By Victor Paquet (Mergersight Operations) and Carlo Lepoardi & Tommaso Arona (Boston University partners)
You can split this answer by addressing your short-term and long-term goals.
Regardless of what you are applying for, the short-term goal for the
internship/entry-level job should be to absorb as much information as you can and to better understand how workflow is conducted at the firm. The recruiter is searching for a quick learner who can “hit the ground running” and quickly add value to the firm.
For the long-term goal, you have here more freedom to personalize your answer by responding with personal ambitions. However, the main emphasis still should be to learn as much as you can, and to emphasize how an experience at their firm would foster the right skillset to meet your long-term career ambitions. A good way to think about this is answering the question: what do you expect to gain out of this experience?
Ultimately, try to tie your answer back to the big behavioral questions such as “Why this Firm?” “Why Investment Banking?” or “Why this coverage group?” to illustrate how this experience will cultivate your professional development.
Always remember to be crafting a story around your journey. The recruiter is more focused on following your logical thinking process rather than learning about your career ambitions themselves.