Inside Wells Fargo MBA Internships

Tuesday, August 08, 2017 at 1am

What’s it like working as an investment banking intern at one of the largest financial institutions in the US? That’s what asked Derrick Fernando, a graduate of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business who started out at Wells Fargo as an intern and is now vice president of investment banking. In this interview, Fernando discusses the finance internship recruitment process, as well as the excitement and challenges that come with working in investment banking.

Which department did you intern in and what kind of projects did you work on?

I interned with the Financial Institutions Group within Wells Fargo’s investment banking division. Interns in the Financial Institutions Group are generalists, meaning they work across all four subsectors (banks, asset management companies, insurance companies and specialty finance companies) as well as on various products, such as mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity capital markets and asset-backed finance. As a result, I received a good mix of live transactions and pitch work, both of which are important parts of our business. The group also does a good job involving interns in all aspects of a project, so I got good exposure to senior management and bankers as well as to clients.

Derrick Fernando, an MBA graduate of Georgetown McDonoughWhy did you decide to intern at Wells Fargo?

I attended Georgetown because it had a good pipeline into Wall Street and I knew I wanted to do investment banking. From day one, I networked across banks – both bulge brackets and boutiques. A strong culture and fundamentals at the company were important factors for me. After meeting with most of my ‘target’ banks, it became apparent that Wells Fargo would be a good fit since it checked both boxes.

What was the application process like?

The investment banking application process for MBAs is pretty streamlined and structured. Most of the banks have a similar process. We met with various banks through the course of our first few months of business school and also did ‘informationals’ with full-time employees. Informationals are two-way conversations that constitute informal interviews from the banks’ perspective and also provide insight into how well you think you fit with the respective bank. Next, you do a ‘résumé drop’ where you submit your résumé and cover letter. You get a call if you are selected for in-person interviews, which for Wells Fargo was one in-person interview followed by an invitation-only dinner. I got a call back with an offer after that. It is a pretty efficient process because the banks end up having a good view into candidates by the time interviews take place.

What were your impressions of Wells Fargo’s corporate culture?

Corporate culture within its investment bank division is heavily influenced by the broader company culture. Wells Fargo’s culture is built around people, namely clients/customers and team members (which is what Wells Fargo calls its employees). Investment banking is a pretty competitive industry with extremely driven and talented individuals. Having an underlying culture that is more team-oriented and people-centric, therefore, makes a big difference, especially when you start right out of business school, or as an intern.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?

Investment banking is an exciting industry with a lot of client interaction and deal work. It was a new and different experience for me. Being in the middle of the action, where my full-time colleagues were working on multi-billion dollar transactions, was exciting to see. You truly get to understand clients’ strategy and financial positions and bring that knowledge together with what we do in investment banking. I don’t think there are many jobs that give you that much responsibility and exposure that early on.

What were some of the challenges you faced during your internship?

I think the biggest challenge for most people, including me, was to be organized and manage time and projects well. It is a fast-paced environment and you are often tasked with multiple deals and projects at any given time. Even if you are top notch in your technical skillset (i.e., know your financial accounting and finance concepts well), you still need to put it together cohesively with short turnaround times. And every client is equally important, which means every project is equally important. I think we do a good job of identifying talent we think would be good at the job, so people catch up fast and do well.

What advice do you have for MBAs who are interested in interning at Wells Fargo?

Do your homework about the firm, our culture and investment banking. There are several resources, much of it free either through your business school or online, that you can use for preparation. Invest the time to fully understand what the job is going to be in advance – a good way to do that is to speak with second-year students who interned the previous summer. Then go through the process I described above. A lot of it is in your control, for example, through networking and informationals.

Is there anything I didn’t ask about your internship experience that you would like to mention?

Investment banking is a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving, both from a client’s perspective as well as from an employee’s perspective. I think it is still one of the best jobs out there when you are considering options out of business school. It is extremely rewarding. You’ll have a lot of options within the industry from which to choose, so pick an organization that affords the best opportunity for personal and professional growth and is part of a stable platform.

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