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Graduate banking jobs: "Honestly guys, I am numb from rejection"

It's not easy to get a graduate job or a spring or summer internship in an investment bank. Goldman Sachs has around 300 applicants per position; JPMorgan has 72 applicants for graduate jobs in its corporate and investment bank in Europe. You can apply all you want, but this doesn't mean you'll get in.

After sending out thousands of applications, students on a popular WhatsApp channel founded by students at Bristol University in the UK are slowly reaching this conclusion. "Honestly guys, I am numb from rejection," says one. Hundreds of the messages on the channel are from students wondering whether the fact that they've heard nothing in response to their application means they've been rejected. Hundreds of others are from students trying to swap Hirevue questions in order to gain an advantage. 

The trouble is that even the spring weeks used by first year students to gain experience before they apply for summer internships are horribly over-subscribed. Student who did spring weeks last year are allegedly applying for spring weeks this year, thereby raising the bar for even the most entry-level roles. And even to get a spring week, you'll have to jump through hoops. Houlihan Lokey, for example, wants its spring week applicants to answer three questions: 'Why are you interested in working in corporate finance/M&A?', 'What excites you about Houlihan Lokey and our spring week?', and "Tell us an interesting or fun story about yourself.' For 19-year-old students with no previous experience of working in finance, it's a tall ask.

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It's not just about motivational statements. Most entry-level jobs in financial services now also involve tests run by the likes of Arctic Shores, Neurolympics or Plum. If you pass these tests, you may or may not get an invitation to a Hirevue digital interview, where you'll be asked things like, 'Why did you apply here?', 'Tell me about a time you tried to explain something complex to a professor,' and 'Tell me something that's not on your CV,' all with around 30 seconds to prepare. If you pass the Hirevue, you may or may not be invited to an assessment centre, and then you may or may not get an offer. 

For students, each stage of the process is shrouded in mystery. One London boutique is said to have informed students three weeks ago that they're through to the next round, but since that moment they've heard nothing at all. Citi is said to have sent its spring week applicants an email saying they've qualified for the next stage, but this apparently goes to everyone. Some people have heard nothing from Goldman and are wondering whether this means they're out. Some have received messages from UBS saying the role they'd been invited to interview for no longer exits. Some who've applied to ICG have allegedly been told they're more suited to other roles in the middle office, which seems to mean they've been rejected for the roles they applied for, but who knows. Some people have heard nothing from JPMorgan; some say they've been invited for assessment centres in the corporate and investment bank today.

If the situation seems chaotic, it is. We asked a sample of banks (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS) to comment for this article and none of them agreed. Most banks, however, are still hiring - even if many of their 2024 graduate roles have already gone to the past summer's interns. If you haven't heard back from them at this stage, that doesn't categorically mean that you've been rejected, yet. Goldman Sachs, for example, has so many applicants it takes a while to sift through them all.

In the meantime, it's worth bearing in mind that you don't have an offer until you've been through the full process and actually got the offer email, and that thousands of people (sadly) fall at each hurdle. Successful applicants typically apply for 10s or even hundreds of jobs, which isn't easy when every application takes hours.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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