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How To Convert Your Investment Banking Internship Into A Full-Time Offer


Congrats, you have an internship offer! But now, one of the first questions that come to your mind is: how do I convert this internship into a full-time job? What is the best way to differentiate myself from other interns, impress my team, and make sure I get an offer? I’ve been there too. 

I know how it feels to get a top internship in investment banking, to feel ecstatic for a while, only to realize a few moments later that everything has to be done yet. That this internship is a test – a long test – during which you’ll have to prove your value every single day. 

If you want to know how to pass “the test”, how to successfully convert an internship into a full-time offer, read on. In this article, you will learn the key factors that determine the likelihood of you getting a FT offer. 

You will also discover my very best tips to significantly optimize your chances of receiving a full-time offer at top investment banks. 

What are the key factors that determine if you’ll get an offer or not?

Before I present my best tips, let’s talk about the key factors that affect the likelihood of you receiving a full-time offer:

  • The quality of the work you produce during the internship. This one is quite obvious. If you deliver bad quality work, people won’t be impressed, and you won’t get an offer. If you want to increase your chances of getting an offer, you must do your absolute best to produce work of exceptional quality. PowerPoint slides that are perfectly laid out, zero typos, concise and well-written emails, ingenious and professional-looking Excel models, etc. Every deliverable that you send to other bankers must be of top quality. 
  • Your relationships with your colleagues. Another very important factor to consider. People will not only evaluate you on the quality of your work, but also on how you interact with your colleagues. Do people enjoy your company? Do you get along well with the team? Are you a good fit? No one wants to work with someone they don’t like. Technical competence alone won’t cut it. Social skills are critical. So make sure you take the time to socialize with your colleagues, and try to spend some nice moments with them. 
  • The number and rank of people you’ve impressed. The more people you manage to impress – be it with your work or personality – the more positive reviews you will have at the end of your internship. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you are to receive an offer. It’s better to impress 9 out 10 people in your team than just 1 out of 10 people, even if this one person is highly impressed by your skills and performance. Also, while your goal should be to make a strong impression on everyone, it goes without saying that a positive review from an MD who is spearheading the whole team will have more impact in your performance review than an equally positive review from a junior analyst. 
  • The recruiting needs of the firm (outside of your control). Sometimes banks will be open to extend full-time offers to interns, and sometimes they won’t. You have to keep this in mind. If banks don’t want to recruit new analysts, you will not get a full-time offer, even if you deliver a world-class performance during the full internship that would make Bruce Wassertein want to hug you out of pride.
  • The strength of your competitors (outside of your control). In investment banking, competition is fierce. If you’re doing a Summer Internship at a tier-one investment bank (like GS, JPM, or MS), you’ll see that the caliber of interns is extremely high. You’ll be competing with very bright people with exceptional leadership experiences, and pristine grades from some of the world’s finest universities.

Now, let me present you some of my best tips to help you convert your internships into FT offers. If I was an intern at a bank or fund today, this is literally what I would do to put myself in the best possible position to get the job. I call them “rules”, because not following these can seriously hurt your chances. Let’s get into it.

7 rules to follow to convert your internship into a full-time offer
Rule #1: Never complain
no complaint

Under no circumstances you should complain while you’re at work. Even if the associate is asking you to finish a 108-slide PowerPoint presentation on a Sunday, while treating you like a sub-human, don’t complain. 

The job can be very hard, and the hours very long, but if you start complaining about it, people will assume you’re not made to last in this industry. And you probably won’t get an offer. 

And when I say “don’t complain”, I mean not just in front of your colleagues (it’s obvious that you should stay positive and eager to work when interacting with your team), but also internally, inside your head. 

If you complain to yourself, even if no one is here to see it, it will negatively affect your mood, your emotions, your well-being, and ultimately, the quality of your work. If you make a sworn agreement with yourself that you’ll never complain, you will learn to see the work in a different light: as an opportunity to grow and learn, while building mental resilience. 

Take pride in working hard, and always focus on the positive aspects of the job (e.g., working with smart people every day, working on deals that may transform industries and positively impact millions of people, having unparalleled access to top executives, etc). 

Rule #2: Follow a zero defect policy

A zero defect policy is a business philosophy that could be summarized in one sentence: mistakes are not acceptable. Investment bankers are largely judged by their ability to deliver flawless work consistently, with a remarkable attention to detail. 

And it’s easy to understand why: when you’re pitching a Fortune 500 CEO for a potential deal, you don’t want your PPT slides to be filled with clumsy grammar mistakes and sluggish designs. Everything you present to the client must be absolutely flawless. 

That’s why interns who make many mistakes rarely make the cut. Mistakes will hurt you far more than a great piece of work will benefit you. For that reason, it is critical that you double, even triple check your work before sending it to your manager, and also make sure that there are no typos in your emails. 

