Applications for Wall Street summer internships in 2022 are already opening. Here's why the talent war for undergrads is starting earlier and earlier.

  • The timeline to nab a summer internship on Wall Street can start as early as two years beforehand.
  • Banks like RBC Capital Markets and BMO Capital Markets are among the first to open applications for summer analyst positions.
  • Insiders explained how competition among firms is accelerating the start of the process.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

If you want to work on Wall Street, chances are your path will begin with a competitive summer internship before you start your senior year of college.

But the journey to an investment-banking internship can kick off as early as 24 months beforehand, according to industry insiders.

“When you think about the recruiting timeline and the matriculation to full-time analyst program, that journey really starts two years earlier,” said Andrea O’Neal, a senior coach with Management Leadership for Tomorrow, an organization that helps mentor and prepare diverse students for careers in the finance industry. 

The recruiting process for summer internships in investment banking — also known as summer analysts — has moved earlier and earlier in recent years, according to O’Neal, as banks have been forced to compete with one another to get first dibs on hiring the best talent.

Now, candidates need to start giving thought to their applications about 24 months before their internships would begin, she and other experts said; and they need to be ready for applications to open as early as 18 months out. This, too, means that some candidates might even consider doing internships in finance or a related field at the conclusion of their sophomore year in college, versus their traditional junior year internships alone. 

“Banks are highly focused on developing their sophomore candidates because a lot of their junior analyst classes are coming from sophomore internship classes,” O’Neal told Insider. “They’re looking for conversion.”

Clyde Bennett — a 22-year-old summer analyst in last year’s analyst class at boutique firm Piper Sandler who has received a full-time offer to join the firm starting in June — told Insider that he’s witnessed firsthand the start of the recruiting process for an investment-banking internship move progressively earlier. 

“With the eagerness of people to get into this space and the competition level, you’ve got kids that are getting fought over by banks,” he told Insider. 

Firms are already advertising for summer analyst positions

Across the Street, some firms have begun opening application portals for summer internships that are 16 months away. Companies like RBC Capital Markets and BMO Capital Markets are already accepting applications for 2022 internships.

Moelis & Co. has already hit the virtual campus recruiting circuit, advertising 2022 summer analyst informational presentations in February at universities like Brown, Northwestern, and Southern Methodist University. The firm typically conducts informational sessions at schools across the country in the run-up to the opening of its summer analyst applications.

This year, the firm will begin accepting applications on Feb. 26 and stop by April 16, leaving them open for about six weeks, a source familiar with the matter told Insider.

Larger firms, too, are gearing up for a competitive recruiting process.

Morgan Stanley, for instance, is sending candidates monthly emails called “Your Roadmap To 2022 Summer Analyst Recruiting,” helping prospective interns break down critical steps in the recruiting process.

For winter 2021, an email that the firm sent candidates on Feb. 1 invited students to gain access to a summer analyst recruiting hub offering a variety of resources. Students are supposed to start accessing the recruiting hub by springtime, with the goal of kicking off their networking and applications for summer 2022 more than a year in advance.

And while this isn’t the first year that the bank has done it, the fact that it’s sending out the message at this stage in the year underscores just how quickly the process is getting underway.

Deloitte Corporate Finance, the investment-banking arm of the giant consulting firm which advises on middle-market mergers and acquisitions and handles a variety of other investment-banking services, has also already begun its 2022 summer analyst search process.

The firm is seeking candidates for summer analyst positions in cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago.

Phil Colaco, CEO of Deloitte Corporate Finance, said that the process has become increasingly “competitive” in recent years — perhaps to a detrimental degree. Colaco has spent his career in investment banking: He co-founded the firm McColl Partners, an independent investment bank, which Deloitte acquired and absorbed into its corporate finance unit in 2013.

“The quest for talent has just ramped up and it’s gotten earlier and earlier and earlier, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m actually not sure it’s great for the students,” he told Insider in an interview.

“Now, we’re interviewing people in February, March for internships next summer,” he added, referring to starting the process as early as almost a year and a half out. “I wish that wasn’t the case, but that is the world we live in.”

