So what is a Spring Week?
A Spring Week, or Insight Week, is a placement typically undertaken during the Easter holidays of your first year at university. They are designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to the industry you are applying to, as well as the work of that particular institution. They have become more important in recent years as competition has increased and organisations seek to identify high-potential candidates as early possible. Although they are not directly tied to internship applications their purpose is still to recruit top talent early on.
Most popular in the banking industry, here you find two main types, a generalist spring week, where you join a bank and work across several different areas and divisional spring weeks where you join a specific group at a bank for 1-2 weeks. They also exist outside banks and in other sectors. You can find some examples here.
So if a spring week sounds like it might be of interest, what’s the next step?
Making applications – what do employers look for?
- Target your application: Typically you have to either fill out an application form or submit a cover letter and CV. Cover letters are very important. You really need a specific application for each organisation – copying and pasting won’t work. You need to highlight specific deals or news about it or events that you have attended where you have met staff.
- Do your research: Some organizations such as Nomura no longer ask for a CV and CL because they were receiving a lot of generic letters with evidence of ‘copy and paste’ text. They now ask for a CV and answers to three application questions: one about why you are applying to Nomura, one asking you to say something different about you that won’t be evident from your CV, and one asking you to discuss something you have read in the news recently.
- Highlight relevant skills and attributes: You also generally need a record of strong academics, proven analytical skills and a definite and demonstrated interest in the financial world. Extra-curricular activities will help demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual –which is also often a crucial part of your application. They’re looking for “life experiences” something like running a business or leading a student group is very positive. Proven leadership skills as well as being able to demonstrate that you work well in a team will also be advantageous for your application.
How else are applications assessed?
Employers us a range of assessment tools to evaluate your application and suitability for their scheme. For example at Barclays, after submitting a CV, you will be provided with a number of realistic scenarios which give you a real insight into what you can expect and help you to better understand the industry. This involves tackling multiple choice questions and then recording video responses. This is designed to give a fairer impression of how you work and what motivates you. Other companies may ask you to psychometric tests, and do a video interview and answer motivational and competency-based questions.
How can you boost your chances of success?
Besides earning top grades at school, participating in great extracurricular activities, and submitting a perfect application, how else can you boost your chances? Here are our five top tips:
- Apply early
- Consider other channels – for example, think about diversity programs such as SEO and Rare Recruitment, where you can get fast-tracked through the process.
- Proof read your CV and make sure it demonstrates your skills match the competencies they are looking for
- Read up on the banks’ business areas and the roles you might be interested in before you apply.
- Prepare for any interviews very well.
Good luck with your applications and remember LSE Careers is here to help you.
Thanks to Denise Donoghue for the research for this blog.