Investment Banking Internship Resume

Investment banking internship resume vs. the rest

Why will any investment banking internship resume always get priority over a normal resume?

Well, in a word ‘differentiation’.  Bankers look for school names like Oxbridge, and 3.8 GPA, but these are not all.

Intern experiences with bulge brackets or even boutique banks are high quality work experiences that attract bankers’ attention. So if you’ve managed to complete one, then speak loud – because an investment banking internship resume will take you to the top of the pile every single time.

Apart from a banking internship, any experience in a relevant field will gain you on extra credit. For example, if you are applying to FIG and you have worked at a commercial bank, or if you are applying to TMT and you worked in a tech start up or did an internship at Microsoft, you will find yourself on the experienced pile. In other words, absent a banking internship, quality experience in an industry player relevant to the group you are applying to will work equally well.

How to write your intern resume from top down?
Your intern resume usually consists of three parts.

Top – education

Middle – Work/leadership experiences

Bottom – Hobbies/interests and any others

I’ll walk you through top to bottom of how to write your resume from good to great.

What is the #1 mistake most students make?

It is sad that most students make mistakes at the top by writing a boring, useless summary sentence. It occupies precious space at the most dominant position on your resume and yet no one will read.

Old library books, career counselors or almost 99% of the resume tips out there on the interest insist students to do this, which is totally useless on banking resumes. According to IIB, there is a ‘15-seconds to bin’rule for any an investment banking resume. Whether it’s 15, 20 or even 30 seconds, the life span of your resume is too short and should not include any useless things, especially when you want to pack everything on one page.

How to go from 4/10 to 10/10 when writing your work experience section
This is the most important part of your resume, and yet most students got messed up here.

The single most important strategy here is don’t write so much about what you did, but rather what you achieved.

Yeah, bankers are paid against results, not hours. Bankers want to hear about your achievements, rather than how many phone calls you have to answer everyday.

When listing your achievements make sure they are…

  • Real results – although bankers won’t expect million dollar achievements from a student or fresh graduate, they do want to see sizeable results so don’t be afraid to stretch the truth a little here.  I’ll illustrate this later on.

  • Extremely specific – write numbers, dates, project names etc. will make your achievements look 10 times more believable than every other student who writes words like “a lot” or “plenty” or “many”….

  • Client or employer focused – banks are in the ‘people as resources’ / ‘enrichment of stockholders’ business and want to see what return they would get on you; what value you would add.  So when you’re writing about results you achieved in past jobs be sure to hammer on about how you increased profits, turnover, morale, insight, strategy, ideas, or how you saved time, money, made things easier, more convenient, innovated, increased efficiency, brought in more business, new customers, or otherwise rocked the joint.

  • Use banker-friendly terms – fill your resume with terms like ‘the space’, ‘competitive landscape’, ‘return on investment’ and other financial terms. This will subtly showcase insider knowledge, and probably above all that you are a student who actually cares about business.

  • Supplemented with metrics – whether it’s $, %, fold, units or amount, you have to use numbers to quantify your achievement, because they are the language of bankers and also add further authenticity to your achievements. 

Here is a quick investment banking resume example to illustrate
It’s time to illustrate what I’ve said. Let’s refer to the A-grade sample resume that I published in my last post.

“Analyzed the monthly financial statements of a $2 million dollar (rev) boutique food retailer and found a way to reduce their accounts receivable by 22 days, which resulted in improved liquidity (17% increase) and an additional $25,000 cash surplus for the client”.

In this answer you’ve managed to mention;

    • A specific example of a task you did
    • The tangible real world result achieved
    • Real and ‘touchable’ results
    • Business/finance terms like “rev”, “analyzed”, “financial statements” and “accounts receivable”

Bankers are guaranteed to understand exactly what you did and what the impact of it all was.  Perfect.

20 of the most powerful words to describe past jobs
We are taught to be humble either at school or at home. However when it comes to writing investment banking resume, you need to tell that you’re able, and that you’re the right person. Stay away from ‘humble’ for a while.

Try describing your work experiences with words in these 3 groups.

      • Managed, implemented, initiated, oversaw, organized, developed, led…
      • Analyzed, researched, investigated, reviewed…
      • Advised, projected, evaluated, and anything that make you speak like a banker…

Avoid these words: assisted, prepared, helped…

What if you have no investment banking internship? And What if your work section is by itself average?
If you have no investment banking internship or equally quality experience, then see if you have any other leadership experience. This may include leadership experience in an impressive position within a relevant and prestigious organization – A board level position at your college’s finance club is a good example.

What if you don’t have an impressive leadership experience?
Well it seems you have nothing competitive but a strong desire to go for investment banking. Don’t give up. You may not realize that the poorest work track record can be turned into something that looks freaking impressive.  Contact IIB. Get the advice from those who were in your same situation but broke into investment banking successfully.