give up if you fail these requirements though submit your CV anyway, the people at Human Resources have a lot to get through and they might put you through for a laugh.

- University:
Most successful graduates attended either Oxbridge, LSE, UCL or Imperial. It was worth noting that some of the most prestigious universities in the country appear lower down the list. This is due to their poor track record of getting people into investment banking jobs. The reasons may include less comprehensive careers advice groups and less recruiting events run by investment banks. Many northern universities appear further down the list. Candidates who fail to make it into the top 5 universities are normally recommended to take an industry focused investment banking degree such as the BSc Investment and Financial Risk Management from Cass Business School or those of the ICMA centre in Reading.

Now What Opportunites are there? After all wasn't there some kind of banking crisis?

Well most banks are still running their Easter Insight schemes, which are 1-2 week courses that will give students an introduction to a life in finance. These Easter schemes are only open to students in their first year of study. These schemes are especially useful because they usually allow you to fast-track your way into a paid second year Internship.

Don't worry though, if you missed out on the Easter week in your first year you can still apply for a Summer Internship in your second year. er internships are the most popular and most competitive pre-graduate programmes. They let you gain ‘hands-on’ experience in the industry and allow you to find out if banking is for you or not. Internships can be done in most divisions of an investment bank, and applying for several different internships may give you a broader understanding of the industry and the opportunities available. These internships are everywhere, nearly every bank and consultants runs one, so get applying.

I am afraid that if you miss out on your second year Internship at the moment, then you are unlikely to gain a graduate position and thus never have a career in banking. It's a tough life I am afraid.

The Job Itself:
If you manage to land yourself that coveted position then you are in luck, you will be able to expect a killer salary! But I am afraid you will pay for it with your life because you can also expect to work all hours of the day including your weekends. Some positions may be better than others, for example, if you become a trader you would expect your hours are dependant upon the opening and closing times of your market, so stay away from currency trading! Sales get off a bit lighter too!

The Key:
INITIATIVE INITIATIVE INITIATIVE. If you fulfil the requirements then you are halfway there, all you need now is to show some initiative in order  to get yourself the job. Be prepared to grab the phone and just start calling, if you can gain any temporary work or any opportunity at all that is relevant, then you will stand out from the crowd significantly. So start working those contacts!

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    July 2009


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