Recruiting didn’t always kick off so early, he said: In times past, firms like his would interview candidates about six months before the roles would start, usually in January before the internships would start in the summer. 

Getting an increasingly earlier start

Twenty-year-old Jaden Woodard, an Ohio State finance undergrad, knows what it’s like to face the uphill recruiting battle firsthand.

Last summer, he had already lined up an internship in consumer banking at JPMorgan Chase following his sophomore year.

Before the internship had started, he went on a two-week vacation with his family to Cape Cod, Mass. But rather than breathe easily that his summer plans were set, Woodard spent a chunk of the vacation on the phone, calling and networking with other industry types to help organize another internship for the following summer.

“I probably made a call every day,” Woodard told Insider. “I remember my mom was like, ‘What are you doing? You’re making so many calls to these people.'”

Woodard was busy calling finance industry professionals and Ohio State alumni to help lay the groundwork for a shot at lining up an internship in investment banking after his junior year, before his consumer-banking internship had even begun.

In fact, a number of firms had already closed their portals and were no longer accepting applications for summer 2021 internships when he was applying in May 2020, Woodard said. 

Fast forward to this year, and Woodward is now on track to intern again with JPMorgan Chase.

This summer, he’ll complete an internship within the firm’s investment bank, which he said that he applied and was recruited for independently of his consumer-banking position last summer.

“The main thing I think driving this is really the rush and the competition to get into investment banking,” Woodard said. “By moving the time lines up, it can sort of increase competition.”

Intense competition is driving the frenzy

While insiders say nabbing an investment-banking internship is an intense, pressure-filled experience for candidates, the process is arduous for banks, too — all of which want to duke it out to nab the best recruits before their rivals do.

“The kids want this so bad, and it’s such a coveted job out of college, that whoever opens up first — if a Goldman opens up early — they’re going to get the brunt of those applications,” said Bennett, the incoming Piper Sandler analyst.

Recruiting expert Mindy Davis, a managing director at SEO Career, an organization that supports diverse candidates seeking to work in industries like finance, agreed.

“I have been at SEO for four years now. Within that time period, we have seen the timeline move up,” she said. “It is a very competitive landscape.”

The firms “often hear about what others are doing and feel like in order to get the best candidates, they need to move their recruiting timeline up,” she added.

In times past, some firms have sought to slow down the frenetic pace of recruiting.

For instance, in 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that both Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase would abstain from bringing on summer analysts at the conclusion of their sophomore years, shifting back to extending summer internships only to those who had completed their junior years. 

Spokespersons for Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment on the banks’ current recruiting timeline for summer analysts. 

Summer internships on Wall Street are also juxtaposed against another aggressive Wall Street recruiting cycle: hiring candidates out of investment banks for private-equity roles. 

In recent years, the private-equity recruiting timeline has shifted earlier and earlier, too. Headhunters representing top investment firms have begun contacting newly-inducted investment bankers just a few weeks after they’ve started in full-time roles. In some cases, the courting is for PE jobs that won’t actually begin until some two years later. 

Headhunters have recently somewhat backed off from the process, agreeing to delay the start of the recruiting cycle from fall of 2020 into sometime in 2021, in light of the difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fight is underway

Ultimately, insiders don’t predict that investment banks will back off en masse from their increasingly early recruiting timelines.

They’ve “got so much stiff competition,” said Aaron Cotton, 21, an undergrad at the University of Cincinnati who’s familiar with the competitive process. He’s heading off to start a full-time role as an investment-banking analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch this summer, having completed internships at JPMorgan Chase and UBS.

“It’s almost like a full-time job, trying to get an investment-banking internship or full-time position,” he said, “because it really does occupy so much of your time.”

Woodard, the Ohio State student, said that now is the time for candidates for summer 2022 positions to start outreach and networking.

“If you are a sophomore in finance and looking to do investment banking, the beginning of this year will be the time for you to start putting your foot on the gas, networking with people, asking those questions, reaching out to recruiters,” he said. “The recruiting cycle goes by very fast.”

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