So you want to get a head start in applying for A-level insight days? Great! In this article I will be sharing with you my experiences of applying for these particular events and my tips for sending off a stand out application.
1. Link the skills gained from work experience and extracurriculars to the internship you are applying for.
Now not everyone will have insight days prior to A-levels, unless you have contacts within the industry, so don’t expect to talk about what you did at X bank. Instead, relate what you done during your spare time, outside of academia, to the job you are applying for. So if X bank required individuals to work in a team during the insight day, talk about your teamwork skills you obtained in say your part-time job or from any sport that you play. Even throw in additional transferrable skills you gained from those hobbies like being a natural leader or being able to handle pressure. Use this link to relate your experiences to the insight day if the job description isn’t too detailed. In my CV I linked all of my experiences to these transferrable skills.
2. Adjust your CV.
You can easily find many sites on the internet to help you with your CV; some include websites like this. My tip here is to make it simple and quick to read. Separate the sections so you have education at the top which lists your A-level predictions and GCSE’s. Then add other information, from most relevant to least, so anything you think makes you most suited for the A-level insight day. Since I didn’t have any prior banking exposure I placed my football, management and volunteering experience below education, and then my work experience; only finance-related experience I had was accounting. I also discussed about the projects I was working on and other skills I had, like speaking several languages.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I have to say that this step helped me tremendously. I essentially created an account of LinkedIn and branched out to current undergraduates who were applying for spring weeks and summer placements. They had already been through the application process before so they knew what current A-level students were going through. They were helpful to me as they showed me their CV’s and gave advice on what I could include. Just make sure you don’t send them a message saying ‘show me your CV’, but instead try to break the ice in a non-confrontational way. I essentially branched out to students who went to the university I was going to so it was easy for me to connect with them.
4. Have top A-level predicted grades.
You will be competing with thousands of students up and down the country, some even from further ashore, so the level of competition will be high. Investment banks and consultancies don’t just look for relevant experiences but they want students with top academics. This point that I made wasn’t something I was fully aware of until recently for A-level insight days and so I’m telling you through my own experiences. For my A-level’s I was predicted AAAA which seems great, right? Wrong! I was up against hundreds of students who were predicted at least one or two A* grades meaning that I was already disadvantaged in the academics department. Now I don’t know how much emphasis banks put on predicted grades but it’s unlikely that they would use contextual data like looking at your schools past performances; I’ve seen banks like Deutsche bank used contextual data for free school meals but I haven’t seen anything beyond that. So try to speak nicely to your teachers to raise your predicted grades as high as possible, it will help. It’s fair to say that my predictions, not entirely however, had a partial blame for me not securing a place on some A-level insight days.
5. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
Apply for as many A-level insight days as humanely possible. As I said before, these events are insanely competitive and so to increase your probability of obtaining one of these events you have to apply for as many as you can, providing you put in a lot of effort for each application. Do not be disheartened if you get rejected. I felt quite frustrated after being denied a couple of times but if you put in the effort, hopefully, you will end up with some luck and obtain an A-level insight day. All in all, good luck!
I have added the A-level insight days, consulting included, for the 2017 cycle. Use these links as a reference for which companies may host more events for the 2018 and future cycles.
HSBC and Credit Suisse may offer A-level insight days too.