Skip to main content

Demystifying International Internships

Anyone in the mood for a healthy dose of emerging market volatility?
There is a common misconception that any aspiring undergraduate banker must obtain a Western (Europe or US)-based investment banking internship their second year before formal third year recruiting begins. There is a fear that having an international internship implies an inability to obtain a more “quality” US or Western-based internship. However, with the right story, an unconventional finance internship in an unconventional location can show diversity of experience and professional flexibility — an ability to work in less structured environments and undertake multiple projects. In fact, an international internship can really round out a resume and can provide exposure to some very exciting emerging markets (certainly more talking points that the guy who did the traditional boutique shop). Of course, if you intern at a Western bank in the region, you will probably still get the same deal as if you did the internship in the US or in Europe, except in a different market.
What type of work can you expect?
The typical Southeast Asian and broadly Asian banking experience is highly dynamic and varied. For instance, finance experience in Southeast Asian firms is more on the generalist side and can involve heavy research given the lack of information and opportunities for development in the region. Financial advisory in a Big 4 or local investment banks might look into the business development of new loan markets, such as microfinance and/or Islamic finance. Investment banking deals will be in the range of 50 to 250 million dollars and will focus a bit more on debt capital markets and blue chip equity research. Wealth Management and Family Offices are also rising business models that match the increase of wealth in the region.
Southeast Asian investment banking is not glamorous — you won’t get the big private equity funds nor the multiple multi-billion dollar deals. You will, however, get good exposure in cross-border deals, debt capital markets, and project finance for both public and private companies. You might even get to broker some government public-private partnership deals. Asian banking in general will expose you to smaller, but high growth, companies and industries with interesting business models and organizational structures. DCM is probably one of the more lucrative groups in Asian banking, primarily to fuel the fast expansion of businesses and projects.
The relatively unstructured nature of the work can mean that you have freedom to hop on different assignments at any time and even cross departments. In most cases, you also have the leeway to produce deliverables that may present additional value-add. This flexibility can help in pursuing interests across a broad range of finance functions in the early stages of a career. The large regional Singaporean banks offer rotational programs to expose interns and new analysts to a variety of business lines to determine interest. The variety of experiences should lead to a richer resume and allow you to talk candidly and formally about a range of interesting, relevant financial work.
Culture
Culture tends to be very open though can be traditional and hierarchical, meaning more senior personnel are addressed as “Sir” or “Madam”. Depending on your manager or partner, client interactions can be limited but are generally encouraged when the situation is appropriate and if there is time. Most senior bankers are Western trained and/or hold Western MBAs and in many cases carry a more US-style attitude to their management of human capital. Culture is also more relaxed in the junior ranks and mentorship is valued for new interns and employees. There will still be long hours if live deals are in the pipeline.
With international internships, you can still gain the same experience quality as a Western-based internship but with a more dynamic (even entrepreneurial!) outlook and exposure to emerging market trends. Many universities and organizations even sponsor and fund international work experiences (https://careeradvancement.uchicago.edu/jobs-internships-research/international-experience-grants). So, in an economic environment starved of returns, why not take a chance with emerging market internships and gain some novel perspectives (and save some cash)?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

5 Ways TO dress in an Investment Banking Interview (for Men) Today we cover what you can wear to finance and banking interviews. Wear traditionally light colors: These colors include really light shades of blue and grey, and white. Other light colors may be okay, but typically you cannot go wrong with a classic white shirt.Business Casual means wear a full suit and tie: Better to stay on the safe side and dress-up rather than down.Have your belt color match your shoe color: You can’t go wrong with this classic principle.Use a tie clip: This is not essential, but it really adds character and simple structure to your overall look. It is not tacky like a pocket square, but has some (perhaps limited) practical use.Wear charcoal grey or navy blue: Grey and blue are traditionally business colors while black often suggests a more formal, serious tone (e.g. wedding, funeral). Basically, everything we have written here follows the conservative rules of GQ. Stay away from the trendy GQ styles (…
Tips for an Outstanding Masters/MBA Interview For many college programs, interviewing is usually not a necessary step (although the article below also applies to undergraduate interviews). However, if you end up applying for a Master’s in the future, particularly a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA), the interview is a key part of the admissions process. Business is about communicating effectively and for one to succeed in negotiations, one must know how to speak clearly and eloquently. The following tips for a successful Master’s interview are by no means exhaustive and are just a reference point for candidates to start thinking about how to approach any interviews they might receive. DO YOUR RESEARCH Reach out to current alumni and students: The conversations you have with alumni will really be important later on in your interview process, when you can support your enthusiasm and seriousness for applying to a school by referencing the people as well as the experiences that you…
Sample Day Series: “Busy” Day in TAS VBM 9:00 AM: Arrive in the office. Check emails, grab coffee, water, and fruits in the pantry and set up two external monitors and a headset to work more efficiently throughout the day. 9:15 AM: I have some work left over from yesterday, so I begin working on the corroborative calculations for multiple investments for a private equity fund. Luckily, the first company in the private equity fund’s portfolio I am valuing has a straightforward capital structure, has liquidity preferences for the different equities that are pari passu, does not have anti-dilution preferences or participating preferred stock, and has only a few rounds of preferred financing within the past year, without any complex securities involved. The second is similarly simple and our private equity client has majority stake in the company. Hooray! I get to use the current value method for allocating equity to the different tranches of securities! 10:30 AM: Staff meeting. Everyone…