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Summer 2018

Summer Diaries: BNP Paribas

July 26, 2018
- Ram Bansal

BNP Paribas is a French international banking group which currently stands as the world’s 8th largest bank by total assets and operates in 75 countries. In India, it offers sophisticated solutions in three of its core businesses: Corporate and Institutional Banking, Investment Solutions and Retail Banking. The BNP PARIBAS GROUP has been named as the “World’s best bank for sustainable finance 2018.”

Making it there

Having gained experience in a startup for eight months in my second year, I made up my mind to pursue a summer internship in the field which would intrigue me the most. And it was during the last two weeks of the subsequent summer internship when I found myself deep into financial markets.

Everyone talks about following your passion, but very few people are actually able to see the view on the other side, and the internship season is a live spectacle of the same. You’ll spot knots of students who won’t be putting in any efforts to know their area of interest, and who will get indulged in coding, data analytics etc and join the race of bagging a tag, irrespective of what they really want to learn. Seldom did I see anyone following their interests in unconventional fields like finance, design or digital marketing etc. I, not bothering about what others were targeting, learned the basic concepts of the stock market by joining a remote internship offered by ‘Trader for Tomorrow’ in the campus.

I continued following my ever growing interest in financial markets and shortly came across a senior who was studying finance religiously. He showed an immense interest in guiding me through my journey of exploring the very field that had now made me enjoy the work I do. The semester was nearly ending, and I had no idea if I was ready to start applying for a finance-oriented internship as I was still ambiguous about spending my summers at a financial firm.

Finally, the internship deciding semester came up and I was supposed to make the inflexible decision of finalising an internship profile of my choice. I decided to take the road less travelled and kept studying finance further until I was able to make an irrevocable decision. It’s said that the best of the decisions are the most difficult to make, and honestly, I am really satisfied with mine.

In the first week of January, I made up my mind to follow finance with full determination and dedication, giving up on everything else. One of the best possible ways to develop a good understanding of Finance is to devote your time to gaining knowledge of the CFA Level 1 syllabus. The CFA® Program is a globally-recognized graduate-level curriculum that provides a strong foundation for real-world investment analysis and portfolio management skills combined with the practical knowledge that you will need in today’s investment industry.

After the first eight months of the junior year, I realized that I didn’t even get my resume verified as I was busy seeking my passion. I was too full of myself to bother what others were striving for and quite obviously, experienced a downfall in my social life. All said, I really don’t have any regrets about the way I used my time as the rigorous and fixed schedule turned out to be very fruitful, I’d finally developed a keen interest in ‘Valuation and Equity Research’.

It was the first week of March when I started looking out for an internship in Qualitative Finance with full focus and devotion. And right before the end semester examination, I had the following internship offers, and I got all of these via Linkedin.

  1. BNP Paribas, Mumbai - Investment Banking Analyst
  2. Kotak Securities, Mumbai - Client Relationship Associate
  3. Wealthmills Securities Private Ltd., Navi Mumbai - Research Analyst
  4. Sharekhan, Mumbai - Product Manager You can bag any internship via Linkedin, provided you follow a set of guidelines for its optimal use. In the next section, I am writing the steps to get an internship aligning with your area of interest using Linkedin.

