This placement gave me the opportunity to live and work in a city that I had never visited before. This meant I was able to extend my network into a working and social culture I was unfamiliar with. I hugely enjoyed this opportunity to expand my cultural awareness.
In terms of my satisfaction as an employee my average enjoyment levels were well below average compared to my previous professional experience. This was largely due to the disinterest the company seemed to have in supporting my personal developmental ambitions, the lack of empowerment enforced by a hierarchical nature and the disbelief amongst colleagues in the organisations ability to respond culturally to change.
In a coaching role, I worked both as part of a coaching team and with a delivery team who required coaching support.
In my coaching team, I felt particularly undervalued. Despite delivering valuable contributions towards our shared team goals, I never felt empowered to be progressive, challenge conventions or think innovatively. This heavily impacted my motivation, by reducing my own faith in the organisations corporate objectives.
Within the delivery team who were pulling for my service as a coach, I had a different experience. The team built their opinion of me through the value I could add rather than my rank within the organisation. This contributed to my feeling of being empowered and valuable.
The level of support from management was extremely low compared to what I have experienced previously. The model for support in this organisation, is built in a way that relies heavily on the motivations of the Line Manager. This model leaves little room for flexibility in the instance of passive Line Management.
I had to drive all developmental conversations. If I did not initiate this, I believe I could have completed my whole internship without even a mention of my longer term ambitions within or outside of the organisation.
The lack of support was consistent across the full spectrum of training possibilities to initiating my set-up technologically.
I was however empowered to take on all the shadowing opportunities I created. However, I think this came from a place my Line Manager being impartial to where I was, as opposed to supporting my development.
This showed huge variety throughout my placement. On average however, I feel I was operating at about half of my maximum. Despite a slow feed of work from my team, I was able to fulfil my days with productivity as I worked using my own initiative. This involved, working closely with the delivery team we were coaching, actively leading and contributing to my team of fellow interns as we raised money for charity and fulfilling shadowing opportunities to expand my knowledge of the wider organisation.
I was given very limited responsibility from my direct team. I believe this may have originated from a hereditary reluctance to empower junior colleagues to act innovatively, in such a hierarchical organisation.
In exceptional circumstances ie. when my Line Manager went on holiday, I was empowered to take on more responsibility. On reflection, this was probably the most rewarding part of my placement as I was empowered to use my own initiative and contribute valuable work. Despite this, I am well aware that this was a one-off, rather than the norm.
In terms of the development of transferrable skills, I am unconvinced that this placement has enabled me to progress much beyond the level I had reached due to my previous professional experience (ie. a prior internship, and industrial placement year and several other instances of work experience).
I have however, built up personal resilience to work inside an organisation with a challenging culture, in amongst colleagues who have 'grown-up' professionally subject to the limitations of hierarchy and bureaucracy.
Having worked in several of the UK offices this summer, I have experienced huge variety in the atmosphere that defines each one. Many of the northern offices are deserted of people and have become a dumping ground for old technological hardware. As the summer has progressed, this environment starts to seem like a metaphor for the direction of the bank and it's workforce.
Although the London offices are driven by a higher energy and sense of motivation, the overwhelming synergy between the regions, was the sense of hierarchy and non-collaborative working that dominates the atmosphere.
The work placement was co-ordinated centrally, but the majority of the day-to-day management was down to the responsibility of the line manager. This should have worked in theory. However, the alignment between these duals parties, did not materialise effectively. In fact, their was a lot of uncertainty as to whose had which responsibility in regards to the running of the placement. This led to a very disjointed user experience for myself and the majority of interns I met.
Additionally, I approached this central team before I had committed to my placement with my concerns for lack of developmental progression in the role they had chosen. After some effort to listen, my challenges were not acted upon. On reflection, I suffered developmentally due to this decision, as anticipated with my original challenge.
Through this internship alone, the developmental investment has been minimal. I believe this is a realistic reflection of the short-sightedness of the company in regards to people development.
I am however part of a broader social mobility programme with this organisation. The developmental support of this programme, is something I am have realised value from. This is to do with the sustainable components of this programme (mentorship for example) that are not directly included in the internship.
Having spoken to a reliable selection of existing graduates, I have been made aware that the cultural challenges I have seen and experienced as an intern, do not go away with progression onto the graduate scheme. The hierarchical nature of the organisation means that it could take years of climbing up from a junior rank, for your innovative thinking to be acknowledged.
I created a very enjoyable social scene for myself throughout the placement. This largely relied on my existing network as part of the social mobility programme that I am part of. With several well established relationships, I was able to expand my social network into the wider graduate community.
In terms of the other interns, the social scene could have been better supported by the organisation, due to the short-termism of the placement. Whilst the London offices had some early placements organised (and paid for), the northern offices did not benefit from such investment.
Having lived and worked in and around London for most of my life, I was very pleasantly surprised by the cost of living and socialising in Leeds. Despite the cost of having to travel home a few times during the internship for prior commitments, I remained financially content due to the affordability of the local area.
Living just outside the centre of town, meant that I had the luxury of a well balanced quality of life. I was just a short walk from the lively centre, and yet could sleep peacefully if I wanted to. The nightlife was fantastically characterful, affordable and varied. I look forward to returning!
I was certainly fulfilled by the selection of activities that existed in my local area, outside of work. I was able to join a very reasonably priced yoga studio, just down the road from my accommodation which I visited around 2x per week. This contributed to by wellbeing and sense of community.
As I was already a keen runner, having 2 ParkRun's within walking distance was another excellent opportunity to stay active and invest in the community.
The restaurant, bar, shopping, museum and music scene, also more than fulfilled my expectations.