During the boom times the Investment Banking industry settled on a process that, they felt, helped them hoover up the brightest and best students before the other sectors got a look in – Spring Insight Weeks for first year undergraduates, Summer Internships between second and third year, the best interns getting offers to join the Graduate Programmes when they graduate. Early closing dates for the finalists to mop up the leftover vacancies.
Then the financial crisis hit, the brand was tarnished, the recruitment requirements changed and decreased, but like turning round an oil tanker, it takes a long time to change an early talent approach.
This was brought vividly to life last week when I was chatting to a couple of our 2nd year students. Both had been invited to summer internship assessment centres for a couple of the big Investment Banks. They were supposedly target market – second year students, but both were in the minority in the centres – the large majority of candidates had already graduated, some from Masters programmes, many had had previous front office internships. No matter how talented second year students are, it’s difficult for them to compete with such experienced graduates – that makes it incredibly difficult for the bank to recognise potential and recruit the right intern.
I doubt very much that the recruiters wanted this situation to occur, and I’m sure that they are doing all they can to create as level a playing field as possible for the candidates, but a series of no doubt sensible decisions has lead to a point where the recruitment strategy arguably misses the mark. I think the next couple of years will see a new normal – just in time for economic conditions to have changed again.