As investment houses recover from the recession, banks have started to promote more graduate schemes
While recent university graduates are among the most well-educated and skilled individuals in the workforce, they are facing a job market that is also more competitive than it has been in well over a decade. One of the top “dream jobs”, according to a UK graduate careers survey, is a career in investment banking, and with the average entry-level salary for graduates sitting at around £22,600, the allure of high-paying jobs with investment firms or high street banks is easy to understand. But those higher salaries come with a price: graduates who can’t demonstrate their value to the company – and demonstrate it quickly – often find themselves jobless in a short time.
The first step to getting a job with an investment firm or bank is graduating from one of the top-tier universities. Degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London will almost assuredly be considered; those from the London School of Economics, University College London, and Warwick University are now considered “second tier” by recruitment teams from several investment banks. With the recession appearing to ease, though, recruitment teams are once again appearing at job fairs at colleges and universities throughout the UK and abroad. PwC, for example, has begun to increase its presence at these fairs in anticipation of growth in the months and years ahead.
Along with good grades and college experience, a previous internship, summer job, or part-time job at an investment bank is a definite plus. One report shows that just over half of all entry-level jobs with high street banks and investment firms will be filled by people who already have some work experience with the company in question.
While recruiting by investment banks has been cut back across the board, banks like Barclays Capital and RBS are still attending the careers fairs and accepting resumes from qualified students. On the other hand, many others are cutting jobs and therefore not attending many, if any, careers fairs. HSBC is planning to cut 30,000 jobs and UBS AG is cutting five percent of its workforce, the bulk of which will come from its investment banking division. Companies looking toward substantial cuts are, understandably, not heavily involved in the recruiting process as they have many experienced, well-qualified people that they are having to let go.
One advantage to be found in concentrating on the investment banking world for graduates is that investment banking is a global enterprise; those who don’t find jobs in the UK, but are willing to relocate, can often find employment in their chosen field abroad. For example, BNP Paribas has been actively recruiting new investment banking employees for its Buenos Aires, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and other offices. Employees who speak multiple languages are highly sought-after, with compensation to match. Morgan Stanley actively looks for interns and summer hires as a way of “pre-screening” applicants for full-time positions after graduation. These graduate schemes, when available, are a golden opportunity and many students strive to take advantage of them when they are offered.