Undergraduate student, Octavia Gu, shares how her placement year abroad enhanced her university experience by providing an opportunity to learn and improve key skills.
You’ve probably heard of placements and internships but have you ever come across spring week internships? If you are a first or second-year undergraduate student you might be starting to consider your options for gaining work experience. For students who are considering a career in investment banking or other related roles in the financial sector, spring week internships can be an incredibly valuable experience.
But what are spring week internships and how do you apply for them? In this guide, we’ll explore these questions and unpack the differences between a spring week and a summer internship.
What are spring week internships?
A spring week internship is a week-long taster or insight experience designed to introduce you to the company. It occurs in the spring during the Easter holidays and it is usually available to first and second-year (on a four-year course) students.
Traditionally spring weeks were for students who had an interest in investment banking. However, they do also exist in other areas of finance and other sectors.
What is the difference between a spring week internship and a summer internship?
A spring week is typically available for first-year students. It’s usually unpaid and takes place over a week. A summer internship, in contrast, is a paid 4-12-week experience in the summer and is offered to penultimate students (2nd year on a 3-year course or 3rd year on a 4-year course).
What companies offer spring week internships?
They are most commonly provided by the big-name financial and accountancy firms; JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Citi Group, and Goldman Sachs to name a few. However, some smaller financial institutions have begun to offer spring week internships.
To explore upcoming spring week opportunities this list is a good place to start.
Why are spring weeks so important?
Spring week is a great way to gain a deeper insight into the organisation you are perhaps interested in working for in the future. Throughout the experience, you’ll likely get to ask questions, attend talks, network, and possibly find out if it’s the right path for you.
Through short-term projects, you may get a sense of doing ‘a real job’ and adding value to your immediate team or the company itself. This will allow you to enhance your workplace skills by applying your academic learning to solve real workplace problems.
Another major advantage of a spring week is its ability to help you secure a summer internship or even a graduate role. Many employers often use spring week to identify talent early and to kick-start their summer internship application process. Therefore, they might offer you an internship at the end of your spring week which could lead to a graduate role afterwards.
How do I apply for a spring week internship?
Applications open in late August or early September and most close in December or early January.
The application usually requires you to submit a CV, and cover letter. This is then followed by a combination of psychometric tests, video interviews, assessment centres and a final interview.
For WBS students, if you require any assistance with these, please visit our resources on my.wbs or book an appointment with a UG Careers Coach to discuss further.
Top tips for a spring week application
Highlight your academic achievements
Ensure you accentuate your academic achievements. Having good A-Level grades (or equivalent) and high performance in your degree so far is a good starting point. But you can expand on this by discussing topics and themes that particularly interest you and what you’ve done to explore these.
Clearly explain your motivations for applying
Highlight your specific motivations for the company and experience. Start by researching the sector and completing a SWOT analysis. In your CV and cover letter, you should clearly articulate what attracted you to the role and what you hope to learn from it. You can refer back to this information as you progress through to the interview stage.
Be clear about your unique selling points
To stand out from the competition you need to be prepared to answer the question ‘what makes you different?’. Start with some self-evaluation – what are your strengths and USPs? Are there any weak spots or skills missing from your CV that you need to be able to explain?
Include your extracurricular activities
Include extracurricular activities that make you stand out. If you are involved in any campus societies or sports clubs, these are great ways to provide insight into your personality, whilst conveying any soft skills you might have gained.
Proofread your application
Triple-check everything. Any spelling, grammar, or formatting mistakes could reduce your chances of being shortlisted, regardless of how impressive your application may be.
Prepare for an interview and assessment centre
Mock interviews are a great way to rehearse your answers and calm any pre-interview nerves. You’ll be expected to talk about yourself confidently and answer behavioural, competency, and/or strengths-based questions. These are questions that often start with “Tell me about a time when you collaborated as part of a successful team / overcame a problem”.
Book an appointment with a Careers Coach
For further support and advice, you should consider booking an appointment with a Careers Coach. Available at most universities, Careers teams are there to advise and support you at any stage in the application process.
I’ve missed out on spring week – do I have any chance of a summer internship?
If you have left it too late to apply or your applications weren’t successful, you still have other options.
