How Citadel chooses which of its interns get full time offers
Citadel internships are not normal internships. At $20k a month, they pay a lot more than banking internships, involve a week at luxury hotels and typically go to a small cohort of hyper-achieving people who are being chased by multiple employers. Many, but not all, of them will receive offers to return to full time jobs at Citadel or Citadel Securities when they graduate. But they will go through a rigorous assessment process during the internship first.
The cornerstone of that assessment process are Citadel's intern managers - high-performing full time employees who set aside time during the summer to work with Citadel's interns and who ease interns' passage into a full time role. They give interns their projects, provide regular feedback on how well they're doing, and meet with Citadel's senior leaders to help determine which interns convert their summers into a full time job.
"We've recently completed mid-point evaluations," says Nikhil Bhatia, an intern manager at Citadel in New York. The feedback process with interns at Citadel is ongoing, but midway through the internship Bhatia says the intern managers give more detailed feedback. Towards the end of the internship, the interns will also make a presentation, followed by a second round of detailed feedback.
The interns who receive offers demonstrate technical success and ability but are also good communicators, says Bhatia. As an intern manager, he manages two interns alongside his day job in equity quantitative research. During the 11-week internship, he helps coach those interns to improve their performance, increasing their chances of getting an offer when the internship ends: "I talk to the interns throughout the day and check in with them for a longer catch-up once a week."
Bhatia says the midway evaluations in particular can be critical to interns' success. Intern managers are given coaching on how to deliver them."We work hard to ensure that our intern managers are prepared and supported to design and oversee challenging projects, deliver actionable feedback, and ultimately make an offer recommendation,” says Katherine Goulding, Head of Learning at Citadel. In practice, Bhatia says this means, for example, that intern managers, "provide feedback not only about what could have been done better, but also to explain the impact of taking the approach that they did. Understanding the impact helps motivate interns to make a change in the future."
Bhatia himself joined Citadel after a successful internship, and says it was that internship which persuaded him to join Citadel instead of a tech firm. "I'd already done internships at large technology companies, but the projects during those internships felt like I was following a 10 step-plan, whereas the Citadel project was intentionally open-ended," he says. "I was stretched – I was expected to solve a problem and to have an opinion and the right answer wasn't obvious."
Bhatia helped choose his interns' projects and says he's given them "thematic open-ended engineering questions" that the business needs to solve. He also plays a critical role in getting his interns hired.
Intern managers meet with senior Citadel staff twice during the internship to 'level set' and make sure they're comparing interns' performance correctly across the firm. Managers provide very specific feedback on interns' achievements, says Bhatia: "We're then probed on that feedback and on our evaluations of various competencies to make sure we've calibrated internally and feedback for each intern is globally aligned."
Successful interns are encouraged to network as well as delivering their projects. "When you're an intern, you want to make a good impression," says Bhatia. "My intern manager did a great job of explaining to me that I was there to learn not only about the project, but also about the firm and the culture. I needed to make sure my priorities weren't just technical and that I also participated in all the learning opportunities and intern events."
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