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Hi, I’m Solene and I’m currently interning in trading at BNP Paribas in London. My first rotation is in FXLM options trading, which means that my desk trades options (a type of financial product) on currencies in emerging markets, such as the Turkish lira and South African rand.
What does a typical day look like? I’ll typically get in at 7am if I need to listen to the morning call, which is a daily meeting giving everyone on the trading floor an overview of important news, and what to expect for the coming day. As an intern, I can’t execute trades because I haven’t sat any certifying exams, but I shadow my team for a couple of hours and help my manager by working on a project analysing important data in Excel. My team typically has lunch at the desk but also leaves when the relevant markets close, which for my desk is 5pm! How did you hear about this internship? I heard about the BNP Paribas summer internship at the Finance careers fair at the start of Michaelmas term, and then at an event held by the bank in Cambridge. Talk through the application process. What did you find difficult or perhaps surprising about it? The most challenging part of the application process was for me the assessment centre, which consisted of written tests, Trading and Sales games, and an interview. The Trading games were fast-paced and put us on the spot quite a bit, but it was also a very good experience to simulate the environment of a trading floor. What mattered in the application process was not so much our financial knowledge but rather our attitude, and our ability to pick up concepts quickly enough to play the games. Did you need any particular skills for the placement? I think very valuable skills as an intern are the ability to present yourself with confidence but not arrogance, and to ask questions you actually want answers to. From a technical point of view, for my desk in particular, having a hand at Excel is very useful, although in general this may be learnt on the job. What was the highlight of your week/internship so far? The highlight of my internship so far has probably been the weekly Wednesday breakfast organised by the bank with a different speaker each time. The speakers are in general very senior employees and having the opportunity to ask them questions in such an environment is a really valuable one. How much networking/socialising opportunities are there? In the training week, there are plenty of socialising opportunities as one of the aims is for the interns to get to know each other and the graduate class already working at the bank. Further on in the internship, there are fewer organised events but as the interns get closer and we get to know our teams there is usually something on after work every Friday if not several times a week. What have you learnt from your internship? Coming from a Natural Sciences background, I have learnt a great deal not only about financial mechanisms but also some economics – I feel like I already read the news in a different way. Another learning process is also how to prioritise tasks during the day, for instance balancing spending time on your project at your own desk versus shadowing other desks in order to get a broader view of the bank. What have you found surprising or unexpected? I did not know that the role of an intern would be different to the role of a graduate in that no intern can execute trades or talk to a client (without the required certification), but at the same time this gives us a huge opportunity to learn by observation, talk to people in many different parts of the bank and ask questions without having the same responsibility as a full-time employee. What advice would you give to someone else looking to gain experience in this sector? Advice that I would pass on to someone applying for an internship in Global Markets is to be prepared to learn about the finance industry before, and at every step of, the joining process. I would definitely recommend researching the industry and talking to representatives of the banks you would like to apply to, but it is also impossible to know a great deal before starting a placement – presenting yourself in the best light and showing that you are eager and able to learn more will be most effective in interviews and beyond.