Wait, what? It’s intern season already! Days were just flying by, until the PT Cell came out with the Placement timeline too. Resume, Points verification, Interview Prep, Rejection 1, Interview Prep, Rejection 2, and it just goes on and on until you finally see your name in the Selected column. But trust me, it all ends well, and while a fresh new journey begins for all of us in some days, let me take you through what it was like the previous time.
Hi guys, I am Adit Daftary and I am currently a Final Year Undergraduate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I was interning with Barclays Investment Bank in their Global Markets Division in Mumbai during my 3rd Year Summers. Barclays came to IIT Bombay for recruitment after almost 5 years, so finding a trend in their process and selection criteria was going to be a task. From the moment Barclays came with their Case Study Competition to IIT, my gut said, this was it for me.
I have written extensively about how I got started with Finance and the FAQs regarding it in a previous blog which you can find here. I have also elaborated about my interview experience with Barclays in this piece. You can find my Resume and Case Study towards the end of The Interview Blog. Phew….this makes my current job way easier, but I have left you with a lot to read. (I would adviseyou to read through my previous blogs before going through this one. It will make a lot more sense)
Jumping to April 2020. As soon as IIT Bombay took the decision of preponing the Summer Vacations, PT Cell was quick enough to communicate the same to the respective HR teams of the recruiting companies. My internship commenced on 27th of April and was 8 weeks long, as promised. I was working in the Equities Team; to be quite specific, on the Flow Derivatives Desk. To help you understand the structure a little bit more, any Global Markets Division of an Investment Bank is divided majorly according to the different asset types. It could be the FX Market, Credit Market, Equities or the Debt Market. It goes without saying that all the interns were given work on a real world project which was either already underway or was freshly started.
The Barclays Experience
Even before we had gotten started with our respective internships, Barclays had started a Buddy Program wherein, each intern was allotted a buddy within Barclays. It was the role of the Buddy to get the intern acquainted with what he/she was stepping into beforehand. When things were uncertain during mid-April, we had an extended Buddy Program where I was given a brief idea about the project I would be working on. My project required a very good understanding of the derivatives market especially the plain vanilla options. My first week went into reading up about the Black Scholes Model, Binomial Asset Pricing Model, Weiner’s Process and a little bit of Stochastic Calculus. J.C Hull would be the go to book for all of this content. My desk used to be in constant touch with the Barclays’ traders in London. We used to provide them with trade ideas which used to be discussed upon, and then executed. And my main task was to come up with these trade ideas based on the Implied and Realised Volatility of Single Stock Options in the European Market. Thereafter, lay the toughest task in front of me: CODING. To all the people asking me, ‘Is coding required?’ It is effing necessary and this fact has been pushed down my throat this internship. It didn’t take me time to grasp onto the finance concepts, but most of my time went into figuring out Python’s syntax (especially with the freakishly slow Virtual Desktop) If you are looking for an internship in the Finance field, you are most definitely going to end up doing coding, at least for an entry level position. Diving a bit deeper, my work involved time series analysis and playing around with the data that I had been provided with. Towards the end, I had to provide a backtested result of the trade ideas I came up with.
More About Investment Banks
As I already mentioned, there are different asset classes which an IB deals with. When we speak of an IB, it doesn’t just curtail to the Markets. There are a vast number of roles present in an Investment Bank and I will speak for the Markets part. What an IB typically does is, it offers a product. It could be an Exotic Option or it could be Lent shares or a proprietary custom made product as per the client needs. Clients are typically Hedge Funds or High Net Individuals. Working in an IB you’re majorly on the sell side of the transactions. Or you will find yourself working as a middle agent. Being on the sell side too, managing our own books is one of the primary tasks that is looked after. There are different risk management systems in place too and there’s no one stereotypical job profile. You could be helping them with building their infra or managing their risks or researching up about a new product they have to offer. Now again, being on the sell side (cause let’s be honest, we’re on sale in internships and placements) of the table, you won’t get to choose what work you want to do. Indeed, there is a lot of luck needed there to land you with something you love, but nevertheless it is always an upward journey.
One thing I love to speak about is Barclays’ Culture. How many times have you seen a company inviting it’s interns even before they’ve joined, to their year end bash? I felt like a part of Barclays right from Day 1 (No no no, this wasn’t Day 1 Selections. Day 1 of my selection :p). We were invited for their events even when our internship was 6 months away. As a part of the internship program, we were also supposed to take one class for an NGO as a part of social service. Barclays really believes in giving back to the society. Despite the Work From Home situation, special efforts were taken to give us an office like experience. We had Fun Fridays where all colleagues got together to play games. At no point of time was a hierarchical feeling rubbed off on us. We had bi-weekly meetings with our Managing Director which were very informal and fun. I personally used to look forward to them. Bi-weekly review meetings also helped us keep a check on our progress report. Even after overburdening of work due to the present situation, every employee you pinged for help would free up some time right away. I believe the current scenario was a hard test for all the corporates and Barclays has shown nothing but character.
I was asked to give “tips” to juniors to get a “good intern” and here is where the problem arises. Stop idealizing those dreamy Day 1 selections. A top Day 1 company was unable to conduct their internship program in times like these. Another top Day 1 company was unable to pay stipends to their interns, and unfortunately, these are the only basis points we use while proclaiming an intern to be good. I believe in good experiences and bad experiences and that is always in your hands. Internship isn’t the end of college/job life. With the current situation, the recruitment levels might fall and don’t take it hard on yourselves. Remember there is one position which is going to be vacant for a long long time and nobody can take that from you– House Maid 🙂
Best of Luck and Cheers!!