How To Convert Your Spring Week

Everyone’s Spring Week is going to be slightly different depending on the financial institution and the business channel you are spending your time in. There are likely to be various networking, informational and group events. Clearly you will have done some significant preparation around the company, the financial institution’s activity in the market sector you are based in and the financial markets overall. As a minimum core, know the following Market Knowledge posts on Opening City Doors:

-10 Fixed Income ‘Must Knows’

-10 Foreign Exchange ’Must Knows’

-10 Equity ’Must Knows’

-Market Benchmarks

-Buy Side versus Sell Side

-A Day In The Life Of A (Bond) Trader

…and of course have good current market awareness via the latest Market Update on OCD Home Page.

Know, and use, some facts and figures about the company without sounding robotic. Any deals, New Issues, M&A activity etc…they have been involved in this year you need to be aware of these.

Below are some of the tips I normally give to my Assessment Centre candidates but are equally valid for you.

Do Not Turn Up Late (to state the obvious)

The worst thing you could possibly do during Spring Week is turn up late. If you’re in London allow for travel hassle. Know exactly where you are going. If you are meant to be there at 9.00 don’t turn up at reception at 8.57; you’re likely to be in a queue of 10 people waiting to see the receptionist; an uncomfortable position to be in.

Group Exercises

During your Spring Week make sure you get involved in every task. You should approach every task with enthusiasm and a determination to perform well. If there are any group activities you particularly need to be confident as you will be assessed on your ability to work with others. It will be noticeable if you stand to one side in group tasks and let others take the lead. At the same time be inclusive of others i.e. ask another “What are your thoughts on this?” rather than others having to just listen to your view. Ask quieter people to join in, perhaps saying “that’s a good idea but what about…”’ even if you think they had a poor idea. We are looking for team players here!

It there are to be group exercises volunteer to be the timekeeper – there has to be a timekeeper otherwise you will run out of time and somebody will have lost out on speaking and you will have failed as a group!  It’s a nice easy thing to say “ Guys I ‘ll be a time keeper and give you a signal when you’ve got 15 seconds left to go on your piece”: Perfect behaviour demonstrating leadership, assertiveness, organisation, and team player skills.

Words, tones, body language are all key if you have to present the group’s finding back to people .If there’s 5 of you all dong a 1 minute presentation back to others, once you’ve done your piece don’t stare aimlessly into space thinking “I’m done” . Instead listen with intent and show good body language to the rest of your group and other groups. A little head-nodding maybe appropriate here. Same if you are speaking last whilst others speak.

Remember People’s Names

The word most people like to hear the most is their own name. If you are able to say, when you bump into someone in the corridor who just gave a great talk or led a session, “ Mr XYZ that was a really interesting session ..perhaps following up with a question or comment on the topic “ again that is a differentiator. Be professional rather than too familiar (see below).

Similarly small talk counts for a lot! The Spring Week is a very social experience as you will be spending a lot of time alongside other graduates and current employees and will have plenty of time to interact. Although IBs may well be looking to evaluate more via set exercises they may also pick up on your social interaction with others. It is also wise and polite to speak to the other candidates as this demonstrates how you interact with others and will help you significantly in the group tasks.

Be Yourself!

Don’t be a ‘fake’ version of yourself as it can backfire quickly. Being yourself is important during Spring Week but you also need to be a ‘professional’ version of yourself. You need to treat the week as if you were in an actual professional setting, as the ‘assessors’ want to see how you would behave in such an environment and around others.

About the Author

Paul McCormick is the founder of Opening City Doors and is a Financial Market Specialist having worked for several leading Investment Banks and financial technology institutions additionally.He therefore provides a unique insight, and unusually broad perspective, into the opportunities available in London Financial Markets and related sectors and how to launch your career in the ‘City’.