Uncle A on Investment Banking

THE AGONY UNCLE advises Matt on the ins and outs of investment banking internships.

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Dear A,

I’m bricking myself mate, not gonna lie. Here’s the problem: I need money, and I need a job in investment banking. It’s what I’ve always wanted, ever since Morgan Stanley’s lavish dinner last term. I don’t do economics, but I feel like I should want this. Will my 2:2 in history be enough to bag myself an internship in the IB division of a major multinational banking conglomerate, or should I consign myself to the scrapheap of a job in media or teaching?

Poverty-stricken regards,


Dear Matt,

Internships are where your soul goes to die. Every year a large group of third years return to Cambridge with two lifeless eyes, a withered husk of a personality, and a coke habit. Still, if you want to earn enough money to be able to afford the inevitable rehab, then you’ll need to get your foot on the first rung of the corporate ladder by securing one.

Do your homework. This is crucial, because you don’t want to end up cleaning out bin bags for ten pounds a day with nothing but your own toothbrush, and because most internships exploit the fact that you’re so heartbreakingly keen that you would personally irrigate their colons if it meant they gave you a job.

Next, collect cards. This means you can fill in the obviously nepotistic ‘do you know anyone here?’ question on your application form. Bear in mind that you should keep your response to this realistic – they won’t know who you are, and they certainly don’t give a shit about you.

Don’t say something like, ‘we go on holiday every year to the Moroccan Atlas to gaze across the starlit desert with the Bedouins before building a school in tragically war-stricken Western Sahara’. By putting bankers and charity in the same sentence you have automatically outed yourself as a naive gap year liar. Do say, ‘we really connected over our feverish optimism for the company’s reputation in terms of synergetic performance analysis, and our mutual passion for blue sky thinking.’ They will like this because you have used at least nine words that mean nothing at all.

Be credible when writing your CV, but at the same time, lie. You definitely didn’t establish a successful hedge fund when you were five, but obviously you did play at county level in everything, including chess. It’s the sort of thing that sounds wicked but no one will be arsed to check.

You have to bear in mind that everyone you’re competing against will have done everything in the world that is relevant to being an investment banker, and, to boot, is probably a complete wanker, which helps. To combat this, play the Cambridge card ruthlessly. Try adding ‘Cambridge University’ to the front of, say, The Women’s Bobbin Lace-Making Club, or The Rock Society, and feel the power of those two single words.

Remember that the exception to this is if you write for The Tab. Don’t write that. They won’t care.

Another top tip is that bankers need to be selfish and at the same time ‘a team player’. This means that you must answer ‘yes’ to both ‘do you like ultimate frisbee?’ and ‘would you be prepared to leave your twin baby nephews in a burning building if it meant you could secure £x for the company?’

If you get to interview, dress nicely, and dish some chat about the current rugby season. Finish by making some cheeky, deeply sexual references to the fitty behind the desk in reception, give the interviewer a hearty slap on the back, and you’ll be right in.

All the best,


Illustration by Amy Munro-Faure