Every year, top international banks organize Spring Insight Weeks for students who are two years away from graduating. Being selected to participate in these events—which are usually held in London—is a testimony to participants’ success, as extremely qualified candidates from all over the world apply for very limited spaces.

Banks use Spring Insight Weeks as a pipeline to fill their Summer Analyst positions, assessing participants’ suitability for a career in the sector.

Benjamin Preisler, a student of the Dual Degree in Business Administration and Laws, was one of the IE University students selected for Spring Insight Week 2020. Although this year’s edition was originally planned to take place face to face in London this April, the coronavirus pandemic meant that it had to happen virtually.

BNP Paribas decided to restructure their participation to combine both a virtual component—which has already taken place—and an in-person component, which will take place as soon as possible.

In this interview, Benjamin, who has lived in six other countries before coming to Spain, shares his experience participating in the virtual Spring Insight Week with BNP Paribas Global Markets.

Benjamin Preisler

What does this year’s Spring Insight Week at BNP consist of?

Due to concerns about COVID-19, BNP Paribas made the decision to postpone Spring Insight Week 2020. Despite this initially being disappointing news, they created a shorter virtual program scheduled to take place within the same timeframe. Instead of hosting the four days in April, they divided the program into two parts. The first part was held online from April 14 to 15, while the second part will take place in September, at their London office. We were able to partake in interviews and presentations from senior leaders including Arne Groes, Global Head of Primary & Credit Markets, Matthew Ponsonby, Head of UK Corporate Banking, and Delphine Queniart, Global Head of Sustainable Finance.

Additionally, we were all given a “buddy” from the current Global Markets graduate class. They were on hand to answer questions that we had about the early careers programs at BNP Paribas.

Prior to completing the Spring Insight Week, we were provided with pre-learning modules, and pre-tests. These courses covered five different topics including bond markets, derivative markets, equity markets, financial math, and global capital markets.

Can you tell us a little about the virtual component of the Spring Insight Week at BNP that you just participated in?

The virtual component of the Spring Insight Week was split into two parts. On Tuesday, April  14, I heard from numerous BNP Paribas employees who had taken the time to record presentations and interviews that helped me understand their business. We were also given a live platform where we could ask questions regarding the presentations. I also participated in interactive workshops on business skills, where I gained insights into communicating on a trading floor, as well as the soft skills necessary for investment banking. On Wednesday, I participated in a full day of technical training with Fitch Learning—the educational subsidiary of Fitch Ratings. This included training on financial markets, as well as asset management simulations based on macroeconomic indicators.

What would you highlight about the experience so far?

The highlights of my experience so far have been the asset management simulation and the technical training.

Where did you hear about this opportunity and why were you interested in applying?

I heard about Spring Insight Weeks from friends who had previously taken part in them. I then contacted IEU Talent & Careers who provided assistance with building my CV and cover letter.

 What was the selection process like?

For the first stage of the recruitment process, I was asked to complete the application form. Here, I had to upload my CV, as well as complete information regarding my extracurricular activities that may be of value to my application.

The next step of the recruitment process was the completion of the BNP Paribas online tests. These covered numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning skills. Following a successful performance on these tests, I was invited to the next stage of the BNP Paribas recruitment process.

I was then contacted for an initial screening interview held over the phone. Once this was completed, I was invited to the Assessment Centre for the final round.

The BNP Paribas Assessment Centre was dedicated to establishing whether I was the right candidate for the job. This event took place at their London office. It consisted of two one-on-one interviews (one technical and one profile based), a supervised case study, a math exam, and networking.

How do you think your IE experience and/or the support of the Talent & Careers department helped you secure this opportunity?

Talent & Careers provided assistance with my CV and cover letter. They also helped provide me with material to prepare for the online assessments and interviews.

What do you think the benefits of participating in experiences like these are?

The Spring Insight Week is used as a pipeline for the 2021 Global Markets Summer Internship Programme. In addition to this, it provides insight for students to evaluate if a career in investment banking is right for them. Throughout this experience, I received assessments that will be used to determine my overall suitability for the BNP Paribas Global Markets Summer Internship Programme. These assessments consisted of both individual and group work, and will continue into the second part of the program, where I will attend a final Assessment Centre.

 What would you say to other students interested in participating in the future?

Spring Insight Weeks are a great way for you to explore the investment banking industry, as well as to enter the early careers pipeline at banks. In the case of BNP Paribas, every student who attends a Spring Insight Week automatically becomes a candidate for the summer internship program, and only needs to attend one Assessment Centre.