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I will try to make my questions as general as possible so I'll give only one sentence for context : nearly finished a BSc Mathematics in a top school. I want to apply my knowledge to finance. I had some questions about summer internships and early career.

  • I am very new to finance and only know what I learned in a small microeconomics course. Sometimes, companies ask applicants to have a knowledge in financial markets, etc. To what extent should we know things about finance when this requirement is asked from us ? I only know basic things to be honest. If someone has a recommandation of a small book, documentary that can help me, I'll be more than happy to give it a try.

  • Concretely, what can be my tasks in a summer internship in a financial institution ? Since I have no experience, I really have no idea of what can I be asked to perform in such companies. In school, I always had lectures to learn, exercices to do, exams to pass, repeat. But how does it work for a beginner at real work ? I guess I won't handle big firms' money or investments of course, so how will I help ? The mathematics I know are either too abstract to be useful or can done by a computer. I can compute means, variances, etc but how will they keep me busy for 60 days ? It will be cringy if I am given a data set to analyze, do it in 2-3h then remain seated for the rest of the day (maybe, and surely, I'm completely wrong here).

  • A question that is a bit related to that is the following: sometimes, companies ask for "exceptional programming skills" in a programming language. What degree of mastery do you think is expected ? I know I will not code a website or an IA of course, but since I don't know what every day tasks look like I don't if my coding level is sufficient.

  • How can I know my value in the "job market" ? When I was 18, I was over confident in my academic results and asked for unreasonable universities that rejected me. I understood that there are tons of people that are better than me. Hence, what companies or "level" companies can hire me given my academical background (Master in Financial Engineering from EPFL for me) and no experience ? I know this question can be hard to answer given the lack of information but for example I know I won't get Goldman Sachs or McKinsey or perhaps not easily. Maybe I should only focus on small banks to start with ?

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"I know this question can be hard to answer given the lack of information but for example I know I won't get Goldman Sachs or McKinsey or perhaps not easily. Maybe I should only focus on small banks to start with ?"

Short answer:

My advice is to send out applications for an internship to those institutes that interest you, regardless of how big and well known they are. And you won't know that you could get an internship at BigMoneyInvestment.Corp or WhiteRock.LTD unless you have tried, so there's nothing stopping you from sending them your application.

Another important part that you can do prior to sending your applications is to investigate into the possible candidates. Have a look at their website in the 'About us' & 'Career' sections, read reviews about them on glassdoor and the like as well as their inclusion-policies and other information so you can make an informed decisison on where to apply.

Again, don't automatically think that you won't be considered an interesting candidate for an internship just because you think that you are just average in your field or you don't have prior work-experience. You'll only find out after you tried - so good luck and all the best!

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