You must adopt a zero defect policy, which forces you to do everything in your power to make zero mistakes. Now, I can already hear some of you saying: “but man, everybody makes mistakes! It is not realistic to think that I won’t make at least one mistake during a 6-month internship!”. 

Yes, you are right. You will inevitably make some mistakes while you’re working. I did too when I was an intern. But in order to minimize the number and gravity of mistakes, I advise you to adopt this radically intolerant mindset, so that you become obsessed with precision and rigor. 

If you don’t have this zero defect mindset, mistakes will subconsciously seem more acceptable to you, and you will commit more of them – hurting your chances of getting an offer. So keep remembering this: mistakes are not unacceptable.

Rule #3: Talk with people

One of the biggest mistakes many interns make is to think that as long as they deliver high-quality work, they will get an offer. While the quality of deliverables obviously matters a lot, you cannot rely on that alone. 

You also need to socialize with your team, develop good relationships with each of the team members, so that they appreciate you as a person, not just as a co-worker. No one wants to work for years with someone they don’t like. 

So take the time to socialize with your colleagues, even if your productivity suffers a bit. It’s a good investment of time that will benefit you in the long run. I know plenty of people who were very skilled at their job during the internship, but who didn’t get the FT offer because they didn’t take the time to truly connect with their team. 

Just be aware that it’s not just about the quality of work you do, but also about the impression you make on other people.

Rule #4: Find a mentor

I can’t stress enough the importance of this rule. Every single successful person I know has or had a mentor at some point in their career, and it also applies to investment banking. I had 4 mentors during the time I worked in finance. And without them, I would never have gotten an offer at Goldman Sachs

Mentors can benefit you in several ways. First, they can help you overcome your sticking points by giving you practical advice (e.g., becoming more productive, networking more smoothly with other people, becoming better at financial modeling). 

Second, assuming they work in the same firm, they can support you in the process of getting a full-time offer by giving you positive feedback. As such, whenever you start a new internship, talk to senior people and try to find yourself a mentor. 

The most effective way to do that is to ask high quality questions to senior bankers in private, and show them that you are very grateful for their insights and guidance. Do it several times, and if they like you, they will become your informal mentors. 

Note that the largest banks usually have mentorship programs in place, thanks to which you’ll be assigned a mentor automatically. 

Take maximum advantage of these programmes, both for your own learning curve and the advancement of your career.

Rule #5: Whenever you have an important presentation to make, invest as much time as possible to make it as excellent as it can be

At the end of your internship (at least if you work for a large bank or fund), you will most likely have to perform a presentation to present a project that you did. This presentation is extremely important. 

Here’s why: if you are in a large team, many people will be listening to you for the very first time, and will judge your degree of competence solely based on this presentation. Sometimes, you will have some very senior people hearing you, people you never interacted with in your daily job, but who have the power to make you an offer if you impress them. 

I know it sounds stressful, and to be honest, it is! But that’s just the truth. For that reason, it’s extremely important that you spend as much time as you need on your end-of-internship project, to make sure it is as perfect as it can be. 

Do not treat it as a mere formality. I know some people who did a decent but not excellent job during their whole internship, but managed to impress everyone by delivering a stellar presentation at the end. This definitely played in their favor to get an offer.

Rule #6: Don’t get into arguments with people. Always remain diplomatic and respectful

This one is quite obvious, but worth highlighting nevertheless: even if you have serious beef with someone (regardless of seniority), avoid conflict at all costs. Try to get along with everyone by remaining as diplomatic as you can be. 

That not only includes your senior colleagues (VPs, MDs) but also the other interns. If you get into arguments with other members of your team, you may be perceived as a trouble maker (even if you’re arguing for a good cause), which will negatively affect your chances of securing an offer.

Rule #7: Build the habit of asking high-quality questions every day

Another easy and effective way to make a strong impression as an intern is to ask great questions consistently. If you keep asking intelligent questions every day, Analysts, Associates, and VPs will perceive you as an inquisitive, intellectually curious person who is always eager to learn more about the job. 

And trust me, this will make a big difference when your colleagues are asked to fill performance review questionnaires about you… So my advice is: try to ask at least two great, intelligent questions every day to your team members. After a few days, it will become a habit and questions will naturally come to you. 

Apply all these rules, and your chances of getting a full-time offer will be significantly higher (assuming your employers are open to recruiting new full-time analysts, of course). 

If you want more advice to help you secure internships and full-time offers, check out our flagship course on this page


A word about the author

Aurelian Tran is the founder of Alpha Lane and an ex-Goldman Sachs analyst who has spent 4+ years working in the investment banking industry.

He founded Alpha Lane to help students and young professionals achieve their highest professional ambitions, by securing offers at top-tier financial institutions.