The challenge 

A leading European investment bank conducts a yearly intern programme with all hiring activity completed by the end of the previous year. For the July 2020 cohort, however, the programme was quickly put on hold due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, much to the disappointment of the business who recognised the value it brings in terms of: 

  • Helping to identify great future leaders for the business.  
  • Succession planning for the future and what a break in early careers hiring can have. 
  • The reputational risk to the bank of just cancelling the programme entirely. 

In an economic market where reputation management & intangible assets such as culture, people and employer brand are more important to a company’s valuation than tangible assets, ensuring the investment bank maintained the business’s promise to those students became our key objective. In addition to this, learnings from the last economic downturn highlighted the need to maintain a good flow of junior talent into the business to support with future succession planning and this was something that Cielo and the investment bank wanted to ensure continued. 

The Solution 

They agreed to convert the original eight-week, face to face, internship into a five-week virtual internship programme. Recognising the need to provide the interns with clear structure and guidance due to the remote nature of the programme, Cielo devised a university style timetable of events which aligned to the way the students currently managed their days while at university. This approach also gave the investment bank stakeholders the ability to plan and schedule key internal resources to the programme so that everyone got the best out of it.  

The following steps were undertaken to ensure the programme commenced:  

  • Step 1: Influence the capital markets business and HR leaders to continue with the programme despite the general turmoil and uncertainty that was abundant during the Q1 2020
  • Step 2: Work with the business to visualise & design how a virtual intern programme could be managed, what the programme would include and over what timeline 
  • Step 3: Align Interns to appropriate business line with the capital markets business and brief hiring managers 
  • Step 4: Update the incoming cohort of interns with the plan for the internship and ensure that the ability to onboard and host inductions virtually was a possibility 
  • Step 4: Maintain a clear and supportive candidate experience throughout the internship and ensure the scheme ran smoothly as with a point of contact throughout

The Results 

Cielo delivered an innovative ‘digital & virtual’ internship programme which enabled the investment bank to keep their promise to their students and provide meaningful insight into their business. The key results were:   

  • Building a virtual internship programme within 10 weeks 
  • All 17 interns completed the internship programme with a 50:50 male to female split 
  • Seven were offered full-time analyst positions based on their performance  
  • Of the seven offered full-time positions, five were female and two were male. This 70:30 female: male split is unprecedented for Front Office positions and has enabled the investment bank to reinforce their commitment to the “Women in Finance” charter 
  • From a reputational and employer brand point of view, Cielo enabled the investment bank to proceed with their intern programme despite of COVID-19 while several competitors withdrew their programmes.