Tips for applying off-campus via LinkedIn

  1. Attractive Linkedin Profile - The primary focus should be on building an attractive Linkedin profile. A good profile includes a short and crispy introduction about oneself, and the past experiences with detailed explained of the role a person was engaged in. I would recommend taking a reference of the profile of Shubham Vij, a 2018 batch pass out. Refer to this link to redirect to his profile - (https://www.linkedin.com/in/shubham-vij-317322b4/ )
  2. Neat CV/Resume - The second step which is the most crucial requires you to making a good-looking Curriculum Vitae/ one-page Resume including as much content as it could contain. I would suggest against using the IITR resume template, especially when applying off campus. I referred to the CV layout formats used by business school students.
  3. Appealing Cover Letter - A lot of creativity is required while drafting an impressive cover letter. A convincing cover letter comprises of three segments, the first part briefing about yourself and the role you are applying for, the middle portion describing the skills you developed through explaining your past experiences, and the last section emphasizing on how your experiences and skills make you suitable for the asked role.
  4. You are all set to sail once you have prepared a CV, a cover letter and a Linkedin profile. Next step is to make an excel sheet containing the name of the companies you want to work at during your internship period.
  5. Now, take up any company from the excel sheet, and search it on Linkedin. Open the page holding the profiles of all the employees working there. Beginning with the top of the hierarchy of their designations, start sending requests to HRs, Presidents, Vice Presidents and others through putting a crisp and an impressive content in the ‘add note’ option. And you have to send the same to at least 25 profiles per company. The conversion rate of getting your request accepted is 40%, only if you have a pretty good profile. And the chances of getting a reply back from a new connection is 30%. In a nutshell, approximately twelve professionals will respond out of a hundred persons approached. This route is not as simple as it may look initially, but I guarantee if you do it honestly the chances of getting a favourable outcome would increase much fold. I have mentioned below what I used to write in ‘add note’ button,
    Hello Sir, I’m currently a 3rd-year undergrad at IIT Roorkee. I have a deep interest in Equity research and valuations. I am looking for a summer internship in the same. Could you please guide me in the right direction?
  6. Once you get a reply, try not to miss the opportunity and keep him/her engaged in the conversation smartly. You need to get their business mail id so that you can send the cover letter you have prepared, and don’t forget to attach your resume in .pdf format. You will be informed of an interview if that person considers your resume for the internship. The number of interview rounds you face would depend upon the company you apply in.
  7. A tip on increasing the chances of getting a positive reply - I used to get very disappointed by a low rate of getting a response. So, I tried putting another convincing text trying to persuade them to reply, and I turned out to be lucky as I witnessed an exponential growth in the number of replies. So you can always shoot them one more text. You can write it in the way you want, but for your reference, I am writing down my original message here.
    I am searching for the right opportunity, and I know your mentorship can provide me with what I am seeking. Could you please tell me how I should proceed further? I have developed a deep interest in the financial markets, valuations, and equity research and I have decided to pursue a career in the same. I am also looking for a summer internship in the same. May I please know if there is any suitable opportunity for me?

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Work

Unlike my friends, I didn’t get my internship through a well-carved process, so I had an entirely different internship experience in the investment banking field. I didn’t even have to complete the training webinar sessions unlike most of the on-campus recruited interns.

It took me by surprise when I realised that I was the only intern to be hired in their headquarters, i.e., BNP Paribas, Mumbai, where I got the project falling under “Sustainable Finance.” Officially I was assigned to do the credit analysis of a project which had been seeking to raise funds to carry forward their program through innovative financial instruments like sustainability bonds (Green Bonds and Social Bonds) and Social Impact Bond. As the deal between the bank and its client took more time than was expected, my project pivoted more towards the research side. The revamped project was to design the bond framework, a technical guide to be followed while issuing the Social Impact Bond (SIB), and also perform extensive research on the scope of raising funds through SIB with the bank acting as the middleman between a social investor and the client.

I chanced upon working on a couple of real ongoing pitches where I got the opportunity to study various sectors like Online Travel, Irrigation, Airline, Cement Industry, etc. The culture was pretty smooth, and my mentor was very friendly and supportive. It’s right what we have heard about the working hours of an Investment Banker. Their work schedules are always tight. Their number of working hours fall somewhere between 11 to 14. The people I met, perhaps were the smartest ones I have ever seen in my life. Having impressive interpersonal skills, Ivy League and IIM A/B/C MBA degrees and financial consultancy skills just put them in a completely different league.

Summing it up

In a nutshell, you can get an internship of your choice, but you need to keep yourself motivated throughout the whole process. No doubt you will be facing some obstacles, but that will make you stronger and different from the ones following the crowd. You will feel a sense of satisfaction which is the hardest thing to achieve.