Spend a year interning?

Hey there,

this is the first time I post on this forum. I’m a 20 year old economics undergraduate from Europe doing CFA Level 1 in June. My goal is to start a career in asset management or equity research, preferably related to emerging markets. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next steps after graduation and I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on my situation. This summer I will receive my undergraduate degree from one of the top 10 non-UK schools in Europe. From September on I will do 6-9 months of Chinese language courses, something that I’ve been planning to do for a long time and that I also think might come in handy career-wise (I want to work in Asia), however the main motivation here is just personal interest. Considering my age and that there weren’t any delays on my path so far, I think I can afford to take a gap year. Now comes the part I’m less sure about: I definitely want to get a Masters in Finance, however, lacking any real internship experience (except Big 4 Audit), I am not so sure if it wouldn’t be wiser to first spend a year doing 2-3 (~3 months each) internships. That would mean that in between receiving my undergraduate degree and beginning a graduate program, there would be a two year gap. The opportunity cost in terms of earnings would not be an issue. So far, my goal has always been to work in one of the above mentioned fields but I’ve never really had the opportunity to try these out. Also, I wonder if good graduate programs will admit me without relevant work experience. My grades are above average (top third I’d guess, my school does not publish numbers) and my university enjoys excellent reputation (in Europe) but besides that, there is not much I have to offer. I doubt schools will appreciate my Chinese language skills a lot. Another thing to mention is that I would probably be able to get an internship in a well-known strategy consulting firm after finishing the language course (contacts). From what I heard that is viewed favorably when applying for jobs within equity research, since there are some common requirements, such as being able to quickly analyze the market situation within an industry. To sum it up, my questions are: 1) Do you think interning for a year in between undergraduate and graduate programs will be viewed critically when applying for full-time jobs after completing a Master’s degree? 2) Is there even a chance of finding internships (not only in the summer) in Europe or Asia (HK/SG/China) after having already graduated? 3) Do admission committees for Master’s in Finance programs care about additional work experience or does an audit internship suffice? I’m mainly looking at the good UK schools here. Thank you very much for your attention, as I said, any comments/suggestions are well appreciated!

I think you should focus on finding a quality internship; you can pursue the language skills in your free time. I think it’s a mistake to take a year off just to learn Chinese unless you already have an offer in China/HK waiting for you.

I second Minerva’s comment. I think quality internships is key to success!

I do think that having a few internships on your resume is very common now (i’ve seen so many new grads with 2-3 internships before they graduate). I think if you are keen on working in finance, definitely try your very best to get finance related internships. Don’t do it just to satisfy your masters admission requirement but do it because you want to get your feet wet before investing too much time and money in it.

I think it’s a clever idea to learn Chinese even if you don’t end up speaking it fluently, every little bit helps? You may do it while you are interning or doing your masters.

Best of luck!


Thank you guys very much for your inputs.

I really want to do the language course as this is going to be the last time I can take a longer period of time off, simply to engage in something I am interested in. However, I’ll cut it to 6 months and make an effort to find a good internship for the time after that. Also, I’ll enroll in a 3 semester graduate degree, so I can do an additional internship in the summer.

If anybody has additional feedback, I’d be glad to hear it!

So you are asking for more advice that you are not going to follow? Seems like you had your mind made up to begin with.

Well, indeed I wasn’t going to drop the language course completely. It wasn’t among the questions I was asking and it would be too late to find an internship starting in September now, anyway.

Nonetheless, the comments changed my mind in that I’ll only spend half a year on languages and since the importance of quality internships was pointed out, I will do at least two of them (by doing a different/slightly longer Master’s programme) and spend longer time on them (as I said by reducing the portion of the “gap year” allocated to languages).

do you need to study language exclusively? can you not take a weekend language course? i feel like you are putting a lot of emphasis of choosing between taking an internship or taking a language course.

i feel in your case, an internship is necessary while a second or third language is discretionary.

I think it’s very important to have some experience you can speak to. I interviewed a lot of folks when I was in investment banking - no experience - no chance. Here are several places to look for great internships. These are mostly in the states, but could give you some thoughts for jobs abroad.

Real Estate Apprentices: http://tapwage.com/channel/real-estate-apprentices

Junior and Mid-Level Equity Research Jobs: http://tapwage.com/channel/picking-stocks

Roles for Junior Investment Bankers: http://tapwage.com/channel/beginning-in-banking