The job market is largely the same in every industry: not enough jobs available for too many well-qualified candidates. The financial sector is particularly difficult. It is cutthroat at the best of times but with the country struggling economically, getting a job in finance can seem an arduous task.
It is likely you realise this already and are considering an internship as a way in to a company. Even internships have become highly competitive in recent years and it can be hard even to secure one of these. It can be a case of lowering expectations, taking your time to do research and advertising yourself effectively – but what are the best tips?
Be prepared to work for nothing
There are certainly paid internships available in the finance section, and you might well have already applied for one, however there doesn’t mean you should rule out unpaid positions. Sometimes the only way into the world of finance is by initially offering your services as a volunteer.
A company is likely to take notice of someone whose enthusiasm for finance means they are willing to work for free, at least to start with. Once you’re in the company you will have genuine experience on your CV which can lead to paid opportunities.
Approach smaller, local companies
It is true that the biggest, most high-profile and, yes, best paid internships are available at the large, international companies in the City but these are also the ones that are highly competitive. As such, they might not even look at an application from someone looking for their first finance internship.
Therefore it is worth considering an application to a smaller, more local company to start with. Opportunities with these companies may not be advertised, so send speculative full applications or make contact in writing or by email to ask if they run any schemes.
Apply for a scheme in a large organisation
Many big financial companies run internship schemes every year. As mentioned, these are very competitive and they will most likely only hire candidates with an existing track record but it never hurts to apply.
If you believe in your own abilities and feel you have the credentials to back up any claims the very worst that will happen is a polite rejection. If you have decided that an unpaid role is not viable for your situation then it is in your interests to apply for as many advertised schemes as you can.
Start looking early
This advice is useful in every walk of life, not just when applying for a finance internship.
It is worth your while to start considering your placement as early as possible, especially if it is needed as part of your university degree or education. Not only is competition slightly less fierce at this time but the industry appreciates punctuality, and if you application stands out you might even be able to have your placement arranged before the closing deadline on an advertised role.
Showing enthusiasm can also encourage companies to consider you for further roles. This means you may be able to extend your internship after the initial agreement or even move into a permanent finance assistant position within the company.
Work on your cover letter
One of the most important things you can do is make sure your cover letter is fit for purpose. A finance company will read this before even looking at your CV so if it doesn’t grip them your chance of a placement goes out the window.
Make sure you tailor every application to each company and follow the formula for a professional letter, explaining why you want the job, why you want to work for company and listing your experience. This will give you as good a chance as possible at securing an internship and impressing influential workers in your chosen industry.
Produce a great CV
When a company is looking through a stack of applications a good CV can really make you stand out as a candidate. Try to spend some serious time on your CV, crafting a document that is well formatted and has perfect spelling and grammar. At the same time remember that potential employers do not want to read your life story. Try to keep your CV under 2 pages, leaving out waffle and any irrelevant information. Lastly try to tailor your CV to a particular job like you would a cover letter – failing that at least make sure it caters to a particular industry.