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Career Options in Banking, Finance & Accountancy: Student

Life as an undergraduate. The glory days. (Believe it or not, you may even miss baked bean-student living one day!) But what to do if you see yourself as a high-flying banking, finance or accountancy professional beyond graduation? Hmmm…

Undergraduate opportunities in business, finance and accountancy

- Insight Days

- Part-time jobs

- University finance societies and events

- First year taster weeks/summer internships

- Spring internships/residential courses

- Summer placements/internships

- Graduate schemes (applications).

There are a multitude of different opportunities to learn and gain experience in banking, finance and accountancy as an undergraduate. So no excuses! From retail and private banks, actuarial firms, pensions and insurance companies and asset management firms, to investment banks and professional services firms, there is plenty around to help you cut your teeth in this sector.

First years can take advantage of insight days and taster weeks, particularly if they are interested in professional services (e.g. advisory, tax or technology) or retail, private or investment banking. Run by leading firms in the sector, these usually last one to three days, or around a week, and provide information on what the firm does, what an area of work is like in the industry, and what’s needed to succeed in the application process. Some may include short assessments or some hands-on experience which could lead to future internship opportunities. It’s a great starting place to find out if an area of the industry is for you.

Summer internships tend to last for the majority of the summer break period and will provide hands-on experience and a real insight into a particular area of banking, finance or accountancy and how a firm works. If you do well, it could even fast-track you to graduate scheme interviews! At this point, the majority of work experience schemes will be open to graduates from any degree discipline; not just those doing a finance related degree.

Top Tips

Don’t forget to make the most of your free time at university, either! Get involved with you university finance society and be proactive in networking at their events. A part-time job as a teller in a bank, for instance, can also demonstrate your interest and help build up knowledge and skills in the industry.

There’s no beating around the bush: if you don’t have any work experience whatsoever in this sector, you could find it quite difficult to get onto a graduate scheme – particularly if it’s something like investment banking or actuarial work you’re after. Many of these banks and firms will use their internship schemes as a method of recruitment; some banks state explicitly that they will only hire their graduate intake from a pool of applicants who have already completed their internships. So make the most of your undergraduate time!

Deadlines to consider

Banking, finance and accountancy is a vast, yet very competitive sector to break into, so you need to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to application deadlines – and not just for the graduate roles!

Both insight days and spring and summer internship opportunities will have their window for application submissions. Insight days can take place at large firms’ offices all over the country, so research which are accessible for you and what their deadlines are. In some cases there are no official deadlines for insight day applications, but places do fill up fast, so apply as soon as you can! Note that some opportunities are only for first years, so make sure you apply for the right thing.

Spring and summer internships are predominantly for students in either their first or penultimate year at university (summer internships will take place in the summer in between the end of penultimate year and the beginning of final year), so be sure to do your research in your first few weeks of your university year so that you don’t miss out.

If you want to have your job lined up to begin right after graduation, you’d better not miss the boat on applications. Application time will come around much sooner than you might think! The majority of deadlines for graduate schemes in the sector fall before Christmas – a lot are around November – in your final year.

Though many opportunities with professional services firms operate on a rolling recruitment basis, it’s still well worth applying as early as you can, as schemes can fill up very quickly.