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The average banking intern made 68 job applications. Good luck

Getting an investment banking internship is very, very difficult. And now we know just how hard it is.

A report by Trackr, formerly the Bristol Tracker run by University of Bristol students, looked into the mixed fortunes of 126 students across 37 universities applying to investment banking internships in the 2023-24 season.

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The topline figure is not a good one. Trackr found that there were around 68 applicants per offer given for summer internships, a success rate of 1.47%. Last time we checked, Goldman Sachs itself had an acceptance rate of 1.27%. Trackr also found that a majority – 57% - of applicants did not receive any offer at all, despite their applications.

That being said, not all applicants were made equal. By Trackr’s estimate, 10% of applicants claimed 41% of all of banking's famously difficult interviews. The location and background of that 10% wasn’t explored by the report, but there are a few things that can mark successful applicants: they’re diversity candidates, and they either go to target or non-target schools (this isn’t as odd as it sounds: there’s a “semi-target” category, too).

Successful candidates are also very likely to have completed spring internships. That improved their chances of getting internships by 95%. Prior (summer) internships also help a lot; Trackr found that students with prior internships were 181% more likely to convert an internship to an offer.

Sounds like a lot of internships, and it is. “Common rejection feedback from companies was my lack of experience, which I found quite upsetting as I am planning to get experience from these internships in the first place,” one student told Trackr. “I should have started obtaining experience a few years ago,” reflected another.

We’ve written before about the importance of spring internships. They’ve always been important, with banks using them as early feeders to their own summer internships. A tightening jobs market (which does impact student recruitment, too) has made them even more important.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, there is. Failing to convert a summer internship was once seen as a scarlet letter, but it’s a good sign for those that have failed that banks are happier than ever to take them on. The practical experience helps more than anything; as one student said, “technical skills and a genuine passion for the industry are worthless if you don’t have excellent past experiences to talk about to demonstrate soft and hard skills.”

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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