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It can be a struggle to choose between starting your career in investment banking or sales and trading. Trust me, I’ve been there. At Barclays, I had the opportunity to experience a summer internship in Sales and Trading (S&T) as well as Banking. One experience was not better than the other, they were merely different. When deciding between the two divisions it was important for me to reflect on my strengths and the way I like to work. This allowed me to determine which division was the better fit for me personally. I want to tell you a bit my experiences so that I can hopefully help you evaluate the options for yourself!
In S&T, things move at a very quick pace. If you are energetic and enjoy a fast environment, this pace can make things exciting. Everything you're doing is connected to the market, so you always know what is going on in the world. Your daily decisions depend directly upon what is happening in the market, which corresponds extremely close to the daily events you read about in the morning paper. Typically, the mornings start anywhere between 5:00am-7:00am and are packed full until around 5:00pm-7:00pm. It’s important that you are able to multi-task and think on your feet because you will often be working on various things. The open layout of the trading floor encourages a lot of interaction with the people around you. For me, one of the best things about S&T is this open, flat structure – a senior Managing Director can be sitting directly next to a first year Analyst.
In Banking the work tends to be more project-based. Therefore, the pace of a day is slower. I like to think of it as a marathon, rather than a sprint. You will often be working on your projects over the course of a few weeks as opposed to checking them off of your to-do list at the end of the day. In Banking you are still aware of what is going on in the world, but moment-to-moment market fluctuations have less significance on your current project. This is because you are working on a deal that may take months to develop. Therefore, larger macro trends affect your work rather than day-to-day movements. Also, the content of your work will be much more related to the industry your group covers, and the understanding of a specific company’s needs and finances. The work space is structured in a way that makes the environment much quieter and a bit less interactive. People will often have their own work spaces rather than sitting at a desk on an open floor plan.
If after reading these descriptions you identify with one division more, then you just might have your answer! If you are still having trouble, try to think about what your priorities are for your work and decide which of the two meet more of your top priorities. Trust yourself - you won’t make the wrong choice.