Firstly, you should sharpen your networking skills and take advantage of any upcoming career events at your university. Look out for companies that attend campus careers fairs or run networking events both online and in person. Alternatively, The Bright Network has a calendar of networking events you might find helpful.
Secondly, to improve your chances of a summer internship you should try to keep your CV up-to-date. Summer internship deadlines can have short opening windows. Ensuring your CV is ready to send will put you in the best position to apply early on in the recruitment cycle.
Remember, with a great CV and proactive networking skills, it is still possible to secure an internship or graduate role afterwards.
Alternative work experience to consider:
If you have been unsuccessful or you have missed out on a spring week, there are lots of other ways you can get work experience.
Participate in extracurricular activities
Participating in extracurricular activities such as a society can help you demonstrate your soft skills which are highly favoured by employers. This includes skills such as creativity, leadership, teamwork, and conflict management.
Group projects where you played a dynamic role are a great way to demonstrate your transferable skills. The more unique the project is, the better. Ensure you use the STAR technique when reflecting on this in your application.
Online courses are a great way to enhance your technical knowledge and skills. These online courses can be completed in your own time, alongside your studies. Many also provide you with a certificate once you complete them, making them an incredibly valuable addition to your CV or LinkedIn profile.
Virtual internships are a great way to gain short-term work experience, with the added flexibility of taking part remotely. They also provide you with a valuable opportunity to gain insight into your chosen career path to decide if it’s right for you.
Organisations such as Forage facilitate these virtual internships, giving university students and graduates access to a wide range of opportunities with industry-leading employers such as KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and Goldman Sachs to name a few.
Volunteering opportunities allow you to develop soft skills that are highly sought after by employers. Whilst gaining valuable work experience and developing your transferable skills, you’ll also contribute to improving the lives of others.
As the name suggests, work shadowing is a type of experience where you shadow an experienced employee to gain an understanding of the role and get an insight into the chosen career path. However, it’s important to note that some organisations due to GDPR laws may not be able to provide this.
Spring week internship FAQs
Are spring weeks only for first-year students?
Spring weeks are typically available for students who are in their first year of a three-year course or second year of a four-year course.
Do you get paid for a spring week?
This will depend on the employer. Whilst most won’t be paid, some employers will reimburse other expenses such as travel, accommodation and food. Ultimately it will vary by employer.
How competitive is spring week?
Applying for spring week internships is highly competitive. Taking part in a spring week internship can often open up doors later on in your career such as when applying for summer internships or graduate jobs. This makes them highly sought after by many undergraduate students.
But don’t let this put you off! Providing that you do the right research and preparation you have every opportunity to take part in a spring week internship.
How long should a spring week CV be?
A CV for a spring week application should be limited to one page. Your CV should include top-level information such as your qualifications, education history and an overview of your work experience which includes your key skills and achievements.
Do you need a cover letter for spring week?
Most employers will also expect you to submit a cover letter with your application and these should be tailored to each employer. The cover letter is your opportunity to give more insight into your key skills and achievements by expanding on what you mentioned in your CV.
Can you get into investment banking without spring week?
Yes, it is still possible to get a career in investment banking without taking part in a spring week internship, however, it can be more challenging. Companies use spring week to identify talent early on, greatly improving your chances of securing another internship or graduate job further down the line.
That being said, if you are unsuccessful at securing a spring week internship, you should always consider applying for summer internships, virtual internships or volunteering opportunities.
What is an insight week?
An insight week is an umbrella term to describe a short period of work experience. They are also known as spring weeks, skills boot camps, first-year internships or first-year work experience.
Whilst the term may differ by employer, the concept is generally the same. Insight weeks give you an insight into the company and an opportunity to take part in projects and workshops, giving you a flavour of the role or industry to decide if it is right for you.
At Warwick Business School, our Careers team helps to connect students with a wide range of work experience opportunities to enhance their career prospects and employability skills.
We can help you develop your strategy for online applications and how to manage this alongside other academic or extracurricular activities.
For current WBS students, you can book an appointment with a member of our Careers team using the button below, who will be able to offer tailored support and guidance to help you on your career journey.